Maybe your work laptop is getting a bit slow. Maybe you’ve been closely watching our coverage, and have seen our reviews of the 2022 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 and the M2-based Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch in recent weeks. Or maybe you just know that you want the best company-issued laptop you can get, and you don’t have it now. Well, if you’re making the case to your boss for a premium notebook, you’d better come prepared.
Top performance and features often command top dollar, but getting the best business laptop isn’t just about scoring the model with the biggest price tag. If you want a more premium work machine, you also want to sell the boss on the productivity benefits you can get for that larger chunk of the budget.
We’re here to break down the specs, compare the features, and answer the questions you and your boss will have when making a choice between these two choice business laptops.
2022 MacBook Pro vs. ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Spec Comparison
While the X1 Carbon and the MacBook Pro 13-Inch both offer top-of-the-line components, they’re far from identical.
The most obvious difference is the old Mac vs. PC debate. The MacBook Pro is an Apple machine, running Apple MacOS Monterey. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a Windows laptop, running Windows 11 Pro. We’ll get to the key differences later, but if you’re already tied to one operating system, or your IT infrastructure allows for only one or the other, it makes your decision pretty easy.
Tested: The 2022 MacBook Pro & ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
The other major difference is Apple’s use of the M2 chip, the latest Apple Silicon processor. In test after test, we found the M2 offers great performance—just not better than the M1 Pro and M1 Max offered on the more premium 14-inch MacBook Pro. It’s all part of Apple’s move away from Intel processors, but it comes with complications around supported software, even for older Mac programs. The X1 Carbon, on the other hand, sticks with Intel, and is outfitted with the latest 12th Generation (“Alder Lake”) Core i7 CPU, one of the best options available for any laptop.
2022 MacBook Pro vs. ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Configuration and Pricing
It’s worth noting that while this comparison refers to the units we were able to test for our reviews, they aren’t the only options offered for either model. Both systems have a range of configuration options, and your choices for customizable features can dramatically change the price.
Apple offers several configurations of the 13-Inch MacBook Pro. Our test unit is stepped up from the base model, outfitted with 16GB of memory and 1TB of SSD storage, and sells for $1,899. The base model is a bit more modest, with the same Apple M2 eight-core processor and 10 GPU cores, but only 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD for storage. The price for that starter version is $1,299. The top model ($2,499) peaks with 24GB of memory and a 2TB drive.
With the 2022 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10, you have a choice between the midrange Core i5 and the more powerful Core i7 in our review unit. Both options rely on integrated graphics—no discrete GPU option for this machine—but you have lots of other choices in hardware.
The base model, which starts at $1,439, has 8GB of RAM, but you can opt for more memory, like our 16GB model or the top 32GB system. Storage, similarly, starts at 256GB and scales up to 1TB of SSD storage. Display options abound, ranging from a simple 1,920-by-1,200-pixel IPS panel up to an OLED display or 4K IPS option, with several choices in between.
The Age-Old Question: Windows or Mac?
While we don’t want to stir up any old fights, the question of operating systems looms large over any comparison of Apple and Lenovo products. With the MacBook Pro using Apple’s latest version of macOS and the Lenovo running Windows 11 Pro, both machines offer the best respective versions of today’s Windows and Mac software.
It’s a discussion we’ve been having at PCMag since, well, forever(Opens in a new window), but despite technically being a PC, Apple’s Mac line has always been a different breed. Today the differences are less about the interface and more centered on app availability.
(Credit: Brian Westover)
Is one better than the other? It’s easier to answer whether one is better for you. We will say, however, that Apple’s tightly integrated approach to hardware and software makes it a formidable combination, provided you don’t need to use any Windows-only software. (Check out our take on which OS is really the best.)
And many businesses rely completely on Windows software, or at least they depend on Windows’ broad support for all sorts of programs, scripts, and customizations. If you work in an office where everything is Windows, your IT folks will appreciate you going with the flow, and it makes your decision easy: Just pick the X1 Carbon.
For graphics professionals, it’s even easier than that—Apple is the preferred choice for most photo and video editors and graphic designers, by far. That doesn’t mean much if you’re working in a Windows-powered shop, but it’s a pretty big deal when collaborating with others in the industry. If that sounds like you, then the MacBook Pro 13-Inch is the better choice.
2022 MacBook Pro vs. ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 Design: Thin Is In
Even at a cursory glance, these are very different machines. The designs are premium, but they speak to very different sensibilities, with the MacBook Pro sticking to its iconic bare-metal design and the X1 Carbon taking its name from the carbon fiber and magnesium alloy chassis it uses. Both are solid and sturdy designs, but only the Lenovo is rated to survive hazards like shock, vibration, and temperature extremes, passing MIL-STD 810H tests for ruggedness.
