ThinkBook 14s Yoga: not (quite) a ThinkPad, but not too bad…

I’m a hard-core, dyed-in-the-wool, rabid, militant TrackPoint fan. I did not expect to like this ThinkBook as much as I do. It’s a tight piece of engineering, and other than missing that red nubbin, it’s a first-rate machine.  Slim, decent weight, good specs and options, a stylus, and an aluminum case.  And it’s a Yoga.

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.

I’ve done my best to gather accurate information, but things are subject to change and correction.  Please double-check anything I say here before using it to make a purchase decision.

As usual, this is not quite a review.  More a survey of things that interest me.  We’ll dig into the details, but first – Lenovo images and a video  (edited).  Click on gallery for full-sized images.

 

 

 

Base Specifications:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Sales Spec Snip – image Lenovo (edited)

Full base specifications:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga.pdf (local copy 2021.12.27)
ThinkBook 14s Yoga.pdf (lenovo.com)
ThinkBook 14s Yoga – all PSREF pages, including models, specifications, photos, documentation, and service (Lenovo.com)

 

Ports:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Ports – image Lenovo (edited)

It’s worth noting that the fingerprint reader is incorporated with the power button,  which is on the right side.  It works surprisingly well, as does the one on the top deck of my ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6.  All of my earlier ThinkPads that use the small square FPR have problems with reading my prints consistently.

Another thing to note is the privacy shutter that can cover the camera lens.  It’s small, easy to miss, and easy to accidentally slide over the lens.  You’d be surprised how many times someone shows up in the forums with a “defective” camera, only to leave humbled by that little thing.  It really is easy to miss.  Nice that the ‘Book shipped with a reminder 😉

ThinkBook ThinkShutter

Yet another nice touch: the sheet that protects the display from the keyboard during shipping includes some tips.  Thoughtful.

ThinkBook Keyboard Shipping Protector Tips

 

This unit’s specifications:

In brief:

  • Processor:  Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7 (4C / 8T, 2.4 / 4.2GHz, 8MB)
  • Graphics:  Integrated Intel Iris® Xe Graphics
  • Memory:  8GB Soldered DDR4-3200 + 8GB SO-DIMM DDR4-3200
  • Storage:  512GB SSD M.2 2242 PCIe 3.0×4 NVMe
  • Card Reader:  MicroSD Card Reader
  • Audio Chip:  High Definition (HD) Audio, Realtek® ALC3287 codec
  • Speakers:  Stereo speakers, 2W x2, Dolby® Audio™, Harman Speakers
  • Camera:  720p with ThinkShutter
  • Microphone:  2x, Array
  • Battery:  Integrated 60Wh
  • Max Battery Life:  MobileMark® 2018: 8.4 hr
  • Power Adapter:  65W USB-C (3-pin)
  • Display:  14″ FHD (1920×1080) IPS 300nits Glossy, Glass, 100% sRGB,
    Touch, Dolby Vision™
  • Touchscreen:  10-point Multi-touch
  • Keyboard:  Backlit, English (US)
  • Case Color:  Mineral Grey
  • Surface Treatment:  Anodizing Sandblasting
  • Case Material:  Aluminum (Top), Aluminum (Bottom)
  • Pen:  ThinkBook Yoga® Integrated Smart Pen
  • Dimensions (WxDxH):  320 x 216 x 16.9 mm (12.60 x 8.62 x 0.67 inches)
  • Weight:  1.5 kg (3.3 lbs)
  • Operating System:  Windows® 10 Pro 64, English
  • Ethernet:  None
  • WLAN + Bluetooth®:  11ax, 2×2 + BT5.1
  • Standard Ports:  1x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On),  USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort™ 1.4), Thunderbolt™ 4 / USB4™ 40Gbps (support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort 1.4), HDMI® 1.4, microSD card reader, Headphone / microphone combo jack (3.5mm)
  • Security Chip:  Discrete TPM 2.0

In detail:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga 20WE001FUS.pdf (local copy 2021.12.27)
ThinkBook 14s Yoga 20WE001FUS – PSREF page (Lenovo.com)

 

Operating system and initial setup:

The machine shipped with Windows 10 Pro.  Windows 11 was offered during OOBE (out of box experience) and I accepted the offer.  It starts chugging away on the download in the background, and once Windows 10 is up and running it asks to update to ’11.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga OOBE Windows 11 Offered

I would normally have made local recovery media for Windows 10, but since the Lenovo Win 10 image was available I downloaded that instead.  Lenovo Digital Download Recovery Service (DDRS) – Lenovo Community    Once Win 11 was fully up – and updated – I made recovery media from that using the standard tool available in Windows 10 & 11 – as I have with other laptops: ThinkPad P1 Gen 2: a Beauty AND a Beast -> Initial Setup -> Locally created media.

