Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 vs Apple MacBook Air: Which one’s better?

The new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 builds on top of the already great Gen 9 model, to bring some meaningful upgrades to the table. There’s a lot to like about the new refreshed ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 notebook and we think it deserves a spot in our collection of the best business notebooks out there. It’s a solid option to consider for those who are looking to buy an ultrabook in 2022. In this article, we’re going to take a look at the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 vs MacBook Air comparison to find out which one’s better.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 vs MacBook Air: Specifications

Before we begin the comparison, let’s first take a look at the specifications table of each notebook to find out what each of them brings to the market:

Specification Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 Apple MacBook Air with M1
CPU
  • Up to 12th Generation Intel Core i7 with vPro, U, and P series, up to 14 cores
  • Apple M1 (8 cores, up to 3.2GHz)
Graphics
  • Intel Iris Xe graphics (up to 96 EUs)
  • Up to an 8-core GPU
RAM
  • Up to 32GB LPDDR5
  • Up to 16GB unified memory
Storage
  • Up to 2TB PCIe Gen 4 NVMe SSD
  • 256 GB SSD
  • 512GB SSD
  • 1TB SSD
  • 2TB SSD
Display
  • 14-inch WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS low-power, anti-glare, 400 nits, 100%sRGB
  • 14-inch WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS low-power, anti-glare, touch, 400 nits, 100%sRGB
  • 14-inch WUXGA 16:10 (1920×1200) IPS low-power, anti-glare, touch, Privacy Guard, 500 nits, 100%sRGB
  • 14-inch 2.2K 16:10 (2240×1400) IPS anti-glare, 300nit, 100% sRGB
  • 14-inch 2.8K 16:10 (2880×1800) OLED, anti-glare, anti-reflection, anti-smudge, 400nit, 100% DCI-P3
  • 14-inch WQUXGA 16:10 (3840×2400) IPS low-power, anti-glare, 500nit, 100% DCI-P3, HDR400, Dolby Vision
  • 14-inch WQUXGA 16:10 (3840×2400) IPS low-power, touch, anti-glare, anti-reflection, anti-smudge, 500nit, 100% DCI-P3, HDR400, Dolby Vision
  • 13.3-inch LED-backlit display (2560 x 1600) with IPS technology, non-touch, 400 nits, True Tone technology
Battery
  • 57Whr battery
  • 49.9Whr battery
Ports
  • 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C)
  • 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
  • 1x HDMI 2.0b
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
  • Nano SIM slot
  • 2 x USB 4 / Thunderbolt (USB-C)
  • 3.5mm headphone jack
Audio
  • Dolby Atmos speaker system
    360-degree quad-array microphones
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos support
  • 3-microphone array
Webcam
  • 720p HD RGB webcam
  • 1080p Full HD RGB webcam
  • 1080p Full HD RGB + IR webcam
  • 1080p Full HD MIPI RGB + IR webcam with Computer Vision
  • 720p FaceTime HD camera
Security
  • Windows Hello:
    • Fingerprint reader
    • IR camera (optional)
  •  Privacy Guard display (optional)
  • Webcam shutter
  • Tile ready
  • Touch ID in the power button
Connectivity
  • Intel Wi-Fi 6E
  • Bluetooth 5.2
  • Cellular options:
    • 5G sub-6 Cat2o
    • 4G LTE Cat16
  • Wi-Fi 6
  • Bluetooth 5.0
Size (WxDxH)
  • HD webcam: 315.6 x 222.50 x 14.95 mm (12.42 x 8.76 x 0.59 in)
  • Full HD webcam: 315.6 x 222.50 x 15.36 mm (12.42 x 8.76 x 0.60 in)
  • 304.1 × 212.4 × 16.1 mm (11.97 × 8.36 × 0.63 inches)
Weight
  • Starts at 1.12kg (2.48 lb)
  • 1.29kg (2.8lbs)
Price
  • Starts at $1,639
  • Starting at $999

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 vs MacBook Air: Performance

Apple’s MacBook Air is powered by the company’s original M1 chip that debuted a couple of years back. While this isn’t the most powerful chip in the M1 family right now, we think it still holds up pretty against a lot of Intel and AMD chips out there. This is an octa-core chip with a combination of four performance ‘Firestorm’ cores and four efficient ‘Icestorm’ cores. It strikes a good balance between performance and power efficiency.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 laptop, on the other hand, is powered by Intel’s new 12th gen Alder Lake processors. We’re looking at the 12th gen vPro processors which means this notebook can be deployed with a suite of enterprise and security features. Lenovo is using both the P-series and the U-series processors for this laptop, so you get a variety of processor options to choose from. While the Alder Lake P-series is headlined by the Intel Core i7-1280P, the U-series has the Intel Core i7-1265U as its top chip.

