The ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen5 is a very well-balanced business laptop when it comes to portability, durability, and performance

Highs

  • Best in class durability
  • Light and good-looking Aluminum chassis
  • Lots of ports
  • Large variety of display options
  • Very good security options

Lows

  • Performance is slightly lower than potential competitors
  • Expensive for non-business users

Rating and Price

  • Rating: 8.7/10

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5 (2020) is the latest update of the best multimode ThinkPad Lenovo has. Designed to be a tremendous do-it-all laptop with plenty of ports and an integrated pen for tablet-like apps. Built for endurance and longevity, users can configure it for a wide range of use cases.

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Specifications Highlights

Configuration as tested

Our test unit is equipped with an Intel i7-10610U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD (Samsung MZVLB512HBJQ-000L7, 475GB available) and the 4K 14.0” Dolby Vision HDR screen, which is the best for image quality. According to the Lenovo website, this configuration sells for $2399 as of today.

System configuration options

The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga X1 configuration options are quite vast and cover a large array of use cases and price points. None of them is “cheap,” but that is expected from a business laptop.

The CPU options do not include the newest Intel “Ice Lake” 2020 family of processors, but from the “Comet Lake” family introduced last year. The reason is that Comet Lake is compatible with some of the security features enterprises want. We’ll cover the performance and implications later.

  • CPU: Intel i5-10210U, i5-10310U, i7-10610U, i7-10510U
  • RAM: 16GB max
  • 14-inch Display
    • Dolby Vision HDR screen, 4K (3840×2160), WVA, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 90% gamut, 500 nits (touch)
    • screen, WQHD (2560×1440), WVA, 1000:1 contrast ratio,72% gamut, 300 nits (touch)
    • PrivacyGuard screen, FHD (1920×1080), WVA, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 72% gamut, 500 nits (touch)
    • Low Power screen, FHD (1920×1080), WVA, 700:1 contrast ratio, 72% gamut, 400 nits (touch)

Industrial Design

The Lenovo Yoga X1 is a compact multimode 14” laptop built around an aluminum CNC chassis that is extremely rigid and durable. It is one of the few non-ruggedized laptops certified to the MIL-STD-810G durability standards of the U.S military (~12 tests or so).

Lenovo’s durability criteria include a spill-resistant keyboard, a feature that has saved the day countless times in Laptop history. That should be a standard feature on all laptops, but it comes with a price, I suppose.

The extra durability can be a winning argument if you are poised to lose a lot of money due to downtime because your laptop is down during a trip or even during regular times. That is certainly true for business users and for travelers like me.

"THE EXTRA DURABILITY CAN BE A WINNING ARGUMENT"

That is why I usually travel abroad with two laptops because it is terrible to try procuring a new laptop with the proper keyboard and software when you are in a foreign country.

The laptop’s general appearance is like last year’s ThinkPad Yoga X1, and it seems that Lenovo does not want to change something that currently works quite well.

The laptop can be open very easily to access the components, so it is great for repairability. The SSD can be changed without trouble, and there’ s even a second SSD slot available. The RAM is soldered, so choose wisely at purchase time.

Despite being a 14” laptop, the Lenovo X1 Yoga Gen5 weighs 1350g (2.99Lbs), which makes it extremely competitive with the smaller competitors. The Dell XPS 13 is 10% lighter, and the MacBook Air is only %4.5 lighter and both don’t offer anywhere near the same number of ports.

Keyboard and Trackpad

As usual with Lenovo, the keyboard is fantastic and very agreeable to type with. We see many laptops go by our office (and in tradeshows). While many have great keyboards, Lenovo keeps producing exceptional ones, to the point that the Lenovo standalone ThinkPad keyboard announcement was one of the most popular accessory articles on our website.

The Trackpad has a very smooth surface that is probably made of glass, because there’s no friction when using it. The Trackpad’s surface is a bit small compared to other laptops, and I am sure that some people will complain about this, especially those using advanced gestures involving three or more fingers. However, most people only use two-fingers gestures.

