The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is Lenovo's flagship premium business ultrabook, sitting at the top of the best Lenovo laptops alongside the convertible ThinkPad X1 Yoga. The X1 Carbon is now in its 11th generation, and Lenovo has truly refined the look, feel, and performance of this device. This is the laptop I always recommend first to busy professionals, with a caveat concerning the high price.
It's incredibly thin and light, yet it holds onto ThinkPad assurances for quality and durability. The keyboard is one of the best around, and the high-end combination of speakers, camera, and microphones make it a powerful tool for remote workers and collaborators. There are five displays available, plenty of modern processors from which you can choose, and the battery life is good enough to get you through most of a workday.
We consider this the best business laptop you can buy today, but is it really the right pick for you? Let's take a closer look at some of the changes for this generation to see if it's worth your money.
About this review: Lenovo supplied XDA with a review unit of its ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11). It did not have any input on the content of this article.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11
Best business laptop on the market
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11) gets a CPU upgrade and some new camera features to help keep it in the running as the best business laptop available today.
- Deep Black
- Up to 2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
- 13th-generation Intel Core U-series and P-series processors
- Up to 64GB LPDDR5x
- Operating System
- Windows 11
- 57Wh battery
- 2x Thunderbolt 4, 2x USB Type-A, 1x HDMI 2.0b, 3.5mm headphone jack, nano-SIM slot (optional)
- Up to 1080p Full HD MIPI RGB + IR webcam with Computer Vision and physical shutter
- Display (Size, Resolution)
- 14-inch, 16:10 aspect ratio, up to 2.8K (2880x1800) OLED, 500 nits (HDR), 100% DCI-P3
- 2.48 pounds (1.2kg)
- Intel Iris Xe graphics (integrated)
- 12.42x8.76x0.60 inches (315.6 x 222.5 x 15.36mm)
- Intel Wi-Fi 6E 2x2, Bluetooth 5.2, optional 5G/4G LTE
- 2 x 2W woofers and 2 x 0.8W tweeters, Dolby Atmos
- Starting at $1,729 (MSRP)
- ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11
- Up to 65W USB-C Slim power adapter
- Carbon fiber (top) + aluminum (bottom)
- Hard to beat the keyboard
- Speakers, camera, microphones are all impressive
- Five displays to choose from, including OLED
- No more 4K display options
- Very expensive when not on sale
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11): Pricing and availability
Lenovo's 11th-generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon was announced in December 2022 and is now available to buy. It's beginning to show up at Newegg and is expected to hit other third-party retailers eventually, but for now, your best bet is to shop at the official Lenovo website.
Pricing at Lenovo's website fluctuates greatly, and you'll often see sky-high regular prices discounted by 50% or more. For example, at the time of writing, the introductory X1 Carbon (Gen 11) model costs about $1,391 on sale, down from the regular $2,319 price. That's for a model with a 13th-generation Intel Core i5-1335U processor, 16GB of LPDDR5 RAM, 256GB M.2 PCIe 4.0 solid-state drive (SSD), and a 14-inch FHD+ non-touch display.
Looking at the model I'm reviewing — with a Core i7-1355U CPU, 16GB of RAM, 512GB SSD, and FHD+ touch display — you'll spend about $2,879 when it's not on sale. At the time of writing it's on sale for about $1,733.
Design and features: Same look, upgraded camera software
Lenovo fanatics who like to keep up with the latest laptop designs won't likely see much need for an upgrade to the latest generation. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11) is physically identical to the 10th-gen model, right down to the same 2.48-pound (1.12kg) weight and 0.60-inch (15.36mm) thinness. The bottom of the laptop is made from aluminum for a rigid and durable feel, while the lid is made of carbon fiber to shave weight.
In his ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) review, Editor-in-Chief Rich Woods noted that "you'd be hard-pressed to find any kind of compromise to meet weight on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon." That holds entirely true for the latest edition. The aluminum base is even now made of 55% recycled aluminum, the keyboard is 90% recycled magnesium, and even the packaging is far more sustainable than ever with minimal plastic.
Port selection hasn't changed from a couple of generations ago. The right side of the laptop has a USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1) port, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a Kensington Nano lock slot, with space for an optional Nano-SIM slot for LTE-equipped models. The left side holds dual Thunderbolt 4, another USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1), and an HDMI port with support for 4K@60Hz. With the dual Thunderbolt ports you'll be able to get three external monitors going, but you can also add a powerful Thunderbolt docking station to free up native connectivity. Many of the best lightweight laptops don't have nearly as good of connectivity, so this selection is appreciated.
One upgrade area for the X1 Carbon (Gen 11) has to do with its webcam. A discrete camera array makes an appearance again, giving the top of the lid a slight lip that makes it easier to open. The array houses, in my review model, a 1080p (FHD) webcam with IR hybrid portion that allows for secure facial recognition through Windows Hello. While you can get the same hardware in the previous generation, the Lenovo View app — yes, it's another piece of software alongside the Lenovo Vantage app — is on board for further improvements.