Intel Alder Lake vPro platform

 

While we haven’t had a chance to use the devices powered by the Alder Lake P-series and U-series chips, we suggest you check out our Alder Lake P-series vs U-series comparison to find out some of the key differences between the two. We expect Intel’s new 28W P-series processors to beat Apple’s M1 chip, it’ll be interesting to see how the U-series chip will stack up against the M1.

Besides just the raw CPU performance, there are other things to consider as well, including the Apple M1’s unified memory technology, its powerful graphics unit, and more. We think the Apple M1 chip’s graphics unit outperforms Intel’s Iris Xe graphics unit. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 relies on the integrated Iris Xe graphics instead of a discrete unit. It could be beneficial when it comes to the overall power efficiency but we doubt if it’ll be able to keep up against the M1’s graphics unit.

In terms of the memory, we’re looking at up to 32GB LPDDR5 RAM inside the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10. The MacBook Air powered by the M1 chip comes with a maximum of 16GB of memory. However, Apple is using unified memory technology for significantly faster speeds and low latencies. The Apple M1 uses the same memory for graphics workloads too. And if you’re curious about storage options, both laptops can be purchased with a maximum of 2TB SSD. You can upgrade the storage on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10, but not on the MacBook Air.

apple m1 chip

Unified Memory Architecture on Apple’s M1 chip

We think this is also a good time to talk a bit about battery life. We’re looking at a slightly bigger battery inside the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 notebook coming in at 57Whr as opposed to the 49.9 Whr battery inside the MacBook Air. While this makes the ThinkPad X1 Carbon look better on paper, we think the MacBook Air is going to last longer on a single charge. The M1 chip is known to deliver an impressive amount of performance-per-watt. That, in addition to things like unified memory, better hardware-software integration with macOS, etc., yields better battery performance overall. We’re yet to get our hands on a laptop powered by Intel’s new Alder Lake U-series chip, though, so we suggest you keep your eyes peeled for a detailed breakdown of the U-series’ power efficiency once we get a chance to test it.

Windows or macOS?

As we highlighted in some of our other comparison articles involving an Apple computer, the operating system plays a huge role in deciding which you should buy here too. the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon can be purchased with Windows 11 Pro, Ubuntu, or Fedora. The MacBook Air runs on macOS Monterey out of the box. The MacBook Air is an obvious choice for those who are coming from an old MacBook. Similarly, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is, perhaps, the way to go if you’re used to the Windows or a Linux operating system.

Windows 11 Start Menu
macos 12 monterey on macbook air m1

Both operating systems are equally good and intuitive for beginners, so the choice is yours, really. We’re not picking an outright winner here since that’s a different topic of discussion for a separate article in itself. But if you are a content creator who’s looking to buy a machine for basic creative workloads, then do consider buying the MacBook Air. That’s because the MacBook Air is known to perform better across a variety of content creation workloads including graphics designing, video editing, and more. The MacBook Air also benefits from Apple’s great software-hardware integration, resulting in better performance across these apps overall, while consuming less power.

Display

All variants of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 sport a 14-inch 16:10 IPS panel, whereas the MacBook Air packs a 13.3-inch IPS Retina display. Both laptops have 16:10 IPS panels but the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 has a slightly bigger display. Additionally, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 also has touchscreen options, something that’s missing on the MacBook Air. The choice is pretty obvious if you want a laptop with a bigger display and a touchscreen option. Notably, you also get higher resolution panel options with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, whereas MacBook Air has no such options to choose from. It’s also worth pointing out that the ThinkPad comes with a Privacy Guard whereas such privacy features are completely missing on the MacBook.