Even though Windows 11 is shipping on new kit, it still seems it’s a work in progress. Some things are missing… or lost in the ozone somewhere… An example is hibernation.  It’s still possible to enable hibernation as an option in the shutdown menu, and it works.  What’s missing is the time setting that used to be available with sleep in the advanced settings.

Similarly on my X1 Yoga Gen 6 it’s the same story along with the Human Presence Detection (HPD) settings. They are still there in Commercial Vantage, but are not honored.  The search bar takes one to the Windows 11 sleep settings and suggests that’s where the controls are… but they aren’t there.

My WAG is that this is all part of MS deciding that all these sorts of controls should be gathered in settings.   OK, Fine… but how about actually putting them there after removing them from their traditional locations?  </soapbox>

A couple of other things that distress me – in both ’10 and ’11 – the incessant push to use an MS account as a login, and Bitlocker.  I recognize the advantages of both for convenience and security but that’s not the way I prefer to set up my laptops.

MS bangs away at trying to force an MS login.  At least with the Pro versions there’s a way to avoid that, although it’s often hidden in the fine print.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga OOBE Account Nag #1

ThinkBook 14s Yoga OOBE Account Nag #2

So sign me up for “Offline Account” and “Limited Experience”.

One of the things about an MS login that can cause some serious problems is that if a machine is capable of using Bitlocker, signing in that way will activate it.  The process should offer the key and store it in one’s MS account, but that too often gets missed by users. All is fine until later when they need to provide the key for forensics or recovery, or to simply access their drive after an update of OS or BIOS or some random event.

Even if Bitlocker isn’t fully activated the as-installed encryption will prevent other OSen like Linux from accessing the drive.  That’s a major problem if one is trying to salvage data, or simply setting up a dual-boot situation as I usually do.  Some of my machines provided a button in the Bitlocker management console (Control Panel -> System and -> Security -> BitLocker Drive Encryption or “bitlocker” in the search box) but some didn’t, even though the console was there.  I use a command line process to fully disable it.  In a CMD window run as Administrator:

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Disable Bitlocker

ThinkBook 14s Yoga No Longer Says Encrypted

 

Major components and performance:

Note: The performance tests and device information below were gathered while running Windows 11.

BIOS:

The “hidden” component.  This ThinkBook uses an insyde BIOS, not the Phoenix BIOS I’m used to in my ThinkPads.  It does have a GUI BIOS setup program that looks very similar to the one in my recent ThinkPads, and it appears to have the “self healing” feature.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga insyde BIOS

Navigating the BIOS setup GUI is inconsistent.  Scrolling via touchpad, for instance, sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t.  For now (hopefully this will be fixed) it may be necessary to use both touchpad and keyboard.

The BIOS is “Modern Standby” only (S0ix sleep) and does does not have an option to toggle modes to old-school S3 sleep.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Modern Standby

NOTE: the BIOS is also missing a legacy boot mode option.  It is UEFI only.  Legacy mode has been deprecated: Legacy BIOS Boot Support Removed in Lenovo 2020 products.

SSD:

The SSD slot supports PCIe/NVMe Gen 3 x4 and not the newer Gen 4.  The installed SSD takes nearly full advantage of Gen 3 performance.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga SSD Model and Performance

Wifi:

This ThinkBook doesn’t have an Ethernet port, although an inexpensive USB-C or USB-2.0/3.0 dongle could be used to provide one if needed.  The AX wifi card performs very well, and nearly saturates my Gigabit cable connection.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Wifi Model and Performance

Virtualization:

The ‘Book has plenty of RAM for virtual machines (although more would always be welcome) and the i5 can handle the load (although an i7 would be my choice if this was a purchased machine).  BIOS was already configured for virtualization so all I had to do was install VMware Workstation Player (free) and copy a few existing VMs over for testing.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Virtual Machines

Battery runtime (not “life”):

Windows 11 no longer provides a “time remaining” estimate with the battery icon in the tool bar.  It wasn’t super accurate but it provided a very simple metric that for my ThinkPads seemed to be fairly close to the truth.

