Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga review: a promising start

Most people know by looking at the ThinkPad. This line has existed and evolved over the decades, but has maintained a consistent ThinkPad look, ThinkPad feel, and ThinkPad feature set, from the red keyboard knob to the three individual clicks. The formula has ardent followers, and for good reason. Tried and true.

With the new Titanium line, Lenovo seems to be doing some new things for size. First of all, the original X1 Titanium Yoga is the thinnest ThinkPad ever made (not to be confused with the ThinkPad X1 Nano. lightest ThinkPads are ever made). Everything else is jumbled up, including a 3:2 display (an aspect ratio you don’t see every day on the X1 series), a haptic touchpad, and, as the name suggests, a real-world top cover. titanium. It has an IR webcam with human presence detection, an on-chip fingerprint reader, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports. A bag of quirky features in one new and very unique ThinkPad.

Result: Fantastic. Of course, it’s a first-generation product and there are some kinks here and there. But with Intel’s 11th Gen processors and Evo-certified X1 Titanium Yoga, it’s a clear contender in the premium business notebook space. It retains the features of the ThinkPad line, but unlike any ThinkPad I’ve seen before. I’m excited about this, but even more excited about the next generation.

Before you begin General disclaimer for ThinkPad: Expensive. The base X1 Titanium Yoga has an MSRP of $2,949, but is currently priced at $1,769.40. The MSRP of my test model is $3,369, but the price is $1,674.39. (You shouldn’t pay full price for a ThinkPad if it’s not clear to you.) Of course, on a business laptop, this isn’t outrageous. A similarly speculated ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is currently priced at $1,727.40.

While many ThinkPads have dizzying options to choose from, the choice of the X1 Titanium Yoga is pretty straightforward. There are 4 processors supporting Intel’s vPro platform for remote management: a Core i5-1130G7 (on my test rig), a Core i5-1140G7 and two Core i7 chips. The 1130G7 is the only processor available with 8GB of RAM. The other three are 16GB. Human presence detection is only available on Core i5 models. It’s not available on the Core i7, which is a bit disappointing.

My model has a Core i5-1130G7, 16GB of RAM (soldered), 512GB of storage and a presence detection webcam. Like all models, it has a 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504, 450 nit touch display and comes with Lenovo’s Precision Pen.

The Titanium Yoga’s main selling point is its category-leading portability. At 0.45 inches thick, it fits perfectly in a backpack or briefcase. It’s not one of the lightest laptops on the market, as the 3:2 aspect ratio is slightly higher than most competitors in this size, but at 2.54 pounds it’s still quite easy to lift. When you walk around with this device, you can be sure you’re holding an empty chassis and not the whole system. I can’t believe there’s a whole… computer inside.

Despite its thin frame, the Titanium Yoga is very sturdy. The lid is a combination of titanium and carbon fiber and the rest is more boring (cheaper but still good) magnesium aluminum. Lenovo claims to have tested the system for “12 military-grade certification methods and more than 20 procedures.” After the testing period, there were no scratches or scuffs on the chassis, and the keyboard deck did not have many fingerprints, but the cover was slightly smudged. My only real complaint with the build quality is that I wish the hinges were more sturdy. There was a significant amount of screen shake when using the stylus. It was so big that I mostly used the touchpad in clamshell mode.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is on the left, with the stylus on top of the keyboard.

Power button, audio jack, right lock slot.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is viewed with the left half open.

Two Thunderbolt ports on the left.

Very compact laptops often have significant trade-offs for their size. There are a few things worth noting here, but I won’t call any of them ineligible. The biggest downside is definitely the haptic touchpad. There are no moving parts to save space, so the click sensation is fully simulated. It convincingly emulates a regular touchpad, but has a few other issues. It’s cramped to scroll, the texture is a bit grainy for my taste, the clicks are stiff, and it’s not the most accurate. Sometimes it felt like I had to move the cursor where it was needed and sometimes I didn’t want to scroll or zoom. This is one of those things I think will improve over the next few generations.

If you’re tired of the touchpad, you have the option to use the red keyboard handle or Lenovo’s Precision Pen, but there’s no garage for the latter (another space-saving measure).

Another expected sacrifice is port selection. There are only two Thunderbolt 4 ports, both on the left, one of which is occupied by the charger. Have your dongle and dock ready. (There is also one audio jack and one Kensington lock slot.)

Finally, audio is often a thin issue on thin and light laptops, and the Titanium Yoga’s two upward speakers are no exception. It provides clear but not particularly deep audio. There is no base. During a Zoom call, sometimes you had to lean down to hear the other person speaking, even with the volume turned all the way up. The mic picked up my voice well despite the slight background noise and the F4 key works as a kill switch.

Left palm rest of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga with stylus placed diagonally.

According to Lenovo, the pen offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity.

Fingerprint sensor on Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga.

The fingerprint sensor didn’t cause any problems for me.

But there is no compromise in performance, arguably the best part of a laptop. The Core i5 isn’t a workstation chip, but it handled the heavy load of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, and Zoom calls with no issues. Although the chassis floor was consistently warm, I never heard fan noise or felt uncomfortable heat.

Battery life was ok, but not great. Yoga performed an average of 7 hours and 52 minutes of continuous productivity work in medium brightness. It’s not at the top of the business category, but it’s about what to expect from a ThinkPad (we got slightly worse results from the last X1 Carbon we reviewed). If your load is similar to mine, it means the device will finish your day’s work.

Lenovo logo on Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga cover.

Use in clamshell, tablet or tent mode.

All in all, the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is an interesting bet. In addition to the security of the vPro platform, Lenovo is also looking at stylus support, 3:2 aspect ratio, durability and portability that modern business users have been demanding. The Titanium Yoga is the first iteration of a line that I’m very excited to see Lenovo make, and I think it deserves a high score.

That said, I’m not going to pretend it’s the most practical purchase. This is a first-generation product, and as is often the case with first-generation products, there are some kinks that need to be addressed. Limited ports, tricky touchpads, wobbly hinges, and thin audio can all be overlooked on their own. It can be considered an understandable sacrifice, especially for portable builds, but it is a burden to see as a package. I think the X1 Yoga and X1 Carbon will be slightly thicker but more practical devices for the majority of users.

However, Titanium Yoga is still doing quite well, and we can’t wait for the next one. If Lenovo solves the problem, it would be a great product.

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