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Lenovo ThinkPad X13s review: Not quite a MacBook Air

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s

MSRP $1,301.00

“The Lenovo ThinkPad X13s lives up to the Windows on ARM promise for battery life, but still lacks performance.”

Pros

  • Solid battery life
  • Quality display
  • Excellent keyboard and touchpad
  • 5G WWAN option
  • Attractive aesthetic

Cons

  • Performance lags Intel and Apple
  • Some flexing in the keyboard deck

Apple’s M1 is still sending shock waves through the industry. On one hand, the ThinkPad X13s is the Windows equivalent.

Its ARM-based chip, the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3, offers some of the same benefits as the M1 or M2. It’s thin and light, and the battery life is fantastic. For some, that alone makes the ThinkPad X13s an attractive choice. But due to mediocre performance, it’s yet another example of Windows on ARM laptops remaining a niche option for most people.

Price and configurations

As usual, there’s a significant discrepancy on Lenovo’s website between the retail price and the “sale” price. Right now, the entry-level ThinkPad X13s is $1,301 (retail $2,169) for a device with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 CPU, 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM, a 512GB PCIe 4 SSD, and touch display. That’s a pretty killer deal, especially for that configuration.

At the high end is a $1,571 (retail $2,619) configuration with the Snapdragon processor, 16GB of LPDDR4X RAM, a 1TB PCIe 4 SSD, the non-touch display, and 5G WWAN support. My review configuration was the entry-level model except for adding 5G WWAN capabilities, which boosts the price to $1,385.

I’m unaware of any other business-class Windows on ARM laptops to compare to the ThinkPad X13s. In the more conventional Intel space, the Dell Latitude 7330 is a 13-inch laptop with the same business features, and it’s more expensive than the ThinkPad at its sale prices.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is another larger laptop at 14-inches that offers the same ThinkPad experience at slightly higher prices. Finally, the HP Elite Dragonfly G3 offers an equally small and light form factor with 5G connectivity, but it’s quite a bit more expensive.

Design

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Look at the ThinkPad X13s from a distance and you’ll immediately recognize it as a member of the line. It’s all black (Thunder Black, in fact), has the red dot on the “i” in the ThinkPad logo on the lid (albeit without an LED) and on the palm rest, and the red TrackPoint nubbin stands out in the middle of the keyboard.

Up close, though, its edges are more rounded than the typical ThinkPad’s, and there’s a prominent reverse notch at the top of the display for the webcam and IR camera. These small changes make the ThinkPad X13s stand out on its own. It’s certainly more striking than the Dell Latitude 7330, which is boring by comparison.

The ThinkPad X13s is constructed of two materials, a magnesium-aluminum alloy in the lid and a glass fiber reinforced plastic in the chassis. I found the lid quite sturdy, along with the bottom of the chassis, but there was some slight flexing in the keyboard deck. It wasn’t egregious, but it was enough to keep the ThinkPad a step behind laptops like the Dell XPS 13 Plus, HP Spectre x360 13.5, and MacBook Air M1 in overall rigidity. The hinge is quite stiff, requiring two hands to open the lid, but it holds the display firmly in place.

Thanks to its lightweight materials, the ThinkPad X13s is one of the lighter laptops we’ve tested at 2.35 pounds. It’s also thin at 0.53 inches. The HP Elite Dragonfly G3 is lighter at 2.2 pounds, but thicker at 0.64 inches. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Nano is also lighter at 1.99 pounds, but not as thin at 0.55 to 0.66 inches. So, the ThinkPad X13s is among the lightest laptops you can buy and its chassis is thin and compact overall.

Ports and connectivity

Unsurprisingly, the laptop’s connectivity is quite limited. There are two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports (no Thunderbolt 4 support due to the Qualcomm chipset), a 3.5mm audio jack, and an optional NanoSIM slot for WWAN versions. Wireless connectivity includes Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1, with 5G WWAN optional.

