Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon vs Apple Macbook Pro (2020)

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Winner
New Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage, 2.3GHz Intel Core i9) - Space Gray
Best Price
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen 14" Ultrabook - 1920 X 1080 - Core i7 i7-8565U - 16 GB RAM - 512 GB SSD - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - Intel UHD Graphics 620 - in-Plane Switch
Model
MacBook Pro 2020
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Excellent August 2020
Test Result 9.3/10 Very good August 2020
Manufacturer
Apple
Lenovo
RAM
16 GB
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i9
Intel Core i7 i7-8565U
Graphics Card
Intel UHD Graphics 630
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
512 GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.3 lbs
4.1 lbs
Pros
  • Best mobile Work Station, especially for Creative & travelling professionals
  • Very Comfortable Keyboard & Useful Touchbar
  • Great battery life
  • Color rich Full HD Display
  • Very good loudspeakers
  • Cheaper Price than MacBook Pro 2020
Cons
  • More expensive than ThinkPad X1 Carbon
  • Smaller battery & No m-SD Port
Winner
New Apple MacBook Pro (16-inch, 16GB RAM, 1TB Storage, 2.3GHz Intel Core i9) - Space Gray
Model
MacBook Pro 2020
Test Result
Test Result 9.7/10 Excellent August 2020
Manufacturer
Apple
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i9
Graphics Card
Intel UHD Graphics 630
Storage Capacity
1TB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.3 lbs
Pros
  • Best mobile Work Station, especially for Creative & travelling professionals
  • Very Comfortable Keyboard & Useful Touchbar
  • Great battery life
Cons
  • More expensive than ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Best Price
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen 14" Ultrabook - 1920 X 1080 - Core i7 i7-8565U - 16 GB RAM - 512 GB SSD - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - Intel UHD Graphics 620 - in-Plane Switch
Model
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Test Result
Test Result 9.3/10 Very good August 2020
Manufacturer
Lenovo
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7 i7-8565U
Graphics Card
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage Capacity
512 GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.1 lbs
Pros
  • Color rich Full HD Display
  • Very good loudspeakers
  • Cheaper Price than MacBook Pro 2020
Cons
  • Smaller battery & No m-SD Port

We tested and compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon versus MacBook Pro (2020) Carbon in terms of Performance, Price, Display Quality, Battery life, Portability & more.

Above you can see the Ranking with the results of the test & below you will find the in-depth reports of the two Work Station Laptops.

Ranking First: Apple MacBook Pro (2020)

MacBook Pro (2020) review


Pros

  • Best mobile Work Station, especially for Creative & travelling professionals
  • Very Comfortable Keyboard & useful Touchbar
  • Great battery life

Cons

  • More expensive than ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Apple has addressed the weaknesses of its predecessor in the new MacBook Pro 16″. Let’s see what Apple’s newest notebook can do.

The 15-inch MacBook Pro had to struggle with some problems. The two biggest weaknesses concerned the throttling of the CPU under load and the keyboard. Both should be a thing of the past with the new model. To also anticipate it: Apple simply did everything right with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. But there is still room for improvement.

The contents of the box are hardly surprising. In addition to the MacBook and the charger, there is also some paperwork and the two classic Apple stickers. Nothing more. Dongles have to be bought separately.

Design & Ports

It’s a MacBook and it’s from the Pro Series. Accordingly, the workmanship is absolutely flawless. The case is made of recycled aluminum and everything feels fantastic. There are no sharp edges or unclean transitions. For a price of $2500, buyers can also expect a flawless device.

MacBook Pro (2020) back view

Let’s start with the display size. The new MacBook Pro has a larger display and narrower bezels. So the difference in size from its 15-inch predecessor isn’t that big. Anyway, it still fits nicely in my messenger bag. Although I find the weight of just over 4.4 lbs a bit too heavy. So a real backpack is more appropriate.

The changes in the rest of the design are only minor, but have a big impact. The 16-inch MacBook Pro is a little thicker than its predecessor. This was necessary because Apple is using a new keyboard here. More about this later. What should also be mentioned is the “esc” key and the touch ID sensor. These are now separate units to the left and right of the touch bar.

The new size and thickness also allows Apple to use a larger battery. At 99.8Wh, the MacBook Pro is wafer-thin under the U.S. Flight Authorities’ limit for notebook batteries on domestic flights. Read more about battery life in the appropriate chapter.

