ThinkPad X1 Carbon ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Laptops

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon review: Power from a new generation

More business-focused than ever before

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Young and established professionals go through a lot day in and day out. Even under work-from-home conditions, a lot of people require devices with great, long-lasting power to keep them going. Fortunately, a lot of companies tend to provide such business-centred devices to their employees unless you already have a powerful laptop to use.

For Lenovo, their ThinkPad lineup serves as that dedicated list of business-oriented products that offer long-lasting power. With every generation and iteration of this legacy sub-brand, there are more business-centered features added to enhance the work experience. This is how the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 shapes up to be, in my eyes.

So, does the new generation ThinkPad X1 Carbon stack up? Here’s what you’re getting with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8:

It has a 14-inch FHD, anti-glare display

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

There are sets of USB-A, HDMI, and USB-C ports with the device

A 10th generation Intel Core i7 powers the device

It comes in a classic Black finish with a carbon fiber lid

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Excellent build quality, as expected

I have to admit that it’s been a while since I’ve looked at a ThinkPad device. I’ve seen other people rock the device in most coffee shops and work areas, but never experienced using one. Still, looking at the 8th generation of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, I’ve seen how far this legacy has come while maintaining some key features.

For instance, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 is just a kilo in weight, which is pretty damn light. It was easy to carry around, and it’s sleek in its own right with the carbon fiber lid. Now, when I had oily hands, I did get some of my fingerprints on it — relatively visible to the naked eye. It’s kind of a fingerprint magnet, but it easily blends in every time.

Apart from these, another key feature of the overall build is its retention of the red-dot mouse and mouse buttons. While I wouldn’t necessarily use it more than the precision trackpad, I found it a nice touch to keep around. As someone with an affinity towards the past, something as classic as this small red dot took me back. But, enough nostalgia and let’s focus on the now.

Superb performance for business tasks and activities

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with a quad-core, Intel Core i7-10610U processor inside that powers everything underneath the hood. Despite being a quad-core CPU, it provides great performance for business-related tasks, especially on the go. Of course, it also helps that this device also comes with 16GB of RAM to manage the load, as well.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

I used this machine on occasion for some of my tasks for my day job, and it held up pretty well. From handling tons of data entries in Excel to conference calls on Microsoft Teams, it showed no signs of slowing down. Also, I was working at such an efficient rate (by my standards) with my files loading up quickly thanks to the SSD inside.

I felt that a lot of thought and work was given to a business-centered device like this. In essence, it’s a device designed to reduce bottlenecks from your workflow while also giving you more features to enhance the experience. Even if you’re using this device casually, I think it holds up well. But, more on those features later on.

One long-lasting battery fit for the long work hours

This device comes with a built-in 51Wh battery inside, and such battery made this device last long without charging. While I was working on all my data reports, presentations, and even some articles, it still had about 50 to 55 percent left. To exhaust one full charge, I took around 14 hours without reaching for the charger.

Within that 14-hour span, I managed to get some work done plus watch a few videos on YouTube and Netflix. For the most part, I didn’t have to put the battery in Power Saving Mode to supposedly extend my hours by a few tick marks. I felt that you can seriously go on a full work day, and then some.

If you manage to exhaust this long-lasting battery, the 65W USB-C charging brick charges the device almost instantly. I say almost since it took an average of an hour and 45 minutes to go from zero to 100 percent. When you think about it, this device brings you back into your work without any interruption. That is, if you count reaching for the charger an interruption to your workflow.

None of that excruciating heat in the way

At first, I thought that something this thin and light meant that cooling the device was difficult. As with most business laptops, these devices tend to feel some heat every time you run complicated data queries on Excel. At least, that’s how my work laptop went every single time I open an Excel file with a size greater than 200MB.

With the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, however, I didn’t feel any heat as much as I thought I would. To its credit, it doesn’t have any fancy dedicated GPU on board, so one possible source of heat is gone. Still, even under long and intense workloads, the laptop didn’t heat up as much.

On the times it did heat up, it wasn’t as excruciating as it would be on, let’s say a gaming laptop. Every time I use this on my lap for long workloads, it feels warm around the upper portions where the battery is housed. Still, I didn’t experience as much heat on the keyboard nor on my lap, which makes this device comfortable to use.

How about those business-oriented features?

