Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 evaluation: An excellent laptop computer made even higher

MSRP $1,865.00

“The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, now in its ninth technology, stays one of many best high-end enterprise laptops.”

Professionals

Elegant appear and feel

Stable productiveness efficiency

Extremely lengthy battery life

Glorious keyboard

Lengthy listing of business-friendly options

Cons

Costly

Somewhat versatile

By the point a laptop computer has reached its ninth technology, you anticipate it to be refined. That’s significantly true of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 line, which has entries which can be among the many greatest enterprise laptops. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the flagship of the collection, and the ninth technology guarantees to retain that refinement whereas making some significant modifications to its design — together with a swap to a 16:10 show side ratio.

I reviewed a $1,865 configuration of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9, with an 11th-gen Intel Core i7-1165G7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and a non-touch 14-inch IPS full HD+ (1920 x 1200) show. The spec bump, 16:10 display, and glorious battery life are all welcome modifications that hold the ThinkPad X1 Carbon among the many greatest enterprise laptops you should buy.

Design

Apart from the required change in dimensions to accommodate the taller show, Lenovo didn’t alter a lot with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s design. It’s nonetheless constructed of a carbon fiber lid and magnesium alloy all through the remainder of the chassis, which makes it light-weight whereas on the similar time giving it some bend within the lid and flex within the keyboard deck. It’s not a lot as to make you doubt its sturdiness, however it doesn’t really feel as rock-solid as laptops with aluminum alloy chassis just like the Dell XPS 13 and the HP Spectre x360 14. As standard, Lenovo subjected the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 to a number of military-spec assessments, and so there’s cause to be assured within the laptop computer’s long-term survivability. The identical soft-touch texture makes the ThinkPad snug to carry and sort on, which I all the time take pleasure in.

In truth, I ought to stress that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 feels nice in hand. It’s gentle at 2.49 kilos and skinny at zero.59 inches. The XPS 13 is available in at 2.64 kilos and zero.58 inches, however, in fact, it’s a 13-inch laptop computer and so feels fairly a bit denser. The Spectre x360 14 is nearer in measurement to the ThinkPad, and it’s zero.67 inches thick and weighs 2.95 kilos. There’s one thing past these technical specs, although, that makes the ThinkPad X1 Carbon so snug to hold round — it’s a well-executed mixture of the burden, thinness, and soft-touch really feel. Merely put, the laptop computer exudes high quality. A minor criticism is that the highest and backside show bezels are bigger than they might be, which barely will increase the laptop computer’s general measurement. It’s not a significant downside, however another trendy laptops profit from smaller bezels throughout.

Lenovo up to date the hinge on the newest mannequin, making a single-hinge design that includes the wi-fi antennas inside. I discovered the hinge to be glorious, permitting the lid to be opened with one hand whereas avoiding any show wobble whereas typing. It rivals the XPS 13’s clean hinge, the most effective for a few generations.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9’s aesthetic stays the identical, with the standard ThinkPad black-on-black design with a couple of purple accents within the LED above the “i” within the ThinkPad brand, the “X” within the X1 brand, the purple TrackPoint nubbin within the heart of the keyboard, and alongside the underside edges of the TrackPoint buttons. It’s an iconic appear and feel that ought to be acquainted to ThinkPad lovers and that gives a sublime but conservative aesthetic for everybody else. The XPS 13 and Spectre x360 14 supply extra complicated and colourful designs, whereas the Dell Latitude 7420 provides one other conservative look that may attraction to enterprise customers.

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Connectivity is powerful for such a skinny laptop computer. Alongside the left-hand facet, there are two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt four (certainly one of which is used to cost the laptop computer), a USB-A three.2 port, and a full-size HDMI 2.zero connection. On the right-hand facet, there’s one other USB-A three.2 port and a three.5mm audio jack. Sadly, there’s no SD card reader. In the event you configure the non-compulsory 4G/5G WWAN connection, you then’ll have a Nano-SIM card slot. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth present wi-fi connectivity 5.2.

Efficiency

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 might be configured with varied 11th-gen U-series CPUs, from the Core i5-1135G7 to the Core i7-1185G7, with Intel vPro as an possibility. My evaluation unit was outfitted with the Core i7-1165G7, a reliable processor that usually supplies glorious productiveness efficiency. You should use the Home windows 10 efficiency slider to interact Lenovo’s normal and efficiency modes, however I didn’t see a lot of a distinction in our benchmarks. In truth, the efficiency mode brought on some slower scores, maybe as a result of the laptop computer’s thermals couldn’t sustain. The one considerably improved rating was the single-core Geekbench 5 consequence, which got here in at 1,556 versus 1,327 in normal mode.

In comparison with a comparability group of identically configured laptops, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 was quick. It led the pack or was close to the highest in all our benchmarks. For instance, it achieved the quickest rating in our Handbrake check that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, and it got here in second place in Cinebench R23. It additionally did nicely within the PCMark 10 Full check, the place it had the second-highest most important rating on this group and was one of many quicker laptops we’ve examined within the Necessities, Productiveness, and Content material Creation parts of the check.

