With splicing the genes of the well-known ThinkPad series and the ones of the Yoga family, Lenovo has created a truly amazing 2-in-1 device but this will cost you accordingly. Basically, the notebook is based on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon but with the added touchscreen, Wacom pen, and 360-degree rotatable hinge. So if you liked the X1 Carbon, you will definitely like this one as well, regardless of the absence of real carbon fiber in the construction. Yet, Lenovo promises extraordinary sturdiness without sacrificing the portability making the machine capable of withstanding really harsh (military-grade) conditions and the lightest and thinnest 14-inch 2-in-1 business convertible on the market. The notebook even puts to shame some 13-inch models and we can easily put the device in the same category as Dell XPS 13 (detailed review) and Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 (detailed review) although both rivals feature smaller screen size.
Anyway, the laptop comes with the latest Skylake Core i5 and Core i7 processors, up to 16GB of DDR3 RAM, Intel HD Graphics 520 as iGPU and the support for up to 512GB of PCIe NVMe SSD sticks for blazingly fast data transfer. Also, the OEM is offering three different screen variants – conventional Full HD (1920×1080) IPS, WQHD (2560×1440) IPS and… WQHD (2560×1440) OLED. Yes, you read that right. Lenovo is planning to release an OLED version of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga this year and this might actually be one of the first laptops with OLED screens. However, the price of the OLED version will be $1650 and without any hardware upgrade over the base model, so yeah, it’s going to be pretty expensive. We are also expecting an OLED version of the Alienware 13, HP Spectre x360 13-inch and Samsung Galaxy TabPro S. All four devices share the same OLED panel coming from Samsung and will be released this spring.
Nevertheless, let’s not get carried away and focus on what’s important here – the ThinkPad X1 Yoga and its overall performance in terms of battery life, raw performance, temperatures and image quality.
You can find the notebook’s price and availability here: http://amzn.to/1XEMOgb
- Retail package
- Design and construction
- Disassembly, maintenance, internals and upgrade options
- Display and sound
- Pulse-width modulation (PWM, Screen flickering)
- Buy our display profiles
- Specs sheet
- Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) configurations
- CPU – Intel Core i5-6200U
- GPU – Intel HD Graphics 520
Since we are reviewing an engineering sample, we can’t be sure what the package will contain as our unit came without a box or even a charger.
Design and construction
As we already said, the notebook is based on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, but that’s more design-wise – you either like the simplistic modest matte black finish with sharp edges and corners or you don’t. If you are a fan of the ThinkPad series, you will definitely relate to this one as well. And as Lenovo claims, the 14-inch device easily beats most of the 13-inch ultrabooks weighing just 1.27 kg and just 16.8 mm thin. Pretty impressive isn’t it?
While carbon fiber was the main material used for the making of the X1 Carbon, this time around it’s used only for the lid making it extremely durable – it bends ever so slightly under heavy pressure so rest assured that the LCD screen will be intact in any situation. Hinges are not the in line with the usual high-end Yoga design but instead use the ones that we find on the Yoga 500, Yoga 510, Yoga 710 etc. Nonetheless, they appear to be made of metal and feel tightly pulled after about 45-degree incline. In other words, the lid can be lifted pretty easily but then you will have to use both hands to fully open the ultrabook. This prevents some excessive wobbling while using the touchscreen in laptop mode but like most 2-in-1 devices, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga still suffers from the annoying wiggling effect. As for the bottom piece, it adopts only two grills for extra airflow and two loudspeaker openings on the sides. Just a few screws keep the notebook closed so if you need to change the M.2 SSD stick, it won’t be a hassle.
