Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet review: Smart upgrades make this a worthy, pricey choice

A better, brighter screen, a larger SSD, a reinforced keyboard: These are just some of the reasons Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Tablet (3rd Gen) rises to the top.

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We also compare them using the PCMark Home and Creative benchmarks, which track real-world activities such as web browsing, photo and video editing, and light gaming. Most of the products we test handle these tasks with aplomb, especially those with more advanced integrated GPUs. While the ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s Core i5-8250U offers nothing special here, its performance is still satisfactory, though, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet crashed the Creative test twice. It also performed quite well in the Home benchmark.

Lenovo X1 Tablet 2018 pcmark home Mark Hachman / IDG

In PCMark’s Home test, the X1 finished near the top of the heap.

pcmark creative Lenovo ThinkPad x1 tablet 2018 Mark Hachman / IDG

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet finishes just below its stablemate, the Miix 520. 

Our testing also includes the Cinebench benchmark, which renders a 2D scene in real time, putting all of the CPU’s cores to the test. It requires just a few seconds for the fastest gaming machines to complete, and longer for devices like the ThinkPad X1 Tablet. Against a cohort of older tablets, our review unit’s quad-core CPU is bested only by another quad-core CPU—this one in its cousin, the Miix 520.

Lenovo X1 Tablet 2018 cinebench Mark Hachman / IDG

Again, in terms of pure CPU rendering, the 8th-gen Core within the ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2018) does quite well.

While Cinebench computes how fast the ThinkPad X1 Tablet’s CPU cores fare across a short sprint of a test, the HandBrake test is more of a marathon. Using this open-source tool, we calculate how long it takes for a 4K movie to be converted into a format for Android tablets. The X1 does well here, too.

Lenovo X1 Tablet 2018 handbrake Mark Hachman / IDG

The relatively short time needed to convert a movie speaks well for the Lenovo X1 Tablet (3rd Gen).

Finally, we look at 3D performance. While we’re not expecting much from a productivity-minded tablet, the Futuremark 3DMark test, using the Sky Diver benchmark, proves that Lenovo isn’t that far off the mark.

Lenovo X1 Tablet 2018 sky diver Mark Hachman / IDG

While the X1 Tablet (3rd Gen) is powerful enough for some light gaming, consider sprite based games like League of Legends rather than modern first-person shooters.

One area in which Lenovo’s tablets have struggled is battery life, and unfortunately this is a tradition the ThinkPad X1 Tablet maintains. Its battery life is actually shorter than that of its predecessor, though that almost certainly has something to do with pushing far more pixels in its display.

Lenovo X1 Tablet 2018 battery life Mark Hachman / IDG

With many modern tablets and notebooks pushing hard to increase battery life, we hope this is an area that Lenovo works to improve in its next model. Nevertheless, that might mean cutting back on its display resolution, which is certainly praiseworthy.

Conclusion: Excellent, though expensive, quality

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (3rd Gen) has shorter battery life and a higher price than we'd like. Still, for the same price as its predecessor, it improves the CPU, display, and other specs that matter, as well as chassis design and even the keyboard. Among pro-level tablets HP’s latest Spectre x2 is worth a look, too, as is the slightly cheaper Samsung Galaxy Book. But the ThinkPad X1 Tablet (3rd Gen)'s the strongest overall, and the one to earn an Editors’ Choice.

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At a Glance
  • Lenovo's third-generation ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2018) is one of the best Windows tablets you can buy, boasting a 3K screen, a larger battery, a stiffened keyboard, and more. But check your wallet, because it has a price to match.

    Pros

    • Upgraded Kaby Lake-R processors
    • 3K display on a par with the competition's
    • SSD size has increased to 512GB (as tested)
    • Reinforced keyboard improves the typing experience

    Cons

    • Battery life is still lackluster
    • Pen holster is an upgrade, but still not as effective as a loop
    • Still quite expensive
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