Performance

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s rear view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The ThinkPad X13s is built around Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 ARM processor, an eight-core CPU with four Cortex-A78 cores running at 2.4GHz and four Cortex-X1 Prime cores running at 2.95GHz. It’s the fastest processor Qualcomm has yet made for the PC and promises increased performance over previous generations. Its primary direct competition is Apple’s silicon, specifically the M1 and M2 CPUs that have provided class-leading performance in two iterations of the MacBook Air. Note that like Apple’s MacBook, the ThinkPad X13s is fanless and so completely quiet.

The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is undoubtedly faster than its previous generation, by 86% in the Geekbench 5 multi-core test and 55% in the single-core test. At the same time, the Apple M1 is 59% faster than the ThinkPad X13s in single-core and 34% faster in multi-core, and the M2 is 77% faster in single-core and 59% in multi-core. The lowest-end Intel 12th-core CPU we’ve tested, the 15-watt 10-core/12-thread Core i5-1235U, is 44% faster in single-core and 30% faster in multi-core. AMD’s Ryzen chips since the 5000 series have also been significantly faster.

Of course, that’s just one synthetic benchmark and doesn’t tell the whole story. Unlike in previous Windows on ARM generations, I was able to run our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Handbrake is optimized for ARM. And indeed, the ThinkPad X13s took 505 seconds to complete the process, compared to the MacBook Air M2 at 151 seconds and the Core i5-1235U at 134 seconds. I also managed to run the Cinebench R23 video-rendering benchmark, and the ThinkPad X13s scored 593 in single-core and 2,221 in multi-core. That compares to the MacBook Air M2 at 1,600 and 7,938 and the Core i5-1235U at 1,668 and 7,671.

Clearly, Qualcomm has a way to go before it catches up with Apple, Intel, and AMD. Even so, the ThinkPad X13s was fast enough during my testing for the usual productivity tasks. I could keep quite a few browser tabs open and run background apps like Outlook, Teams, and others without any noticeable hesitation. But I wouldn’t rely on the laptop for the most demanding workflows or creative tasks.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s
(Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3)
1,087 / 5,643
HP Elite Folio
(Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2)
770 / 3,028
Lenovo Flex 5G
(Snapdragon 8cx)
700 / 2,802
Apple MacBook Air M1
(Apple M1)
1,727 / 7,585
Apple MacBook Air M2
(Apple M2)
1,925 / 8,973
Lenovo Ideapad Duet 5 Chromebook
(Snapdragon 7c Gen 2)
599 / 1,718
Acer Aspire 5 2022
(Core i5-1235U)
1,565 / 7,352

The ThinkPad X13s wouldn’t run the 3DMark Time Spy test, our primary gaming synthetic benchmark. And I didn’t see a reason to try running Fortnite, our go-to game for integrated graphics. It’s doubtful that the Snapdragon GPU can play anything more than the oldest titles (should they install and actually run) at low resolutions and graphics. And that’s OK, because by no means is the ThinkPad X13s meant to be a gaming laptop.

Display

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

According to Lenovo, three displays are available for the ThinkPad X13s, and they are all 13.3-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) IPS panels. There’s an antiglare 300-nit touch display, an antiglare 400-nit low power non-touch display, and a 300-nit non-touch display. My review unit used the latter panel, which seemed like a quality display during my testing. Colors were dynamic and natural, the display was bright enough for my usual working conditions, and blacks seemed true and not grayish.

Unlike with previous Windows on ARM laptops I’ve reviewed, the ThinkPad X13s supported my colorimeter. That’s significant because it shows the platform has expanded its peripheral driver support and the applications it will run. And according to my colorimeter, the ThinkPad’s display is a solid productivity panel. It was bright enough at 341 nits, above our 300-nit standard but lower than the other displays in our comparison group. Its contrast was high at 1,380:1, well above our 1,000:1 threshold for premium displays. Colors were at the premium laptop average at 100% of sRGB and 77% of AdobeRGB, with a color accuracy of DeltaE 1.12 (1.0 or less is considered excellent).

