Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch review: An upgraded slim business powerhouse

Connections, performance, and battery life
This is a business laptop, at least on paper, so some consumer-friendly features, such as the HDMI port, get jettisoned. Somewhat surprisingly, Ethernet gets downgraded to a USB dongle as well. The X1 has one powered USB 3.0 port and one USB 2.0, which is pretty sparse for a 14-inch Windows laptop. A handy "airplane mode" switch on the left edge turns off all the system's radios if needed.

Matched up against other 13- and 14-inch ultrabooks with the same low-voltage Intel Core i5 processors, the X1 Carbon performed better than expected, beating out systems such as the Sony Vaio T13 and Acer Aspire M5 in our benchmark tests. That's more impressive, because ThinkPads sometimes take a small performance hit from having Lenovo's custom setup and security apps running the background.

In anecdotal use, the system felt quick and responsive when surfing the Web, playing HD video streams, and working on office documents. A current-gen Intel Core i5, even the low-voltage version, is more than enough computing power for all but the most demanding of users.

If you're thinking of kicking back and playing some PC games during your next meeting, the integrated Intel HD 4000 graphics aren't going to be much help. There are no discrete GPU options in the X1 Carbon. Still, HD 4000 will work in a pinch for older games, or some current games (Portal 2, for example), if you turn the resolution and quality settings down.

Travel-oriented business laptops, and ThinkPads in particular, typically emphasize long battery life, as do ultrabook laptops. The performance here fell short of the hype, and the X1 Carbon ran for 5 hours and 24 minutes on our video playback battery drain test. That's a bit better by almost half an hour than the nontouch version, but not among the longest-life laptops available. This laptop includes Lenovo's Rapid Charge feature, which can charge a battery up to 80 percent in about half an hour.

Service and support is especially important for mission-critical business laptops. Lenovo goes beyond the standard one-year mail-in warranty you get with most consumer laptops, offering diagnostic and recovery tools in its built-in ThinkVantage software, and priority phone support. The X1 Carbon is not available to order or customize on Lenovo's Web site yet, but prerelease spec sheets provided by the company indicate that a three-year warranty is standard. We'll update the details when the exact warranty and extension details are available.

Conclusion
Adding Windows 8 and a touch screen keeps the X1 Carbon in the running as one of the only really high-end crossover thin laptops you can find right now. Lenovo itself does some more inventive stuff with the Yoga , Helix , and other models, but this is a sharp-looking business machine for serious PC users.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
430 
Asus S400CA
598 

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
174 
Asus S400CA
189 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
116 
Asus S400CA
129 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
324 
Asus S400CA
285 

Avg watts (load test)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Sony Vaio T13
25.4 
Asus S400CA
26.49 
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
28.1 

Find out more about how we test Windows laptops.

System configurations:
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Windows 8 (64-bit) w/ SP1; 1.8GHz Intel Core i5-3427U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 180GB Intel SSD

Asus S400CA
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Toshiba Satellite P845t-S4310
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 750GB Toshiba 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio T13
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,333MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

Acer Aspire M5-481PT
Windows 8 (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 6GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 128MB (Dedicated) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm + 20GB SSD Hybrid

HP Envy 4-1102
Windows 8 Pro (64-bit); 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 32MB (Shared) Intel HD 4000; 500GB Hitachi 5,400rpm

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    Where to Buy

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch Ultrabook Intel Core i5-3427U (3M Cache, up to 2.80 GHz)

    Part Number: X1CARBON_TOUCH_UPGRADE1_SAP
    Pricing is currently unavailable.

    Quick Specifications

    • Installed Size 4 GB
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