The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga

A while back I got a new work laptop, and as usual I thought I’d post my thoughts on it.

This time I went for the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6, and I’ve been working with it for roughly six months, replacing my as my primary work machine.

Unabashedly glossy

The hardware configuration I had available at the time came with an i7-1185G7 3.00GHz, 32GB of RAM and 1TB storage, and I picked it because (in rough, descending order of importance):

  • There were (at the time) no nice and compact replacements.
  • It has Thunderbolt, and I wanted something that could work with my monitor without any kludges.
  • I am quite happy with the I bought for running Linux last year.
  • Both share the “yoga” design and flip hinges, which have been handy on more than one occasion.

It bears mentioning that I absolutely hated the I was assigned many years ago, which I replaced with a as soon as I could. But this one is pretty OK, and fixed a lot of the issues its predecessor had.

Overall Form Factor

The thing that struck me the most when I first picked it up was the heft, and the metal construction when compared to . It’s pretty much the same size, and slightly thinner, but the lack of plastics makes a noticeable difference.

My M1 MacBook Pro, the Flex 5 and the X1, stacked.

The X1 is almost exactly as thin as my , and they are both a few mm smaller than the , so there are no real surprises here other than the usual (moderately ugly) fan vents on the back and the lack of an SD card slot on the X1 (mini or otherwise).

I’ve found it relatively light as a travel laptop – unlike my , I can carry it around in a courier bag and it fits OK in an airplane/train tray, which I verified on .

Screen and Keyboard

One of the reasons for my loathing towards my previous X1 Carbon was that its screen was an unreadable dim mess. The doesn’t win any awards there, so I was very pleased with this X1’s 3840x2400 internal panel, which is quite bright and a pleasure to look at:

The X1 and the IdeaPad, side by side. The X1 has a brighter screen that disguises its glossiness better.

The panel is also a very capable touchscreen with pen support. The pen slots in and recharges in an almost unnoticeable slot on the right side, and is compatible with the (external, standalone) one I got with the , so I assume it’s a pretty normal Wacom setup (which, incidentally, works great on Linux).

And yes, I do use the hinges for situations other than photographing the thing. I don’t use it in tent mode, but I do flip it and set it on top of the keyboard (turning it into a propped-up tablet) when I’m using it on my secondary desk–which is an old tailor’s cutting table in my living room, facing a huge window:

This was the very first time I tried it, and I assure you the shot does not do any justice to the view.

I’ve since decked it out with a proper camera and some unobtrusive speakers, and it has been one of the most pleasant places to work in even if the purple tint around the edges of that old LG Ultrafine can be a little annoying.

Keyboard

This time I got a US keyboard layout, since I prefer that to Portuguese for coding and working (I do spend 99% of my working day speaking and writing in English anyway). I have zero complaints.

ThinkPad users will also notice that it ships with the ignominious TrackPoint (which, to this day, gives me RSI on my index finger every time I use it), and the keyboard is backlit, with the typical ThinkPad 4-key groupings for function keys and dedicated PgUp and PgDn keys.

This is another of the key (ha!) differences1 from the in daily use, but overall I can change machines with out any qualms. Comparatively, the X1 keys have a slightly different, less bouncy feel than the , and I’d say the only reason they don’t feel as nice as my has to do with their smaller keycap size.

Graphics Performance

The integrated Iris Xe graphics seem to be able to run both at 5120x2160 and the internal panel at 3840x2400 without any significant hiccups (then again, I’m not gaming on this thing), and HDR “works” like it always has in Windows, i.e., smudging all the “normal” whites in hope there’s a decent highlight someplace on screen (I kept it off).

For a lark, I installed and and fooled around a bit, and I’d rate the Xe as OK. This is not a MacBook, so I don’t have amazing expectations, but it is pretty good as mobile chipsets go. My can’t drive anything larger than 4K, and doesn’t have Thunderbolt either…

Thunderbolt

One of the main reasons I opted for the X1 is that it has a Thunderbolt port that supports power delivery, and that means that when I spend an entire day at my main desk I can easily swap out my work machine with by swapping a single cable.

