Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga review: A fine 13-inch alternative to the X1

Windows Central Choice Award

Lenovo's push to create slim, portable ThinkPads has been paying off, with the X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga coming in as two of the best laptops we reviewed this year. I have here now the X380 Yoga, a 13-inch laptop that certainly looks like a classic ThinkPad yet has convertible function and a very slim build.

It's the successor to the ThinkPad Yoga 370, and it's slimmer and lighter while holding onto ports and basic functionality. Let's take a close look in our review to see whether or not the ThinkPad X380 Yoga is worth your time and money.

About this review

Lenovo loaned Windows Central a review unit of the ThinkPad X380 Yoga. This specific model has inside an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U processor (CPU), 8GB of DDR4-2400MHz RAM, a 512GB PCIe M.2 solid-state drive (SSD), and a 13.3-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,080) touch display. Expect to pay about $1,285 for this model with Windows 10 Pro, though you can get close to the $1,000 mark by opting for a 128GB SATA SSD and Windows 10 Home.

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Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga hardware and specifications

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga review

Category XX
Processor 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8250U
Quad-core
Display 13.3-inch
1,920 x 1,080 (FHD)
IPS touch
RAM 8GB DDR4-2400MHz
Storage 512GB PCIe M.2 SSD
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620
Ports Two USB-A 3.1
Thunderbolt 3
HDMI
Mini RJ45 Ethernet
microSD card reader
3.5mm audio
Speakers Dolby Premium audio
Wireless Intel Dual Band Wireless AC-8265
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1
Camera Front-facing 720p
IR camera (optional)
Security dTPM 2.0
Biometrics Fingerprint reader
Keyboard Backlit with TrackPoint system
Touchpad Precision
Battery 51Wh
Weight From 3.08 pounds (1.4 kg)
Dimensions 12.3 inches x 8.75 inches x 0.70 inches
(313.5 mm x 222.2 mm x 18.2 mm)

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga design and features

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga review

The X380 Yoga has a standard ThinkPad soft-touch chassis that meets 12 MIL-SPEC standards to prove its durability, and it certainly feels like a well-built laptop. There's hardly any flex in the body, it doesn't creak when you pick it up, and the convertible hinges, which allow you to fold the display around for tent, stand, and tablet modes, are sturdy enough to keep the lid from shaking if you need to work while in a moving vehicle. If you're feeling blasphemous, a silver color option is available for an extra $30.

Sticking with the traditional black finish opens up the possibility of an IR camera for Windows Hello, which you do have to pay an extra $25 for and is not available on the silver color option. Both models come stock with a fingerprint reader set into the right palmrest, far enough out of the way that your hand won't rub against it while typing. In testing, it worked flawlessly and had me logged in seemingly as soon as I touched it. As for audio, it's a functional speaker that gets the job done; don't expect anything special.

Ports are split up on either side and there's enough space between them to keep from getting jammed up when using multiple peripherals at once. On the left side, you get Lenovo's proprietary charging port, Thunderbolt 3 with 4x lanes of PCIe (which can also be used to charge if you're without your standard charger), USB-A, and a mini RJ45 port that needs a dongle to fit standard Ethernet cables. On the right side lives the ThinkPad Pen Pro — it's the skinny rechargeable style that has its own slot — an HDMI port, another USB-A, a microSD card reader, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a Kensington lock slot.

The X380 Yoga weighs the same as the X1 Yoga at 3.08 pounds (1.4 kg), though it does have a smaller display and fewer configuration options. Still, it's just as portable — perhaps even more so due to the smaller frame — and seems to be put together with the same attention to quality as the higher-end X-series laptops. If you're looking for a laptop that has the same sort of design but doesn't cost quite as much or take up quite as much space as the bigger sibling, the X380 is likely in focus.

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga display

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga review

The glass on the X380 Yoga's 13.3-inch touch display extends from edge to edge, meaning there isn't an annoying ledge to bump up against when trying to tap something in the corners. The bezel around the display is a bit lopsided, with a thin strip along the edges, a thicker strip along the top (no doubt to save space for models that opt for the IR camera), and again a larger chin along the bottom. It's nothing egregious, but on a 13.3-inch display, it's certainly more noticeable. When in tablet mode you might appreciate the size, as it's a bit easier to grab onto the laptop without accidentally hitting the screen.

The ThinkPad Pen Pro built into the laptop is of the skinny pencil style, and it has 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity for an OK writing and drawing experience. You can quickly jot down notes in a meeting or get in some doodling while talking on the phone, but don't expect to paint a digital masterpiece.

A lot of ThinkPads suffer when it comes to brightness and color accuracy, but in testing I got back 97 percent sRGB and 75 percent AdobeRGB, both excellent results. Contrast seems to be spot-on as well, though I would love it if the display could go brighter than where it currently maxes out around 289 nits. Here there's only an FHD option, so those of you looking for at least 1440p will want to look elsewhere.

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga keyboard and touchpad

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga review

The keyboard on the X380 Yoga makes good on using a lot of chassis space, making for a typing experience that doesn't feel cramped. Keys are spaced well, there's plenty of travel and a soft landing when bottoming out, and you get the standard gamut of functions in the F-row. It's what you expect from a ThinkPad and I had no issues using it to type all day. With the display folded back into tablet mode, the deck around the keys actually rises up to sit flush. This prevents accidental key presses and provides some protection to the keys, and it seems to work flawlessly.

