Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen) review: A business laptop that's tops in its class

A mix of practical features makes this purchase a no-brainer for those who want a powerful, light ultrabook with decent battery life.

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The Home test emphasizes light gaming and photo manipulation. We normally test consumer products using the Creative test as well, though some of our business-class products drop this test. (Though we don’t show it here, the X1 Carbon 6th Gen finished at the top of the small number of thin-and-lights we tested using the Creative test.) In all of these, the X1 Carbon 6th Gen performed admirably. Again, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon tops the others. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon  pcmark home Mark Hachman / IDG

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen tops the heap in our Home test, which we don’t always apply to business-focused PCs.

Maxon’s Cinebench benchmark, which asks the system to render a 2D scene, is the closest to a universal benchmark that we use, stressing the four-core, eight-thread Core i7 8550U to its utmost. We stress-test using all of the cores enabled. Again, this was a test that we found was susceptible to ambient heat, which may have reduced the X1 Carbon’s performance slightly. Still, it’s in the top tier.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon cinebench Mark Hachman / IDG

Under the Cinebench rendering test, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen can be found near the top of the heap.

The HandBrake open-source tool pushes all four cores, converting a top-tier Hollywood movie into a resolution that can be used on an Android tablet. It’s a good, prolonged stress test for how the laptop will hold up over prolonged exertion, and the X1 Carbon is almost at the top.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon  handbrake Mark Hachman / IDG

Our prolonged Handbrake test shows off the power of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (6th Gen) and its 8th-gen Core chip.

Finally, we look at 3D performance using the integrated HD 620 GPU. We don’t expect much here out of a business laptop, and its performance near the bottom reflects that.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon sky diver Mark Hachman / IDG

3D performance is one of the few weak spots for the Lenovo X1 Carbon 6th Gen, overshadowed by other notebooks with discrete 3D GPUs.

With a battery-sipping 8th-gen CPU under the hood, as well as a 1080p panel, we expected battery life to be more than satisfactory. It is, assisted by the large 57Wh battery. Keep in mind that if you opt for a higher-resolution panel, though, that battery life will fall accordingly. Its duration with an FHD display of just under 9 hours is a bit disappointing compared to the competition, which is hovering around 10 hours or so.

battery life retest Mark Hachman / IDG

At nearly 9 hours of battery life, the Lenovo X1 Carbon 6th Gen should last through a full day of work, though it pales a bit to some of its competition.

Conclusion: A premier business machine

It’s hard to find any fault with Lenovo’s latest entry into the X1 Carbon line, especially if you’re looking for a moderately powerful business machine with good battery life. One of its drawbacks, its high price, will likely be erased if an IT department budget is footing the bill, rather than a consumer. Options like WWAN capabilities, a higher-resolution screen, and a faster processor will naturally elevate the price. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen receives our PCWorld Editors’ Choice award as a thin-and-light laptop that deserves to be on your desk.

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At a Glance
  • Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon 6th Gen is a superb business ultrabook, combining light weight, a powerful processor and excellent battery life.

    Pros

    • As light as a tablet
    • Lenovo's top-of-the-line keyboard
    • Top-notch performance
    • Good battery life

    Cons

    • Pricey, as befitting a premiere ultrabook
    • Gen 2 Ethernet connector is designed to sell you a dock
    • Take care when configuring, as touchless screens are a basic option
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