Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga review: A fantastic business convertible, but not much has changed

Lenovo's ThinkPad X13 Yoga is right below the X1 Yoga in the food chain of ThinkPad convertibles. This PC weighs in at just 2.76 pounds, even lighter than its premium sibling, and it doesn't make many compromises. It packs Intel's 10th-generation 'Comet Lake' processors, and this one has a vPro flavor. You'll also find a 13.3-inch FHD display, Thunderbolt 3, and a carbon fiber chassis.

Other things that are new on this model, aside from Intel's 10th-generation chips, are dedicated Unified Communications keys, Dolby Atmos speakers, and Wi-Fi 6. All of that comes in a package that's MIL-STD-810G certified, just like all ThinkPads.

Specs

CPU 10th Generation Intel Core i5-10310U (4C / 8T, 1.7 / 4.4GHz, 6MB)
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics
Display 13.3" FHD (1920x1080) IPS 300nits anti-reflective / anti-smudge
Body 12.2x8.6x0.63in (310.4x219x15.95mm), 2.76lbs (1.25kg)
Memory 16GB Soldered DDR4-2666
Storage 256GB SSD M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe Opal2
Connectivity Intel AX201 11ax, 2x2 + BT5.0
Ports (1) Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C)
(1) USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C)
(2) USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-A) (1 always on)
(1) HDMI 1.4b
(1) Ethernet extension connector (side docking)
(1) Microphone / Headphone Combo Jack
(1) Micro-SD card reader
(1) ThinkPad Pen Pro Garage
Camera HD 720p + IR w/ ThinkShutter camera privacy filter
Keyboard 6-row, multimedia Fn keys, UC Keys, LED backlight
Navigation TrackPoint pointing device and buttonless Mylar surface touchpad
Audio 2 x 2 Watt Speakers, Dolby Audio Speaker System, dual array mics
Battery 50 watt-hour, Li-ion
Color Black
Material Display cover: Carbon Fiber Hybrid; Bottom: Magnesium
OS Windows 10 Pro
Price $1,311.00


Note that this price is as of the time of writing, as it does fluctuate on the Lenovo website.

Day one

Design

The ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 is the successor to the ThinkPad X390 Yoga, and frankly, not much has changed in the design department. Well, let's be clear, because most ThinkPads look pretty much the same. It comes in black, and it has the silver ThinkPad logo stamped in the lid. That previous statement applies to the majority of the lineup.

What I mean when I say not much has changed is that the chassis is the exact same size. It's a bit lighter, weighing in at 2.76 pounds instead of 2.85 pounds, but the dimensions are identical. This is something that I'll bring up again in the display section, because it feels like the bezels are too big for a premium convertible in 2020.

It gets its comfortable light chassis by being made out of carbon fiber on top and magnesium on the bottom. It feels quite premium, which I'd expect, since this is one step below the X1 Yoga. In fact, it's almost like the X1 Yoga if it had never went aluminum, and if the screen was 13.3 inches.

The ports are the same as they were last year too. There are two USB Type-C ports on the left side, one of which is Thunderbolt 3 and one of which is USB 3.1 Gen 1. The Thunderbolt 3 is paired with an Ethernet extension port for a mechanical docking solution. You'll also find a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, and a 3.5mm audio jack.

On the right side, you'll find HDMI 1.4b, another USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, a power button, and microSD. And yes, that tray below the microSD slot is for a nano-SIM card. The model that Lenovo sent me is indeed a cellular model.

The bad news is that I was unable to get 4G LTE to actually work. Every time I inserted a SIM card, the driver would just keep launching and crashing. I tried some regular troubleshooting, like reinstalling the driver and such, but it didn't work out.

Display and audio

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 has a 13.3-inch FHD display, and while there's no UHD option, there are some options for the FHD panel. The model that Lenovo sent me is 300 nits, and that's the dimmest one the company makes. There's also a 400-nit panel, and a 500-nit privacy display.

I found the display to be quite impressive, in terms of brightness, color accuracy, and viewing angle. One thing I always bring up is the ability to use it outdoors. In the age of working from home, I feel like it's more important than ever to be able to work comfortable on a rooftop, a porch, or just somewhere besides a stuffy makeshift home office. This got the job done, but it's nice to know that there's an even brighter option.

One thing that I found a bit disappointing is the size of the bezels. With a massive chin and a big top bezel that fits a webcam and an IR camera. It feels very 2019 because frankly, this design debuted on 2019's ThinkPad X390 Yoga. The X390 Yoga was, however, shrunken down a bit from 2018's ThinkPad X380 Yoga. I double-checked because if not, I would have said it was a 2018 design.

