Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 Laptop computer review: Snapdragon will get to work

At a look

Skilled’s Ranking

Execs

  • Wonderful battery life
  • Inflexible, durable-feeling construct high quality
  • Good matte IPS display screen with non-obligatory contact
  • 16 GB RAM normal

Cons

  • App compatibility quirks (nonetheless)
  • Efficiency trails Intel and AMD
  • Loud-but-thin-sounding audio system

Our Verdict

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13s could very nicely be an IT professional’s dream machine, however on the subject of common client laptops, it’s bought some significantly stiff competitors.

The story of Home windows on ARM is a protracted one at this level, with a variety of chapters value skipping. Whether or not it’s the primary Home windows RT units a decade in the past, some barely-supported Home windows 10-based Snapdragon 835 PCs in 2017, or sultry makes an attempt from this decade just like the Samsung Galaxy Ebook S and Floor Professional X, Microsoft has been making an attempt to make fetch occur repeatedly and once more.
 
So, it’s 2022, and it’s time for one more have a look at how Home windows 11 Professional is engaged on the newest Qualcomm laptop chip. This time, the brand new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is inside a compelling little enterprise pocket book from Lenovo, referred to as the ThinkPad X13s Gen 1. This premium ultracompact has a excessive value, however for what you pay, the kitchen sink is rightly included. You will get tons of storage, two biometric login choices, 5G web, a pleasant matte touchscreen, and extra.

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 Specs

Our review unit, which is at the moment promoting for $1,301.40, arrived with the next specs:

  • CPU: Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 (8 cores: 4 efficiency, 4 effectivity)
  • Reminiscence: 16 GB LPDDR4, as much as 32 GB configurable
  • Graphics/GPU: Adreno 690 graphics
  • Show: 13.3-inch WUXGA (1920×1200) 16:10 IPS matte touchscreen
  • Storage: 512GB M.2 2242 NVMe PCIe strong state drive
  • Webcam: 1080p with dynamic panning
  • Connectivity:  2x USB-C 3.2 Gen-2, 1x 3.5mm combo audio, 1x nano-SIM slot
  • Networking: WCN6855 Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, X55 5G mmwave WWAN M.2 card (non-obligatory M.2)
  • Biometrics: Fingerprint reader, Home windows Hiya infrared camera
  • Battery capability: 49.5Wh
  • Dimensions: 14.29 (W) x 9.36 (D) x 0.70 (H) inches
  • Weight: 2.35 kilos, 3 kilos with charger
  • Value: $1,301.40

Design and Construct High quality

Merely put, the ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 is…a ThinkPad. In a bizarre manner, the design of the X13s Gen 1 jogs my memory of one among my favourite ThinkPads, the X270. Whereas that machine had far more options, it was a compact, slab-like ultrabook that contrasted with the wedge form that different machines favor.

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

Just like the X270 earlier than it, the X13s is unashamed to be a bit boxy, with gently rounded corners and ever-so-slightly softened edges on the underside. I by no means discovered it was sharp or uncomfortable to carry or use, and its thickness of 13.4mm is constant mainly from nook to nook. The feel of the case is simply matte sufficient to lend further grippiness, with out being overly rubbery or cheesy. I didn’t discover it picked up fingerprints too readily, not less than they had been far much less seen than the smears I left on the matte touchscreen, keycaps, and trackpad.
 
If there’s one factor I can say concerning the general really feel of the X13s it’s that it’s each slim but solid-feeling. There’s little or no flex regardless of the way you maintain or use it, and I get the impression that it could possibly take a beating. Lenovo brags about this machine’s recycled magnesium chassis and I wager that has one thing to do with the ThinkPad X13s’s inflexible really feel.

Connectivity

As that is an ultraportable machine, you’d finest regulate your expectations on the subject of I/O. Moreover, as a result of that is based mostly on a Qualcomm chip as an alternative of 1 from Intel, you may neglect the all-in-one versatility of Thunderbolt since that’s solely been obtainable on X86 machines. All of this mentioned, the inclusion of two USB-C ports that run at 3.2 Gen 2 speeds is superior. These ports allow information switch speeds of as much as 10 GBps and may simply hook as much as your typical USB-C dongles for further ports, pass-through charging, show output, and ethernet.
 