For a long time now, MacBooks have only had Thunderbolt 3, which is good and bad. Good, because everything works faster with Thunderbolt 3. Bad, because you lead a dongle life. A customer’s USB flash drive? Hopefully the adapter is in the bag and not on the desk. Editing photos from an SD card. Where is the SD card reader?

Apple MacBook Pro (2020) review, test

Anyway, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro comes with a total of four Thunderbolt 3 ports – two on each side. When used with a docking station, that’s fine, although I still want a built-in card reader. The 3.5mm jack connector on the right side is still there, by the way.

Display

16 inches is a funny size. Notebooks usually have either 15.6 inch or 17.3 inch screens. So 16 inches are out of the ordinary. This also creates a larger work surface. This can be changed again as usual by scaling the applications in the settings.

Apple itself specifies the display brightness as 500cd/m². In practice, the display brightness is adjusted according to your ambient light. In an office with normal lighting, the 16-inch MacBook Pro will level off at around 300cd/m². If you go outside (or, as in our case, point a 60-watt studio spotlight at the device), it will reach the specified display brightness.

Apple MacBook Pro (2020) display test review

However, the illumination at maximum brightness becomes uneven in some places. The deviations level off much better with only slightly less illumination.

There’s also nothing to complain about in terms of resolution. Content is displayed sharply with more than 200ppi. TrueTone ensures that colors are displayed correctly based on the ambient light. A great feature that you only notice when you no longer have it.

Software

MacOS is one of the few alternatives to Windows on the market. Nearly 10% of the computers worldwide run with this system. The latest version of the Apple operating system is called Catalina. Currently Apple still has to fix a few problems here. More than once a day I had to restart the MacBook Pro because it did not react as it should. I didn’t need this with previous MacBooks.

Apple MacBook Pro (2020) macos software test review

Otherwise, iTunes on Mac with Catalina is now finally dead. In its place, the applications “Music”, “Podcasts” and “AppleTV” are now available. This should help you find what you had to search for in a program more efficiently. Music still reminds you most of the old iTunes.

There are also small improvements, such as a customizable full-screen mode for windows, the use of an iPad as a second screen and the possibility to control almost everything by voice. Nothing earth-shattering, but successful fine-tuning.

Performance

Here the predecessor still had the problem that it did not keep the clock of its processor for long. Throtteling still starts, but in the meantime the time until then has risen to an acceptable level. However, as buyers can also expect from a “pro” notebook

Apple MacBook Pro (2020) performance test review

The Intel Core i9 together with the 16GB memory ensures that all programs work quickly. There are only slight hiccups with Adobe products (Photoshop & Lightroom). Who is to blame for it now, I can not make a final decision.

Of course the new MacBook Pro is also available in much larger versions. The RAM is limited to 64GB and the built-in SSD to 8TB. With a larger graphics card and a faster processor the configuration culminates at almost $2500.

Battery life & emissions

As mentioned earlier, the new 16-inch MacBook Pro has a 99.8Wh battery. This enables excellent battery life. Especially when it comes to light tasks like emailing, surfing, etc. On a quiet working day without image editing, I still had about 50% battery left after six hours of use. I really can’t wish for much more.

Apple MacBook Pro (2020) side view test review

If the battery runs out of power, it is recharged in a flash with the 96W USB-C charger and “Fast Charge”. But this way the 16 inch MacBook Pro can’t be charged with notebook power banks.

A lot of power also means a lot of heat. The 16-inch MacBook Pro also generates waste heat quickly. You can clearly see that in the palm rests. They’re almost always warm, but nothing more. They never reach an uncomfortable level.

Otherwise, the MacBook Pro’s fans start very quickly, which is probably due to the 15 incher’s history of overheating. The new fans are bigger and have improved the airflow by 28%.

Keyboard & Trackpad

From now on Apple Scissor switches are the measure of all things. In the last years Apple had relied on Butterfly-Switches for all MacBooks (Air & Pro). As beautiful as it could be written on them, these keyboards were also prone to errors.

Even fine dust was enough and individual keys no longer worked. The new switches should prevent this. But only a long-term test can show whether this is really the case in the long run.

Apple MacBook Pro (2020) keyboard touchbar touchpad test review

In any case, typing is a lot of fun. Even though I liked the old keys with almost zero keystroke a bit more, I immediately became friends with the new Scissor switches. The minimal keystroke still allows fast and error-free typing. Full score for this. Only the trackpad is even better.

