We tested and compared the Lenovo X1 Carbon versus Dell XPS 13 in terms of Performance, Display Quality, Price, Battery life, Portability & more.
Above you can see the Ranking with the results of the test and below you will find the in-depth reports of the Dell & Lenovo Laptops.
Ranking First: Lenovo X1 Carbon G7
- Great Battery life & Display
- Comfortable keyboard and trackpad
- Quiet fan noise & 2 Thunderbolt 3 ports
- More expensive than XPS 13
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 is a business notebook as you can see in the book. It offers many connections, long battery life, high-quality workmanship, is light and compact and comes with features like LTE and a matte display. However, many a detail should be considered when choosing the resolution and CPU.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is recently available in the seventh generation, after it was announced in Las Vegas a good half year ago. Lenovo was under pressure to make a move at the CES in January, company employees said.
Because the competition had introduced a series of new notebooks, Lenovo also had to present a new flagship for the business environment. They were reluctant to show new products if they couldn’t be bought relatively quickly after the announcement, they said in later discussions.
Techtestreport deliberately decided against the top model for this test, as worse battery life is to be expected there, especially due to the 4K display. Moreover, the small Core i5-8265U is completely sufficient in a business notebook in terms of performance.
The test device is based on the base model, but is equipped with 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, LTE and NFC, as well as a Windows Hello camera including ThinkShutter. This raises the price to just under $1700.
Design & Ports
Lenovo’s new ThinkPad X1 Carbon once again clearly says that it is a business notebook in terms of design. Matt black adorns the entire case, only a red i-dot in the ThinkPad logo and the X1 logo loosen up the look a bit.
If everything would have been black here as well, but you wouldn’t have noticed that, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon looks so inconspicuous. Those who demand a more conspicuous case will get a lid with visible carbon fiber fabric on the top model.
The workmanship is on the highest level; Lenovo doesn’t afford any weaknesses in the gaps, bushing borders or hinge area. Everything around the display, keyboard and touchpad is also very well made.
The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon weighs from 2.4 lbs, which is 0.1 lbs less than the sixth generation. The test device achieves exactly 2.42 lbs with LTE module. The dimensions are a comfortable 32.3 × 21.7 × 1.49 cm (W × D × H), which makes the notebook fit into any normal sized backpack for laptops.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is equipped with many older connections despite its light and thin design, which is probably due to the business environment, but is also well received by the editorial staff, for example for use at trade fairs.
On the left side there are two Thunderbolt 3, which can be used for charging, a port for the native Ethernet dongle or Lenovo’s dock, USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A, HDMI 1.4 and a headphone port.
The 3.5 mm jack was found on the right side of the sixth generation. There is again the second socket for USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type A, but now easier to reach because it is positioned in front of the air outlet instead of behind it. The power button is also placed in the side frame on the right and no longer above the end button.
When opened, the notebook reveals the again 14 inch display, which Lenovo offers in a total of four variants. The panels always use IPS technology and differ in brightness, resolution and touch support. The test device offers Full HD with up to 400 cd/m², alternatively there is Full HD with touch and only 300 cd/m².
The matt WQHD display also only reaches 400 cd/m² according to Lenovo. After a glossy screen with the same resolution and HDR support was previously the maximum, a glossy UHD display with touch and up to 500 cd/m² moves into this position.
ComputerBase has explicitly decided against the UHD panel, but instead deliberately opted for a matt Full HD display without touch, but with higher brightness than the WQHD display. The average brightness of 382 cd/m² shows that Lenovo makes correct statements, whereby the peak of 398 cd/m² is just about the manufacturer’s stated value.
It’s too bad that Lenovo doesn’t offer 500 cd/m² for Full HD. There are only minimal reflections due to the matt design, so that the screen doesn’t have to shine as brightly as a glossy variant.
The illumination is very good with a homogeneity of 96 percent, whereby a higher value would have been possible with better readings in the lower left and lower right areas. A low black value leads to its good contrast of 1.648:1.
Keyboard & Touchpad
Lenovo hasn’t made any changes to the input devices in comparison to the 2018 model because the starting point was already very good. Again, the keyboard offers a pleasantly long stroke for notebooks with a flat design.
Moreover, it can be typed comparatively quietly and comfortably on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Everything has remained the same in terms of layout, so that for example the Fn and Ctrl keys have been swapped. If you’re not used to this, you can configure the keys and their functions via Lenovo’s Vantage app.
The most recently missing trackpoint on the Yoga S940, including the corresponding buttons above the touchpad, is dutifully included again on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 and is a good alternative to a mouse or touchpad.
Because of the additional keys, Lenovo can’t make the touchpad quite as large as in the competition or its own devices of the Yoga series. With another 10 × 5.6 cm, it is smaller than that of the Dell XPS 13 or Yoga S940. As already last year, the gliding characteristics don’t give cause for criticism, though.
