My XPS 15 is in bad shape. In an ironic twist of fate, the 4-year-old laptop slid out of my hand as I slide into my car to drive to Dell’s headquarters in Round Rock, Texas. When it hit the concrete, a chunky of the back spine cracked off, leaving a window to the exposed hinge.
While I’m almost always using a review unit, I like to store my photos, videos, and other files on my personal rig and take it travelling when the world isn’t shut down. So I need a new laptop, and with the launch of Intel’s 12th-gen mobile CPUs and AMD’s Ryzen 6000, there is no better time to upgrade.
Sometimes, though, it’s best to stick with the classics, so as exciting as those new laptops may be, my current frontrunner is the new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Now in its 10th generation, the X1 Carbon is a slim, lightweight laptop with a generous selection of ports, an awesome keyboard, and a durable chassis.
I’m not going to act like the new version is the hottest thing at CES. In fact, it received only a few noteworthy upgrades, but those refine what, to me, is the most well-rounded, ultra-thin laptop around. Perhaps the biggest improvement is one any remote worker will appreciate: a 1080p IR camera. I won’t get my hopes too high before firing up a Zoom call, but this might be what I need to finally retire my trust Logitech C920 (my XPS 15 has that stupid-arse nosecam).
Not much of the design has changed, though Lenovo says a new keycap design will act as an air intake. I’ll take the extra cooling so long as it doesn’t harm my precious ThinkPad keyboard or set my hands on fire. Perhaps the most significant visible hardware upgrade is a new 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED display option with 100% DCI-P3 coverage and a peak of 400 nits.
None of the work I do, even my rudimentary photo editing, requires a higher resolution, and every time I see OLED I’m taken back to when I tested the XPS 15 OLED with its jaw-dropping panel. The only reassurance I need is that the battery won’t crap out as I’m catching up on the last few seasons of The Expanse (Lenovo didn’t give runtime estimates for the 57Whr battery). If it does, I might need to drop down to the 2240 x 1400 IPS option or the 1920 x 1200 base display.
Under the hood, the X1 Carbon received expected upgrades to Intel 12th-gen chips, which Lenovo interestingly notes are available in up to a Core i7 in P-series and U-series variants. The new chips are paired with up to 32GB of DDR5 RAM and up to a 2TB PCIe SSD.
For all these fancy new features, what still makes me gravitate toward the X1 Carbon is that its chassis weighs just 1 kg and is 0.6 inches thick despite having a 14-inch display. It’s a combo you rarely find on other laptops without there being other compromises.
One compromise I will have to make is not eating at fancy restaurants from now until the X1 Carbon launches in March because this thing will cost me $US1,639 ($2,254) for the base version. On second thought, maybe I just buy some duct tape for my XPS.
ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 2
If you’re considering the X1 Carbon, you might want to throw the X1 Nano into the mix. It’s essentially a 13-inch version of the Carbon that trades screen real estate for portability. This newest model also gets 12th-gen Intel Core chips paired with Iris Xe graphics, as well as the 1080p webcam upgrade.
The ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 2 will be available from April 2022, with an expected starting price of $US1,659 ($2,282).
ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7
And just so Lenovo has all the bases covered, there’s also the X1 Yoga Gen 7, a convertible version of the X1 Carbon, though one made of aluminium instead of carbon fibre (I’m personally a fan of the soft-touch carbon). It, too, was upgraded with 12th Gen Intel chips and a 1080p IR camera. The convertible is also available now with a 3840 x 2400-pixel OLED display with a low blue-light certification.
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7 will be available from March 2022 at an expected starting price of $US1,749 ($2,406).