Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5 review: A minor but meaningful refresh

X1 Yoga Gen 5 header EC

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 line of laptops is one of my favorites on the market, and I made it a priority to confirm that when I reviewed the fourth-gen X1 Yoga last year. That laptop made such a positive impression on me that I declared it my favorite laptop. So far, nothing has topped it, and the only one to tie it is the fifth-gen X1 Yoga.

Announced at the top of this year, Lenovo just recently started sending out review units. I actually asked for an X1 Carbon when the company questioned whether I was interested in also reviewing the new X1 Yoga. After sending back my fourth-gen Yoga, I knew I was missing the machine, so I happily agreed to take a look.

I’ve gotta be honest, there’s not a lot different between the fourth and fifth generations of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga. If you own a fourth-gen Yoga, you shouldn’t upgrade to the Gen 5. There are some improvements here and there, but it’s nothing worth dropping another $2,000 on. However, if you’ve been looking to buy an X1 Yoga for the first time, the Gen 5 offers some minor but meaningful improvements to further influence your buying decision.

Specs & Performance

The biggest new feature in the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5 is the inclusion of 10th-gen Intel Comet Lake CPUs, and that results in speedier performance. The unit I received came with a quad-core Intel Core i7-10610U vPro processor. It’s the highest-end chipset available in the X1 Yoga right now, and it provides snappy performance day in and day out.

My workload includes a lot of web app management in Microsoft Edge, church bulletin editing in Publisher, checking email in Outlook and Newton, plenty of music streaming, light photo editing in Photoshop, and some 4K video editing. Overall, I’ve found the X1 Yoga can handle those tasks without breaking a sweat. I did notice trying to do too many things at once can result in a CPU hiccup here and there, but everything was otherwise smooth.

My review unit also came with 16GB of LPDDR3 RAM along with a 512GB PCIe SSD for storage. These two factors play a huge role in the juggling of tasks on the X1 Yoga. Opening apps and documents are quick operations thanks to the speedy SSD and keeping a ton of stuff open at once is a breeze thanks to the extra RAM. I’m a firm believer in getting 16GB of RAM instead of eight, especially if you plan on having your computer for 3+ years down the road.

One issue I did run into while reviewing the X1 Yoga Gen 5 is an issue I’m all too familiar with: poor graphics performance. Intel’s Iris Plus graphics simply aren’t powerful enough to handle graphics-intense applications like a heavy 4K video project, intense Photoshop work, or games. Even Publisher tends to stutter every now and then. Lenovo’s ThinkPad line, throughout its spec sheet, is geared toward more business-centered tasks. I’m mostly fine with that, but if you’re the type of person to perform heavy tasks every day, you’ll want to look elsewhere.

Overall, I was pleased with the performance out of the X1 Yoga Gen 5. It’s snappy enough for my office-esque workload and the graphics are powerful enough for the slightly heavier tasks I need to perform each week. While it struggles in certain areas, there’s no doubt that you’ll likely be happy with the prowess of this laptop.

Design & Display

Take heavy tasks out of the equation and you can get all your work done on the X1 Yoga Gen 5, no doubt. And Lenovo knows that, which is why it designed the laptop with a build that can handle drops, extreme temperatures, and more. The X1 Yoga has been tested against 12 military-grade requirements and more than 200 quality checks. Lenovo says it can handle everything from “arctic wilderness to desert dust storms, from zero gravity to spills and drops.” That basically means it’s designed to go with you everywhere, from the office to – well, the arctic, I suppose.

The machine is made of aluminum with polished sides and edges that add a fair amount of class to the overall aesthetic. Lenovo does next to nothing different on the outside compared to the Gen 4 X1 Yoga so if you’ve seen that laptop before, you know what this one looks like. Admittedly, the branding on the lid of the machine has been tweaked, but it’s a small change many will miss.

Opening the lid reveals a 14-inch display that comes in two flavors: Full HD and UHD (a.k.a. 4K). Lenovo sent me the model with the latter resolution, and I can confirm it’s quite stunning. Colors are vibrant, blacks are inky, and everything is crystal clear. It supports Dolby Vision HDR playback and gets up to 500 nits of brightness. During my testing, I found this to be just bright enough to see outside in the sunlight.

