Recently, Apple announced the all-new MacBook Air for 2022, featuring a big redesign and the new Apple M2 processor. It’s certainly a compelling laptop, but it’s not without competition, and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is another fantastic device launched this year. They’re geared towards very different markets, and we’d say there’s a very low chance that you find yourself choosing between them, but if you do, we’re here to help. In this article, we’re comparing the 2022 MacBook Air against the latest Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 to see which one you should buy.
When we say these are meant for different markets, we mean it. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a business laptop, and the MacBook Air is Apple’s most consumer-oriented MacBook. Still, they’re both great laptops, and each of them has benefits and disadvantages compared to the other.
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MacBook Air (2022) vs Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Specs
|MacBook Air (2022)||Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10|
|Price||Starting at $1,199||Starting at $1,639|
Operating system: macOS or Windows?
The first major difference between these two laptops has to do with the operating system, and frankly speaking, that’s probably enough to make the decission for your right there. CHances are you’re already familiar with one of these operating systems, and if you were, you’ll want to stick with it. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is also set to be available with Ubuntu, but that option doesn’t seem to be available yet.
If you’re not set on either operating syste, yet, though, here’s why you might prefer one over the other. Windows is potentially more appealing because it’s the most popular desktop operating system in the world, and that means almost every app out there is designed for it or supports it. It’s also generally known for giving you a bit more control over advanced system settings. Windows 11 is the latest version of Windows and it tries to be a bit more user-friendly and consistent than previous versions. Plus, with the upcoming update to Windows 11 version 22H2, it’s getting some big improvements.
On the other hand, macOS has a very dedicated fanbase, particularly among content creators. That’s in big part thanks to Final Cut Pro, an Apple-developed video editing software that many consider to be the best out there. But because of its popularity among content creators, macOS also attracts attention from other publishers, such as Adobe, so you can find a lot of creative apps on macOS, and sometimes they receive better support there compared to Windows. Some also consider macOS to be more beginner-friendly, so it may be a good choice for an inexperienced user.
Performance: Apple’s M2 processor is fast and efficient
As you’d probably guess, both of these new laptops come with new hardware compared to their predecessors, and they’re both noticeable upgrades. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon probably received the biggest upgrade in terms of performance, moving from 15W processors to the new 28W P-series (U-series models have been announced but aren’t available).
However, even if the upgrades in the 2022 MacBook Air aren’t as significant, it still holds its own against Intel’s processors. Intel’s processors do pull ahead, but it’s worth noting the difference in power consumption, which greatly impacts battery life. According to Apple, the Intel Core i7-1260P uses four times more power to reach the same level of performance as the Apple M1. Of course, Intel has an even more powerful processor, the Core i7-1280P, which likely puts it even further ahead in terms of performance.
We’ve tested some of these processors ourselves, so you can take a look at the performance results below. We haven’t tested the Intel Core i7-1280P, though, so we pulled a benchmark result from Geekbench 5’s database. Do note the score for the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 7, which is basically a convertible version of the X1 Carbon. That’s probably closer to the kind of performance you can expect.
Again, though, it comes back to the battery life. The Intel processors have to use much more power to deliver the same kind of performance, and these laptops have similarly-sized batteries. That means you can definitely expect the MacBook Air to last significantly longer on a charge while delivering comparable performance, and if portability is important to you, that’s a huge advantage.
There’s also the matter of GPU performance, and here, Apple pulls a major win over any of the Intel processors. Intel hasn’t really upgraded the integrated graphics with its 12th-generation CPUs, and if the Apple M1 was already better, the Apple M2 is even more so. According to Apple’s comparisons, you can expect as much as 2.3 times the performance compared to Intel’s processor. The graph below uses a U-series Intel processor for comparison, but there isn’t a huge difference in graphics performance in P-series processors.
This doesn’t mean the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is a slow laptop by any means, though. It’s more than fast enough for all kinds of daily tasks, but if you need the best performance while still having great battery life, the MacBook Air is clearly the way to go here.
Aside from the processor, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon does have an advantage since it can be configured with up to 32GB of RAM, versus the 24GB of the MacBook Air. It’s worth mentioning that the MacBook Air uses unified memory, though, which is faster and can be used by the CPU and GPU equally. For storage, both laptops have up to a 2TB SSD, which is plenty of space for files and apps.
Display and sound: The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is all about options
One thing you probably noticed about the spec sheet at the top is that it looks radically different on either side. Apple offers very straightforward configurations for the MacBook Air, while the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is all about options. That extends to the display, too.
The MacBook Air comes with a 13.6-inch panel and a resolution of 2560 x 1664. This is essentially a 13.3-inch Quad HD+ panel stretched slightly vertically, with pixels added to fill the additional space. It’s a very sharp screen, though, and it hits up to 500 nits of brightness, on top of supporting P3 Wide Color and True Tone. The only potential downside here is that it has a notch at the top.
On the other hand, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has a 14-inch display, and it comes with a wide range of options, starting with a Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) panel, which is solid, but not quite as sharp as the MacBook Air. Lenovo offers a lot of options, though, including a slightly sharper 2.2K IPS panel, a 4K IPS panel, or – potentially the best option – a 2.8K OLED display. Plus, Lenovo offers certain optional features you just can’t get on the MacBook Air, such as a privacy screen (on the Full HD+ model) or touch support.
