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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019) Review

The first metal ThinkPad is a huge success

editors-choice
(Image: © Laptop Mag)

Our Verdict

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a brilliant business laptop that offers a sleek, flexible chassis, a gorgeous 1080p display and long battery life.

For

  • Bright, vivid 1080p display
  • Slim, durable aluminum chassis
  • Best-in-class keyboard
  • Long battery life
  • Stylus slot and webcam cover

Against

  • Not available in carbon fiber
  • No SD card reader
  • Last-gen CPU

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Yoga proves that ThinkPads don't need carbon fiber to compete. Made from CNC aluminum, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga's chassis is now thinner and lighter yet just as durable as ever. Combine that sleek frame with a gorgeous 1080p display, a best-in-class keyboard and all-day battery life, and the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is easily one of the best business laptops around. 

That said, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga doesn't have an SD card slot and it's considerably heavier than its clamshell counterpart, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. You also might want to wait for Lenovo to update the 4th-Gen model with 10th-Gen CPUs. Despite these shortcomings, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is one of the best laptops — for business users or anyone else. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga price and configuration options

The base model ThinkPad X1 Yoga we reviewed costs $1,367 and comes with a 1080p display, a Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD. If you need more power, you can spend $1,565 to upgrade to a Core i7-8565U CPU.  

Lenovo offers multiple display options on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. For $1,733, you can upgrade to a model with a WQHD display (2560 x 1440 resolution, 280 nits), a Core i5-8265U CPU, 16GB of RAM and 512GB. 

MORE: Laptop Configuration Guide - Here Are The Specs That Matter Most

Content creators who need the sharpest display should consider the 4K model, which costs $2,285 when configured with an Intel Core i7-8665U, 16GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga design

Now clad in aluminum instead of the traditional carbon fiber, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga stands out among its ThinkPad peers like an athlete wearing the wrong uniform. It's, at least, a handsome uniform. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Don't get me wrong, my preference lies with the svelte, soft-touch carbon fiber material found on last year's model (and every other ThinkPad) but this metal version is a nice, if unnecessary, change of pace.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Apart from its aluminum and magnesium materials, the biggest difference between the X1 Yoga and other ThinkPads is that the new model comes in Iron Gray, not the usual matte-black. Color swap aside, you can still tell the ThinkPad X1 Yoga belongs to Lenovo's lineup of storied business laptops.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The first giveaways are the red-illuminated letter "i" and ThinkPad branding on the lid. Open the lid and you'll find another ThinkPad logo on the deck along with three discrete buttons and a rubber pointing stick accented in red. 

The attention to detail in the X1 Yoga's chassis is superb. The lid extends past the deck so it's easy to lift, and a stylus slot is built into the side of the laptop. It's these sorts of conveniences you can't live without once you've used them. 

MORE: Best Lenovo Laptops

I appreciate Lenovo going all-out on the new aluminum design but I still wish a black carbon- fiber model was available for ThinkPad purists. The X1 Yoga also has relatively thick top and bottom bezels, and is, therefore, not the most compact or lightweight 14-inch laptop.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

At 12 x 8.5 x 0.6 inches and 3 pounds, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is much heavier than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (12.7 x 8.6 x 0.6 inches, 2.4 pounds) but thinner and lighter than the 13-inch Lenovo ThinkPad L390 Yoga (12.7 x 8.8 0.7 inches, 3.3 pounds).

As a convertible 2-in-1, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga can transform into a tablet or be positioned in tent mode for video viewing. The laptop's two hinges are stiff and rotate smoothly, but the 14-inch X1 Yoga makes for one unwieldy tablet and the keyboard keys don't retract like they did on previous models. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga ports

For such a thin laptop, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga offers a wide range of ports. On the right side of the laptop, next to the pen garage, is a USB 3.1 Type-A port and a Kensington lock. 

Flip the laptop around and you'll find two Thunderbolt 3 inputs, a network extension port for Ethernet and docking, a second USB 3.1 input, an HDMI 1.4 connection and a headphone/mic combo jack.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga durability and security

Aluminum or carbon fiber, it doesn't matter; all ThinkPads, including the X1 Yoga, come with the reassurance of military-grade durability. More specifically, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga passed 12 MIL-STD 810G tests, which means it can withstand extreme conditions, from high temperatures to sand and dust exposure to mechanical shock. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Protecting the ThinkPad X1 Yoga from the inside is a dTPM 2.0, a microchip that provides hardware-based security by protecting unencrypted passwords. Speaking of passwords, you can skip them altogether and log in to the ThinkPad X1 Yoga using a fingerprint sensor via Windows Hello. Or you can configure the ThinkPad X1 Yoga with an IR camera if you prefer facial recognition login. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga display

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga's 14-inch, 1080p touch screen is extremely bright and plenty vivid. 

