Skip to main content

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2nd Gen) review: A capable 2-in-1 for ThinkPad lovers

The new ThinkPad X1 Tablet has a lot going for it and will no doubt appeal to a lot of business-oriented folks who don't need a full-sized ThinkPad. There are, however, a few things you might dislike. Here's a good look at the X1 Tablet to help you decide whether or not it's for you.

About this review

Lenovo loaned Windows Central a review unit of the second-generation ThinkPad X1 Tablet. This specific configuration has an Intel Core i5-7Y57 vPro processor, 8GB of DDR3 RAM, and a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD). This exact configuration costs about $1,719.

See at Lenovo

A former cubicle jockey's awkward ode to the ThinkPad

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet hardware and specifications

Lenovo has a decent amount of configuration options for this 2-in-1, including vPro processors, SATA and PCIe SSDs, and LTE-A connectivity.

Here is a full list of the tech specs available.

CategoryXX
ProcessorIntel Core i5-7Y54 (up to 3.2GHz)
Intel Core i5-7Y57 vPro (up to 3.3GHz)
Intel Core i7-7Y75 vPro (up to 3.6GHz)
Dual-core
Storage128GB SATA III SSD
256GB PCIe-NVMe SSD
512GB PCIe-NVMe SSD
RAM8GB/16GB LPDDR3-1866MHz SDRAM
Display12-inch FHD+ (2160 x 1440) IPS, touch, glossy
GraphicsIntel HD Graphics 615
PortsUSB-C 3.1 (Power Delivery)
USB-A 3.1
Mini DisplayPort
microSD card reader
Nano-SIM (optional)
3.5mm jack
Kensington lock slot
AudioDual stereo speakers
WirelessIntel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1
WWANQualcomm Snapdragon X7 LTE-A (optional)
CameraFront-facing 2MP
Rear-facing 8MP
KeyboardMagnetic attachable ThinkPad keyboard
TouchpadPrecision touchpad
TrackPoint and physical buttons
PenThinkPad Pen Pro (optional)
BiometricsFingerprint reader (optional)
SecurityTPM 2.0 for enterprise security
vPro technology
BatteryTwo-cell 37WHr
Weight1.69 lbs (0.76 kg), tablet only
2.35 lbs (1.07 kg), tablet and keyboard
DimensionsTablet only:
11.47 inches x 8.25 inches x 0.34 inches
291.5 mm x 209.5 mm x 8.45 mm
Tablet and keyboard:
11.47 inches x 8.25 inches x 0.55 inches
291.5 mm x 209.5 mm x 13.85 mm
OSWindows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
ColorBlack
PriceStarting at $1,449

The good stuff

What you'll like about the ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Lenovo has taken the essential parts of a ThinkPad and distilled them into a 2-in-1 device with an included detachable keyboard. The magnesium and fiber chassis and keyboard have the usual matte black color with a bit of sparkle, and they have the usual soft-touch finish. The tablet has a bit of flex to it but seems to hold up to a fair amount of abuse — you won't be scared to pop it in your bag — and has MIL-STD-810G military durability certification to back this up.

On the tablet are physical power and volume buttons for quick access without the keyboard attached, and a fingerprint reader in the bezel allows for speedy Windows Hello sign-ins. At the top of the display is a front-facing, two-megapixel webcam, and on the back of the chassis is an eight-megapixel camera.

The ports on the left and right edges are spaced well and won't cause congestion when you're working with multiple peripherals. On the left side is a Kensington lock slot and a 3.5mm jack, and right-side ports include Mini DisplayPort, USB-C 3.1, and USB-A 3.1. This is a nice blend of ports for using your current and legacy devices, but the lack of Thunderbolt 3 is also something that a lot of people criticized the original X1 Tablet for. As for the Nano-SIM and microSD card slots, they're tucked away under the kickstand.

Detachable keyboard is ThinkPad through and through

Fans of ThinkPad keyboards will love the keyboard. Despite its compact size, key spacing is about the same as larger laptops (although keys are marginally smaller), key travel is comfortable, and the cupped keys hold your fingers nicely. There are two levels of backlighting, and you have volume, brightness, and snipping tool keys among other handy shortcuts.

