Lenovo’s ThinkPad range of notebooks are well known for their sturdy, rock solid design and build quality. They’ve been around for a long time and they have a distinctive feel and look to them. The traditional ThinkPad design continues with their newest X1 model. While most of the previous models have been either compact or powerful, this one is designed to be slim. It’s almost as if Lenovo wants to take on the Macbook Air. The target customer is also clear. As always, it’s inclined towards business users.

Corning Gorilla Glass

Corning Gorilla Glass

Design and Build Quality
Like all other Thinkpads, there are no fancy colourful designs on the top or on the insides of the notebook. The notebook is designed first to be functional before anything else. The top surface and the bottom are all made of plain matte finished material. Lenovo claims that the notebook is made of a carbon fibre rollcage. The finish is grippy and there are no panels that attract fingerprints. The only glossy bit is the gorilla glass protected screen. The bezel on the notebook is a little thicker than usual, but the hinge mechanism is robust. The screen can be pushed back right up to 180 degrees, which is impressive for notebooks these days.

Like many vendors, Lenovo has gone with a chiclet-style keyboard with scalloped keys on it. The finish of the keys is smooth but the keys themselves are extremely sturdy and can withstand abuse by the look of it. A line of quick access buttons can be found on the right side of the keyboard. There are microphone and sound muting buttons on the right side and also dedicated volume controls, which is a neat addition.

Spill resistant keyboard

Spill resistant keyboard

ThinkPads are known for their distinguished red trackpointer, which is also present on the X1. The feel and texture of the button hasn’t changed much. A set of three mouse click buttons are also present next to the space bar key. A standard trackpad is also available. To prevent dust, a flap covers a USB 2.0 port and a 3.5mm analog audio output port on the left. Oddly, no flaps are present for the other connectors. A large exhaust vent is positioned on the left of the notebook through which you can see an array of fine metal heatsink fins.

A DisplayPort included at the rear!

A DisplayPort included at the rear!

The keyboard layout isn’t ideal. For example, there isn’t a Pause key and the print screen key is positioned close to the spacebar. The left Fn key is positioned where the Ctrl key normally is. Typing is still a joy and the trackpad with its mildly textured surface is accurate enough for most purposes.

Quick access buttons located at the side

Quick access buttons located at the side

Features
The Lenovo X1 isn’t scaled down in terms of performance for the sake of portability. It’s powered by an Intel Core i5 2520M (Sandy Bridge) processor and 4 GB of memory. There are configurations with Core i7 processors with up to 8 GB of memory available as well. One of the key components missing is the built-in optical drive.

The slimmest ThinkPad yet

The slimmest ThinkPad yet

The X1 comes with backlit keys, which can be turned on to two intensities using a keyboard shortcut.  In terms of connectivity, there are connectors for Ethernet, DisplayPort, HDMI, USB 3.0 and eSATA. There is a dedicated button for a utility called the ThinkVantage ToolBox, which is sort of, the Lenovo control and diagnostic panel for the notebook. The speakers are positioned at the bottom of the notebook instead of the front along the screen or near the the top of the keyboard.

Performance
There are a few compromises that need to be made with a compact chassis such as this. Without a discrete graphics card, the X1 is bound to struggle in graphics intensive applications. The model we reviewed had a moderately quick Intel Core i5 2520M processor. We ran our standard set of benchmarks that we use on notebooks. PCMark Vantage score was 5141, which is pretty decent. The CPU performance in general is quite decent and it’s evident from some other tests. Video encoding to x264 took no more than 49 seconds to complete. The Woodbox scene using POVRay lasted 13 seconds only.  Data transfer rates on the hard drive are pretty impressive as well. We saw file transfer speeds of 89 MB/s which is impressive for a notebook hard drive.

CineBench 11.5 scores

CineBench 11.5 scores

The display on the ThinkPad X1 is decent. Viewing angles are manageable but with the screen titled backwards, you notice darkening of the screen. The speakers are quite loud and a better positioning would have made them sound better. Currently, they sound a little muffled as they point downwards. Even though, there isn’t a dedicated graphics solution, the onboard graphics solution can handle HD1080 60 fps videos without breaking a sweat.

PC Mark Vantage scores

PC Mark Vantage scores

We noticed that the notebook would get pretty hot and there was a constant blast of hot air billowing out from the vents. Using the notebook for long periods on your lap can get uncomfortable. The heat doesn’t propagate to the rest of the notebook, so placed on a table, it’s much more comfortable. Battery test using our strenuous test lasted 41 minutes. Most standard sized notebooks manage around an hour with the same test. With power saving features, the notebook is bound to last longer.

Slim...

Slim, light weight and extremely sturdy

Verdict
The ThinkPad X1 model we reviewed with its Core i5 processor and a traditional hard disk drive sells for a price of Rs 85,000, which isn’t exactly great value for money especially when you consider the performance you get. Models with better specs are also available. As a versatile computing machine that is going to last you a long time, this is definitely a good notebook by Lenovo. If you’re willing to settle for something a little thicker, you’re bound to get a better performing notebook, even a better configured ThinkPad for the same price.

Publish date: July 8, 2011 9:52 am| Modified date: December 18, 2013 8:08 pm

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