This is a second look since NateS has posted a first-rate first look in the Lenovo forums:
This laptop is a 10th-gen CPU refresh of the one Nate reviewed. The below is not a review. As usual, it’s more of a punch-list of things I find interesting and useful – mostly good things, some less so… but first:
From time to time Lenovo sends me a gadget. They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums. I do some testing and writing as well. Beyond the use of the laptop, I’m not otherwise compensated.
Professional images are Lenovo’s. Amateur snapshots are mine. Opinions are exclusively mine. I do not work for, represent, or speak for Lenovo.
As above this laptop is an in-model refresh that incorporates a 10th-generation i7-10510U CPU. The advantages per Intel: Intel Expands 10th Gen Intel Core Mobile Processor Family
The X1 Yoga Gen 4 base specification:
This unit’s specs:
- Model: 20SA000DUS
- Product: ThinkPad X1 Yoga (4th Gen)
- Processor: Intel Core i7-10510U (4C / 8T, 1.8 / 4.9GHz, 8MB)
- Graphics: Integrated Intel UHD Graphics
- Chipset: Intel SoC Platform
- Memory: 8GB Soldered LPDDR3-2133
- Storage: 512GB SSD M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe Opal2
- Display: 14″ WQHD (2560×1440) IPS 300nits AR (anti-reflection) / AS (anti-smudge)
- Multi-touch: 10-point Multi-touch
- Pen: ThinkPad Pen Pro (Garaged)
- Ethernet: 100/1000M via Optional Adapter
- WLAN + Bluetooth: Intel 9560 11ac, 2×2 + BT5.0
- Case Material: Aluminum
- Camera: 720p with ThinkShutter
- Microphone: 4x, 360°
- Color: Iron Grey
- Keyboard: Backlit, English
- Fingerprint Reader: Touch Style, Match-on-Chip
- TPM: Discrete TPM 2.0
- Battery: Integrated 51Wh
- Power Adapter: 65W USB-C
- Operating System: Windows 10 Pro 64, English
External and Mechanical
I’ll defer to the excellent set of external views in the First Look article in the forums, but add a shot of the X1YG4 and X1YG1 that gives an idea of the relative sizes. The G4 has shrunk all the way around while supporting a display of the same size.
About that display: a laptop with a 14 inch WQHD display is my sweet spot. 14 inches is the right compromise (and not much of one…) of display size, keyboard size, usability on an airplane tray (yoga poses help with that) and ease of tucking into my backpack.
[Update 2019.12.23] Got to put that to the test on an Airbus flight from Seattle to Denver. The slightly smaller laptop, stand “pose”, and aluminum case worked very well on the steerage-class flight. The slightly tighter dimensions made for an easier fit on that little tray. Stand mode meant the screen could be used at a decent viewing angle – which couldn’t happen in laptop mode. The metal case inspired confidence that it could survive the indignities of location and turbulence – and whatever unknowns the previous pilgrim had left on the tray.
[Update 2019.12.27] And on the way back… had it briefly in laptop mode just as the lady seated in front of me slammed her seat backward. (As they always do) Snagged the top of the display and fired the X1 into my lap. No harm, no foul. Did I mention that the case is Aluminum? This thing feels like it was carved out of a single block of ThinkPadium 😉
WQHD for a couple of reasons: the extra pixels are useful when working with windowed apps like editors and virtual machines that use a lot of window decoration in addition to the workspace. WQHD just looks better than FHD, and IMNSHO holds up well even on a 24 inch desktop monitor. UHD (and OLED) is prettier yet, but when using apps that don’t scale well, or more so when booting something that doesn’t have a GUI interface, the text is microscopic. Even at WQHD resolution a grub boot menu is almost too tiny for my old eyeballs, and editing it on the fly is a challenge:
NOTE: the WQHD display brightness is 300 nits. That’s fine for me, but may not suit others who need a brighter display. Other display options provide 400 or 500 nits.
Then there’s the color: I’m in the “ThinkPads have TrackPoints and are black” crowd. This one is iron gray and is very good looking, so I’m going to have to loosen up a bit. How about “light black”? Works for me… I don’t know if the color was dictated to some extent by the aluminum case or was purely a cosmetic choice. Either way, fine.
TrackPoint buttons: As the X machines get thinner and smaller all-around there’s less and less space for buttons and trackpad. The buttons have flattened out over the generations to the point that with the X1YG4 there’s pretty much no vertical relief at all. My (finger) muscle memory goes back to the R40, and I’ve got to learn to address the buttons differently. When I don’t keep that in mind I may lose selection during drag-and-drop, or just miss the click entirely.
The Gen 1 X1 Yoga had a strip between buttons and touchpad that was beveled down toward the buttons. The X390 yoga doesn’t have that strip but the buttons still sit proud of the touchpad. The Gen4 Yoga has buttons almost flush with the touchpad. This makes it difficult to fully press them with my thumb with my hand in the usual position – flat on the palm rest. By raising my hand a bit, and/or making sure I press directly down on the buttons and don’t let the touchpad interfere they seem to respond reasonably well.
