Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 7) Review

Posted on July 18, 2022 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 11 with 8 Comments

Lenovo’s 7th-generation ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a premium, business-class PC with terrific looks, durability, and a versatile 2-in-1 design.

Design

Several years in, the design of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga is both classic and iconic, and so it’s not surprising that little has changed year-over-year. The Stone Gray chassis is made of aluminum and exudes class from any direction, and the keyboard keys and touchpad are nicely color-matched.

There are, of course, some differences. To accommodate its higher-quality webcam, the display lid now has an angled bump in its center, a sort of reverse notch that fits in nicely with the ThinkPad aesthetic and doesn’t block the display. And the touchpad is allegedly a bit wider than last year’s version. But it’s instantly recognizable as a ThinkPad, and only ThinkPad connoisseurs can tell at a glance that this is an X1 Yoga and not an X1 Carbon.

While most people will probably use the X1 Yoga in its traditional laptop configuration most of the time—I did, almost exclusively—versatility is the point of this product line. And thanks to its 2-in-1 design and 360-degree hinge, you can use the Yoga in other useful configurations.

The X1 Yoga is a bit big and hefty to use as a tablet, but it’s a nice option for those who wish to occasionally use its multitouch- and smartphone-capable display that way directly. That said, the integrated smartpen, as noted below, is too small to use for long notetaking or drawing sessions.

More useful, perhaps, are the X1’s Tent and Stand modes. In both cases, you fold the display over backward so you can view the display and interact via touch. These are ideal for watching videos, for example, or giving presentations to a small group of people.

As always, Lenovo touts the X1 Yoga’s durability: Like all ThinkPads, the X1 Yoga has passed a series of MIL-Spec durability tests that include 12 military-grade certifications and over 20 procedures. It’s a tough PC.

Display

Lenovo made the eagerly anticipated switch to 16:10 display panels last year, so the new X1 Yoga follows suit, offering customers four panel choices that range from Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) to 4K+ (3840 x 2400). You can configure the Yoga with a Full HD+ display with Privacy Guard capabilities or move up to the single OLED-based 4K+ panel with its HDR400 and Dolby Vision capabilities. Because of the 2-in-1 nature of this device, all X1 Yoga displays support multitouch and smartpens, of course.

The review unit has a Full HD+ panel that emits about 400 nits of brightness, which is what I would choose if I were configuring one for myself: I love OLED panels, but they’re unnecessary for productivity work and can impact battery life. And on that note, the display is fantastic, and bright enough to use outside. I very much prefer 16:10 panels for laptops, and I feel this is the ideal aspect ratio.

Bezels are reasonably small all around, but they’re bigger on the top and bottom and aren’t in any way market leading. That’s fine: the black surrounds help to blur the line between the edges of the screen and the edges of the device, and 14-inches seems right-sized to me.

Internal components

The move to 12th-Gen Intel Core processors is, of course, the biggest single change with this year’s X1 Yoga. As before, you can configure a Yoga with 15-watt U-series processors or, for the first time, beefier P-series processors, which offer up to 28-watts of TDP (thermal design power). Either processor choice should improve performance and efficiency, compared to previous models, thanks to Intel’s new hybrid chip design, which offers multiple performance and efficiency cores. The new chips also support faster LPDDR5 RAM, which should further improve performance.

And maybe it does. But in my real-world usage, I didn’t notice any major improvements. In fact, I had some bizarre performance issues, as I have consistently with 12th Gen Intel Core processor-based PCs so far. For example, when trying to type in Word, I experienced a horrific lag that made the app frustratingly unusable. Switching the system’s power mode from Balanced to Best performance “solved” this problem, but it shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and I can’t explain it. I did switch back to Balanced later and it was fine.

After that initial period of uncertainty, the X1 Yoga performed admirably, and not just with the standard productivity tasks I generally perform: I edited and exported several 1080p and 4K videos for our Eternal Spring YouTube channel with Adobe Premiere Elements 2022 using this PC and it never skipped a beat. I also worked on a Windows App SDK project in Visual Studio 2022 without issue.

The review unit shipped with an Intel Core i7-1260P processor with a total of 12 cores, 4 of which are performance cores and 8 of which are efficiency cores. (By comparison, the previous year’s X1 Yoga provided quad-core 11th-generation Intel Core processors that lacked this modern hybrid design.) Graphics are handled by Intel’s integrated Iris Xe chipset, which is ideal for productivity work. But there’s no discrete graphics option if you need more graphics horsepower.

