Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga review: a promising start

Most people know a ThinkPad when they see it. While the line has evolved over its decades of existence, it has maintained a consistent ThinkPad look, ThinkPad feel, and ThinkPad set of features, from the red keyboard studs to the trio of discrete clickers. The formula has a devoted following, and for good reason – it’s tried and true.

With the new Titanium line, Lenovo seems to be trying some new things in terms of size. First, the first X1 Titanium Yoga is the thinnest ThinkPad ever made (not to be confused with the ThinkPad X1 Nano, the lightest ThinkPad ever made). There’s a mishmash of other things too, including a 3:2 screen (an aspect ratio you don’t see every day in the X1 series), a haptic touchpad, and a top cover that – as the name implies – is actually made of titanium. There is an IR webcam with human presence detection, a match-on-chip fingerprint reader and two Thunderbolt 4 ports. It’s a grab bag of eccentric features rolled into one new, very unique ThinkPad.

The result: fantastic. Sure, it’s a first-generation product, with some kinks here and there to work out. But with Intel’s 11th-generation processors and Evo certification in tow, the X1 Titanium Yoga is a solid competitor in premium business laptops. It retains the features of the ThinkPad line, but it’s unlike any ThinkPad we’ve ever seen before. I’m excited about this one, but I’m more excited about the next generation.

Before we begin, the usual disclaimer about ThinkPads: they are expensive. The base X1 Titanium Yoga has a suggested retail price of $2,949, but is currently listed for $1,769.40. My test model has a suggested retail price of $3,369, but is listed at $1,674.39. (In case this wasn’t obvious, you should never pay full price for a ThinkPad.) Of course, this isn’t ridiculous as business laptops go — a ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 with similar specs currently costs $1,727.40.

Many ThinkPads have a dizzying array of options to choose from, but the X1 Titanium Yoga’s selection is refreshingly simple. There are four processors, all of which support Intel’s vPro remote management platform: the Core i5-1130G7 (which my test unit has), the Core i5-1140G7, and two Core i7 chips. The 1130G7 is the only processor available with 8GB of RAM; the other three come with 16 GB. Human presence detection is also only available with the Core i5 models – you can’t get it with Core i7, which is a bit frustrating.

My model has the Core i5-1130G7, 16 GB RAM (soldered), 512 GB storage and the webcam with presence detection. Like all models, it also has a 13.5-inch 2256 x 1504, 450-nit touchscreen display and comes with Lenovo’s Precision Pen.

The main selling point of the Titanium Yoga is its portability which is the best in its category. It’s 0.45 inches thick, making it easy to slip into a packed backpack or briefcase. The 3:2 aspect ratio makes it slightly taller than most competitors of this size, so it’s not one of the lightest laptops on the market – but at 2.54 pounds, it’s still quite an effortless lift. I could be convinced I’m carrying an empty chassis, rather than a full system, when I walk around with this device. It’s hard to believe there’s a whole… computer in there.

Despite the thin frame, the Titanium Yoga is quite sturdy. The lid is a combination of titanium and carbon fiber, while the rest is a duller (and cheaper-feeling but still fine) magnesium aluminum. Lenovo claims to have tested the system against “12 military-grade certification methods and more than 20 procedures.” I didn’t see any scratches or dents in the chassis after my testing period and the keyboard deck didn’t pick up many fingerprints, although the lid got a little smudged. My only real complaint about the build quality is that I wish the hinge was sturdier. There was a fair amount of screen wiggle when I used the stylus – so much so that I mostly got stuck with the touchpad in clamshell mode.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga from the left with the stylus on top of the keyboard.

Power button, audio jack, lock on the right.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga seen from the left half open.

Two Thunderbolt ports on the left.

Laptops that are so extremely compact often have significant drawbacks for their size. There are a few here worth mentioning, although I wouldn’t call any of them disqualifying. The biggest drawback is certainly the haptic touchpad – as a space-saving measure it has no moving parts, so the click feeling is fully simulated. While it convincingly mimics a regular touchpad, it has a number of other issues. It’s tight to scroll, the texture is a bit coarse for my taste, the click is stiff and it’s not the most accurate – I sometimes felt like I had to drag the cursor to where it needed to go, and off and then he thought I was scrolling or zooming in while I wasn’t trying. This is one of those things that I assume will improve over the generations.

If you get tired of the touchpad, you have the option of using the red keyboard null or Lenovo’s Precision Pen, although there’s no garage to put the latter in (another space-saving measure).

Another expected sacrifice is port selection. You only get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, both on the left, one of which is occupied by the charger. Get your dongles and docks ready. (There’s also an audio jack and a Kensington lock.)

Finally, audio is also often a meager affair on thin and light laptops, and the Titanium Yoga’s two upward-firing speakers are no exception. They deliver audio that is clear but not particularly deep. Bass is not present. During Zoom conversations, I sometimes had to lean forward to hear the person talking, even with the volume all the way up. The mics picked up my voice just fine despite some background noise, and the F4 key acts as a kill switch.

The left palm rest of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga with the stylus placed diagonally across it.

The pen has 4,096 pressure sensitivity levels, according to Lenovo.

The fingerprint sensor on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga.

The fingerprint sensor gave me no problems.

But there’s no compromise in arguably the most important part of the laptop: performance. The Core i5 isn’t a workstation chip, but it handled my large amount of Chrome tabs, Spotify streaming, and Zoom calls without any problems. I never heard any fan noise or felt any unpleasant heat, although the underside of the chassis was constantly warm.

The battery life was okay, but not spectacular. The Yoga averaged seven hours and 52 minutes of continuous productivity work around medium brightness. While that’s not the business category, it’s about what we expect from ThinkPads (we got a slightly worse result with the last X1 Carbon we reviewed). It means the device will get you through almost a working day if your load is similar to mine.

The Lenovo logo on the lid of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga.

Use it in clamshell, tablet or tent mode.

All in all, the ThinkPad X1 Titanium Yoga is an interesting bet. It’s clear Lenovo has an eye for the features modern business users have demanded: stylus support, 3:2 aspect ratio, durability and portability, in addition to the security of the vPro platform. The Titanium Yoga is the first iteration of a line that I’m really excited to see Lenovo make, which is why I think it deserves a high score.

That said, I won’t pretend it’s the most practical purchase out there. It is a first generation product and – as is often the case with first generation products – there are some kinks that need to be addressed. The limited ports, finicky touchpad, shaky hinge and thin audio could all be overlooked on their own, especially as understandable sacrifices to the portable build – but they’re a lot to digest as a package. I think the X1 Yoga and X1 Carbon, while a bit thicker, will be more pragmatic devices for the vast majority of users.

But the Titanium Yoga is still quite an achievement and I can’t wait for the next one. If Lenovo solves the problems, it will be a spectacular product.