It makes me really feel very outdated to say this, however we’re on the ninth era of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon. And there have been 9 of those for a motive. The X1 Carbon has traditionally been the most effective enterprise laptops you will get. And that continues to be the case with its latest iteration. Lenovo has made a couple of tweaks, however in any other case, it’s the identical ThinkPad excellence we’ve come to count on.

Earlier than we get into the pricing, I have to make the standard caveat that Lenovo likes to put absurdly excessive MSRPs on all of its ThinkPads, however they’re often obtainable for considerably much less. So the bottom X1 Carbon (the Linux mannequin) has an MSRP of $2,336 however is at the moment obtainable for $1,401.60. That mannequin features a Core i5-1135G7, 8GB of RAM (soldered), 256GB of storage, and a 1920 x 1200, 14-inch, 400-nit, non-touch show. Prebuilt fashions run as much as a Core i7-1185G7, 32GB of RAM, and 512GB of storage for $3,479 (listed at $2,249.40). You may add an infrared digicam, in addition to a touchscreen with Lenovo’s Privateness Guard or a UHD+ panel, however these choices are solely obtainable with the IR webcam. The IR digicam may include human presence detection.

The particular mannequin I examined is at the moment listed for $1,829.40 in the event you assemble it on Lenovo’s website ($3.049 MSRP). As a full bundle, it’s listed for $2,251.99 at CDW however is at the moment offered on the market. It has a Core i7-1165G7 (a step down from the most costly chip), 16GB of reminiscence, 512GB of storage, a non-touch show, no vPro, and no IR digicam. It’s verified via Evo, which is this system Intel makes use of to certify top-performing fashions.

The ThinkPad’s largest replace from the X1 Carbon Gen 8 is the brand new 16:10 show, a function Lenovo has been including to X-series ThinkPads throughout the road. It affords noticeably extra vertical display screen house than you’ll see from the 16:9 Carbon Gen 8, which implies much less scrolling and fewer zooming out whereas multitasking.

Facet ratio apart, the display screen on this machine is sort of good. It has a 1920 x 1200 decision and comes with a brand new expertise that’s supposed to cut back blue gentle publicity. My unit was barely dim for the class, maxing out at 297 nits (it’s rated for 400), however the matte texture meant I nonetheless noticed little or no glare in brilliant indoor settings and will work comfortably. The show delivered a very good image with vivid colours, excessive distinction, and sharp particulars. The display screen covers 99 % of the sRGB gamut and 87 % of Adobe RGB, which is sweet (although not corresponding to what you’ll see on one thing like an OLED panel).

Along with this show, you will get a 400-nit FHD+ touchscreen mannequin or a brighter 500-nit FHD+ touchscreen choice with Lenovo’s Privateness Guard expertise, which makes it more durable for potential snoops to peek at your display screen from the perimeters. (This selection doesn’t have the blue gentle filter.) Then there’s a UHD+ 500-nit non-touch display screen, which does embody the blue gentle filter and likewise helps Dolby Imaginative and prescient. The FHD+ panel is sweet sufficient that I don’t suppose most individuals ought to want the UHD one until brightess is an isuse.

The ports on the right side of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9.

USB-A, lock slot, audio jack on the proper.

The ports on the left side of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9.

Two USB-C, a USB-A, and an HDMI on the left.

The second factor that’s been upgraded: the hinge. Put the Gen 9 subsequent to earlier ThinkPad X1 Carbon fashions and also you’ll discover that the previous now has a single spherical hinge connecting the show to the keyboard deck. There are communication antennas inside (so it’s no soundbar hinge, nevertheless it’s one thing). I like this construct somewhat extra, and it makes the underside bezel look a bit much less chunky, however people will probably take their very own views. Talking of that backside bezel, the seen Lenovo and X1 Carbon logos that adorned that of the earlier mannequin at the moment are gone, making a barely extra refined and fewer business look.

Third change: touchpad is greater. 10 % wider, particularly. Positive, reviewers felt that the Gen 8’s was a bit small. I’ll say that whereas the additional width is good, it’s nonetheless a bit cramped height-wise (in all probability as a result of it must accommodate a set of ThinkPad-signature discrete clickers), and I did discover myself hitting plastic loads once I scrolled. All the pieces else concerning the touchpad is nice, although — it has fairly a easy texture and an easy click on. The keyboard can also be snappy, although it’s a bit loud and the backspace key squeaked on my mannequin.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 on a table in front of a bookshelf, open, angled slightly to the right. The screen displays a Verge article.

The keys have a scissor-lift mechanism “to ensure ergonomics and comfort.”

The X1 Carbon Gen 9 additionally has an improved Dolby Atmos audio system. There are new upward-firing audio system on either side of the keyboard. The sound was surprisingly good, with notably forceful percussion and bass. The machine comes preloaded with Dolby Entry, which you should use to change between equalizer presets for video games, films, music, and voice calls, in addition to customized profiles. These did make a noticeable distinction, although I usually discover that I choose to take heed to music on the Films profile because the Music profile makes the vocals stand out a bit greater than I like.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 on a table in front of a bookshelf, facing away from the camera, angled to the right.