My admittedly simple runtime test consisted of running the appropriate software for 30 minutes or longer and noting the battery charge percentage drop reported.  All were at approximately half screen brightness, and one third volume.

Just sitting idle at the screen wallpaper or a quiet Edge browser the drop was about 2% per hour.  So forever… The media streaming tests were via wifi from a Windows host and gave roughly 15 hour runtime for MP3, and 12 hours for MP4.  I’d expect that with much else going on the results would be considerably lower, but I’d call this a 10hr+ battery.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga MP3 Battery Runtime – 40 minutes, 4% drop

ThinkBook 14s Yoga MP4 Battery Runtime – 60 minutes, 8% drop

 

Linux – live:

Something I always do with a new machine is boot one or more live Linux distros to take a quick look at what works – and what doesn’t.  It’s a very good indication of how a particular distro will work when installed (see below) and verifies that if I (or anyone…) needs to boot same for forensics or recovery it can be expected to function.

I went through my usual quick shakedown with Ubuntu 21.10, and everything I tried seemed to work well.  Also took a quick look with Fedora 34 and while it generally worked a few things didn’t.  They are noted below.

It wasn’t necessary to change  any BIOS settings to boot either distro.  Both will boot in secure mode.  The Ubuntu flash media was created my usual way: extract the contents of the ISO and drop them on a FAT32 flash drive.  The Fedora media was built using their tool.  They use their own partitioning and formatting which makes it a little difficult to build media manually.  It can be done – I’ve done it – but it may not be worth the fuss.

To boot USB media, hit F12 on startup or restart and select the drive from the boot menu.  NOTE: if Windows Fast Startup is enabled (it is by default) startup is more like resume from hibernation and it will be necessary to first shut down with SHIFT+Shutdown to get a full shutdown so the next startup will recognize F12 (or any other boot option key) but a restart should always permit using those keys.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Boot Menu – Ubuntu

Odd that the BIOS recognizes Ubuntu as Linpus.  That seems to be common for many machines and BIOSen.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Welcome

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Fully Booted

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Wifi

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Camera

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Speakers

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Microphone

Also verified that dedicated keys  – volume and brightness, shared with function keys – work.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Bluetooth

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Stylus (… fine art …)

With Ubuntu 21.10 booted, all the “touch” stuff worked as expected: touchscreen, touchpad, and tablet mode.  With Fedora 34 one thing I noticed is that “tap to click” did not work on the touchpad.  Press to click did.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Tablet Mode and On Screen Keyboard

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Windows Partition Access

NOTE: the above after Bitlocker disabled in Windows 11.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Connect to Windows Network Shares

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Windows Network Shares Accessed

A note about how the screenshots were saved: when booted from a live USB flash drive the media is treated as if it’s a CDROM – it isn’t writable.  That can be changed via the command line.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Live Ubuntu Copy to Flash Drive

 

Linux – installed:

The final exercise was an actual install of Ubuntu 21.10. Wow, what a difference from the old days.  In this new age of GPT drives and UEFI BIOS it’s nothing like the bad old days.  That and the sophistication of modern Linux installers make it simple and easy.

This went almost exactly as described in How to Dual Boot Ubuntu and Windows – the Picture Book Edition so I won’t go over it again here.  The only difference I noticed was due to the insyde BIOS.  The location of and procedure for changing boot order is  a bit different.  Access BIOS setup via F1 at boot or restart, then access the boot order “fine print” as shown below.  Note – again – that if Fast startup is still on in Windows (you should have turned it off by now if you’re doing a dual boot install) you need to either do a restart or SHIFT+shutdown then startup in order to access BIOS.

Ubuntu will put itself first in the boot order.  That can be changed.

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Ubuntu Post-install Boot Menu

ThinkBook 14s Yoga Ubuntu BIOS Boot Order

 

Bonus Mouse:

The ThinkBook wasn’t the only thing in the box when it arrived.  No, this isn’t an included option, it was a pure bonus.  The timing was perfect since my go-to Bluetooth mouse gave up the ghost during ‘Book testing.

The Lenovo Go Wireless Multi-device Mouse is a small wonder.  Two Bluetooth IDs and an included RF dongle – with the ability to use a mouse button to select which is active – allows pairing with three different host devices and switching from one to the other with ease.  Very handy.  It will charge via USB-C cable (provided) or wirelessly (charger not provided – I’ve charged it with my “brand S” phone charger.)  And it’s inexpensive.  What a nice bit of design and engineering.

