Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 (2022) Review
By Yvonne
2022-09-07

A 12th Gen Intel CPU, a sharper webcam, and more display options cement the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon's place as the finest laptop for business—and likely the finest laptop, period.

Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon Gen 10 2022 Review

The pros

  • Ultralight, sleek, strong, and lightweight
  • Thunderbolt 4 and USB-A ports as well as HDMI, HDMI, and USB-A ports
  • Amazing keyboard
  • High-quality options for screen, including OLED or 4K
  • Excellent productivity and long battery life

Cons

  • Price for business-class customers
  • There is no SD/microSD card slot
  • Option 5G not available yet

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Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon Gen 10 2022 (Specs)

Name Value
Laptop Class Business, Ultraportable
Processor Intel Core i7-1260P
RAM (as Tested) 16 GB
Boot Drive Type SSD
Boot Drive Capacity (as Tested) 512 GB
Screen Size 14 inches
Native Display Resolution 1920 by 1200
Touch Screen Yes
Panel Technology IPS
Variable Refresh Support None
Screen Refresh Rate 60 Hz
Graphics Processor Intel Iris Xe Graphics
Wireless Networking Bluetooth, Wi-Fi 6E
Dimensions (HWD) 0.6 by 12.4 by 8.8 inches
Weight 2.48 lbs
Operating System Windows 11 Pro
Tested Battery Life (Hours:Minutes) 12:18

When we tested last year's Gen 9 version, we said it was just as well Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon didn't offer an OLED screen option—if it did, we'd be tempted to shut down our review department and say business laptop technology had hit an unsurpassable peak. It seems that the company reads reviews. Guess which option was added to this year’s ThinkPad X1 carbon Gen 10?

We'll keep PC Labs open, as it turned out. However, Lenovo's Gen 10 ultraportable ($1,439, $2,249 tested) easily repeats its Editors Choice award win. It also elevates the rare step of a perfect 5-star review from a 4.5 star to a flawless 5-star rating. The Carbon has only two negatives: it is expensive and does not have an SD card slot. However, the Carbon retains both the HDMI and USB Type A ports that are missing from the Dell XPS 13, which we consider the world's best laptop. We envy those who can afford it.

Related Reading: Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 Review

The Definitive Executive Notebook

It isn't a significant upgrade to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon's 10th generation. It includes such minor tweaks like square keycaps and an even larger touchpad. The third edition of Intel Evo, the Intel spec for thin and light laptops, mandates 12th Generation Core processors. Improved videoconferencing, with a 1080p instead of 720p webcam and dynamic background noise suppression.

The $1,439 base model combines a Core i5-1240P CPU with 8GB of memory, a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive, and a 14-inch IPS display with 16:10 aspect ratio and 1,920-by-1,200-pixel resolution. There are no fewer than seven screen choices: non-touch, touch, and privacy-filter versions of the 1,920-by-1,200-pixel panel; an IPS screen with slightly higher 2,240-by-1,400-pixel resolution; a 2,880-by-1,800 OLED panel for users who want the blackest blacks, punchiest colors, and highest contrast; and non-touch and touch versions of a 3,840-by-2,400 IPS display with 500 nits of brightness and HDR400 Dolby Vision support. Most include Eyesafe anti-blue-light technology.

The $2,249 unit we tested (model 21CB000CUS), has the 400-nit touchscreen, base resolution, and 16GB RAM. It also comes with a 512GB SSD and a 28-watt Core Intel i7-1260P chipset (four Performance cores and eight efficient cores), 16 threads and Intel's vPro IT management and security technology. The unit also includes Windows 11 Pro as well as a fingerprint reader, although it is a bit small for the job. The webcam does not support Windows Hello Face Recognition, however both infrared and MIPI interfaces with computer vision modules are possible. The same applies to 4G LTE mobile broadband. However, the specification sheet mentions 5G as an option. I have not yet seen it in Lenovo's online configurator.

As before, the flagship ThinkPad combines a carbon-fiber lid and a magnesium alloy base, and it has passed MIL-STD 810H tests for travel hazards like shock, vibration, and temperature extremes. There's virtually no flex if you grasp the screen corners or press the keyboard deck. The Carbon measures 0.6 by 12.4 by 8.8 inches, more or less matching the 14-inch HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 (0.7 by 12.7 by 8.5 inches), and weighs 2.48 pounds—fractionally lighter than the smaller-screened XPS 13 and MacBook Air.

Speaking of the Dell and Apple, they rely on USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports, obliging you to reach for an adapter to plug in an external monitor or USB Type-A storage device or other peripheral. The Lenovo has two Thunderbolt 4 ports on its left flank, but they're accompanied by a USB 3.2 Type-A port and an HDMI video output. A second USB-A port joins an audio jack (also absent from the Dell), a nano SIM slot, and a security lock slot on the right.

Related Reading: Dell XPS 13 (9310) Review

Snappy Typing, and a Wall of Sound

Although there is no space for a numeric keyboard, the ThinkPads backlit keyboard delivers on its stellar reputation. It has a responsive, snappy typing experience and is easy to use. It has real Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys instead of Fn-key-and-cursor-arrow combinations (albeit in the usual ThinkPad arrangement with the first two on the top row and latter two at bottom right), with top-row shortcuts for brightness, volume, and placing and ending conference calls.

