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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) review: The best business laptop?

The 10th generation of Lenovo's iconic ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a stunning 14-inch laptop on almost all counts, although battery life could be better.
sandra-vogel.jpg
Written by Sandra Vogel, Contributing Writer on
Pros
  • Compact, lightweight and durable
  • Plenty of configuration options
  • Excellent keyboard and speakers
  • 1080p webcam with privacy shutter
Cons
  • Small trackpad and wrist rest
  • Disappointing battery life
  • No SD/MicroSD card slot

Lenovo's ThinkPad series is regarded by many as the standard-setter for business laptops, with the X1 Carbon at the pinnacle. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 sports a 14-inch screen, 12th generation Intel Core processors, touch screens and, new for this iteration, a 1080p webcam. With a starting price of $1,319.45, or £1,549.99 (inc. VAT) in the UK, and rising to over $2,500/£2,800, it's not a budget buy. Does it justify the price? 

Design-wise, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 holds no surprises. The black chassis is punctuated by the ThinkPad X1 logo sitting in one corner and the Lenovo marque in the opposite corner. The dot over the 'i' of 'ThinkPad' illuminates red when the laptop is on, letting you know if you've closed the lid but not actually powered the laptop down. Some models have a carbon-fibre weave finish to the lid, giving it a two-tone appearance. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10): 12th-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, 14-inch screen (IPS, OLED up to 3840 x 2540 resolution), up to 32GB RAM and 2TB SSD storage. The chassis is a durable combination of magnesium alloy and carbon fibre.

Images: Lenovo
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10)

ThinkPad X1 branding and the carbon-fibre weave on the laptop's lid.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNET

The build quality is solid, as you'd expect from a ThinkPad, and it meets MIL-STD-810H. The lid is made from carbon-fibre, the body from magnesium alloy. I struggled to bend the lid at all, and while there is some give around the keyboard area, the corners of the chassis are solid. 

This is a compact, lightweight laptop to carry around. Lenovo says the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) benefits from narrow screen bezels, although I've seen narrower. The chassis has desktop footprint measuring 315.6mm by 222.5mm and is 14.95mm thick at the back, tapering slightly towards the front edge. A neat protruding lip in the centre of the lid helps you open the clamshell -- an action easily performed one-handed as the weight balance between lid and base means the base stays put on the desk when the lid is opened. Weight starts at just 1.12kg. 

A 14-inch screen hits the sweet spot between usability and portability. Lenovo employs a 16:10 aspect ratio and offers a wide range of display choices. My review unit had a WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) IPS touch screen with a matte finish and 400 nits brightness. It was a pleasure to work on. 

Screen options top out at a WQUXGA (3,840 x 2,400) IPS touch panel with 500 nits brightness. Like several other configurations, this unit features Eyesafe certified low blue-light emissions. The entry level resolution (1,920 x 1,200) comes with or without touch support. There is a 2.8K (2,880 x 1,800) OLED option, and one WUXGA IPS screen with Lenovo's PrivacyGuard system. Toggled by the Fn and D keys, this reduces screen readability to bystanders to the user's left, right and rear. PrivacyGuard was present on my review unit and worked efficiently. 

There are four speakers, two upwards-firing and two-downwards firing, with vertical grilles flanking the keyboard that push sound towards the user. Audio quality is superb: top volume is quite loud, and while there's a little distortion at this level it's acceptable. At three-quarters of the maximum volume, the distortion is gone. Bass and treble are nicely matched for rock listening, classical and chamber music is rich, and spoken word audio is clear.   

Above the screen there is a webcam with sliding privacy cover. There are various camera configurations, and users can take advantage of face authentication and presence detection, which locks the laptop down when the user steps away. All configurations of this laptop come with an FHD (1080p) camera.  If you're not keen on face ID, there's also a fingerprint reader embedded into the power button that sits just above the Home and End keyboard keys. 

My review unit had a non-UK keyboard layout, as you'll see from the photo. Still, I was easily able to type UK style, and found the keyboard beautifully light-touch, with just the right amount of resistance and bounce-back. The very faintest of clicking accompanied my touch typing. The Enter key is wide and double height, the Fn keys are sizeable, and fans of Lenovo's signature red TrackPoint and its accompanying buttons above the trackpad will find these present, responsive and easy to use. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10): keyboard

Lenovo's keyboard includes redesigned key undersides to create better airflow. The power button between the keyboard and screen includes a fingerprint reader.