The Yoga exhibits a bit of fan noise under load, and it can get hot when pushed. The worst-case scenario is using it on a soft surface like a bed or couch: in that case, the PC gets quite hot.

Connectivity

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga offers the expected modern connectivity options, with Intel Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. And it can even be had with LTE or 5G connectivity via an eSIM or a nano-SIM card. This is as future proof as PC connectivity gets.

Ports and expansion

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga comes with a terrific selection of modern and legacy ports that should satisfy any business user.

On the left, you will find two Thunderbolt 4/USB-C ports with Power Delivery, DisplayPort 1.4a, and Data capabilities, a full-sized USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port with always-on capabilities for charging a phone, and a full-sized HDMI 2.0b port for video out.

The right side provides a second USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port (again with always-on), a combo headphone/microphone jack, and, if configured at purchase time, a nano-SIM card slot. There’s also a Kensington lock slot and a garage for the bundled Lenovo Integrated Pen.

I have one familiar quibble: I wish PC makers could figure out a way to place at least one USB-C port, which is used for charging, on each side of the PC. But the X1 Yoga is hardly unique in lacking this.

Audio and video

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga delivers terrific, immersive sound via a Dolby Atmos stereo system with two upward-firing and two bottom-firing speakers. It works great in all situations—music, videos, online meetings, whatever—and the Dolby Access app fortunately adjusts playback automatically according to the content you’re enjoying. (You can also manually fine-tune it as needed.) It’s particularly impressive with Dolby Atmos-encoded content, such as that provided by Netflix. And while the review unit didn’t ship with a 4K OLED display, that panel also provides Dolby Vision capabilities, which would almost certainly put the entertainment experience over the top.

On the webcam front, Lenovo has moved to Full HD (1080p) for 2022, and it makes a noticeable difference compared to the lackluster 720p units of yesteryear. To accommodate this larger sensor, Lenovo has moved to a new design across its ThinkPads where the area around the webcam at the top of the display lid is raised a tiny bit. I like this design: unlike Apple’s obnoxious MacBook Pro notch, the webcam on the X1 Yoga isn’t an eyesore and it doesn’t occlude the screen. And you can optionally configure the webcam with a Windows Hello-compatible IR sensor for facial recognition if you like. (The review unit does not include that feature.)

Rounding out its hybrid work credentials, the X1 Yoga also includes an array of four 360-degree far-field microphones with Dolby Voice capabilities. This allows the X1 to capture spatial audio from around the room you’re in, which seems like an unlikely need for work calls, but its noise suppression and dynamic audio leveling functionality are certainly appreciated. (Dolby Voice also offers noise suppression on the audio coming into the PC, which is interesting.) You can also enable a privacy mode that further cuts down on other voices in the room (and, I suppose, negates much of the spatial audio), but not, alas, in your head.

Keyboard, touchpad, and pen

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga provides a classic full-sized, spill-resistant, and 6-row keyboard with LED backlighting and the now-traditional scalloped, island-style keys. I like it overall, but I prefer the shorter throws of the keyboards found in modern HP and Surface PCs. Lenovo configures the keyboard with three Unified Communications keys for online calls (does anyone really use these keys?) and a single user-defined key that can be configured to run an app, open a website, invoke a keyboard shortcut, or paste in some text. But what I really like is the big PrtSc (Print Screen) key to the right of the right Alt key: I take a lot of screenshots, and this key is often small or hidden under an Fn shortcut on other keyboards.

Aside from the loose typing feel, I have a few other nits.

I’m a fast but sloppy typist, and I found myself inadvertently hitting the small PgUp and PgDn keys on either side of the Up Arrow key far too often, causing me to navigate away from wherever I was in the document I was writing. In almost two months of use, I never got used to that.

And Lenovo continues to misplace the Fn (function) and Ctrl keys on ThinkPad (and only on ThinkPad) for some reason. I don’t get it. Yes, you can use the Lenovo Commercial Vantage app to swap these keys in software, but why not just put them in the right locations and let the few ThinkPad veterans who prefer this layout do the swap? The needs of the many, etc.