"LENOVO KEEPS PRODUCING EXCEPTIONAL KEYBOARDS"

The three physical trackpad buttons provide superior accuracy and control, and while this is somewhat a matter of preferences, I find having physical buttons much better if you are a heavy trackpad user.

Lenovo’s TrackPoint (the red dot above the B key)is also something that can be a sway factor in itself for the most hardcore Lenovo users. I admit that I do not use it, but after testing it, I can understand why some people can get used to it near the point of addiction.

Ports

One of the strong points of the Lenovo X1 Yoga is the sheer number of ports available, despite being a very light and compact laptop.

You have two USB-C, two USB-A, a full-size HDMI, a proprietary Ethernet, 3.5mm audio, and an anti-theft attachment. Just having full-size USB ports is often incredibly convenient.

"INCREDIBLY CONVENIENT"

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga might be slightly bigger than ultra-small 13.3” laptops like the Dell XPS 13 (check our review). Still, without the extra volume, it would just be impossible to have all these ports available, in addition to the slightly larger display.

  • 2x USB3.1 Gen1 (1x Always On)
  • 2x USB-C 3.1 Gen2 / Thunderbolt 3 (power delivery and DisplayPort)
  • HDMI, ethernet extension connector
  • Nano-SIMcard slot(WWAN models only)
  • 5mm audio combo jack
  • Side docking connector
  • Security keyhole

Sound quality

The sound quality of the X1 Yoga has dramatically improved over the past couple of years, and this version great. The sound is always good with speakers on all sides regardless of which mode the laptop is in.

Even at maximum settings, the sound does not distort, and voices are clear. If you were to compare it to the Lenovo C940’s sound bar’s fantastic sound quality, it’s not at that level yet. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen5’ss sound does not have the same powerful bass, but it’s getting close.

Display

The Lenovo X1 Carbon has excellent display options and depending on your type of work, you may prefer one or another. The good news is that all have really good color and brightness specifications, and we have been able to visually confirm that it is indeed the case with our test unit.

If battery life is paramount, opt for a 1920×1080 display as the 4K option might reduce battery life by 35-40%. I love using the touchscreen, and the good news is that all options I have seen are touch-enabled.

Creative workers should aim for the 4K version since it has the best image quality. Use the percentage of (NTSC) gamut color-coverage as a rough guide for color precision.

The only thing that I would like to see in the future is a 4/3, 19/10, or any aspect ratio that gives us  slightly more vertical space for better productivity.

Finally, the privacy guard is a cool feature if you work on sensitive information in public places (train, plane, bus, café) and want to black-out your screen to someone sitting next to you.

  • 14-inch Display
    • Dolby Vision HDR screen, 4K (3840×2160), WVA, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 90% gamut, 500 nits (touch)
    • screen, WQHD (2560×1440), WVA, 1000:1 contrast ratio,72% gamut, 300 nits (touch)
    • PrivacyGuard screen, FHD (1920×1080), WVA, 1500:1 contrast ratio, 72% gamut, 500 nits (touch)
    • Low Power screen, FHD (1920×1080), WVA, 700:1 contrast ratio, 72% gamut, 400 nits (touch)

Digital Pen

The Lenovo X1 Yoga has an integrated pen, and that is the best way to ensure that the pen is available and charged when you need it. You heard that right: the pen recharges every time to put it back in its slot and does so quickly.

As a tradeoff, the pen’s profile is skinny, making it suitable for short-term usage such as drawing schemas and taking notes for a meeting. As a sketch artist, you might want to buy another pen, a pen case, or anything to improve the ergonomics.

The ink’s latency is good, but it is not as fast as what you could get with an iPad Pro, for example, depending on how sensitive you are about latency. Most people that I know do not mind, but I would recommend that designers try it if possible.

Webcam

Laptop cameras have not evolved much, other than physical size reductions, in recent years and the same is true for this laptop. The image quality is plain and comparable with competitors and generally, a selfie camera from a moderately priced smartphone will fare better.

