The ThinkPad X13 Yoga Gen 1 (starts at $971; $1,447 as tested) is Lenovo’s elite 13.3-inch 2-in-1 convertible notebook for business. Though it bears a first-generation label, this model is a technology refresh of the 2019 ThinkPad X390 Yoga. It’s both thin and light (0.63 inch and 2.76 pounds), includes a stylus that slots inside the chassis, and has the fantastic input devices that ThinkPads are famous for. Though it can get hot under intense use, the ThinkPad X13 Yoga is still worth a look as a slimmer and more feature-rich upgrade from Lenovo’s ThinkPad L13 Yoga. Likewise, it can also be a less expensive and almost as feature-rich alternative to the flagship ThinkPad X1 Yoga.
Balancing the Value Equation
The ThinkPad X13 Yoga’s business focus comes mostly from its feature set. Its available Intel vPro-enabled processors, optional wireless broadband, and the Pro version of Windows 10 aren’t found on its consumer counterpart, the Yoga C640, though they are readily matched by the competition. Dell’s Latitude 7310 2-in-1 ($2,059, configured like my ThinkPad at the time of this review) and HP’s EliteBook x360 830 G7 ($1,419, ditto) are the standouts.
This ThinkPad’s convertible nature is obvious only from its 360-degree display hinges. Its design theme is otherwise reminiscent of ThinkPads from long ago, an interesting paradox in the computer world where things are always evolving.
The X13 Yoga is, of course, a lot smaller than the original ThinkPads, though it could stand to be even trimmer. At 0.63 by 12.2 by 8.6 inches (HWD), it’s about a half-inch deeper than the Latitude 7310 2-in-1 (0.76 by 12.1 by 8 inches) and the EliteBook x360 830 G7 (0.71 by 12.1 by 8.1 inches), for which it has its thicker top and bottom display bezels to blame. At least it’s competitive on weight at 2.76 pounds, versus 2.91 for the Dell and 2.89 for the HP.
Build quality is another area where the ThinkPad X13 Yoga does well. Its matte exterior may look like plastic in the photos, but it’s magnesium, a strong and lightweight metal that makes a high-pitched, almost scratchy sound when you run a fingernail across it.
The chassis is impeccably rigid, and its top and bottom pieces (just two) fit together with minimal, consistent gaps.
A Comfortable Convertible Mode
A 13.3-inch convertible is large to hold in your hands, but I’d argue this Lenovo does it better than either the aforementioned Dell or HP for one simple reason: it has a built-in silo for its pen, a ThinkPad Active Pen Pro. This feature eliminates the awkwardness of lanyard loops, stick-on holders, or magnetic attachments, and simplifies charging. The pen is standard with the ThinkPad X13 Yoga, too; both Dell and HP charge extra for their styli ($95 and $76, respectively).
The pen’s garage faces out the right edge from the ThinkPad logo on the palm rest. A fingernail coaxes it out, after which Lenovo says it’s good for more than two hours of continuous use per charge.
Its skinny 6.5mm width can take some adjustment if you’re used to thicker instruments, but that’s my only complaint.
This pen relies on Wacom AES technology. It supports 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity and is perfectly calibrated, the cursor appearing exactly where the tip contacts the ThinkPad’s display. There is some cursor lag while hovering the pen over the display, but none when contact is made. (The passive digitizer built into the display only knows the tip’s true position when it makes contact, otherwise it must guess, and that’s not quite instantaneous.)
As for the screen, my review unit has the standard full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) panel with IPS technology for wide viewing angles.
The picture is reasonably colorful, though its rated 300-nit brightness is just adequate for indoor use. A 400-nit panel is an extra $75, while $149 buys a 500-nit version. The last includes Lenovo’s PrivacyGuard technology to make the screen difficult for onlookers to see at the press of a button. All choices support 10 touch points. Lenovo also advertises the panels as anti-reflective, which I found was mostly true of mine, though it still looks slightly glossy next to a true matte-surfaced screen.
Continued Input Excellence
I won’t spend long on the keyboard since the ThinkPad X13 Yoga upholds the ThinkPad family tradition very well. Its precise keystrokes and solid keyboard deck cultivate a highly satisfying tactile experience. The keys have two levels of backlighting.
