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ThinkPad X390 Yoga: First Look/Quick Look
Community SeniorMod

 ThinkPad X390 Yoga Dock with Vantage EDITED.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga Docked

 

Another pleasant tech surprise: FedEx left a pre-customer-ship ThinkPad X390 Yoga on  my doorstep Smiley Happy  Let's have a look... As usual, this isn't exactly a review.  More of an introduction and check-out of the things that I find useful and interesting.  Hopefully a conversation starter.  But first:

 

From time to time  Lenovo sends me a gadget. They’re handy to have around – both for my own use and when trying to help out in the Lenovo forums. I do some testing and writing as well. Beyond the use of the laptop, I’m not otherwise compensated.

 

Professional images are Lenovo’s.  Amateur snapshots are mine.  Opinions are exclusively mine.  I do not work for, represent, or speak for Lenovo.

 

Introduction

 

I don't have any hands-on with the previous X380 Yoga model, but the '390 seems to be an incremental evolution of the '380: slightly smaller, slightly lighter, repositioned ports, improved battery run-time, and a different 8th-gen CPU with broader clock frequency range.

 

Lenovo Image Gallery

 

There is a full set of Lenovo TP X390 Yoga images available in Serene_Lenovo's MWC 2019 post: ThinkPad X390 YOGA`Black and Silver

 

Specifications

 

Please note that this is a pre-customer-ship unit.  The specifics of this X390 Yoga are presumably representative, but may not be exactly the same as what will be available to customers.  The Lenovo data sheet snip below is as of 2019.04.04 and may change.  I hope this article is a useful head-start, but do carefully verify actual specifications before placing an order.

 

Lenovo X390 Yoga data sheet:

 

ThinkPad_X390 Yoga_Datasheet-0004.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga Data Sheet Snip

 

It's my understanding that the RAM options will be 8 or 16 GB of DDR4 2400 soldered to planar, no sockets,  and that the WWAN slot does not support an SSD.

 

Not mentioned in the above data sheet is the proprietary Ethernet port.  It's part of the set of ports that mate with the side docks, and can be used directly with a passive RJ45 dongle (part # 4X90Q84427) which was included with my test laptop but will probably not be included in most markets.

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Left Side Ports EDITED.jpgProprietary Ethernet Port

 

My test unit's basic specs:

 

  • CPU:  i7-8565U with integrated UHD 620 graphics
  • RAM:  16GB DDR4 2400 soldered to planar
  • SSD:  Toshiba KXG6AZNV1T02 1TB PCIe/NVMe
  • WLAN:  Intel AC9560
  • WWAN: Fibocom L850-GL
  • Display:  1920x1080  LEN4094/N133HCE-EP2
  • BIOS:  N2LET24W (1.05) 2019.03.15

 

ThinkShutter

 

The camera privacy shutter is making its way into more Lenovo models, and becomes less obtrusive with each iteration.  This has caused occasional consternation among new consumer laptop owners who don't immediately spot it - and think their camera is defective Smiley Happy

 

ThinkPad X390 Yoga ThinkShutter EDITED.jpgX390 ThinkShutter - Closed

External Views - relative size

 

A look at ports and size compared to an X280 and X1 Yoga Gen 1:

 ThinkPad X390 Yoga with Charger and Dongles EDITED.jpgX390 Yoga, USB-C Charger, VGA and Ethernet Dongles

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Stack Front View EDITED.jpgX390 Yoga (middle) Front View

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Stack Left View EDITED.jpgX390 Yoga (middle) Left View

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Stack Right View EDITED.jpgX390 Yoga (middle) Right View

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Dock Rear View EDITED.jpgX390 Yoga in 40AJ Ultra Dock

 

Major Components & Performance

 

With its 8th-gen i7, NVMe SSD, 16GB of RAM, and AC wifi, it's quick.  The supplied SSD takes full advantage of the four PCIe lanes available, and the WLAN card hooks up with my ASUS router at its max available speed.  I'm not equipped to test the WWAN capability at this time.  Have not had enough time with it to estimate battery run-time.

