The ThinkPad X1 Nano: A return to form
Unfortunately, as time went on, the laptop industry began. Moving to widescreen displays first to 16 by 10 and then to 16×9 supporters, say the wider displays are better for media consumption, gaming and multitasking, while others argue that a taller aspect – ratio like 16 by 10 or 3×2 is better for productivity and maximum screen real estate. This year, the wishes of many in the thinkpad community have finally been granted with lenovo. Releasing the x1 nano a 13 inch laptop in the body of a traditional 12 inch laptop, not too dissimilar to other popular high end laptops, like the dell xps. The biggest draw for me, of course, was that this was the first thing pad in over a decade to use a 16×10 display. As many of you know, i typically prefer most of lenovo’s older products, but, aside from my excitement over the screen, this was a rare chance for me to be an early adopter of an entirely new lenovo product i’ve been using the x1 nano, as my main laptop For several months, so that i can give you guys the best idea of what it’s like to be using this for a long time. Usually, when you buy a thinkpad directly from lenovo, there are endless customizations that you can make to the laptop’s configuration a downside of being an early adopter of these laptops is that prices tend to be a bit higher than normal and custom options are limited. When i ordered this back in february, only a few pre built configurations were available.
Looking at the laptop, the first thing i noticed was just how small and light this is. The lightest configuration of the x1 nano weighs just under 2 pounds, which is remarkably lightweight putting this in my laptop bag. I can hardly notice it’s there, even with the power adapter. Despite this, the machine feels very well constructed the laptop uses. This soft touch outer finish that feels really nice, as opposed to just hard plastic. However, i am curious to see how this holds up in the long run. In many ways, the small form factor and premium materials that lenovo used reminds me a lot of older thing. Pads like the original x1 carbon or the x300, all the way down to small details, like black steel hinges, instead of the usual silver like most think pads. The x1 nano has an almost entirely matte black color scheme, with only a few hints of red in the design i’m. Not a big fan of this x1 logo. They have on the back. In my opinion, it just looks a little tacky. You can also get the laptop with a carbon fiber texture, but i prefer the classic black finish. The port selection on the x1. Nano has seemingly taken a cue from apple with just a headphone microphone, combo jack and two thunderbolt 4 ports, which are also used for charging. While i would rather have a few legacy ports like usb hdmi or an sd card reader, there were only a few times.
I really needed a dongle for something. The other side of the laptop is occupied by the cooling vents for the processor and the power button, while moving the power button from above the keyboard to the side of the laptop is an odd change that takes some getting used to. I can imagine it being handy for people who leave their laptops docked most of the time who don’t want to open it up just to power. The system on the only other point of interest on the exterior of the laptop is the bottom cover which can be removed easily by loosening 5 captive phillips head screws inside the x1 nano we have the keyboard and mouse that we know and love, as well as The beautiful 13 inch 16 by 10 display, as has become standard for lenovo laptops. There is a shutter over the webcam known as the think shutter that covers up the lens when you don’t want anyone watching a welcome change over previous think. Shutter iterations is having the ir sensor on all models. As on older thinkpads, you could only have the webcam cover or the ir sensor. Not both the sensor allows for facial recognition that can be used to not only unlock the laptop but also to detect if the user is there or not and lock the laptop. If someone walks away, if you don’t, want to use facial recognition but still want a more secure way to login than just a password, the x1 nano has the usual fingerprint sensor that is standard on most think pads.
As i said in my t480 review, i do find the touch base sensor to be faster and more accurate than the swiping fingerprint reader older thinkpads used. One of my biggest worries when purchasing the x1 nano was that the keyboard would not live up to the traditional thinkpad standards, and i will say upfront. This keyboard does not feel exactly the same as an older thinkpad, whether it’s, the classic 7 row keyboard or any of the newer island style keyboards. But i don’t think it feels better or worse than those other keyboards. The keys are springy and tactile, and it doesn’t feel, like i’m, really bottoming out each key. As i type the keys are a little bit shrunken down compared to larger think pads to accommodate the small form factor. But if you’re coming from an older 12 inch bottle like the x270, this won’t be a huge adjustment. Smaller keys, don’t necessarily make for a worse keyboard. I’Ve used plenty of laptops with so called full size, keyboards that felt much worse to type on. In addition to doing several essays and projects for school on this laptop, i typed out the entire script for this video on the x1 nano. In my opinion, lenovo did an excellent job of retaining what makes these keyboards special. Even in such a small machine. I haven’t heard the same about some of lenovo’s other newer laptops, but the x1 nano’s keyboard is still worthy of the thinkpad name.