There is an important improvement for Lenovo’s ThinkShutter. This is what the manufacturer calls the mechanism for physically locking the webcam.
ThinkShutter is offered for the first time for the Windows Hello camera with infrared, after 2018 only the standard webcam could be equipped with it.
Biometric unlocking via the user’s face is a quick alternative to the fingerprint sensor, which sits to the right of the touchpad. By the way, the G7’s new fingerprint sensor works much more reliably than that of the G6, where the recognition rate in everyday use was too low.
The test device was deliberately ordered with the smallest Core i5-8265U, as especially thin notebooks hardly profit from the Core i7 due to its limited heat dissipation.
This was last shown in the Yoga S940, where Lenovo sacrificed performance in favor of quiet operation so that it didn’t turn out higher than a Core i5 in the end.
However, this doesn’t mean that a Core i5 in a thin notebook can run free of throttling if the manufacturer pays attention to the volume. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 enters the Cinebench R15 endurance test with a fast 705 points in the multi-core, drops to 90 percent of the performance for two additional runs before fluctuating between 70 and 85 percent of the performance level in the further course of the test.
This is a typical behavior of a notebook CPU, which reduces performance to cool down and then delivers more again in the next test. Overall, however, the cooling keeps the device at a high performance level without becoming annoyingly loud. In the cinebench, a noticeable noise at 35 dBA is created, and disturbing noises from the fan are not audible.
At least 8 GB LPDDR3 with 2.133 MHz are built into the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7, the test device comes with 16 GB. 32 GB are not available and can’t be installed later because the RAM is soldered to the motherboard.
This doesn’t apply to the SSD and the LTE module from Fibocom, on which Intel’s XMM 7360 is again sitting as a modem for LTE Cat. 9. Both plug-in cards can be accessed after loosening five Phillips screws and removing the housing cover.
Lenovo uses a Western Digital PC SN720 in M.2 2280 format with PCIe-NVMe-x4 connection for the 512 GB SSD. With 3.5 GB/s for sequential read and 2.5 GB/s for sequential write, it is the fastest SSD ever tested in notebooks. WD’s random read and write performance is also excellent. Memory expansion via memory cards is no longer an option after the years before a fiddly microSD slot was found in the back.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7’s performance is always on a high level even with the supposedly worse Core i5-8265U and ahead of many a Core i7 notebook. In the benchmarks, the test person always ends up in the upper third of the current test field in multi-core measurements, sometimes further ahead.
The notebook only has to admit defeat in the single-core measurements, as the Core i7 competition starts with a clock rate of up to 700 MHz in places. A Core i5-8265U doesn’t stand a chance against a Core i7-8565U in a single core test with a cooled CPU.
However, as soon as all cores are loaded and the load is applied for a longer period of time, the advantage equalizes itself.
The battery can be removed from the housing by unscrewing small Phillips screws and thus be replaced by the user, although extreme caution should always be exercised here. The battery is now 51 Wh, 10.5 percent smaller than last year. It was still specified at 57 Wh for the G6.
A direct comparison with the sixth generation of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is not possible due to the different displays. The new generation with a smaller battery delivers better results with a Full-HD display than last year’s model with a larger battery and WQHD screen.
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 is just behind the Dell XPS 13 (9380), which runs three-quarters of an hour longer, with almost nine hours of battery life for continuous work in office applications and in the browser. The battery of the current XPS 13 is a bit larger with 52 Wh. The display is also a bit smaller with 13.3 inches to 14 inches. But the resolution is also here in Full HD. In comparison to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G6 with WQHD panel, the battery life turns out 30 percent better.
In the streaming test, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 falls a bit further behind the Dell XPS 13 (9380), which scores 14 percent better with 14 hours runtime. Lenovo achieves a good to very good rate with over 12 hours runtime. In return, last year’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon G6 came in at only 9:41 hours.
Overall, the battery life of the new generation is good to very good despite the smaller battery. Nevertheless, you have to ask at this point how much better the notebook could have performed if Lenovo had left the battery at 57 Wh.
In comparison to the current test model, the case of the sixth generation, which is 1 mm thicker and 40 g heavier, would have been gladly accepted.
The 65 watt power supply, which is included by Lenovo, still doesn’t quite match the noble appearance of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7, as it still lacks practical details like a soft coating of the cables, which ensures that they return to their original shape after winding or bending.
Instead of a small clip to attach the cable to itself, Lenovo has a Velcro strip that leaves a rather cheap impression and can’t be removed.
In its seventh generation, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is currently the best business notebook, as long as you choose the right configuration. The recommendation is therefore: Matt Full HD display and Core i5, instead of WQHD or UHD and Core i7. Full HD on 14 inch is just as completely sufficient as the performance of the supposedly worse processor.
