Sixteen years ago, Lenovo took over the ThinkPad when they bought IBM’s personal computer business, and they’ve done some nice things with that brand since then.
The current inventory is far from what IBM was making, being significantly lighter, more powerful and with substantially better battery life.
They’ve retained a few signature features that go back to the very first 700 series ThinkPad’s made in 1992, and they’re traditionally Intel-powered.
With each new generation of hardware, Lenovo has the option to ape its previous designs, loved by many corporate customers, or do something different.
Is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga Gen 1 more of the same, or a bit of a gamble?
Price and availability
Lenovo has two standard SKUs of this machine, one at £1,669.99 and the other £1,859.99 inclusive of VAT. The cheaper model has a Core i5-1130G7 processor, and the more expensive option, reviewed here, uses a Core i5 1140G7 CPU.
The hardware customisation options are limited to storage, with a maximum of 1TB PCIe SSD available.
American customers get two slightly different SKUs priced at $1,781.40 and $1,860.60, respectively. These have less RAM (8GB, not 16GB) than their European brothers, and they come with the Lenovo Precision Pen. The pen costs an additional £39.99 in Europe.
Apple can be blamed for many things, but the popularity of thin high-performance laptops is one they should get some credit for.
The X1 Titanium Yoga Gen 1 is very evidently inspired by the MacBook, and its elegant exterior has many subtle nods to popular Cupertino designs.
That said, the outside of this system feels plastic, even if some of the panels are aluminium.
How thin these external skins are is a choice that Lenovo designers made to reduce weight but to the detriment of durability.
This being a Yoga design, the screen can translate through nearly 360 degrees, allowing the system to work as both a tablet and in ‘tent’ mode if needed.
One impact of that option is that cooling vents on the underside would be obstructed in tablet mode, leaving designers with only the spine of the lower chassis option to place those exhaust vents.
And, with the spine now fully utilised with vents, only the sides remain available for ports.
Somewhere in the design of this machine, that limitation was brushed aside, as the X1 Titanium Yoga was given very few ports.
On the right is the power button, a security lock slot and a 3.5mm headphone jack, and on the left are two USB-C ports, one of them designated for charging.
Anyone with any form of USB-A peripherals like external storage, or a mouse, will need a USB-C hub or docking station.
The exact reason for the lack of a USB-A port is most likely that at just 7.5mm thick, and as a USB Type-A receptacle is 4.5mm, the edge around that would be too thin out of these materials to survive much use.
Considering the high cost of this product, a simple USB-C to USB-A adapter should have been included.
Opening the lid reveals a 13.5-inch screen with a 3:2 ratio and relatively narrow borders on the sides. Having little border space can be an issue with touch controls, but it appears to be calibrated by default to make this less of a problem.
The keyboard has large, well-spaced keys and the signature red ‘nipple’ control for those that don’t find using one gives them finger joint pain. There isn’t room for a numeric pad, unsurprisingly, but the function keys are less than half the size of standard keytops, for no apparent good reason.
Another head-scratching choice is that the fingerprint sensor is placed above the keyboard in a place most users would expect the power button, and not below it.
For anyone with keyboard experience, input is easily on this device unless you use the function keys excessively.
Less wonderful is the trackpad, which has the mouse emulating buttons at the top. Its sensitivity is fine, but dragging a file or icon requires both hands to achieve reliably.
Here is the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga Gen 1 configuration sent to TechRadar for review:
CPU: Intel Core i5-1140G7
Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics
RAM: 16GB DDR4 RAM
Screen: 13.5" 2K (2256x1504) IPS 450 nits
Storage: Toshiba BG4 KBG40ZNT512G M.2 480GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Ports: 2 x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C (compatible with USB 3.2 Type-A Gen 2), 1 x universal audio jack
Connectivity: Intel AX201 11AX Wi-Fi 6 (2x2) and Bluetooth 5 vPro
Camera: 1x IR & 720p HD Camera with Microphone
Security: Fingerprint Reader, Windows Hello via IR camera, dTPM 2.0 Chip, Human presence detection
Weight: 1.15 kg/2.54 lbs
Size: 297.5 x 232.7 x 11.5 mm (W x D x H)
Battery: 4-cell 44.5Whr
Our review X1 Titanium Yoga came with an Intel Core i5-1140G7 processor, an example of the latest generation Tiger Lake 10nm chips launched in Q1 of 2021.
This chip is a four-core and eight-thread CPU, with a baseline clock of 1.8GHz and Turbo mode up to 4.2GHz. A critical aspect of this design isn’t the amount of cache or special extensions but its fabrication using a new 10nm SuperFin process. The previous Intel 10nm process didn’t deliver the expected advantages over the 14nm chips that Intel has been using for the past six years, and SuperFin addresses those issues we are told.
Smaller tracks and a higher density of transistors is only part of this story. According to Intel, it has enhanced its fabrication process through other innovations that go beyond scaling and provide additional performance and efficiency.
The extra space on the die created by the reduced scale also allows more room for a better GPU, the Iris Xe Graphics core, and more cache.
As AMD has proven with its new Ryzen mobile chips, being able to achieve more with less power also has additional benefits for battery life.
Lenovo gave this system a four-cell 44.5Whr battery with a claimed 10.9-hour battery life based on testing with MobileMark 2018, enabling it to operate for a full working day.
Probably the hardware feature that most users will initially appreciate is the screen, featuring a 13.5" 2256 x 1504 display with Dolby Vision and a brightness of 450 nits.
A slightly odd resolution, but the colour representation and contrast on this IPS technology panel are excellent, and it's bright enough to easily read in bright daylight.