ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7: Truly a New Generation

A preliminary look at the laptop that just took over the place of honor on my bench. Base specifications and the specifics of this top-of-the-line X1 Yoga – and how it compares to the previous tenant, a high-end Gen 6  X1 Yoga – ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6: Future Perfect?.  There’s also a super-quick look at Linux issues.  By now you know the drill:

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.

This one, like the Gen 6, is a pre-customer-ship unit.  I expect it to be representative of what is – or will be – available to the public, but it may vary in some details.  As always, I strive for accuracy, but please double-check anything I say here before using it to make a purchase decision.

On first look it seems that nothing has changed from the Gen 6, apart from the little bump at the top of the screen – the Communications Bar that contains the microphones and camera(s).  It’s an identical-appearing, aluminum-cased, 16×10 ThinkPad Yoga with the same set of ports.

On a 2nd look it becomes clear that many things have changed – both base components and options: CPU, RAM, camera, and display, to name a few. As usual, before digging into the details, a few pretty pictures (clickable gallery – images Lenovo):

 

The specifications:

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Datasheet Snip

The full Datasheet: https://most.lenovo.com/api/v2/library/pdf/device2pager/Device_ThinkPad_X1_Yoga_Gen_7

The current sales page: https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/p/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpadx1/thinkpad-x1-yoga-gen-7-14-inch-intel/len101t0010  It describes features I don’t address here, like “breathing through the keyboard”.

The ports on the Gen 6 and 7 appear to be identical:

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Ports – image Lenovo

 

That one external difference – the communications bar containing microphones and cameras:

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Communications Bar

 

And the substantial component differences:

Links to the base specifications:
      X1 Yoga Gen 6
      X1 Yoga Gen 7

The range of CPU options:

X1 Yoga Gen 6 CPUs

X1 Yoga Gen 7 CPUs

That’s right.  Up to 14 cores and 20 threads.  Good grief.  12th Gen Intel® Core™ Mobile Processors

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Memory – LPDDR4x-4266

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Memory – LPDDR5-5200

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Multimedia – Cameras

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Multimedia – Cameras

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Displays

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Displays

Note that OLED option.  Gorgeous!

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Network

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Network

 

And for completeness a few of the similar component options:

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Graphics

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Monitor Support

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Storage

Storage notes:

The Gen 6 storage options don’t mention m.2 2242 – only 2280.  The Hardware Maintenance Manuals for both show identical SSD mounting, so it’s likely 2242 would work in either – with an appropriate mechanical extender.

Both machines list PCIe 4.0 x4, and PCIe 4.0 x4 Performance drives.  SSD manufacturers offer PCIe 4.0 drives in (at least) two performance tiers.  The ones Lenovo lists without the “Performance” label have speeds approximately equivalent to top-end PCIe 3.0 drives.  The “Performance” SSDs are roughly twice as fast as the non-performance drives.

Lenovo uses multiple SSD vendors.  Drive models and speed may vary from one machine to another as shipped, but the “Performance/non-Performance” qualifiers should be roughly representative.

 

The specifics of these two top-of-the-line machines:

X1 Yoga Gen 6:
     WQUXGA IPS display
     IR & 720p hybrid camera, with privacy shutter, fixed focus
    
Intel Core i7-1185G7  (4 core) processor
     32GB LPDDR4 memory
     2TB PCIe G4 performance SSD
     Wifi6
     Windows 10 Pro

X1 Yoga Gen 7:
     WQUXGA OLED display
     FHD IR MIPI camera with Computer Vision Technology
     Intel 12th gen i7-1280P (14 core) processor
     32GB LPDDR5 memory
     2TB PCIe G4 performance SSD
     Wifi6E
     Windows 11 Pro

 

A few basic performance comparisons:

SSD performance.  As noted, different vendors, somewhat different speeds but both in the PCIe 4.0 “Performance” realm

X1 Yoga Gen 6 PCIe 4.0 SSD

X1 Yoga Gen 7 PCIe 4.0 SSD

Passmark combined performance:

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Passmark

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Passmark

Battery runtime (not “life”):

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime MP3

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Runtime MP3

X1 Yoga Gen 6 Runtime MP4

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Runtime MP4

The above tests were run at half brightness and 20% volume.  Sound through internal speakers.  The runtime trend follows what I observed with the Gen 6 compared to earlier ThinkPad Yogas: high-DPI displays, top-end CPUs (14 cores!), maximum RAM and SSD capacity and speeds, all lead to reduced battery runtime.  My presumption is that the OLED display also causes an additional increment of power consumption compared to an IPS panel.  That was true in the past, unsure if it’s still the case.  Gen 7 machines with other components should have increased runtimes compared to this maxed-out unit.

I would call this Gen 7 a 7, maybe 8 hour machine when playing media.  The runtime estimate with just an idle desktop showing at half brightness was about 12 hours, so I’d expect the runtime with an editor up to be decent, if not stellar.  I wonder if there will be further tuning of how the performance vs efficient cores are managed and assigned tasks, but I have no information about that.  One can hope…

 

Linux, the other OS:

OS support:

I usually (and will at some point soon) take a look at Linux.  Both live and installed.  For now some brief observations:

From what I read – on the sales and support sites – there will be Linux support for the Gen 7.  <soapbox> I often see complaints that new hardware “doesn’t support Linux!!!” That’s backward IMHO.  I’ve been around Linux since the install started with a floppy, and the question is whether and when kernels and drivers will catch up with new hardware, not the other way around. </soapbox>

It’s early days for this hardware setup and some things will take longer than others.  The MIPI camera may be problematic for some time, as described in this forum reply: Re:X1 Yoga Gen 7: Live Linux testing…  This represents things at the time of that reply.  I’m confident it will get sorted but it might be wise – as suggested – to avoid the MIPI camera for now.  I’m sure there will be much more discussion of Linux on the Gen 7 going forward.  Keep an eye on the forums: https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/Linux-Operating-Systems/ct-p/lx_en

I’ll probably be adding additional Linux notes here as information becomes available.

Secure Boot revisited –  “Allow Microsoft 3rd Party UEFI CA”:

This caught me by surprise.  My Linux test live media – Ubuntu 21.10 and Fedora 35 – would not boot in secure mode on the Gen 7.  The distros are signed, and they would boot secure on all my earlier UEIF/Secure Boot machines., so what the heck?

With a little inside help I found the answer: there’s additional granularity in how BIOS handles signed media.  In addition to the Secure Boot ON/OFF toggle, there is a BIOS switch that enables secure booting media that has Microsoft 3rd-party signing.  If this is enabled both OS-en will boot in secure mode, and one doesn’t have to forego that level of security.  Whew!  There’s no “Linux lockout” thankfully, but there is one more toggle in BIOS to get things working

X1 Yoga Gen 7 BIOS 3rd Party Certs – image updated

 

[Update 2022.04.14] For those interested in the nuts and bolts, here’s a picture of the internals.  Shown with the SSD removed from its socket, giving a good look at it, both thermal pads, and the heat spreader.

X1 Yoga Gen 7 Internals

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