As with other ThinkPads, the X1 Yoga ships with a dual pointing system that consists of a delightfully small touchpad and a TrackPoint nubbin with physical mouse buttons. Lenovo says the touchpad is larger than before, but I can’t tell the difference. And compared to the gigantic pads found on most laptops these days, it’s a nice throwback. Smaller touchpads are less error-prone, and this one was mostly reliable. And let’s not forget the TrackPoint nubbin, a favorite of ThinkPad fans.

The X1 Yoga also ships with a Lenovo Integrated Pen that’s securely stored in its own garage when not in use. I appreciate that some people buy 2-in-1s like the Yoga specifically for their smartpen capabilities, but this is more stylus than pen.

It’s too small, is awkward to hold and use, has tiny, hard-to-click buttons, and almost negates the entire point of having a smartpen. And that’s not just based on my own admittedly large mitts: I asked my wife, who occasionally enjoys the S pen capabilities of her Samsung smartphone, to try it as well and she was unimpressed because the nob at the end of the Pen dug into her hand in normal use. Put simply, this is a poor solution for note-takers or artists. Which begs the question: what is the use case here?

Portability

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga weighs 3 pounds, which is about average for a 14-inch business-class 2-in-1 laptop, but at just 0.61 inches thin, it’s quite svelte. I had no issues traveling with the Yoga, and I appreciate its unique combination of high-quality materials, portability, versatility, and power.

That said, battery life was just average, perhaps in part because I spent some time in the Best performance power mode. In almost two months of use, I saw an average of about 6 hours and 15 minutes of battery life. I’m not sure why, but it was sometimes much lower. After just two hours of use on the plane ride to Seattle the other day, for example, it had somehow plummeted to just 37 percent despite being full and powered down when the flight started. And when using it to finalize this review on the boat, the battery life plummeted similarly fast. In both cases, the PC was in Balanced power mode.

The Yoga is powered over USB-C using a standard 65-watt power brick that supports quick charging: its 57-watt-hour battery can be charged to 80 percent in 60 minutes.

Security

The ThinkPad X1 Yoga supports Windows Hello fingerprint and facial recognition capabilities, though the latter is optional. The Match-on-Chip fingerprint reader is built into the thin power button above the upper right of the keyboard and it works quite well despite its small size: pressing the power button to power on or wake up the PC will transmit your authentication to Windows 11, so you don’t have to do that twice.

For the webcam, Lenovo provides a tiny, impossible-to-see, and hard-to-use manual privacy switch, a ridiculous feature in a PC this expensive: I’d rather see an electronic key- or button-based option. Speaking of which, there’s a microphone mute button on F4, there should be one for the webcam too, that physically slides over a privacy cover. Other laptops have this.

The X1 Yoga is outfitted with Lenovo’s self-healing BIOS, meaning it can recover and self-heal when it is corrupted or attacked, preventing the PC from being bricked. This is possible because the firmware stores a backup and can revert to an older, known-good version if something goes wrong.

Customers can also optionally add PrivacyGuard and PrivacyAlert features to their ThinkPad X1 Yoga. PrivacyGuard prevents those next to and behind you from seeing your screen and it can be activated with a keyboard shortcut. And with PrivacyAlert, a shield icon displays on the screen when someone is looking over your shoulder at your screen. Neither is available on the review unit.

Software

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga ships with Windows 11 Pro and is completely devoid of crapware, just one of many advantages to this product family. There are no Lenovo apps pinned to Start or the Taskbar, and the PC only ships with four Lenovo utility apps, all useful, plus Dolby Access for configuring Dolby Atmos and Dolby Voice, Glance by Mirametrix (for the PC’s basic presence capabilities, which can dim the display if you’re not looking at it), and a few utilities related to specific hardware features. Nothing onerous.

Pricing and configurations

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is a premium 2-in-1 laptop, and it’s priced accordingly. The cheapest model I could find at the time of this writing was $1822 for a configuration with a Core i7-1260P processor, 16 GB of RAM, 1 TB of SSD storage, and a Full HD+ display. But you could spend as much as $3580 on this PC with enough upgrades. I couldn’t find the review configuration on Lenovo’s website, and there’s no configurator, at least at this time, just specific models/configurations. Note, too, that Lenovo routinely has sales, so it’s possible you’ll be able to pick up one for less than $1800.