 

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Dev Mgr Disk Mgmt Crystal DiskMark.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga - SSD Layout and Performance

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Dev Mgr Wireless Thunderbolt.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga - Networking and Thunderbolt

Virtualization

 

VT-x capable i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, and fast 1TB SSD make running VMs on the Yoga a piece of cake Smiley Happy

 

I don't generally do alternate OS bare-metal installs on single drive laptops like this one, but VMs give me access to *nix coding and editing tools and build environments.  Ubuntu & Bash on Windows has made that a little less vital - but still there are times when I want to work within a specific *nix distro (full disclosure: ...or did ... retired now, but used this stuff extensively back in the day).

 

I tend to use VMWare Workstation Player (free) but there are several other VM hosting options out there.

 

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Ubuntu RHEL VM 1.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga - RHEL and Ubuntu VMs

 

Modern Standby - S0i3 Sleep

 

This is the sleeping-with-one-eye-open mode that's showing up in some ThinkPads lately.  I'm not a fan. Happily, this X390 with this BIOS seems to be a classic S3 sleep machine:

 

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Win and Lin Sleep Modes.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga - Reported Sleep States

Modern Standby  is apparently the way things are going, but speaking strictly for myself: S0i3 is not the way I want my ThinkPads to sleep - even if/when the current implementation issues are ironed out.

 

There's a fair bit of pain in the Linux community over the lack of S3 sleep in some newer ThinkPads.  I rather expect Linux will eventually support S0i3 (IMHO expecting new hardware and BIOS modes to support Linux - in advance - is rather reversed from the Linux developement model I'm used to... that's a conversation for another day...) but even so, I far prefer S3 to be a BIOS option for both Windows and Linux.

 

Again, I repeat, speaking strictly for myself.  And speaking of Linux...

 

 

Linux - the Other OS

 

As mentioned above, I don't generally do dual-boot installs unless I have a 2nd drive to work with.  I don't like shared boot loaders and OSen that might step on each other's bootability during updates and modifications.  Even so, once in a while it's handy to boot a live Linux distro for forensics, repair, or just to give it a try.

 

Others will prefer to install the "other OS" bare-metal along side or in place of Windows, and a quick check of what works via live flash drive will hopefully give some indication of how an install will go.  I'm pleased to report that brief trials with live Ubuntu 18.10 and Fedora 29 seem to show that all the basics work right out of the box Smiley Happy  This is actually a bit better than the last ThinkPad I tested (an X280) that required a little grub boot stanza tweaking.

 

ThinkPad X390 Yoga Live Ubuntu 18.10.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga - Live Ubuntu 18.10
ThinkPad X390 Yoga Live Fedora 29.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga - Live Fedora 29

With both distros the basic necessities seemed to work as expected: wifi, touchpad and TrackPoint, touchscreen, and access to Windows files on the SSD.

 

That was all I tried with Fedora, but I dug a bit deeper with Ubuntu. Also looked at tablet mode, bluetooth, audio, camera, and pen.  Still the basics - didn't test multi-touch on anything, and didn't try the pen buttons, WWAN, NFC capability, or the fingerprint reader.  That will come later as time permits.  Tablet mode did correctly switch off the primary keyboard and enable an on-screen keyboard as needed.

 ThinkPad X390 Yoga Ubuntu Collage LANDSCAPE UPDATED.jpgThinkPad X390 Yoga - Ubuntu Tiled

 

In Conclusion...

 

That's all I've got for now. I'll continue to configure the X390 Yoga and install the software I tend to use, and see how it works as a daily driver.  I expect it to go well Smiley Happy

 

I'll post links to the User's Guide, Hardware Maintenance Manual, and Base Specification when they are available.  As always, I'm happy to try to answer questions and test capabilities - as hardware, software, time, and brain cells permit.

