Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen review: Easily one of the best business ultrabooks on the market

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Battery life on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is brilliant! Lenovo claims up to 15-hours of battery life and I was able to get just under 15-hours easy.

TA-ratings-94We’ve had the chance to review the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon in the past and every time we’ve walked away impressed. This year the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is back yet again and we had a chance to go hands-on at CES 2018. We were impressed enough at CES 2018 to give the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon a Best of CES 2018 award for the best business laptop at CES. Now, we have an actual review unit in our hands. Can the 6th Gen Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon impress us beyond a short hands-on time? Find out in our full Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen review.

Specifications

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Generation sent to us has the following features and specifications (configurable when ordering):

  • CPU: 8th Generation Intel Core i7-8550U
  • GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3
  • SSD: 256GB SSD M.2 PCIe NVMe
  • Display: 14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare multi-touch, 300 nits
  • Audio: Noise-cancelling dual-array far-field microphones
  • Battery: Up to 15 hours, integrated Li-ion 57 Whr with RapidCharge technology
  • Keyboard: Backlit
  • I/O
    • Power
    • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Always On
    • 2x USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C/Thunderbolt 3
    • HDMI
    • Headphone/Mic jack
    • 4-in-1 MicroSD card reader (SD, MMC, SDHC, SDXC)
    • Ethernet Extension Connector (Dongle for Native Ethernet sold separately)
  • Dimensions
    • Height: 0.62″
    • Width: 12.73″
    • Depth: 8.54″
    • Weight: Starting at 2.49 lbs

What’s In The Box

  • Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen
  • Power supply and cable
  • Documentation and Quick Start

Design

For a business laptop, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon brings its fair share of style. While it’s not shiny aluminum with chamfered edges, its black carbon exterior (you can also get it in silver) and edgy lines give it a stealthy and brooding look about it. I’m sure not everyone will like this industrial and robust look but this design is one of my favorites among laptops. I like to think of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon as the Lenovo Yoga 920 but meaner.

The first thing you see when you take the X-1 Carbon out of the box is that matte black powder coat finish. It’s a stunning look but I will say, as always, this finish does pick up greasy fingerprints if you’re not careful. Lenovo’s branding is a bit different for the 6th Gen as the ThinkPad logo is blacked out and a subtle X1 in grey and red was added to the top. Of course, the pulsing red dot over the “i” in ThinkPad is still there.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

I/O

Flipping the X-1 Carbon over, on the bottom you’ll find the speakers as well as a vent for cooling. Along the front edge of the laptop is a cleverly designed opening that looks like it serves a dual purpose. One is to push heat away from the internals and the other is to amplify the speaker sound. Around the back edge of the X-1 Carbon is your MicroSD and SIM card slot. Yes, LTE connectivity is an option on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Moving along to the right side, you’ll find the USB 3.1 port, headphone/mic jack and more ventilation for cooling. Over on the left, you’ll find the rest of your I/O including, two Type-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports, one more USB 3.1 port, and your HDMI port. Opening the laptop you’ll find the keyboard, of course, the display, and the webcam. The webcam features a nifty addition with ThinkShutter. ThinkShutter is just a built in slider that allows you to cover your webcam for privacy, no more need for post-it notes.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon build quality is second to none and it’s designed with business users in mind. It’s made to hold up to everyday bumps and shocks so you don’t have to worry about busting up your gear.

Overall, I really love the look and durability of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. It’s all black look is very industrial but it also manages to look sexy in the process. Lenovo gives you plenty of I/O ports to utilize and it’s super light and very portable.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

The display is great and available in a few different configurations.

Display

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen has a few different display options to choose from:

  • 14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare, 300 nits
  • 14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare multi-touch, 300 nits
  • 14″ WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS anti-glare, 300 nits
  • 14″ HDR WQHD (2560 x 1440) IPS glossy with Dolby Vision, 500 nits

Our review unit came with the 14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare multi-touch, 300 nits display and it’s fabulous. The display has 100% of sRGB and 75% of Adobe RGB and colors looked really nice on this panel. Blacks were acceptable, not as deep as some other displays but acceptable. Whites were clean and crisp and text looked clear and clean.

Our display was also touch-enabled, which is unusual in a matte display but this does have touch and is matte. I really love matte displays over glossy displays so this was a real treat to have. Touch responsiveness is spot on, taps and swipes and pinch-to-zoom all worked flawlessly. Watching movies on this display was a pleasure, it’s not going to replace your TV but works great in a hotel room when you want to veg on some Netflix.