On the other aspect is a SIM tray, a laptop locking slot, and a headset jack. That’s all you get! The place this laptop makes up for bodily connectivity, you’ll achieve in wi-fi. Not simply happy with placing in speedy Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1, and non-obligatory X55 5G WWAN mobile web.

Speed Test ThinkPad

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

The mobile information labored fairly nicely on the entire, however not less than the place I reside in Seattle, there’s little or no mmwave AT&T 5G obtainable, save for a patch close to the sports activities stadiums downtown. Moreover, mmwave doesn’t work indoors because it’s unable to penetrate many fashionable sorts of buildings. I’d say that until you’re a cellular skilled who works far-off from Wi-Fi, it can save you a bit of cash by not choosing the WWAN possibility field ticked.

Keyboard and trackpad

ThinkPad keyboard

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

Low-profile laptop keyboards get a variety of flak, however they’re onerous to do proper. Fortunately, the switches right here within the X13s Gen 1 really feel nice to make use of. They won’t be to the liking of the die-hard ThinkPad followers on the market, however in a tool this skinny it is a keyboard that doesn’t really feel like a punishment. Actually, it’s one I’ve come to actually get pleasure from utilizing whereas penning this review. Lenovo’s packed within the traditional assortment of useful shortcut keys for muting the microphones and disabling the webcam. I are inclined to depend on the arrow keys fairly a bit, and Lenovo has made a bit of further room to let these buttons breathe. They’re not constrained by the spacebar row, as an alternative jutting out barely to accommodate for bigger keycaps. Like different ThinkPads, the keyboard backlight is all enterprise, with two ranges of brightness.

Since it is a full-blooded ThinkPad, you’ll discover the acquainted and well-known (notorious?) TrackPoint in the midst of the keyboard. It really works fairly nicely for precision mousing, and the left/scroll/proper click on buttons under are tremendous clicky–there’s little doubt when a button is clicked. Should you’ve come to depend upon the accuracy of a TrackPoint, you received’t be dissatisfied.
 

ThinkPad touchpad

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

The trackpad can be fairly good. Regardless of its smaller footprint, there’s a plenty-big trackpad beneath the TrackPoint’s mouse buttons. It doesn’t fairly really feel just like the smoothest glass however I’d say it’s clean sufficient for precisely executing gestures and adequately delicate for on a regular basis use. Total, I recognize that you’ve got the choice of the way you’d prefer to steer the mouse round, and I discovered myself utilizing every for various duties.

Show, audio system, and webcam

You would possibly suppose a business-focused pocket book like this might have a ho-hum show, however I used to be actually shocked by the ThinkPad X13s. Not solely is it a taller 16:10 side, but it surely’s a snug decision (1920×1200), comes with a glare-cutting matte end, and non-obligatory contact enter as nicely. At 300 nits, it’s vivid sufficient for each day utilization, even when it may not be vivid sufficient to make use of in direct daylight. Whereas I wouldn’t do color-sensitive work on this laptop, to my eye, the show is vivid, constrast-y, and general good to make use of.
 
Whereas Apple’s MacBooks and up to date Dell XPS’ shock with their booming audio system, you shouldn’t anticipate unimaginable sound from the X13s. This laptop can get impressively loud, however sadly the depth of the sound is missing, particularly on the low-end. The system has Dolby branding, which comes by way of within the stereo separation of sounds, which stood out when watching the trailer for Star Trek: Picard season 3 on YouTube.

ThinkPad speaker

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

 
A part of Qualcomm’s processor bundle consists of some particular picture processing, which is put to good use. The webcam within the X13s is fairly good, given its personal little hump up atop the show. It’s a 5MP unit, which allows the Snapdragon 8mx processor to routinely punch in and monitor your face dynamically. I used to be skeptical this might work with out diminishing picture high quality however surprisingly it really works nicely. Total, this webcam carried out manner higher than others I’ve used not too long ago. It’s sharp, renders colours nicely, and lacks a variety of the fuzziness that lower-res or over-processed cams seen elsewhere.

ThinkPad webcam sample 1

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

ThinkPad webcam sample 2

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

The microphones and sound processing supplied by the Qualcomm chip are fairly good. Should you work in a loud atmosphere, you’ll be capable to rely the 3-mic system to seize your voice and never no matter’s occurring within the workplace or café. In an off-the-cuff take a look at, the mic array utterly cancelled out the clacks of a loud mechanical keyboard within the background, isolating solely my voice.