Image: Sandra Vogel / ZDNET

The trackpad itself seems a little small by modern standards, and Lenovo has sacrificed some wrist-rest depth in order to provide plenty of spacing between the keyboard's rows. Some users -- perhaps those with larger hands -- may feel short-changed by this decision, although I wasn't affected by it. 

There's a wide range of configurations, including 12th generation Intel Core i5 and Core i7 processors, in off-the-page models and 'Build Your PC' options. RAM goes up to 32GB and storage up to 2TB, while the GPU is the integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics. Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2 and NFC are present across the board, while mobile broadband – 4G LTE and 5G (sub-6GHz) – is available as a purchase-time option.  

My review configuration featured a 12th generation Intel Core i7-1255U processor, 16GB of RAM, Intel Iris Xe Graphics, a 512GB SSD, and a WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) touch screen with PrivacyGuard. It came with Windows 10, which is available as a downgrade from the standard Windows 11 Home or Pro, and returned Geekbench 5 CPU scores of 1543 (single core) and 6732 (multi core).  

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10): ports

Left side (top): 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, USB-A, HDMI 2.0. Right side (above): 3.5mm audio in/out, Nano-SIM slot (optional), USB-A, Kensington lock slot.

Images: Lenovo

For wired connection, there's a full-size HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio in/out jack, two USB-A and two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports. One of those USB-C ports is occupied when the battery is charging. Configurations with mobile broadband also have a Nano SIM slot. 

Battery life is probably the biggest issue with the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10). I set up to work after fully charging the 57Wh battery, leaving the default settings in place. The screen was bright enough for me, and this setup would be fine for everyday working. I wrote into web apps, streamed sound and video, and did a fair bit of web browsing. After three hours of this regime the battery had fallen to 39%, suggesting a shade under 5 hours of battery life in total.  

At least fast charging is supported, and the power brick is reasonably small to carry around. On one occasion, I started charging with the battery at 32% and continued working. After 15 minutes it was at 48%, after half an hour it had risen to 62% and after 45 minutes it was at 74%. 

Conclusions

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) is a stunning 14-inch laptop. Extremely well made yet still lightweight, with plenty of configuration options including mobile broadband, an excellent keyboard, great speakers and the 1080p webcam that's a necessity of modern working, it delivers on almost all fronts. 

The key disappointment is battery life, while some users may also find the wrist rest shallow and the trackpad on the small side. This is a premium-priced laptop, but if you can handle these issues, it's very much worth the outlay.


Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) specifications

ProcessorIntel Core i5-1235U • Core i5-1240P • i5-1250P • i7-1260P • i7-1270P with vPro • i7-1280P with vPro
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe Graphics (integrated)
OSWindows 11 (Home, Pro), Ubuntu Linux, Fedora Linux
Display14-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS, 400 nits • 2.2K (2240 x 1400) IPS, 300 nits • WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS touchscreen, 400 nits • WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS touchscreen with PrivacyGuard, 500 nits • 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED, 400 nits • WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) IPS glossy, HDR 400, 500 nits • WQUXGA (3840 x 2400) IPS anti-reflective, HDR 400, 500 nits
RAMup to 32GB LPDDR5
Storageup to 2TB PCIe SSD Gen 4
Battery57Wh
Battery chargingRapid Charge (65W PSU or higher)
SecuritydTPM 2.0 • Computer Vision with human-presence detection via IR camera (optional) • PrivacyGuard (optional), facial recognition via IR camera (optional) • fingerprint reader in power button • Tile ready • webcam privacy shutter • Kensington lock slot • Secured Core
Audio4x speakers, Dolby Atmos • 4x 360-degree far field mics, Dolby Voice
CameraFHD RGB with privacy shutter • FHD IR hybrid with privacy shutter
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6E (802.11ax, 2.4GHz, 5GHz, 6GHz)
Bluetooth5.2
NFCyes
Mobile broadbandFibocom L860-GL-16 4G CAT16 (optional) • Fibocom FM350-GL 5G SUB 6 (optional)
Ports & slots2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4 • 2x USB-A (3.2 Gen 1) • audio in/out • HDMI 2.0b • Nano SIM slot (optional)
Keyboardspill-resistant, backlit, air intake keys, 110mm glass trackpad
ColourDeep Black • carbon-fibre weave on top cover (optional)
Dimensions 315.6mm x 222.5mm x 15.36mm (12.43" x 8.76" x 0.60")
Weightfrom 1.12kg (2.48lbs)
In the boxThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10, internal battery, USB-C 65W (supports Rapid Charge), quick-start guide
Pricefrom $1,319.45 / £1,549.99

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