(Credit: Brian Westover)
Both systems are impressively thin. Lenovo’s approach is all angles, with a geometric look that’s aggressive but professional. Apple’s design uses gentle curves instead, but is no less business-like. And while Apple uses the recognizable mirrored-fruit logo in the center of the lid, Lenovo keeps it subtle, with a demure ThinkPad logo in the corner of the X1 Carbon’s lid.
But the differences are more than chassis-deep. From the display to the keyboard, from ports to performance, these are very different and distinct laptops.
2022 MacBook Pro vs. ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Screen Options
It’s hard to point to any one aspect of a display and declare it better than another, and both the X1 Carbon and the MacBook Pro offer some good-looking screens. The MacBook Pro is 13.3 inches, and it has Apple’s Retina display, a 2,560-by-1,600-pixel panel that has great brightness and covers the wide P3 color gamut.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
The Lenovo ThinkPad Carbon X1, on the other hand, is a little larger, with a 14-inch panel available in your choice of resolutions. As is common with Windows machines, the Lenovo offers a touch screen as an option, while the MacBook Pro does not—instead, it has a narrow OLED strip called the Touch Bar forward of the keyboard for limited touch interaction.
X1 Carbon screen options include a higher-resolution 2,240-by-1,400-pixel IPS with anti-glare finish and low blue-light emissions for improved comfort and eye health, or a luxe 2,880-by-1,800-pixel OLED panel (albeit, one without touch capability). Or, you could ask your boss to go all-out with a 14-inch 3,840-by-2,400 IPS display with all the extras: anti-reflective, anti-smudge, Dolby Vision HDR, 500 nits of brightness, and low blue light.
2022 MacBook Pro vs. ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Webcam, Keyboard and Touchpad
So much of our work life is now handled through apps like Zoom and Google Meet that looking your best for work is as much about camera quality as it is your wardrobe. A good webcam and decent lighting are the differences between looking alive in an important meeting or looking flat and dull.
Here the Lenovo wins, with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon boasting a 1080p webcam that easily beats the lower-resolution 720p camera found in the MacBook Pro. But pixels aren’t the whole story, as both Apple and Lenovo apply image-enhancing processing to their webcams. The X1 Carbon also has a built-in privacy shutter, so you know hackers aren’t snooping when you think the camera is off.
Both the MacBook Pro and the X1 Carbon have multiple microphone arrays for clearer dialog in virtual meetings, but the Lenovo again leads the MacBook Pro by using a four-mic system with Dolby Voice to filter out ambient noise, while Apple outfits the MacBook Pro with three mics.
That answers the webcam question. Whether you wear pants while working from home is entirely up to you.
As for the traditional inputs, lots of people love Apple’s Magic Keyboard on the MacBook Pro. It’s a capable laptop keyboard, and the accompanying Force Touch haptic trackpad is very, very good.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
But Lenovo has the best laptop keyboards in the industry, offering a more comfortable typing experience, with better spring-back from key presses, more depth of key travel, and sculpted keycaps. Plus, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon boasts not one, but two pointing devices: a gesture-capable touchpad and the iconic red pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard, a constant since the earliest IBM ThinkPads. Not everyone uses the red stick, but those who do find it to be indispensable, especially in environments like airplane seating, where limited elbow room can make swiping around on a big trackpad less comfortable.
2022 MacBook Pro vs. ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Ports and Connectivity
When it comes to physical ports and wireless connections, the ThinkPad is the winner. The X1 Carbon has two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a USB 3.2 Type-A port, and a full-size HDMI video output. A second USB-A port joins an audio jack, a nano SIM card slot, and a security lock slot on the right side of the laptop.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
The MacBook Pro offers only a pair of Thunderbolt 4 ports and a headphone jack, but by connecting any of our favorite MacBook docking stations, you can still get a full complement of USB-A ports and HDMI output, and even Ethernet, if the included Wi-Fi 6 doesn’t do it for you.
(Credit: Brian Westover)
2022 MacBook Pro vs. ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Weight and Portability
When it comes to the best work laptops, portability is essential. Whether you’re working from home, commuting to an office, or taking your work on the road, you need a laptop that can provide all the power you need, but that is also light, thin, and easy to pack around. And these are two of the best, with slim designs that won’t weigh you down.