Efficiency

Home windows on ARM has at all times sounded higher on paper than it’s labored in the true world. However chip enhancements and the inclusion of 64-bit app emulation have moved the needle fairly a bit this 12 months. In Home windows 11 Professional, many apps will in all probability work, whereas prior to now solely 32-bit apps had been truthful recreation and, even then, efficiency wasn’t nice.
 
However, sadly, a variety of instruments we use as our efficiency benchmarks nonetheless aren’t suitable with Home windows 11 on ARM. After I tried to put in PCMark 10 and run these benchmarks? Properly, they ran, however didn’t full or yield a rating. Different take a look at suites didn’t set up in any respect. So, right here we’re once more, with a platform that’s perhaps higher than ever but not so good as it might or needs to be. Day-to-day efficiency largely felt good to me, however it’s too dangerous that app compatibility stays a barrier to getting work performed on Snapdragon.

So, PCMark 10 didn’t work on the X13s, regardless of a bunch of software program and firmware updates. We had been, nonetheless, capable of run the older PCMark 8 Inventive benchmark, which can not less than allow us to see the enhancements remodeled older Home windows on ARM units in multimedia duties.

To offer a way of the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3’s efficiency vs a more recent, twelfth gen Intel laptop, I additionally ran this benchmark on a model new Acer with a mobile-focused Intel Core i7-1255u chip inside. Sadly, though Qualcomm has began to shut the hole, the Core i7 nonetheless runs away with the lead.

ThinkPad PCMark

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

Qualcomm’s been touting some GPU efficiency enhancements within the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and we will see how far they’ve include the cross-platform 3DMark Evening Raid benchmark. In comparison with older ARM methods, this chip completely leaves the Qualcomm-designed SQ1 from 2019 within the mud, virtually doubling its efficiency. That mentioned, as a lot as Qualcomm’s improved over time, Intel’s not standing nonetheless and its Iris Xe graphics rating greater but.

ThinkPad 3DMark

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

 
Net rendering pace is necessary, and that’s why we’ve put previous ARM laptops by way of this take a look at. Microsoft has spent a variety of assets getting its Edge browser aggressive and we will see that the work on the ARM model has paid off because of the quicker Snapdragon chip.
 
For the sake of comparability, I ran this take a look at in Microsoft Edge on an Apple M1 Mac Mini with comparable specs. Whereas the ThinkPad is fanless, each chips have 16GB RAM at their disposal and an eight core design. In both take a look at, the brand new Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is trounced by the 2-year-old Apple M1 regardless of how you chop it. It’s additionally handily embarrassed by the mid-range twelfth gen Intel Core i7 within the Acer Aspire.

Battery life

If there’s been any saving grace for the entire Home windows on ARM undertaking, it’s battery life. Though previous machines like Microsoft’s Floor Professional X dissatisfied, others had an apparent edge. The ThinkPad X13s Gen 1, with its 49.5Wh battery, lastly delivers spectacular efficiency in regular duties and, relying on how you’re employed, could even depart you with time to spare.

In our normal 4k video rundown take a look at, the X13s racked up a rating of 773 minutes–virtually 13 hours constantly looping a high-res video file. This can be a unbelievable exhibiting for crew Snapdragon.

ThinkPad battery

IDG / Brendan Nystedt

Conclusion

Whereas the ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 nonetheless might use some software program enhancements, that is the very best Home windows on ARM has ever been. That is likely to be damning this Lenovo with faint reward, however a decade on this lastly will get us nearer than ever to Actual Home windows Laptop computer efficiency in a tiny, power-sipping, fashionable bundle. It helps enormously that the design and product engineering are worthy of the ThinkPad title, making it a pleasant gadget to make use of and carry.
 
For IT execs, if there’s a highway warrior in your C-suite, this diminutive ThinkPad is likely to be precisely what they’ve been dreaming of whereas snoozing in enterprise class. Taken by itself, there isn’t one other enterprise machine that may provide what the X13s can–simply make sure that all of your mission-critical software program runs on it earlier than issuing it to the crew.

For people, this machine makes rather a lot much less sense. There are individuals on the market who would love a long-lasting machine that’s skinny and has 5G built-in, however the competitors is fairly stiff. Proper now, there are a ton of highly effective Intel and AMD-based machines which are aggressive, fashionable, and with adequate battery life. Sadly, the ThinkPad X13s falls a bit of behind the competitors.

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