New corporate hope (episode 11): Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 laptop review

By: Alex Chub | 07.09.2023, 10:33

The Lenovo ThinkPad line is a kind of gold standard in the corporate segment of Windows laptops, although there are many fans of the line outside the business environment. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is the flagship model of the line, which is updated annually and has already reached the 11th generation. As expected, the updated model has no major differences, although in this case they are not needed. It has a comfortable form factor, a durable and lightweight carbon fibre and magnesium alloy body, a comfortable keyboard and a traditional red trackpoint that has remained unchanged for many years. Inside are the latest 13th-generation Intel processors, a large amount of RAM and a fast drive. For connectivity, there is a set that includes all the current connectors (except for the card reader), and there are also configurations that support work in mobile networks. The laptop can operate for a full working day on a single battery charge. So Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 has everything a modern business laptop should have. The only thing that is a little confusing is the virtual absence of an upgrade option. Only the SSD can be replaced. There is no slot for an additional drive, and the RAM is soldered on the board. The price of the laptop is fully consistent with its business positioning, and there are models with more powerful components for this amount. But a potential user of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon usually knows exactly what they need. And, in addition to the direct advantages of the laptop, there is a nice bonus in the form of Premium Support for three years with the possibility of urgent on-site repair or temporary replacement of the laptop during service.

5 reasons to buy Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11:

  • a durable and lightweight carbon fibre and magnesium alloy case;
  • up-to-date 13th generation Intel processors and a large amount of RAM;
  • comfortable keyboard with liquid spill protection;
  • two Thunderbolt 4, two USB Type-A 3.2;
  • working day without recharging.

2 reasons not to buy Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11:

  • lack of upgrade options;
  • the price is not for everyone.

Fast transition:

  1. What's in the box?
  2. How interesting does the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 look?
  3. Is the laptop comfortable to use?
  4. How good is the screen?
  5. What about performance, battery life, and sound?
  6. In a nutshell

What's in the box?

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is packaged in a standard recyclable mustard cardboard box. The company has completely abandoned the use of plastic in packaging. Inside is a fairly familiar set. The laptop itself, a compact 65W power supply, a power cable, an Ethernet adapter, and documentation.

How interesting does the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 look?

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon model has historically been very successful and has already reached its 11th generation. During this time, there have been no major changes in design or construction. Yes, some elements have changed, but overall, the appearance remains familiar and recognisable. This is generally true for the entire ThinkPad business line: minimalist and practical shape, black colour, red accents and the familiar red trackpoint on the keyboard from the IBM days. The keyboard takes up almost the entire width of the working surface. But this did not prevent the speakers from being placed on its sides.

The case is still made of magnesium alloy and carbon fibre. Thanks to the materials, the case is very durable and lightweight. The laptop is available in two design options: with a carbon fibre texture, or a more familiar black lid with a matte finish, which is very similar to Soft Touch. We had the latter option. It looks and feels very nice, but it collects a little bit of prints. There is a small Lenovo logo in the lower right corner of the top lid, and a ThinkPad logo with a red LED indicator in the upper left.

ThinkPad models always have a good set of connectors. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is no exception. On the right side there is a 3.5mm audio jack, a nanoSIM slot (there are configurations with and without a mobile modem), one USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 and a Kensington Nano Security Slot:

On the left, there's a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 (also used for power), another USB-C Thunderbolt 4, USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, and HDMI 2.0b. RJ-45 networking is available thanks to the bundled adapter, so perhaps only a card reader could be added.

There is nothing particularly interesting on the back, only the hinge design. But the front is a little more interesting. There's a wide ledge at the webcam location for easy laptop opening, and four microphones on the sides with neural network-based noise cancellation and Dolby Voice support.

The bezels around the screen are quite thin. The webcam module is in its usual place. It has a FullHD resolution and is equipped with a physical shutter. Next to it is an indicator of its operation, as well as an infrared camera used to identify the owner of the laptop.

There are two rubber feet on the bottom and one wide one on the back. There are few vents, but it is interesting that there are two small cooling fans underneath. Closer to the front of the laptop are two more speakers.

There have never been any complaints about the build quality of the top ThinkPads, and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 does not break this tradition. The laptop is compact and lightweight: 315.6 x 222.5 x 15.36 mm, 1.12 kg. It is durable and complies with the MIL-STD-810H military standard. To reduce the negative impact on the environment, the design uses recycled magnesium alloy and recycled plastic.

Is the laptop comfortable to use?

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is easy to open with one hand, the hinge holds the lid well in position and it hardly shakes when you touch it accidentally. The laptop can even be opened a little more than 180°.

The keyboard unit is slightly recessed into the working surface. There are speakers on the sides, although this did not affect the layout, it is absolutely standard for the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon line, so everything will be familiar to connoisseurs. And for those who have just decided to switch to ThinkPad, there will be a few things to get used to. There are separate Home, End and Delete buttons at the end of the top row, the arrow block is slightly shifted to the user, and the PgUp and PgDn buttons are placed on the sides of the up arrow. PrtSc is located between the right Alt and Ctrl buttons. And a traditional feature: Fn and left Ctrl have been swapped. But this can be configured in the Lenovo Vantage app.

The buttons have a recognisable shape with a rounded bottom. The stroke is very pleasant: quite soft, elastic and informative. There is a white keyboard backlight with two brightness levels. Among the interesting design features, it is worth mentioning protection against liquid spills, as well as air intake for cooling through the keyboard.