No manufacturer can produce trackpads like Apple. They click the same way at every position and feel fantastic. And the gestures are absolutely precise. And it’s all the same with the new 16-inch MacBook Pro. And on top of that, this trackpad deserves to be called “giant” – in a positive sense.

Sound

The new MacBook uses a total of six speakers. And they’re designed to balance each other out at all times. So when you turn up the volume, the enclosure doesn’t start to vibrate.

Apple MacBook Pro (2020) toucbr review test

Beyond that, the 16-inch MacBook Pro has the best sound I’ve ever heard on a notebook. It even surpasses the previous leader, and that was the 13-inch MacBook Pro. Whether it’s highs, mids, or lows, everything is easy to understand and seems perfectly balanced.

Verdict

The 16-inch MacBook Pro is probably the best laptop I’ve ever used. It’s great build quality, the i9’s performance is more accessible, the display is a dream, and the speakers sound fantastic. I was a bit sceptical about the new keyboard at first, but I got used to the scissor switch in no time.

With a starting price of $2500 (with an Intel Core i9 processor) the 16 inch MacBook Pro is definitely not the right choice for every user, but for professional and very demanding users who want to work with MacOS and want to be mobile on top of that, there is no other choice.

No other notebook brand has such a great performance and user interface as Apple with the MacBook Pro 2020, which is why the Apple MacBook Pro 2020 is ranking first vs ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Ranking Second: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) review test


Pros

  • Color rich HD Display
  • Very good loudspeakers
  • Cheaper Price than MacBook Pro 2020

Cons

  • Smaller battery & No m-SD Port

Even flatter and lighter, but regressions on the keyboard. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the spearhead in Lenovo’s business portfolio and has so far been convincing mainly with its extremely mobile case, but without sacrificing interfaces or performance.

The 7th generation is even more compact and gets new displays. Can the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020 with the WQHD display continue the success of its predecessor, or is the 2018 version perhaps the better choice? Update 10.09.: Test completed

After the ThinkPad X1 Carbon from 2017 and 2018 contained the same case (there were only a few optical changes), Lenovo is now providing the now 7th generation of its business laptop with a completely new case. The result is an extremely mobile 14-inch laptop with a weight of just ~2.42 lbs, but which, according to the manufacturer, doesn’t have to compromise on functionality.

Our current test device is called ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020 20QE000VGE and is equipped with a Core i7 processor, 16 GB RAM and a 512 GB NVMe SSD. The matt WQHD screen with 2,560 x 1,440 pixels, which we already know from the predecessor, is built in. The new carbon fiber look on the lid is only available for models with the optional 4K UHD monitor, all other versions come in the familiar black.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) back view

We compare the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020 with its predecessor and also with the current ThinkPad T490s/T495s. We’re still waiting for the current models of the competition. Until then, we’ll use the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5 and the Dell Latitude 7490.

Design

Lenovo has given the 7th generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon a completely new case. It is lighter and more compact, but in the end the differences are very small and you can’t really feel the improvements. In addition to the 2020 X1 Carbon, we have the predecessor at hand, and even in direct comparison, it’s not easy to spot the new model.

Visually, there hasn’t been much change either, as the black surfaces are identical. Only the new X1 Carbon 2020 with the optional 4K HDR screen gets the new carbon look on the lid, but it’s really just a visual thing.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) design test & review

On the positive side, however, the small slimming hasn’t really had a negative effect on stability or workmanship. In direct comparison with the 2018 model, we can’t see any difference in the screen lid’s stability. In return, the base unit’s middle area can be pushed down a bit easier.

In practice, however, this only comes into play when you “hammer” on the keys very energetically. There was also a change in the hinges, as they are now a bit tighter (also in the second test device with the 400 nits display). So the base lifts slightly when you want to open the lid with just one hand.

Unfortunately, Lenovo has neglected to equip the X1 Carbon with the ThinkPad T490’s surface coating, because fingerprints or dirt were hardly a problem there. You have to clean the X1 Carbon from time to time, though. As in the current ThinkPad X1 Yoga 2020 (whose base unit is practically identically constructed), Lenovo uses two different base unit variants.

