The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon series is an odd duck. In most areas of tech you're sunk if you don't constantly evolve in a conspicuous way. But the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10? It needs to look a lot like the old versions, because the whole heart of the appeal is a series of "classic" ThinkPad traits.
We're talking about the classic ThinkPad keyboard, the "nipple" mouse. Yep, that's what it is actually called. And a design as sober and sensible as a juice bar.
Lenovo has to innovate around these old-fashioned elements, but has once again come up with a stunner. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is one of the best portable laptops for work, regardless of the category they come from. An ultra-high price is the only major problem here, but that is nothing new.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Price & Availability
The Thinkpad X1 Carbon starts at £2229, and our model is just under £3000 when specced out directly on Lenovo’s website (opens in new tab). However, at the time of review you can actually get the entry-level version for £1549, making it far more palatable. It depends on which spec level will fit your needs (or how generous your company's allowance is).
It's worth checking our Lenovo discount codes to see what offers are currently available directly from the retailer.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: Design
There are going to be a lot of positive impressions in this review, but your first 10 seconds with the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 might prove disappointing. Some folks may mistake its bodywork for plastic. It's not, mostly.
The lower plates are magnesium alloy, which often feels like a close relation of plastic even though it is absolutely metal. And the lid is carbon-fibre reinforced polymer, likely to be some form of plastic with carbon fibre inlaid.
This is not a dig at the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10's design, though. You just can't come expecting the obviously cool and metallic feel of a MacBook Pro.
Magnesium alloys work so well in laptops because they are light and strong. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 weighs just 1.12kg, yet still feels highly sturdy. All the panels are stiff enough to avoid any flex with normal use, and the screen part does not bend.
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is a portability dream, and is also comfortable to use on your knees. However, it’s not a hybrid. There’s a separate X1 Yoga line for that style.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: Display
Lenovo makes the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 with a bunch of different screen specs. I have one of the higher-end options on review here, and probably the most interesting.
It's a 14-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels. It may not be 4K, but you still avoid the slightly pixelated look of 1080/1200p – it’s sharp and smooth.
The colour saturation is awesome. This is a true wide colour gamut display that can fulfil the DCI-P3 and Adobe RGB colour standards, which LCD displays typically struggle to get anywhere near to.
Contrast is effectively perfect, as the emissive OLED pixels turn off when displaying pure black. We tested out the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 with a colourimeter and couldn't even get a contrast reading, as it's just too high. Colour accuracy was not perfect, but this is likely down to the reproduction of ultra-rich shades as the screen didn't actually change much after a full calibration.
The Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 doesn't get anywhere near the brightness of the MacBook Pro's Mini LED screen, topping out at around 420 nits. However, this is still solid for a laptop OLED display.
Other aspects make it great for outdoors use, or in challenging light, too. The Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 doesn't have a conventional matte finish, which scatters reflections, but I initially assumed it did because its anti-reflective and anti-glare layers are so effective.
It's a best-of-both-worlds-style approach, offering much of the image pop of a glossy screen with the anti-glare chops of a matte screen. This version of the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 doesn't have a touchscreen, but a couple of the other display panels do.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: Keyboard & Touchpad
The keyboard and touchpad are, in my opinion, the main reason to buy the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10. And also the reason Gen Zers might laugh at this laptop.
It has a mouse nipple nestled in the middle of its keyboard. And the set of mouse buttons above the pad may look archaic to those who are not already ThinkPad fans.
However, start using the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 and all is forgiven. It has a best-in-class keyboard, with good depth and a lovely light-but-well-defined key action.
Old-school ThinkPad fans may still hanker after the ultra-deep action of generations long in the past, which isn’t quite what you get here. But when even Microsoft diluted its Surface keyboard recently by slimming down its keys, we have to be grateful Lenovo has at least maintained some substance. It's probably the most satisfying keyboard I've used in an ultraportable.
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10's touchpad is lovely too. And you can't appreciate it from photos, which make it look too small, too hemmed-in by those upper buttons lots of people may never use.
The surface is textured glass, as you'd hope. And the clicker has great feedback with an almost velvet edge to it that just feels... expensive. I haven't used a haptic touchpad that feels as good as this – the current trend is to ditch mechanical clickers like the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10’s in favour of a haptic motor.
This pad feels a lot like those of Microsoft Surface Laptops from a couple of years ago but, you guessed it, Microsoft has started using haptic pads.