I mentioned earlier that this laptop came packed with nifty business-oriented features, and there are some I applaud Lenovo for including. For instance, I loved the addition of dedicated function keys for voice and video calls integrated for Teams and/or Zoom. If you want to avoid the hassle of dragging your mouse to answer the call, now it’s possible to do so with a simple key press!

Also, the Dolby Atmos speakers at the bottom and top were a nice touch. Along with an active noise-cancelling microphone during calls, it made for a great sound system every time I had an online team meeting. For everything else like music and movies, it provided deep levels of sound.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

As for the HD camera, it was decent when I was using it for video calls. It’s not particularly great, however, in image quality, especially if you’re just using it to take selfies while on call. At least, you still get the privacy shutter when you’re not using it, so I give it a pass.

Is this your GadgetMatch for WFH?

ThinkPad X1 Carbon

Starting at PhP 129,990, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 8 provides the ease of a business experience. Apart from a well-built device, it comes with the hardware and the features dedicated to business professionals of all kinds. Also, it lasts long enough to get you through the entire work day, and even a little bit past that.

Sure, it’s not as versatile as ultrabooks or gaming laptops in terms of the tasks you can throw at it. It doesn’t have the flashiness of RGB, or capable graphics drivers for gaming and video rendering. For what it’s worth and for what it’s target consumer is asking, this device is more than enough.

At such a high price point, it’s not an easy investment for multiple employees in any given company (especially now while we’re still in pandemic mode). However, its power and longevity certainly make it a device worth considering for a WFH setup.

Gaming

ASUS ROG Strix Scar 17 review: A daring proposition

Bulky-sleek, with power you’ve relied on for years

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Strix Scar 17

Most gaming laptops these days are going for sleeker design options even with hefty internals inside. At first, you would think that it poses several issues with thermals and heat-filled components you can fry eggs on. Obviously, the benefit for it is a power-hungry machine for great gaming performance.

I’ve seen ASUS ROG’s previous STRIX SCAR laptops that follow a similar trend of producing sleek yet power-hungry devices. Unlike their other gaming laptops, these look and feel easy to bring around while equipped with the latest gaming-ready internal hardware. Again, with sleek form factors comes the thermal issues surrounding it.

So, when the latest version of the ASUS ROG STRIX SCAR 17 (G733) was launched, I wondered “what are these guys going for this time?” It arrived at my doorstep in a rather hefty packaging, with lots of freebies inside. Right out of the box, it doesn’t seem like it’s anything different from the other STRIX SCAR laptops they’ve had.

Wait, why does it look sleek but it feels bulky?

When I first removed the device from the box, it felt a little bulkier physically. Don’t get me wrong, I looked at it from all angles and it’s still quite slim and sleek compared to most gaming laptops. However, I felt that this gaming laptop has some heft to it in its sleek form factor at about 2.7 kg.

While we’re on the form factor, ASUS ROG manages to retain the same design features with one key difference. The review unit I received came in a pristine black finish, with the LED ROG logo on the lid. Of course, you can’t really take any of the RGB LED strips away from the bottom of the laptop. For ergonomic reasons, most of the ports are at the back, which is a great touch.

Unlike the previous models, ASUS ROG’s main gimmick here is the customizable Armor Caps for added customization. Essentially, they’re just a part of the hinge mechanism for the display that you can customize with any color or logo. Plus, you can 3D print your own cap if you’re not really a fan of the ones they have in the box. Personally, it’s not something I’d completely rave about but it’s nice that they extended the customization to that level.

Gaming performance, as expected, delivers well

One thing I would completely rave about the ROG STRIX SCAR 17 is its gaming performance. See, the device comes with an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX processor and an NVIDIA RTX 3080 inside the bulky-sleek form factor. Ideally, what you’re getting is, quite simply, a power-efficient gaming setup fit for the competitive scene.

Most of the games I played through this machine ran quite well, all things considered. Part of the reason is also because the FHD anti-glare display also came with a 300Hz refresh rate, which is pretty smooth. Although, it does come with a 3ms response rate so you may have a little bit of difficulty reacting to somebody one-tapping you.