The Lenovo Vantage app allows you to swap the Fn and Ctrl keys at the lower left, though ThinkPad first-timers ought to give the layout a try as is; I find it surprisingly easy to adjust after coming from a “normal” laptop.
Centered in the keyboard is the ThinkPad diehard’s delight, the classic TrackPoint pointing stick, complete with three dedicated buttons. The buttonless touchpad centered just below also offers a superb mousing experience.
Rightly sized for a 13.3-inch screen, the pad’s matte surface makes for accurate finger tracking. Physical clicks, accomplished by pressing down on the pad, are tactile and quiet.
For sound, the ThinkPad X13 Yoga has two side-facing speakers that put off satisfying vibes for a business laptop. The soft-focus shots from its 720p webcam (which is properly located above the display) are less impressive, though your video chat partners should still be able to recognize you, and there’s a manual sliding privacy shutter to keep the rest of the world from doing so.
The camera on my review model also supports infrared for facial logins via Windows Hello. The standard fingerprint reader provides a second biometric option.
The ThinkPad X13 Yoga has a fair port selection. On the left are a pair of USB Type-C ports (the leftmost supports Thunderbolt 3), a proprietary connector for Lenovo’s Ethernet dongle or physical docking stations, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port (5Gbps), and an audio combo jack (headphone/microphone). The power adapter plugs into either USB-C port. The optional SmartCard reader (not present in my review unit, filled with a spacer) is near the front.
The right edge holds a recessed power button, a microSD card reader, another USB-A port (this one supports always-on charging of connected devices), and a (thankfully) full-size HDMI video output.
The cable lock slot here accommodates Kensington models. Unlike some convertibles, the ThinkPad X13 Yoga has no volume rocker for use in tablet mode. Inside, the latest Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax) and Bluetooth 5 signals are courtesy of an Intel AX201 wireless card. Lenovo offers WWAN LTE-A mobile broadband as an upgrade (not present on my model).
Testing the X13 Yoga: More Pep Please
The $1,447 ThinkPad X13 Yoga I’m reviewing is moderately equipped with a quad-core Intel Core i5-10310U processor (1.7GHz base, up to 4.4GHz turbo), integrated Intel UHD graphics, 16GB of memory, and a 256GB solid-state drive with Windows 10 Pro. The base model has just 8GB of memory, but it can’t be upgraded, so that means buying all you need from day one. My unit also has a three-year warranty, a $109 upgrade from the standard one year. (I’d really like to see three years of standard coverage on an elite business machine like this.)
I’d like to point out that the Core i5-10310U is a vPro-enabled chip. Unless you need that technology, the base Core i5-10210U should perform nearly the same (its turbo speed is 4.2GHz) while shaving over $100 off the list pricing.
Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Yoga goes for $1,778 equipped similarly as I type this. That’s not a trivial upcharge, but the flagship model has its perks; despite using a larger (and brighter) 14-inch display, it’s trimmer in all dimensions than the ThinkPad X13 Yoga.
The ThinkPad L13 Yoga, on the other hand, though heavier and thicker (3.17 pounds and 0.69 inch), is considerably cheaper—the $949 preconfigured model I saw on Lenovo’s site didn’t have Wi-Fi 6 or Thunderbolt 3, but it did have a faster Core i7-10510U chip and twice the storage (512GB). Customized versions with 16GB of memory are still hundreds less than ThinkPad X13 Yoga configurations.
Sibling rivalries aside, I pitted the ThinkPad X13 Yoga against the following 2-in-1 convertible notebooks for our benchmark comparisons. (See more about how we test laptops.)
These are all designed-for-business machines except the HP Envy x360 13, which I included for variety because it has an AMD Ryzen processor. The HP Elite Dragonfly and the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 are previous-generation models, but their 8th Generation “Whiskey Lake” processor silicon is little different than the 10th Generation “Comet Lake” chips in the ThinkPad pair.