On the right side of the working surface, above the keyboard unit, there is a power button that also serves as a fingerprint scanner.

Between the G, H and B buttons is a trackpoint, traditional for the ThinkPad line, which has been used for decades.

The touchpad is not very large: it is 110 mm wide. It is glass, with a pleasant surface and excellent sensitivity. It is sufficient for the vast majority of tasks and there is no critical need for a mouse. Above the touchpad are three additional buttons for use with the trackpoint.

How good is the screen?

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 with several display options. Including OLED 2880x1800, touch and PrivacyGuard screen filter. We received a configuration with a more familiar IPS screen with a matte finish. The diagonal is 14 inches, the resolution is 1920x1200, and the aspect ratio is 16:10. Lenovo promises maximum brightness of 400 cd/m² and reduced power consumption. The screen is of good quality, with pleasant colour reproduction, maximum viewing angles and an effective anti-reflective coating. The brightness margin is more than sufficient for indoor use. Measurements showed that themaximum brightness of the screen is 371.12 cd/m² (quite close to the declared value), the black field brightness is 0.332 cd/m², and the static contrast is 1118:1. Colour gamut is close to the sRGB colour space, and colour reproduction is very good. The bias towards cold shades is minimal:

What about performance, battery life and sound?

Inside the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is anIntel Core i7-1365U. This is the 13th generation Raptor Lake processor. It is manufactured using the Intel 7 process and includes 10 cores. 2 productive and 8 energy-efficient cores. Multithreaded computing with up to 12 threads is supported. The clock speed of the productive cores is from 1.8 to 5.2 GHz, and the energy-efficient cores are from 1.3 to 3.9 GHz. The cache memory is 12 MB. The standard TDP level is 15W, with a short-term increase to 55W in Boost mode. In real conditions, TDP varies between 12-25 watts. The laptop does not have a discrete graphics card. Graphics are handled by the built-in Intel Iris Xe adapter with 96 processing units, with a maximum frequency of 1300 MHz. The amount of RAM is 32 GB LPDDR5-5600. It is soldered on the board, but 32 GB is quite enough for work with a margin. Wireless interfaces: Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5.1. Some configurations also include a mobile modem and NFC. Thelaptop meets the requirements of the Intel Evo programme, which has a number of performance requirements. These include a resolution of at least FullHD, support for fast charging, up to 9 hours of battery life, fast wake-up, Wi-Fi 6 support, and Thunderbolt 4 ports. The laptop also features the Intel vPro remote administration and management platform and a discrete dTPM module.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is a business laptop with the right usage scenarios and the right performance to handle a bunch of documents, a multi-tabbed browser, basic image processing, video conferencing, and email at the same time. In benchmarks, the laptop demonstrates quite high performance in system and processor tests. In graphics tests, they are quite modest, which is quite expected.

The drive used is a 1TB XG8 SSD from KIOXIA (formerly Toshiba Memory) with a PCI-E 4.0 4x interface. The declared read speed is up to 7000 MB/s and write speed is up to 5600 MB/s.

The drive is indeed very fast, and the SSD speeds are fully consistent with the claims:

Two miniature fans are responsible for cooling, and they are audible at maximum load. But the noise is neither loud nor annoying. The cooling system does its job. Under load, the components heat up to about 75°, and the system operates stably without any performance degradation.

The laptop is definitely not designed for gaming. But it will handle something not too new and not too demanding on the graphics system. Gears Tactics, high settings, 1920x1200: 60 FPS. Tomb Raider, medium settings, 1920x1200: 55-60 FPS.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 has a 57 Wh battery. Rapid Charge is supported: 80% in an hour. A full charge takes about 1.5 hours. As it should be for an enterprise laptop, the battery life of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is very good. The laptop can play video for about 14 hours. In real office conditions (browser, work with documents, mail, a little Photoshop at 50% brightness), the laptop works for just under 9 hours. So it is quite enough for a working day.

The audio system of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is louder than you'd expect from an ultra-compact laptop. But there are almost no low frequencies, so music lovers should connect headphones. And for videos and movies, it's quite enough.

Almost all laptop settings are made in the Lenovo Vantage app. This includes updating and cleaning the laptop, setting up the display, camera, keyboard, function keys, and much more:

There's also a separate Dolby app for audio and microphone settings:

Fast and convenient connection of a smartphone to a PC is no longer new, and there are many similar solutions. Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 decided to use Intel Unison for this purpose. The functionality is familiar: data transfer, access to the call log, messages, etc.

That's about it. Four things you need to know about Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11.

  • This is the 11th generation of the legendary 14-inch business-class laptop.
  • Durable design and liquid leakage protection for use in all environments.
  • The laptop is lightweight and has an optimal set of ports.
  • It works for a working day without recharging.
Technical specifications of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11
Display. 14 inches,1920x1200, 16:10, IPS, 60 Hz
Dimensions 315.6x222.5x15.3 mm
Weight 1.12 kg
Operating system 64-bit Microsoft Windows 11 Pro
Processor. Intel Core i7-1365U (Raptor Lake, Intel 7), 10 cores (2P+8E), 12 threads, 1.9-5.2 GHz
RAM 32 GB LPDDR5-5200
Graphics. Intel Iris Xe
Storage device SSD 1 TB NVMe PCIe 4.0 x4
Communications Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax) (Dual band) 2*2 + Bluetooth 5.1
Connectors 2xThunderbolt 4, 2xUSB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI 2.0b, 3.5mm audio, Nano SIM (optional)
Camera FullHD
Battery 57Wh

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