Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 9th Generation - Episode 268 - Show Notes

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 9th Generation - Episode 268

Monday Sep 27, 2021 (00:12:50)


The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is famously Avram's favorite laptop and the one that he owns personally. This week, we're getting a closer look at the newest version of the laptop - the 9th Generation.

The Screen

The new model has a number of changes over its predecessor, but the most immediately noticeable is the screen. The size has changed because instead of the 16x9 aspect ratio, the 9th generation is using a 16x10 aspect ratio. This means that instead of 1920x1080, it has 1920x1200. We've seen more laptops go this direction, offering more vertical real estate instead of giving it all to the horizontal.

This generation also offers several choices for screens. You can get an FHD+ (WUXGA) or UHD+ resolution, and you can it with and without touch capability. For some, touch is an absolute necessity, while others prefer to skip the feature entirely. Lenovo is known for giving the option, and this model is no different. The FHD+ screen offers a theoretical 400 nits (though tests show closer to 350), while the UHD+ screen has a theoretical 500 nits.

The Battery

Another major feature of the new generation is its battery life. On the Tom's Hardware tests, they consistently got 15.5 hours of continual use. This is a big improvement over its predecessor. On a number of tests, it is averaging about 3 hours more than its 8th Generation counterpart. Those extra hours can be a benefit for those who work a long day on the go, such as being on the show floor of a trade show, or traveling cross-country or intercontinental.

The Body

The X1 Carbon offers a lot in its small body. Coming in at just 2.5 pounds slightly above a half inch thick, this laptop really packs a punch. It's got its big screen, but also offers the famous Lenovo keyboard. Lenovo laptop keyboards are regarded as the best in the industry, and the X1 Carbon does not disappoint. It also offers a new, bigger touchpad, giving a larger hit box so you have to lift your finger less often when going across the screen.

In addition, we get a ton of full-size ports - something that is becoming less common on these small format laptops. In addition to a pair of USB-C ports, both of which can be used to charge the laptop, you also get two USB-A ports - one on each side of the laptop. There is also a full-size HDMI port, meaning you will not need a special cable or an adapter to hook up to a monitor or television. As a business class laptop, needing less specialty cables makes presentations and travel easier. It also has a headphone jack, another port that is slowly disappearing from electronics of all types.

The Conclusion

The newest generation of ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a great laptop for general use or business applications, which is who it is intended for. However, remember that, with integrated graphics, this will not be the right choice for video editing or videogaming, unless you're using something like Xbox Cloud Gaming.


Scott Ertz


Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.

Avram Piltch


Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.

Allante Sparks

Special Correspondent

Allante - also well known as Wolff - is the newest member and co-host for PLuGHiTz Live! Radio. A gifted artist, he is usually found drawing up a character or two or sketching up whatever comes to mind. Do not think that he is not a hardcore gamer because he is about as hardcore as it gets! His favorites range from fighting games to RPGs, adventure and even a racing game here and there. Fighting games are his forte and he relays this message for all who oppose: You mess with the Wolff and you get the fangs!

Xbox Live - Enigmatic Wolff

PSN - Tsukuyomi_Okami

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Scott Ertz (00:09)

This week's Piltch Point with Avram Piltch is proudly powered by PureVPN. The best way to protect your privacy online is with PureVPN. You can hide your online activities, say goodbye to regional restrictions, and improve your streaming quality. Plus, it's available for almost all of your devices. And they get a special price right now, you can go to piltchpoint.live/pureVPN. Alright, Avram, so we get another opportunity to see a new product, right? I always love when you've got show-and-tell.

Avram Piltch (00:53)

Yes. So here is today's show-and-tell. It is a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9th. So, now the Gen 9th means it's the 9th X1 Carbon that doesn't mean it's using 9th Generation Intel CPU. It actually is using 11th Generation Intel Core CPU. So the excellent carbon has been around for a while. I mean, they've been obviously. This is the 9th Generation of it. But it is the productivity, it is longer than the productivity laptop to beat because it is super thin, super light, but has everything you need to really work smarter not harder. So this here, is .6 inches then just like prior ThinkPad X1 Carbon whose only two and a half pounds like prior X1 Carbons. But there is something a little different about it. It is slightly longer and narrower. Because it is - it has a 16 x 10 display. So prior models like many laptops on the market today, use 16 x 9 displays so 1920 x 1080 was the base resolution. This is 1920 x 1200. So that gives you 11% more vertical screen real state. That means when you're viewing a web page or editing a document or something like that, you are going to see a little bit more on this screen than you would have on a new did on last year's model and most products in the market. So this comes with a choice that starts at $1,100 and it uses an Intel Core i5 or i7 11th Gen Processor and it has either 8 or 16 gigs of RAM. I definitely recommend going with 16 and up to a 1 terabyte SSD. What is really cool about this is the battery life is just unbelievable. It lasts 15 and a half hours on a charge.

Scott Ertz (03:24)

Wow, sure. Wow.

Avram Piltch (03:26)

That, and mind you, like I said it's only 2 1/2 lbs and .6 inches thick. The keyboard is obviously a really really good keyboard because it's a ThinkPad and ThinkPad keyboards are, you know, always among the best. If not, the best.

