Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga X1 Gen3 Review

Lenovo’s X1 Yoga for 2018 is now available, and I have my hands on one to review – which I’m using to write this article (Lenovo sometimes provide me with a laptop for review purposes, but that’s not the case for this particular one.)

Initially it looks and feels rather similar to the Gen 2 which I reviewed not that long ago. There are differences, but the jump from Gen 2 > 3 isn’t as big as Gen 1 > 2 was. I’d like to think that’s because they got things pretty right with the Gen2, and there wasn’t as much to change.

First, let’s check out the ‘Tech Specs’ – I’ll bold the options this particular laptop has in the table below.

Processor
  • 8th Gen Intel® Core™ i5-8250U Processor (6M Cache, 1.6 GHz, 3.4 GHz max)
  • 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8350U Processor (6M Cache, 1.7 GHz, 3.6 GHz max), vPro™
  • 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8550U Processor (8M Cache, 1.8 GHz, 4.0 GHz max)
  • 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8650U Processor (8M Cache, 1.9 GHz, 4.2 GHz max), vPro
Operating System
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit – Lenovo recommends Windows 10 Pro.
Display
  • 14″ FHD IPS (1920 x 1080), 270 nits, Touch
  • 14″ WQHD IPS (2560 x 1440), 270 nits, Touch
  • 14″ HDR WQHD IPS with Dolby Vision™ (2560 x 1440), 500 nits, 100% colour gamut, Touch
Graphics
  • Intel UHD Graphics 620
Memory
  • 8GB 2133MHz LPDDR3, memory soldered to system board
  • 16GB (max) / 2133MHz LPDDR3, memory soldered to system board
Webcam
  • Standard: 720p HD camera with ThinkShutter
  • Optional: IR camera – required for Windows Hello and facial recognition, but it does not have ThinkShutter
  • Both with dual array microphone
Storage
  • M.2 SSD / PCIe NVMe OPAL2: 256GB / 512GB / 1TB
Optical drive
  • None
Dimensions (W x D x H)
  • 333 x 229 x 17.05 mm
Weight
  • Starting from 1.4 kg
Case colour
  • Black
  • Silver
Battery
  • 4-cell (57 Wh), integrated
Battery life1
  • Up to 15 hours
AC adaptor
  • 65W 3-pin USB-C, supports RapidCharge
Keyboard
  • ThinkPad backlit rise& fall keyboard
Fingerprint reader
  • Match on Chip (MoC) touch fingerprint reader
Audio support
  • Stereo with Dolby® Audio™ Premium
Ethernet
  • Via native ethernet dongle
Wireless LAN
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265, Wi-Fi 2×2 802.11ac + Bluetooth® 4.2*
Wireless WAN
  • Integrated global mobile broadband LTE-A (optional)
NFC
  • None
Ports
  • 2 x USB 3.0 (1 x AlwaysOn)
  • 2 x Thunderbolt (x4 Gen3)
  • 1 x HDMI
  • 1 x 4-in-1 micro SD card reader (SD, MMC, SDHC, SDXC)
  • 1 x Combo audio/microphone jack
  • 1 x native ethernet

Let’s go through some of the areas of interest:

CPU – Although often there’s little difference between each generation of CPU, there’s actually a big difference this time. If you look at the Intel spec sheet, the core count has doubled from 2 to 4, along with the thread count of 4 to 8. The single core clock speed is lower, down from 2.60Ghz to 1.90Ghz, but the Max Turbo Frequency is the slightly higher at 3.60Ghz rather than the older 3.50Ghz.

What does this all mean? It depends, but overall it’s probably a lot better. Single threaded programs might be a bit slower, but these days if it’s single threaded it’s probably old and anything modern is more than fast enough for it. Multi-threaded programs will go substantially faster. Here’s a benchmark comparison with some figures to demonstrate that. Of course, multitasking with many different programs should be a faster experience too.

Display – I would have loved to have seen that high end display, but the base level one is more than enough still. HDR, Dolby Vision and other high end settings – I need to see this!

RAM – If you want this laptop to last you years, go the 16GB. 8GB is still plenty, but we’re getting closer to 16GB being the standard. For general use, you still probably won’t hit the 8GB limit (unless you have a lot of Chrome tabs open!).

Webcam – I like the new little shutter that’s built in. You see a red dot when it’s closed, and the switch to open it is very small and unobtrusive.

Storage – As always, pick what you think you’ll need. It’s nice and fast!

Weight – Nothing’s changed here, same weight within a few grams as the last few models. It’s not a feather, but it’s light enough.

Case Colour – Yes this one is black, but it’s a bit different. The entire shell is a slightly glossier black than the matte black the last few models have had. The hinges are now black too, which fits in a bit nicer with the black body. There’s also the new X1 logo on the lid and the Lenovo branding on the bottom left of the display – all of which I think looks good. It’s branding without being in your face.

Battery – Same as the last generation, a big 15 hour claim and 12 hours just from an hour charge. I haven’t sat down and tested this, and another review I found claimed a bit under 8 hours which is slightly under the average, but of course it depends on what you do.

Other notes:

The fingerprint reader is a little smaller now, but works the same. Still USB-C charging which is great, but we seem to have lost one of the USB 3 ports on the left hand side. The device supports Microsoft AutoPilot which is good for anyone who wants to set this up on their Azure/Office 365 tenant and send devices out without needing to actually do anything to them.

There’s the new ‘Cortana Premium’ which makes the device pick up voice commands better and from a distance or different angles. The stylus is the same too, which is still a mid-size rapid charging pen that does the job well.

Let’s have a look at all the angles of the X1 Yoga Gen3:

Keyboard and Trackpad

As with most ThinkPads, the keyboard and trackpad are high quality. There’s not any wacky key changes in this model, and it’s very similar to the Gen2.

Lid

It was really hard to get a decent picture of the lid due to the new material they’ve used! We’ve now got the new X1 logo in the bottom right, the black hinges at the bottom and the standard ThinkPad logo in the top left, with the dot on the ‘i’ to indicate power on or off.

Front

Back

Front and Back – nothing exciting here, you can see the hinges again with the fan vent and panel for SIM and SD card.

Base

Again nothing exciting on the base, fingerprints already after I’d wiped it and moved it about which is the price you pay for having a nice black surface. You can see the dual speakers along with the stylus on the bottom left.

Left Side – USB-C In, USB-C Out, USB3 Right Side – Stylus, Power, 3.5mm Audio Jack, Mini Ethernet, USB3, HDMI Out, Kensington Lock

Summary – A small upgrade from the last Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Gen2, the Gen3’s better 4 core CPU is a reasonable selling point. The slight cosmetic changes are all nice, but there’s nothing too drastic that a Gen2 owner should consider upgrading to. However, it’s a big jump from the Gen1 which you can read my original review on too. I’ll do a seperate writeup comparing the three models soon, and it’s still my pick of the ThinkPad lineup that I can’t fault. I’m actually running a VM on it (Windows 10 VM on Windows 10!) to work from and it performs very well for those wondering if they can do the same. Feel free to ask any questions below!

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