The ThinkPad X13s display is excellent for productivity workers and media consumers, but it doesn’t have quite the color width for demanding creators.

Brightness
(nits)
Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is better)
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s
(IPS)
341 1,380:1 100% 77% 1.12
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
(IPS)
411 1,660:1 98% 76% 1.96
MacBook Air M1
(IPS)
389 1,130:1 100% 79% 1.39
MacBook Air M2
(IPS)
486 1,310:1 100% 90% 1.08
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(OLED)
406 28,380:1 100% 95% 0.87

Two upward-firing speakers provide audio, one on each side of the keyboard. They offered adequate volume during my testing, with clear mids and highs and the usual lack of bass. They’re good enough for YouTube and videoconferencing, but Netflix bingers and music listeners will want to utilize some headphones.

Keyboard, touchpad, and webcam

Lenoov ThinkPad X13s top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Open the lid, and you’ll find the familiar ThinkPad keyboard with large, sculpted keycaps and plenty of key spacing. The switches were lighter than some ThinkPads I’ve tested, with a snappy bottoming action and a quick response that made for fast, comfortable typing. I’m not always a huge fan of ThinkPad keyboards, sometimes finding them too stiff, but this one ranked up there with HP’s Spectre and Dell’s XPS keyboards. The layout is different from the typical Windows 11 keyboard, following the ThinkPad pattern, including the left Fn and Ctrl buttons being swapped. There are several special function keys, including a couple for videoconferencing and one for opening Lenovo’s Commercial Vantage utility.

The touchpad is wider than on some ThinkPads, but it still loses some space to the buttons that service the TrackPoint nubbin. The touchpad glass surface is smooth and comfortable and provides reliable support for Windows 11 multitouch gestures, and the button clicks are confident and quiet. The TrackPoint nubbin works as well as always for anyone who prefers that control. The display on my review unit wasn’t touch-enabled, but there’s an option for a touchscreen.

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s front view showing webcam.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The webcam utilizes a 5MP sensor and is quite high resolution, and Lenovo uses some AI features to calibrate the color and brightness of the image regardless of lighting conditions. There are options for applying high dynamic range (HDR) to video and enabling automatic framing to keep the user’s face in the center of the image.

Finally, an infrared camera provides Windows Hello support via facial recognition, and there’s a fingerprint reader built into the recessed power button. Both passwordless login methods worked quickly and reliably.

Privacy and security

The keyboard includes a dedicated key for shuttering the webcam, and there’s another key for switching off the microphones.

The ThinkPad X13s is Microsoft Pluton ready, which means there’s a security processor embedded in the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 to protect against various threats and physical attacks. The laptop also includes Lenovo’s self-healing BIOS to recover the machine in the case of corruption or attack.

Battery life

Lenovo ThinkPad X13s side view showing lid and ports.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The ThinkPad X13s has 49.5 watt-hours of battery capacity, which is a decent amount for a laptop with the ultra-efficient Qualcomm ARM CPU and a Full HD+ display. It’s less than the Lenovo Flex 5G that comes in at 60 watt-hours but more than the HP Elite Folio‘s 46 watt-hours.

Take the Flex 5G out of the equation, and I’d say the ThinkPad X13s did very well in battery tests. It hit 11.75 hours in our web-browsing test that cycles through a series of demanding websites and 19.5 hours in our video test that loops a local Full HD Avengers trailer. Those are strong results compared to most Intel laptops and promise all-day battery life and then some. The Elite Folio was close enough to the same results. However, the Flex 5G did significantly better in both tests, more than the increase in battery size would predict, making it the champ among the Snapdragon 8cx machines we’ve tested. And the Apple MacBook Air laptops also did better than the ThinkPad, both the M1 and M2 versions, although neither beat out the Flex 5G.

