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This Lenovo ThinkPad is so close to being the perfect ultraportable laptop

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 continues its line's legacy by staying a powerful, ultraportable machine with some unsurprising drawbacks.
Written by Cesar Cadenas, Contributing Writer
Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

With all these high-tech computers sporting the latest tech, it can be difficult, even a little overwhelming, to find the right laptop for you. Sometimes you just want something simple. You don't need a beefy gaming laptop with the latest graphics card or a MacBook sporting a new chip. You may want a laptop that's easy to use and can handle a full day's work without too much trouble.

Also: This Alienware laptop has no business being this powerful for its size

Very recently I tried out a laptop that fits that description to a T: the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3. If you're already familiar with the series, you already know the line is well-known for its simplistic models. Instead of having a ton of features, they opt for ultra portability and easy usage. What you see is literally what you get. 

The third-generation ThinkPad X1 Nano laptop continues this tradition by offering exactly what I described but with better hardware than before. In fact, the internals are one of the few areas of this computer that's different compared to previous models -- for better and worse.

View at Lenovo

The first thing you'll notice with the ThinkPad X1 Nano is it's incredibly lightweight. It weighs 2.18 pounds in total, which funny enough, makes it the heaviest in its line. The models have steadily gained weight since the release of the first entry. A big reason why the third-generation laptop is so heavy is its touchscreen. Without the touchscreen, it slims down to 2.13 pounds. But this lightweight form factor is a major reason why the ThinkPad X1 Nano computers are so popular.

Don't worry about it potentially breaking as it's made out of a combination of recycled plastic and a magnesium alloy. I don't know for sure if the case features any carbon fiber in its construction like the original ThinkPad X1 Nano, but I wouldn't be surprised if it did. 

Also: Best Windows laptop models: Comparing Dell, Samsung, Lenovo, and more

Other notable hardware features include the stunning 13.3-inch, 2K (2160 x 1350 pixels) resolution screen enhanced by an anti-glare coating. Powering the display is your choice of a 13th-gen Intel Core processor (ranging from the i5-1340P to the i7-1370P CPU) and an integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics card.

Business professionals will enjoy how good they'll look during a video call thanks to the Full HD (1080p) webcam on top of the display. For audio, you have support for Dolby Atmos, a type of surround sound technology frequently found on high-end sound systems. Dolby Voice, one of the few new features, is here as well ensuring crisp audio while reducing outside noise. Of course, the ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 has the hardware making it possible. Lenovo outfitted its machine with the same four 360-degree quad-array microphones as the older devices to pick up every enunciation.


The ports are notably bare bones, but they're in line with other ultraportable laptops nowadays.

Cesar Cadenas/ZDNET

If you're at all familiar with the previous ThinkPad X1 computers, you'll notice a lot of similarities. The 2K screen, the 1080p webcam, and so on. However, you also get all the same problems. For starters, the keyboard is rather small. I don't have the biggest hands in the world, but typing can get uncomfortable, especially if you type for a living. My hands were fighting for the same space. And I made a lot of mistakes where I normally don't since I kept hitting the wrong keys. That may not be the case for you.

Also: Laptops will need to support growing AI and security priorities, says Lenovo

Another consequence of the limited space is the lack of ports. You have four inputs in total: two Thunderbolt 4 ports, an 3.5mm headphone/mic combo, and a slot for a Nano SIM, although the last one is optional. It's as barebones as you can get. To be honest, I am pleasantly surprised that there is a headphone jack. With how simple the third-generation ThinkPad X1 Nano is, I was a little shocked it made the cut.

ZDNET's buying advice

Now the question is: would I recommend getting this laptop? Yes, I would actually. Sure, it may be a little too simplistic for some. If you want something more robust, I'd recommend Dell's recent XPS 17. However, the XPS 17 isn't as portable, nor is its screen better than Lenovo's option. If you want a solid, daily work machine and don't care much for all the bells and whistles, I highly suggest picking up Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3.

Also: I tested Dell's latest XPS laptops and can't recommend them enough

Prices start at $1,043 for a device with the lowest configuration. The review unit I had cost around $1,750; It had most of the high-end hardware choices except for the one terabyte storage space. The highest configurations peak at around $1,940, assuming you don't go for all the extra software offers. If you do, the price tag will jump up even higher. There are also pre-built options available if you want to take a lot of guessing work out of the process.

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