Scott Ertz (03:46)

Notoriously wonderful.

Avram Piltch (03:48)

Yes. For those who like the knobs as I do. You have the trackpoint or the slash touchpad. This screen here, you can get it. This is the touch. Anyway, you could get it with touch, not touch or you can get it in actually above 4k was like 3040 x 2400. So actually slightly above 4k, if you desire. The speaker system on this is actually really good. You have two speakers on either side of the keyboard and another two on the bottom surface here. So it actually sounds really good. It has the ports you need. A lot of thin and light notebooks these days only have type C. But here you have two type C ports which are actually Thunderbolt 4-compatible And you can charge from either of these. You can use the charger that comes with it or you can use any USB-C charger that supports you know, 60 watts, or even I think 45 will do. It also has USB Type A ports, full size HDMI Out not micro or mini similarly,and another full size USB and headphone jack and lock slot on the other side. So, the performance is really strong, you know, on par with other notebooks like this and obviously it's integrated graphics so it's not going to be forgiving. But you've got a really good ,you know, feel with the keyboard. It's really light, great to put on your lap. It stays cool while you use it. Even pretty cool, when we were running an intense benchmark Cinebench 23 on repeat. It stayed, the cooling was good. The default display is not super colorful. It's about 71% of the DCI P3 Color Gamut. But if you get the 4k display, it probably has more color. On the other hand, the viewing angles are really good. This registers 350 nets. Again, if you buy the more expensive screen, you can get one that promises 500 nets. But unless you're going out in the sun, this is probably more than adequate and you get really good battery life for having a lower screen. Here you have a 720p webcam which is decent, you know it does the job. It has a shutter here so if you're worried about privacy, you can close the shutter. They also make a version of this which my revient here doesn't have with an IR camera for doing the goes to low facial recognition, if you so desire. But it's a pretty straightforward notebook that just really does a fantastic job. The keyboard just feels really fantastic. I love using the trackpoint because then I can type and navigate around the desktop without moving my hands, touch the touchpad. I know some folks just don't like using the knob. But really, it's hard to ask for more. I mean, I wish this were more upgradable. That is my biggest beef with it. You cannot upgrade the RAM it's soldered with and you might be able to upgrade the SSD. You're supposed to be able to. I tried removing the back of this. What you're only supposed to do is loosen the five screws here and and take the back off but the back would not fly off for me and I wasn't going to force it because I try not to break this stuff people send me for review.

Scott Ertz (08:09)

Fair enough.

Avram Piltch (08:10)

So, but you're supposed to be able to get the back off to change the SSD, if you want. My recommendation is just buy it with a flak. Don't buy it with a 256 gig SSD option because that's too little. So, I mean this is a really good laptop. It's going to be on our review. This is going out probably tomorrow on Tom's Hardware. And it's going to be on our list of best ultraportables and best ultrabooks because if you are looking for a clamshell laptop to, you know, for being productive, this is the one to get. This is absolutely what I would take with me to go to a major event like CDS. I have actually had an earlier like an earlier generation of this that I do take with me everywhere.

Scott Ertz (09:12)

Yes. A shopping journey that we all got to follow along.

Avram Piltch (09:18)

Yes, yes, yes. Okay. That's all true. I was at my mother's 80th birthday party yesterday. And I was and we had over some of her friends who are of a similar age. And one of them said, should he replace his surface?- He said as a surface because the battery is swelling? and I said "oh your battery's swelling? Yes, you should get rid of that laptop as soon as possible and hide from". I don't even know what. Yes, I don't think You know where you're supposed to take something like that but turn it over to some E-waste place or something because it's a fire hazard yeah and then he said well what what should I get your place that I really actually don't care about using it as a tablet so I don't know why he had a surface in the first place so I said to him, "well if it were me, I would get a ThinkPad X1 Carbon'' but he said "okay, but yeah, that sounds pretty good. What about HP?" I said "okay, well another good choice for folks who just want to do just want a laptop that's good for carrying around and just getting work done but not necessarily gaming and not necessarily doing processor intensive stuff like video editing". The HP Spectre X360 is always a good choice. So that's the advice I gave him but if it were me I would get the ThinkPad because of just the battery life is really epic, the keyboard is first class and of course you have had like a consumer class notebook like the specter. This is a business class notebook that's gone through mil spec testing so it's more likely to survive being dropped and shaken around and things like that it's made to last and I can say from experience with other Thinkpads I've had, they do last. My son has my ThinkPad that I bought 2014 and he's using it every day now it's a seven year old MacBook. It's still working pretty well.

Scott Ertz (11:47)

They're pretty hard to kill and based on your past recommendations I have also recommended the X1 Carbon many times because I know how much you like it

Avram Piltch (12:04)

Yeah, it's definitely really good. So I definitely, strongly recommend it. For more information definitely check out our review which should be live probably tomorrow.

Scott Ertz (12:17)

Very cool. Well, Avram as always I appreciate the information. I always love to see the products that you're messing around with, especially when they're new laptops. Show and Tell is my favorite day of the week and I look forward to what we talk about next.

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