Now, because this device came with a more modern RTX card, I figured that I should look at some games a bit separately. Hopefully, I’m painting a good whole picture here:

Standard, old-fashioned, high quality gameplay

Without even turning any RTX setting on, most games fared more than well on the ROG STRIX SCAR 17. Here’s just a bit of a run down of how some of the games I played ran with their respective game settings:

Title Graphics Settings Avg. FPS
VALORANT Max. Settings Agent Select: 367 FPS

In-Game: 210 FPS

Fortnite Battle Royale Epic Settings 119-133 FPS
Apex Legends Max. Settings using all 16GB of VRAM Lobby: 125-130 FPS

In-Game: 155-170 FPS

Call of Duty: Warzone Max. Settings 107-110 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 High Settings 67-74 FPS
Rocket League High Quality Settings 255-264 FPS
GTA V Max. Settings 91-103 FPS, depending on the environment
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Ultra Settings 91 FPS

Clearly, the RTX 3080 slayed in most competitive and casual games alike, while also providing accurate colors and details. There were some instances of momentary lag due to too many things happening — especially with intense gameplay. However, for the most part, it’s a gaming machine fit for every possible game you could throw at it.

Turn on the ray-tracing power

Admittedly, among all of the games I played, only four of them support any RTX functionality of any kind. Whether it was shadows or immense lighting effects, my assumption is that the RTX 3080 can simply handle all of it. My goal here was to, at the very least, achieve a playable frame rate given how beefy ray-tracing is:

Title RTX Compatible Graphics Settings Avg. FPS
Fortnite Battle Royale Yes Epic Settings

For RTX: set to Quality and all set to highest

50-57 FPS
Call of Duty: Warzone Yes Max. Settings 98-105 FPS
Cyberpunk 2077 Yes High Settings

DLSS on Quality

For RTX: set to Ultra

54-58 FPS
Shadow of the Tomb Raider Yes Ultra Settings

For RTX: no option for it, but there is RTX for Shadow Quality

94 FPS

While I was playing these games, it was a pleasure just taking in all the visual enhancements ray-tracing brings. Reflections and shadows are present and in roughly full detail, and I still got close to 60 FPS on games with the ray-tracing turned up high. Then again, I’m playing on a FHD display so I still prefer replicating this on higher resolutions.

Pumping the brakes for a little bit

With an AMD chip inside this machine, I was expecting that it would last quite well under significant load. During my entire usage of it, I got about 6-7 hours using it for productivity purposes and a little bit of gaming. When you’re gaming full time at 60 FPS, I only got about 2 hours worth of juice on it — right around most gaming laptops.

Although, when you do need to fill it up again, it doesn’t take that long. In my tests, it took close to 2 hours for one full charge provided you’re not doing anything else. While you’re using it while charging, it takes just an hour and 45 minutes longer on average. It’s still quite fast, but it’s probably also a reminder for you to take a break from intense gameplay.

Now, the package also came with a 100W USB-C charger that you can use for both your phone and laptop. Although it doesn’t charge your bulky laptop that fast, it’s something quite nice to include as a multi-device charger. 

Staying cool under pressure

I touched on this earlier about how most sleek gaming laptops have some thermal issues with it. If it comes with heavy-duty components, the devices tend to get pretty warm and uncomfortable to use for a lengthy period of time. Sometimes, it would feel like you could fry eggs on your keyboard, but please don’t try to do that.

In the ROG STRIX SCAR 17’s case, it does feel warm around the sides and rear end — where most of the ports are found. When you’re playing for longer hours or under all that ray-tracing workload, it heats up significantly. I mean, just the air coming out of the heatsinks at the sides feels enough to burn my hand. Also, the fans tend to get quite loud at times, so prepare your headphones.

However, for some reason, it wasn’t uncomfortable, especially around the keyboard. See, ASUS used its patent Liquid Metal cooling technology for the powerful CPU and GPU inside. Even while boosting the GPU to push out better performance, the device remained warm enough not to make the keyboard an uncomfortable, hot piece of equipment.

About the other assets in the package

Apart from everything I’ve mentioned above, I feel there are a lot of other things to highlight for this device. First off, I thoroughly enjoyed using the mechanical keyboard of the ROG STRIX SCAR 17. It uses optical mechanical switches that act a level of clickiness with every key press, and they’re also quite accurate.

One other thing I liked was the inclusion of more ROG peripherals within the package itself. When I took everything out of the box, the ROG STRIX SCAR 17 came with the ROG Chakram Core, the ROG Delta RGB Headset, and the ROG Eye. All in all, it feels like a complete package that you can also give content creation or streaming a go for this device.

Also, inside the package is the Keystone II in a nifty keychain. Essentially, if you’ve had any of your Aura Sync settings or you just need a ghost drive, this is one of ASUS’s technologies that will surely be useful.

Is this your GadgetMatch?