Even so, the ThinkPad X13s provided good enough battery life that it’s worth the performance trade-off if you don’t have demanding workflows. At least, that’s true compared to the Intel field. As with performance, the ThinkPad X13s doesn’t compete as strongly with Apple’s ARM CPUs.

that’s Web browsing Video
Lenovo ThinkPad X13s
(Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3)
11 hours, 48 minutes 19 hours, 39 minutes
Lenovo Flex 5G
(Snapdragon 8cx)
17 hours, 17 minutes 27 hours, 57 minutes
HP Elite Folio
(Snapdragon 8cx Gen 2)
10 hours, 52 minutes 19 hours, 27 minutes
Apple MacBook Air M1
(Apple M1)
15 hours, 31 minutes 18 hours, 28 minutes
Apple MacBook Air M2
(Apple M2)
17 hours, 59 minutes 21 hours, 9 minutes
Acer Aspire 5 2022
(Core i5-1235U)
6 hours, 25 minutes 10 hours, 41 minutes

Our take

All-day battery life? Check. Always-connected internet? Check. Excellent performance? Not so much. That pretty much sums up the ThinkPad X13s and Windows on ARM generally. Qualcomm and Microsoft have made some strides, for sure. The Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 is the fastest yet, and Windows on ARM supports more apps and drivers than before. But it’s still nowhere close to Intel, AMD, or Apple when it comes to an overall experience.

For the right person, though, the ThinkPad x13s is a nicely portable laptop with great battery life. Everyone else should wait to see what’s coming next.

Are there any alternatives?

There are more 5G laptops available today than just a year or so ago, but the population of Windows on ARM machines is still rather small. The Lenovo Flex 5G is unavailable, but the HP Elite Folio can still be purchased. It’s not as fast, but it offers similar battery life and 5G connectivity. It’s also a fascinating convertible 2-in-1 with a gorgeous look and a comfortable feel.

If you’re primarily looking for a thin and light laptop and are enamored of the ThinkPad brand, then the ThinkPad X1 Nano is a solid option. It’s one of the smallest and lightest laptops at just 1.99 pounds, offering solid productivity performance and battery life that rivals the ThinkPad X13s. It doesn’t provide 5G WWAN support, however.

Finally, the Apple MacBook Air M2 is a highly competitive alternative for anyone who doesn’t live for Windows 11 and doesn’t need 5G. It’s fast, incredibly well-built, has some of the best battery life, and it’s one of the thinnest laptops at 0.44 inches.

How long will it last?

The Lenovo ThinkPad X13s is built well enough that you should expect years of service. It’s questionable whether the CPU will keep up with Windows on ARM’s development, but that remains to be seen. The industry-standard one-year warranty is disappointing on a ThinkPad.

Should you buy it?

Yes, if you don’t need the fastest performance but want long battery life and 5G connectivity. The ThinkPad X13s is a great laptop for all but the most demanding users.

Editors’ Choice




Repost: Original Source and Author Link

Categories
Computing

ThinkPad X13s vs, MacBook Air M1: An ARM wrestle showdown

When it comes to laptops powered by ARM-based SoC, many see Apple as the king. The MacBook Air M1 has amazing battery life, performance, and app-emulation when compared to Windows devices with Qualcomm Snapdragon compute platform SoC.

The MacBook Air stands well ahead of a Microsoft device like the Surface Pro X, which is powered by custom ARM-based Microsoft SQ1 and SQ2 silicon. Recently, though, a new challenger has come to try and take down Apple’s spot at the top of the ARM-chip heap. It’s the ThinkPad X13s, which is available from Lenovo for prices starting at $1,300.

That brings us to our side-by-side comparison, looking at specs, design, performance, display, and portability — helping you decide which flagship ARM-powered laptop is better for your needs.

