ThinkPad X1 Carbon vs. ThinkPad Z13: Premium ThinkPads

Lenovo’s 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Carbon has been its premium business thin and light laptop for years. The laptop is now in its 11th generation, and it’s benefitted from a series of updates that culminate in a place on our list of the best 14-inch laptops.

Now, Lenovo has introduced a brand-new ThinkPad Z line, with the 13.3-inch ThinkPad Z13 being a direct competitor to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon G11. Can this upstart laptop compete with such a venerable machine?

Specs

  Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon G11 Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
Dimensions 12.43 inches x 8.76 inches x 0.59 inches 11.59 x 7.86 x 0.55 inches
Weight 2.48 pounds 2.78 pounds (2.63 pounds for non-touch)
Processor Intel Core i5-1335U
Intel Core i5-1345U
Intel Core i7-1355U
Intel Core i7-1365U vPro
AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 6650U
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 6850U
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 6860Z
Graphics Intel Iris Xe AMD Radeon graphics
RAM 16GB LPDDR5
32GB LPDDR5
16GB LPDDR5
32GB LPDDR5
Display 14.0-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS
14.0-inch 2.2K (2240 x 1400) IPS
14.o-inch WUXGA IPS with ePrivacy Filter
14.0-inch 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED
13.3-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS, touch or non-touch
2.8K 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED, touch
Storage 512GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
2TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
256GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
512GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
Touch Optional Optional
Ports 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x HDMI 2.0b
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x NanoSIM slot (on WWAN models)
2 x USB-C 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1
Optional 5G WWAN
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Optional 4G WWAN
Webcam 1080p with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello 1080p with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello
Operating system Windows 11 Windows 11
Battery 57 watt-hours 51.5 watt-hours
Price $1,392+ 1117+
Review 3.5 out of 5 stars (1oth-gen) 4.5 out of 5 stars

Lenovo’s web store pricing can be all over the map, with constant changes and discounts that can make comparing laptops difficult. You can also find Lenovo machines at a variety of prices from retailers. As you’ll see below, the ThinkPad Z13 is slightly less than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon 11 depending on the configuration.

As of when this comparison is being written, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 starts at $1,565 for an Intel Core i5-1335U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 14.0-inch WUXGA IPS display.  Manually configure the maxed-out option and you’ll spend $3,676 for a Core i7-1365U vPro, 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and a 14.0-inch 2.8K OLED display.

The ThinkPad Z13 starts at $1,117 for an AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 6650U CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, and a 13.3-inch WUXGA IPS display. Build the highest-end configuration possible and you’ll spend $3,420 for a Ryzen 7 PRO 6860Z CPU, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, and a 13.3-inch 2.8K OLED panel.

Design

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 retains the iconic ThinkPad design and aesthetic of its predecessors. It’s the same all-black chassis constructed of a combination of magnesium alloy and carbon fiber in the lid, with red accents in the red dot above the “i” in the ThinkPad logo on the lid, the red TrackPoint nubbin in the middle of the keyboard, and a few other locations. The design is slightly different from the previous version, but it’s still very recognizable as a member of the ThinkPad line.

The ThinkPad Z13 sports what Lenovo calls a “progressive” design, and it’s a fresh look that features less of a taper along the edges and among the smallest display bezels available on a ThinkPad at a 91.6% screen-to-body ratio. There are also more color and material options, with black recycled vegan leather (plastic) on the lid with a bronze aluminum chassis and two all-recycled aluminum options, black and Arctic Grey. That gives the ThinkPad Z13 a more modernistic aesthetic that, if you squint hard enough, still looks like it belongs in the ThinkPad lineup. That’s thanks mainly to the logo on the lid and the red TrackPoint nubbin.

Both laptops are solidly built, true to the ThinkPad brand. As always, both are subjected to military tests for robustness. They both live up to the ThinkPad’s reputation for excellent build quality.

The ThinkPad Z13 is naturally smaller than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10, but it’s slightly heavier at 2.76 pounds versus 2.48 pounds while being thinner at 0.55 inches versus 0.60 inches. Both laptops are small and light for their respective sizes, but the ThinkPad Z13 is relatively smaller thanks to its tiny bezels.