You can switch the Control and Fn keys by using Lenovo Commercial Vantage software. The TrackPoint mini joystick, which has three buttons under the space bar and the rectangular touchpad works smoothly and securely. For a calm click, the pad requires just enough pressure.

A minuscule bump or ridge in the top bezel not only makes it slightly easier to open the lid, but also houses the 1080p webcam. It has a sliding privacy shutter and quad-array microphones. Dolby Voice software suppresses non-speech noises from both sides of a video call and optimizes the mics for speakers around a conference table or for just the person sitting in front of the laptop. The webcam slightly blurred a painting in the background but captured a well-lit, crisp, and colorful view of my face and my loudest Hawaiian shirt.

The sound quality of two speakers, one upward and one downward, is amazing. I was able to listen to MP3s at 80% volume instead of my usual 100%. Although there is a little bass, the highs and midtones are clear and well-defined. It's also easy to distinguish overlapping tracks. Dolby Atmos utilities provide several presets including Dynamic, which can be a little tinny, as well as those for music, movies and voice. You can also adjust the sound with an equalizer.

The screen looks sharp, with wide viewing angles and good contrast. You do have to tilt the screen back a ways to make white backgrounds look purely white, but that's not a problem since the display opens 180 degrees. There's ample brightness; colors don't quite pop like poster paints (blame IPS instead of OLED technology), but are rich and well saturated. Fine details are clean, with no pixelation around the edges of letters.

The Lenovo Commercial Vantage app can change keyboard settings, as well as software updates, audio, power and cooling settings. The Lenovo View utility improves webcam images. Clean Your Device blocks all input for several minutes, and then you can apply a clean cloth to keyboard and screen. The X1 Carbon's base models come with a 1-year warranty. This seems a bit too short for a business laptop. However, our review unit came with three years of next day on-site support. You can purchase up to five-year warranties.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen10: Premium Business Battle

We compared the X1 Carbon with four 14-inch slimlines, whose specifications are shown in the table below. We tested the HP EliteBook 840 Aero G8 and VAIO SX14 clamshells in 2021. The Asus ExpertBook B7 Flip, and Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 are two-in-1 convertibles.

Productivity tests

PCMark 10, the main benchmark, simulates a range of content-creation and productivity workflows in real life to assess overall performance on office-centric tasks like word processing, spreadsheeting and web browsing. PCMark 10's Full System Drive is also used to evaluate the storage's load and throughput.

To rate the suitability of a computer for processing-intensive tasks, three benchmarks examine its CPU. They use all cores and threads. Maxon's Cinebench R23 renders complex scenes using Cinema 4D, and Primate Labs Geekbench Pro simulates popular applications such as PDF rendering, speech recognition, machine learning, and more. We use HandBrake, an open-source video converter to transform a 12 minute video clip from 4K resolution to 1080p (greater results are achieved with lower times).

Puget Systems' PugetBench Photoshop is our final productivity test. It uses Adobe Creative Cloud 22 to evaluate a computer's ability to create content and multi-media applications. This extension automates various tasks in Photoshop, including opening, rotating and resizing images, saving them, applying filters, gradient fills and masks.

Carbon performed well in CPU testing and cleared PCMark 10, which indicates high productivity in everyday tasks. Although it is not able to crunch mainframe-class data, the Carbon can be used as an office computer.

Graphics Testing

Two DirectX 12 simulations are used to test the graphics of Windows PCs. Night Raid is a more modest option for those with integrated graphics, while Time Spy, which requires much higher graphics, would be suitable for gamers with discrete GPUs.

Two tests were also performed using the cross-platform GPU benchmark GFXBench 5. This test focuses on both low-level tasks like texturing as well as high-level image rendering. To accommodate different resolutions, the Aztec Ruins 1440p and Car Chase 1080p tests were rendered offscreen. They include exercise graphics, compute shaders with OpenGL programming and hardware tessellation, respectively. More frames per second (fps) is better.

Here, low scores are common. It is impossible to mistake the ThinkPad's Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics or any other integrated graphic for a dedicated GPU on a gaming laptop or professional GPU for a CGI rendering or computer-aided design workstation. It's perfect for streaming media and casual gaming.

Testing of the Battery and Display

The battery life of laptops is tested by playing locally saved 720p video files (open-source Blender movie Tears of Steel) (Opens in new window)). Display brightness was set at 50%, and the audio volume at 100%. Before testing, we make sure that the battery has been fully charged.

We also use a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its Windows software to measure a laptop screen's color saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 color gamuts or palettes the display can show—and its 50% and peak brightness in nits (candelas per square meter).

Our battery list shows that the Carbon is at the bottom of our rankings. However, it can last 12 hours which is great news for those who want to complete a day of school or work and then enjoy a night on Netflix or YouTube. Although the Carbon's basic display is not as bright or colorful as OLED panels and deluxe-IPS panels, it can still be used for moderate creativity and productivity.

The No-Brainer Decision for Buying

The XPS 13 appears to have a higher number of votes than the X1 Carbon in the fight for ultimate ultraportables. Although the Dell's screen and price are both great, we disagree with their claim that it is cheaper. The Lenovo's screen measures half as large and weighs less than the Dell. It also has six ports rather than two. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 notebook is the most powerful you can purchase, unless you are looking to build a gaming rig or workstation.