The iconic red sweater Tom Hanks wears in his portrayal of Fred Rogers in a trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was more saturated and true to life than what television cameras could capture at the time Mister Rogers' Neighborhood aired. The scene also did a good job of bringing out the aqua tones in Rhys Matthew's pale-blue eyes. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

You don't need the optional 4K panel to see fine details in the videos you're watching; The X1 Yoga's 1080p panel was so sharp that I could read distant ads lining the roof of a New York City train car in the movie trailer.

According to our colorimeter, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga's display covers 106% of the sRGB color gamut, making it pretty vivid but not quite as colorful as the panels on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (109%), the ThinkPad L390 Yoga (116%) and the category average (125%). 

MORE: Laptops with the Best Display Brightness

Those colors pop thanks to the X1 Yoga's excellent 402 nits of peak brightness. The panels on the ThinkPad L390 (261 nits), the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (336 nits) and the premium laptop average (361 nits) are dimmer. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga audio

The quad speakers — dual top-firing tweeners and dual down-firing woofers —- on the X1 Yoga sound decent and are loud enough to fill a medium-size room. Drums beat with a hearty thud in Foxing's song "Slapstick" and Conor Murphy's vocals sounded fairly crisp. Treble tones created by the clashing of cymbals, however, were shrill. Phoebe Bridger's "Motion Sickness" sounded similarly clear but lacked depth. 

You can use the Dolby Atmos app to choose between three sound profiles: detailed, balanced warm. I preferred the balanced option over the other two options, even though it didn't tone down the sharp treble. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga keyboard, touchpad, pointing stick and stylus

Lenovo can tinker with the ThinkPad design all it wants, so long as it doesn't lay a finger on the keyboard. The X1 Yoga's stellar keyboard is another reminder of how much better ThinkPad keyboards are than those on other ultraportable laptops. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Why do I have such a crush on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga's keyboard? Its curved keys conform to your fingers, there is a surprising amount of key travel, and just the right amount of resistance rewards you with a hardy click when you press down on them.  The keys are properly spaced and there is an Fn lock for quickly enabling/disabling the hotkeys. 

Although the X1 Yoga comes close, no keyboard is perfect. Lenovo puts the Ctrl key to the left of the Fn key, a layout no one on our team likes. We've been telling Lenovo this for ages, but the company prefers the opposite arrangement for whatever reason. Also, the Thinkpad X1 Yoga's arrow keys are a bit undersize. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The X1 Yoga's Precision touchpad kept up with my swipes and taps as I navigated web pages and executed Windows 10 gestures, like pinch-to-zoom and two-finger scroll. That said, the 3.9 x 2.2-inch surface is a bit cramped and the left- and right-click buttons are mushy.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The small but vocal group that prefers using a rubber nub instead of a touchpad to control the cursor will be happy to see a red pointing stick nestled in the center of the X1 Yoga's keyboard. I don't use it myself but I understand the appeal of operating the cursor (with discrete left- and right-click buttons) without moving your fingers off the home row keys. It helps that the pointing stick on the X1 Yoga is as good as any.  

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Housed securely in a slot on the right side of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a Thinkpad Pen Pro stylus. The stylus has 2,048 levels of pressure, which is why it had no problems keeping up with my erratic swipes when I scribbled some words in Paint 3D.  I had fun using the fountain pen option to get line variation, although I wish the Pen Pro had a smaller tip. 

MORE: Best 2-in-1 Laptops: Best Tablet Laptops - Laptop Mag

When you're done using the stylus you can slide it back into the X1 Yoga's pen garage, where it charges. Lenovo says just 15 seconds of charging gets you 1 hour and 40 minutes of usage.  

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga performance

Equipped with an Intel Core i5-8265U CPU and 8GB of RAM, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga didn't have any problems loading 15 Google Chrome web pages. I checked the weather forecast, watched Twitch streamers play Fortnite and read ESPN without running into any problems. There was a momentary delay before pages fully loaded when I switched to them, but that didn't bother me much because four 1080p videos had been playing in the background. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

If you're thinking about buying the X1 Yoga, you might want to hold off. Lenovo's website shows newer models with Intel's 10th Gen Comet Lake processors as "coming soon." We reached out to our Lenovo contact to see exactly when they'll go on sale and we will update this review when we hear back. While these models with 10th-Gen CPUs cost a bit more, they should provide a significant performance boost over 8th-Gen CPU versions. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Despite packing an older 8th-Gen CPU, our review unit performed well on benchmark tests. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga scored a 15,002 on the Geekbench 4.1 overall performance test, which tops the ThinkPad L390 Yoga (12,404, Core i5-8265U) and the category average (14,285) but falls just short of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (15,649, Core i5-8265U). 

