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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2018) review: Seriously good 2-in-1 for serious business

Filled with new tech and features, the third-generation X1 Yoga is an impressive, albeit pricey, convertible laptop.

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Joshua Goldman

Managing Editor / Advice

Josh Goldman helps people find the best laptop at the best price -- from simple Chromebooks to high-end gaming laptops. He's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software for more than two decades.

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Lori Grunin

Senior Editor / Advice

I've been reviewing hardware and software, devising testing methodology and handed out buying advice for what seems like forever; I'm currently absorbed by computers and gaming hardware, but previously spent many years concentrating on cameras. I've also volunteered with a cat rescue for over 15 years doing adoptions, designing marketing materials, managing volunteers and, of course, photographing cats.

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6 min read

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 line is a showcase for the best of what the company offers in business-class laptops while keeping its distinguished ThinkPad design -- a nod to its past while moving toward what's next. The X1 Yoga adds Lenovo's dual 360-degree hinges to the mix, making it not only great as a laptop, but also for giving presentations, marking up documents or collaborating on projects without someone having to awkwardly hover over you.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2018)

The Good

The third-gen Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga two-in-one has the same premium durable design as past models and gets an extremely bright HDR display option, eighth-gen Intel Core processors, a more secure fingerprint reader and a webcam privacy shutter among other things.

The Bad

Battery life, at least on the high-end configuration, is underwhelming. The HDR display isn't ideal out of the box for color-critical work.

The Bottom Line

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga continues to be a top choice for a business-class two-in-one, but all-day battery life will require dialing back on its premium options.

For the 2018 model, Lenovo adds the option for a WQHD-resolution 14-inch display (2,560x1,440 pixels) with 100 percent Adobe RGB color gamut, brightness up to 500 nits, and pending a future update, support for Dolby Vision HDR. You'll also find 360-degree far-field mics that will allow you to wake the Yoga and talk to Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant. Plus, soon the model will have Amazon Alexa services so you can shop, search and control smart devices anywhere you are with your laptop.

If privacy is a concern, you can shut down the mics entirely, and built into the thin display is a webcam fitted with a physical shutter that slides to block the camera. There's also a new fingerprint reader that stores and processes your print on its own system-on-a-chip (SoC) for better protection of your system and print from hacks or malware. Other security features include self-encrypting SSDs and Intel vPro processors, discrete TPM 2.0 and FIDO authentication.

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A small slider lets you instantly block the webcam.

James Martin/CNET

The mix of new tech, privacy and security features and premium build quality all adds up to a particularly pricey package, though. The X1 Yoga starts at $1,500, £1,650 and AU$2,400, and the top-end configuration reviewed here currently goes for $2,465. That's not unreasonable for a premium business system, but Lenovo does offer multiple configuration options so you can still have a top-notch Yoga experience with only what you need.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 3)


Base As reviewed
Price $1,484 $2,465
Display size/resolution 14-inch 1,920x1,080 touch display14-inch 2,560x1,440 HDR touch display
PC CPU 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8650U with vPro
PC Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
Graphics 128MB dedicated Intel HD Graphics 620128MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage 256GB PCIe NVMe Opal 2.0 SSD1TB PCIe NVMe Opal 2.0 SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1 with vPro
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)Windows 10 Pro (64-bit)

Built for life on the road

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The 14-inch X1 Yoga weighs only 3.1 pounds (1.4 kg).

Sarah Tew/CNET

Regardless of the configuration, you get the same durable build quality that Lenovo says meets 12 military-grade requirements and goes through more than 200 quality checks. You also get the same great keyboard. It's spill-resistant and has a two-level backlight. It's without a doubt one of the most comfortable keyboards you'll find on a laptop this thin and you likely won't have to adjust to using it. Plus, unlike almost all other two-in-ones, the keys pull into the chassis when you fold the screen back beyond 190 degrees.

With a vestige of past ThinkPads, you'll still find Lenovo's TrackPoint in between the G, H and B keys as well as the left, right and scroll mouse buttons below the space bar. Although many will likely end up using its reliable Windows Precision Touchpad, I find the TrackPoint comes in handy on a cramped plane, train or bus seats.

Keeping with that mix of modern and legacy, the X1 Yoga has two Thunderbolt 3 USB-C ports, two USB 3.1 (gen 1) ports and a full-size HDMI output. There's a combo headphone/mic jack, too, and a proprietary Ethernet extension connector that will give you native Ethernet with a dongle.

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Park and charge the included active pen in the Yoga's body.

Sarah Tew/CNET

A near-hidden panel on the back has microSD card and global LTE-A slots. Also tucked into the body is Lenovo's ThinkPad Pro Pen with 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. It charges in its garage, getting up to 100 minutes of battery life with just 15 seconds of charging. It's a nice, responsive little pen and its seamless storage in the body makes you wonder why other pen-enabled laptops and tablets can't have something similar, including the company's own Yoga 920.

