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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 Review: Pricey, But Powerful

Rating:
9/10
?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price:
Starting At $1,319
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon lock screen
Sarah Chaney

After reviewing Lenovo’s X1 Carbon Gen 9 laptop last year, I was excited to get my paws on the newest Gen 10 model. I wasn’t disappointed! The X1 Carbon Gen 10 is a beast of a machine and capable of handling almost anything I threw at it.

Here's What We Like

  • Sleek carbon fiber and magnesium chassis
  • Powerful specs
  • Long battery life

And What We Don't

  • Speaker system isn't the best
  • A pricey investment

If you’re unfamiliar with Lenovo’s ThinkPad line, just know that it’s one of the company’s oldest and best-selling options. While there are more budget-friendly options in Lenovo’s ThinkPad line, that’s not the X1 Carbon. These laptops are top-end, premium ThinkPads marketed primarily toward working professionals. I wanted to mention this upfront because of its high price tag. You’ll pay more but have a laptop that lasts a long time.

While you can’t buy the specific model I had the pleasure of reviewing just yet, you can browse through comparable Gen 10 X1 Carbon laptops on Lenovo’s website. Here, you’ll be able to customize how much storage and RAM you want. That said, if you can hold out for this model (21CB000CUS), I had an absolute blast reviewing it and think it’s an excellent choice for anyone who needs powerful internal specs.

Specs as Reviewed

  • CPU: 12th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-1260P Processor (E-Core Max 3.40 GHz, P-Core Max 4.70 GHz with Turbo Boost, 12 Cores, 16 Threads, 18 MB Cache)
  • RAM: 16GB (LPDDR5 5200MHz)
  • Storage: 512GB M.2 2280 SSD
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel® Iris® Xe
  • Display: 14-inch FHD+ (1920 x 1200) low power IPS anti-glare touchscreen, 400 nits
  • Battery: 57Wh lithium-ion battery
  • Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211 802.11AX, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Operating System: Windows 11 Pro
  • Ports: 1x HDMI, 2x USB 4 Type-C with Thunderbolt 4 (DP, DT, PD), 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, headphone jack
  • Camera: FHD 1080p with Privacy Shutter
  • Audio: Dolby Atmos Speaker System (Stereo speakers, 2W x2 woofers, and 0.8W x2 tweeters)
  • Dimensions: 12.43 x 8.76 x 0.60 inches
  • Weight: Starting at 2.48 lbs
  • Price as Specced: $2,249.00

Design and Build Quality: ThinkPad Laptops Always Deliver

One of my favorite features of the previous Gen 9 X1 Carbon was its carbon fiber and magnesium chassis, so I was happy to see that return in this Gen 10 model. This material combination is cool to the touch, feels incredibly smooth, and does a great job of dissipating heat.

The only feature I’m not crazy about on this laptop, or any ThinkPad laptop for that matter, is the red TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard. Personally, I can’t imagine preferring that red dot over a standard mouse or even the trackpad. That said, this is a hallmark feature of ThinkPads because many people love it and find that it saves them time.

Also, I’m not a fan of the position of the Control and Function keys. I’m used to the Control key being in the corner, not the Function key. If you can’t retrain your brain and keep accidentally pressing the wrong key, you can swap these keys in the settings. But unfortunately, the physical keys will still be mismatched.

Other than those two minor issues—which, again, are entirely personal preference—I loved the overall look and feel of the X1 Carbon Gen 10.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon closeup of keyboard
Sarah Chaney

The typing experience is great, which is what I expected. When I reviewed the Gen 9 model, its keyboard was comfortable to type on and wasn’t too loud, which is great if you frequently work around other people. What I didn’t expect is that the keyboard could get better. On this Gen 10 model, the keys are slightly more concaved to fit your fingertips better and seem to have a bit more cushioning, resulting in a quieter typing experience.

Moving below the keyboard, I can glide my finger smoothly across the trackpad without hiccups, unlike my recent experience with Lenovo’s Chromebook Duet 3. When I clicked with the trackpad, I could certainly hear the click register, but it was super quiet. You also have the option to use the left- and right-click buttons above the trackpad. I love having dedicated click buttons, especially when I’m not using an external mouse, so I don’t have to chance accidentally left-clicking when I meant to right-click.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon ports on left side
Sarah Chaney

On the X1 Carbon Gen 10’s left side, you’ll find two USB-C ports, one of which works for charging the laptop. Hopefully, one day we’ll see USB-C charging become the standard for all laptops, but for now, I’ll just rejoice that this one uses it. Though, it would be even better if there was one charging USB-C port on each side; you never know when the closest outlet will be to your right or left. There’s also a USB-A 3.0 port and an HDMI port if you want to connect an extra portable monitor or hook your laptop up to a TV.