ThinkBook and Mouse

ThinkBook, Mouse And Qi Charger

 

Links:

Lenovo Sales:  General  ThinkBook 14s Yoga

PSREF (specification) Pages:  General  ThinkBook 14s Yoga

Support:  General  ThinkBook 14s Yoga  User’s Guide  Hardware Maintenance Manual

Lenovo Forums:  All  ThinkBook  Linux

Linux:  Ubuntu  Fedora

 

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Windows 10/11 ISO: install.wim too large for FAT32 Flash Drive

As I indicated in previous whinge post, the size of the install.wim file in Windows install ISOs can present some problems when creating USB flash install media: Windows 10 USB Install Media … or MS BS  This came up again when I wanted to try a pure clean install of Windows 11 on a ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 4.  The MS download site is offering the Windows 11 ISO to all visitors – not just non-windows hosts as it did with ’10 – and others may trip over this.

Some UEFI machines – ThinkPads for instance – will only boot FAT32 USB install media.  The multi-version ISO has an install.wim file too large for FAT32, so just dropping its contents on a FAT32 flash drive as I usually do won’t work.  The ISO produced by the MS media creation tool (so far) produces an install.esd file that will fit, but may not always be the desired option.

I’ve just come across another way to tackle this that allows creating FAT32 + NTFS media with the multi-version ISO, and may also be handy if using a custom install.wim file. First, this is not my invention.  Full credit and kudos to the sites and people linked below:

USB install media with WIM file larger than 4GB

Create bootable USB installer if install.wim is greater than 4GB

Very useful and bears repeating.  My take in detail … perhaps too much detail…

To recap, simply mounting the ISO with Windows Explorer or an archiving tool like 7zip and extracting the contents to a FAT32 flash drive won’t work.  It is possible with an NTFS drive, but ThinkPad UEFI BIOS isn’t NTFS-aware. (Some other brands and models are able to boot from NTFS media.)  There are ways to split the overlarge file using Windows or Linux tools from the command line. ( Windows:  https://www.zdnet.com/article/windows-10-installer-files-too-big-for-usb-flash-drive-heres-the-fix/  Linux:  https://wimlib.net/ )    Another reported possibility is using Rufus to create a split FAT32/NTFS drive but so far I’ve not found the appropriate options – if they exist at all.

The approach described in those links at the top of this article does make use of a flash drive with both FAT32 and NTFS partitions.  This is made possible by a pair of things: Windows now allows creation of – and access to – multiple partitions on a flash drive, and the unmodified windows installer is capable of finding the install.wim file in the NTFS partition.

SIDE NOTE: regardless of multiple posts on the interweb claiming that to do a UEFI install to a GPT main drive the flash drive must be GPT partitioned – that is not the case.  The MBR partitioning on most flash drives out of the box is fine.  Either for this split drive or the simpler FAT32-only drives I use for both Windows and Linux installs. In fact, the MS media creation tool builds an MBR/FAT32 flash drive.

The process in words and pictures using Windows in-built tools.  It should also be possible to do this from Linux.

Use Disk Management to delete any existing partition(s)

Create the FAT32 partition

1GB is sufficient

Make it FAT32 and name it if you like

And the NTFS partition

Use the rest of the drive – 7GB is enough

NTFS and name it if desired

Ready – specific drive letters are not important as long as they are assigned

Open ISO with Windows Explorer or (un)archiving or mount tool

Copy ISO contents to FAT32 but do not include sources folder

Contents minus sources copied

Use “New folder” button to manually create an empty sources folder in FAT32

Open the sources folder in the ISO and copy boot.wim to sources in FAT32

Copy entire ISO contents to NTFS partition

All copied

And that’s it.  It probably wasn’t necessary to copy all of the folders in both cases, but it was easier than figuring out what was required in each partition.

Eject the flash drive, plug into the target machine, boot or restart and access the boot menu (F12 on a ThinkPad). Install…

On the way…

And we’re up – this screenshot after Lenovo Commercial Vantage installed

 

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Why we do this…

That’s a Good Question

13 years now, spending a ridiculous number of hours in the Lenovo forums.  I’m not the only one.  Mods, gurus, a legion of engaged “civilians” both asking and answering questions.