Arif Bacchus/ Digital Trends

Specs and price

  Lenovo ThinkPad X13s Apple M1 MacBook Air
Dimensions 11.76 inches x 8.13 inches x 0.53 inches 11.97 inches x 8.36 inches x 0.63 inches
Weight 2.35 pounds 2.8 pounds
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 Apple M1
Graphics Qualcomm Adreno 690 Apple M1
RAM 16GB LPDDR4
32GB LPDDR4
8GB Apple Unified
16GB Apple Unified
Display 13.3-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS, antiglare, 300 nits, 100% sRGB

OR

13.3-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS, touchscreen, antiglare, 300 nits, 72% NTSC

13.3-inch 16:10 (2,560 x 1600) 400 nits

 

Storage 512GB PCIe SSD
1TB PCIe SSD
256GB SSD
512GB  SSD
1TB  SSD
2TB SSD
Touch Yes No
Ports 2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2

Headphone/ mic combo

2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 USB 3.1 Gen 2/ USB 4

Headphone/mic combo

Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1

Optional 5G sub6 eSIM or 5 mmWave eSIM

Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0
Webcam 5mp Windows Hello with electronic privacy shutter 720p FaceTime HD
Operating system Windows 11 Pro macOS
Battery 49.5 watt-hour 49.9 watt-hour
Price $1,301 $999
Rating Not yet fully reviewed 4.5 out of 5 stars

Design

The ThinkPad X13s, open on a table.
Arif Bacchus/ Digital Trends

Both the MacBook Air and the ThinkPad X13s are designed as traditional clamshell laptops. Both are also passively cooled, meaning they’re completely fanless. That’s where the design similarities end, though, as these devices are made of very different materials.

The ThinkPad X13s is made of recycled magnesium. This material is a lot lighter than aluminum. It’s been used on other ThinkPad models before and is quite sturdy and durable.

We have a ThinkPad X13 in-house and think the magnesium stands up well, with no bending, creaking, or warping to deal with. Overall, though, it does feel a bit like plastic on the corners of the keyboard deck. The material feels much more like aluminum on the lid, where it’s cool to the touch. Note that this magnesium ThinkPad is also more prone to fingerprints and can get dirty quickly.

The MacBook Air, meanwhile, is made out of recycled aluminum. This is a rinse and repeat choice of material for Apple as this material is found on all the company’s laptops. Yet, it still ends up feeling rock-solid when we reviewed it. It feels very expensive and premium at all corners of the laptop, and we never had issues with it getting dirty.

The M1-powered MacBook Air, open on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

If you’re curious about how that design choice shapes up for weight and dimensions, then wonder no more. In length, the ThinkPad is shorter than the MacBook Air. It is shorter in width and also slightly thinner at 0.53 inches, versus the 0.63 inches on the MacBook Air. The ThinkPad is also lighter at 2.35 pounds versus the 2.8 pounds MacBook Air.

In color options, the ThinkPad X13s only comes in one “Thunder Black” color. The MacBook Air, meanwhile, comes in either gold, silver, or space gray.

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard and trackpad on the ThinkPad X13s.
Arif Bacchus/ Digital Trends

The keyboards on the ThinkPad X13s and MacBook Air M1 are quite different. On Apple’s laptop, you get a backlit Magic Keyboard, as well as a Force Touch haptic trackpad and a fingerprint sensor on the power button. The ThinkPad X13s has a traditional spill-resistant keyboard, a glass touchpad, and a TrackPoint nub. A similar fingerprint reader is also on the power button.

Apple’s Magic Keyboard on the M1 MacBook Air replaces the troublesome butterfly keyboard on older models. We thought the keys were nicely sized, with great precision and bottoming action. The Force Touch trackpad, meanwhile, was something that we found quite large and accurate at the time of review versus Windows laptops — though the Surface Laptop Studio and XPS 13 Plus now have this, too.

MacBook Air logo shown on the laptop.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

With the ThinkPad X13s that we’re testing, the keycaps on the keyboard have a nice soft feeling when pressed into the chassis. There’s not too much bottoming out, and typing action feels great. The keycaps are curved, though, similar to the Lenovo Yoga Line. We also do like the trackpad, as it is smooth to use and made of glass. It is not haptic like the one on Apple’s machine, however. Clicking produces loud noises and harsher feedback. It’s also a lot smaller, too. The addition of the TrackPoint helps with finer clicking, though, as does the additional left, right, and scroll buttons above the trackpad.