The microSD reader has been completely removed, so models without an LTE module are also delivered without the slot for the SIM on the back. Why they didn’t stick with the old solution and at least continue to offer a microSD reader, but instead produce two different cases, seems a bit strange to us.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) airport test review

In addition to the comparison pictures, our size chart also shows that the difference between the 2018 and 2020 X1 Carbon is only minimal. Most noticeable here is the slightly lower height (-1 mm), but even this will be difficult in practice. Nevertheless, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon remains an extremely mobile 14 inch business notebook.

Especially the low weight is certainly an argument for the Lenovo, as the HP EliteBook x360 1040 G5, for example, takes up a somewhat smaller footprint but is about 0.66 lbs heavier. Both the ThinkPad T490s and the Dell Latitude 7490 are noticeably larger and heavier when handled.

Ports & Interfaces

There have been some changes in the connections, mainly in terms of positioning. The power button is now on the right side, analogous to the current ThinkPad X1 Yoga, and the USB port is in the middle, but the 3.5 mm jack has moved to the left side. Furthermore, there are two full-fledged Thunderbolt 3 plugs, a native LAN output using the included adapter and a standard-sized HDMI output. In total, the X1 Carbon 2020 can drive three displays, whereby the maximum resolution is 5,120 x 2,880 pixels (60 Hz) via Thunderbolt 3 or 4,096 x 2,160 pixels (24 Hz) via HDMI.

Basically, we think it’s good that customers still get a solid mixture of modern USB-C ports including Thunderbolt 3 as well as older USB-A plugs, because you don’t really need any adapters in everyday life.

But what we can’t understand is the situation with the card reader: Why the predecessor’s microSD reader (despite its bad placement) was simply cancelled is not revealed to us. After all, there is room for the nano-SIM card, so here we could have put a combo slide for the SIM and the mSD again.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) side view ports interfaces

The well-known WiFi module Intel Wireless-AC 9560, which masters the most common standards and achieves good transfer rates in our standardized test with the Linksys EA8500 router, works in our test device. Also in practice we could not detect any problems with the wireless network connection.

Lenovo unfortunately doesn’t offer a more current WiFi 6 module ex works, and the WiFi module can’t be replaced afterwards. At least a WWAN module is optionally available, though. Unfortunately, there is also the limitation that you have to decide before buying, otherwise the case version without a SIM slot is available.

The lower case cover can be removed comparatively easily, because there are only 5 regular cross screws. After unscrewing, the cover already lifts a bit, and you can easily lift off the lid. Especially after the fiasco of the new ThinkPad T490, we are glad that it can be done differently.

Once inside, however, the service activities are limited. You can access the fan, the battery, the M.2 SSD and the M.2 WWAN module. The WiFi module is soldered on and the functionality is partly taken over by the CPU.

Keyboard & Touchpad

Externally, you can’t tell the difference at first if you look at the keyboard of the current ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020. You still get the typical chiclet input with the slightly curved keys and a two-stage white backlight, which is a bit uneven, though (see picture below).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) keyboard test review keypad, touchpad

Unfortunately, there is still no brightness sensor for the illumination. In the old 2018 model, we especially praised the keyboard, because such a rich stroke in combination with the rather long key stroke was anything but a matter of course for a thin device. Together with the very stable base unit, the result was a very good typing feel with a clearly defined feedback.

However, Lenovo had to reduce the key stroke from 1.8 to 1.5 mm due to the thinner case, and the height of the key caps themselves was also reduced from 5.3 to 4.5 mm.

Quite clearly, we’re whining here on a fairly high level, and the keyboard is still very good, especially in comparison to the competition, but the typing feel has worsened in comparison to the 2018 model. You simply notice the shorter stroke length, and overall the typing also seems a bit more rickety.

Another difference is the design of the TrackPoint keys. They are now completely flat, which is certainly a matter of taste and doesn’t have to be negative. However, the two keys have significantly more play than on the X1 Carbon 2018, which damages the precision of the inputs. Moreover, the left button of our test device tends to get stuck in the lower left corner, which makes double-clicks especially problematic.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) flat view

The situation is a bit better on our second test device (both touchpads/TrackPoints are from ELAN): The key doesn’t get stuck, but the light play is still present and they also produce a louder clicking noise.

It may of course be that these are still problems of the first batches (we pretty much have the first devices for testing), but that shouldn’t really be a problem with a flagship laptop from a large manufacturer.

The touchpad itself is, as usual, easy to use and also offers good gliding properties. In the lower area, you can press the surface down, which again produces a very rich and not cheap-looking clicking noise.