Plenty of mod/net nanny chores.  Binning spammers, moving threads to the appropriate forum, the occasional spanking issued for poor deportment… but it’s the tech stuff that’s the most interesting and gratifying. From the deep-in-the-tech-weeds booting and performance issues to the trivial-seeming and almost silly stuff:  New Member: “my webcam doesn’t work!”  Me: “Is the security shield over the lens?”  NM: “There’s no security shield! … Oh, wait… there it is.  D’oh!”

So I guess that’s it.  Not the fat pay check or the bennies  – no such, we’re all volunteers. The occasional tech swag is fine and appreciated, but that’s not it either.  Admittedly, the once-in-a-while attaboy or -girl is nice but that’s not the whole story.  For me, and I suspect many of the others, it’s the compulsion to be useful.  Sometimes that urge gets us out over our skis with a hasty reply, but there’s almost always someone around to add nuance, or even a correction.  Usually taken with good grace.  We’re a team of friends and strangers 🙂

Mostly remote via the web, but recently I had occasion to do some tech help in person.  It was almost literally eye-opening.

The Tech Stuff

Got word via the grapevine that brother-in-law’s desktop wasn’t performing.  Nearly unusable.  He – like me – is well into retirement age, but unlike me he’s still working.  A high-school teacher who loves his work and is respected and well liked by staff and students.  He needs a properly working machine.

This was a ThinkCentre M91p that I had gotten for him 10 years ago.  Fine in its day, but barely functional now: i7 – that’s OK – but 4GB of RAM and a 7200RPM HDD – those are not.  And Windows 7 – really not.  No support, no ongoing security.

Thanks to COVID-19 and circumstance I haven’t seen bro-in-law or the M91p for a couple of years.  A family memorial had us making the 1000 mile trip so I grabbed 8GB of DDR3 and a Samsung 1TB SATA SSD and off we went.

Installed the RAM and borrowed the internal SATA and power cables from the DVD drive to connect the new SSD.  Samsung provides free migration software and 20 minutes later we were booted up on the new drive mounted in an inexpensive 2.5-3.5″ bracket.  Machine is practically snappy now 🙂

Now the software: uninstalled the grab-bag of (probably conflicting) security software and installed ESET.  That took some hackage since it didn’t want to install in Windows 7.  (I hadn’t decided to try upgrading the OS at that point) An older version of ESET would install and activate with my key, and then happily updated itself to the latest version.  Yay.

Ran the Windows 10 upgrade assistant (not the media creation tool) in place and brought it up to Win 10 with no fuss whatsoever.  Activated without asking for a key. Nice. One last issue: a few months ago the machine had started refusing to shut down with the dreaded “operations are in progress…” message.  That’s an Acronis bug that requires some serious digging to fix – and the version of Acronis on the machine wasn’t going to work with Win 10 anyway.  Unless we purchased new software the backup to external drive wasn’t going to be an option any more.  Set him up with Google Backup-and-Sync with its free 15GB of cloud storage and Bob’s your uncle.

[Side rant] He didn’t ask me about the shutdown issue when it happened.  Had a well-known tech support company come in.  Their “fix” was to change the drive letter of the external drive so Acronis would error out and not hang during shutdown.  That left him with no ongoing backup, and the clowns left without warning him.  *bleep*

The Real Stuff

Brother-in-law has a history of serious eye problems.  Corneal transplants years ago, and again recently.  A detached retina that didn’t heal properly. Now cataracts that couldn’t be treated with lens replacement until the latest transplants healed – and one of them suffered considerable delay and challenging complications.  (TMI, I know…)

Hopefully there will be some positive resolution in the next few months but as it stood – even with the decent performance of the updated ThinkCentre – he couldn’t see what was on the display well enough to do much of anything.

I had never looked into ease of access/assistive tech before but it was readily available, and had been even in Win 7.  Got the resolution set to where it should be, found a scaling factor that increased visibility considerably without introducing other issues (some scaling factors cut off part of some applications) and most important: put the magnifier in the task bar.  Showed him that and got a smile… and maybe a tear (mine, when I realized how bad things were and how much this little bit of tech could help) and he was up and running.  So simple and yet so important and useful.

You know, maybe that new forum member with the trivial camera issue wasn’t silly.  That little lens cover is so well integrated these days it’s hard to spot if you don’t know to look for it. And maybe that camera was the difference between making it to an online job interview or not, or being able to attend a remote class or not.  Not so trivial after all.

Well, back to the forums.  See you there 🙂

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How to Dual Boot Ubuntu and Windows – the Picture Book Edition

 

*Click on the gallery for full-sized images and text*

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ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6: Future Perfect?