Recommended by Our Editors
Of the two, the X1 Carbon is the lighter option, due largely to the light-yet-strong materials used in the construction. Despite having a nearly identical thickness (0.6 inch for the Lenovo and 0.61 inch for the Apple), the X1 Carbon is a full half-pound lighter than the 3-pound MacBook Pro.
(Credit: Molly Flores)
The other part of the portability equation is battery life, which lets you work longer without having to also lug around the power brick and cables for charging the laptop. Here, the Apple MacBook Pro wins by a large margin, lasting nearly 22 hours in our battery test, compared with the Lenovo’s 12 hours. Granted, 12 hours of battery life should be plenty to get you through your workday and well into the evening on one charge, but it’s just over half of what the MacBook Pro provides.
Testing the 2022 X1 Carbon and MacBook Pro: A Productivity Performance Face-Off
Last, we have to consider performance when comparing the two business laptops. All the features or battery life in the world won’t mean much if you’re always waiting for a spreadsheet to finish running the numbers, or find yourself bogged down whenever you try to edit some photos to a presentation.
When it comes to everyday productivity, these are two very well-appointed machines, outclassing most of the competition without any trouble. But when you compare the numbers directly, there’s no denying that the Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch has an advantage with its M2 chip. It lead in every test—or, at least, every test that it’s possible to run on both Windows and Mac. (See how we test laptops.)
Whether it was our Handbrake video transcode tests, a processor-pushing rendering test like Cinebench R23, or a multitasking productivity gauntlet like Geekbench, the MacBook Pro maintained an edge over the X1 Carbon every step of the way.
The big asterisk in this comparison is our Photoshop trial. While the latest versions of Photoshop run natively on Apple Silicon (just as they do on Windows machines), our benchmark test does not, and it requires us to use an older version that supports the third-party testing macros we use to measure performance. For Apple machines, this makes it more of a test in running software with Apple’s Rosetta 2 emulation layer than a true photo-editing benchmark. But even with those caveats, the M2 MacBook Pro leads the Intel Core i7-powered X1 Carbon.
Graphics prowess is a similar story. While neither system uses a dedicated GPU—the Lenovo uses Intel’s Xe Graphics solution, and Apple’s M2 system-on-a-chip includes 10 GPU cores in our test configuration—they both offer superb support for basic visual processing. If you need more than these machines deliver, you’re probably better served by a mobile workstation, or just the higher-level processing choices offered on the 14-inch MacBook Pro.
But again, the M2 MacBook Pro squeezes more performance out of its wafer-thin silicon than the Lenovo does, even as both deliver category-leading results. One of the few graphics benchmarks that runs on both platforms is GFXBench, a cross-platform rendering test that runs on both OpenGL and Apple’s Metal API. Many Apple benchmarks don’t offer Windows compatibility, and vice versa for the Windows tests we usually use. Compatibility is always a bit of a question mark for Apple products, but the performance lead is clear.
We’ve already discussed the MacBook Pro’s superior battery life, but it bears repeating: The ThinkPad X1 Carbon offers very good battery life, but the Apple MacBook Pro nearly doubles it with a fantastic 22 hours of endurance.
Aside from the battery, there’s the question of the display. Setting aside questions of touch capability and screen size, the Apple MacBook Pro offers slightly better color quality and higher peak brightness than our Lenovo test unit does. However, panel performance on the Lenovo will depend entirely upon which screen option you choose (as noted in our review, for example, OLED’s an option with the Gen 10 model), and everything we’ve seen is still very, very good.
Verdict: Should You Press for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, or for the MacBook Pro?
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon earned a perfect five-star score, making it one of the best laptops we’ve ever seen. The 2022 Apple MacBook Pro 13-Inch, on the other hand, scored a more modest four stars, despite the better performance, longer battery life, and equally impressive pedigree of past models.
Why? Because the MacBook Pro isn’t even the best MacBook to get the M2 chip—that honor goes to the redesigned Apple MacBook Air. And for better performance, we still recommend the 14-inch MacBook Pro mentioned earlier, or the truly premium (but less totable) 16-inch MacBook Pro. Both of those offer more potent processing and beefier graphics, along with updated designs.
Ultimately, the question of which premium business laptop is “better” is a question of which system is better for you. The issues of performance versus compatibility, or battery life versus portability, are questions that can only be answered in the context of your specific needs.
In fact, your best bet may be to pick the one that fits you best, and if your boss says no, suggest the other in its place. Regardless of which way the coin flip goes, you’ll still be getting one of the best laptops on the market.
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