The X1 comes with a 65W PSU, which means can power it just fine.

I also ordered a Lenovo Thunderbolt dock, but since it is designed for multiple models and comes with a huge 300W power brick, I moved it to my secondary desk and taped the brick to the underside with a lot of sticky tape.

Believe me, it takes a lot of sticky tape to hold that brick. Also note the weird cables for other, beefier ThinkPad models.

This may seem like a first world problem, but it is really a big quality of life improvement–with the Surface, I had to pop out DisplayPort, USB and power, swap inputs on my monitor and navigate the OSD to switch USB inputs so I could use my camera and gigabit LAN adapter (which are plugged into the LG).

Now it’s just the one cable, all my peripherals just go along for the ride, and I can leave the original 65W PSU in my courier bag, ready to go when I leave the house (which is seldom these days).

Insufferable Fan Noise

The fly in the ointment (and so far the only real issue I had with the X1) is that it is loud.

As in, the fans are stupendously, ridiculously loud for such a premium laptop. I dug around in Settings to check the power mode and saw it was set to Balanced, so I changed it to Best power efficiency and the noise subsided after a few seconds–and so did any impression of speed out of the system (i.e., it was markedly slower than the Surface Laptop it had replaced).

And, of course, whenever I open Teams the thing is unbearable, whereas all the Surfaces I have (with older chipsets) will ramp up fans as well but hardly as noticeably.

The only way I’ve found of keeping it on Balanced and cutting down on fan noise under Windows 11 is to go to Control Panel, Power Options, Change plan settings, Change advanced power settings and then go into Processor power management and set Maximum processor state, Plugged in to some place between 75% and 80% (I’m still experimenting).

So, effectively, I have to kneecap the i7-1185G7 (which is rated for 3GHz) and keep it around 1.8-2.5GHz.

Not a great first impression at all, especially considering the laptop is set on an aluminium laptop stand I bought for the and whose open section neatly aligns with the bottom vents.

It’s all cool and quiet now, though. But Lenovo would require me to nerf their top-of-the-range laptops to use them in a quiet setting is beyond me.

Software

It’s quite interesting to consider how quickly you can get up to speed on a new machine these days, especially when you have sane device management policies.

If I recall correctly, I arrived at our local office at around 10:00, got the laptop, powered it on, logged in, let it run through a full set of installs and automatic updates while I futzed about chatting to people I had literally not seen in years, rebooted it once to change its name from the utterly unimaginative DESKTOP-FOOBAR2 and was reading e-mail and heading out the door before noon.

I probably spent more time getting my creature comforts installed than anything else. And I didn’t install that much on the first day:

  • XMind, which I need to think, let alone work (more on that ).
  • Stream Deck, which helps me streamline my calls, and which beautifully migrated my configuration across (something that is so, so rare these days).
  • The OBSBOT TinyCam software, ditto (I should write about the TinyCam sometime, I’ve had it for nearly a year now).
  • Windows PowerToys, since I use FancyZones extensively.
  • Region To Share, a lovely little utility I use for more finely controlled screen sharing.
  • wsl, since I’d die without something decent to put inside Windows Terminal.
  • Barrier for sharing a keyboard, mouse and clipboard across my machines.
  • Nextgen Reader for industry news.

Since this is a work machine, I did not (yet) install Linux directly, although of course I’m running wsl (upgraded to Ubuntu 22.04) to do anything of substance on it. Otherwise it’s your vanilla Windows 11 22H2 business laptop.

But considering my long-term experience with the and , I’d wager it would run fine.


  1. Yeah, it’s a bad pun. ↩︎

  2. I christened it Donnager, given its all-metal, dark look. I have a whole Expanse theme going on with my machines, with running a Windows ARM VM called Tachi. It was a long pandemic, and I’ll take my fun however I can. ↩︎