I’ve always found Lenovo’s Yoga series of laptops intriguing, as they mix some of the features of a 2-in-1 with the performance of a traditional clamshell laptop. So I was eager to test out the most recent incarnation, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 ($1,886.99 as tested, at CDW, with availability currently listed as 4-6 weeks). As befits the ThinkPad name, it comes with all the usual ThinkPad goodies. But as a Yoga, it also features a 360-degree hinge, a touch screen, and stylus support.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 By the Numbers
The review unit we tested came with a 10th Generation, quad-core i5-10310U running at 1.7 GHz, a hefty 16GB of RAM, and a high-performance 256GB SSD. Configuration options from Lenovo include processors up to an i7-10610U, either 8GB or 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB SSD, and either Microsoft Windows 10 Home or Pro. You can also add a smart card reader for $20, and you can downgrade the camera to a non-IR version or upgrade the system to include LTE support.
The 13.2-inch 1080p display is multi-touch-enabled and supports an included active stylus. While the system is too beefy to be used as a handheld tablet, I was happy to see the stylus because the X13 Yoga works well when flopped open on a desk. You also get both a ThinkPad-style trackpad and a TrackPoint-equipped keyboard for those who prefer it. Unlike older ThinkPad keyboards, the TrackPoint is in a slightly recessed area. That took me a little getting used to, but I suspect may be a concession to those who don’t use it and didn’t like it sticking up quite so high.
There’s a good selection of ports for a lightweight laptop, including an often-forgotten microSD reader. The X13 Yoga sports one Thunderbolt 3 (Type-C), one USB 3.1 Gen 1 (Type-C), and two USB3.1 (Type-A, with one always on for charging other devices) ports, along with HDMI 1.4b, a port for an optional Ethernet connector, a mic/headphone jack, and a “garage” for the stylus.
The webcam is a decent 720p, and (optionally) has IR support for Windows Hello, as well as a physical shutter for privacy. The LED-backlit keyboard has a fast fingerprint reader that’s implemented entirely in the sensor, so your fingerprint data is never exposed to anyone else. For connectivity, unless you want to deal with the Ethernet connector, the unit comes with a speedy Wi-Fi-6-compatible Intel AX201 chipset and it supports Bluetooth 5.0.
Thinkpad X13 Yoga First Impressions
First, this is one solidly built machine, with a magnesium and carbon fiber chassis. It really felt like I could drop it and not worry (but I didn’t try). If I was on the road for an extended trip, which I hope to be again someday, I’d feel much more confident in it surviving whatever happened than I would with a typical consumer, plastic-bodied model. The solid build and extra goodies mean it isn’t the absolute lightest or thinnest of ultraportables, but it’s still under 3 pounds and less than 16mm thick.
Visually, you’ll notice that the bezel is larger than on the top-of-the-line lightweight notebooks. Nothing that would have been unusual a couple of years ago, but certainly noticeable. Lenovo says the active stylus design doesn’t result in a thicker display, so I’m not sure what design issues resulted in the largish bezel. Once you get working with the machine, it’s quick and responsive, and if you like ThinkPad keyboards, you’ll enjoy typing on it. But if you’ve put it on your lap, you’ll immediately notice it gets really warm. Even with just a browser open, it was too hot without some padding.
Other than that, the machine was great to use in testing. It handled typical office workloads well and did a decent job on typical “creative” tasks such as photo editing for a machine that doesn’t have a high-end CPU or discrete GPU. The stylus wrote well, but it’s really small, and more like the S Pen you get with a Galaxy Note than the larger models those familiar with Wacom or other tablets are used to. The plus side is that the stylus stores nicely in the machine when not in use, so you don’t have to rely on silly cloth loops or ineffective magnetic attachments. However, I don’t think I’d want to use it for extended drawing sessions.
The bottom-firing speakers provided easy-to-understand audio when watching videos, and are positioned so that if you use the Yoga in “tent” mode for watching movies, they fire around the side of the display and provide kind of a cool sound stage. The speakers, designed in cooperation with Dolby Labs, are 2 watts each. That won’t blow the doors off your bedroom or office, but I found to be plenty for personal or small group listening.
The display is rated up to 300 nits, and was bright enough for everything I needed to do. Yes, I’m really spoiled by the 4K display on my larger Precision 5540, so I think I would have preferred at least a 1440p display. But it’s likely that would have pushed the system price over the important $2K barrier.
Is Lenovo’s ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 the Convertible For You?
If you are already hooked on ThinkPads but want the flexibility of a relatively lightweight convertible with the latest components, this machine is for you. Other than wishing for a bit higher resolution screen and a larger stylus, I haven’t found any real faults with it. Of course, if you aren’t already a fan of the unique TrackPoint system or ThinkPad keyboards, you have lots of other options that don’t include paying for those. Either way, it’s one of the most solidly built, sub-$2,000 laptops I’ve used.
- Living With the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon
- Lenovo X1 Carbon vs. Yoga: Which ThinkPad Model Is Right for You?
- Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Fold Is the First Foldable Windows Tablet