Despite the incredibly thin profile (16.8 mm), the ThinkPad X1 Yoga boasts more connectivity options than some 15-inchers along with a very “healthy” port distribution. The left side contains the DC charging port, OneLink+ port for your extra peripherals, mini DisplayPort (kudos for this one) and a normal USB 3.0 connector. On the right, you will find the HDMI, two USB 3.0 ports and a 3.5 mm combo audio jack. Near the front, you will also see the power button and volume rocker, which is positioned there in case you want quick access to the volume controls while in tablet mode. The former, however, is a bit hard to feel as it’s not protruding and just aligns with the flat side. There’s also the pen, manufactured by Wacom, which is a bit tricky to get out but offers two functional buttons and exceptionally natural feel when writing on the screen. It really feels like using a normal pen instead of a stylus.
Unfortunately, the USB-C 3.1 port is nowhere to be found while most of its competitors make way to the future-proof connector. This, of course, might not be a big issue to most because the USB Type-C standard isn’t adapting as fast as it should. Still, it would have been nice to pair the ThinkPad X1 Yoga with one of those crisp and delicious ThinkVision external displays.
The interior uses the same black matte finish as the lid but Lenovo claims that the base is made of aluminum and magnesium alloy and it’s not hard to believe it since the notebook has passed a good amount of military standards, feels exceptionally robust and the weight is pretty low. The palm rest area and the keyboard tray feel good and don’t give in under weight. Also, the keyboard feels pretty big for a 14-incher with enough spacing and long enough key travel. It’s what you’d normally expect from a ThinkPad device whatsoever. Of course, it features an LED backlight and the Fn key positioning might feel pretty strange to those of you who are new to the ThinkPad but the die-hard fans will still love the layout typical for the series. ThinkPad fans are actually the ones that don’t take changes so lightly.
Anyway, the touchpad finish feels awesome – we bet it’s a glass surface – but also offers soft tactile feedback on every click. The trackpad registers every touch and swipe with great accuracy but if you are not a fan of those, you can always stick to the iconic red TrackPoint in the middle of the keyboard along with the three mouse buttons positioned between the space key and the trackpad area. An interesting change is the design of the fingerprint sensor, which is now much easier to feel and faster to use.
It appears that the ThinkPad and Yoga polymorphing experiment is a big hit. Yes, the 14-inch device might be considered as a bit big for a tablet mode use but it gives a great flexibility and convenience while presenting or working on-the-go and besides, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga puts to shame some 13-inch ultrabooks in terms of dimensions and weight. The incredibly robust construction is another great advantage of the notebook inheriting the excellent ThinkPad build along with the comfortable input devices. However, we were mostly impressed by the neat feature, which detracts the keys when flipping the screen in tablet, tent or presentation mode so you won’t accidentally press a key. So in other words, we give it an A+ as far as build quality and design goes but how’s the rest of the hardware?
Disassembly, maintenance, internals and upgrade options
The notebook is just as easy to disassemble as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. The bottom plate easily comes off when unscrewed. It gives access to most of the internals.
Storage upgrade options – M.2 slot
As a typical convertible ultrabook, the device offers only M.2 SSD slot supporting M-edge and B&M-edge connectors, 2280 size and uses NVMe controller allowing ultra-fast data transfer and read speeds. The one that came in our unit doesn’t use the NVMe controller but it’s still from Samsung. The retail units surely feature M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs.
|M.2 slot||OEM unit||–|
You can see in the photo below the Wi-Fi module with model number 8269NGW by Intel. It features 2×2 Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity.
The unit houses a 52Wh battery – kind of impressive given the dimensions of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga.
There’s nothing unusual of the cooling system and it performed really well in our temperature tests.
Display and sound
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga features a multi-touch Full HD IPS panel with glossy finish from AU Optronics with model number B140HAN01.8. The 1920×1080 pixels resolution is packed in a 14-inch diagonal leading to a pixel density of 157 ppi and 0.161 x 0.161 pixel pitch. It can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 56 cm.
It has comfortable viewing angles when tilted at 45-degree angle.
