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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4th Gen (2016) in Review

by on 13/05/2016

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon product line has reached its 4th iteration, with the 2016 model receiving extra attention to its design.

The previous generation was already noteworthy due to being one of the thinnest and lightest 14″ laptops on the market. Well, Lenovo’s engineers didn’t rest on their laurels, and managed to cut a further 200 grams of the system’s weight, which can certainly be felt, with the system’s total weight now coming in at 1.2Kg.

The ThinkPad Carbon X1 is currently one of the most portable and attractive business ultrabook lines. The fourth generation brings Intel Skylake CPU’s, mSATA as well as PCIe SSD selections, and a 14″ screen featuring either a 1080p or 1440p resolution. Depending on the configuration selected, there is also the option of an LTE modem.

One of the more important changes is the use of LPDDR3-type memory, which so far has mainly been featured in mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones.

The use of this technology was one of the more likely requirements in the engineer’s challenge of slimming down the machine. Depending on the selected configuration, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers between 4GB and 16GB of LPDDR3 memory.

Comparatie intre DDR3, DDR3L si LPDDR3

Comparison between DDR3, DDR3L si LPDDR3, by Synopsys.

LPDDR3 is fundamentally different from DDR3 as far as power savings, but there are also differences in latency, idle wake-up time and especially size – the LPDDR3 chips are glued to the motherboard, so buyers should be aware that upgrades to this laptop are extremely unlikely, so choose wisely.

It’s too bad that Lenovo didn’t manage to go for LPDDR4 directly, which would have offered much better specs on all fronts, as well as the possiblity of ECC support, but this technology may have been a bit too fresh – we’re expecting to see it in next year’s series refresh.

The X1 Carbon’s technical specifications are very dependent on the chosen configuration.

This is one of the main sacrifices made in the name of mobility. The CPU and memory are glued to the motherboard, which precludes any further upgrades so long as you lack access to service parts and a specialized service center.

The models offered vary a bit by country (as well as their prices), which the US taking the usual low-price crown. You can expect the cheapest model (such as the one presented today) to feature 4GB of memory, an IPS screen with a 1920×1080 pixel resolution, a 192GB SATA SSD, the Intel Core i5-6200U CPU and no WWAN module. The price of this entry level model starts at around 1720 EUR.

On the opposite pole, the top model features an Intel Core i7-6600U CPU, 16GB of memory, a 512GB PCIe SSD, a 2560×1440 pixel resolution IPS screen, such as the one featured in the Lenovo ThinkPad P40 Yoga, and an LTE modem, all for 2480 EUR. In all honesty, I’d much rather spend the extra and enjoy the top model, as the entry-level one offers too little bang-for-the buck, especially on the memory and screen.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s battery offer s pretty decent.

Viata bateriei Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2016

You’d expect such a thin machine to make horrible compromises on things such as battery life. Lenovo claimed up to 11 hours of use for this machine, and we were somewhat skeptical about it.

So we popped open a few Chrome windows with a bunch of open tabs, took the brightness down to 25% with the Battery Saver feature enabled, kept the Wi-Fi enabled and got to work.

We wrote articles, checked e-mails, read news, watched videos and a bunch of other small activities and documented the battery life under real-use conditions.

So long as the system is not being specifically stressed, the battery life fits into about a 7-8 hour interval. You can squeeze more juice by turning off radios such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or LTE.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon also offers a technology called RapidCharge, which promises to charge the battery from 0 to 80% in just an hour – so long as the laptop isn’t being used at the same time. If you do use the machine while it’s charging, it will take longer, though how long depends on the kind of activity you’re doing.

So, what’s our conclusion on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 4th Gen?

It’s ridiculously light. It’s tough, built to MIL-Spec standards. It’s stylish and it’s very expensive. What did you expect?

Do we like it? A lot.


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