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon has for many years been a laptop series I've loved but could never afford. I'm not as enduring, or aged, enough of a fan to properly appreciate the mouse nipple and separated-out mouse keys. However, they have their fans, and those will find that both these features still feel great for their needs.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: Performance & Battery
Whenever Intel releases a new generation of laptop chipsets, it's time for Lenovo to put out a fresh ThinkPad X1. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 gets a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1260p, and this review model has a massive 32GB RAM.
This CPU is massively more powerful than the last-gen Carbon 9's processors for the kind of productivity jobs this laptop is made for. It scores 8031 in Geekbench 5, where the last-generation Intel Core i7-1165G7 laptop will score around 4400.
It's not the obvious processor to use in a laptop as thin and light as the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 either. This P-series chipset is a mid-power model that can be a challenge for slim and light designs. It may only use this model because the P series arrived slightly before the more power-frugal U-series chipset. But we're glad it does because it makes the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 better for jobs like video editing.
This year brings massive CPU upgrades, but nothing so exciting on the graphic side. The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 has Intel Xe graphics, just like the last model. You can play last-gen console games okay at mid-level settings, most likely at 900p/1200p rather than the full display resolution. Control, for example, is playable at low graphics settings, 800p resolution, and still looks good to our eyes.
The Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 manages to avoid any real fan noise irritation when under strain too as, somehow, its fans completely avoid the high-end whine that affects almost all super-light and slim laptops. Its sound is unusual low-pitch, making it less obvious in context.
Despite using a fairly punch Intel processor, which typically results in shorter battery life than an AMD rival, the Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 can also last through a full day of work. We clocked it at nine hours and 24 minutes.
You can get longer stamina elsewhere though. And Lenovo already sells versions of this laptop with Intel’s less hard-revving U-series chipsets if that’s your priority.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: Features
If this were a pure lifestyle laptop, it's of a weight and shape that means it would likely have a couple of USB-C ports, a headphone socket and nothing else. But the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 gets a bit more than that.
It also has a two USB-A ports, a full-size HDMI and, if you choose the mobile internet version, a nano-SIM tray. No dock or adapter is needed to turn the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 into the brains of a desktop setup. There are also two Thunderbolt 4 USB-Cs, one of which is used for charging.
The HDMI is not a 2.1 connector, but a 2.0b one instead. This means it won't support 4K 120Hz displays, but high refresh-rate panels at 1440p or 1080p should be fine.
Lenovo has updated the ThinkPad's webcam, from 720p to 1080p. We're seeing this shift across laptops at the moment, and it makes your well-lit remote meetings look much, much sharper. You'll still see the image go soft in poor lighting, but image noise handling is pretty decent.
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 also has a more advanced camera array than most. There's a physical privacy slider and an IR camera, which is typically used to improve face recognition for device unlocking. An application called Glance is installed too. This can blur out the display when you're not looking at the screen and unlocks some eyeball gesture controls, like switching apps between monitors by recognising when you look at each screen.
You get quad Dolby Atmos speakers, but these aren't quite as good as they look on the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10's spec sheet. Max volume is solid and the tone is even enough, but they don't have the bass or projection of the better speakers in non-business laptops.
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 review: Verdict
The Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is a fantastic work laptop that offers a style and feel quite unlike what you can get elsewhere.
Portability it top-tier, the keyboard feels great, performance is a massive boost over the last generation, and the OLED screen looks terrific while also being super-practical.
You can get longer battery life if you buy an AMD CPU laptop, as their performance-throttling approach lets them typically last a lot longer from one charge.
However, the biggest issue here is the one we have to mention in every ThinkPad X1 review: the price. Like a lot of business-focused laptops, the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is super-pricey, and most are simply going to find those costs hard to justify.
But if you can afford one, or your company can, then it's one of the best laptops you'll ever have the pleasure of using.
HP’s EliteBook is one of the other primary “pro” laptop series. The EliteBook 840 is a lot cheaper than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon but is also ultimately a lot more ordinary.
If you want workstation power you should also look at the ThinkPad P1 series. It’s the less portable alternative and uses more punchy processors and discrete GPUs. That makes it even more expensive, mind, but you gain a whole chunk of extra power.
Of course, if portability is the main draw then the MacBook Air seems rather great value next to the ThinkPad. It’s quieter and just as powerful in some situations. However, its keyboard isn’t nearly as satisfying, and the LCD screen is not as contrasty. And, of course, it's not a Windows machine that some businessnes may (or may not) require.