This is going to be a subjective thing. I think I can re-educate the digits, but only time will tell. (I was mistaken, see below…)
[Update 2020.07.06] The TrackPoint button issue has been corrected. It turned out that the problem was a defective touchpad of all things. My new Gen 5 – X1 Generations – ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 5 – had buttons that worked perfectly, and were mechanically identical to this Gen 4’s.
I pursued the issue with support and sent the Gen 5 in for a keyboard replacement. They turned the machine around in one day… and replaced the touchpad – “erratic cursor” was the diagnosis. I thought they were nuts, but props to them and a forum mod who explained things: the touchpad was sending random events via the same internal USB hub that the buttons use. This was causing button events to be frequently missed. Amazing how well it simulated a mechanical issue. My “deep press” was more likely a “long press” that managed to get the event through.
Fingerprint Reader: Not much to say. My older ThinkPads with large press or swipe readers still recognize my fingerprints. The newer, smaller press-type readers rarely do. I’ve decided my fingers are defective 🙁
Side Docks: Using a Lenovo image of the X1 in a side dock. Mine will connect with my 40AJ Ultra dock but is mechanically a little balky. My other compatible laptops click in fine, so looking into this. I can’t say if it’s the laptop, the dock, or both… or neither. Will update when this is sorted.
[Update 2020.01.21] The issue was with the dock. It was a pre- or early-production unit that predated the Gen 4 Yoga. Modifications were made to later-production docks to ensure easy docking with the Gen 4. Thanks to the Lenovo QA team for chasing this down.
Per the Compatibility Matrix this laptop should be compatible with all the side docks: 40AJ Ultra, 40AH Pro, and 40AG Basic.
Major Components and Performance
No complaints about subjective performance. The Western Digital SSD – WDC PC SN730 SDBQNTY-512G-1001 – pretty nearly saturates the available read bandwidth and write performance is decent. Lenovo uses multiple SSD suppliers so this may not be the drive in any given laptop.
The Intel AC 9560 wifi hooks up at full available speed with my router, and actual download performance looks good over my gigabit connection.
Battery Runtime (not “life”)
The base spec says “Max battery life: MobileMark 2014: 18.1 hrs Battery life varies significantly with settings, usage, & other factors”
Those sorts of statements always seem … optimistic. I’d say runtime is decent. The below are a set of estimates gathered during admittedly casual testing. Brightness is about 2/3 for all of these. I let each situation persist long enough that the “gas gauge” had stabilized.
(And no, I don’t know who The Posies are…)
Pretty much a given with modern laptops and CPUs, but in the spirit of “pictures or it didn’t happen” here you go. This is VMware Workstation Player (free).
This laptop – somewhat surprisingly – arrived with 8GB of RAM. OK for general use and for running a single virtual machine with a small memory footprint. For larger or multiple VMs the 16GB option might be a better choice. The RAM is soldered so upgrading is not an option.
Not my favorite topic. It’s not how I want my ThinkPads to act, but it seems here to stay, and perhaps the general laptop audience actually welcomes it…
Modern Standby is a sleep mode that keeps one eye open. The laptop can still access the network (subject to a bit of user control) and get background things done when “asleep”. Lenovo’s implementation/enhancement is Smart Standby.
Some configuration is possible via Lenovo Vantage, and there’s a BIOS option (in the fancy GUI, self-healing BIOS) to switch completely over to the old S3 sleep mode. This has been a relief to Linux users (Linux doesn’t support Modern s0i3 sleep… yet) but Microsoft says that if it’s toggled Windows must be reloaded. I’m not entirely sure that’s true – but fair warning.
I’ll admit I haven’t fully come to grips with this new “feature” and will try to learn more and update as possible. I have discovered that enabling Smart Standby overrides my chosen hibernation timing 🙁 Smart Standby was enabled by default along with a 6AM resume/wake up. Not nice. That’s not something that should happen without user interaction IMNSHO.
Now that I’m retired and not testing hardware and drivers it’s rare that I need a bare-metal install of Linux. VMs and Ubuntu for Windows can provide most of what I use. Still, it’s always interesting to try on Ubuntu and other *nixen and I know there’s a large appetite for such out there.
The below are quick snips of things I tested via a live Ubuntu 19.10 on a flash drive. These are strictly drive-by tests with very little depth. Tested the pen, but not the buttons, for instance. Didn’t test the fingerprint reader, etc, etc, etc… The basics seem to work, apart from the built-in microphone. One note: the touchpad and Trackpoint worked in 19.10 but not 19.04. Editing in “psmouse.proto=bare” to the 19.04 linux line in the boot stanza enabled the TrackPoint but not the touchpad.
Tablet mode recognized, touch keyboard pops up – and works. Camera works. Pen works. Speakers work, mic doesn’t. Primary drive (PCIe/NVMe Windows) accessible. Wifi works.