At PhP 199,995, the ASUS ROG STRIX SCAR 17 has a daring proposition for the competitive gamer. On the outside, it’s a bulky-sleek gaming machine with a ton of RGB to go around and customization options galore. Inside, you will find one of the bulkiest and hottest sets of components assembled for competitive gaming performance.

Stream Like Water for better health!

It’s a package that ASUS ROG has delivered in many forms for years on end. Yes, they will come with the usual thermal issues and even a little too much RGB for others. Although it is at a hefty price point, it is still a device worth your hard-earned money in the long run.

Quite simply, the ROG STRIX SCAR 17 is a gaming laptop — to quote ASUS ROG on this — “for those who dare.” It’s something they’ve said for their ASUS ROG Phone 5, but I think it extends even further to their gaming laptops. 

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Laptops

MSI unveils its business-centered Summit Series

Everything falls within the Golden Ratio

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Most people know MSI as the company that brings gaming power to a slew of devices. From gaming laptops to peripherals, the company seeks to bring the best and the most powerful hardware you can imagine. Naturally, they will do the exact same thing when they start to branch out to other customers. And because most of us are still working from home, the company has quite the offer for you.

Recently, they announced the arrival of their more business-centered Summit Series lineup of devices.  These devices, dubbed as the company’s “Best of CES 2021,” comes with powerful internal hardware specially designed for the budding young professionals. Speaking of the design, MSI boasts that this entire lineup based its designed on the law of the “Golden Ratio” in mathematics — particularly towards the display.

The Summit Flip laptops

In particular, the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo comes with a FHD display with a 16:10 aspect ratio to cover a larger workspace. Along with the “Golden Ratio”-esque display, it comes with the latest Intel Core i7 processors powered by the Evo platform. In essence, this laptop brings great power suited for all kinds of office tasks while in a slim chassis. Apart from these, MSI also mentioned that this device can last up to 20 hours for optimal mobility.

Along with the Summit E13 Flip Evo, MSI also unveiled the MSI Summit E16 Flip, which comes with the same internals. On top of these, the device comes with the latest NVIDIA graphics suited for heavy-duty tasks and data analysis. Also, it comes with the company’s exclusive “Dynamic Cooler Boost” thermal design that will ideally lower the fan noise when under full load. For a laptop that also comes in a slim chassis, that’s something neat to see.

Some extra peripherals for the Summit

With these new devices comes the launch of two peripherals that will enhance your productivity. First up is the MSI Pen, an optional stylus and presentation remote suited for maximum productivity. It comes with a 4096-level pressure sensitivity for writing notes down, and also allows for presentation functions with the pen button. Another great new peripheral is the MSI USB-C Docking Station, allowing for more displays and USB ports. It’s the kind of peripheral that is well-suited for the multitaskers out there.

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Laptops

Apple knowingly sold MacBook Pro with a display defect

Were you affected by “flexgate”?

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In 2019, some 2016 or 2017 MacBook Pro model users started noticing a weird anomaly on their screens. There was an odd stage light-like effect that would gradually make the laptop unusable. You’d think that they must’ve damaged the computer in an accident, but as it turns out, Apple’s behind it.

The defect was popularly called “flexgate”, and it was soon discovered that a weak and fragile flex cable was undergoing wear and tear whenever the clamshell machine was opened or closed. After years of litigation, a judge has concluded that Apple could’ve prevented the defect in early testing but didn’t.

U.S. District Judge Edward Davila sided with the plaintiffs and said that Apple’s engineers could’ve discovered the defect in the pre-release stage, but intensive testing wasn’t performed. Furthermore, a flurry of users’ complaints should’ve been enough for Apple to figure out that something was wrong at a macro level.

Law360 was the first one to report the case. The judge wrote in the order, “The court finds that the allegations of pre-release testing in combination with the allegations of substantial customer complaints are sufficient to show that Apple had exclusive knowledge of the alleged defect.”

In 2018, it was reported that Apple elongated the display cable of the MacBook Pro without any acknowledgement in public. Indirectly proving that the previous cable was indeed shorter and can be considered a production fault. The Cupertino-based giant also opened up its free repair program only after 15,000 users signed a petition, and it got the media’s attention.

Apple is in hot waters with many such lawsuits that raise concerns over quality control and unethical practices. It’s facing a class-action lawsuit in the US over faulty butterfly keyboards. The Flexgate lawsuit is not yet a class action lawsuit but could soon become one, with nine plaintiffs already lined up.

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