The trackpoint works exactly as expected: the buttons have the right amount of feedback when you press them and moving the mouse works, the same as it always has as much as people have criticized. Sling pad design changes in recent years and as much as i have criticized those changes, i can at least praise lenovo for acknowledging that all other compromises aside. The trackpoint is probably the biggest example of if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, while not much of a touchpad user. The x1 nano tracks accurately and has a smooth glass surface that feels nice to use pressing down, gives a satisfying click without excessive noise there’s. Also some useful hand gestures that you can use for navigating windows when it comes to the sound quality of the x1 nano’s built in speakers. I can certainly say i was astounded by how good these sounded laptops will never replace a good hi fi system or decent headphones, but these speakers do get pretty loud without sounding tinny or rattly. Laptop retrospective was kind enough to send me a comparison, video where he measured the audio levels of his x220 and his own x1, nano Applause. Unfortunately, there wasn’t nearly as much effort put into the quality of the microphones or the webcam of this laptop it’s good enough for your basic needs, but it’s kind of funny that laptop manufacturers just kind of stopped caring about improving webcam quality about 10 years ago. Like i said, the display was one of the main reasons i decided to purchase this laptop.
The 2k panel used has excellent contrast with vibrant colors, without looking like someone just cranked up the saturation it’s rated for 450 nits of brightness, which is noticeably brighter than most of my other thinkpad displays it’s bright enough that i can use this laptop perfectly fine. Even in direct sunlight, many other high end laptops around this size, often ship with a 4k display, but i think that’s a little excessive. The 2k display used in the x1 nano is more than good enough for my use and even with the lower resolution, i ended up having to turn windows scaling up to 125 percent to see clearly using a lower resolution than its competitors, combined with using a low Power display also saves on battery life. One of the best advantages i’ve noticed with this display is that it doesn’t appear to use pwm for dimming, meaning there’s less flickering at lower brightness levels. This isn’t really something that bothers me, but for a lot of people. This can be a deal breaker my base level x1. Nano came with an 11th generation intel core i5 1130 g7 processor, but you can also get higher end i5s and i7s that have more cache and slightly higher clock speeds. While there might be a slight difference in performance, these are all quad core 8 thread. Processors and most people agree that, with these ultra thin laptops, the performance differences between lower and higher end processors will barely be noticeable in everyday use.
I recommend instead using your money to upgrade the ram to 16 gigabytes, as the base models only come with eight. For most, this is probably good enough, but with how demanding many applications can be, i would say you’re better off getting the maximum amount of ram. My base model came with a 256 gigabyte 2242 nvme ssd, which is thankfully user replaceable, although 42 millimeter drives tend to be harder to find and more expensive compared to their 80 millimeter counterparts. The processors used in the x1 nano are obviously geared towards maximizing battery life. Above performance and in this aspect, i think it does a pretty good job. Lenovo claims that the 48 watt hour battery can power the laptop for up to nearly 23 hours of continuous use, but that’s, obviously a best case scenario. In my experience i was able to get around 8 to 9 hours on average, with more demanding tasks like zoom calls or video rendering draining the battery faster. The 65 watt adapter lenovo includes allows the laptop to be charged up to 80 percent from zero in just an hour, which is impressive and helpful when i need to charge up the laptop, but don’t have a lot of time to wait around this doesn’t quite make Up for the loss of hot swappable batteries, with the power bridge system that older thinkpads had but it’s a compromise, i can live with. Obviously, a small laptop like this can’t replace a workstation or gaming machine, but the i5 in my x1 is more than good enough for most everyday tasks.
Office work, teleconferencing, light, video, editing and other basic productivity can all be done without problems, while the laptop gets a bit warm when under a prolonged heavy load, it doesn’t get uncomfortably hot for me, and the air ventilation coming out the right side of the laptop didn’t Bother me as much as i thought it would speaking of heavy loads, this laptop performed pretty well in both short and long term. Stress tests, like i did with my t480 last year. I did an extended video, rendering test where i rendered a basic 45 minute video. The i5 held up pretty well finishing the job in under an hour, far faster than even the t480 from just a few years ago. Did the cpu cores boost as high as 4 gigahertz for quick bursts of demanding tasks, but for extended workouts. It settles around 2.5 gigahertz. Thankfully it seems the power throttling issue that i experienced with. The t480 has been fixed with newer, thinkpads i’m sure if this model came with an amd processor that would blow this out of the water. But this is still a very well performing little laptop like most ultrabooks, the x1 nano isn’t meant to be a gaming machine, relying on the onboard intel, iris xe for any graphical work. I won’t be retiring, my desktop anytime soon, but for lighter titles. The x1 nano provided a playable experience even at the display’s native resolution. The laptop’s inclusion of thunderbolt 4 also means you can use an external graphics card, whether to improve your workload or your gaming performance for a laptop that’s.
This small it’s actually pretty easy to take apart. Obviously, the majority of the laptop’s major components are unfortunately soldered onto the motherboard and thus can’t be replaced without extremely good soldering skills. I would still prefer that some of those components be easily replaceable, but it’s a trade off you have to deal with if you want such a small laptop, even with lenovo it’s not like this is a surprise either. As the x1 lineup has almost always had soldered ram and limited upgradeability for those of you who still desire a thinkpad with easy upgrades, there are plenty of other models still available that allow you to do this with that being said, almost any other component, that is Likely to fail or wear out during the laptop’s lifespan can be replaced fairly easily and like with any other thinkpad it isn’t difficult to purchase replacement parts either. The ssd battery speaker, assembly, touchpad, cooling, assembly power, button hinges and display assembly, and even the fingerprint reader can all be removed with nothing, but a small phillips head screwdriver small details make the job easier, such as the bottom cover not having those tabs that make removing It a tour and having the wireless antennas built into the laptop’s base instead of the display assembly. While i didn’t take apart the entire display assembly or the entire laptop, i wouldn’t be surprised if components like the webcam and microphone array could also be replaced if needed. Lenovo has made an excellent laptop that checks off most of the boxes.
