Rating: 9/10 ?
  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection
Price: $2,099
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop half open on a desk.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

Lenovo dropped the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 back in 2021 to significant fanfare, but many reviewers complained that the cost wasn’t quite worth the specs. Lenovo tries to remedy that in the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 (and it mostly succeeds).

The latest ThinkPad X1 Carbon will still put a significant dent in your wallet, and some of what you’re paying for is the premium feel (the lowest retail price on the company’s website is $2,329, outside of sale discounts). But in my time with the X1 Carbon Gen 10, I can see why my model, the 21CB0070US, has a starting price in the $2,000 range.

This laptop will surprise you with its speed and flexibility as an on-the-go business laptop. Lenovo targets a business audience for the Carbon line for a reason: you can have over 20, even 30 tabs open in your browser and utilize other applications without a hiccup. For the most part, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon wowed me with its performance, but if you’re looking for a laptop that can handle work and gaming, you’ll probably want to look elsewhere.

Here's What We Like

  • Fast and responsive performance
  • Battery lasts all day
  • The touchscreen and keyboard have a great feel
  • The anti-glare screen and matte design look premium
  • It's light as a feather

And What We Don't

  • Large downloads can limit the speed of the processor
  • It gets very hot during charging
  • Had trouble playing large games

How-To Geek's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

The Design: A Simple, Elegant Laptop

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbo laptop sitting open on a desk.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

  • Dimensions: 0.60 x 12.43 x 8.76in (15.36 x 315.6 x 222.5mm)
  • Weight: 2.48lbs (1.12kg)
  • Display: WUXGA IPS, anti-glare, touchscreen
  • Screen Size: 14-inch
  • Brightness: 400 nits (up to 500 on select models)
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, vPro (on select models)
  • Color: Deep Black, optional Carbon-Fiber Weave on the top cover

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) may not look like much at first glance, but the simplicity of the design is as stunning as the most flashy laptops out there. (Yes, I’m looking at you, vegan leather ThinkPad Z13).

The magnesium alloy chassis features a matte carbon fiber in “Deep Black” that has a nice hand feel and looks expensive. When closed, the front of the laptop features the ThinkPad logo and the “X1” in its vibrant black and red colorway. A red indicator light also flashes when your computer is on.

Lifting the lid, it becomes clear why the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is designed for business professionals and students. The screen is a non-reflective anti-glare texture, and the keyboard offers two backlighting options, ThinkPad function key shortcuts, and a red TrackPoint button for precise mouse movements. Additionally, the trackpad is large and includes left, right, and center buttons.

The X1 also comes with a new “Communications Bar,” which is just Lenovo’s way of making a webcam and microphone setup sound fancy. The FHD webcam is housed in the top bevel of the display, while the quad, 360 mic array is integrated into either side of the rim.

A person holding the Lenovo ThinkPad x1 Carbon laptop.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

The most striking aspect is its ultra-thin size and lightweight. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 keeps up with customer expectations thanks to the carbon material, which keeps this robust powerhouse featherlight.

Ports Aplenty

  • Ports: 2x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, HDMI 2.0b, Headphone/mic combo
  • Option add-on: Nano SIM slot

One of my favorite things about the Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop is the number of ports included. On the left side of the computer are 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, and an HDMI port. The right side has yet another USB port and a 3.5mm headphone jack.

In my time spent with X1 Carbon, I never wanted for ports—and even if I were to, the dual USB ports make it easy enough to plug in a USB hub.

The Best USB-C Hubs of 2023

EZQuest USB-C Hub
Best USB-C Hub Overall
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Anker 7-in-1 USB-C Hub
Best Budget USB-C Hub
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Anker 5-in-1 USB-C Hub
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Satechi USB4 Multiport Adapter
Best USB-C Hub for 4K
Satechi USB4 Multiport Adapter

Touch and Feel: The Keyboard, Touchscreen, and Trackpad

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop's keyboard on a desk.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

  • Touchscreen: 14-inch, anti-glare
  • Keyboard: Backlit with white LED lighting, spill-resistant, Air intake keys, TrackPoint
  • Trackpad: 4.33in (110mm) Glass TrackPad with left, center, and right click buttons

I’m picky about my keyboards. It’s hard to find just the right amount of spring and flexibility. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers one of the most comfortable notebook typing experiences I’ve used. I typed many assignments, emails, and documents on my X1 Carbon and never tired of its feel. There’s an enjoyable amount of spring back, and it isn’t too stiff or loose. The keys are visible in the daytime, and the two backlight options kept me typing well into the night.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop's trackpad and keyboard.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