The trusty TrackPoint and physical buttons are also here, and they are a nice addition for long-time ThinkPad users. If you aren't one for the little red nub, a mylar Precision touchpad sits just below the spacebar. It suffers from the enthusiastic sensitivity most other ThinkPads also suffer from out of the box, but a few tweaks in the settings calmed it down.

The keyboard has a magnetic attachment that easily connects to the tablet. While typing, you'll want to release the kickstand, which is hinged along the bottom of the tablet. Because the kickstand deploys from the bottom, it lays out flat and remains stable in your lap. It's far more stable than kickstands that are hinged in the middle of the device, like that of the Surface Pro. The keyboard is actually quite rigid, as well, providing an overall superior typing experience while in your lap.

Many business-oriented folks will love the modules (sold separately) that can be attached where the keyboard attaches. The presenter module has a Pico projector, HDMI port, and 10WHr battery, and the productivity module has USB-A 3.0, HDMI, OneLink+, and a 24WHr battery. And the keyboard can still be attached when using the modules.

This ThinkPad display is bright and inking is satisfying

The 12-inch display with a 2K resolution and IPS panel is bright enough (360 nits) to use outdoors and has great color. In testing, it hit 96 percent sRGB and 73 percent Adobe RGB, which are both respectable results. I saw no problems with contrast, and everything was crisp and clear.

The capacitive panel has multi-finger gesture support, and the included ThinkPad Pen Pro provides a satisfying inking experience. The pen has 2,048 levels of pressure and two side buttons you can set to work with certain apps, and its low latency feels almost like you're using a real pen and paper. It has a clip near the top but does not have an eraser, something you might be used to if you're a Surface Pen user.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet performance

Again, this configuration of the ThinkPad X1 Tablet came with an Intel Core i5-7Y57 vPro processor, 8GB of LPDDR3-1866MHz SDRAM, and a 256GB Samsung PM961 PCIe-NVMe SSD.

I used this tablet as my primary device for about a week and a half and was generally happy with its performance.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2nd Gen)i5-7Y57 vPro3,9657,259
Surface Pro 2017i7-7660U4,5139,346
Surface Laptopi5-7200U3,7257,523
Lenovo ThinkPad T470i5-7300U vPro4,3948,580
Dell Latitude 5285i7-7600U4,6359,289
Lenovo ThinkPad X270i7-7600U4,5128,566
Lenovo ThinkPad T470si5-7300U vPro3,9196,077
Lenovo Yoga 720i5-7200U3,8817,509
Lenovo X1 Carboni5-7300U4,1398,311
HP EliteBook x360 G2i7-7600U4,4968,435
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Exti7-7500U4,3168,320
Dell Latitude 7280i7-7600U4,3817,935
Dell XPS 13 (9360)i7-6560U4,1207,829
HP Spectre 13i7-7500U4,1007,469
Surface Booki7-6600U3,9487,415

The processor in the X1 Tablet is a real performer, surpassing some other Core i5 models we've tested. For business purposes, say word processing, heavy web browsing, and a bit of multimedia editing, you shouldn't have a problem. Keep in mind this is a fanless processor, so you won't be hearing anything kick on when the going gets tough.

GPU

Geekbench 4.0 Graphics OpenCL (Higher is better)

DeviceScore
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2nd Gen)17,454
Surface Pro 201730,678
Surface Laptop19,256
Lenovo ThinkPad T47021,276
Dell Latitude 528521,921
Lenovo ThinkPad X27017,376
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s16,635
Lenovo Yoga 72018,185
Lenovo X1 Carbon20,932
Dell Latitude 548021,616
Dell XPS 13 (9360)19,410
Surface Book18,197
Dell Latitude 728017,827

Graphics in the X1 Tablet are handled by integrated Intel HD Graphics 615. You won't be playing any intensive video games here, but you can get away with some favorites, like Minecraft, at max settings without a problem. Overall, the X1 Tablet keeps up with a lot of other laptops we've reviewed.