 

[edit to add] See the comments section for follow-up information.

 

6 Comments
Lenovo Staff

Smiley Happy

SeniorGuru

A beautifully written report. Great to read. Please continue exactly.

Community SeniorMod

The X390 Yoga has shown up on the Support site. Full complement of links: documentation, drivers, parts lookup...

 

X390 Yoga Laptop (ThinkPad): https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/products/laptops-and-netbooks/thinkpad-x-series-laptops/thinkpad-...)

 

(English) User Guide - ThinkPad X390 Yoga: https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/x390yoga_ug_en.pdf

 

(English) Hardware Maintenance Manual - ThinkPad X390 Yoga: https://download.lenovo.com/pccbbs/mobiles_pdf/x390yoga_hmm_en.pdf

 

It hasn't appeared on the Personal System Reference pages yet. Watch this space: http://psref.lenovo.com

 

When it's available on the PSREF page, the base spec can be accessed via the link shown below (this is the X380 Yoga used as an example).

 

 

ThinkPad Sample Base Spec Link.PNG

Community SeniorMod

Good news: the X390 Yoga has arrived on the PSREF page.  At the moment there don't seem to be any North American MT-Ms listed - but it is shown as available on the US sales site.  I'm trying to dig up details on the SSD/Optane offerings shown in the Platform Specification.  Stay tuned...

 

[edit to add] North American MT-Ms have shown up on the PSREF page.

 

http://psref.lenovo.com/Product/Think_Tablets_and_Convertibles/ThinkPad_X390_Yoga

 

http://psref.lenovo.com/syspool/Sys/PDF/Think%20Tablets%20_%20Convertibles/ThinkPad%20X390%20Yoga/Th...

 

https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-x/X390-Yoga/p/22TP2TX390Y

 

Z.

Community SeniorMod

About those storage options:  this generation of ThinkPad introduces some new options and storage technology.  From the Platform Specification:

 

• M.2 2280 SSD / SATA 6.0Gb/s
• M.2 2280 SSD / PCIe NVMe, PCIe 3.0 x 4
• M.2 2242 SSD / PCIe NVMe, PCIe 3.0 x 2
• Intel Optane memory, PCIe NVMe, PCIe 3.0 x 2

 

In prior generations when we saw a 2242 SSD that implied a 2nd (at least...) m.2 slot that could be used for additional storage.  Often the WWAN slot could be used for a cellular card or an SSD.  That is not the case with the X390 Yoga.  The primary - and only - SSD slot can take either a 2280 or 2242 SSD.  Based on the Hardware Maintenance Manual it looks like the short SSD requires an extender or adapter.

 

The Optane option is a different critter entirely.  It is part of a hybrid SSD that combines primary QLC flash memory with an Optane cache - in a single device in the primary SSD slot.  The intent seems to be to provide high capacity,  decent performance, and a better price point.  A couple of articles that describe the device(s) in some detail:

 

Intel Optane Technology and Intel QLC NAND Technology Come Together on a Single Drive

 

Intel's New M.2 Optane Memory H10 SSDs: Optane Paired With QLC Flash (Updated)

 

Z.

Community SeniorMod

I had a couple of surprises today when running System Update in Vantage.

 

One of the updates was BIOS N2LET62W - 1.62.  The update ran as expected and rebooted to complete the BIOS update.  It lingered longer than expected on a black screen, then showed a line of text:  "Self-healing BIOS backup progressing..." with a % indicator.  Very interesting.

 

I accessed BIOS to see if it contained any mention of this feature and saw this:

 

X390Y Fancy BIOS EDITED.jpg

 

We now have a GUI ThinkPad BIOS Setup that can be navigated with the UltraNav pointing devices.  Also very  interesting Smiley Happy

 

I don't personally have a good feel for the implications of self-healing BIOS yet (exactly what it does, how it's invoked...) but has some observations and comments here:  Self-Healing BIOS.

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