No compromises on size, weight, durability or performance

Highs

  • Very good size/performance ratio
  • Excellent keyboard and trackpad
  • Tough (MIL-SPEC 810 certified)
  • Large range of upgrades options

Lows

  • No touch screen
  • Expensive entry-level models

Rating and Price

  • Rating: 9/10

ThinkPad has been around for 25 years, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is one of the crown-jewels of the ThinkPad family. In 2017, we are looking at the 5th generation of X1 Carbon laptop, which is positioned to compete in the high-end spectrum of the ultra-portable business laptop.

Lenovo’s pitch sounds tempting: the X1 is designed to be extremely compact and light, not sacrifice computing performance, have excellent connectivity (ports) and extraordinary durability. In this review, we take a closer look and put it to the test.

Configuration as tested

  • Core i7 7600U
  • 16GB RAM
  • 512GB SSD

Industrial Design: lean and tough

The Lenovo X1 Carbon 5th Gen (2017) is an extremely compact ThinkPad laptop. This was made possible because Lenovo has sharply reduced the bezel size on the left and right of the screen down to ~5 millimeters (look at the 2016 X1 Carbon to see the difference!). All in all, Lenovo says that it has reduced the overall footprint by 8%. As a result, you can have a 14” laptop, which feels like how 12.5” laptops were not so long ago.

There are other footprint optimization in many places, but the screen bezels have a significant influence on the overall length and width of the computer.

Lenovo uses the traditional soft paint surface treatment on top of the carbon-fiber and magnesium chassis. This kind of soft surface has served Lenovo very well for some time. All Thinkpad surfaces may look the same from a distance, I have noticed that Lenovo has improved the soft touch material over the years: it seems to less prone to fingerprints, and it is tough against wear and tear.

Aluminum chassis are friendly to the eyes and smooth (and slippery) the touch, but they also tend to scratch very easily, which is why clostly protective cases/adhesives sell so well for some models. With the Thinkpad soft surface provides an excellent grip and the laptop looks good even after months or care-free usage at tradeshows and travel.

"THE THINKPAD X1 CARBON HAS PASSED THE STD-810 MILITARY CERTIFICATION"

Some variants of Carbon Fiber can offer 2X to 5X the rigidity of Aluminum and Steel (for the same weight). In general, Carbon Fiber is used to remove weight while keeping the same level of sturdiness. In general, the exact type of carbon fiber is not revealed by the device manufacturer, so we don’t know the strength ratio in this case. If you are curious, read this Aluminum vs Carbon article.

The Lenovo X1 Carbon is very rigid and won’t twist or bend. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon also passes 12 military MIL-810-G certifications for drops and shocks. These tests are designed to make sure that military hardware can survive the vibrations and shocks during transport in the field. That’s an excellent proxy for civilian travel.

It is a level of endurance that most laptops would not pass. Lenovo has 200 additional durability tests which are part of the quality evaluation. I visited one of Lenovo’s QA labs in China a couple of years ago, and the array of tests was impressive. Unfortunately, we could not take photos, let alone record videos.

Lenovo now has a silver version available, in addition to the traditional black color. The silver one doesn’t look like Aluminum (because it is not), but it offers higher contrast for keyboard keys (I like that, but you may not care), and a different look.

Overall product rating: 9/10

Filed in Computers >Reviews. Read more about Editorspick, Laptop Reviews, Lenovo and Lenovo reviews.

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