More Mobile: Problems in Paradise (Premium)

The problems first began in the summer, I think: I had moved the review unit Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (Gen 10) into my home office and was using it while docked to the HP Conferencing Monitor and its built-in USB hub. But things started getting wonky, with weird performance issues, especially with browser tabs. It was so bad, I eventually moved on to the next review laptop, hoping that the issue was with the laptop. But subsequent laptops experienced the same problems.

Today, about three months into this ordeal, I’m not sure what to say, given that I’ve spent a lot of time and effort trying to eliminate potential culprits.

As noted, it wasn’t the original review laptop since I’ve now had this issue across multiple laptops. It’s not the USB hub in the HP Conferencing Monitor, since I’ve experienced this strange problem with three different hubs, two USB-C-based and one a Thunderbolt 4 dock. And it’s not the web browser, which was an initial worry, come to think of it. I was using Brave, my preferred browser, when this first happened, but I’ve now experienced the same issue with both Chrome and Edge, the latter of which I’m temporarily punishing myself with so I can write about it for the book. (I suppose it could be Chromium-related? Hm.)

It's also not related to an external display … probably.

I say that because, while I had been using an external display (the HP Conferencing Monitor) since March, that’s the only external display I’ve used---beyond for a few short experiments with USB-C-based portable displays---in the past year. I do still have the external display I had been using before my switch to a More Mobile setup, but haven’t tried that yet. I’m curious to see whether connecting to that over HDMI will make a difference. For some reason.

I do have a theory, however. But I want to be careful not to go down that misguided path that so many people with theories succumb to (meaning, I want to be open to the real answer, not just the possible answer that popped into my head). And it’s related to something that’s been bothering me all year long: I don’t trust that Intel’s 12th-Gen chipsets work properly.

I write that based on reviewing laptops for well over 20 years, and after having had several 12th-Gen-based laptops come through my home this past year. There’s just something wrong there, something I don’t see any other reviewers---like, any other reviewers---mentioning at all. And in my brain, I tie these issues to Intel’s switch from its traditional processor architecture to a so-called hybrid architecture with multiple performance and efficiency cores. This design will of course make sense in the long run, but my guess---my gut feeling based on using so many of these machines---is that the 12th-Gen chipset, which is the first mainstream Intel chipset family to use this new architecture---isn’t quite right.

If you were to go back in time one, two, or three years and loo...

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