The dual 2W speakers are located on the bottom of the laptop, and they actually impressed me more than I thought they would. Lenovo listed the Dolby Audio speaker system as one of the key new features, and I almost wrote it off, as seeing the Dolby brand on laptop speakers isn't exactly uncommon. But not only are these speakers clear, but they're also quite loud. For anything from movies to music to conference calls, the ThinkPad X13 Yoga is impressive.

One other thing you'll find is a pen garage, a staple feature to ThinkPad convertibles. I personally love it, because it's an easy way to not only keep the pen charged, but keep it with me all the time.

Keyboard and trackpad

ThinkPads are renowned for their keyboards, and indeed, this is one of the best ones around. Not only is it comfortable to type on, but it's accurate. It's the Cadillac of keyboards. But of course, if you're a business that's looking for some convertibles to hand out to employees, you already know that. In fact, the employees you're handing this machine to are probably already familiar with what to expect.

One thing that I've often noticed is that the keyboards on ThinkPad convertibles are just a bit shallower than the ones on clamshells. I prefer the keyboard on convertibles; I really think it's the sweet spot.

Another thing that anyone who's used a ThinkPad is familiar with is the TrackPoint. Yes, that's the red nub between the G, H, and B keys that you can use to control the pointer on the screen. This is a relic from the age of when trackpads on Windows PCs weren't any good; however, the TrackPoint has its fan base, which would revolt if Lenovo removed it. If you don't like it, you can always ignore it. Personally, I don't mind it being there if that's the price I pay for such a great keyboard.

And as always, there's a Microsoft Precision trackpad with three physical buttons above it. Yes, the trackpad is clickable, as those buttons are really designed for use with the TrackPoint. Personally, I like using them with the trackpad; they just make drag-and-drop operations easier.

I always look at the keyboard and trackpad combo as the main value proposition of any higher-end ThinkPad, because it's such a premium experience. However, the keyboard is a bit deeper than the competition, and if you want something that's more modern, I'd recommend checking out Lenovo's ThinkBook lineup.

Performance and battery

The ThinkPad X13 Yoga that Lenovo sent me packs an Intel Core i5-10310U and 16GB RAM with a 256GB SSD. It's a pretty mid-range configuration, which is a fairly common one in businesses. The CPU is mainstream, but the extra RAM keeps it a bit more future-proofed.

The Core i5-10310U is a 15W quad-core processor with eight threads from the Comet Lake family. It's the vPro version of the Core i5-10210U. You can also get this configured with a Core i7-10510U or Core i7-10610U, which is the quad-core Core i7. There's no option for the hexa-core Core i7-10710U or Core i7-10810U.

The performance was decent. For general productivity, I didn't run into any issues, but it struggled with photo editing, especially if I had a lot of photos open in Photoshop. I ended up having to adjust the power slider more often than I do.

As you probably know, my battery testing is from real-world usage. I work in Chrome, Photoshop, OneNote, and general productivity applications like Office. With the brightness at around 50% and the power slider at the notch above battery saver, I got just over five hours of use.

But as I mentioned, I had to play around with the power slider a bit. In order for photo editing to be a comfortable experience, I turned that slider all the way up, and it sure made a difference. Obviously, doing that will affect battery life though.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8 and PCMark 10.

PCMark 8: Home PCMark 8: Creative

PCMark 8: Work PCMark 10


There's nothing surprising about the benchmark scores here. This is a pretty standard configuration for a business laptop, so I'm not going to go too deep into it.

Conclusion

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 is a great business convertible. I always tend to sing the praises of ThinkPads, because they always nail down the important things, like the best keyboards around. There's a difference in the different tiers though. A couple of months ago, I reviewed the ThinkPad L13 Yoga. You don't have to use the X13 Yoga for long to see how much more premium it is.

I had two main issues with the product. One was the buggy cellular experience. I've been waiting for Lenovo to send me a cellular laptop for ages and now when it finally happens, I had an issue. The more important issue I had is that it has relatively large bezels, and frankly, it's just a 2019 design. I absolutely think of this as a premium PC, but the bezels are more mid-range.

Of course, I don't think that anyone buys ThinkPads for the bezel size. They buy them for the build quality, for their legendary keyboards, and for just being great PCs. The ThinkPad X13 Yoga checks the right boxes for what makes me love the ThinkPad lineup. If you're looking for a 13-inch business convertible, the X13 Yoga is worth checking out.

 

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