We Really Have Reached Peak Computer: My Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

My first laptop was an IBM ThinkPad T20. I purchased it in the Fall of 2000 because it was a requirement for all incoming freshman at RPI to have that specific laptop. Amazingly, that page from 2000 is still online, so I’m able to tell you that I paid $2,700 for a 700 MHz processor, 128 MB of RAM, and a 12 GB hard drive. It was absolutely life changing. You could literally work anywhere (there were ethernet plugs all throughout campus, this was pre-wifi).

For students who had only previously used desktops at home and in computer labs, this felt revolutionary. Instead of sharing your computer with your family, it was now yours. For an 18 year old, this wasn’t just your school laptop, it was your gaming machine, how you listened to music, watched movies, and communicated with friends. This was my first experience with truly modern computing, and because of it I have a special place in my heart for ThinkPad computers.

Over the summer I decided that it was finally time to upgrade my ASUS Zenbook from 2013. I eventually settled on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which is a high end laptop with a throwback feel to that T20 from almost 20 years ago. I mean, it even has the TrackPoint (aka the red dot trackpad)!

I spec’d it out pretty good:

  • 8th Generation Intel i7 processor
  • 14″ 1920 x 1080 screen (I purposely chose “only” a 1080p resolution for battery life)
  • 512 GB Solid State Drive
  • 16 GB RAM
  • Light (2.49 lbs) and slim (12.73″ x 8.54″ x 0.62″)
  • Impressive port selection: 2 USB, 2 USB-C, HDMI, headphone jack
  • 3-year next-day onsite service

The first and last bullets are why I went with the X1 Carbon. We had a great experience with Dell desktops for our warehouse, but unfortunately when I was shopping they didn’t have the 8th generation i7’s available yet for their laptops. And really, I wanted a MacBook to dual-boot with for development purposes, but amazingly Apple doesn’t offer a comparable warranty for laptops. I wanted to have onsite repair within a day or two, or be able to walk into an Apple store and get a repair, but for non-phone devices that didn’t seem possible. So I’ll likely be getting a Mac Mini in the near future.

With a backpack, two extra power adapters (one for my bag, one for work, one for home), and the warranty, my total came to $2,160. That’s not cheap, but it’s a lot of laptop for the price. I didn’t feel like I had to make any compromises.

The performance of the X1 Carbon is simply amazing. Opening, closing, and re-opening an app is instantaneous. Booting up takes a matter of seconds. It docks effortlessly with my dual monitors and USB hub when I’m working from home or in the office. I loved my Zenbook, and on paper the specs were similar, but the advancements of the past 5 years are immediately evident. As I alluded to in my Pixel 2 XL review, I think we’ve hit peak smartphone, and with this laptop it feels like we’ve hit (and surpassed) peak laptop. I can’t imagine wanting anything more from a work laptop.

2 comments on We Really Have Reached Peak Computer: My Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Review

  1. Rob says:

    Looks like a nice machine!

    I debated about HD vs 4k and in the end went with 4k as the battery life hit isn’t so important to me. I don’t tend to use my laptop with an external monitor so I find 4k gives similar benefits in terms of viewing multiple windows to using dual monitors while still staying mobile.

    It’s a shame lenovo bought IBM – the thinkpads were always the most solid machines for business laptops but I just don’t like lenovo’s form when it comes to dodgy stuff like rootkits.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Yeah, I could certainly go either way on the 4k thing.

      It’s a shame lenovo bought IBM – the thinkpads were always the most solid machines for business laptops but I just don’t like lenovo’s form when it comes to dodgy stuff like rootkits.

      Same here! I hesitated at first before pulling the trigger, but ultimately it seemed like the best machine for what I need so I went with it.

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