PCMark

PCMark Home Conventional 3.0

DeviceScoreComparison
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2nd Gen)2,461Better than 40 percent of all results
Surface Pro 20173,055Better than 57 percent of all results
Surface Laptop2,494Better than 40 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad T4703,103Better than 62 percent of all results
Dell Latitude 52853,079Better than 57 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad X2703,009Better than 57 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s2,576Better than 40 percent of all results
Lenovo Yoga 7202,717Better than 46 percent of all results
Lenovo X1 Carbon Core i52,965Better than 57 percent of all results
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext2,998Better than 57 percent of all results
Dell XPS 15 (9560)3,534Better than 71 percent of all results
Dell Latitude 72802,829Better than 52 percent of all results
HP Spectre x360 152,472Better than 41 percent of all results

The PCMark Home Conventional test measures how well a bunch of your system components work together in a variety of everyday tasks. This ThinkPad X1 Tablet didn't put up outstanding results, and you'd no doubt want to opt for the Core i7 configuration with 16GB of RAM if you want to perform any specialized tasks. Still, I didn't notice any standout issues in general daily use.

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

DeviceReadWrite
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet (2nd Gen)1,353 MB/s1,275 MB/s
Surface Pro 20171,285 MB/s963 MB/s
Surface Laptop423 MB/s237 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T4701,079 MB/s716.1 MB/s
Dell Latitude 52851,300 MB/s1,113 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X270 PCIe1,049 MB/s636.9 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s1,557 MB/s1,333 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 7201,904 MB/s1,169 MB/s
Lenovo X1 Carbon1,518 MB/s1,188 MB/s
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext1,365 MB/s1,213 MB/s
Dell Latitude 5480 SATA443 MB/s469 MB/s
Razer Blade Pro2,571 MB/s2,467 MB/s
Dell XPS 15 (9560)2,207 MB/s1,628 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (9360)1,287 MB/s794 MB/s
HP Spectre x360 151,128 MB/s862 MB/s
Surface Book1,018 MB/s967 MB/s

The Samsung PM961 SSD keeps up with all the other hardware here, providing snappy read and write speeds that were better than a lot of other laptops we've tested. You shouldn't have any problems, as long as you get this type of SSD. There is a bit of a shortage on the market, so you aren't guaranteed one.

The bad stuff

What you'll dislike about the ThinkPad X1 Tablet

Many of the things you might dislike about the ThinkPad X1 Tablet are part of a feature you probably will like depending on what you use the tablet for.

The kickstand is more suited to your lap

The kickstand offers plenty of stability in your lap, but when using it on a flat surface, there's a limited range of motion before it wants to suck up into the back of the tablet. For typing, you'll be fine, but for drawing with a pen, you're looking at a maximum 45-degree angle before it falls flat on the table. That's unfortunate.

The kickstand's design creates a few seams along the back, and the module dock cover adds to those seams. In order to attach a module, you must remove a slim piece of plastic and set it aside somewhere safe. The modules are an ingenious addition for anyone who gives a lot of presentations, but the setup just seems a little awkward. I'd say forego the modules completely, but you'll need one if you want a long battery life.

Speakers and battery are lacking

Without adding a module to the bottom of the X1 Tablet, you're looking at about five or six hours of regular use with brightness at 60 percent. That isn't exactly optimal, especially if you're in the field or on the road and don't have access to an outlet.

There is a speaker on each side of the X1 Tablet, and they do a pretty poor job of pumping out the sound. Music is hollow, and at high levels, there's a bit of distortion. This isn't an entertainment center, however, so that shouldn't be a big deal.

ThinkPad Pen Pro was tacked on

Instead of the Pen Pro being an integral part of the 2-in-1 experience, it seems more like an afterthought. A clip that the pen fits into is designed to slip into the USB-A slot. If you're charging, it promptly gets in the way. There's also a pull tab on the keyboard that can hold the pen, but it's unclear if that's its original purpose. The pen works well, but you'll likely end up carrying it separately than the tablet.