There are 4 360-degree far-field microphones as effectively.

Lastly, the match-on-chip fingerprint reader is now built-in into the facility button (it was beforehand subsequent to the touchpad). Positive, that’s a barely extra handy place. The sensor didn’t fairly get my fingerprint each time (presumably resulting from how tiny it now’s), nevertheless it typically labored effectively.

Should you’re not a fan of the fingerprint reader, it’s possible you’ll wish to spring for a mannequin with the IR digicam, which helps Home windows Howdy facial recognition. Human presence detection permits the pc to mechanically wake whenever you’re close to it and lock whenever you transfer away. I didn’t have one among these fancy cameras, however the common one on my unit was serviceable sufficient — I appeared grainy on my Zoom calls, however typically correct. There’s a bodily webcam shutter as effectively, as is normal for ThinkPads of this caliber.

Elsewhere, the Carbon Gen 9 has a heck of loads in frequent with earlier X1 Carbon fashions. It has the identical stunning black chassis with the entire signature ThinkPad options, from the pink TrackPoint to the distinctive keyboard structure. (Keep in mind: Fn and Ctrl are reversed on ThinkPads.) It’s unbelievably skinny and lightweight (2.49 kilos, 0.59 inches) whereas nonetheless being fairly sturdy; Lenovo says it’s undergone MILSpec sturdiness testing. The X1 Carbon is completely up there with Dell’s XPS as one of many best-built laptops you should buy.

Inside, the X1 Carbon now contains eleventh Gen Intel processors with Iris Xe built-in graphics throughout the board. My take a look at mannequin was a terrific multitasker, with no drawback working Zoom calls on prime of Spotify streams on prime of heaps of Chrome tabs. Intel’s Core i7-1165G7 delivers among the greatest efficiency you’ll discover from a laptop computer of this dimension.

You wouldn’t wish to depend on the Iris Xe GPU for something tremendous graphics-heavy, however it could possibly assist with every kind of normal video playback, multimedia work, and computational duties. I bought via modifying a batch of photographs simply positive. Anybody who plans on doing plenty of gaming has entry to equally priced and equally constructed choices with GPUs, such because the Dell XPS 15.

For some uncooked numbers, the ThinkPad took 10 minutes and 22 seconds to export a five-minute, 33-second 4K video in Adobe Premiere Professional. That’s about 20 seconds quicker than the XPS 13 with the identical processor took to finish the identical process. It was over two minutes slower than the M1 MacBook Professional and took over twice so long as the Dell XPS 15 with a GTX 1650, simply for instance how a lot an entry-level GPU can add.

I wasn’t capable of run the Puget Programs benchmark for Premiere Professional as a result of it saved freezing. Lenovo is wanting into the issue however hasn’t found out the trigger but. Within the meantime, the X1 Carbon tends to attain mid-200s (248, most recently) on this take a look at. That additionally doesn’t strategy the MacBook Pro, nevertheless it does beat the XPS 13. Total, the ThinkPad’s graphics efficiency doesn’t prime the class, nevertheless it’s solidly within the combine.

I didn’t encounter any bothersome fan noise whereas utilizing the X1 Carbon. I additionally had no drawback utilizing the machine on my lap — it bought toasty however by no means uncomfortably so. The touchpad and palm rests had been all the time downright cool, even beneath pretty intense hundreds. No complaints on that entrance, which is commendable for such a skinny machine.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 keyboard seen from above.

That trusty TrackPoint stays.

Lastly, the ThinkPad’s battery (whereas working my dozen-tab-plus workload with frequent YouTube and Spotify within the background round 200 nits of brightness) diversified a bit based mostly on settings. I persistently bought over 10 hours of juice once I was on the Battery Saver profile and had Intel’s battery-saving options on, however I may see as little as 5 with a extra highly effective efficiency profile. I noticed an total common of eight hours and 43 minutes, which is respectable — higher than the XPS 15, the place I solely averaged round six hours, however worse than the XPS 13, the place I averaged over 9. I didn’t see any efficiency penalty from the Battery Saver profile, so I’d use that in the event you want all-day juice. Additionally a profit: The ThinkPad doesn’t ship with McAfee or different crapware that may eat into battery life on client fashions.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 closed, seen from above.

Appears to be like like a ThinkPad, runs like a ThinkPad.

Aside from the dim display screen (and the shortage of an choice brighter than 500 nits, when various enterprise fashions now supply 1,000-nit choices), the still-slightly-cramped touchpad, and the squeaky keyboard, I’ve only a few complaints about this X1 Carbon. Its value is sort of excessive, after all, so these nitpicks nonetheless do give me some pause.

Lenovo’s new additions — notably the 16:10 display screen and the upward-firing audio system — are completely welcome, they usually make the X1 Carbon Gen 9 unquestionably the perfect iteration of this machine up to now. It’s a method Lenovo has perfected to a tee, combining the ThinkPad line’s world-class engineering with precisely the tweaks it wanted to remain glorious within the trendy market. Whereas the X1 Carbon isn’t the perfect worth for shoppers, any deep-pocketed enterprise shopper ought to give it a glance.


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