Most people know a ThinkPad when they see it. While the line has evolved throughout its decades of existence, it’s maintained a consistent ThinkPad look, ThinkPad feel, and ThinkPad set of features, from the red keyboard nub to the trio of discrete clickers. The formula has a devoted following, and with good reason — it’s tried and true.
With the new Titanium line, Lenovo seems to be trying some new things on for size. For one, the first X1 Titanium Yoga is the thinnest ThinkPad ever made (not to be confused with the ThinkPad X1 Nano, the lightest ThinkPad ever made). There’s a hodgepodge of other stuff, too, including a 3:2 display (an aspect ratio you don’t see every day in the X1 series), a haptic touchpad, and a top cover that’s — as the name implies — actually made of titanium. There’s an IR webcam with human presence detection, a match-on-chip fingerprint reader, and two Thunderbolt 4 ports. It’s a grab bag of eccentric features thrown together into one new, very unique ThinkPad.
The result: fantastic. Sure, it’s a first-generation product, with some kinks to work out here and there. But with Intel’s 11th Gen processors and Evo certification in tow, the X1 Titanium Yoga is a solid contender in the premium business laptop sphere. It maintains the hallmarks of the ThinkPad line, but it’s unlike any ThinkPad we’ve ever seen before. I’m excited about this one, but I’m more excited for the next generation.
Before we jump in, the usual disclaimer about ThinkPads: They’re expensive. The base X1 Titanium Yoga has an MSRP of $2,949, but is currently listed for $1,769.40. My test model has an MSRP of $3,369 but is listed for $1,674.39. (In case this wasn’t obvious, you should never pay full price for a ThinkPad.) This isn’t ridiculous as business laptops go, of course — a ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 with comparable specs is currently listed at $1,727.40.
Many ThinkPads have dizzying arrays of options to choose from, but the X1 Titanium Yoga’s selection is refreshingly straightforward. There are four processors, all of which support Intel’s vPro platform for remote management: the Core i5-1130G7 (which my test unit has), the Core i5-1140G7, and two Core i7 chips. The 1130G7 is the only processor available with 8GB of RAM; the other three come with 16GB. Human presence detection is also only available with the Core i5 models — you can’t get it with either Core i7, which is a bit frustrating.
My model has the Core i5-1130G7, 16GB of RAM (soldered), 512GB of storage, and the presence-detection webcam. Like all models, it also has a 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504, 450-nit touch display, and ships with Lenovo’s Precision Pen.
The Titanium Yoga’s primary selling point is its category-topping portability. It’s 0.45 inches thick, making it no problem to slide into a packed backpack or briefcase. The 3:2 aspect ratio makes it a bit taller than most competitors of this size, so it’s not one of the lightest laptops on the market — but at 2.54 pounds, it’s still a pretty effortless lift. I could be convinced that I’m carrying an empty chassis, rather than a full system, when I walk around with this device. It’s hard to believe there’s a whole… computer inside.
Despite its thin frame, the Titanium Yoga is quite sturdy. Its lid is a combination of titanium and carbon fiber, while the rest is a more boring (and cheaper-feeling but still fine) magnesium aluminum. Lenovo claims to have tested the system against “12 military-grade certification methods and over 20 procedures.” I didn’t see any scratches or dinks in the chassis after my testing period, and the keyboard deck didn’t pick up a ton of fingerprints, though the lid did get a bit smudged. My only real complaint about the build quality is that I wish the hinge were sturdier. There was a decent amount of screen wobble when I used the stylus — so much that I mostly stuck with the touchpad in clamshell mode.
Laptops that are so extremely compact often come with significant tradeoffs for their size. There are a few worth noting here, though I wouldn’t call any of them disqualifying. The biggest drawback is certainly the haptic touchpad — as a space-saving measure it has no moving parts, so the clicking sensation is entirely simulated. While it convincingly emulates a regular touchpad, it has some other issues. It’s cramped for scrolling, its texture is a bit coarse for my liking, the click is stiff, and it’s not the most accurate — I sometimes felt like I had to coax the cursor to where it needed to go, and it occasionally thought I was scrolling or zooming in when I wasn’t trying to. This is one of those things I assume will improve over generations.
If you’re fed up with the touchpad, you do have the option of using the red keyboard nub or Lenovo’s Precision Pen, though there’s no garage to put the latter in (another space-saving measure).
Another expected sacrifice is port selection. You get just two Thunderbolt 4 ports, both on the left side, one of which will be taken up by the charger. Get your dongles and docks ready. (There’s one audio jack and one Kensington lock slot as well.)
Finally, audio is also often a thin affair on thin-and-light laptops, and the Titanium Yoga’s two upward-firing speakers are no exception. They deliver audio that’s clear but not particularly deep. Bass is not present. During Zoom calls, I sometimes found myself having to lean in to hear the person speaking, even with the volume cranked all the way up. The microphones did do a fine job of picking up my voice despite some background noise, and the F4 key functions as a kill switch.
But there’s no compromise in arguably the most important part of the laptop: performance. The Core i5 isn’t a workstation chip, but it handled my hefty load of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, and Zoom calls with no problem. I never heard fan noise or felt uncomfortable heat, though the bottom of the chassis was consistently warm.
Battery life was okay, but not spectacular. The Yoga averaged seven hours and 52 minutes of continuous productivity work around medium brightness. While that doesn’t top the business category, it’s about what we expect from ThinkPads (we got a slightly worse result from the last X1 Carbon we reviewed). It means the device will just about get you through a work day if your load is similar to mine.
All in all, the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is an interesting bet. It’s clear that Lenovo has an eye on the traits that modern business users have been asking for: stylus support, the 3:2 aspect ratio, durability, and portability, in addition to the security of the vPro platform. The Titanium Yoga is the first iteration of a line that I’m very excited to see Lenovo making, and for that I think it deserves a high score.
With that said, I won’t pretend it’s the most practical purchase out there. It’s a first-generation product, and — as is often the case with first-generation products — there are some kinks to be worked out. The limited ports, the finicky touchpad, the shaky hinge, and the thin audio could all be overlooked on their own, especially as understandable sacrifices for the portable build — but they’re a lot to stomach as a package. I think the X1 Yoga and X1 Carbon, while a bit thicker, will be more pragmatic devices for the vast majority of users.
But the Titanium Yoga is still quite an achievement, and I can’t wait for the next one. If Lenovo works out the kinks, it’ll be a spectacular product.
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