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Review: Lenovo’s 8th-Gen X1 Carbon Remains A Favorite For Its Portability, Performance

The CRN Test Center finds that the lightweight and thin design of the latest X1 Carbon continues to make it stand out in the business laptop arena.

This year’s update to Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon, ever popular with business users, brings more of a refinement than an overhaul to its design and features. No revolutionary changes are included--and that’s not a bad thing.

At the CRN Test Center, we continue to be impressed by the combination of portability and performance with the X1 Carbon, now in its eighth generation.

[Related: The 10 Coolest New Laptops Of 2020 (So Far)]

Perhaps the most stunning quality remains its portability, with the notebook weighing in at just 2.4 pounds. That makes it notably lighter even than other top-level notebooks that have smaller display sizes. While the X1 Carbon sports a 14-inch display, another favorite of ours—the Dell XPS 13—has a starting weight of 2.64 pounds even though its display is smaller at 13.4 inches.

Speaking of the display, the FHD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution on the eighth-gen X1 Carbon looks sharp and vibrant, seemingly more so than other FHD laptop screens we’ve tried out. We’re sure that the high available brightness, up to 400 nits on our model, is a contributing factor there.

In terms of refinements, a new display option offers the Privacy Guard integrated privacy screen and even higher brightness, up to 500 nits, along with a touch screen. Lenovo is providing several other choices for the display as well, among them a 500-nit 4K non-touch screen.

In terms of other refinements, the eighth-gen X1 Carbon also offers an enhanced keyboard, with the inclusion of keys for unified communications. We found the keyboard to continue to be one of the highlights and biggest selling points of the notebook, with comfortable deep keys even for a notebook that only measures 0.58 of an inch thick.

Other updates include the addition of 10th-generation Intel Core processors. Our unit, outfitted with a Core i5 chip and 8 GB of RAM, offered speedy usage of web browsing and applications even while being below the top-end Core i7 processor and 16 GB of RAM.

The one drawback we found on the eighth-gen X1 Carbon is that it didn’t seem to be the juggernaut on battery life that it once was. As we noted on the seventh-gen model, Lenovo previously had used a larger battery in the notebook, 57 WHr, but reduced that down to 51 WHr in the seventh generation. That battery size remained in the eighth generation, and in our tryouts yielded 7.5 hours of battery life (on the “better battery” setting in Windows 10 and the display set to 75 percent). That’s down slightly from eight hours in the seventh generation, and nine hours in the sixth generation, based on our tryouts.

These are the tradeoffs of getting such amazing portability and display brightness, however. And for many users, those trade-offs are most certainly going to be worth it.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon, 8th Gen, is currently priced at $1,485 for the configuration used in our tryout model.

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