I’m not too keen on TrackPoint (aka The Red Button), but I found it useful for tasks such as moving windows after minimizing them or editing a photo in Photoshop. During my everyday scrolls, the TrackPad was flawless. Its ultra-responsive feel is comfortable and convenient enough to skip using a wireless mouse (although, if you’re in the market for one, MSI’s Clutch GM41 Lightweight Wireless mouse is reportedly top-notch). The best part about the TrackPad is the inclusion of pleasantly clicky buttons for precise right- or left-click actions or scrolls that you need even more control over. Or heck, maybe you just like the feeling. I get it.

When it comes to the touchscreen, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is brilliant. The screen responds quickly to every touch, tap, and drag. I could delete emails, switch tabs, and tap to open and close applications. The only instance of latency occurred when typing with the touchscreen keyboard. This function responded well most of the time, but had some occasional timing issues.

The screen’s anti-glare surface performs well in bright lighting—there’s little to no glare, thanks to the display’s texture. This laptop can handle it if you choose to work in direct lighting.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop's anti-glare screen outside in the sun.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

At a particular angle, you’ll still see the sunlight reflected back at you, but in most cases, the screen is legible—a massive plus for people who want to work from anywhere. Once, I lugged my old HP laptop, which has a reflective screen, up to a rooftop lounge while on a writing shift—let me tell you, it wasn’t pretty. I wish I had had the X1 Carbon on hand then!

Audio and Video: Impressive Speakers and Mics

  • Speakers: 4 user-facing Dolby Atmos speakers (2x 2W woofers and 2x 0.8W tweeters)
  • Microphones: 4x 360-degree far-field microphones, Dolby Voice certified
  • Webcam: 1080p FHD RGB camera with webcam privacy shutter, FHD infrared (IR) Hybrid; (lowest model has a 720p HD RGB camera)

The Dolby Atmos speaker system is powerful and pleasing to listen to. In my experience, most laptop speakers have a significantly lesser quality at higher volumes, or above 80%.

So, when I cranked the ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s volume up to 100% while listening to YouTube videos and didn’t hear the crunchy, compressed sound I expected, I had to raise my eyebrows. In spoken videos without music, the main difference in audio appeared to be less balance between the base and the upper tones of speech. The same occurred in music—bass became less prominent than mids and highs.

I don’t usually have high expectations for laptop speakers—in most cases, I use Bluetooth earbuds or wired headphones—but the X1 Carbon kept me happy enough to skip external audio devices. If you’re not a major audiophile, this won’t be a problem. And to put it into perspective, I’d rank these speakers among the top five on any laptop I’ve owned or reviewed.

The Best Headphones of 2023

Sony WH-1000XM5
Best Headphones Overall
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Philips SHP9600
Best Budget Headphones
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Sony WH-1000XM4
Best Noise-Canceling Headphones
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Sennheiser Momentum 4
Best Wireless Headphones
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Sennheiser HD 650
Best Wired Headphones
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Adidas RPT-01
Best Workout Headphones
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Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Headphones
Best Studio Headphones
Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO Headphones

The webcam performed as expected. It’s a 1080p FHD webcam that serves your purpose for video meetings or catching up with friends and family. It isn’t going to correct lousy lighting or make you look like an airbrushed movie star—but it can handle delivering a clear image in good lighting situations and performs well overall. You’ll want to try adding a lamp or ring light in poor lighting conditions to mitigate the duller capture.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon keeps its standards high with its microphone system. For a laptop, the four microphones capture your voice with accuracy and clarity. Like most integrated mics, they perform best in environments with little to no noise. However, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon does have integrated AI-based noise-cancellation, plus Dolby Voice, which promises to limit echoes and filter out unwanted background noise.

In most scenarios, I found the microphones to be effective, and the noise cancellation did tune out background distractions when recording myself outside with moderate wind and traffic sounds. However, there was a more compressed sound to my voice in noisy areas. As long as you’re okay with that, it’s much better than subjecting people to loud distractions.