Oh, and just like Apple’s MacBook Air, there are speakers to the left and right of the keyboard deck on the ThinkPad. It’s a great design choice that helps make audio feel immersive on both laptops.

Performance

The CPU on the ThinkPad X13s
Arif Bacchus/ Digital Trends

Performance is the most important thing to consider in the ThinkPad X13s vs Apple M1 MacBook Air debate. We’ll be diving deep into the Snapdragon 8cx Gen 3 vs Apple M1 debate, but there’s a catch. Windows on ARM limits which types of testing software we can use for our performance comparison, but we do have some early calls to make with our unit, which is maxed out with 32GB RAM.

It is not really good for the ARM-powered ThinkPad, though there are some really big gains when compared to other laptops in the Windows on ARM space. Here’s why.

In Geekbench 5, the ThinkPad x13s scores behind the MacBook Air M1. The ThinkPad X13s netted 1,118 single-core and 5,776 multi-core results. That’s put up against the MacBook Air M1, which got 1,727 single-core and 7,585 multi-core results.

That Geekbench score might look bad against the MacBook, but there are huge differences between Qualcomm Snapdragon 8cx generations. The Samsung Galaxy Book Go 5G with the 8cx Gen 2 got a 796 single-core score and a 3,105 multi-core score. It even kills the original Surface Pro X, which scores 618 single-core and 2,593 multi-core.

The back lid of the MacBook Air M1.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

For reference in the Windows space, Lenovo claims system-level performance on this device can be boosted by up to 57% and that multi-tasking can be up to 85% faster. This brings the ThinkPad closer to an Intel Core i5 in terms of performance in the Windows space. For example, the quad-core Intel Core i5-11320H on a Dell Inspiron 15 nets a 1,429 single-core score and a 4,275 multi-core score.

Just as you’d get on an M1 MacBook Air, we think things like web browsing in Chrome and Edge work great on the ThinkPad. Along with office work, these apps perform very well on this system in our real-world tests. That’s even with Chrome, which runs emulated on this machine due to the app not being optimized for Windows 11 on ARM. While it’s behind the 100 scores we get on most Windows laptops or the 200 scores on the MacBook Air M1, our Speedometer 2.0 test can account for that, as it nets around 87.2.

Even some very light gaming in a Steam title like Broforce works well on the ThinkPad, as the title performs at a solid 60 frames per second. We won’t go beyond that though on the ThinkPad, as when we tested a more demanding title like CS: Go, the system locked up and we ended up putting the game in a windowed mode with settings all the way down. Encoding a podcast in a video editor, Filmora also suffers badly on the ThinkPad, with a 30-minute project and 2GB of files taking 25 minutes to complete.

This ThinkPad is great for office work, web browsing, or using common Win32 apps not optimized for ARM. However, the more demanding tasks on the ThinkPad X13s are behind expectations from other Windows laptops of its class — and what you’ll get with the M1 MacBook Air. From our experience, the MacBook is able to encode movies in just 4.5 minutes in our tests and run games like Fortnite at higher resolutions than the ThinkPad ever can.

Task Manager open on the Thinkpad X13s.
Arif Bacchus/Digital Trends

The reason for that end result has a lot to do with the emulation Microsoft is using on the ARM flavor of Windows 11. It is behind what Apple has accomplished with Rosseeta 2 on the M1 MacBook Air. With the ThinkPad, if you’re using an app that’s been optimized for Windows on ARM (like Edge), it will be able to fully unlock the performance benefits of the 8cx Gen 3.