It’s obviously a touch screen since you can flip it 360 degrees to enter Tablet mode, and of course all of the other convertible modes like Tent and Stand work as well. You even get a garaged pen so you can draw and write directly on the screen.

Unfortunately, much like the Gen 4, the Gen 5’s screen is still surrounded by sizeable bezels. I still don’t understand why the bottom bezel has to be so thick. I get adding a bit of a border so you can hold it in Tablet mode, but it doesn’t have to be that thick, especially since it’s not proportional with the other bezels.

Security

At least the top bezel serves a purpose, and that’s where we get to security. The X1 Yoga Gen 5 comes with Windows Hello powered by facial and fingerprint recognition. The IR sensors for face unlock are in that top bezel and it works fine, just as you’d expect. Meanwhile, the fingerprint scanner is located near the keyboard and trackpad which also works fine. There was a time when I couldn’t say Lenovo made good fingerprint readers, so thank God that’s all over with.

For additional security, Lenovo also packs in its ThinkShutter cover for the webcam in case you’re paranoid about someone spying on you without you noticing.

Keyboard & Trackpad

Speaking of which, let’s chat about the keyboard and trackpad. If you read my X1 Yoga Gen 4 review, you already know how I feel about these two aspects of the X1 Yoga Gen 5.

The keyboard is absolutely stellar. It has plenty of travel to make long typing sessions enjoyable, and the keys feel good to strike. I do wish Lenovo would stop putting the Ctrl and Fn keys in the wrong spots on the left side, but I suppose that’s up for debate. At least you can switch their positions in Lenovo’s Vantage software.

The trackpad is also great. It’s silky smooth since it’s covered in glass, and you get Windows Precision drivers for a better experience. You still get physical left and right buttons in addition to a programmable middle button. And as always, the ThinkPad TrackPoint (a.k.a. the red dimple in the middle of the keyboard) has returned.

Battery

This is an area where I’m pretty disappointed with the X1 Yoga Gen 5, but it’s for a specific reason.

Lenovo claims the laptop can last you up to 19.3 hours on a single charge. I can’t prove whether that’s true since I don’t have one of the lower-end models to test. However, I do know you can’t achieve anywhere near that number with the unit I have.

Because of the more power-hungry processor and 4K screen, I’m able to achieve five to six hours of usage on a single charge. That’s not enough for a full day in my book and I suspect it’s the same for you. If you want better battery life, you have to get a model with a lower-resolution screen and something like an Intel Core i5. You’ll also have to make sure your power settings are in check. Otherwise, you’ll be looking for a charger more often than not.

I’m not sure when battery life on 4K high energy-consuming laptops will get good, but I know it won’t be anytime soon. So if you plan on buying the exact same X1 Yoga Gen 5 I’m using, make room in your bag for a charger.

Speaking of which, the X1 Yoga Gen 5 does come with some speedy charging at 65W. I’ve seen my unit go from zero to 100 percent in about an hour and a half. So while you’ll be charging more often than you may like, at least it won’t take long.

Audio

The X1 Yoga Gen 5 obviously has a headphone jack, and I’d recommend using that over the built-in speakers. They’re not terrible by any means, but they’re pretty tinny with very little bass. They’re nothing like the soundbar speakers on Lenovo’s Yoga line.

Conclusion

As a package, the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5 is a great laptop, and the added improvements over the previous model make for a great overall experience. The battery life still needs work, the speakers aren’t great, and it’s relatively expensive (at least for the configuration I have). But all things considered, this machine is very well-rounded. The display is beautiful and bright, performance is great, it offers a 2-in-1 form factor, the keyboard and trackpad are excellent, and the IO selection is top notch.

All in all, I wholeheartedly recommend the X1 Yoga Gen 5. That’s why I’m awarding it my first ever Editor’s Choice badge. It’s just that good. And if you can forgive its shortcomings, you should pick it up. It’ll make you happy.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5

$1,704.45 (As reviewed)
7.4

Design

8.0/10

Display

9.0/10

Performance

8.5/10

Battery

4.0/10

Extras

7.5/10

Pros

  • 10th-gen Intel processors
  • Industrial design built to last
  • Beautiful 4K screen (if you spend more money)
  • Great IO selection
  • Super comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • Battery life is terrible with 4K model
  • Bezels are pretty thick for a 2020 laptop
  • Intel Iris Plus graphics won't please everyone



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