My Next Linux Ultrabook: Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon With Core i7-5600U
Written by Michael Larabel in Hardware on 13 January 2015 at 12:00 AM EST. 41 Comments
HARDWARE --
As a follow-up to my post from this weekend about plans to get a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Broadwell ultrabook for Linux testing, I've now finalized in my decision and have some more thoughts to share for any Linux users planning to soon get an Intel Broadwell laptop/ultrabook for your favorite open-source operating system.

As outlined in the earlier post, I've still been struggling with hardware issues on my Haswell-based ASUS Zenbook I switched to last year as my main production system. After Lenovo's third-generation X1 Carbon launch and the good news about it from CES last week, I decided it would be a great laptop/ultrabook and one of the first to ship in the United States with Intel's terrific new Broadwell processors.

As brought up in the comments to my X1 Carbon article from this weekend, several people there and via Twitter also pointed out the Dell XPS13 Broadwell ultrabook. I had considered the XPS13 Broadwell model, but in the end I'm more comfortable with ThinkPad's build quality, have owned many ThinkPads over the years, and just found the X1 Carbon to be more appealing than the new XPS13 -- though yes, it does look like an interesting Linux ultrabook option that hopefully I'll have the chance to test in the future.


On Monday morning I went ahead and ordered the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon for carrying out some early Broadwell Linux tests while waiting for the Intel Broadwell NUCs to be released and then the desktop Broadwell CPUs. After covering the Broadwell Linux/open-source enablement now over what's been about two years, I'm very excited to get my hands on the new Intel hardware. When ordering the X1 Carbon the CPU options were the Core i5 5200U, Core i5 5300U, and Core i7 5600U.

Originally I planned to just buy the Core i5 5200U model, but it comes with only 4GB of RAM soldered on the motherboard where as the Core i7 5600U has 8GB and its specs are more appealing. All of the Intel Broadwell ultrabook processors are just dual core with Hyper Threading while the i5-5200U has a base frequency of 2.2GHz and a turbo of 2.7GHz while the i7-5600U has a base frequency of 2.6GHz with a turbo of 3.2GHz. I don't actually need too much compute power out of my main system as it's mostly for emails, web browser activities, article writing, and Phoronix Test Suite development and related business work. However, the i7-5600U also has slightly faster graphics that should do better when attached to the Acer B286HK UHD 4K LCD display I use while in the office. All of the mentioned Broadwell processors use Intel HD Graphics 5500 but the i7 model has a top frequency of 950MHz where as the i5 CPUs top out at 900MHz. The i7 model also has a 4MB cache rather than 3MB. Last but not least, the higher-end Broadwell ULV CPUs have vPro, TSX-NI extensions, SIPP, and Trusted Execution Technology.

With the Core i7 5600U Broadwell processor was the 8GB of DDR3L memory, 128GB SSD, 802.11 ac/b/g/n WiFi, and 14-inch 1920 x 1080 FHD display. The grand total for the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon with these options was $1749 USD (or $1871 with tax to Indiana). It's looking like the ultrabook is supposed to arrive at the end of the month. This is the only annoyance of ordering from Lenovo.com is the slow turn-around times... Hopefully it will arrive sooner so the Intel Broadwell Linux review can get underway.

As the X1 Carbon ships with Microsoft Windows 8.1, I'll certainly be running some Windows 8.1 vs. Linux performance comparisons with this Broadwell system before wiping out Windows entirely. When it comes to the initial Broadwell Linux testing among the tests on my mind now are numerous Linux graphics tests, Fedora 21 vs. Ubuntu 14.10 benchmarks, other potential Linux distribution comparison benchmarks, GCC and Clang compiler benchmarks for this Broadwell Core i7, various Linux kernel benchmarks, and some Linux power efficiency tests. If you have any other requests for Linux benchmarks you'd like to see out of this high-end Intel Broadwell system, let me know via @MichaelLarabel on Twitter or via the forums. Aside from these X1 Carbon 20BSCTO1WW tests, if there's any other Linux hardware/software tests you'd like to see on Phoronix in the future, let me know.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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