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The New Lenovo ThinkPad X1 (Gen 9) Review

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The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 gen 9 is Lenovo’s latest iteration of the brand’s well-known laptop series. It’s one of the best business laptop models for professionals on the market right now. Further, it’s also well designed to suit the needs of the average consumer. However, it’s not the perfect laptop for everybody. So, what are its pros and cons and who is it for? Let’s find out. 

 

What Is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 (Gen 9)?

Lenovo ThinkPad X1
Photo by Lenovo Official Website

Lenovo laptops, especially the Lenovo ThinkPad series, have a great reputation for being some of the best business laptops available. Likewise, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is no exception. However, what’s different about this Lenovo ThinkPad X1 model is that it comes with a 14-inch screen. That’s unconventional considering how previous models came in a different size.

Regardless, the new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 provides the power you’d want for all your work needs. It comes in multiple versions, each with slightly different specs, performance, and prices. The base model comes with a Core i5 Intel processor and would cost you roughly $1,500. However, jumping up to the Core i7 model will easily bump up the price to a little over $2,000. Keep in mind, these prices already have Lenovo’s eCoupon discount applied.

Moreover, these prices depend on where you purchase your unit from. Looking for where to buy Lenovo ThinkPad X1 carbon gen 9’s newest model shouldn’t be too difficult. The easiest place is to go on Lenovo’s website, where you can find eCoupons for up to two units. However, you can also check out Amazon or other retailers, but the prices may vary.

Visit Official Website

Check Price on Amazon

 

Out of the Box: First Impressions

When you first buy the X1 carbon, there are three things you’re bound to notice. The first is the laptop’s build quality and design — whether it’s sturdy enough to last you a couple of years. You’re also bound to notice the display, keyboard, and touchpad. So, what can you expect from this out of the box? Here’s what you can see based on first impressions. 

 

Build & Design

Build Design
Photo from Amazon

The first—and arguably most important—aspect that can make or break a purchasing decision is the design. Does the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 live up to modern-day design standards? What about durability and build quality, relative to the price?

Firstly, if we’re going by the price alone, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is a relatively high-end laptop. It costs a bit more than your standard 13-inch MacBook Air, making it a premium device. However, unlike the MacBook Air, the chassis of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 isn’t made with aluminum. Instead, it’s fashioned with carbon fiber and magnesium-alloy all around.

Don’t think that this difference in the material makes the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 inferior. On the contrary, the device is well-made and has even passed multiple levels of stress tests. It can withstand shock, vibration, various environments (humid places, low and high temperatures), and more. Moreover, it’s even suitable for sandy locations and high altitudes. This makes the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 a versatile device that’s durable enough to withstand a bit of fieldwork. Granted, it’s not specifically made for extreme environments, but it passes the test in case you need it.

Lastly, the hinge holding together the display and the keyboard can lay the laptop completely flat. Hence, it’s flexible enough for wherever you need to take it.

 

Display

Display
Photo by Amazon

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1’s display is great for work, although not the best for media consumption. It’s made with an IPS panel instead of OLED, but that doesn’t sacrifice the color quality too much. Images are usually vivid, saturated, and sharp enough. Moreover, the new display features a more comfortable 16:10 aspect ratio for both work and entertainment.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 features different resolutions depending on the model. For most models, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 comes with a 1920×1200 pixel resolution. However, there is one other model that comes with a 3840×2400 pixel resolution with a brighter 500-nit display. Most of the others come with only 400 nits of brightness but that’s pretty ample for day-to-day use. Moreover, you could either get a non-touch or a touchscreen panel, depending on the model.

Regardless of which model you choose, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1’s display should be very durable. That’s because the new ThinkPad laptop uses Gorilla Glass for the screens. While this makes the lid quite a bit heavier, it also makes it more durable overall. 

 

Keyboard & Touchpad

Keyboard & Touchpad
Photo by Lenovo Website

One of the biggest deal-breakers in laptop quality is the experience working with the keyboard and touchpad. Thankfully, the keyboard on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is remarkably delightful to type on. The 14-inch screen makes the keys evenly spaced with enough convenient shortcut keys for daily use. 

In terms of typing experience, the keys are clicky and snappy enough to feel satisfying to type on. Moreover, the keyboard is spill-resistant, should your work ever get messy (or if you simply spill your morning coffee). Lastly, the keyboard is backlit so you’re free to work regardless of the time.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 device if we didn’t mention the mini-joystick in the middle. It still performs as well as the previous generations and is situated between G, H, and B. However, the joystick is slightly wider than the 8th generation ThinkPad X1. Of course, you could also stick to traditional navigation using the touchpad. It also performs well with three buttons at the top for easy controls. 

 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Features & Specs

Of course, the externals of a laptop are only just part of first impressions. The real meat of the topic is what’s under the hood: the storage, processor, OS, etc. These play the biggest part if you’re looking for a productivity workhorse. So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

 

Processor

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Gen 9 comes with either an Intel 11th-gen Core i5 or a Core i7 processor. Of course, different processors come with different configurations and prices, so it’s important to sort out your priorities. Regardless, we do recommend upgrading the base model’s processor to the Core i5-1145G7 CPU for better performance.

If you can afford it, the Core i7 processor would certainly be a step up if you need more power. According to tests run by PCmag, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 outperforms rivals with the same processor in terms of productivity. This includes workflows that require word processing, web browsing, spreadsheets, and videoconferencing. The differences aren’t too large but they certainly prove the device’s power.