Recommendations and conclusions

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga hits at a very specific part of the premium PC market, and those who are devoted to the ThinkPad brand but occasionally need the pen, tablet form factor, and multitouch capabilities should consider this over the similar ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which is a more traditional laptop. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga is recommended for its nice range of display choices, a terrific port selection, and a nicely improved webcam, but there are better keyboards and smartpens out there if you’re a 2-in-1 fan.

At-a-glance

Pros

  • Classic ThinkPad design, classic Yoga versatility, vaunted durability
  • Terrific 16:10 display options
  • Great selection of modern and legacy ports
  • Modern, future-proof connectivity
  • Full HD webcam
  • Clean software image with no crapware

Cons

  • Curious but occasional performance issues in Balanced power mode
  • Loosey-goosey keyboard with misplaced Fn and Ctrl keys
  • Lenovo Integrated Pen is too small to use comfortably
  • Battery life isn’t as good as I’d hoped
  • No key-based microphone mute or webcam privacy shutter

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Comments (8)

8 responses to “Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (Gen 7) Review”

  1. ibmthink

    Nice review, but isn't the F4 key the microphone mute? Pretty sure that key even has an LED that indicates if the microphone is muted or not.


    As far as the webcam shutter goes: A mechanical solution like this one is more trustworthy, because it can not be tricked. In theory, a hacked system with a software switch could still record if the lens is not physically blocked, which is why so many people put those ugly plastic blockers in front of their webcams.

    • Paul Thurrott

      Yes, and thanks. Will fix.
    • VMax

      Agreed on the shutter - the design, Fn key placement and other issues are very much open to opinion, but a physical shutter operated by a physical switch is objectively better at its job than any electro-mechanical solution outside of one effectively airgapped from the OS and, ideally, the firmware. Any machine implementing the shutter without that sort of air gap is doing it wrong. I'd much prefer the microphone to be physically disconnected via the same switch, in fact (while keeping the software-based mute function).

  2. bls

    I like the Lenovo layout for FN and CTRL. I use CTRL a lot more than FN, and having to stretch my pinky W A Y out there is annoying. I recently got a Surface Laptop, and the CTRL/FN layout is my biggest only beef with it.

  3. jheredia

    "hidden under an Fn shortcut on other keyboards."


    Not sure if it was intentional or not, but well played sir. ?

  4. rickeveleigh

    Interesting re the Word lag, I see this occasionally on my Lenovo P15s ThinkPad which has a i7-1165G7 processor. Will try the power mode trick next time it happens.

  5. barrywohl

    Thanks for a great review. I had an X1 Yoga Gen 2 that needed several in warranty screen replacements. Finally, Lenovo offered me a free upgrade to an equally highly speced X1 Yoga Gen 5 that I've used every day for the last few years. I'll definitely go to a Gen 7 or Gen 8 when this was goes out of warranty. For now, I'm 100% happy.

  6. jim_young

    I don’t mean to rain on anyone’s parade of happiness after buying a Lenovo Yoga, but I think that buyers and prospective buyers should be aware of a class action suit against Lenovo. The screens on several Yoga models routinely fail and Lenovo refused to remedy the issue, prompting the class action suit.

    https://www.classaction.org/lenovo-yoga-flickering-freezing-black-screen-lawsuits

    After reading Paul’s sparkling review of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 2nd Gen with WQHD OLED Display, I purchased one. It worked fabulously until shortly after the warranty expired. Then it started having the same problem that is described in the Class Action. Unfortunately, the model of Yoga that I purchased is not covered by the suit.

    A quick search of the Lenovo support forums found a thread in which dozens of owners of the Yoga model that have complained about the same problem. https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkPad-X-Series-Laptops/X1-Yoga-2nd-gen-Screen-problem/m-p/4101538?page=1#4101538

    The thread goes on for 6 pages with complaints from 2018 thru 2021. One person said he’d had Lenovo replace the display 8 times, and the problem came back each time. Many of the folks’ warranties had expired. Some said that Lenovo should provide a remedy even if the warranty had expired. They paid $2000+ for the computer, $300+ for the fancy display, and some (me) even spent $250+ for an onsite 3yr warranty extension.

    Anyway, all this is something to think about if you plan to buy a Lenovo Yoga. And, come on Lenovo, take care of your loyal customers! (I own 3 Lenovo ThinkPads.)

    Have any of you folks experienced the “flickering screen” problem on your Yogas?