The X1 Carbon's webcam, microphones, and supporting software make it perfect for busy professionals working remotely.
There are options for video enhancements like backlighting and color; a virtual presenter feature that can automatically crop your body out as an overlay while presenting your screen (similar to how popular game streamers set themselves up in a corner); a posture warning that lets you know when you've been slumped over for too long; and an eye wellness feature that can remind you to take a break during marathon work sessions. For professionals who often collaborate, the View app is a potent addition that will help keep you looking and sounding as good as possible.
Mirametrix Glance security features are also tied into this app. You can set up privacy alerts that warn you when someone else is looking at your screen over your shoulder, and you can even set the screen to go blurry when it happens. Other security measures include a fingerprint reader (built into the power button), a discrete TPM 2.0 chip, and myriad BIOS assurances that come with most ThinkPads.
Wireless connectivity hasn't changed much. Intel Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 handle internet and wireless accessories, NFC is available, and you can also add 4G LTE or 5G connectivity if you often work outside of Wi-Fi range. Because this is an EVO-certified laptop, Intel's Unison software is on board, which makes it easy to connect your Android or Apple phone to your laptop. We have a guide on how to set up Intel Unison if you're interested in taking things further.
Lenovo's work getting the X1 Carbon's audio as good as possible really shows. Each side of the keyboard has a 0.8W tweeter, with another two 2W woofers installed on the bottom of the case. There's lots of bass from the down-firing output, and the top-firing speakers go unmuffled as long as the display lid is open. Dolby Atmos is included, but even without it enabled the audio is well above average for a laptop this size. Along the top edge of the display lid are four microphones that pick up clear audio from all directions. Dolby Voice can be enabled to clear up any issues with clarity or distortion.
Keyboard and touchpad: 1.5mm key travel in a thin chassis
Lenovo didn't mess with the keyboard on the new Gen 11 model, and that's a good thing. While the 1.5mm key travel isn't nearly as deep as the ThinkPads of yore, it's still deeper than the majority of laptops being sold today, even with a thicker chassis. Keys are spaced well, the keycaps are slightly cupped, and they have a bit of grip to them.
The navigation keys — Home, End, Insert, PgUp, PgDn — have their own caps, so there's no need for an Fn shortcut. A two-stage backlight helps with after-hour work. For these reasons, this is one of the best laptops for writers. I've typed countless thousands of words on ThinkPad keyboards, and they're always an easy recommendation for those who type all day.
The X1 Carbon's touchpad isn't particularly tall, but that's mainly due to the inclusion of the Lenovo TrackPoint system. A classic red ThinkPad pointing nub is located in the middle, and it's joined by physical mouse buttons just below the keyboard. Lenovo could maximize touchpad space, but there would undoubtedly be some major pushback from ThinkPad purists who love the TrackPoint. What you do get is a wide touchpad (measuring about 2.2 inches by 4.33 inches) with a smooth glass surface that tracks accurately.
Display: OLED is available, but regular IPS is gorgeous
Lenovo returned an OLED display option to the X1 Carbon for the tenth-gen version, which in total brought it up to seven different display options. Those options have been dialed back for the eleventh-gen model; the 2.8K OLED option is still around, but the two 4K screens are no longer available. That means you have five screens in total to choose from depending on budget and pixel preference.
The most affordable has a 1920x1200 (FHD+) resolution with an IPS panel, 400 nits brightness, anti-glare finish, Eyesafe certification, and low power draw. You can get virtually the same screen with touch enabled, right down to the matching anti-glare finish. This is the screen I have in my review model. Stepping up but still in the FHD+ realm, there's a touch option with up to 500 nits brightness and ThinkPad's Privacy Guard baked in.
Lenovo has you covered if FHD+ doesn't have enough pixels. The 2240x1400 (2.2K) option is non-touch with an IPS panel, and it can hit up to 300 nits brightness with low blue light properties. And finally, the 2880x1800 (2.8K) OLED display hits up to 500 nits brightness, has an anti-reflection finish, is tuned toward 100% DCI-P3 color, and features DisplayHDR True Black 500. If you want the best look for your X1 Carbon, the OLED screen is the way to go.
However, I've been using the comparatively basic FHD+ touch display with no issues. All the IPS displays manage 100% sRGB coverage, you can choose from touch or non-touch, and you won't see as much of a battery draw with the lower resolution. I tested the display in my review unit with a SpyderX Pro colorimeter, getting back 100% sRGB, 77% AdobeRGB, 79% DCI-P3 color reproduction, as well as 364 nits brightness at peak. This combination should be good enough for the average user, and you can even nix the touch functionality to improve battery life.
Performance and battery: More efficient CPUs make for a longer runtime
Lenovo began adding Intel's U- and P-series CPUs in the last generation of X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga laptop, and that's continued through to the latest version. My unit is equipped with a 13th-generation Intel Core i7-1355U chip with 10 cores (two performance and eight efficiency), 12 threads, and a maximum frequency of 5GHz. You can get these processors with vPro or without vPro depending on your needs.