Keyboard and trackpad on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 has a newly designed keyboard that retains the standard ThinkPad layout but incorporates venting to help keep the laptop cool. The ThinkPad Z13 has an edge-to-edge keyboard that we’ll be looking forward to testing. As with durability, the keyboard experience is excellent on both laptops. The ThinkPad Z13 stands out by incorporating a 120mm haptic ForcePad touchpad that blends in with the palm rest and doesn’t lose space to physical buttons for the TrackPoint. At the same time, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11’s more traditional physical touchpad is significantly smaller and does lose space to TrackPoint buttons. Speaking of the TrackPoint, the version on the ThinkPad Z13 can be double-tapped to pull up a communications menu, something lacking on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Both laptops feature Lenovo’s new Communications Bar that integrates Full HD webcams for excellent video conference video and audio. The ThinkPad Z13’s version uses an electronic e-shutter and dual-array microphones, while the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 has a physical shutter cover and quad-array microphones. Both utilize AI-based technology to enhance video and audio quality further.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is the more versatile in terms of connectivity. It includes two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB-A 3.2 ports, a full-size HDMI 2.0b port, and a Nano SIM slot for optional 4G or 5G WWAN support. The ThinkPad Z13 is more limited, with 3 USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports and a Nano SIM slot for optional 4G WWAN. Both laptops have held onto their 3.5mm audio jacks. Wireless duties are handled by Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 on both machines.

Performance

Lenovo ThinkPad Z13 front view showing keyboard.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 uses Intel’s 13th-gen Core processors with their hybrid “performance” and “efficiency” core architecture, up to 14-core U or P processors with vPro optional. We tested with the Core i7-1355U, a 15-watt CPU with 10 cores (two Performance cores at 5GHz and eight Efficient cores at 3.7GHz) and 12 threads.

The ThinkPad Z13, on the other hand, is built around AMD’s next-gen Ryzen PRO U-series CPUs with an optional exclusive AMD Ryzen Pro. Our review unit used the high-end Ryzen 7 PRO 6850U, an 8-core/16-thread processor running at up to 4.7GHz.

Simply put, the ThinkPad Z13 is a faster performer. We didn’t test it in performance mode in a couple of our benchmarks, but it would likely be considerably faster than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 across the board. Both are fast enough for demanding productivity users, but the ThinkPad Z13 holds a considerable lead.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11
(Core i7-1355U)
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
(Ryzen 7 PRO 6850U)
Geekbench 5
(single/multi)
Perf: 1,810 / 6,074
Perf: 1,852 / 8,484
Bal: 1,428 / 8,208
Perf: N/A
Handbrake
(seconds)
Bal: 184
Perf: 121
Bal: 97
Perf: 89
Cinebench R23
(single/multi)
Bal: 1,626 / 5,728
Perf: 1,833 / 8,122
Bal: 1,410 / 7,865
Perf: N/A
PCMark 10 Complete 5,338 5,812

Display

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 top-down view showing keyboard.

A vast array of 14-inch 16:10 displays are available for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11, ranging from a WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS non-touch panel up to a 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED touch display. In between are a couple of other IPS options and a privacy panel, and Dolby Vision is available on the highest-resolution screen. The ThinkPad Z13 offers just two 13.3-inch 16:10 options, a WUXGA IPS low-power display or a WQUXGA OLED display with Dolby Vision. Both displays support touch.

The sheer number of display options with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 is impressive, and you’re covered whether you want a lower resolution for better battery life or a high-resolution display for the sharpest image. The ThinkPad Z13 might offer fewer options, but they’re both good — one low-power display for efficiency and one 2.8K OLED display with Dolby Vision. Either way, you’re likely to be happy with your choices, although we’ll give the nod to the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 for its flexibility.

We tested both laptops with their low-power IPS displays, and the ThinkPad Z13 had slightly wider AdobeRGB coverage and better accuracy, with lower contrast. Both displays are fine for productivity users but won’t excite creators.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 11
(IPS)
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
(IPS)
Brightness
(nits)
420 415
AdobeRGB gamut 100% 99%
 sRGB gamut 76% 80%
Accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)
1.15 0.84
Contrast ratio 1,690:1 1,220:1

Portability

The ThinkPad Z13 is smaller than the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 but slightly heavier. Both are compact laptops, though, and should slip into a backpack without weighing anybody down.

The ThinkPad Z13 has a significantly larger battery at 70 watt-hours versus 57 watt-hours and AMD CPUs are known for their better efficiency. In our testing, the ThinkPad Z13 lasted significantly longer in our web browsing test, while the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 11 led the way in our video looping test. Based on these results, the ThinkPad Z13 is more likely to last a full day on a single charge.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 11
(Core i7-1260P)
Lenovo ThinkPad Z13
(Ryzen 7 PRO 6850U)
Web browsing 9 hours, 43 minutes 16 hours, 34 minutes
Video 18 hours, 23 minutes 17 hours, 50 minutes

The ThinkPad Z13 is faster, longer-lasting, and more modern

Both laptops are premium business-class machines, and both will cost you some serious cash if you up the configuration. Both are incredibly well-built and offer extensive manageability and security for businesses.

However, the ThinkPad Z13 is a more modern laptop, with an updated aesthetic. It’s also faster and lasts longer on a charge. That makes it the more attractive laptop for anyone who isn’t married to the iconic ThinkPad design.

Editors’ Recommendations






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