We’ve recorded 319 cd/m2 maximum luminance in the center of the screen and 299 cd/m2 is the average. The maximum deviation is on the upper-right of the screen – 13%. Color temperature is 6600K in the middle and 6530K average which aligns almost perfectly with the optimal 6500K. We also measured the maximum color deviation dE2000 – 3.8.
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. Starting with the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy. Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that has been used by millions of people in HDTV and the Web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used by professional cameras, monitors and etc. used for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy.
ThinkPad X1 Yoga’s display covers 90% of the sRGB color space guaranteeing punchy colors.
Below you will see practically the same image before calibration. Color circles represent the reference colors and white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut. The profile has been set to 140 cd/m2 and optimal white point – D65 (6500K).
The contrast ratio is 1330:1 before and 1230:1 after calibration. Both results are excellent.
Colors appear to be accurate without any further calibration but the gamma is a bit off. Dark images will be even dimmer while parts of the bright images will be brighter. After calibration, the latter can be corrected. The profile sets 140 cd/m2 luminance, D65 color temperature and sRGB gamma.
Below you can see the results from the accuracy color checker with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. The results are before and after calibration.
Pulse-width modulation (PWM, Screen flickering)
We have good news regarding PWM – the panel doesn’t flicker at all. It can be used for longer periods without any negative effect on one’s eyesight.
We have some excellent display properties at hand. The notebook’s panel matches the higher-end nature of the device with good sRGB coverage, excellent contrast ratio, relatively high maximum brightness and no usage of PWM across all brightness levels, which is one of the most important factors.
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Office work / Web design
If your field is office work or web design, or you just want your monitor's color set to be as accurate as possible for the Internet color space, this profile will prove to be useful.
Gaming or Movie nights
We developed this profile especially for occasions on which you spend a lot of time in front of your monitor with some games or watching movies – it will be easier for you to discern fine nuances in the dark.
This profile reduces the negative impact of pulsation and the blue spectrum, securing your eyes and body. You still get a pitch-perfect color image, albeit slightly warmer.
The sound quality at hand is good through all frequencies, except for the lower ones. There’s a barely noticeable distortion at low frequencies.
Some of the specs may differ depending on your region.
|CPU||Intel Core i5-6200U (2-core, 2.30 – 2.80 GHz, 3MB cache)|
|RAM||8GB (1x 8096MB) – LPDDR3 SDRAM, 1866 MHz|
|GPU||Intel HD Graphics 520|
|HDD/SSD||512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe, 2280 SSD|
|Display||14-inch – 1920×1080 (Full HD) touchscreen IPS, glossy|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, WWAN 4G, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Thickness||16.88 mm (0.66″)|
|Weight||1.270 kg (2.80 lbs)|
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) configurations
The notebook we’ve tested came with pre-installed Windows 10 (64-bit) but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, you can find all the needed drivers at Lenovo’s official support page.
We are more than satisfied with Lenovo’s battery life, which proves that higher battery capacity is still the most reliable way to go when you are building a long-lasting device. The 52Wh battery was able to get the 14-inch Full HD IPS panel along with the ultra-low voltage Intel Core i5-6200U CPU ahead of some competitors in terms of battery performance. We ran the usual Wi-Fi browsing, video playback and gaming tests with the following settings: Wi-Fi turned on all times, power saver turned on and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for to automatically browse through over 70 websites.
Excellent battery runtime on the Wi-Fi browsing test – 489 minutes (8 hours and 9 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Even better result – 563 minutes (9 hours and 23 minutes).
We recently started using F1 2015’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.
The notebook isn’t intended for gaming, let alone away from the charger but we run this test for evaluation reasons 268 minutes (4 hours and 28 minutes) of play time.