The performance of a Core i7 on paper can’t be permanently called up in thin notebooks and the displays with higher resolutions, especially the 4K panel, reduce the battery life.
In comparison to the sixth generation, Lenovo has only adjusted small details – and mostly for the better. The fiddly memory expansion via microSD card, which can only be accessed when closed, is history. Moreover, the fingerprint sensor can finally be used in everyday life and Lenovo offers the ThinkShutter in combination with the Windows Hello camera this time.
The fact that the power button is now located on the right side of the case instead of above the keyboard doesn’t make itself felt in everyday life, neither positively nor negatively. However, it can be argued that the notebook can now be turned on and off in a closed state.
The only change to the negative concerns the battery, which Lenovo has reduced from 57 to 51 Wh just to make the case 1 mm thinner and 40 g lighter. Fortunately, this measure doesn’t lead to bad battery runtimes; the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 still plays right at the top in this respect. The Swabians would say: A G’schmackle remains nevertheless, as even better runtimes could have been achieved with a full 57 Wh.
Nevertheless, there is an excellent business notebook under the bottom line, which Lenovo hasn’t cut all connections in opposition to Dell in the XPS 13 and which is also available with LTE, which is again available in Dell’s Latitude devices.
The case is of high quality and well manufactured, the input devices are on a top level and the display delivers partly very good readings. If you’re looking for a real workhorse in a business environment, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 is a very good choice.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G7 starts at prices starting at $1700 and thus $100 less than last year. However, the warranty has worsened in the basic package.
For the new model, it includes a courier pickup or sending in by the customer in case of a defect for a period of three years. This is a deterioration in that last year a three-year manufacturer’s warranty with on-site service was still offered.
Lenovo’s warranty covers spare parts and the work involved in repairs, whereby the latter are carried out on site at the company’s location or at home.
The test device is based on the basic model, but is equipped with 16 GB RAM, 512 GB SSD, LTE and NFC as well as a Windows Hello camera including ThinkShutter. This raises the price to just under $2,000.
Ranking Second: Dell XPS 13
- Fast pace of work
- Better price than Thinkpad X1 Carbon
- Strong Full-HD display, almost without frame
- Many Ports are missing
The new Dell XPS 13 9300 is considered to be the best consumer notebook of the year 2020, and in our test it also convinced at the first go. But not in all decisive areas.
Sometimes it’s details that spoil the fun of a device, even if almost everything else is right. And this is the case in the Dell XPS 13 9300. I test the version with a Full HD+ touchscreen display, an Intel Core i7 and 16 GB RAM. And I have to compliment Dell here on one hand: The result is a fantastic notebook.
The Dell XPS 13 9300 is pleasantly slim and flat. I am still under the impression of my last test device, the Asus Chromebook Flip C436. And in comparison, the Dell XPS 13 is even a bit narrower and a bit thinner, but also about 0.22 lbs heavier.
Design & Ports
You’ll notice that when you pick up the notebook: It’s not the lightest under the sun, a flyweight like the Dyanbook Portégé X30L-G is certainly not. But here, every lb seems sensibly invested.
Nothing rattles on the case, the keyboard sits firmly and doesn’t give way, the hinge is pleasantly smooth; the base keeps the device stable when opened. You can open the Dell XPS 13 9300 with one hand.
The maximum opening angle is about 135 degrees. I would have liked a bit more in order to be able to comfortably watch videos and TV on the couch (for example with bent legs). But that’s due to the design, a personal preference and on top of that to cope with. Those who want more flexibility can reach for the 360 degree model XPS 13 2-in-1, of which Dell still owes us a 2020 model, though.
The XPS in the configuration I have before me has a touchscreen; Dell sells options with touch or without. The screen’s 16:10 form factor, together with the very thin edges, looks pleasant and familiar at first sight.
The touchpad is placed exactly in the middle and the palms of your hands can be pleasantly placed to the left and right of it. By the way, the grooved pattern is just for show. The texture of the tray is actually smooth.
Dell supplies a USB-A to USB-C adapter in addition to the approximately 2.5 meter long power plug with USB-C. It’s nice that you have a USB-C socket with Thunderbolt 3 on both sides, so you can charge the device from both sides or connect an external monitor.
There is a LED in the power plug which lights up the same way every time you plug in the cable. A nice gimmick, nothing more. Dell could have adjusted the LED colour here to match the charge level, for example green or orange.
Apart from the two USB C ports with Thunderbolt 3, there are only 1 micro SD card slot on the left and 1x 3.5 mm audio jack on the right. So, Dell has left it at the most necessary here.
Keyboard, Touchpad & Sound
The keypad is illuminated by default and can be adjusted in three steps with a function key (F5). Keystroke and keystroke are somewhat more difficult to get used to and more difficult to move than with other systems.