We also can’t see any difference between the two generations in a direct comparison. Because it’s a Windows precision pad, there are no problems with the implementation of commands or wiping gestures with up to four fingers.

Display

Lenovo offers a total of five different displays for the X1 Carbon 2020, of which two were already available last year: The FHD touch panel with a brightness of 300 cd/m² and the matt WQHD panel from our test device.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) display test review

Unfortunately, the brightness here is again 300 cd/m², which makes it noticeably darker than the standard panel (1080p, 400 cd/m²). There is also an optional FHD panel with a built-in privacy filter (also 400 cd/m², currently not yet available) and the new 4K UHD HDR screen with a brightness of 500 cd/m².

Subjectively, the WQHD panel is a very good screen for a business laptop: the colors are vibrant, content is displayed sharply, and (unlike some of the new low-power FHD panels) there are no problems with ghosting effects due to very slow response times.

The new screens have a particular advantage when it comes to brightness, which averages just over 300 cd/m², with around 400 cd/m². We are also a bit disappointed by the comparatively high black value, which is added to a mediocre contrast ratio of only 786:1.

This is certainly sufficient for a business laptop, but it would also go a lot further. Positive: There are no problems with halos (screen bleeding).

The calibration of the panel in factory condition could also be better, as there is definitely potential in the panel. With our X-Rite-i1Pro2 spectrophotometer, we measured relatively high deviations from the ideal values in comparison to the sRGB reference, especially in the grayscales. There is also a slight colour cast in the direction of green/blue, but this is only visible if you normally work with calibrated panels.

Due to the calibration, the results are clearly improved, only 100 % red still deviates from the target value (DeltaE less than 3). But a disadvantage of the calibration is the reduced screen brightness (~30 cd/m²). Together with the almost complete sRGB coverage, some photos can certainly be edited on the go, but the new Full-HD screens aren’t much worse in this respect.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) side view forum test review

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s WQHD panel offers a matt surface and can thus be used outdoors in principle. The brightness isn’t reduced in battery mode if you disable the dynamic brightness adjustment in the Intel driver. The following pictures were taken in the blazing summer sun, and you can still see something in this situation. However, it only becomes more pleasant when the screen is turned out of the light.

Since we already have the test device with the 400 nits-1080p display here, we wanted to see if you can really see a difference between the two panels outdoors. The answer is quite clear: yes. So if you often use the X1 Carbon for mobile use or in very bright environments, you should prefer the standard FHD screen.

Lenovo uses an IPS display, and accordingly there are no problems with viewing angle stability. Even from larger angles there is only a minimal brightness drop and the picture content remains visible at all times.

Performance

In the chapter performance not much has changed compared to the predecessor. Lenovo implements the new Whiskey Lake CPUs from Intel, but still couples them with LPDDR3 RAM. The graphics calculations are taken over by the integrated Intel GPU, which is completely sufficient for normal office activities. An AMD model of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has not been announced yet.

Currently, the drivers don’t seem to be quite mature, as the power limits (both short and long term) are at a very high 51 watts. This leads to strongly fluctuating clock rates under load, which we will go into more detail in the individual sections. There was another change in Lenovo’s Vantage software. In several current models, the software now refers to the normal Windows power controller for the “intelligent cooling” item (see screenshot).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) performance test benchmark test review gaming

Currently, there still seem to be problems with latencies, because the tool LatencyMon shows high deflections with both activated and deactivated WiFi connection. There weren’t any problems in the predecessor, hopefully Lenovo will provide an update. The first BIOS update to version 1.04 has at least not helped yet.

The 2020 ThinkPad X1 Carbon is available with four different Whiskey Lake CPUs from Intel. They are all quad-core processors with a nominal TDP of 15 watts. Besides the two regular versions, Core i5-8256U and Core i7-8565U, which can also be found in most consumer products, Lenovo also offers the two vPro versions, Core i5-8365U and Core i7-8665U.

Apart from further management functions, both of them also achieve a somewhat higher turbo clock rate. Our test device contains the nominally fastest processor, the i7-8665U, which can reach a maximum turbo clock rate of up to 4.8 GHz.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon naturally profits from the fast Core i7, especially under the load of only one core. The first run in the multi-test also achieves a very good result, even if the maximum clock rates aren’t reached. Thus, the new model is also a few percentage points ahead of the 2018 X1 Carbon, so the slimmer case apparently had no effect on the cooling.

