Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Review: The Cost of Doing Business

Notebooks have new expectations placed on them in 2021 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gone are the days of uni-taskers only capable of handling certain aspects of work, as devices purpose-built for handling the added pressure of remote working are now becoming the norm. One of the companies acutely aware of this shift in need is Lenovo, which just so happened to claim the largest market share when it comes to PC shipments in Q4 2020.

Helping Lenovo claim that aforementioned market share are devices like the ThinkPad X1 Nano. We recently took this new Windows 10 business notebook in for review over the past couple of weeks to find out if it is indeed worthy becoming your go-to remote working device, or simply a very thin and light offering without much punch.


Pure stealth

Let’s actually start with the lightweight design of the X1 Nano, which tips the scales at only 907g. We’ve reviewed lightweight notebooks in the past, but there is something different about the Nano, with it being almost unbelievably svelte. It actually reminds of smartphones from a decade ago, many of which featured removable batteries that proved deceptive in terms of the true weight.

Thankfully, there looks to be no deception at work here, with Lenovo also ensuring that the X1 Nano is robustly constructed.

This as the company has put it through 12 rigorous military-grade specifications. While we did not put it through the wringer, the X1 Nano does feel supremely premium in hand and has a nice heft to it despite the lightweight construction.

The all black colourway and combination carbon fibre/magnesium chassis are also favourites of ours, as onlookers don’t quite know just how powerful a notebook it is. It’s also not festooned with labels or branding, with the ThinkPad X1 insignia on the notebook lid.

Speaking of which, opening up the Nano one handed is done without a fuss, and no signs of the bottom portion of the notebook lifting up simultaneously. It may seem like a small factor on the surface, but it is quite rare that a lightweight notebook is as balanced as this. The hinge motion is also quite satisfying, as all these little touches add up to a great all around experience.


Willing and able 

Now that we’ve fawned over the design of the X1 Nano, looks talk about what happens when you boot it up. As mentioned this is one of the newer Lenovo notebooks built with the Intel EVO platform in mind. For those unfamiliar, it is a set of notebook standards that inform consumers that the notebook baring the EVO logo meets specific performance and feature requirements. Think of it as the latest iteration of Intel Inside.

As for what’s actually inside our review unit, an 11th Gen Intel Core i7 (1160G7) processor is present, along with 16GB LPDDR4x RAM and Iris Xe graphics. That’s the maximum from a memory perspective, but Lenovo does offer a configuration with a vPro version of the processor.

In terms of actual performance, the X1 Nano never disappointed, booting up quickly and launching applications even faster. It did not show any signs of strain or sluggishness while benchmarking, as well as in general daily use, but it should be noted that the bottom of the Nano did get noticeably hot to the touch while doing something processor intensive for a long period of time.

This is not a deal breaker in our books, but something to be aware of if you plan to be use this notebook on your lap, which is always ill advised.

Back to the benchmarking and the X1 Nano performed nicely here too, scoring just below that of the HP ZBook Firefly 14 G7, which is designed with workstation tasks in mind. The Nano registered an average of 3 951 on V-Ray. It actually outscored it in the GPU department (43 on V-Ray GPU), so the Nano should be able to handle design work if thrown its way.


Touch and type

Shifting to some of the other elements of the X1 Nano, a vivid 13″ 2K (2160×1350) display is present. The screen can rotate 180 degrees to lie flat if that is your thing, although we are yet to find an actual use for such an orientation.

Armed with thin bezels, there is plenty of real estate on offer given the slightly smaller chassis. It means that if space is a premium wherever you plan to pack the X1 Nano, its dimensions should not present a problem. It also means that it is quite a bit smaller than our 2019 13″ MacBook Pro with Touch Bar (daily driver) if you need a comparison.

Shifting to the typing experience and the keyboard proves pleasant enough, although our personal preference leans towards a snappier response from keys. On the Nano they feel a little gummy, but that is a problem that persists across most new notebooks these days. The trackpad is also quite responsive and yielded a nice feedback when clicked.

For diehard ThinkPad fans, the red trackpoint button and left/right clickers are present, giving a nod to the original design of a few decades ago, but we hardly found ourselves using either.

As for battery, Lenovo lists the X1 Nano’s at up to 13 hours when fully charged. We averaged about 10.5 in our time with the notebook, which is short of the prescribed figure, but more than enough while working remotely. We were also pleased to see that the battery life does not degrade quickly in between sessions while the notebook is in sleep mode.


Final verdict

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano is a great all around business notebook that is perfect from the new remote working era that everyone has been thrust into. It has one problem though – price. Retailing for a recommended R44 599, it is likely one of the most expensive business notebooks you will encounter in 2021, and perhaps beyond too.

For the price, however, you’re getting a premium notebook that performs expertly and will likely last you several years. As an avid MacBook user, which too is supremely expensive, those eyeing the ThinkPad X1 Nano need only apply if they are investing in notebook hardware to last them for the next few years at least with no desires to upgrade again any time soon.

If that is you, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better lightweight business notebook this year.


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