I discovered the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 to dwell as much as these benchmark ends in real-world use. It was a speedy laptop computer throughout my testing it doesn’t matter what I threw at it — if my duties have been productivity-oriented. Like all laptops using Intel’s U-series CPUs, you gained’t get one of the best efficiency in demanding creativity functions the place AMD’s latest Ryzen CPUs shine. Most individuals aren’t going to purchase the ThinkPad for that type of work, nevertheless, and so it meets the target market’s wants after which some.

Geekbench 5 (single/multi)
Handbrake (seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi)
PCMark 10
3DMark Time Spy
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (Core i7-1165G7)
1327/5201
170
1469/4945
5147
1776
Framework Laptop computer
(Core i7-1165G7)
1432 / 4725
176
1444 / 5373
5054
1641
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1165G7)
1540 / 5432
201
1399/4585
3859
1589
HP Spectre x360 14 (Core i7-1165G7)
1214 / 4117
236
1389 / 3941
4728
1457
Samsung Galaxy Professional 360 
(Core i7-1165G7)
1554 / 5603
N/A
1308 / 4062
5159
1800
Razer E book 13 (Core i7-1165G7)
1548 / 5374
210
1508 / 4519
4878
1776

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 did nicely within the 3DMark Time Spy check, quicker than most Intel Iris Xe laptops. That translated to some further frames per second (fps) in Fortnite, the sport we use to check built-in graphics. The ThinkPad hit 28 fps at 1080p and excessive graphics, larger than the 25 fps or so common for the category, and it managed 20 fps with epic graphics turned on. These aren’t nice scores, in fact, demonstrating that, like different laptops with Intel Iris Xe graphics, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is greatest for older video games or newer video games at decrease resolutions and with graphical particulars turned down.

Show

In accordance with my colorimeter, Lenovo selected show that doesn’t fairly obtain greatness.

The transfer to taller shows with 16:10 and three:2 side ratios versus the old-school 16:9 continues, with most premium laptops adopting one or the opposite ratio. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 has a 14-inch 16:10 show, obtainable in a number of configurations, together with contact and non-touch low-power full HD+ (1920 x 1200), a full HD+ privateness panel, and a UHD+ (3840 x 2400) display with excessive dynamic vary (HDR) assist. My evaluation unit used the entry-level non-touch full HD+ panel, which has the benefit of one of the best battery life. I discover the decision to be simply sharp sufficient on a 14-inch panel, though I choose UHD shows.

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

In accordance with my colorimeter, Lenovo selected show that doesn’t fairly obtain greatness. It simply exceeded our 300-nit threshold for brightness at 306 nits, that means it is going to be vibrant sufficient for all however direct daylight. Colours have been fairly vast at 76% of AdobeRGB and 96% of sRGB. That’s just a little larger than the premium common for the previous and common for the latter. Coloration accuracy was glorious at a DeltaE of zero.99 (lower than 1.zero can’t be discerned with the human eye).

These outcomes are blended in comparison with another premium laptops. For instance, the Dell XPS 13 full HD+ show put out 458 nits of brightness, which is superb, and achieved 75% of AdobeRGB and 98% of sRGB with shade accuracy of 1.36. The ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga hit 431 nits however solely 71% of AdobeRGB and 96% of sRGB with shade accuracy of 1.62. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9’s distinction ratio was slightly below our most popular 1,000:1, at 970:1. The XPS 13 managed a a lot larger 1,350:1, whereas the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga was barely larger at 1,zero10:1.

My subjective evaluation matched these goal outcomes. I discovered the show to be vibrant and colourful with out being oversaturated, and the distinction was excessive sufficient that black textual content jumped out on white backgrounds. This can be a nice show for productiveness use however gained’t meet the wants of inventive professionals who demand wider colours. The taller side ratio is welcome, however I did miss contact assist.

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Audio is offered by two audio system to the left and proper of the keyboard, together with two downward-firing woofers supposed so as to add bass and prolong the sound’s dynamic vary. Dolby Atmos assist guarantees improved spatial results. I discovered the sound to be greater than loud sufficient, with zero distortion at most quantity. Mids and highs have been crisp and clear, and there was only a contact of bass. The audio wasn’t as much as the usual of the Apple MacBook, however it was higher than many different premium laptops I’ve reviewed. It’s adequate for bingeing Netflix with a pal, though I’d nonetheless use a pair of headphones for music.

Keyboard and touchpad

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 has the everyday ThinkPad keyboard with sculpted keys, glorious spacing, and deep journey. Usually, I discover ThinkPad swap mechanisms a bit stiff for my tastes, requiring an excessive amount of strain to depress a key and inflicting fatigue over time. This one was softer and extra snug — I don’t know if that’s a change to the mechanism or simply how this particular keyboard turned out. I’d find it irresistible if this have been one thing new that we’ll be seeing on different ThinkPads as a result of I like this keyboard a lot better. It’s near the keyboard on my favourite Home windows 10 laptops, the HP Spectre line, and that’s excessive reward.

