Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 review: A value tablet for business

It's affordable and a solid performer, but the design raises a few questions.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 cinebench Mark Hachman / IDG

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 may not be the best tablet for video transcoding, but it’s near the top.

We run a similar test using the R23 version of the benchmark, however, which adds a “thermal throttling” element. In that test (not shown in a chart), the ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 performance dropped by about 15 percent.

We normally test thermal stress by running HandBrake, another real-world tool that transcodes movies into a format a tablet can use, taxing the CPU for longer than Cinebench does. Here, where shorter bars are better, the ThinkPad X12 drops further back in the pack.

Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 handbrake Mark Hachman / IDG

Here, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1’s performance is disappointing, possibly due to thermal throttling.

Finally, we look at UL’s 3DMark benchmark to evaluate 3D performance. We normally would use the more advanced “Time Spy” benchmark here, but we used the older ‘Sky Diver” benchmark instead for compatibility with older tablets. The Iris Xe GPU inside Lenovo’s tablet holds up respectably here, fourth out of five leading results.

As noted above, performance does seem to depend upon the ambient temperature. In a climate-controlled office, we’d expect GPU performance to be consistently stable. But even in an air-conditioned home, the tablet seemed to be sensitive to slight changes in temperature. The tablet passed one 3DMark thermal stability test and failed another.

Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 3dmark sky diver Mark Hachman / IDG

In graphics, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 does well.

How well will a thin, light tablet last against the demands of all-day computing? Battery life is our last test, where we set the screen to a fixed brightness level and then loop a movie over and over until it expires. The Lenovo’s ThinkPad X12 performed about as well as we’d expect, at about 9 hours and 20 minutes of battery life. Unlike some of its competition, however, there’s no quick-charging option, and the tablet required over two hours to charge fully.

Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 battery life Mark Hachman / IDG

For a tablet, over nine hours of battery life is certainly satisfactory.

Conclusion: A value buy

Lenovo has a respected history in the tablet market. I fondly recall the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 tablet, especially the smart kickstand design that the company, sadly, later abandoned.

I’m left thinking that Lenovo’s return to the tablet market after a year or two off feels a little lacking. Of the two Tiger Lake tablets I’ve tried, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 7+ feels like the superior offering, both in physical design as well as in several of our benchmarks.

That said, the ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 would suffice for day-to-day office use, and it’s much more affordable than the Surface Pro 7+. From a value perspective, the Lenovo ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 is clearly the superior tablet.

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At a Glance
  • Lenovo's ThinkPad X12 Detachable Gen 1 competes well against Microsoft's Surface Pro 7+ in the Windows tablet market, though its strength lies in value more than design or performance.

    Pros

    • Good value for the price
    • Competitive performance
    • Intriguing "Glance" app preserves security

    Cons

    • Excessively weak connection between the keyboard and tablet
    • Muddy audio
    • Poor color and lighting on 1080p webcam
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