CPU – Intel Core i5-6200U
Intel Core i5-6200U is a 6th generation dual-core CPU. It is manufactured using 14 nm FinFET process, meaning it’s part of the Ultra-Low Voltage lineup.The CPU is clocked at 2.3GHz, but thanks to the Turbo Boost technology it could automatically increase its clock speeds up to 2.8GHz for a single core and 2.7GHz when two cores are functioning. It is designed using Intel’s Skylake architecture allowing it to have similar performance to Intel Core i7-5500U, which is part of the Broadwell lineup. The CPU boasts four logical cores and 3MB level 3 cache. It consumes 15W of energy and can operate at a maximum temperature of 100 degrees Celsius.
The SoC also integrates Intel HD Graphics 520. Its performance is similar to that of NVIDIA’s GeForce GT 820 GPU. The GPU can be clocked at up to 1000MHz. The SoC supports the Dual-Channel DDR3L-1600/DDR4-2133 Memory Controller, HyperThreading, AVX, AVX2, Quick Sync, Virtualization and AES-NI technologies.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i5-6200u
Results are from the Cinebench 11 test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) Intel Core i5-6200U (2-cores, 2.3 - 2.8 GHz)||3.19|
|Toshiba KIRA (KIRAbook) Intel Core i7-5500U (2-cores, 2.4 - 3.0 GHz)||3.21||+0.63%|
|Dell XPS 13 (9350, Late 2015) Intel Core i5-6200U (2-cores, 2.3 - 2.8 GHz)||3.22||+0.94%|
|Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 Intel Core i7-6500U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||3.5||+9.72%|
|Acer TravelMate P6 (P645) Intel Core i7-4500U (2-cores, 1.8 - 3.0 GHz)||2.53||-20.69%|
Results are from the NovaBench CPU test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) Intel Core i5-6200U (2-cores, 2.3 - 2.8 GHz)||446|
|Toshiba KIRA (KIRAbook) Intel Core i7-5500U (2-cores, 2.4 - 3.0 GHz)||451||+1.12%|
|Dell XPS 13 (9350, Late 2015) Intel Core i5-6200U (2-cores, 2.3 - 2.8 GHz)||444||-0.45%|
|Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 Intel Core i7-6500U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||470||+5.38%|
|Acer TravelMate P6 (P645) Intel Core i7-4500U (2-cores, 1.8 - 3.0 GHz)||399||-10.54%|
Results are from the Photoshop test (lower the score, the better)
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) Intel Core i5-6200U (2-cores, 2.3 - 2.8 GHz)||20.88|
|Toshiba KIRA (KIRAbook) Intel Core i7-5500U (2-cores, 2.4 - 3.0 GHz)||18.55||-11.16%|
|Dell XPS 13 (9350, Late 2015) Intel Core i5-6200U (2-cores, 2.3 - 2.8 GHz)||20.08||-3.83%|
|Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 Intel Core i7-6500U (2-cores, 2.5 - 3.1 GHz)||19.56||-6.32%|
|Acer TravelMate P6 (P645) Intel Core i7-4500U (2-cores, 1.8 - 3.0 GHz)||20.5||-1.82%|
GPU – Intel HD Graphics 520
Intel HD Graphics or also known as GT2 is an integrated graphics processor used in ULV (Ultra-low voltage) chips from intel that are part of the Skylake generation processors. The GT2 core boasts 24 Execution Units (EUs) that are clocked up to 1050 MHz, but the latter can be changed depending on the CPU that’s used in. The graphics processor supports up to DDR3L-1600 or DDR4-2133 RAM and uses two channels for reaching maximum bandwidth.