When it comes to pure performance, the Core i7-8665U is certainly not worth the extra price. However, the vPro functionality still plays a role here, which can be interesting especially for larger companies. The performance is not reduced in battery mode.

Note: For full CPU performance, the Windows power regulator must be set to Best Performance, otherwise the power limits are limited to lower values (20/15 watts for Better Performance; 7.5/10 watts for More Battery Efficiency).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) performance benchmarks gaming test review

In the Cinebench multi loop, with which we simulate continuous CPU load, the problem with the high TDP limits becomes apparent. The processor is practically always close to the 100°C mark, which also leads to performance drops from time to time in the course of the test. The final result is certainly not bad with an average of 632 points, but with a bit of optimization there would probably be even more to it.

Besides adjusting the TDP limits, there is of course also the possibility to reduce the processor’s core voltage. How to do this is described in detail in this article. Note: The processors behave differently, and the results cannot simply be transferred to another system.

The Core i7-8665U of our test device couldn’t be optimized very well because we could only reduce the voltage by 0.070 volts for stable operation. The result is a higher clock rate at the same temperature, which then also leads to higher results in our benchmarks. However, this doesn’t change the basic behaviour of the processor, and the fluctuations are still there.

We can be brief in this chapter, as the system runs smoothly with the fast components, which you can expect from a modern and expensive laptop in 2020. We haven’t encountered any problems so far.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) back view test

We have installed Ubuntu 19.04 as a test to check compatibility. During the installation the touchpad didn’t work, but the TrackPoint did. But once installed, everything worked as desired. This includes the function of the hotkeys, for example for brightness or volume, as well as the communication modules (WiFi, Bluetooth). Only the built-in WWAN module wasn’t recognized.

A fast PCIe SSD from Western Digital is at work in the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which has a memory capacity of 512 GB. Of this, 437 GB are still available in the delivery state. The NVMe SSD’s performance is very high and doesn’t have to hide from the competition from Samsung or Intel.

Gaming Performance

There are no surprises when it comes to the graphics card, as Intel’s well-known UHD Graphics 620 is still used. As an integrated GPU, it offers sufficient performance for all common multimedia applications, and playing high-resolution videos is also no problem thanks to the integrated video decoder. Further technical information on the UHD Graphics 620 is available here.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) gaming performance benchmarks

Thanks to the dual-channel memory allocation, the full performance of the iGPU is available, but overall we are still at a very low level here. The performance is not reduced in battery mode.

There are two ways to play reasonably on the X1 Carbon 2020: Either you limit yourself to older and undemanding titles, whereby high settings are often not possible here either, or you connect an external graphics card at home, which isn’t a problem thanks to the Thunderbolt 3 connection.

More gaming benchmarks with the Intel UHD Graphics 620 are available in our technology section.

Noise & temperature levels

The fan of the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020 is fortunately very reserved, because it is usually disabled in idle and even under low load. Even short load peaks are often survived without using the fan (e.g. program installations). Also, the annoying revving up of the fan in mains operation, which we could notice in the past in other ThinkPads, hasn’t been a problem here so far.

Even under load it takes a little time until the fan makes itself felt. We could determine a total of three fan speeds, practically inaudible at 28.6 dB(A) and then still at 31.5 and 33.1 dB(A). However, the fan noise isn’t disturbing or high-frequency. Our test device doesn’t have any problems with other electronic noises, such as coil whirring.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) office setup test review

There are no problems with surface temperatures in idle and under low load. But under load, especially the base unit’s middle upper area gets noticeably warm with around 47 °C, which is also noticeable when typing. The bottom stays a bit cooler, but you shouldn’t put the device on your thighs for a long time in this extreme scenario. The fan outlet is located on the right side, which could also lead to a warm hand for mouse users.

In the stress test with the two synthetic tools, Prime95 and FurMark, we see a strongly fluctuating performance. Due to the high power limits, the processor tries again and again to reach very high clock rates, which of course goes along with high temperatures.

This in turn leads to an extreme slump in performance. A constant level isn’t reached here in the course of our test either, instead the processor’s power consumption fluctuates between 4-51 watts with an average value of ~21 watts.