Off the two webcam options you have (plain, or with IR), we expect the webcam with IR to perform a little bit better, not because of the IR, but because it’s a different module which is probably a bit more expensive and with slightly higher quality sensor and lens.

With the recent lock downs and extended “work at home” periods, it is perhaps time to increase the webcam camera quality to at least match smartphones selfie cameras

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Speed

The system performance of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen5 is very decent for its category, but it is possible to find competitors with slightly better CPU and graphics options.

For office applications, the CPU and Graphics performance won’t matter as much, and most people won’t be able to tell the difference. However, if you planned on doing video editing, or use apps with heavy scientific computations, then it would have an impact on perceived performance.

The SSD storage performance very well, and this ThinkPad could have an advantage against competitors when it comes to disk-heavy workloads.

The amount of RAM usually doesn’t affect benchmark testing and results, but in the real world, we recommend opting for 16GB, especially if you tend to keep browser tabs open or use memory-heavy apps such as Photoshop or Premiere.

15-inch computers such as the Lenovo X1 Extreme would give you much higher absolute performance if it came down to raw power. If you want to stick to an ultracompact,  want higher performance and are willing to drop some of the reliability features there are alternatives.

Geekbench tests the CPU and memory sub-systems

PCMark 8 Work tests general office productivity performance

This is a test for photo/video editing performance

This data-storage speed test shows really good performance

Firestrike is for game-like, GPU heavy, applications

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Battery Life

The battery capacity of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is equivalent last year’s model and well within the normal capacity found in competing laptops in the 13.3-14” category.

With our power-hungry 4K display (set to 150 NITs brightness), we got 5 hours and 38mn at the PCMark 8 Work battery benchmark. This is quite impressive and should climb up to 9.5 hours if you opt for the FHD display.

That is why we always urge users to take a bit of time to think about whether they need extended battery life, instead of a higher-quality display.

When it is time to recharge, the 65W Lenovo charger will replenish the laptop even faster than Lenovo’s own Yoga C940 and nearly twice faster than Dell’s latest XPS 13 laptop.

Looking at the Lenovo official specs, we noticed that some X1 Yoga models come with a 45W power adapter, so this may be something worth verifying if fast charging is very important to you.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Security features

Because you can lose your laptop with potentially Terabytes of data on it, security might be high on your list, and I have grouped them in three categories. Some can be found on consumer laptops, while others are not.

The Fingerprint Reader, IR Camera with Windows Hello, and ThinkShutter camera privacy cover are convenient features, and I expect everyone to use these.

The ThinkPad PrivacyAlert, ThinkPad PrivacyGuard screen helps you prevent other people from peeking at your screen while working in a busy public area.

Finally, the Kensington lock slot can help prevent theft (usually when you leave your temporary desk), and the Discrete TPM2.0 is an encryption feature that you should look at if you never want data to get into the wrong hands, but most people don’t use it.

Conclusion

The Lenovo X1 Yoga is a great business laptop that IT departments and business travelers love. It is less likely to experience a critical failure and cause downtime, thanks to its certified and proven durability.

The 14-inch display makes it a bit more comfortable (than 13.3-inch laptops) to work on for the road warrior who goes from hotel to hotel. If you are willing to sacrifice screen size and keyboard performance for a slightly lighter weight or faster laptop, some competition does exist.

Enterprise users will often require the Intel vPro security and management feature set that justifies using a 2019 processor platform for now.

Still, semi-pro and self-employed users are unlikely to fully use vPro and could pick the the X1 Yoga for its design. They might also look at the Lenovo Yoga C940 which offers remarkably similar performance in a consumer laptop.

The CPU performance is not far behind the most recent CPUs, so it is not a huge problem. The Graphics performance could have been better, so if you have GPU-heavy applications, this might be a friction point.

In the end, the Lenovo X1 Yoga Gen5 is a very well-balanced business laptop when it comes to portability, durability, and performance.

Overall product rating: 8.7/10

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