Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon Review (2021): Portable, Powerful, and Spendy

The Lenovo X1 Carbon laptop is among the most powerful you can purchase. It weighs in at 2.5 pounds and is very lightweight. It has plenty of power to handle most tasks and all-day battery life. There are also many ports for all your accessories, which is a major advantage over its competitors.
Last year, we reviewed the Linux version X1 Carbon. This review also applies to the newer version. The major change in the 2021 X1 Carbon's design is the switch to the 11th-generation Intel processors. The new screen is slightly larger and has a 16/10 aspect ratio, similar to the Dell XPS 13.

Carbon Core

The new X1 Carbon does not represent a major design change. It's a good thing though because the design is well-designed and doesn't require a redesign. It is lighter than the majority of competitors, particularly the business-class laptops like Dell Latitude. The soft carbon fiber surface is also a Thinkpad hallmark. It all depends on your personal aesthetics. However, I prefer the Thinkpad carbon fibre look and feel to titanium and aluminum laptops.

You will find all the well-known Thinkpad elements: The keyboard is great; the red nub between the G H & B keys is the red pointer; and three buttons are at the top.

You will also find plenty of ports. There are also two USB-C Thunderbolt4 ports and two USB-A ports. This is in contrast to the MacBook Air and XPS 13. Only one thing is missing: an SD or microSD slot. One dongle is better that a dozen if you have multiple laptops.

The 16:10 screen is the most notable change in the Gen 9 Carbon X1 Carbon. It is very noticeable in everyday work, as I mentioned when Dell made the same changes to the XPS.

The extra half inch screen allows for more vertical space for web pages, documents, and spreadsheets. This means that scrolling is less frequent and life is more enjoyable. My X250's 16-inch screen felt smaller when I returned the X1 Carbon to Lenovo. The difference in body size and weight to the 16-9 model is negligible. Any extra screen that you can squeeze out of a laptop's battery is a win for users.

The FHD+ panel was the one I tried, but you can also get a 4K option if you wish. If you work in brightly lit areas, the matte panel on the 1080p model is an advantage. Although it only has 365 nits brightness, which is not industry-leading, it was bright enough to be outside in the sun on a sunny day to do some work. It does not have an OLED screen. This is disappointing.

The 720p webcam is perhaps the most disappointing, other than the lack of an SD card slot. Although no Lenovo webcam has ever been outstanding, this one was so bad that colleagues commented on how terrible it was during a Zoom meeting. This seems like a major oversight by Lenovo, given the number of Zoom meetings that corporate workers are doing. Although it's fair to say that no laptop maker is willing to include a decent camera, it's better to use a third-party webcam if you need to capture high-quality video.