In the past, ThinkPad and x86 architecture have been closely linked; aside from a brief foray into PowerPC under the IBM label in the 1990s, ThinkPad laptops have always used Intel or AMD processors. But the high-tech sector is on the move, and Qualcomm is looking to take some of the market share away from the leaders in the PC sector. We’re here with our Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 review
Until now, Windows on ARM has not yet been successful, mainly due to poor app compatibility aside from lack of performance. The latter has improved slightly with Windows 11, but in terms of performance, there is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, first introduced in the Lenovo ThinkPad X13s. This is also the first ARM ThinkPad and the first fanless design from Lenovo, and this 13.3-inch laptop could be an interesting competitor to the passive cooling of the Apple MacBook Air.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 review: Design
ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 shows a lot of potential in a specific niche. Its portable design, excellent battery life, 5G wireless, and high-resolution webcam make it an ace in the hole for field workers. And unlike the ARM Windows devices we have tested in the past, the 64-bit version of Windows 11 means that applications must be ARM-compatible, but the software is less restrictive.
If the ARM pool can fulfill what we do every day, then we don’t have to worry about such things. Interestingly, however, it is really design decisions that limit the appeal of this particular ThinkPad. In terms of physical connectivity, there are only two USB Type-C ports, neither of which are Thunderbolt 4, and the X13s’ chassis tends to get hot because of the lack of cooling fans. Most surprising, however, is the lackluster keyboard, which is un-ThinkPad-like.
Keyboard and touch pad
The Lenovo ThinkPad X13s has one of the best keyboards available. The keys are 1.35 mm deep, which first debuted on the ThinkPad X1 Nano and ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga. It was first used on the ThinkPad X1 Nano and ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga, and has recently been used on other new ThinkPads, including the X13s. That’s great; some ThinkPads, like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, have 1.5mm keyboards, and some even deeper than that. 1.35mm just feels like the sweet spot.
Lenovo actually did a lot of work to make the new 1.35mm keys feel the same as the old 1.5mm keys and that it takes the same amount of force to press them. To me, the shallower keys feel more modern, but the amount of force feels natural, and I hope Lenovo will bring this keyboard to the rest of the ThinkPad lineup.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 review: Display
The X13s display is a 13.3″ Full HD (1920 x 1200) IPS panel with an ideal aspect ratio of 16:10, 100% sRGB color gamut support, EyeSafe certification, low power consumption panel with 400 nits brightness, 100% sRGB color gamut support, 300 nits brightness, NTSC The reviewer can choose from three types of panels: a multi-touch panel with 72% color gamut and 300 nits brightness.
The review unit was equipped with the latter, and although not excessively bright, it performed well indoors under all lighting conditions. The display does not lie flat, but it tilts to about 135 degrees, so it can meet most needs. Most 16:10 displays in this category are 13.5 inches. Most 16:10 displays in this class are 13.5 inches. In the past, this system had 12″ or 12.5″ displays.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 review: Audio
The ThinkPad X13s has a proper stereo speaker setup, backed by Dolby Atmos audio enhancements. Stereo separation is excellent in both music (check out Mammoth WVH’s new song “As Long As You’re Not You”) and movies, with no distortion even at 100% volume. Strangely, the movies don’t offer the immersive sound you might expect, but the experience is still very good.
Hybrid work situations also look strong, with a 5MP webcam and an array of three far-field microphones. In particular, the webcam is enhanced with color and brightness calibration for low-light environments, autoframing, and user presence features if configured with the optional AI camera at the time of purchase. The latter is particularly effective, but must be enabled in Windows Settings.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 review: Graphics
The ThinkPad X13s is powered by Qualcomm’s latest high-performance PC chipset, the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3. This SoC has a maximum single-core clock speed of 3 GHz, with four Arm Cortex X1 cores and four Cortex A78 cores adding multi-threaded horsepower to handle background tasks. When Qualcomm unveiled the chip at Tech Summit this past January, it promised a performance boost of more than 85%, but did not say whether that was for single-threaded, multithreaded, or both tasks. Graphics rendering is handled by Qualcomm’s Adreno 690 integrated GPU, and the company boasts a 60% GPU performance improvement there as well, which should be available for testing soon.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 review: Performance
The ThinkPad X13s is built around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 ARM processor, an 8-core CPU with four Cortex-A78 cores running at 2.4 GHz and four Cortex-X1 Prime cores running at 2.95 GHz. This processor is the fastest processor Qualcomm has ever produced for a PC and promises higher performance than the previous generation. Its main direct competitor is Apple’s silicon, especially the M1 and M2 CPUs, which have provided class-leading performance in two different MacBook Airs. like Apple’s MacBooks, the ThinkPad X13s is fanless and therefore completely silent. the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is arguably faster than its predecessor, with a Geekbench 5 multi-core test of 86% and a single-core test of 55%. At the same time, the Apple M1 is 59% faster than the ThinkPad X13s in single-core and 34% in multi-core, while the M2 is 77% faster in single-core and 59% in multi-core.
Battery life and Heat
The ThinkPad X13s’ battery capacity of 49.5 watt-hours is not bad for a laptop with an ultra-high-performance Qualcomm ARM CPU and a Full HD+ display; it is not as good as the Lenovo Flex 5G, which comes in at 60 watt-hours, but it is better than the HP Elite Folio’s More than the 46 watt-hour; aside from the Flex 5G, the ThinkPad X13s performed very well in our battery tests.
This is a strong result compared to many Intel laptops, promising all-day battery life; the Elite Folio came close to the same result. But the Flex 5G fared significantly better in both tests than might be expected from its increased battery size, making it the champ among the Snapdragon 8cx machines we tested. And the Apple MacBook Air laptop also fared better than the ThinkPad in both the M1 and M2 versions, though neither was as good as the Flex 5G.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Gen 1 review: Price
The Lenovo ThinkPad X13s review configuration integrated a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 processor and Qualcomm Adreno 690 graphics. The laptop had 16GB of memory and 512GB of SSD storage, plus a 13.3-inch, 1920 x 1200 non-touch display and Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G modem for a total of $1,385.40. The base model costs $1,085.40, but features some notable differences. For one, Windows 11 is now Home instead of Pro; the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 and Adreno graphics are retained, but with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. Unlike our review unit, there is no infrared camera and no 5G support.
It may not say much, but the ThinkPad X13s is the best Windows-based Arm laptop I’ve ever reviewed. Sure, much of that comes from the software compatibility that Windows 11 adds, but the fact that it has long battery life, a solid webcam, and a lightweight design doesn’t hurt either.
You can add a 5G modem to your Intel or AMD laptop. For example, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) with Intel’s 12th generation P-series processors allows this as an expensive upgrade. The ThinkPad X1 Nano is also a thin ThinkPad with few ports, but it is highly portable. However, the Arm processor makes more sense with 5G, allowing for a quieter and longer lasting design.