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 Collage – images Lenovo (edited)

(This is a public draft of an article written for the Lenovo forums.  The “official” version is there – please join that conversation: ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6: Future Perfect?)

The tech world never sits still. Capabilities and capacities – and bang for the buck – keep improving. Somehow, requirements do too. Processing power, RAM and storage capacity, offset by the tug-of-war between upgradability, battery runtime, footprint, thickness, and weight. Even display density and connectivity.

Nothing is ever “future proof” but given the eye-popping specs of the the X1 Yoga Gen 6 that just landed on my bench, I think we can call it “future friendly”. And then some.  Let’s have a look, 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.

I’ve done my best to gather accurate information, but things are subject to change and correction.  Please double-check anything I say here before using it to make a purchase decision.

 

Base Specifications:

A snip from Lenovo’s sales data sheet:

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Datasheet (partial – edited)

The PSREF pages, and base specification PDF:

https://psref.lenovo.com/Product/ThinkPad/ThinkPad_X1_Yoga_Gen_6

https://psref.lenovo.com/syspool/Sys/PDF/ThinkPad/ThinkPad_X1_Yoga_Gen_6/ThinkPad_X1_Yoga_Gen_6_Spec.pdf

Notes from Lenovo engineering:

  • Early documentation lists Bluetooth as 5.1.  It is 5.2.
  • RAM in all configurations runs dual-channel.
  • Even though it does not have a physical Ethernet port, the laptop has an Ethernet MAC address that’s presented via the Lenovo USB-C adapter (may not be included with the laptop).

[Update 2021.03.21] Additional notes re storage options:

I’ve been digging, and here’s what I think I know about the new X1 Yoga’s storage.  There will be two tiers of performance: “standard” gen 3 and gen 4 SSDs that are in the same performance class as the current PCIe 3.0×4 SSDs, and a “performance” tier that is gen 4 only and runs at roughly twice the speed of the current gen 3 offerings.  These higher performing SSDs will be classified as “PCIe 4.0×4 performance” or “gen 4 performance” in their descriptions.  A specific model (MT-M) with “standard” storage may ship with either a gen 3 or 4 SSD.  Performance will be roughly the same for either of the standard SSDs. I do not speak for Lenovo.

The ports:

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Ports – image Lenovo (edited)

 

Generational Changes:

Apart from slight differences in the range of options, and the lid logo, the Gen 4 and Gen 5 X1 Yogas were twins.  The Gen 6 is a major overhaul, upgrade, and re-engineering.  What’s changed?  TLDR: everything 😉

Display aspect ratio, docking, CPU options, RAM performance and capacity, storage performance, human interaction options – to name a few of the notable changes.

Perhaps the biggest change – across a range of new ThinkPad models – is the switch to a 16×10 display.  For years many of us have wished for more vertical pixels (for that reason a WQHD display has been my sweet spot) and at long last our prayers have been answered.  This is a big deal.  Also a big deal: 2TB gen-4 NVMe SSD options.  Lots of storage – and crazy fast.

The ports have changed too – see above.  They are no longer side-dock compatible so docking solutions will be Thunderbolt 4 most likely, and there’s no proprietary Ethernet port.  Most users won’t miss that latter, but a few of us do occasionally need wired connections – so USB-C or 3.0 dongles, or perhaps via a dock.  Per Lenovo engineering: the laptop has an Ethernet MAC address that is presented if the USB-C adapter is used.

What hasn’t changed is that solid “carved out of solid ThinkPadium” feel (it’s aluminum), excellent keyboard,  and the mandatory-for-a-ThinkPad TrackPoint and buttons.  The touchpad is a bit wider now, but personally, I’m indifferent.  Not a touchpad user.

A few of the notable changes from Gen 5 to Gen 6 – maximum options shown, not all models will have these specifications.  Gen 6 in italics.