The revised GPU now supports H.265/HEVC hardware decoding but the most notable feature here is that the chip supports DisplayPort 1.2 while the HDMI support is limited to the older 1.4a. The GPU can support up to three displays simultaneously. The power consumption of the whole chip (along with the CPU and memory controller) is 15W.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook with this GPU that we’ve tested: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-520/
Results are from the 3DMark Cloud Gate (G) test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) Intel HD Graphics 520||4710|
|Toshiba KIRA (KIRAbook) Intel HD Graphics 5500||6405||+35.99%|
|Dell XPS 13 (9350, Late 2015) Intel HD Graphics 520||7207||+53.01%|
|Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 Intel HD Graphics 520||7304||+55.07%|
|Acer TravelMate P6 (P645) AMD Radeon HD 8750M (2GB DDR3)||8195||+73.99%|
Results are from the 3DMark Fire Strike (G) test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) Intel HD Graphics 520||553|
|Toshiba KIRA (KIRAbook) Intel HD Graphics 5500||786||+42.13%|
|Dell XPS 13 (9350, Late 2015) Intel HD Graphics 520||389||-29.66%|
|Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 Intel HD Graphics 520||401||-27.49%|
|Acer TravelMate P6 (P645) AMD Radeon HD 8750M (2GB DDR3)||1301||+135.26%|
Results are from the 3DMark (Sky Diver) test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) Intel HD Graphics 520||2449|
|Toshiba KIRA (KIRAbook) Intel HD Graphics 5500||2575||+5.14%|
|Dell XPS 13 (9350, Late 2015) Intel HD Graphics 520||3134||+27.97%|
|Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 Intel HD Graphics 520||3167||+29.32%|
|Acer TravelMate P6 (P645) AMD Radeon HD 8750M (2GB DDR3)||-|
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (1st Gen) Intel HD Graphics 520||240|
|Toshiba KIRA (KIRAbook) Intel HD Graphics 5500||230||-4.17%|
|Dell XPS 13 (9350, Late 2015) Intel HD Graphics 520||237||-1.25%|
|Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 Intel HD Graphics 520||240|
|Acer TravelMate P6 (P645) AMD Radeon HD 8750M (2GB DDR3)||409||+70.42%|
The stress tests we do usually don’t translate into a real-life usage simulation because the general user can’t reach 100% CPU + 100% GPU load. Yet, it’s still a good way to assess the stability of the system and how the notebook will do in the long run.
We kick things off with 100% CPU load for about an hour and the silicon maintained relatively low temperatures under load (78 °C) and at idle (29 °C) while executing the full potential of the two cores – 2.7 GHz. You can see the red line below representing the temperatures and the green line for CPU load.
Things didn’t change a bit even when we turned on the GPU torture test as well. It’s not very often for an ultrabook, or a notebook with integrated GPU, to maintain maximum operating frequency of the CPU and the iGPU as well.
The notebook’s surface was cool throughout the whole test even under heavy and 2-hour long workload.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga stands for its name in every way possible blending the best of both worlds – ThinkPads and Yogas. It’s incredibly thin, light, portable, durable, versatile and packs numerous key features, not to mention the laptop has military-grade standards and can take a beating. Also, the notebook offers excellent input devices including the iconic TrackPoint. We were also really impressed by the retractable keyboard, which goes back inside when in tent, presentation or tablet mode. Keys can’t be pressed accidentally when using it in an unconventional position.
In terms of battery and screen performance, the notebook excels in both as well – the former is pretty good and we expect it to be even better in the final unit while the latter is more than enough for an excellent multimedia experience. Keep in mind, though, the QHD version will most likely perform slightly worse. We also can’t miss mentioning the wide variety of ports packed in the thin and compact base as well as the ultra-fast M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD. However, the USB Type-C port isn’t present while most of the devices out there are starting to adopt the new standard. Along with the latter, the X1 Yoga has one more, considerable drawback – it’s definitely pricey. Still, this is the price to pay for a reliable, portable, versatile and premium notebook.
You can find the notebook’s price and availability here: http://amzn.to/1XEMOgb
- Exceptionally sturdy and well-built chassis with good choice of materials
- Good input devices (trackpad, keyboard, TrackPoint)
- Excellent battery runtimes
- Supports M.2 PCIe NVMe SSDs and ships with one
- Good display quality, even for the Full HD version
- No PWM across all brightness levels
- Features stylus
- A bit too pricey
- Lacks USB-C connector