On the other hand, the ThinkPad also leads in Cinebench scores compared to its rivals. Hence, it’s better at managing stress on the CPU while the machine utilizes all processor cores and threads. It’s certainly a great performer and stands out among its competitors.

 

Operating System

Depending on your purchase, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 comes with either Windows or Linux operating systems. It can come in either Windows 10 Home 64 or Windows 10 Pro 64, depending on your use case. Lenovo recommends using the Pro version if you’re purchasing the unit for business or work. 

 

Graphics

Like most productivity-focused devices, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 comes with integrated graphics. Hence, it’s not exactly the best laptop if you’re looking for something with better graphics for content creation. Nonetheless, even regular professionals need decent graphic performance from time to time. 

This time, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 doesn’t exactly lead the pack. However, it can certainly run photo and video-editing programs without much problem. Hence, you can do some decent content creation on this laptop to an extent. Unfortunately, this is as far as it can go because gaming on it is not recommended. Perhaps you can get away with a bit of very light gaming and media streaming — but that’s about it.

 

Storage & RAM

Like most modern laptops, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 comes with a base RAM configuration of 8 GB. This should be enough for regular day-to-day work. However, we recommend upgrading to 16 GB if you’re a heavy multitasker (if it’s within your budget). Of course, there’s also a 32GB version to help future-proof your device, although that can easily cost you $3750. 

Unfortunately, we recommend making the upgrade right as you purchase the device because the laptop’s RAM is non-upgradeable. It’s soldered onto the motherboard so there’s no way to boost its performance at a later date.

On the other hand, the device comes with a 256 GB SSD in the base model. You can also configure it to 512 GB or even 1 TB if you’re buying the highest-end model. Regardless, these should provide you quick response and boot times since all of the units come with an SSD.

 

Input/Output Ports

Input Output Ports
Photo by Lenovo

Many manufacturers have been phasing out standard ports in favor of the more modern and powerful USB-C. However, it’s not always practical to transition older ports out, especially when the rest of technology hasn’t caught up. Hence, you might ask of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 carbon where is HDMI port? 

Thankfully, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 retains the old selection of reliable ports. This includes HDMI, a USB 3.2 port, another USB-A port, and an audio jack for headphones. Moreover, it also incorporates the more modern Thunderbolt 4 standard in case you need something more powerful and versatile.

 

WiFi & Bluetooth

Apart from ports, wireless connectivity is also one of the most important considerations when purchasing a laptop. Thankfully, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 already uses today’s best Wi-Fi standard, Wi-Fi 6, for internet connection. However, in case you’re not near a WiFi hotspot, the device also offers optional configurations for 4G or 5G.

The laptop also sports the latest Bluetooth standard, Bluetooth 5.2. Hence, it’s compatible with various modern accessories, whether that’s a keyboard, mouse, or Bluetooth headset. 

 

Webcam

Webcam
Photo by Amazon

One of the biggest pitfalls in laptops (that manufacturers should have fixed by now) is certainly the webcam quality. Perhaps in the past, there just wasn’t a big enough need to fix the webcam because people rarely use it. However, with the pandemic raging on, webcams are now more important in purchasing decisions.

Unfortunately, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 still retains the same sickness, providing a poor 720p webcam on the front. There’s a lot of noise and softness to the image which is terrible for today’s zoom-filled world. The color reproduction isn’t the best, either. Of course, it’s good enough for a simple conference call. However, we wish Lenovo could have done better given the current climate.

On the other hand, Lenovo did provide something good in the webcam, and that is the existence of a lid. Perhaps it’s a minor thing, but at the very least you’re sure nobody’s able to watch you without consent. 

 

Battery Life

One of the most misleading advertisements in modern-day laptop promotions is certainly the “all-day battery life.” However, for the Lenovo ThinkPad X1, that might just be true. According to Laptop Mag’s battery test, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 was able to last for 15 hours and 39 minutes. Other tests yield similarly promising results, with the device lasting 19 hours and 45 minutes in PCmag’s battery test. 

 

Warranty

Lastly, if you purchase the device from a verified seller, the Lenovo warranty on the ThinkPad X1 lasts 1 year. Hence, you can be sure to have some level of support from your local Lenovo support team for a while.

 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Pros & Cons

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Pros Cons
Photo by Lenovo Official Website

 

     Pros

  • –  Thin with a wide array of ports
  • –  Great performance
  • –  The bright screen made of Gorilla Glass
  • –  All-day battery life

 

Cons

  • –  Integrated battery (non-replaceable)
  • –  Non-OLED screen
  • –  RAM soldered on
  • –  Poor webcam quality

There’s a lot to like in the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 9). Not only is it durable and portable, but it also performs excellently, even outclassing some rivals at similar prices. Moreover, despite being made for the modern man, it doesn’t ditch the old reliable ports in favor of just USB-C. The screen is also durable and great for work in terms of both brightness and resolution. Lastly, it has an all-day battery that allows you to leave the charger at home when you’re in a hurry.

However, the laptop does have its quirks and downsides. For example, both the battery and RAM are non-replaceable. Hence, you have to decide to upgrade the RAM now or face the consequences later on. Moreover, with a non-replaceable battery, you’ll never be able to get it to work as new if something happens. 

The screen may be bright and crisp, but we would have preferred OLED instead of IPS. Lastly, the webcam is still poor, even with modern-day zoom conferencing being more than ubiquitous. 

 

Verdict

Even with all its quirks, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 is the best Lenovo laptop for professionals who prioritize productivity. In fact, it’s one of the best laptops at its price point even with all its flaws. If you can afford it, we highly recommend this device for productivity and work. Just don’t buy it for something that requires intense graphics like gaming.

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