Bye OLED, hello HDR

We really loved the OLED screen on the past two versions of the X1 Yoga. But, for however great it looked, it was not especially bright, which can certainly be an issue if you're trying to see past reflections outdoors or under bright office lighting. This X1 Yoga comes with the option for a new high-dynamic-range (HDR) display that promises and delivers greater brightness, contrast and color palette. But that doesn't mean it's picture perfect.

The laptop comes with its own utility for switching among color spaces, which includes Standard (sRGB), PhotoPro (Adobe RGB) and Movie Pro (DCI-P3). The native screen mode really pushes everything (which is common), with a high 3.0 average gamma -- that's good for outdoor viewing, since it pumps up everything in the middle of the tonal range a lot -- but a too-blue white point of 7500K, despite a 6500K target. Peak brightness hits about 510 nits and minimum black about 0.4 (at 100 percent brightness), with contrast across all the profiles roughly 1400:1. Compared to most of its competition, it can look blindingly bright. In direct sun, you'll still find yourself fighting reflections, but the extra brightness does seem to help here.

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Lenovo's Vantage app lets you change color spaces.

Sarah Tew/CNET

That high contrast and brightness range is what will likely make the Dolby Vision content you stream while stuck in a hotel room look better than most competitors' once it's enabled. But it won't look as good as your TV, because the display has no local dimming, which is a key component for HDR to perform its magic. However, with the support for the Dolby Vision decoder, you could connect to an external monitor that does have local dimming, such as one of the new LG Nano IPS displays. Then you might be able to get a better view.

Aside from the HDR, Lenovo also says the display has 100 percent Adobe RGB color gamut. While that's true, if you were hoping this screen would be great for photo editing, it's not -- at least if you're picky about colors. For our evaluation unit, it did encompass the entire Adobe RGB gamut, but it wasn't particularly accurate -- Delta E 2000 values almost all between 4 and 6, gamma closer to 2.3 than 2.2 and a color temperature of 7500K.

That's out of the box, so there's room for improvement with third-party calibration software. But Lenovo's utility doesn't support any user calibration. There's a Custom profile, but that's for changing the target parameters -- white point, color space and gamma -- not ensuring that it hits them. DCI-P3 hits its correct gamma of 2.6, but its white point is similarly about 1000K too cool.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2018

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At least it charges fast

Performance on my X1 Yoga was excellent, which isn't much of a surprise given its maxed-out configuration: 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8650U vPro processor, 16GB of 2,133MHz RAM and a 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. For day-to-day office chores like email and word processing, though, you'll be fine with the entry-level config running a 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U. If your days usually have you handling more intensive tasks -- anything from working in large databases or spreadsheets to creating multimedia presentations -- or you just want more headroom for the future, go ahead and get the i7.

Battery life, though, is a bit disappointing. Lenovo claims up to 15 hours, but that's for a lower-end configuration with a seventh-gen Core i5 processor. The X1 Yoga I tested ran for 7 hours and 34 minutes on our streaming video test. With power and screen brightness adjustments, you can get more work time out of it, but considering the long battery times we're seeing from other systems, this feels short. The thing that saves it, though, is that the USB-C port can charge the laptop to 80 percent in only an hour -- perfect to recharge on those airport layovers -- or you can run the X1 Yoga off an external battery pack.

Premium business 2-in-1 worth flipping for

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is definitely a laptop you won't mind getting from your IT department. Regardless of the configuration, you'll have a flexible, durable two-in-one with advanced features for privacy, security and usability that will help you get your work done.

Multimedia Multitasking test 3.0

Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017) 183Dell XPS 15 (2017) 197Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (3rd) 291Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th) 295LG Gram 15 (2018) 349Samsung Notebook 9 (15-inch) 427HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2017) 509
Note: Shorter bars indicate better performance

Geekbench 4 (Multi-Core)

Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017) 15973Dell XPS 15 (2017) 14970Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (3rd) 14301Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th) 13198LG Gram 15 (2018) 11717Samsung Notebook 9 (15-inch) 8374
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Streaming video playback battery drain test

LG Gram 15 (2018) 838Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th) 787Samsung Notebook 9 (15-inch) 736Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017) 643HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2017) 594Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (3rd) 454Dell XPS 15 (2017) 432
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System Configurations

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (third) Microsoft Windows Pro (64-bit); 1.9GHz Intel Core i7-8650U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620; 1TB SSD
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (sixth) Microsoft Windows Pro (64-bit); 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel UHD Graphics 620; 512GB SSD
LG Gram 15 (2018) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 1.8GHz Intel Core i7-8550U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 128MB dedicated Intel HD Grpahics 620; (2) 512GB SSD
Samsung Notebook 9 (15-inch) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce 940MX; 256GB SSD
Apple MacBook Pro (15-inch, 2017) Apple macOS Sierra 10.12.5; 2.9GHz Intel Core i7-7820HQ; 16GB DDR3 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Radeon Pro 560/1,536MB Intel HD Graphics 630; 512GB SSD
Dell XPS 15 (2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.8GHz Intel Core i7-7700HQ;16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050; 512GB SSD
HP Spectre x360 (15-inch, 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-7500U; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 2GB Nvidia GeForce 940MX; 512GB SSD
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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2018)

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 9Performance 8Battery 8
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