Lenovo is also claiming some big numbers when it comes to color accuracy, although MacBook Air is pretty decent in itself in terms of the picture quality. We haven’t had a chance to test these laptops side-by-side for comparison, so we can’t quite tell which one’s better. If we were to pick one based on the specs sheet then we’d say the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 definitely has an edge over the MacBook Air. That being said, you’re not going to get a particularly bad display with either of these laptops. They both should be good enough for most users, that too for a variety of use-cases including day-to-day work, media consumption, and more.

apple macbook air m1

Both laptops also have a webcam on top of the display, but Lenovo is offering a 1080p camera option with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 laptop. You still get only a 720p webcam on the base model, but at least there’s an option to add an upgraded sensor. Apple’s MacBook Air sports only a 720p HD FaceTime camera, which is due for an upgrade this year. Lenovo also offers an optional IR camera variant to support Windows Hello face recognition. Apple’s MacBook Air features a TouchID fingerprint scanner for security.

Design and Ports

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 looks exactly like the many other ThinkPad notebooks out there. It features a familiar black-colored chassis. There’s also another black carbon fiber weave design that also looks great. Both variants, however, use carbon fiber, hence the name. That being said, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is no longer the lightest laptop out there. This one starts at 1.12kg whereas the ThinkPad X1 Nano takes the crown for being the lightest ThinkPad notebook weighing under 1 kg. We’d still choose the ThinkPad X1 Carbon over the ThinkPad X1 Nano to retain all the legacy ports.

While the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is a hair thinner, the MacBook Air has a smaller form factor overall. The MacBook Air also has a very familiar design since, well, Apple hasn’t changed it in years. The variant with an M1 chip is available in three different colors — Silver, Space Grey, and Gold — but they all have the same metal chassis. It’s a very minimal design that many prefer over something flashy like a Carbon weave texture, but it’s all very subjective.

Angled view of black laptop

As for the ports, there’s no doubt the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the clear winner. It sports two 2 x Thunderbolt 4 (USB Type-C) ports, two 2 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports, an HDMI 2.0b port along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, and a nano sim slot. The MacBook Air, on the other hand, only comes with two USB 4/Thunderbolt USB Type-C ports and a 3.5mm headphone jack. While both notebooks lack some of the ports including an SD card reader, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is the way to go if you don’t want to deal with adapters.

Connectivity options on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 include support for WiFi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2, and optional cellular options such as 5G sub-6 Cat2o and 4G LTE Cat16. The MacBook Air only supports WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5, so keep that in mind.

Which one should you buy?

Looking at the comparison points, we think the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 clearly beats the MacBook Air in certain key areas. The display on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, for starters, is great. It has a slightly bigger display and Lenovo is also offering more options to choose from including a higher resolution panel. Both laptops have a 16:10 aspect ratio display, though, so no differences there. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is also superior when it comes to ports selection and connectivity options. Not to mention, the ThinkPad also has a better webcam with optional IR support for Windows Hello.

While we can’t give our verdict on the performance just yet, the MacBook Air is already proven to be quite power efficient thanks to the M1 chip. We’ll have more to talk about the power efficiency of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon once we’ve had a chance to test both the P and the U-series chips.

Lastly, there’s also the price difference factor to consider while making a purchase decision. The MacBook Air starts at $999 whereas the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 starts at $1,639. While the base variants of both notebooks should be enough to handle just about any day-to-day workloads, the MacBook Air is generally considered better in this regard since you essentially get the same general performance across all models. The only thing that’s different in MacBook’s case is the unified memory and storage. This also applies to the display because you get a much sharper display on even the base variant of the MacBook Air, compared to a 1920×1200 panel with the base variant of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

    Apple MacBook Air

    The Apple MacBook Air is powered by the M1 chip and is available in three color options.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10

    The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 comes with 12th-gen Intel Core P-series processors, new OLED displays, and a Full HD webcam.

If you’re not impressed by either of these machines, then be sure to check out our collection of the best ThinkPad notebooks and the best Macs to see some other options out there. Alternatively, you can also check our collection of the best business notebooks to check out more options to choose from.

The post Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 vs Apple MacBook Air: Which one’s better? appeared first on xda-developers.

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