Processor:

  • 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 / i7 Processor
  • 11th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 / i7 Processor

Graphics:

  • Intel UHD Graphics
  • Intel Iris Xe Graphics

Display:

  • 14.0″ UHD (3840×2160) Multi-touch IPS 500 nits, Anti-reflection Anti-smudge, Aspect Ratio 16:9, Contrast Ratio 1500:1, Color Gamut 90% DCI-P3, Viewing Angle 170°, Dolby Vision™ HDR 400
  • 14.0″ UHD+ (3840×2400) Multi-touch IPS 500 nits, Anti-reflection Anti-smudge, Aspect ratio 16:10, Contrast Ratio 1500:1, Color Gamut 100% DCI-P3, Viewing Angle 170°, Low blue light

Monitor support:

  • Supports up to 3 independent displays via native display and 2 external monitors; supports external monitors via HDMI® (up to 4K@24Hz) or Thunderbolt™ (up to 5K@60Hz)
  • Supports up to 4 independent displays via native display and 3 external monitors; supports external monitors via Thunderbolt™ (5K@60Hz) or HDMI® (up to 4K@60Hz)

Memory (soldered – no slots, runs dual-channel):

  • LPDDR3-2133 – maximum 16GB
  • LPDDR4x-4266 – maximum 32GB

Storage:

  • M.2 2280 SSD – PCIe NVMe, PCIe 3.0 x4
  • M.2 2280 SSD – PCIe NVMe, PCIe 4.0 Performance

Ethernet:

  • Gigabit Ethernet, Intel Ethernet Connection I219-V or -LM, RJ45 via optional ThinkPad Ethernet Extension Adapter Gen 2
  • NONE: Ethernet support via optional Lenovo USB-C to Ethernet Adapter (may not be included with the Laptop). MAC address supported.

WWAN:

  • Fibocom L850-GL 4G LTE-A
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G LTE (not yet available from Sales or in PSREF specs)

Ports:

  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On), 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 / Thunderbolt 3 (support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort™ 1.2),1x HDMI 1.4b,1x Ethernet extension connector, 1x headphone / microphone combo jack (3.5mm), 1x side docking connector
  • 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On), 2x Thunderbolt 4 / USB4™ 40Gbps (support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort™ 1.4a), 1x HDMI 2.0, 1x headphone / microphone combo jack (3.5mm)

In addition to the above differences, there are slight differences in weight and dimensions. Fans (two now) exhaust via read vents.  More significant is the addition of HPD (human presence detection) as an option in the Gen 6.  It can provide enhanced security, convenience  (and perhaps complication) to user interaction.  This bears – and will receive – further examination.

Some amateur pics to show the differences in ports and dimensions:

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gens 5 & 6 (right) Height

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gens 5 & 6 (top) Width

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gens 5 & 6 (top) Left

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gens 5 & 6 (top) Right

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gens 5 & 6 (top) Rear

Bonus pic: Top view of the Gen 6 with its compact USB-C charger, a (purchased separately) Lenovo 65W GaN “wall wart” USB-C charger, and a USB-C to micro-USB adapter.  With the wall-wart and adapter in my backpack, I can charge most anything including my Yoga Tab 3 Pro and brand “S” phone.

[Update 2021.03.10] The corded charger below will charge the laptop, and a Yoga  Tab 3 Pro and brand “S” phone via the micro-USB adapter.  Unfortunately the wall-wart will charge the laptop and phone, but not the tablet.  Unclear which end  is the problem.  A little disappointing, and bears further research.

ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 Top and Chargers

 

This Gen 6’s Detailed Specifications:

TLDR: maxed out 🙂

Please note that this is a pre-production machine.   It has some features that are not yet available on the sales site – or in the PSREF specifications.  These are the specs of the machine actually on my bench, but I don’t/can’t/won’t make any promises about what will eventually be available to the general public.  32GB RAM, Gen 4 SSD, and 5G LTE are not generally available as of this writingI do not speak for Lenovo.

  • Model:  20Y0Z8ZAUS (not in the PSREF pages)
  • Product:  ThinkPad X1 Yoga (6th Gen)
  • Processor:  Intel Core i7-1185G7 (4C / 8T, 1.8 / 4.8GHz, 12MB, vPro)
  • Graphics:  Integrated Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Chipset:  Intel SoC Platform
  • Memory:  32GB Soldered LPDDR4x-4266
  • Storage:  2TB SSD M.2 2280 PCIe Gen 4 NVMe OPAL2
  • Display:  14″ UHD+ (3840×2400 – 16×10) IPS 500 nits anti-reflection anti-smudge
  • Multi-touch:  10-point Multi-touch
  • Pen: Lenovo Integrated Pen (Garaged)
  • Ethernet:  NONE
  • WLAN + Bluetooth:  Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201, Wi-Fi 2×2 802.11ax + Bluetooth 5.2
  • WWAN: Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 5G
  • Case Material:  Aluminum
  • Camera:  IR camera and HD720p camera with ThinkShutter
  • Audio:  Dolby Atmos speaker system, 2W x 2, 0.8 x 2 /
    four 360° far-field microphones, headphone / microphone combo jack, High Definition (HD) Audio, Realtek® ALC3306 codec
  • Color:  Storm grey
  • Keyboard:  Backlit, English
  • Fingerprint Reader:  Touch Style, Match-on-Chip, integrated with power button
  • TPM:  Discrete TPM 2.0
  • System Mgt:  Intel vPro Technology
  • Battery:  57Wh battery, supports Rapid Charge (charge up to 80% in 1hr)
  • Power Adapter:  65W USB-C
  • Operating System:  Windows 10 Pro 64, English
  • BIOS Security:  Power-on password, Supervisor password, NVMe password, Self-healing BIOS
  • Other Security: Camera privacy shutter, IR camera for Windows Hello, Privacy Guard with Privacy Alert, Human Presence Detection