Comparing U- and P-series processors isn't too difficult. The latter chips are better designed for increased mobile performance, with a 28W TDP that can climb to 64W if needed. The former U-series chip that's in my review unit runs at a lower 15W TDP that can climb to 55W. The U-series CPUs won't deliver quite as much performance, but they also don't draw as much power or create as much heat. That's especially important in a laptop this slim that's designed for life on the move.
I didn't wish at any time that my review unit had the P-series processor, at least while handling my usual workflow. Intel's Raptor Lake improvements are on full display here, and you should expect the Core i7-1355U to match the last-gen Core i7-1260P in most benchmark tests. In real-world use, the difference isn't really noticeable. I was able to use Photoshop, Word, Edge (with many tabs open), Spotify, and more all at once with no slowdowns, and I never really felt the laptop get hot. You'll hear the fans come on, but they're never louder than a whisper.
Here's a look at how the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11) compares to other laptops we've recently tested.
Benchmark (Higher is better)
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11) Core i7-1355U
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) Core i7-1260P
HP Dragonfly Pro Ryzen 7 7736U
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 Core i7-1255U
Lenovo Yoga 9i Core i7-1360P
Geekbench 5 (Single/Multi)
1,796 / 8,071
1,622 / 8,207
1,924 / 8,225
1,711 / 6,700
2,464 / 10,859
Geekbench 6 (Single/Multi)
2,370 / 8,687
Cinebench R23 (Single/Multi)
1,634 / 6,779
1,309 / 7,115
1,539 / 11,480
1,724 / 6,797
1,810 / 7,869
The new X1 Carbon's Core i7-1355U bests the 12th Gen Core i7-1260P in PCMark 10, and it comes close to the multi-core score in Geekbench 5. Multi-core scores are still on the side of the P-series chip (owing to its higher core count), but the difference is so small you won't really notice it in day-to-day use. Owners of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) aren't likely going to see the need for an upgrade, but those coming from even older models before Intel put the hybrid core architecture in place will see a big performance difference.
Battery life and power management have improved in the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11).
Battery life seems also to have improved for this generation. The X1 Carbon (Gen 10) landed just short of five hours in regular daily usage with an FHD+ display in Woods' testing last year. He also noted some power profile issues that caused the fan to take off at random times or the screen to briefly dim. Those issues aren't on display in the Gen 11 model, and battery life has improved. I was getting through most of a workday without needing to plug in, and I also tested with PCMark 10's Modern Office rundown. In the controlled test, the X1 Carbon (Gen 11) lasted 11 hours and 24 minutes with screen brightness at about 50%.
Jumping up to a higher resolution or an OLED panel will certainly sap battery life, and as mentioned, the P-series chips will draw more power. But it does seem like Lenovo has smoothed things out when it comes to power and heat with these thin X1 laptops. It will be interesting to see how the new X1 Yoga (Gen 8) counterpart fares when I begin testing; the previous generation was full of thermal issues.
As for the SSD, its M.2 PCIe 4.0 performance delivers read and write speeds that won't hold you back. I tested around 6,800MB/s read and 5,200MB/s write speeds with the stock SSD. You can access the M.2 slot after removing the bottom panel, allowing for DIY upgrades after purchase. RAM, however, is soldered and cannot be upgraded after purchase.
Should you buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11)?
You should buy the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11) if:
- You want a thin and light business laptop that doesn't make compromises
- You often travel and want a durable and reliable partner
- You often video conference and make calls with your laptop
You should not buy the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11) if:
- You can't justify spending thousands on a new laptop
- You'd like a convertible design for added versatility
After using the X1 Carbon (Gen 11) steadily for about a week, I found it hard to discover any faults. Sure, there are no more UHD+ screen options, but the 2.8K OLED display should make a great fit for most users. In my case, the touch-enabled FHD+ screen was more than enough in terms of clarity, color, and brightness. And if you need a convertible build, there's always the ThinkPad X1 Yoga standing by.
The X1 Carbon (Gen 11) is dripping in high-end features that make collaboration a breeze, including quad speakers (with Dolby Atmos) and quad microphones (with Dolby Voice), FHD+ webcam with strong software support and IR security, and optional 4G LTE/5G connectivity. Port selection is easy to work with, the keyboard is as good as it gets, and the CPU performance is snappy at all times. Add in some solid battery life, and you have a laptop that can keep up with your work demands.
It all sounds great, so why isn't everyone running around with an X1 Carbon? Pricing starts at about $2,319 when no sales are in effect. That price climbs to well beyond $3,500 once you max out the CPU and display, putting it well out of reach of most PC users looking to pick up a new laptop. Luckily, Lenovo often has deep discounts that will make the X1 Carbon a lot more manageable. I can't really harp on Lenovo too long for the price; this is regularly one of the most premium and feature-laden devices I get to test out, and it's a great laptop for professionals who hate compromises.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11
Best business laptop on the market
The ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 11)'s annual improvements have culminated in a premium ultrabook that does pretty much everything right. If you're looking for the best business laptop out there, this is it.