If your app isn’t optimized (many are not), it will run under emulation and won’t be able to use the Adreno GPU inside the ThinkPad X13s. Take our test with Cinebench, for example, which is under emulation. It just sees the CPU and netted some really poor results with 2,029 for multi-core, and 554 single-core. That is behind the 1,498 points in single-core mode on the M1 MacBook Air and the 8,359 points in multi-core of the MacBook.

Optimized apps like Visual Studio 2022, though, did unlock the GPU power and installed with speed, as did several Windows Store games like Asphalt 8, so it’s not all a loss. But all around, the M1 MacBook Air definitely has better performance, since all apps and games work well, even with emulation.

Display

The display on the ThinkPad X13s.
Arif Bacchus/ Digital Trends

The MacBook Air M1 and the ThinkPad X13s have indifferent displays. Both are tuned to the 16:10 aspect ratio for great multitasking, but that’s all they share in common.

Apple’s MacBook Air M1 has a better panel than the Thinkpad X13s. It’s an IPS, glossy panel tuned to 2,560 x 1,600 resolution. That panel can hit up to 389 nits and can max out at 400 nits. In our tests, color hits 100% of the sRGB spectrum and 79% of the AdobeRGB spectrum.

The ThinkPad X13s is behind that. It is lower resolution at 1,920 x 1,200. It also has an IPS panel like the MacBook, but it only can top 300 nits of brightness. Touch is an option, though, which you’ll never get on a MacBook panel. The non-touch option on the ThinkPad can hit 300 nits brightness, as well as 100% of sRGB, just like the MacBook. This means it might not be the best for outdoor work.

Otherwise, touch models hit 72% of the NTSC spectrum. The display is still visibly bright and vibrant when indoors, as we could make out the fine colors of blue waters against yellow sands in a sample video during our viewing of a YouTube video with the screen at 100% brightness. But we definitely still feel that the M1 MacBook Air gets better brightness when outdoors.

Portability and battery life

The ports on the ThinkPad x13s.
Arif Bacchus/ Digital Trends

Portability will cover ports and battery life on the ThinkPad X13s vs the MacBook Air M1. In these areas, the devices are equal with some exceptions.

Both laptops have USB-C ports and headphone jacks, but the MacBook is compatible with Thunderbolt accessories, and the ThinkPad is not. Note that M1 MacBook Airs also can’t connect to dual displays, but the ThinkPad can. It supports up to 3 independent displays (the native display and 2 external monitors) via USB-C.

Another thing that makes the ThinkPad portable: It has an optional 5G modem with an eSIM. The MacBook does not have this. Even webcams are better on the ThinkPad, since it comes in at 5 megapixels and is backed by AI features on the Qualcomm SoC for better image quality. Apple’s MacBook is stuck with a boring 720p webcam.

The webcam on the Thinkpad X13s
Arif Bacchus/ Digital Trends

As far as battery life goes, the ThinkPad and the M1 MacBook Air are neck-in-neck, but with some important caveats to point out. The Lenovo has a lower-resolution screen, so it can use that for better battery life. We got to around 28 hours of battery when looping a movie on the ThinkPad with Wi-FI off and the screen at under 100 nits.

That’s ahead of the MacBook Air, but the panel is the exception. As for web browsing, the MacBook Air wins out. We got to around 13.5 hours of life in our tests that involve using Microsoft Edge in our daily workflow with the screen at 32% brightness. It’s still behind the MacBook Air, though, which wins out at 15.5 hours and is at the top.

The Apple M1 still wins

In the battle between ARM-based laptops, we’re going to have to give the win to the Apple MacBook Air. While the ThinkPad X13s makes big gains for the Windows on ARM field, it’s still behind what Apple has done with the M1 MacBook Air in terms of performance.

This is mainly due to the emulation layer in Windows 11 not fully unlocking the power of GPU and many non-ARM optimized apps only depending only on the CPU layer for GPU-needed tasks. The ThinkPad though does get great battery life and has the huge plus of 5G connections, but until some of the kinks of Windows on ARM get worked out, Apple continues to keep the lead.

Editors’ Choice






Repost: Original Source and Author Link