Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3: Two-minute review
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 is back on the scene with the same great thin and light form-factor that's made this laptop series such a hit as well as some pretty powerful new hardware, though the latter might actually work against it somewhat.
The ThinkPad X1 Nano has long been the best business laptops for users who are constantly on the go and need a lightweight travel option that doesn't sacrifice too much in terms of performance, and this latest refresh certainly keeps up that legacy.
With its attractive, if somewhat austere, design, this is exactly the kind of laptop you imagine when you think of a room full of professionals working around a table at an industry conference, and given its price starting at just $1,739 (about £1,320 / AU$2,520), you're certainly going to see a lot of these if you're running in those spaces professionally.
With that said, this is hardly the kind of laptop that's going to garner any envy in said spaces. This laptop is really just about functionality and portability, with a strong emphasis on the latter. Coming in at just 991.5 grams (or just over 2.10 pounds), this is the best Ultrabook on the market by just about any measure, especially for the enterprise user.
Actually using the laptop is just as lovely as it's predecessors, though its 13-inch IPS panel doesn't leave much screen real estate for a lot of heavy duty creative work, which is probably for the best.
The Intel Iris Xe integrated graphics is enough to power a spreadsheet or PowerPoint presentation, but beyond that, this laptop isn't powerful enough to do any intensive graphics work like video editing, photography work, and especially not gaming.
On that last point, I really want to underline that this is not the kind of laptop you'll be able to play any modern PC game on, not even something as light as Civilization VI. If you need something to do on a long flight and you're tired of staring at a word processor page, I'd recommend you bring along a Nintendo Switch and keep this laptop in your bag.
All this brings me to maybe the biggest knock I have with this laptop, namely Lenovo's insistence on sticking with the Intel P-series mobile processors rather than the more energy efficient U-series for the X1 Nano. What you're going to be able to do on this laptop could easily have been achieved with a comparable U-series chip and it could have helped stretch the rather svelte battery a little bit farther.
Still, those complains aside, the only other negative of note is that this is still a pretty expensive device for what it ultimately is: a productivity machine. Given that competing laptops for business users can get comparable performance for less and not have to really give up too much in the portability category means this is really best for those who value the portability of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 over every other consideration. For that, though, you'll be hard pressed to find better just about anywhere.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3: Price & availability
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 is available now in the US, UK, and Australia, starting at $1,739 (about £1,320 / AU$2,520). This will get you an Intel Core i5-1340P processor, 16GB LPDDR5 RAM, 256GB Storage, and a 13-inch 2160x1350p resolutiuon touch display running at about 60Hz. The starting configuration uses the lower powered panel than my review unit and the high-end configuration, but otherwise all three share the same display specs.
This is far from the most expensive business laptop out there, and for what you're paying, you are getting your money's worth in terms of portability and performance. Though with competitors like the Dell XPS 13 Plus or the MacBook Pro 13-inch (M2), you have plenty of options if you're looking for something with comparable power at a better price—assuming the extreme portability of the X1 Nano Gen 3 isn't as important to you as the weight of your wallet after you've made your purchase.
Once you start adding on the beefier specs to the X1 Nano Gen 3, the price goes up quickly. Bumping up to the Intel Core i7-1360P processor and a 512GB SSD brings the price of the X1 Nano Gen 3 to $2,159 (about £1,640/AU$3,130). Stretching further to the Intel Core i7-1360P with vPro processor and a 1TB SSD the price rises even further to $2,799 (about £2,130/AU$4,060).
All that said, Lenovo is almost always running sales and promotions on its laptops at its store, so you'll probably be able to pick this one up for much less than the initial sticker price, making it an even more compelling buy.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3: Specs
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3: Design
The design of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 is essentially unchanged from the previous two iterations of the device, and that's not entirely surprising. If it's not broke, don't mess with it, but that does mean that if you've got an earlier X1 Nano model, there's probably little reason to upgrade (we'll get to the performance later, don't worry).
The exterior finish is a classic matte black that is smooth to the touch and comfortable to hold, open, or otherwise adjust. Given its lightweight, however, opening it usually requires two hands thanks to a pretty stiff hinge.
The keydeck on the X1 Nano Gen 3 is well-spaced all around and comfortable to type on for long stretches. The cursor button in the middle of the keyboard is responsive and doesn't get in the way of typing, and the laptop's trackpad, while a bit compact, is smooth and responsive to use.
The audio isn't terrible, given the size. The up-firing speakers definitely help give the sound on the X1 Nano Gen 3 a boost, so you'll be able to teleconference just fine, and maybe even get some music going to make the workday fly by a bit faster.
Given the size of the X1 Nano Gen 3, you shouldn't be surprised to learn that there are little in the way of ports here, though the two ports are at least Thunderbolt 4, with one always-on port for charging your phone when not in use.
