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May 1, 2013

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch: A workhorse ThinkPad in Ultrabook form

In this post, guest blogger Jason Scott shares his experiences with the Lenovo X1 Carbon Touch. Jason has a passion for Windows PC hardware and has worked on many projects at Microsoft including Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Exchange.


Lenovo’s ThinkPad line of laptops are known for being designed from the ground up to be durable, reliable, and capable of handling most any task you can throw at them. Lenovo’s ThinkPad T Series and W Series are known in professional circles for being outstanding business class PCs. The Lenovo ThinkPad X Series machines are thin and light (12 to 14 inch machines), while also still highly capable from a performance standpoint.

For the last several months I have been working with the recently released Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Touch. The X1 Carbon Touch is a 13-inch ThinkPad Ultrabook laptop powered by Intel Core i5 or i7, with support for a touchscreen display. Lenovo also offers a non-touch version of this laptop which is called the X1 Carbon. Given the similarities between the two machines most of this post will apply to either machine.

X1 Carbon Touch Introduction:


The X1 Carbon Touch is Lenovo’s professional take on an Ultrabook laptop. Much like other X Series ThinkPads, the X1 Carbon Touch comes with professional/enterprise features including a TPM, Fingerprint Reader, and BIOS encryption. As the X1 Carbon Touch is a ThinkPad you also get the award-winning ThinkPad keyboard (backlit, spill resistant) and TrackPoint. In addition, Lenovo has also equipped the X1 Carbon Touch with a large glass track pad with support for a full set of gestures.

The X1 Carbon Touch gets the name “Carbon” from the use of Carbon Fiber in the laptop frame; the chassis is equipped with a carbon fiber top cover and roll-cage. The carbon fiber chassis is designed to provide strength and durability to the laptop frame while also reducing the overall weight. It is clear that Lenovo was serious about designing a very thin and light ThinkPad with the X1 Carbon Touch. The 13.03 inch X1 Carbon Touch is only .74 of an inch thick and weighs 3.4 pounds.

I will admit that when I first got the X1 Carbon Touch I was concerned that I would end up having to sacrifice some level of “ThinkPad durability” for the thinness and light weight of the X1 Carbon Touch. However over the last few months of using this machine, I haven’t had any concerns about the durability of the X1 Carbon Touch. This is a ThinkPad, it’s just thinner and lighter than many of its sibling machines. For my uses this design and form-factor is a clear win-win proposition – I get fast, reliable hardware in a package that offers great portability. Not once have I felt the 3.4 pounds of the X1 Carbon Touch weighing me down.

Hardware Tour:

The X1 Carbon Touch I am using is equipped with the following:

  • 10-point multi-touch, 14-inch HD+ display (1600×900) rated at 300nits**
  • A Core i7 processor (Intel i7-3667U)
  • 8 GB of RAM
  • 240 gig full disk encrypted SSD
  • USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 ports

** The physical machine dimensions are 13.03 inch (width) x 8.9 inch (depth) x 0.74 inch (height). The screen is 14 inches measured diagonally. Like many of the newer Ultrabooks, this 14-inch display sports a very thin display bezel to make it fit in the 13 inch frame. To me this is again, a win-win situation. I get a 13-inch machine with a great internal display size and resolution!

These specs are close to the top of the line for the X1 Carbon Touch. Note that Lenovo does ship several additional models targeting several different price points.

Here is a quick tour around the outside of the machine. On the left side of the machine you will find the power jack, exhaust vent, and a USB 2.0 port.


On the right hand side of the machine you will find a USB 3.0 port, a Mini-Display Port, an SD Card Reader and the headphone jack.


The main deck of the machine sports the ThinkPad keyboard (backlit, spill resistant), a glass touch pad, a ThinkPad TrackPoint and a top set of utility keys (sound and power/on-off).


X1 Carbon Touch Road Test:

When I got the X1 Carbon Touch, it quickly became the machine that I used at work, at home, and everywhere between. At work and at home my job involves quite a bit of software development. Writing and compiling code is taxing on a system, and requires a machine that can tackle heavy tasks. Over the years I have found that I am most satisfied with hardware that is very fast while also being reliable and portable. The X1 Carbon’s weight, size, and performance characteristics have made this my ideal development PC. In addition the touch screen allows me to write Windows Store apps and test them out (test the touch interactivity) on the same machine. For these purposes I have no complaints about the X1 Carbon Touch. It has worked fantastically for me as an on-the-go software development laptop.

During my road test I often found that it’s some of the lesser mentioned qualities of the machine that I have grown to really appreciate. For example – I love the backlit keyboard. Much like many of my developer peers I tend to like working in darker environments. I don’t know why, I guess it just lets me focus more. In any case, I love the softly glowing backlit keyboard. I guess it also should be mentioned that I really enjoy the keyboard itself. The key travel and feedback work great for me.

X1 Carbon Touch: Final Thoughts:


At this point, you can probably tell, I am a fan of the X1 Carbon Touch. However there is a reason Lenovo produces several different series of ThinkPads, including the other X Series machines, the T Series and the W Series. As with any machine purchase I recommend doing your homework to figure out which machine is the right fit for you. The X1 Carbon Touch is a solid performer in a very thin and light package. If you’re looking for a highly portable ThinkPad then this machine would be a great choice.