In January of this year, I walked into the Lenovo booth at CES and almost immediately to the right there was a large display case set up, and inside was Eve. Eve looked great in the case all dressed in black, and was well attended to by her hosts. Eve is the one hundred millionth ThinkPad to be created, and I remarked at the time that it was likely not an accident that Eve is a ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Eve, the 100,000,000th ThinkPad

The X1 Carbon has been Lenovo’s flagship ThinkPad since it was launched, and it brings the world of the ThinkPad business class notebook down into a much thinner and lighter form factor. Today we have the third generation of the X1 Carbon, and although the competition for the best Ultrabook keeps increasing, Lenovo brings a lot to the table with the X1 Carbon.

Lenovo keeps the ThinkPad lineup outfitted with features that the average consumer does not need, and the price is higher accordingly. But if you are someone who travels a lot, and needs a full featured notebook with all of the goodies, you can find it in this X1 Carbon. While the Ultrabook initiative started out with smaller devices, it gradually worked its way up to include larger notebooks as well, and the X1 Carbon certainly fits the bill for an Ultrabook despite the larger than average 14 inch display.

Despite the somewhat larger chassis, the X1 Carbon keeps the weight in check partially through the use of its namesake – carbon fiber. The display cover is created with carbon fiber reinforced plastic, and glass fiber reinforced plastic. This lets the display be lighter, thinner, and stronger than one made of aluminum or plastic alone. And it is strong. You can certainly flex the display, but it never feels like you are going to bend it by accident. The bottom of the X1 Carbon is made of aluminum and magnesium, so it is plenty strong as well. Lenovo even points out that the X1 Carbon has passed eight MilSpecs with fifteen individual tests, including shock, vibration, temperature, humidity, and silica dust exposure.

For many devices, 2015 is the year of the spec bump to Broadwell based processors, and Lenovo is not immune to this. Luckily that is a good thing though, and the new X1 Carbon is now powered by the latest Broadwell-U based processors from Intel. Buyers get a choice of the i5-5200U, i5-5300U, or the i7-5600U processor. None of these are slow, but luckily Lenovo has sent us the i7 model so we can get a feel for how it competes against some of the other Broadwell devices we have seen this year. Let’s take a look at the full specifications below.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2015)
  As Tested, Core i7-5600U, 8 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, 2560x1440 IPS display with Touch
Processor Intel Core i5-5200U (2C/4T, 2.2-2.7GHz, 3MB L3, 14nm, 15w)

Intel Core i5-5300U (2C/4T, 2.3-2.9GHz, 3MB L3, 14nm, 15w)

Intel Core i7-5600U (2C/4T, 2.6-3.2GHz, 4MB L3, 14nm, 15w)
Memory 4GB or 8GB DDR3L-1600Mhz
Graphics Intel HD 5500 (24 EU, 300-900 MHz on i5, 300-950 Mhz on i7)
Display 14.0" 1920x1080 TN

Optional 2560x1440 IPS
Optional Mult-touch
Storage 128GB SATA SSD
180GB or 256GB SATA SSD with Opal 2 Support
512GB PCIe SSD Samsung SM951
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7265 (802.11ac, 2x2:2, 866Mpbs Max, 2.4 and 5GHz)
Audio HD Audio, Realtek ALC3232 codec
Stereo Speakers (downfiring) 1 watt x 2
dual array microphone
Battery 50 Wh Battery
45 Watt charger
Right Side USB 3.0
Ethernet Extender
Left Side USB 3.0 Ports
Headset Jack
Power and OneLink Connector
Dimensions 331 x 227 x 18.5mm (13.03 x 8.94 x 0.73 inches)
Weight 1.27-1.45 kg (2.8-3.2 lbs)
Extras 720p Webcam
Backlit Spill-Resistant Keyboard
Pricing $1088-$2300 USD (As Tested: $2100)

Since this device falls into the ThinkPad line, you get a lot of customization options when purchasing that Lenovo does not do for their consumer models, and that is very welcome because on a lot of devices if you want feature X you have to also buy features Y and Z, which can really bump up the costs. However a few things need to be called out on the X1 Carbon. This is a premium Ultrabook, so it is a bit sad that in 2015 the base model is still offered with just 4 GB of memory, and because this is soldered on (like all of these very thin devices) it would be money well spent to just add the extra $75 Lenovo charges for the 8 GB model. Luckily even though Lenovo calls it 1x8 GB in the guide, it is in fact dual-channel memory. The other big complaint is the 1080p model is offered with a TN panel. That is not really acceptable in a $1000+ device in 2015 any longer. Moving to the QHD version of the panel for $150 would be money well spent since that will bring you an IPS panel.