The 1080p IR webcam means that you can take advantage of Windows Hello for added security, and the picture quality is pretty decent for a laptop this size. There is also a physical privacy shutter for the webcam as well, so you get some peace of mind there.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3: Performance
This is how the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 scored in our benchmark tests:
Geekbench 6 Multi Core: 9,268
3DMark Night Raid: 15,260; Fire Strike: 5,147; Time Spy: 1,843
CrossMark Overall: 1,744; Productivity: 1,668; Creativity: 1,937; Responsiveness: 1,455
25GB Folder Copy Time: 21.5 seconds; Copy Data Rate: 1,249.5 MB/s
Handbrake 1.6 4K to 1080p encoding (FPS): 29
Civilization VI: Gathering Storm (1080p, Max): 21 fps
Battery Life: 8 hours, 28 minutes
The performance of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 is one of its stronger suits thanks to its P-series processor, which gives the processor a bit more juice than the more efficient Intel U-series processors usually found in laptops of this size and weight.
The i7-1360P in my review unit scored about even with the recently released Dell XPS 13 Plus running more or less the same hardware, but it noticeably beat out the MacBook Pro 13-inch with M2 chip on CrossMark's benchmark tests, which was one of the only productivity benchmarks I'm able to run on the two devices.
The X1 Nano Gen 3 also outperformed the 13-inch MacBook Pro in Geekbench 6's Multi Core test (9,268 points to the Mac's 8,911), though it lost out to the XPS 13 Plus's 10,621.
In terms of storage performance, it took the X1 Nano Gen 3 about 22 seconds to copy a 25GB folder containing 3,700+ files, while the Dell XPS 13 Plus managed to do so in about 18 seconds. The graphics performance of the X1 Nano Gen 3 and XPS 13 Plus are effectively tied; no surprise considering the two units we tested used the same Intel chip with Intel Iris Xe graphics.
The X1 Nano Gen 3 scored lowest of the three in Handbrake 1.6 1080p video encoding, converting a 4K video to 1080p about 19% slower than the XPS 13 Plus and about 33% slower than the MacBook Pro 13-inch. If you're looking for a creative workstation like the best laptop for photo editing or the best video editing laptop for business use, this really isn't it.
As far as gaming goes, like I said before, you're better off not really bothering unless you set the resolution lower than 1080p and/or turn the graphics settings way down. At 1080p on its highest settings, Civilization VI, hardly a demanding title, ran at an average of 21 fps, compared to the MacBook Pro 13-inch's 51 fps. Dropping the visual settings to the lowest they could go got me back into the 50 fps range at 1080p, so if you can stomach that, that's about the best you'll get.
Which, ultimately, is fine. This isn't trying to be the best gaming laptop on the market, it's here to get to work, and in terms of productivity workloads and multitasking, it'll be more than enough to get the job done.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3: Software & Features
Fortunately, there isn't a whole lot of bloatware on the ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3, though we did have to uninstall McAfee, which seems to have found its way into every laptop on the market. It's hardly the best antivirus software you can use, so I definitely recommend you go for something better.
Beyond that, there isn't much in the way of additional software that comes with the X1 Nano Gen 3 beyond Lenovo Commercial Vantage, which is the manufacturer's command center of sorts. You won't find much in the way of performance tuning in there like you would with a gaming laptop or a true creatives' mobile workstation, but it will let you tinker with some settings and check up on how much time is left in your warranty.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3: Battery life
So, battery life.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3's battery life isn't terrible, getting about eight hours and 28 minutes of use on average. This is better than the Dell XPS 13 Plus's six hours and 20 minutes, but it falls well short of the MacBook Pro 13-inch's 18 hours and 20 minutes of battery life.
The battery life here is actually better than it looks on the surface, given that the X1 Nano Gen 3 is packing a meager 49.6 WHr battery pack compared to the XPS 13 Plus's 55 WHr or the MacBook Pro's 58.2 WHr batteries.
You do technically get a full workday's worth of power out of the smallest battery of the three, though you could cut the MacBook's battery in half and it would still likely beat the X1 Nano Gen 3. The Apple MacBook Air (M2) has a much more comparable 52.6 WHr battery and it manages to get close to 15 hours of battery life.
This comes back to the choice of going with the more powerful, but less efficient, P-series chips in the Nano. A comparable U-series chip might have gotten it north of 10 hours without sacrificing much in terms of performance.
Should I buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3?
Don't buy it if...
If my Lenovo ThinkPax X1 Nano Gen 3 review has you considering other options, here are two more laptops to consider.
How I tested the Lenovo ThinkPax X1 Nano Gen 3
I spent about a week using the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano Gen 3 as my day to day device, spent mostly writing and attempting (and struggling) to edit photos for work.
I also benchmarked the laptop using a standard battery of tests we use for lightweight laptops like this, focusing on those that could be used across different devices in order to get comparable scores.
We pride ourselves on our independence and our rigorous review-testing process, offering up long-term attention to the products we review and making sure our reviews are updated and maintained - regardless of when a device was released, if you can still buy it, it's on our radar.
First reviewed September 2023