Sound

Probably the biggest difference between the old and the new ThinkPad X1 Carbon are the speakers, which is certainly surprising for a business device. The two 1 Watt modules from the 2018 X1 Carbon have been replaced by a total of four speakers, which Lenovo also advertises with Dolby Atmos.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) review test performance display quality

The two loudspeakers in the front area on the bottom are now stronger (2 watts each) and are supported by two additional modules with 0.8 watts each above the keyboard.

The result can be seen and heard, and not only in the business segment. Although a dedicated subwoofer is missing, there is a bit of bass, and in direct comparison, the sound has become considerably more voluminous, but at the same time speech intelligibility remains very good.

We watched various trailers, and also listened to music with the new X1 Carbon 2020 – the improvement is immense. If you’re faced with the choice between the X1 Carbon 2018 or 2020, the speakers could certainly be reason enough for some users to opt for the new model.

Together with the speakers you also get the Dolby Atmos app, which offers various presets and also provides an individual equalizer. The dynamic preset, which automatically optimizes the sound according to the source, works quite well, and manual intervention is often unnecessary.

Power Consumption

Analogous to the fluctuating clock of the processor, the power consumption under load also fluctuates very strongly. At the beginning of the stress test we measured a maximum of 67.5 watts, but in the further course of the test it is between 13 and 60 watts with an average value of around 30 watts. The included 65 watt power supply (0.8 lbs) is thus sufficiently dimensioned.

X1 Carbon mobility portability, weight , mobile workstation

The power consumption has increased a bit under load in comparison to the 2018 model (also WQHD), but Lenovo was able to optimize the rates in idle. We determine a minimum of only 3 watts and a maximum of 8.9 watts including keyboard illumination.

It was still a maximum of 11.9 watts in the predecessor. The keyboard illumination increases the consumption by about 1.8 watts on the maximum level and only about 0.8 watts on the low level.

Battery life

The more compact housing has also resulted in a lower battery capacity: Of the 57 watt-hours of the 2018 model, only 51 Wh are left. This also has a corresponding effect in our first runtime tests: Under load, it’s already over after a bit more than 80 minutes, and in the practical WiFi test (brightness 150 cd/m²; 72% in our panel), one charge is enough for a bit more than eight hours.

Thus, the new X1 Carbon falls behind all versions of its predecessor, even the ThinkPad T490s with the low power FHD panel lasts significantly longer (+2 hours). With the maximum display brightness, the WiFi runtime is reduced to just 6 hours.

It looks a bit better in the video test, in which we play the short film Big Buck Bunny in a loop. The brightness is again limited to 150 cd/m² here, and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon lasts for almost 10 hours.

Verdict

The 2020 version (or 7th generation) of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is also a very good business laptop. However, Lenovo’s decision to make the case a bit thinner again has also had negative effects, which can be noticed in practice.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) design test review

By this we don’t mean the quality of the case itself at all: The stability is slightly worse than before, but this shouldn’t have any effect in everyday life. The workmanship is still excellent.

The biggest cut, especially in direct comparison with the predecessors, is the typing feel, though, because the reduced key stroke is noticeable. The keyboard of the current ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2020 is still very good, especially in comparison to many other Ultrabooks, but the keyboard of the predecessor was simply better. The battery capacity also had to be reduced a bit, which leads to shorter runtimes.

Apart from that, there are other small points that are a bit annoying, including the renouncement of an SD card reader (preferably microSD rather than no card reader at all), the renouncement of current WiFi 6 modules and the renewed problem with the LTE modems, which can’t be retrofitted.

Not much has changed with the WQHD display. It is still a good option without PWM, but this should be calibrated if possible. The performance is slightly better overall, but you can only tell by looking at the benchmark values.

There is, however, one crucial improvement, namely the speakers. The comparison between the 2018 and the 2020 X1 Carbon is immense, and the new speaker system is not just for a business laptop. If you’re torn between choosing between the two models and are looking for good sound, you should definitely go for the new model.

The new ThinkPad X1 Carbon is once again lighter and minimally more compact, but honestly, you hardly notice that in everyday life. Unfortunately, the key stroke has been reduced, which you also notice when typing. Nevertheless, Lenovo still offers an extremely good overall package with the extremely compact ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which has finally been given some reasonable loudspeakers.

All in all the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is ranking behind vs Apple MacBook Pro 2020. But if you can do without the better loudspeakers, you should definitely take a look at the 6th generation X1 Carbon, as these models are now on sale in many shops and you can save a lot of money with them.


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