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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet review: Smart design makes up for performance shortcomings

Mark Hachman | May 18, 2016
Lenovo's ThinkPad line has a proud history of great design, which continues with this new convertible tablet.

As PCWorld has done in other convertible reviews, I focused on the most common productivity benchmark, then stressed the CPU with encoding tests. Finally, though it’s doubtful you’ll use a convertible tablet for graphics-intensive tasks, I compared the ThinkPad X1 Tablet with its competition using the popular 3DMark benchmark. I also included a couple of notebooks for comparison’s sake.

HP elite x2 performance pcmark work
(Click for larger image).

As expected, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet performs general productivity tasks easily. Earlier tablets, such as the Surface 3, suffered a bit due to slower CPUs and 2GB memory. But the ThinkPad X1 Tablet's Core m5 chip is competent, and the 8GB memory allows you to open multiple browser tabs at any one time.

The CPU stress tests consist of Cinebench and Handbrake. Cinebench pushes all of a CPU's cores to the limit in an attempt to render a photorealistic scene as quickly as possible. Handbrake does the same, but by transcoding a video stream. 

HP elite x2 review cinebench
(Click for larger image).

In both, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet struggles a bit.

HP elite x2 review handbrake encode
(Click for larger image).

HP elite x2 review handbrake encode
(Click for larger image).

HP elite x2 review battery life
(Click for larger image).

Finally, I tested the tablet using the FutureMark 3DMark suite. You shouldn’t really even consider running an intensive 3D game on the X1, but it can chew through some basic 3D tasks.

HP elite x2 review 3dmark cloud gate
(Click for larger image).

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet features a 37.740WHr battery, on par with the Elite x2's but slightly smaller than the 39.5WHr battery inside the Samsung Galaxy TabPro S. I test battery life using a looped HD video, playing until the battery finally gives out. Here, the ThinkPad X1 Tablet performed slightly below average—still, at 7 hours, 20 minutes, it delivers pretty close to an all-work-day computing experience. 

HP elite x2 review battery life
(Click for larger image).

If you’re the type of person who focuses mainly on benchmarks, you might be better off buying a competing convertible tablet. I still rate the ThinkPad X1 Tablet highly, though, since its performance ranks in the “good enough” category for many applications. Conveniences like the kickstand and the pen loop give the ThinkPad X1 Tablet an edge and make it competitive among the ranks of the best convertible tablets.

 

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