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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano review: Featherlight and feature-rich work laptop

Like other ThinkPad X1 laptops, the Nano expands on what you should expect from a top-of-the-line laptop for business.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The ThinkPad X1 Nano is Lenovo's lightest ThinkPad ever, weighing just 2 pounds (907 grams), and yet it still retains a lot of what we like about the rest of the bigger and (not much) heavier X1 business laptop line. That list of likes includes solid build quality, strong productivity performance, a comfortable -- if small -- keyboard, a nice display and the latest security and privacy features available. The only real hiccup is a battery life shorter than I'm used to seeing from an ultraportable such as this. Otherwise, the X1 Nano is a laptop you won't mind getting from your IT department to slip into your bag every day. 

8.0

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Like

  • Incredibly light but sturdy body
  • High-quality 16:10 display
  • Several security and privacy features

Don't Like

  • Battery life is short for the category
  • Memory soldered on

If you're buying the X1 Nano for yourself, however, the laptop currently starts at a reasonable price of $950, though that model is marked as "clearance." The configuration I tested has a $3,129 regular price and a far lower but still expensive $1,887 sale price. Compared to the base model, my test configuration has twice the memory at 16GB, double the storage at 512GB and an 11th-gen Core i7 instead of a Core i5. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano

Price as reviewed $1,877
Display size/resolution 13-inch 2,160x1,350-pixel display
CPU 2.1GHz Intel Core i7-1160G7
Memory 16GB 4267MHz LPDDR4X (onboard)
Graphics 128MB Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Networking 802.11ax wireless, Bluetooth 5.1
Connections Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (x2), 3.5mm audio jack
Operating system Windows 10 Pro (2H02)

The clearance model is pretty enticing and would be a good choice for a commuter laptop for work or school. You'll get greater performance longevity out of the version I tested, though, with its slightly faster processor, extra RAM (it's onboard and can't be upgraded) and additional storage space for files and software. Business laptops are regularly more expensive than consumer models, too, because they are more durable and offer greater privacy and security features.

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The X1 Nano has a privacy shutter for its webcam.

Sarah Tew/CNET

For the X1 Nano that means a Mil-Spec-tested magnesium-aluminum body with a hybrid carbon-fiber lid, a match-on-chip fingerprint reader (the biometric info is stored on the reader, not the computer) with anti-spoofing technology, and an IR camera for facial recognition. The BIOS is self-healing, too, meaning it can repair itself from a back-up in case of a malicious attack or a failed or interrupted update. 

The Nano can also be configured with an ultrawideband radar sensor that can tell when you walk away from it and quickly lock the laptop. It can also sense when you return and automatically wake and unlock the Nano. Called Human-Presence Detection, it's simultaneously awesome and a tad creepy. This setting and many more can be controlled through the laptop's Commercial Vantage app. 

In the app you'll find everything from battery and power settings to audio tweaks for its mics and speakers to turning on and off the keyboard's various hotkeys. As you might expect, the controls are designed to improve your work experience, such as setting the laptop's mics and speakers (there are four of both) to improve your VoIP call quality while also suppressing keyboard noise. 

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The Nano X1 has a TrackPoint and touchpad, but a touchscreen is optional. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Small but not cramped

There are always trade-offs when you make a laptop this small, thin and light but Lenovo manages to keep things comfortable. For instance, it has a 13-inch display but gives you some extra vertical room to work with its 16:10 aspect ratio. Also, its 2K resolution is a fair compromise between full HD and 4K, and it can hit a 450-nit brightness level (for working in bright conditions) and covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut. The display looks good right out of the box. However, that extra resolution might have something to do with its shorter-than-anticipated battery life of 8 hours, 22 minutes on our video streaming test. 

The keyboard and touchpad are predictably smaller to fit into the X1 Nano's petite frame. Lenovo reduced the size of the function keys and a few others but none of them slowed my typing or seemingly increased my typing errors. The slim body does mean there isn't as much key travel as one of its beefier ThinkPads. It's still a comfortable typing experience. 

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A notebook that weighs the same as an actual notebook. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Even the port assortment on the X1 Nano is small with only two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports and a 3.5mm headset jack -- though Thunderbolt 4 handles all your connection needs and power with a single cable and the right USB-C hub. Plus, it charges fast using Thunderbolt 4, too, getting you to 80% of a full charge in an hour. 

While it is expensive, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano earns its price tag with its durable lightweight design, high-quality display, a fleet of features to improve the user experience and easily managed security and privacy options.