Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga First Impressions

Posted on August 17, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 13 Comments

Lenovo has juggled its various ThinkPad sub-brands to the point where even diehard fans can’t always tell what’s what without a scorecard. And so it goes with the new ThinkPad X13 series, whose branding mirrors that of the ThinkPad T14 and T15 families and reminds me of how vehicle makers like Volvo and Mercedes brand their own models.

Put simply, the ThinkPad X-series still represents the firm’s smallest and most portable laptops—so-called ultra-portables—and shouldn’t be confused with the X1 series, which are “ultra-premium ultra-portables” that provide larger displays and more amenities and command higher prices. More specifically, the X13 series provides 13-inch displays (OK, 13.3-inch displays) in what would traditionally be a 12-inch form factor.

The PC we’re examining here, then, is the ThinkPad X13 Yoga, and that additional word at the end of the name is Lenovo’s brand for its convertible laptops with 360-degree hinges. So this particular machine is an X-class ultraportable convertible with a 13-inch display.

But two additional tidbits confuse matters further: As is the case with the X1 series, Lenovo also sells the X13 in a traditional laptop form factor. That computer is branded as the ThinkPad X13, minus the Yoga bit, so that makes sense. But as we’re seeing with other PC makers, Lenovo is actually selling two different versions of its (non-Yoga) X13s, one based on Intel Core chipsets and one based on the exciting new AMD Ryzen 4000-series chipsets. That’s interesting, but it’s also confusing, and it introduces another level of information that an educated buyer will need before making a purchase.

That said, the X13 Yoga I’m reviewing only comes in Intel variants, at least as of this writing.

Still confused? You’re not alone. But I’m hoping that as Lenovo cleans out its older models—there are still ThinkPad X280, X390, and X395 models in the X-series family, for example—over time that its entire product line will become more self-descriptive. That is, you don’t have to be a ThinkPad insider to understand what an X13 Yoga is. The name basically makes sense, where a name like ThinkPad X390 does not.

Anyway.

The ThinkPad X13 Yoga is clearly aimed at the Dell XPS 13 and other ultra-portable convertibles—like the HP Spectre x360 13—that target the market for mobile professionals who want this special blend of premium quality, versatility, and portability. It’s a ThinkPad, so you get all those things that are special about ThinkPads, from the professional-looking and durable carbon fiber and magnesium construction to the scalloped island-style keyboard with its TrackPoint and touchpad. The look and feel are instantly recognizable, welcome, and iconic.

As a modern PC, the X13 Yoga is outfitted with 10th-generation Intel Core U-series processors and Wi-Fi 6. The review unit provides a Core i5-10310U processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe Opal2 SSD storage. The display is a 13.3-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS panel with anti-reflective and anti-smudge coating. It’s rated at 300 nits of brightness, and I can’t say that the bezels are particularly small.

That said, the X13 Yoga doesn’t skimp on expansion and I was both surprised and happy to see this PC arrive with a full complement of modern and legacy ports that should meet almost any need. There’s one USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port, one USB-C port, two full-sized USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (which are always-on for device charging), one HDMI 1.4b port for video-out, an Ethernet extension connector for side docking, a combo microphone/headphone jack, and a micro-SD card reader.

From a portability perspective, the X13 is thin and light enough, but not notably so. It weighs about 2.75 pounds and is 15.95 mm—or .63 inches—at its thickest point. It’s tall enough to support those legacy USB-A and HDMI ports, in other words.

There are some other ThinkPad niceties. The 720p webcam can be covered by a physical shutter called the ThinkShutter, for example. The device’s Match-on-Sensor fingerprint reader is apparently faster than ever, and I’ve always found ThinkPad readers to be both fast, accurate, and secure. And the keyboard is spill-resistant and features a set of Unified Communications keys on the F9, F10, and F11, similar to what we see on other modern business-class laptops from companies like HP.

Fans of digital pens will be happy to know that the X13 ships with a ThinkPad Pen Pro, which has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and can be securely stored into its own garage in the laptop. (Which also helps explain the height.) The stereo speakers are enhanced with Dolby Audio sound.

Overall, the Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga looks like a solid entry. Prices start at about $970 for an entry-level X13 with a Core i5 processor, 8 GB of RAM, and 128 GB of SSD storage. I believe the review unit would cost about $1400 at Lenovo.com.

More soon.

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Comments (16)

16 responses to “Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga First Impressions”

  1. JH_Radio

    Paul,are they working on simplifying their line over time? Like the 300 you mentioned, is it NOS ? No wonder the average consumer has no idea lol.

  2. crp0908

    Note as is standard with Lenovo devices, the FN and CTRL key are still positioned differently compared to the rest of the industry. This makes switching between Lenovo and non-Lenovo devices somewhat annoying. I assume these keys can still be switched in the BIOS firmware settings (but then the buttons will be labelled wrong).

  3. afotakel

    reminds me of how vehicle makers like Volvo and Mercedes brand their own models.”


    Paul, that’s probably your best comment ever made! At least for me!

  4. djross95

    Looks like the screen aspect ration is still 16:9. Is that the case, Paul? Ugh, this just makes no sense for a business-oriented productivity machine. Lenovo just refuses to move off of that, to their detriment.

  5. sevenacids

    Too bad you didn't review an AMD unit. I think about getting a X13 (non-Yoga) AMD (Ryzen 7) later this year. The benchmarks I've seen show that it's outperforming the Intel ones quite a bit. Plus, the price tag is also a little lower in comparison, not much, but still.


    Side note: FN and CTRL are in the right place and the rest of the industry is wrong ;), but I guess there's no accounting for taste.

  6. proftheory

    My (non Thinkpad) Yoga has the CTRL on the outside.

  7. John Dunagan

    All it's taken to get me all the way off of Lenovo for laptops is... driving a Lenovo laptop for roughly 4-5 years. It's better now that I docked it, but if I have to do that, may as well say f*** it and move into a NUC 11 Extreme. The Ctrl key being tiny and not on the outside, the laptop screen too small at 13", and the crappy, built-in Intel Iris Graphics have finally done it for me.

  8. IanYates82

    Moved from a T570 to an X1 Gen 2 extreme a couple of weeks ago

    It's been a nice upgrade for the most part. Missing numeric keypad but I'll get over it as it's docked 99% of the time. Had to get a new dock as the old thick pad docks aren't compatible anymore. That was an experience - thunderbolt to 2x display ports with one monitor being hdmi.... Ended up upgrading the nvidia graphics drivers and presto!


    Paul, if you launch lenovo vantage on this new machine as of now, does it blue screen windows? Big thread in lenovo forums about that starting to happen this week (possibly a vantage update or a Windows update). Definitely reproducible on mine unfortunately, although there's a workaround available now to disable some underlying files in vantage that kills some functionality but avoids the blue screen.

  9. 02nz

    If you think the branding is confusing on the ThinkPad side (and it is) - on the consumer side Lenovo started branding its higher-end standard clamshell laptops (with no convertible functionality) as Yoga, at least in some markets, e.g., the Yoga Slim 7. Doh!

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