Looking to the laptop’s right side, there’s an extra USB-A 3.0 port for any external device you want to hook up and a headphone jack. Because many devices nowadays have Bluetooth capability for headphones, it’s becoming increasingly rare to see a headphone jack on laptops and smartphones. Luckily, the X1 Carbon has both Bluetooth 5.2 and a headphone jack!

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon ports on right side
Sarah Chaney

Overall, I’d say that Lenovo managed to make improvements to an already great design and build on the X1 Carbon. And no matter how quickly you take photos of this laptop or how often you clean off a desk, there will inevitably be dust in an otherwise great picture. Maybe I’ll chalk it up to my Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra taking super detailed photos.

Display and Performance: An Excellent Value

I want to preface this section by saying I’m spoiled by my current laptop’s 4K OLED display. I reviewed Lenovo’s Yoga 9i and then decided I needed it for myself. That said, I realize that most laptops have a 1920 x 1080 resolution, the X1 Carbon Gen 10 included, and to penalize it for not being 4K would be completely unfair.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon open on desk
Sarah Chaney

Its 60Hz refresh rate paired with the 1920 x 1080 resolution looked good in everything I did, from browsing the internet to watching Netflix to playing a video game. The only display-related issue I had was when I tried to play Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel. For whatever reason, I couldn’t get the game to stop screen tearing. I turned on V-Sync and double-checked all other video settings but couldn’t get it to stop assaulting my eyes.

While I can’t know for sure, I’m guessing something was wrong with the game itself because I tested out Stardew Valley and My Time at Portia after and didn’t experience any screen tearing. Stardew Valley is a smaller and less demanding game, but My Time at Portia is about the same size as Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel.

Other than that issue, the X1 Carbon Gen 10 performed beautifully. I had 30 tabs open simultaneously, and two YouTube videos playing simultaneously, Discord and Steam open, and the CPU percentage barely spiked. Even when I launched games from Steam, Intel’s Core i7-1260P processor handled everything seamlessly.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon left side speaker
Sarah Chaney

Plus, the only time the laptop got hot was when it was charging from a low battery percentage. The fans naturally kicked on to help the heat dissipate, and that was the only time I remember the laptop being anything but whisper quiet.

Overall, the internals of the X1 Carbon Gen 10 are a lot better value for the price than the Gen 9 I reviewed last year. Both laptops have 512GB of storage and 16GB of RAM, though the Gen 10 model upgraded from LPDDR4 to LPDDR5. But this Gen 10 model has a stunning processor inside, making it well worth the $2000 price tag.

Audio, Cameras, and Battery: On Par With Industry Standards

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon right side speaker
Sarah Chaney

Laptop speakers rarely sound great. Some sound so bad you can barely bring yourself to listen to anything through them, but luckily, that’s not the case with Lenovo’s X1 Carbon Gen 10. I probably wouldn’t listen to music through these speakers, but they’re pretty good for watching a Netflix show or listening to coworkers in a meeting!

Then, the 1080p webcam is a step above the usual 720p most other laptops use. You won’t record professional-looking videos through this webcam, but it’s decent enough for school or work.

Closing out on a high note, the battery life on this gem is awesome! It can easily last an entire eight-hour workday, more if you’re not constantly using it or have the brightness turned down. This is a fantastic feature if you frequently leave the house with your laptop and don’t want to cart around your charging cord. I’ve rarely encountered a Lenovo laptop with poor battery life, but it does happen.

Conclusion: A Fantastic Choice If You Want a Premium Work Laptop

If you need a powerful laptop that can handle demanding work software during the day and then your favorite video game or TV show at night, you’ll be happy with Lenovo’s X1 Carbon Gen 10. For students or anyone just wanting a casual laptop, I think other options will give you everything you need at a more affordable price.

Rating:
9/10
Price:
Starting At $1,319

Here’s What We Like

  • Sleek carbon fiber and magnesium chassis
  • Powerful specs
  • Long battery life

And What We Don't

  • Speaker system isn't the best
  • A pricey investment

Sarah Chaney Sarah Chaney
Sarah Chaney is a professional freelance writer for Review Geek, Android Authority, MakeUseOf, and other great websites. She has a Bachelor of Arts in English with a Creative Writing concentration. Her degree, paired with her almost two years of professionally writing for websites, helps her write content that is engaging, yet informative. She enjoys covering anything Android, video game, or tech related. Read Full Bio »