Storage, Media, and CPU Tests
We’ll start with PCMark 10, our general system performance assessment that simulates web browsing, video streaming, and office productivity. The ThinkPad X13 Yoga predictably fell in line with most of the others, though the HP Envy was the only one to finish north of our internal 4,000-point measurement for high-performance PCs. Meanwhile, the PCMark 8 storage test scores were a dead heat, as they usually are among systems that use fast solid-state drives.
Next up is a pair of CPU-crunching tests: Cinebench R15 stresses all available processor cores and threads while rendering a complex image, while in our Handbrake test, we transcode a 12-minute 4K video down to 1080p.
Notebooks in this class aren’t known for having a lot of processor stamina, and the ThinkPad X13 Yoga doesn’t change that. What is surprising about these results is that the ThinkPad L13 Yoga scored so much higher than the ThinkPad X13 Yoga in Cinebench despite using an almost identical processor. I ran the test multiple times to confirm these results, and even did the test after a cold start to mitigate potential heat problems (more about that in a moment).
Last in this section is our photo-editing test. We use an early 2018 release of Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud to apply 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG image, timing each operation and adding up the totals. This test is not as CPU-focused as Cinebench or Handbrake, bringing the performance of the storage subsystem, memory, and GPU into play.
Over 200 seconds is a long time for this class of notebook. My ThinkPad X13 Yoga test unit has plenty of memory and its storage drive isn’t slower than the others (per the PCMark 8 results), so all fingers point towards its processor as being a bottleneck.
We use two benchmark suites to gauge the gaming performance potential of a PC. In the first, UL’s 3DMark, we run two DirectX 11-driven subtests, the mainstream Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which is more suited to gaming rigs. Our other graphics benchmark is Unigine Corp.’s Superposition, which uses a different rendering engine to produce a complex 3D scene.
The HP Envy’s AMD Radeon integrated graphics are much stronger than the ubiquitous Intel UHD silicon in the others. The ThinkPad X13 Yoga’s scores indicate it isn’t up for much beyond browser-based gaming, though you could always use a service like Nvidia GeForce Now to get your fix. Because the Core i5 here is one of the 10th Generation Comet Lake chips and not one of Intel’s “Ice Lake” 10th Gens, it doesn’t have Intel’s better Iris Plus graphics silicon to give it a boost (or the even better Iris Xe of the latest “Tiger Lake” machines).
Battery Rundown Test
For our last benchmark, we measure a laptop’s unplugged runtime while playing a locally stored video with screen brightness at 50 percent and audio volume at 100 percent. We use the notebook’s energy-saving rather than balanced or other power profile, turn off Wi-Fi, and even disable keyboard backlighting to squeeze as much life as possible out of the system.
The ThinkPad X13 Yoga provides enough unplugged life to get through a workday and some after-hours video streaming or chatting. It’s unremarkable but acceptable battery life for this class of convertible notebook.
Thermal Tests: A Bit Hot to Handle?
The ThinkPad X13 Yoga got hot enough during our benchmark tests that it warranted a few shots with our trusty Flir One Pro …
I took these while the notebook was sitting on a table in an air-conditioned 75 degree F room where all I had been doing for 25 minutes was moderate Internet surfing. The top and bottom of the notebook both registered over 120 degrees F at their hottest points, which is far above comfort level—in fact, it’s above the tolerance of your skin.
Again, this was during our benchmark tests. It still got warm in everyday usage, but not to a level that I’d complain about. But if you’ll use this machine for CPU-intensive tasks over long stretches, keep that in mind. (Mind you, it could be a plus in a Minnesota winter.)
A Tidy Business Convertible 2-in-1
The ThinkPad X13 Yoga’s all-metal design, first-rate input devices, and enterprise-friendly options give it all the credentials it needs to rank as a high-end business convertible 2-in-1. It’s reasonably priced, coming in around the same or less than the Dell Latitude 7310 2-in-1 and the HP EliteBook x360 830 G7. It also comes standard with a stylus, unlike those models.
A couple of downsides—namely, a chassis that gets hot under intense use and a standard warranty of only a year—don’t prevent it from being a good option in this category. It’s also attractive within Lenovo’s lineup as a sleeker, more feature-rich option than the ThinkPad L13 Yoga while offering many of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga’s features at a lower price.
Lenovo ThinkPad X13 Yoga (Gen 1)