The TrackPoint system is still here and working as it should for those who like the red pointer and physical buttons, and the standard touchpad is using Precision drivers. The only problem here is that the touchpad is relatively small. If you're a fan of having a lot of room for gestures, this one will probably drive you mad for the first few weeks of use.

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga performance

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga review

These thin ThinkPads have ditched a hot-swappable battery to save space, but the 51Wh option inside gets about eight hours of life from a single charge when used in a standard office manner (word processing, web browsing, light multimedia editing). It charges quickly with the proprietary brick, filling up to about 75 percent in an hour.

There are nine screws holding the back in place, and inside you can get at the SSD for a swap later down the road when you need more space. Unfortunately, RAM is soldered to the board, so no upgrades there. Inside is a dTPM 2.0 chip for some added security, and the laptop is Fast Identity Online (FIDO) enabled for extra online safety.

I never felt the X380 Yoga get very hot, likely thanks to a good-sized fan inside that you will hear kick on when under load. Nothing terrible, but it's not exactly whisper quiet, either.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 benchmarks (higher is better)

Device CPU Single core Multi core
Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga i5-8250U 4,242 11,996
HP ZBook 15u G5 i7-8650U 4,853 16,075
Lenovo ThinkPad T480 i5-8250U 3,940 12,559
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 i5-7300U 4,394 8,580
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet i7-8650U 4,971 14,289
Microsoft Surface Pro i7-7660U 4,513 9,346
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon i7-8650U 5,025 14,178
Dell XPS 13 (9370) i7-8550U 4,681 14,816
Lenovo Yoga 730 13 i5-8250U 4,178 13,354
Lenovo ThinkPad X280 i5-8250U 4,061 13,017
LG gram 15 i7-8550U 5,033 12,906
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15 i7-7500U 4,431 8,669

The Core i5-8250U CPU performed quite well in the single-core test, and with four cores engaged it again hit somewhere around the usual mark. Those who plan on some serious multitasking can always opt for the Core i7 model for extra power.

GPU

Geekbench 4.0 OpenCL (higher is better)

Device Compute score
Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga 21,384
HP ZBook 15u G5 (AMD) 42,071
Lenovo ThinkPad T480 18,245
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 21,276
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 22,211
Microsoft Surface Pro 30,678
Lenovo Yoga 730 13 21,000
Lenovo ThinkPad X280 21,142
LG gram 15 22,334
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15 19,769

Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 are enough for some light gaming and multimedia editing, but don't rely on this laptop for anything special.

PCMark

PCMark (Home Conventional 3.0)

Device Score
Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga 2,861
HP ZBook 15u G5 3,323
Lenovo ThinkPad T480 3,254
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 3,103
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 3,059
Microsoft Surface Pro 3,055
Lenovo Yoga 730 13 3,121
Lenovo ThinkPad X280 3,335
LG gram 15 3,395
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15 3,542

The PCMark Home Conventional test measures how well the hardware in a laptop works together to accomplish usual tasks. The X380 Yoga scored lower than I expected here (I ran it a few time and this was the highest score), but it's still in the ballpark of where it should be. Using it for about a week, I didn't notice any standout issues with performance.

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (higher is better)

Device Read Write
Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga 3,337.5 MB/s 1,946.2 MB/s
HP ZBook 15u G5 3,448.0 MB/s 1,566.4 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T480 1,738.1 MB/s 1,174.9 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T470 1,079 MB/s 716.1 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Tablet 3,398.1 MB/s 1,946.6 MB/s
Microsoft Surface Pro 1,284 MB/s 963 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 730 13 2,790.6 MB/s 506.8 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X280 3,366.1 MB/s 1,901.5 MB/s
LG gram 15 554.1 MB/s 449.6 MB/s
Samsung Notebook 9 Pro 15 549.9 MB/s 519.3 MB/s

The M.2 Samsung PM981 SSD here is blazing fast. It's available at checkout in up to a 1TB configuration, and it can always be swapped out later if you'd prefer to save some money now.

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga conclusion

Lenovo ThinkPad X380 Yoga review

The ThinkPad X380 Yoga is a well-built laptop with few flaws. Yes, the touchpad might be a bit too small for my liking and it might seem like the bezel is a tad large (though in tablet mode you'll have something to grab onto), but the keyboard is tops, there are plenty of ports, and a built-in pen makes jotting down notes a breeze.

An optional IR camera and a standard fingerprint reader let you log in with Windows Hello quickly and easily, and it has available vPro CPUs with dTPM 2.0 chip for added security and easy management. There were no standout issues with performance while using this laptop, and the SSD is fast. Toss in a display with beautiful color and contrast, and you have a winner.

Who is this laptop for?

This is a great laptop for those who like the look of the X1 lineup but who don't want to pay quite as much or who don't need a 14-inch display. Going cheaper still, there's an L380 Yoga (starting at about $830) with a similar design and size, though there is no Core i7 option and no Thunderbolt 3 port.

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Pros:

  • Speedy SSD that can be replaced.
  • Deep display color.
  • Lovely typing experience.
  • Great port selection.

Cons:

  • Small touchpad.
  • RAM and battery are stuck fast.

4.5 out of 5