The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review (2015)by Brett Howse on May 21, 2015 8:00 AM EST
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The review unit that I received should be no slouch for performance, since it has the Intel Core i7-5600U processor. We have seen a few Broadwell powered notebooks already this year, including Core M and Core i5 models, but this is the first Core i7 that has come across my desk. The i7-5600U is a dual-core processor with Hyperthreading, and it has a base frequency of 2.6 GHz and turbo of 3.2 GHz. All of this processing occurs within a 15 watt TDP.
The memory is 8 GB of DDR3L-1600, and it is in dual-channel mode. Graphics are the Gen 8 Broadwell graphics with 24 Execution Units and the GPU is 300-950 MHz.
The final piece of the performance puzzle is storage, and this X1 Carbon has the fastest SSD available for a laptop in it. The Samsung SM951 drive is a 512 GB PCIe SSD, and despite the lack of NVMe in this particular model it is a potent offering. Kristian reviewed the SM951 in great detail so if you want all of the particulars, check that out.
For performance workloads, the X1 Carbon was run through our standard laptop workload. For comparison, I have chosen a sample of other Ultrabooks and other similar devices like the Surface Pro 3, and I have also included the 2013 X1 Carbon as well which had the i5-3427U processor, but if you would like to compare the X1 Carbon to any other device we have tested, please use our Laptop Bench. I have seen some questions about why some devices are not included in all of the results, and it boils down to our benchmark workloads are always evolving, so older devices would not have been run through some of the newer workloads. We do not get to keep all of these devices in order to go back and re-run older ones through the new workloads.
PCMark tries to replicate real world use scenarios with its various workloads. It will have sustained performance as well as burst performance requirements, and storage is also a factor in the scores. Overall, the X1 Carbon aces these tests with its combination of i7 processor and PCIe SSD. The PCMark storage score shows the X1 Carbon as the fastest device we have tested, but due to the nature of the benchmark the scores are all very close to each other. Make no mistake though. This is a drive that can read at 1500 MB/s. For a full breakdown on the drive, please check out Kristian’s review linked at the top of this page.
Cinebench renders an image, and can leverage multiple cores. It loves IPC and frequency, both of which the i7 has in abundance, so the X1 Carbon sits at the top.
This test converts several videos, and much like Cinebench it loves more cores and higher speeds. The i7-5600U easily passes all over U class notebooks we have tested in this test. This test is all about sustained performance, since it can last an hour or more.
System Performance Conclusion
With 8 GB of memory, a Core i7 processor, and the fastest consumer SSD available, day to day tasks on the X1 Carbon are done with ease. This is easily one of the fastest Ultrabooks around when configured as the review unit is. I don’t love that the base model comes with just 4 GB of memory, but the cost to move to 8 GB is not a lot and should be done by all prospective buyers. I’m not sure if we are at the point where 16 GB of system memory would be needed in an Ultrabook, but it likely will not be long before that does happen.
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mmrezaie - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - linkI wish they had Iris GPU and also better battery life. I feel Macbook Pro 13 inch is still better option for developers like me.
Kristian Vättö - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - linkAs an owner of the X1 Carbon, I can say that the battery life is really awful. I went back to my 2010 13" MacBook Air because it provides better and more consistent battery life and in my usage there's no difference in performance.
lilmoe - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - linkA review for the T-series is long overdue guys.
T2k - Friday, May 22, 2015 - linkTrue.
Samus - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - linkLenovo has destroyed the Thinkpad name. They destroyed it years ago. The only high-end corporate laptops to consider are HP Elitebooks\Zbooks and a handful of Dell's. Every Thinkpad I've interacted with over the past few years is either on a replacement battery, has cracked USB ports with bent fingers, overheating issues causing flaky behavior, or a combination of these. Then there is the support, which is downright awful. Lenovo is notorious for throwing end-users under the bus, especially once they're out of warranty for such widespread symptoms that they should be recalls.
Don't believe me? Search google for any of these issues, you will come across thousands of them, even though Lenovo has tried their damnedest to bury them within their own forums.
neo_1221 - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - linkI've got 40 4-year old T420 Thinkpads and 20 3-year old T430 Thinkpads at my school. Of those, I've only had to send two back for repairs - one with a dead battery, and one with a failed display. They may not be as solid as they were under IBM, but they're by no means bad laptops.
CasualUker - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - linkThe T420 and T430 where IBM designs. It wasn't till we switched over to the 540/440 series that it was done "in house." And looking at how they where built, I have zero confidence in them for long term durability vs the older series.
Also on looking at the refurb department and seeing how many X1 Carbon Genesis and Mystics that needed to be repaired because of "faulty" mobos... Doesn't speak to well in terms of quality and for their future products.
chrnochime - Thursday, May 21, 2015 - linkAny link that states the T420 and T430 were designed by IBM? The closest I could find was that Lenovo kept some of the IBM thinkpad designers around for T430.
CasualUker - Friday, May 22, 2015 - linkIt was of IBM design, using the same suppliers and tolerance levels.
I too thought it was strange since it was no longer that of a IBM company and Lenovo had bought out the Thinkpad name in 2005. But when we started on the Oasis and others in the x40 lines the engineers where very proud to tell me that the the whole thing was done "in house."
T2k - Friday, May 22, 2015 - linkIBM had nothing to do with the T420 and newer laptops, this is patently false.