Lenovo’s laptop can certainly be better than the MacBook Air, but it depends on what you’re looking for and what you’re willing to spend. The MacBook Air has a better experience in its base configuration, and it’s easier to recommend because all models have solid displays. If you want a specific feature or option from the ThinkPad, it will cost extra, and this is a laptop that already has a noticeably higher starting price.
As for the webcam, both laptops come with a 1080p camera, which is a great start for both of them. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 has a couple of advantages, though: First, the option for Windows Hello facial recognition support (Apple only offers Touch ID for biometric authentication); second, the option for a MIPI camera with Computer Vision. Computer Vision makes it so that your laptop can see when you approach it, so it can wake up the screen and be ready to use. Likewise, it can lock the PC when you move away. On the other hand, Apple has a solid track record with webcams, and the MacBook Air has an advanced image signal processor to improve image quality.
For the sound system, both laptops have quad stereo speakers and they should provide a fairly immersive audio experience. Apple has typically had some of the best speakers on a laptop, though, so it might be a bit better here. For voice pickup, the MacBook Air has three microphones, while the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has four.
Design: The MacBook Air is smaller, but the ThinkPad is lighter
Moving on to the design, the MacBook Air is naturally the smaller of the laptops, as you’d expect since it has a smaller screen. It’s also noticeably thinner, measuring just 11.3mm compared to the 14.95mm of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon. However, in terms of weight, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is actually lighter in its base configuration, starting at 2.48lbs as opposed to the 2.7lbs of the MacBook Air. The reason for that difference is that the MacBook Air’s chassis is all made from aluminum, while the ThinkPad uses carbon fiber for the top, which is a much lighter material.
On the visual side, neither laptop is overly interesting, but the MacBook Air is a brand-new design and it comes in four colors to choose from, which is a nice twist. All of these are fairly subdued, but still, it’s nice to have options.
Meanwhile, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is the same it’s always been. The ThinkPad design is iconic, and if you’re a fan of it, you’ll love this one. However, if you’re not, it’s a bit boring and it can actually look a bit dated with its black surfaces and red accents. The only customization option you get is a carbon fiber weave pattern on the lid, which depends on the display configuration you choose. It does give this laptop a lot more personality.
Ports and connectivity: The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is far more versatile
Finally, there’s the matter of ports, and this is one section where Lenovo’s laptop pulls off a clean victory. Being a business laptop, connectivity is important, so you get two Thunderbolt 4 ports, two USB Type-A ports, HDMI, a headphone jack, and an optional nano-SIM slot. Not only is that a great selection right off the bat, but Thunderbolt 4 allows for extensive expansion options, including the ability to connect external GPUs and multiple monitors.
On the other hand, the MacBook Air has a more limited supply of ports. Two Thunderbolt ports, MagSafe for charging, and a headphone jack. Apple deserves credit for the return of MagSafe, which means you can trip over the charging cable without bringing your laptop down with it, plus the headphone jack supports high-impedance headphones, which is very rare on Windows laptops. But the Thunderbolt ports are far more limited, only supporting one external display (normally) and no external GPUs at all. These are limitations of the Apple M2 processor, which just doesn’t support all the Thunderbolt features.
As for wireless connectivity, both laptops naturally support Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, though the ThinkPad X1 Carbon supports the newer Wi-Fi 6E standard. The big difference, though, is that the ThinkPad X1 Carbon has support for cellular connectivity. You can choose either 4G LTE or 5G connectivity, and either one allows you to connect to the internet from just about anywhere, without having to rely on insecure Wi-Fi networks.
MacBook Air (2022) vs Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10: Final thoughts
Considering everything we’ve mentioned, which one is the better laptop? Well, it’s really up to your personal needs. We’d argue the MacBook Air is the better option for most general consumers. It has a great display in every configuration, the processor is very fast and efficient so you can get great performance and battery life at the same time, and it comes in a few fun colors. Plus, if you’re buying your first laptop or you prefer macOS, this may be the way to go.
However, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 gives you a ton of configuration options, and if you’re willing to spend a little more, you can get features that Apple doesn’t offer at all, such as a privacy screen or touch support for the display. Plus, it has more premium options, like the OLED or the 4K IPS screens. And in terms of ports, it’s hardly a competition, with the ThinkPad offering a ton more versatility out of the box. Plus, Windows is ideal for business applications and most apps work and/or are exclusive to Windows.
There’s also the matter of price, though. With an official starting price of $1,639, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 is roughly $400 more expensive than the MacBook Air, and if you want some of the premium features we mentioned, you have to pay even more. That’s also part of what makes the MacBook Air a bit easier to recommend for most consumers.
Regardless of your choice, you can check out both laptops below. Keep in mind the MacBook Air isn’t available to buy yet at writing time, but it’s set to launch in July. If neither of these feels right for you, maybe stop by our lists of the best Macs or the best ThinkPads to see what else each of these brands has to offer.