Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 20FB Ultrabook Review

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It is not a secret for those knowing about technology that ThinkPads have been, and still are, the essential business laptops: robust, reliable workhorses lasting for years. First started as IBMs, then continued as Lenovos, this business laptop line strives and prospers. A new model to this series is Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 20FB, a laptop enduring military grade specifications tests and possessing unbeaten performance in a small frame. At least, that is what the manufacturer says; let’s see if closer look reveals skeletons in the closet.

Compact Display, Ultrabook Style

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 20FB is all about lightweight, compactness and thin profile. A prominent feature is the 14″ display which, despite its small(ish) size, sports a wonderful 2560×1440 resolution (also known as WQHD). The aspect ratio for such a display is 16:9 which is the go-to choice for movie streaming, although screens with 4:3 ratio are often preferred for web browsing and other productivity work. This screen has anti-glare (matte) coating, so annoying glaring in bright environments should be minimum. The panel type is IPS, and the screen does not support touch. The brightness stands at 300 nits which is bright enough at least for comfortable indoors use.

Talking about graphics, they are handled by the processor-integrated Intel HD 520. For all non-gaming purposes it works well, although when playing games you will need to watch the settings. Most games, including the heavier GTA 5, would run alright (~30FPS) if using less than full settings and resolution around 720p. Installing a dedicated graphics card on this model is not possible – that goes for most notebooks.

Snappy For A Small Laptop

Undoubtedly, one of the best features about this ThinkPad is the storage drive. The 512GB solid-state drive, hooked to M.2 SATA interface, is both large and fast. Booting up to Windows desktop will take more or less ten seconds, and you will notice around 480 gigabytes free space for your files. In a word, this drive combines both the raw storage of a hard drive and the snappiness of solid-state drive, so the storage department here is in great condition.

In the heart of the laptop resides Intel Core i7-6600U, a 6th generation i7-level processor featuring two cores, a base frequency of 2.6GHz and turbo boost of 3.4GHz. These numbers translate to proper power user performance, although with four cores you would get a tad better multitasking readiness. This processor also sports vPro, a remote management technology for the laptop, made with businesses and IT departments in mind.

The computer relies on soldered memory; 16GB DDR3 1833Mhz RAM is integrated on the mainboard. In another words, your upgrade options for memory are zero, although the 16 gigabytes itself is enough for any kind of use – productivity, gaming, entertainment!

Hands On Video

Connections Not Exactly From 2017

This computer has three USB 3.0 ports for your peripherals. Quite oddly, no USB-C port is available which could put the laptop at a disadvantage compared to ultrabooks with such a port. I suspect this is because the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 20FB is a bit older model, from 2016. Nonetheless, the three USB 3.0 ports are often enough to satisfy your peripheral connecting needs.

The ThinkPad supports an external monitor which you may connect either through HDMI-output or miniDisplayPort; yes, this computer has both ports available.

The memory card reader is a micro-SD one, at the back of the laptop. Indeed, it’s not the full-sized reader, so all your memory cards won’t probably fit in. They could have included the proper SD card slot on this machine very well. Also optical drive isn’t available, however that is understandable in the era of Internet.

Wireless connectivity is brought by the common Intel 8260 AC WiFI adapter with 2×2 antenna and Bluetooth 4.1 support. It seems to me that Ethernet port is not built in to this model, so you must get RJ-45 to USB adapter if you want the connection with cable.

Other Things That Might Affect Your Purchase Decision

This model has a 4-cell 52Wh Lithium Polymer battery. It is integrated on the mainboard so replacing the battery unit will require some extensive tinkering. Some users reported the battery to last 4-6 hours, while one claimed it to run for 8 hours. If we are talking about six hours, the battery life is decent overall, although many other ultrabooks beat that.

The laptop is reported as silent and cool; if you use it on your lap for longer periods the unit should not get hot at all.

Very compact - A 14-inch laptop with 2.6 pounds weight is light, and the slim profile allows you to find space for the laptop in backpacks, cases and all.

No hiccups with software - Also people who bought this notebook have commented that every program you will throw at this rig will run, and run fast.

Screen worthy of looking at - The high-resolution 14" IPS display is a treat for eyes; it would be decent for photo/video editing as well.

Battery life? - Conflicting reports about battery life tell everything between 4 and 8 hours; anyway, these are not as good numbers as many other ultrabooks are getting.

Connections could be better - The notebook's microSD card reader might not please everybody; the same goes for missing USB-C.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 20FB, being one of the pricier laptops, might make you think about its value. From what I can see, the notebook is worth the price – it’s lighter than feather, faster than many 2017 models, and has a winning 14-inch high resolution display to look at. No matter the program, the piece of software you are running will bend to the laptop’s will; also a great deal of games will run alright provided you are not greedy with settings. One questionable thing could be the battery life if you are used to ultrabook-like duration. Anyway, for a high-class business travelers this ThinkPad surely delivers all the robustness, performance and style (s)he would be looking for.

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