 

Major Components and Performance:

The Gen 4 SSD performance is off the chart!  Well, not literally… its still on the chart, but I’ve not seen speeds like this before.  Amazing.

Please note that not all Gen 6 Yogas will be configured with a Gen 4 SSD.  Some will be Gen 3. Verify before purchase.


X1 Yoga Gen 6 SSD DiskMark

Wifi performance is fist-rate.  My router will actually support 2400mbps link speeds, and the earlier X1 Yogas will sometimes hit that.  I don’t think anything is amiss with the Gen 6.  It may be location re the router or something else. Will continue to monitor but for now it’s fine.  Can nearly max out my cable connection.

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Wifi Performance

Lastly, what PassMark thinks of the Gen 6.  I don’t generally run benchmarks and won’t try to interpret this.  Posting here for the interested reader.

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Passmark

 

Virtualization:

That’s pretty much a given with modern CPUs.  This Gen 6 with its 32GB of RAM and 2TB of storage handles multiple VMs effortlessly.

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Virtual Machines

You may notice a problem with these virtual clients: they’re so small as to be nearly unusable.  This is an issue with high-DPI displays.  Thankfully modern Linux distros like the ones I’m usually running have scaling options that can help with this.  For other/older OSen, it can be a real problem.  Some notes on that here: High DPI Displays and Scaling

Ubuntu and Fedora Linux VM clients with scaling in use:

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Virtual Machines Scaling

 

Battery Runtime:

Runtime.  Not “life”.  Runtime. </soapbox>

A not-terribly-scientific, but hopefully fairly accurate look at runtime under various loads.  My approach is to let each application run until the “gas gauge” settles down and then grab a screen shot.  Display brightness was about half, and if audio was playing it was set at “20”.

I’d call this pretty decent.  It’s not quite as good as my Gen 5 but it’s pushing a much higher resolution display, among other hardware differences.  The HPD feature with its quick and automatic sleep/wake seems to help with battery usage.  It snoozes when I turn away and wakes when I turn back.  Nearly instantly.

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime Idle

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime Firefox

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime MP3

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime MP4

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime Streaming Wifi

 

Final thoughts – for now:

This machine is too new to me to have many fully-ripened opinions.  First take is that it’s fantastic.  Quick and responsive. Long-wanted aspect ratio, lots of RAM, lots of really fast storage, decent CPU, and all that counted-on ThinkPad goodness.  5G LTE.  And some really interesting new features.

Planned follow-on articles will include Linux – live and installed – and a deeper look into new features like Dolby Voice and Human Presence Detection.  Quick take on that: it’s amazing… and a little surprising if you’re not expecting it.

 

Links:

Sales:

https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-x1/X1-Yoga-G6

The PSREF pages, and base specification PDF:

https://psref.lenovo.com/Product/ThinkPad/ThinkPad_X1_Yoga_Gen_6

https://psref.lenovo.com/syspool/Sys/PDF/ThinkPad/ThinkPad_X1_Yoga_Gen_6/ThinkPad_X1_Yoga_Gen_6_Spec.pdf

Support Pages, User Guide, Hardware Maintenance Manual:

X1 Yoga 6th Gen (Type 20XY, 20Y0) Laptop (ThinkPad)

https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/x1_carbon_gen9_x1_yoga_gen6_ug_en.pdf?linkTrack=PSP:ProductInfo:UserGuide

https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/tp_x1_carbon_gen9_x1_yoga_gen6_hmm_en.pdf

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