We saw similar results on our video-transfer test. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga took 19 minutes and 7 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p resolution. Its clamshell sibling, the X1 Carbon (16:52), completed the task quicker, while the Thinkpad L390 Yoga (20:47) and the average premium laptop (22:15) were outpaced by the X1 Yoga. 

MORE: Best Hard Drive Speed

The 256GB M.2 NVMe PCIe Opal SSD inside the ThinkPad X1 Yoga took 12 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of multimedia files, which equates to a transfer rate of 424.1 megabytes per second. That unsurprisingly matches the pace of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon's 256GB SSD but it can't keep up with the ThinkPad L390 Yoga's 256GB SSD (509 Mbps) or the category average (528 MBps).  

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga graphics

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga's integrated Intel UHD 620 GPU isn't meant for gaming but it can still run apps and load graphics-heavy web pages. The convertible laptop scored a 80,170 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, landing between the ThinkPad L390 Yoga (72,006, UHD 620) and the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (81,350, UHD 620). None of these ThinkPads met the category average (93,725). 

MORE: Laptop GPU Comparison - Discrete Graphics Cards vs. Intel HD

Dirt 3 played at 31 frames per second on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. That matches the X1 Carbon's result and narrowly passes our 30-fps playability threshold. You're better off playing the racing game on the ThinkPad L390 Yoga (49 fps) or the average premium laptop (59 fps). 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga battery life

The 1080p ThinkPad X1 Yoga has some serious endurance. With a runtime of 10 hours and 18 minutes on our battery test (which involves continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits), the X1 Yoga outlasted the ThinkPad X1 Carbon (9:30), the ThinkPad L390 Yoga (8:14) and the category average (8:19).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga webcam

The 720p webcam above the X1 Yoga's display captures decent images. You'll still want an external webcam for the best photo and video quality but the X1 Yoga will do in a pinch. A selfie I snapped in our dimly lit office looked grainy, although there was enough detail for me to see individual strands of hair in my beard. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

Colors were also pretty good; My sweater was an accurate shade of blue and the plant leaves behind me were the correct tone of green.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga heat

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga hardly broke a sweat in our heat test. After playing a 15-minute, 1080p video, the bottom of the laptop reached but never passed our 95-degree Fahrenheit comfort threshold. Other areas of the laptop, including the center of the keyboard (90 degrees) and the touchpad (80 degrees), stayed well below that mark. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga software and warranty

Lenovo is good about packaging its software into a single, unobtrusive app. That app, called Vantage, is a one-stop-shop where you can install the latest system updates, check your warranty, find support help, get important device information and change power settings, among other things. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen, 2019)

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The other Lenovo-branded app pre-installed on the X1 Yoga, Pen Settings, lets you assign tasks to the ThinkPad Pen Pro's buttons. You can also change the tip sensitivity and check on the stylus' battery life. 

There's very little bloatware pre-installed on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. Yes, Microsoft brings a few useful apps (Your Phone, Office and Paint 3D) and other less useful ones (Solitaire Collection, Xbox One SmartGlass) to Windows 10 Pro, but it's a lighter touch than what we're used to seeing. 

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga comes with a one-year limited warranty. See how Lenovo fared on our Best and Worst Brands and Tech Support Showdown special reports. 

Bottom line

I would love to own the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It has everything I want in a laptop. The laptop's new aluminum chassis is sleek and durable, its 1080p display is gorgeous, performance is great and the battery lasts all day on a charge. On top of that, the X1 Yoga offers conveniences not offered by competitors, including a fingerprint sensor, a webcam cover, a stylus garage and an optional IR camera. 

And yet, there are a few things keeping me from wholeheartedly recommending the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. If you can wait, Lenovo will soon update this 4th-Gen model with Intel's new 10th-Gen chips. Also, if you don't need a 2-in-1, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is essentially a clamshell version of the X1 Yoga but with a lighter chassis (and slightly worse battery life). If you want a convertible but don't need a business laptop, Dell's XPS 13 2-in-1 lasts even longer on a charge than the X1 Yoga and benefits from the new 10th-Gen (Ice Lake) chips. 

We wouldn't blame you for ignoring these caveats because the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is hands down one of the best business laptops around.