While our review unit only had a 1920 x 1080 resolution, that’s not bad at all. For a 14″ laptop, I’ve been finding it hard to justify having a 2K or 4K display when I have to scale it up 150 or 200% to read anything. With an FHD display, you can just leave it at 100% FHD and not worry about scaling. Plus, this display is better for battery life.

Overall, this is a solid display. It’s probably not the best on the market but it really does the job as it should.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Very nice trackpad and there is a fingerprint scanner too.

Software/Ecosystem

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is running Windows 10 64-Bit. Windows 10 is still really great so there are no complaints about Microsoft’s software. Lenovo does include extras here, which is typical of any PC maker. Things like McAfee and a few other 3rd-party offerings are thrown in but they can be uninstalled should you not like them. Cortana is also onboard along with noise-canceling dual-array far-field microphones.

Overall, Windows 10 continues to be an enjoyable version of Windows. It does have its pain in the butt moments and quirks here and there but it has really improved over the years and with touchscreens, it offers a lot of versatility.

Performance

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon sent to us is rocking the Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620, and 8GB of RAM. This is similar to the Yoga 920 configuration we had but with 1/2 the RAM. Everyday tasks are a breeze including, browsing, light gaming, email, word processing, multi-tasking, and more.

While the ThinkPad X1 Carbon RAM only sits at 8GB, I wanted to see if it could handle Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom and Premiere Pro like the Yoga 920 did. I was pleased to see that Photoshop still ran flawlessly, although I will say that things will get bogged down the more files you have open in Photoshop. The same can be said of Lightroom. It runs great but you can’t expect this to handle hundreds of open files at once. Be warned, the fans will kick in when working with heavy apps like Adobe CC.

Adobe Premiere Pro also worked great. I was able to edit FHD videos without a problem though I did not try to edit 4K video, I imagine 4K video rendering will tax that Intel UHD Graphics 620 harder than FHD. Still, for a portable ultrabook with integrated graphics, it handled creative work pretty well.

Overall, you could spec up the ThinkPad X1 Carbon for even better performance but our configuration was able to handle the work we needed to get done and I was very pleased with its performance.

ThinkPad branding

Speakers/Sound

The speakers on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon are just OK. I think the consumer Yoga 920 speakers are much better and provide a better experience but the speaker quality shouldn’t be a deal breaker by any means. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon speakers are thin and tinny sounding. You’d be better served with a nice pair of headphones.

Camera

The webcam, as with most all other laptops, it’s a webcam. You’re not going to take pictures with it and it works well with Skype, Hangouts or any other video service. It gets the job done but could use an update, which is true of all webcams.

Battery Life

Battery life on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is brilliant! Lenovo claims up to 15-hours of battery life and I was able to get just under 15-hours easy. The fact that this is only an FHD screen helps and battery life will vary with how bright you have the screen and what apps you are running. I will say that battery life was not very good when using Adobe CC and rendering out video but that is to be expected as app usage definitely affects battery life.

Overall, battery life was great on this laptop as configured. If you bump up to the 2K display you might find battery less efficient.

Price/Value

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon starts at $1519USD and you can configure it past $2500USD. Our configuration clocked in at just under $1800USD and that’s honestly a great price on this feature-packed business ultrabook.

Wrap Up

With its tough build quality, industrial yet sexy design, versatile I/O options, and lightweight portability, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen is an ideal business ultrabook for those always on the run. This is why it not only earned a Best of CES award from us but also wins a Top Pick Award for 2018.

*We received a review unit of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen for the purposes of this review.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

$1519+ USD
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
9.4

Design

10.0 /10

Display

9.5 /10

Software/Ecosystem

9.5 /10

Performance

9.5 /10

Speakers/Sound

9.0 /10

Camera

9.0 /10

Battery Life

9.5 /10

Price/Value

9.0 /10

Nailed it

  • Beautiful design while remaining ThinkPad tough
  • Great display, even at 1080p
  • Thin and light great portability
  • Great performance, strong enough to run Adobe Premiere
  • Webcam privacy shutter
  • Strong battery life

Needs work

  • Speakers could use some improvement
  • Webcam could be better
  • Could be pricey for some users
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