There are also a lot of options for storage, and the base model comes with just a scant 128 GB of SSD space available, but for not too much more you can bump that up to 180 or 256 GB. For those that need even more storage space and speed, Lenovo offers the SM951 equipped 512 GB PCIe based Samsung SSD. When the X1 first launched, it was a hefty $700 upgrade, but now it is a mere $425 over the base 128 GB offering.

The X1 Carbon is even offered with optional LTE connectivity, via the Sierra EM7345, for those that need mobile data connectivity without tethering.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Design
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  • Systemsplanet - Wednesday, November 18, 2015 - link

    +1 on HP.
    -2 Dell
    I previously bought Dells until two XPS 18's with flaky USB3 drivers that ran at USB2 speeds no matter what perpheral/cable you used. Dell blamed Microsoft. Who knows. Premium Dell price means it should be integrated. With USB2 or wireless backup the machine was worthless to me. Luckily my wife cracked the display while mopping the floor. Never been so happy.

    Bought the HP Zbook 17 last December in a minimal config. Installed a Samsung pcie boot disk xp941 which gets 800/700 MB/ss. Pulled out the DVD and it now hosts a total of 4 1TB SSD drives in a laptop form factor. Love the BIOS. Never had such a problem free experience tricking out a new computer.

    Reviewed here on amazon:

    Also, 20Gb/s Thunderbolt 2 rocks for backup and high resolution display on a single bus.
  • mooninite - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    Lenovos are a joke. People associate them with "business" and "reliability" and unfortunately put their dollars in an inappropriate place.

    The ASUS Zenbook line far exceeds what you get from Lenovo. The current Haswell UX301LAA is a marvelous piece of technology. HiDPI screen. i7. Iris graphics. 8GB ram, 512GB SSD. The new Broadwell version is coming out soon and will blow any other laptop - sans discrete cards - out of the water in every category (cpu, graphics, IO, battery life).

    It's time for people to wake up and stop drinking the Lenovo / ThinkPad coolaid. They're not the prized, derived from the Gods, piece of hardware any longer.
  • alexdi - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    This review is missing a conclusion. The basic question is: given everything else out there, would you buy the thing with your own money? If not, what would you buy instead and why? The initial tone of the review is almost an advertisement, but then slides down after the CPU charts. What's your verdict?
  • BGADK - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - link

    The X1 was one of the ultrabook PC's for business users I evaluated, but in the end I choose the Fujitsu U904. Lighter, and with better specs, even if it still does not have a Broadwell CPU.
    I hope Anandtech take a look at the U904, which for me is the best ultrabook in the market.
  • Laststop311 - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    if this had the i7-5650u with 6000 graphics and double the eu's at 48 I would of probably bought it. Would of preferred the 1920x1080 screen being ips. If you game at 1920x1080 its going to look better on a native 1920x1080 screen. Also less pixels means larger pixels that let more light through increasing battery life as well as less pixels to process. Also wouldn't mind if they made it a little thicker and heavier and bumped the battery up to 75wh 50% more than the 50wh battery.

    If only I could have that laptop changed to those specs I'd be a buyer 100%
  • coder111 - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    Are they still shipping their computers with malware/spyware rootkits installed?
  • flabber - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    I have found ThinkPads to be my preferred laptops for two reasons : full maintenance documentation available online, the keyboard/trackpoint.
    I still have a T41p kicking around, a X61 Tablet and a T61p. Only the T61p had given me a problem with the nVidia graphics adapter. Lenovo had made a recall, but it failed 3 after it had expired.
    Great machines - no need to replace my X61 Tablet, so I am sticking with that for now.
  • Scipio Africanus - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    HP Elitebook/Zbooks will have the same documentation and also has a pretty good keyboard and trackpoint. Their service has been exemplary as well giving me fast turnaround for a simple loose power connector.
  • seanleeforever - Tuesday, June 9, 2015 - link

    I have yet to find a track pointer implementation that's come close to thinkpads. and I have used 4 elitebook/zbooks including the very last generation of them, and number of dell workstations. my work always has HP/Dell but my personal purchase is always thinkpad just for the track pointer. the fact that you even mentioned "trackpoint" in Zbooks means you don't use the track pointer at all.

    truth to be told. I desperately want another manufacture to come up with a decent trackpointer so I can dump thinkpad line.
  • just2btecky - Friday, May 22, 2015 - link

    What OS was this laptop tested on, or can The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon miraculously run sans OS? Just curious!

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