What it all means

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet review: Conclusion

Lenovo's goal was to take what we love about the ThinkPad line and distill it into a 2-in-1 device. Overall, the company succeeded — the ThinkPad keyboard, the durable matte-black chassis, and the business-oriented configurations are all here — but there are still some nagging issues.

Without a module tacked onto the bottom, you're unlikely to get a full day of use out of the internal battery, and the kickstand is more geared toward typing than inking with a pen.

The display is vibrant and has fantastic color, and the modules, despite what it takes to attach them, are a great addition for anyone giving a presentation or who needs more ports on their tablet.

Bottom line? If you aren't a diehard ThinkPad fan, there are other 2-in-1 alternatives that are hard to pass up. Love ThinkPad and need something portable? The ThinkPad X1 Tablet is your No. 1 option.

See at Lenovo

Pros:

  • Kickstand is stable in your lap.
  • Attachable keyboard is classic ThinkPad design.
  • Attachable modules add options.
  • Decent overall performance.
  • Bright, colorful touch display.

Cons:

  • Speakers almost aren't worth using.
  • Kickstand design isn't optimal for inking.
  • Pen seems like an afterthought.
  • Stock battery won't get you through a workday.
Cale Hunt
Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

10 Comments
  • Like the Surface Pro and many other 2-in-1s, it falls in a "nowhere" category for me.  Too big for a tablet, too small for a laptop.  I can't stand holding a tablet bigger than 10-11" and for long term work I can't use a monitor smaller then 15".  I like the 2-in-1 idea for tablets, with Windows mostly as a keyboard always comes in handy with Windows. Make powerful 10" 2-in-1s.  Most 10" things only have an Atom CPU, not nearly good enough. My current compromise is an 11" Yoga 710 with Core m5 CPU.
  • I prefer foldable 2-in-1 solutions as the compromise. Things like the HP Spectre x360 and Lenovo X1 Yoga. The X1 Yoga is 14" and a pretty reasonable 3 pounds. Definitely big for handheld tablet use, but great on the lap in either laptop or tablet mode, and importantly for me, it excels as a laptop first and foremost.
  • The last good X series is the X230.
  • Dunno about that, I love my 2017 X1 Carbon, with about the only gripe I can levy about it being the backwards Ctrl and Fn key placement. I'm surprised this X1 Tablet's USB-C port isn't TB3, since that means it can't be used with Lenovo's new TB3 dock, huh?
  • I was talking about build quality. I think they lowered the quality standard since the x230. I don't know about the new x270 and new x1 and I hope I'm wrong.
  • Way too expensive. Even the New Surface Pro i5 is cheaper.
  • This does come with the keyboard and pen, but yeah this has that ultra premium Thinkpad pricing. I wonder if the primary buyers of these will be companies who would otherwise just outfit their employees with Thinkpad laptops; maybe this is just an option too satisfy the Surface fans among them.
  • Hopefully this iteration of the X1 tablet has fewer hardware issues. The first go around had camera hardware problems that required depot repair. This showed up in multiple units and we finally disabled the camera in bios as the factory returned more than one with the problem still existing.
    Otherwise enjoy using the device.
  •  those model comparisons  should really be broken out separately by processor. Since only the i5 was treated, it should only be compared to pretty models with an i5
  • Well I am now on my second X1 tablet device, the current being the i7 with 16gb RAM and 512Gb SSD, the unit I have now is a replacement 2nd Gen device for my faulty 1st Gen device,
    From my experience there are NO improvements in the 2nd GEN device
    - Windows still crashes occasionally (BSOD)
    - Battery life is shocking - 4-5 hours
    - Keyboard when in its raised position means that the device slides around on the desk
    - Kickstand, whilst good on the lap, is not suited to writing on the screen whilst using the keyboard as the device sinks lower and lower
    I also have a ThinkPad wireless dock, this is a great idea in principle but even when this is next to the device it complains that there is connectivity issues but you van walk 10 feet away and its still connected. Worst still the tablet takes to randomly disconnecting then reconnecting to the device, sometimes a reboot is required. We use Lenovo across the board at our company, however, these X1 tablets have completely compromised our view of Lenovo. We might look to move to Surface Laptop and Surface Pro from now on.