I can write comfortably on the XPS 13 keyboard, but I have the feeling that I got along even better on the keyboard of the Lenovo Yoga C940 or MacBook Air. On the Dell XPS 13 9300 I have to press harder. However, I can well imagine that you won’t want to miss exactly this kind of keyboard after a while.
I really like the keyboard layout. Dell has enlarged the Enter key in comparison to the predecessor, which now again goes over two lines. The cursor keys can be felt intuitively, and you won’t find yourself in the enclosure with picture up and picture down keys, as it could still happen in the predecessor.
Mistyping is thus almost impossible in the XPS 13 9300. Also very nice: The dedicated keys for the keyboard backlight (F5) and play/pause (F4) in the function bar. These are the little things that frequent typists will love.
I didn’t get used to the touchpad quite as quickly as with other systems. You tend to trigger it by accident and don’t have an ideal pressure point for the mouse buttons. The surface is also a bit rougher, the finger doesn’t glide over it as easily as the Dynabook touchpads.
And there’s something else strange. Apparently, I accidentally triggered the touchpad by pressing the case while carrying the device. This is an interesting feature of my device, which I wouldn’t judge negatively at all, but which Dell probably didn’t plan for:
The sound of the stereo loudspeakers on the left and right is full, but a bit muffled. Dell has placed them at the bottom of the sides, but unlike other suppliers, has built in quite powerful elements here. Despite the not perfect position, not as much sound is lost here as in similar architectures.
And even at the highest volume nothing hummed or clinked in our test song “Night Call” from London Grammar. Nevertheless, the sound isn’t outstanding; more would have been possible for a notebook whose entry level configuration starts at almost $1100.
Display & Battery life
The display of the Dell XPS 13 9300 in my test setup offers a crystal clear, colorful and high-resolution picture. And this despite the fact that I chose the model with FHD+ resolution for the Dell XPS 13 9300 due to bad experiences with battery life of 4K displays.
Dell has done almost everything right here: resolution, the very pleasant 16:10 form factor and on top of that an amazingly high luminosity.
I usually got along easily with 40 percent brightness. If you turn it up fully, you can also work in glaring sunlight, also because the display hardly reflects at all. Overall, I’ve rarely seen such a strong display. Dell did a great job with that!
The battery life isn’t quite as nice for that. I only just got through the working day in Windows in energy saving mode. After a little more than 8 hours it was over here, without power saving mode it was rather 6 hours under Windows, under Ubuntu-Linux even only 5 to 6.
And I’m rather minimalistically on the road, usually only having the browser and three or four other programs (Messenger, Spotify, simple image editing, Explorer) open at the same time. And in the browser rarely more than 5 tabs at the same time.
Dell advertises the FHD+ model with up to “18 hours and 49 minutes battery life with productivity apps”. And that is simply not true, doesn’t even come close.
I tested the Core i7 version with touch and 16 GB RAM, and Dell states the runtime for the Core i5 model with 8 GB RAM. But that my configuration eats up more power in such a way simply cannot and must not be.
Dell can’t really do anything for Windows 10 and its idiosyncrasies. However, it does help that the system gets on your nerves quite quickly with the first network failures and the problems persist despite updates of the system and drivers during my test. Especially (but not only) when I have another notebook nearby, both alternate every minute with failing network connections.
A Dell software for the supposed improvement of the system (“Support Assist”) never made it beyond the time of my test to search for updates. The window looked like this forever:
While I credit Dell for not overloading the system with too much bloatware. There are no annoying anti-virus pop-ups and only at the beginning some update requests from Dell Command. That’s basically it.
Annoying for the fact that the system slows down considerably. It then takes longer for the writing program (WordPress under Firefox) to register an attack because Windows is obviously working on something in the background without telling the user what.
The cooler of the XPS 13 9300 I have heard very rarely for this. Once during a virus scan of Windows security and once during a load test with several open apps and tabs. But even then the cooler is pleasantly quiet and not of the disturbing kind.
The webcam is, as with all modern notebooks, not that: modern. The image quality is pixelated and rustles, even in broad daylight.
In summary: Dell has built the almost perfect notebook in the XPS 13 9300. A very solid workmanship, the best and probably brightest display on the market, a fast but quiet system, modern connections, a wonderful keyboard.
The only disadvantages are the only satisfactory sound, a few bumps in the interaction with Windows, but above all the battery life. That it’s not even half as long as Dell says and doesn’t even get you through the workday safely, shouldn’t really be allowed.
Dell does almost everything right in the XPS 13 9300. The best display on the market, a great workmanship, an unobtrusive, quiet system and a really good keyboard suffer from a battery life that is considerably lower than Dell’s specifications.