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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano has arrived: Case and 16:10 Display are great, but the keyboard disappoints

ThinkPad X1 Nano
ThinkPad X1 Nano
We just got the brand-new ThinkPad X1 Nano and the chassis of Lenovo's new 13-inch Ultrabook leaves a great impression right away and is much more compact than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. However, we are disappointed by the keyboard, because it reminds us of cheaper ThinkBook or IdeaPad laptops from Lenovo due to the reduced key travel.
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The brand-new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano has finally arrived. It is the first X1 model in many years with a 13-inch display, and it is also one of the first ThinkPads that returns to 16:10 screens. Our test model has the designation 20UN002UGE for around 2200 Euros (1900 Euros for students) and offers an efficient Core i7 processor (Tiger Lake UP4), 16 GB LPDDR4x RAM, 512 GB PCIe-SSD, and the new 16:10 IPS panel with a brightness of 450 nits. This model also includes an LTE modem.

Case & Keyboard

The X1 Nano shares the typical black chassis with the rest of the ThinkPad family. Our unit tips the scale at just 946 grams, but it does not feel cheap by any means. The stability is also very good. The base unit resists twisting attempts without any creaking sounds. We can even lift the unit at one of the upper display corners without any issues.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano
The stability is very good (the brightness difference on the screen is caused by the reflection of the background, not the result of lifting it at the corner)
The stability is very good (the brightness difference on the screen is caused by the reflection of the background, not the result of lifting it at the corner)

We compared the new X1 Nano directly with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 to get a better idea of the size. The X1 Carbon is already a very compact 14-inch device and the height of the two models is actually not that different, but the X1 Nano has a much smaller footprint.

X1 Nano (top) vs. X1 Carbon G7 (bottom)
X1 Nano (top) vs. X1 Carbon G7 (bottom)
X1 Nano (left) vs. X1 Carbon G7 (right)
X1 Nano (left) vs. X1 Carbon G7 (right)
X1 Nano (left) vs. X1 Carbon G7 (right)
X1 Nano (left) vs. X1 Carbon G7 (right)

However, the more compact chassis also has negative effects on the keyboard. It is narrower, which is clearly noticeable when you look at some of the keys on the right side, but this is a thing you will get used to. The keyboard travel is the bigger issue, because compared to the current X1 Carbon (which already has a reduced travel of 1.5 mm) it is further reduced to 1.35 mm. This does not sound like much, but you can definitely notice it when you type. This means the X1 Nano has the worst keyboard in the whole ThinkPad model lineup and it reminds us more of the less expensive ThinkBook lineup. This development is definitely going in the wrong direction.

Display & Performance

The new 16:10 display creates nice images. All the contents are crisp and colors look good. After our initial measurements, we can confirm the advertised brightness of 460 nits in the center of the screen (the average value is a bit lower), and the contrast ratio is also excellent at more than 1700:1. The small sRGB color gamut is covered completely.

The ThinkPad X1 Nano is the first at Notebookcheck with the Tiger Lake processor Core i7-1160G7. It is a so called UP4 package, where the power consumption is much lower (configurable between 7-15 W), while the "regular" UP3 chips are configurable between 12-28 W.

We already know that these values can be adjusted by every manufacturer with much wider ranges. The new ThinkPad X1 Nano has both limits (PL1 & PL2) set at 40 W, which is rather optimistic considering the slim device. The notebook can at least utilize its high clock of up to 4.4 GHz in short peak load scenarios.

The performance utilization of the X1 Nano is actually pretty decent, because we see the full 4.4 GHz when we stress one core and around 35 W (>30s) in multi-core tests, which results in the full 4x 3.6 GHz. We will obviously check how long the X1 Nano can maintain this performance under sustained workloads, but we are still positively surprised. This, however, begs the question why Lenovo uses an efficient UP4 chip in the first place...

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Initial Impressions

The initial impression is very good and we cannot criticize much in terms of chassis, display, or the performance after our initial tests. The biggest issue is the keyboard, because the reduced key travel is very noticeable when you type. This might be a serious problem for long-term ThinkPad users.

The full review of the ThinkPad X1 Nano will be published in 2-3 days. Please leave a comment if you have special questions or suggestions.

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Andreas Osthoff
Editor of the original article: Andreas Osthoff - Managing Editor Business Laptops - 1246 articles published on Notebookcheck since 2013
I grew up with modern consumer electronics and my first computer was a Commodore C64, which encouraged my interest in building my own systems. I started working as a review editor for Notebookcheck during my dual studies at Siemens. Currently, I am mainly responsible for dealing with business laptops and mobile workstations. It’s a great experience to be able to review the latest devices and technologies and then compare them with each other.
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2021 01 > The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano has arrived: Case and 16:10 Display are great, but the keyboard disappoints
Andreas Osthoff, 2021-01-27 (Update: 2021-01-28)