There’s the standard ThinkPad TrackPoint nubbin in the midst of the keyboard, and it really works as standard. In the event you like that type of cursor management, you then’ll like this one simply advantageous. The draw back to the TrackPoint is that it requires an additional set of buttons, which takes house away from the touchpad. Lenovo elevated the width of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9’s touchpad by 10%, however it’s nonetheless smaller than it might be. It’s a Microsoft Precision touchpad, although, and so it’s clean and exact.

Safety and privateness

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is a business-class laptop computer, as a lot because it additionally appeals to client customers. As such, it contains a number of options that make it engaging to organizations that need to improve the safety, privateness, and manageability of their laptop computer fleets.

First, there’s assist for Intel’s vPro, a CPU characteristic that gives further safety and manageability capabilities, together with Intel Hardware Protect and enhanced distant administration. Subsequent, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 incorporates Lenovo’s ThinkShield suite of safety features, together with the ThinkShutter webcam privateness swap, match-on-chip fingerprint reader for Home windows 10 Howdy password-less login, and a self-healing BIOS that may assist keep away from a system failure within the case of assault or corruption.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 additionally helps Lenovo’s human presence detection (HPD) performance. This makes use of an non-compulsory infrared digital camera (additionally used for Home windows 10 Howdy assist through facial recognition) and impulse radar to sense when a person is in entrance of the laptop computer or steps away. Within the latter case, the laptop computer is put to sleep, and when the person returns, it wakes up and logs in. My evaluation unit wasn’t outfitted with HPD, however I’ve used it on different ThinkPads, and it labored reliably and shortly.

Total, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 continues Lenovo’s glorious assist for enterprise customers. None of those options detract from the laptop computer’s attractiveness to shoppers, however they make the laptop computer a way more attractive possibility for bigger organizations.

Battery life

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Not solely is the reviewed show full HD+, which guarantees higher battery life, however it’s additionally a low-power show. Mixed with the leap within the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 from 51 watt-hours of battery capability to 57 watt-hours, I used to be given hope that Lenovo lastly produced a ThinkPad with good battery life. Our expertise with previous ThinkPads hasn’t been one of the best on this division.

Lenovo leveraged the additional battery capability and the low-power show to perform some glorious battery life.

My expectations have been exceeded. In our net shopping check, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 went for simply over 11.5 hours, a powerful rating that beats out the 10 hours or in order that we take into account to be an excellent rating. The Dell XPS 13 full HD+ managed simply eight.5 hours, whereas the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga lasted simply over 9.5 hours. In our video check that loops an area full HD Avengers trailer, the ThinkPad achieved an exceptional 20.5 hours, the most effective scores we’ve recorded, in comparison with the XPS 13 at 12 hours and the X1 Titanium Yoga at 15.75 hours.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 additionally did exceptionally nicely within the PCMark 10 Purposes battery benchmark, going for 17.25 hours. That’s the second-longest end in our database behind the LG Gram 16‘s further half hour. The ThinkPad additionally did nicely within the PCMark 10 Gaming battery benchmark, at four.75 hours. That’s once more the second-longest rating we’ve seen behind solely the LG Gram 16, which lasted for simply 11 minutes longer.

Clearly, Lenovo leveraged the additional battery capability and the low-power show to perform some glorious battery life. Lastly, we are able to report that a ThinkPad will final you not solely a full day’s work however nicely into the night. You would possibly even have some energy left over for the subsequent day, relying in your workload. That’s a refreshing consequence that we hope carries over to the remainder of the ThinkPad line.

Our take

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is one of the best model of this laptop computer but. As all the time, it exudes high quality and is a pleasure to make use of, because of a soft-touch really feel and a fantastic keyboard. However because of the 16:10 side ratio show, strong productiveness efficiency, and one of the best battery life we’ve seen in a ThinkPad, Lenovo has additionally made some significant enhancements on this yr’s mannequin.

It’s costly, however you get your cash’s value. It’s nice for companies, however don’t move it up when you’re a client purchaser. It’s a fantastic laptop computer for anybody.

Are there any alternate options?

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is a good different when you’re not the most important fan of the everyday ThinkPad aesthetic. Its battery life isn’t pretty much as good, however its construct high quality is healthier and has its personal allure.

If you would like a removable pill, then Lenovo’s ThinkPad X12 Removable is a strong selection. It’s not as quick or as long-lasting, however it’s one of the best removable pill you should buy.

Lastly, when you don’t want the enterprise options and need a barely smaller laptop computer, then the Dell XPS 13 is all the time possibility. It’s nonetheless one of the best laptop computer you should buy general, and it supplies equal efficiency and the choice of an outstanding 16:10 OLED show.

How lengthy will it final?

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is well-built sufficient to final for years, as promised by its army certification testing. It’s updated in its elements and will sustain with anybody’s efficiency wants for simply as lengthy. The one-year guarantee is disappointing for an costly business-class laptop computer.

Must you purchase it?

Sure. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is a superb laptop computer that each shoppers and enterprise customers will love. 

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