Alternative Options

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

For years, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been one of the more premium Ultrabook options available and for good reason. Striking a balance between impressive thickness and durability, the X1 Carbon stays true to the ThinkPad name.

One of the few 14" Ultrabooks on the market, the X1 Carbon is available in either a 1080p or 1440p option. Remember that you will sacrifice battery life with the higher resolution option though.

Even the keyboard and trackpad remain mostly untouched from the T450s and X250. Despite a thinner case, with less room for key travel, the X1 Carbon is delightful to type on. 

You do sacrifice some connectivity options with the X1 Carbon though. All you find here is two USB 3.0 Ports, a Mini DisplayPort connection, as well as a proprietary breakout port for a gigabit adapter which is included in the box. A Lenovo OneLink connector is present here though, if you are looking to dock this to more peripherals when sitting at a desk.

While the integrated 50 Whr battery is impressive, the battery life of the X1 Carbon won't come close to comparing with the X250 or T450s with the additional 6-cell battery option.

Specifications as Reviewed

  • Intel Core i5-5300U
  • 8GB DDR3L-1600
  • 128GB SATA SSD
  • 51Whr Battery

Currently coming in at around $1270 for our given configuration, the X1 Carbon is a great choice if you tote your notebook around constantly and are concerned with size and weight.

Lenovo ThinkPad Helix

Finally, we come to the only 2-in-1 design in the ThinkPad lineup, the ThinkPad Helix. While there have been plenty attempts at consumer-centric 2-in-1 designs, the Helix is one of the few enterprise-focused options. With features like a standard fingerprint reader, Intel vPro, and TPM support, the Helix is designed to be easy to integrate into an existing enterprise situation.

When paired with the Ultrabook Pro keyboard dock, this 2-in-1 combination feels surprisingly at home with the rest of the ThinkPad line. While the keyboard and trackpad don't feel quite as good as their counterparts in standard ThinkPads, they are far and away the best implementation I have ever used in a 2-in-1 design. Combined with the internal 35 Whr battery the Ultrabook Pro dock makes for a total of 61 Whr of battery life, more than the X1 Carbon.

Featuring an active stylus, the Helix is a great option for industries where people need to take notes in the field, or for creative applications. We do wish the stylus docked in the tablet itself, instead of with a small loop attached to the Pro dock, reminiscent of the Surface Pro 3.

Specifications as Reviewed

  • Intel Core M 5Y70c
  • 4GB DDR3L-1600
  • 128GB SATA SSD
  • 70Whr Battery

The Helix has substantially lower specifications than the other ThinkPad machines we've looked at, but as usual sacrifice comes with cutting edge form factors. The Core M 5Y70c should be sufficient for basic browsing and productivity tasks. Check out our Core M performance testing article if you are concerned about your certain use case.

At $1240 with the Ultrabook Pro dock, the ThinkPad Helix is a great choice for those interested in a Windows tablet that can still provide functionality on par with a standard notebook.


If you are at all interested in a ThinkPad, all of these machines are a solid choice. The diversity of the ThinkPad line is impressive, and provides lots of answers to personal preference for battery life, size and portability, as well as performance. I am curious to see how much of a change Lenovo brings with the migration to Skylake and if any of these designs we looked at today will be shaken up.

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