For me, however, the design of this laptop isn’t perfect the fingerprint reader on the x1 nano is tied to the motherboard. If lenovo’s taking a page from apple’s playbook, this means you won’t be able to use it to log on if the fingerprint reader is replaced out of warranty. My larger issue mirrors the largest criticism i had about the t480 and every other newer thinkpad, with the exception of a few mobile workstation models like the p series and the x1 extreme, all current thinkpads rely on usb type c for charging. While i don’t think that the move to type c charging is a bad thing, my issue is with lenovo’s choice, to solder these ports directly to the motherboard, meaning. If the port fails, you essentially have a giant brick, even apple doesn’t, solder, those ports to the main board on its macbooks. So lenovo really has no excuse for doing this with the thunderbolt ports, not only being the only way to power the laptop, but in this case the only ports at all it’s, more important than ever for those components to be replaceable without requiring a soldering iron or A new motherboard being in college during a global pandemic has meant nearly all of my classes have been online for the last year and a half so having functional video conferencing. Software is more important than ever. Unfortunately, many people had issues on the x1 nano with zoom crashing if someone was sharing their screen, which, for me made the laptop almost completely unusable for zoom.
The issue was likely just caused by some bad drivers or the fact that this is such a new machine and after making some tweaks in the settings, i was able to fix the problem, but it was still hilarious and also annoying that my nearly old thinkpad t430 Could run zoom without any problems, but my brand new flagship, x1 nano couldn’t zoom issues ended up being the least of my problems. Only a few weeks after the laptop arrived, i finished my work one day and closed it to put it to sleep. When i opened the laptop the next day, windows had restarted after a system failure. It seemed kind of strange, but windows can be windows sometimes so i figured it was just a random anomaly after that the machine never worked properly again after being powered on for any amount of time. The system would lock up blue screen and then restart every time. I had the same error: whea underscore uncorrectable, underscore error, which sometimes means a corrupted windows file but otherwise indicates a hardware failure. I tried reinstalling windows, both with lenovo’s recovery partition and with a clean install, but the problem persisted lenovo then sent me a replacement ssd, which i put in reinstalled windows and still had the same problem. Trying to boot into any distro of linux. Just flat out did not work so without any other option, i contacted lenovo and we decided to have a technician, bring a replacement motherboard.
After a few days. The technician called and told me the part, had arrived, so he came to my place and replaced the motherboard after about 45 minutes. He was done. He ran a few diagnostic tests and also used a special lenovo program to transfer the old serial number to the new motherboard when he was performing the repair. We both noticed another issue. Several screws inside the laptop were stripped from the factory a minor complaint, but i was disappointed in some of the laptop signs of poor quality control. As of this video, i haven’t had any other issues since the technician came so it’s most likely. I just had a defective motherboard i’ll, give lenovo some credit for addressing the issue as best as they could and in a professional manner, without wasting too much of my time or blaming me for my system’s failure. Like some other companies have done. I know not. Everyone has had a positive experience with lenovo’s customer service so i’m. Happy that my experience was when i first posted that my x1 had failed. I saw many discussions about this being a sign of the declining quality of thinkpads. We all have our opinions on that matter and to an extent, i can agree, think pads aren’t what they used to be. But when a product is mass produced on such a large scale, there are bound to be a handful of defective units that make it past quality control, especially when it’s such a new device.
That being said, the lack of replaceable components on the motherboard meant even lenovo’s technicians, can’t easily figured out what part of the laptop had failed, and once these systems warranties have expired, it’s going to be increasingly difficult to keep them up and running. If anything beyond the basic components fail once the issues with my x1, nano were resolved, i must say the whole experience has been very positive. When i made my video about the t480 last year, i was more than happy to head back to using my older t430 as my daily driver, and i originally planned on just buying this laptop to make the video and then returning it or selling it to someone Else, it’s by no means a perfect laptop, but it does just enough things right that i do want to continue using it. It’S built fairly well gets excellent battery life for my needs, outperforms many of my older laptops and has one of the best displays i have ever seen on a thinkpad all in a package that’s less than two pounds, a machine like this certainly isn’t for everyone. The lack of ports is less of an issue for me because of the nature of my workload, but others might still need a laptop with legacy ports. If you like the size of the x1 nano but want a few more ports, the x13 gen 2 might be a great option: sporting a 16 by 10 display and having both intel and amd processors to choose from the 9th generation x1 carbon and the upcoming 4th Generation, x1, extreme and p1 also use 16×10 displays, so the x1 nano will not be alone anymore in the taller screen club – and i imagine in the next year or so the rest of the thinkpad lineup will follow.