Microphone Test on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon in a Quiet Environment

Microphone Test on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon in a Noisy Environment

Performance: A Well-Rounded Laptop for Work and Play

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon laptop closed on a desk.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

  • Processor: Intel i7 vPRO (Dependent on the model purchased 12th Gen Intel Core i5 or i7, with or without vPro
  • Memory: 16GB soldered dual channel
  • Operating System: Windows 11 Pro
  • Security: Discrete Trusted Platform Module (dTPM) 2.0, Smart Power On fingerprint reader (integrated into power button), Tile ready, Kensington lock slot, secured-core
  • Optional Security Features: Computer Vision with human-presence detection technology with IR camera, facial recognition with IR camera, PrivacyGuard with ePrivacy certification

Between my ridiculous amount of tabs open when working to doing everyday word processing, streaming, and music-playing, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon was swift and accurate. I never experienced a screen freeze—and the closest I came to it was when I was downloading large game files while browsing the internet. To be fair, I had multiple games in my download queue. In other circumstances, it’s clear the X1 Carbon is the multi-tasker to beat. I even used it to record audio via my condenser mic and interface.

There’s one department where the X1 Carbon didn’t wow me as much, and that was during gaming. I didn’t have any issues when I played smaller games like Xbox Studios’ Pentiment or indie romps like Frog Detective. But when I launched A Plague Tale Requiem, there was a red screen glitch that wouldn’t go away.

I finally gave up on that game, tried Assassin’s Creed: Origins, and found a much smoother experience in graphics but with jerky frame rates. In light of my gaming adventures, I’d say this is fine for casual gamers who prefer small indie games and don’t care about downloading gigantic plays that sing to the tune of over 40GB.

Display: Pleasant, Crisp WUXGA Resolution

  • Refresh Rate: 60Hz
  • Graphics: Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Native Resolution: 1920 x 1200px

My Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon model came with a WUXGA native resolution, which means instead of 1080P FHD, you’re getting extra pixels and a more detailed display. Of course, it isn’t 2K, 3K, or 4K—but it is crisp enough to keep you happy. Whether you’re viewing videos or photos or playing a game, the X1 Carbon handles them with polished graphics.

But there’s a caveat to the games thing. The X1 Carbon only has a 60hz refresh rate, which I would normally think is fine, but this laptop seemed to struggle with highly detailed games. If you play big games on this laptop, you’ll need to optimize them for performance over graphics because my games were choppy at the full resolution.

Battery and Charging: A Stellar Experience

  • Charger: USB-C 65W
  • Battery: Integrated Li-Polymer 57Wh battery, supports Rapid Charge (charge up to 80 percent in 1 hour)
  • Battery Life: Up to 19.9 hours of local video playback at 150 nits

I don’t have much to say about the X1 Carbon’s battery life other than it works! Although the benchmark claims you can get up to 19.9 hours of local video playback at 150 nits, most of us aren’t going to keep the brightness that low. However, I consistently got a full 6- to 8-hour day of work out of the X1 Carbon without needing to recharge until I was finished at night. Just charge it up before bedtime, and you should be good to go.

If you do ultra-heavy work on your device, bring the charger, just in case. Speaking of the charger, it’s a nice compact 65W affair that supports Lenovo’s Rapid Charge feature, which claims you can get up to 80% charge in an hour. I did get close once: 74% charge in one hour. When I was using my laptop while it was charging, though, it was more like 77% in 2 hours, which is a charge rate I was more than happy with.

The one downside? It gets very hot if you’re using the ThinkPad X1 Carbon while charging. The heat may also extend to the upper area of the keyboard. So if you can skip working while this laptop is charging, it’s way more comfortable.

Should You Buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10?

For all its bells and whistles, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 can be summed up in a few words: a top-tier professional laptop. There’s a reason Lenovo targets an audience of business people and full-time students for the X1 Carbon. This ThinkPad is among the best for multitasking, word processing, graphics—you name it.

And although it isn’t a gaming laptop, it can handle some smaller games and does deliver respectable graphics. If you want a laptop to play large franchise games on, this won’t cut it in performance. But if you’re looking for a lightweight laptop that packs a punch in just about everything else, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the way to go.

Rating: 9/10
Price: $2,099

Here’s What We Like

  • Fast and responsive performance
  • Battery lasts all day
  • The touchscreen and keyboard have a great feel
  • The anti-glare screen and matte design look premium
  • It's light as a feather

And What We Don't

  • Large downloads can limit the speed of the processor
  • It gets very hot during charging
  • Had trouble playing large games
Profile Photo for Cianna Garrison Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison has over five years of experience writing everything from food news and limited-time products to the details on the latest iPhones and earbuds. In the past, she’s worked for online magazines, blogs, and more, with technology and social media being one of her primary interests.
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