Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Review

On the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, Lenovo made a statement to Dell and Apple: The company will not allow the XPS 15 and MacBook Pro to dominate the 15-inch laptop category. Last year’s first X1 Extreme did very well, with fast performance and a beautiful display in a light package. But in the end, he was plagued by a low battery. This is our Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review. Lenovo’s second bite on the apple (pun intended) is more of the same.

With an equally attractive and portable design, fast performance and an impressive 4K HDR screen, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2nd-Gen is an excellent choice for content creators and business users. Unfortunately, the low battery life is again undoing this fantastic machine.

Review of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme – Design

My first laptop came with a 15 inch screen and, as much as I liked the laptop screen, that thick brick of a device was too heavy to drag. When it was time to upgrade, I, like many, faced the wave of small imaginary laptops that have become popular in the past decade. Lenovo has made no significant changes to the design of this second year. The slim, thin and light chassis of this machine remains the best presentation (along with the X1 Carbon) of Lenovo’s iconic ThinkPad aesthetic.

You probably already know the look. Still, we’ll cover the basics: on the cover of the X1 Extreme is a dark ThinkPad logo, illuminated by the bright red “i” in front of an elegant X1 brand. Open the lid and you will find the distinctive red ThinkPad tubing on the touchpad buttons and the pointing stick. There are more marks on the deck and on the display, but everything is discreet and does not detract from the minimalist and stealthy appearance of the X1 Extreme.

This year’s new model is a carbon fiber fabric on the cover of the X1 Extreme. This same pattern, first introduced in the newly launched ThinkPad X1 Carbon, resembles the soft carbon fiber materials of the X1 Extreme and gives the device the same aggressive edge seen in sports car carbon fiber stickers.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a beautiful laptop, but I have some difficulties with the design. First of all, the X1 Extreme does not accept thin screens like other premium laptops. The bottom panel is very thick and detracts from another simplified design. I would also like the fingerprint sensor to be more pronounced and the on / off button not to be so embedded. Oh, and the smooth, matte black surfaces attract fingerprints like no other.

Business users who use the ThinkPad X1 Extreme in the office will have no problem connecting monitors, smartphones or other peripherals at home. On the right side of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an RJ45 Ethernet dongle (which requires an adapter) and an HDMI 2.0 input. Go to the left side of the laptop and you’ll find two USB 3.1 ports, a Kensington slot, an SD card reader, and an optional smart card reader.

Keyboard and TouchPad

Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards are simply the best on the market. The delicately cut keys on the Extreme hug your fingertips, and the generous ride feels deeper than the laptop itself. It’s the combination of a robust tactile click that swings your fingers from one key to the other and a smooth landing when you control the keys, which makes the X1 Extreme’s keyboard so much fun to type.

lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme review

Lenovo deserves props to resist the temptation to create a new key design, as many other brands have done. These keys are not broken; please don’t try to fix them. Under the keyboard, there is a 3.9 x 2.7 inch touchpad, smaller than other 15 inch laptops. I didn’t bother with the smaller size, because the square area has enough vertical and horizontal space to perform Windows 10 gestures, like pinching to zoom in and slide with three fingers to switch between windows.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Review – Screen

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme’s 15.6-inch, 4K (Ultra-HD) screen is colorful, bright and sharp. The anti-glare panel may not have the same image quality as the new OLED panels, but it is a perfect choice for business users or content creators who are uncomfortable with reflections. The 3840 x 2160 pixel panel was so sharp that I could easily see the stitching on the Harley Quinn hat when I paused a scene in Birds of Prey.

Bright colors emerge from the canvas when the Ace Chemicals factory explodes, and a turquoise, scarlet and limestone bat erupts in the air. These saturated tremors were not as strong as on the bright OLED screen of the Razer Blade 15 Studio that my colleague was watching alongside, but at least the X1 Extreme’s anti-glare screen did not reflect my face.

Our colorimeter measured an excellent coverage of 163% sRGB when we placed it on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme screen. This means that the notebook’s screen is more saturated than the 16-inch MacBook Pro (114%) and the HP Specter x360 15 (157%). Only the 4K panel of the XPS 15 ‘is more colorful (210%). All of these laptops, except the MacBook Pro, are at the top of the category average (122%).

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme’s display has 384 nits and is very bright, although it has been overshadowed by the 4K screen of the XPS 15 (418 nits) and the 16 ″ panel of the MacBook Pro (429 nits). The Specter x360 15 (247 nits) display was disappointingly weak and far below the category average (367 nits).

Audio

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme’s four down speakers deliver a decent sound. Although they could not fill a medium-sized laboratory, the quality of the sound produced was above average. On The Killers’ “Run for Cover” middle track, there was a sweet touch of meat that didn’t make alternative rock / alternative music look thinner. Don’t expect miracles in the lower range, but a beautiful low kick gave Juice Wrld’s “Lucid Dreams” the depth it deserves.

Graphics

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is not made for games, but the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics chip on this machine with 4 GB VRAM is a significant upgrade to an integrated card. In our 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited test, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme came in at 175,005, just below the XPS 15 (177,158). Both scores correspond to the average of the premium laptop (99,248).

lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme review

In our real-world gaming test, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme zoomed in on Dirt 3 at 170 frames per second. It is twice as smooth as the XPS 15 (80 fps, GTX 1650) and exceeds the Specter x360 15 (61 fps) and the average premium laptop (58 fps). The results of our Hitman benchmark were not so good, but the ThinkPad X1 Extreme still did well, with a speed of 47 fps. The Specter x360 15 (46 fps) performed almost the same, but no laptop reached the medium category (63 fps).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Review – Performance

I played everything I could on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, but the Intel Core i7-9850H CPU with 32 GB of RAM on this bestial machine didn’t sweat at all. I didn’t notice any delay loading 15 Google Chrome web pages, four of which played 4K videos in the background. Even when I was broadcasting a Carabao Cup match between Aston Villa and Leicester City, the X1 Extreme was so insensitive to the workload that fans didn’t even start.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme did an excellent job on our benchmarks, crushing file transfers, computer tests and graphics. This second generation model scored 23,533 points in the overall performance test for Geekbench 4.3, just below the levels of the XPS 15 (28,882) and MacBook Pro (31,178), both configured with Core i9-9980HK processors. Last year’s Specter x360 15 (21,889; Core i7-8750H) failed to keep up, despite surpassing the category average (21,889).

Content creators should take note of our video transcoding test, in which a laptop is in charge of converting a 4K video to a 1080p resolution. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme completed this task in 10 minutes and 19 seconds, cutting off the Specter x360 15 (10:45). The XPS 15 (8:00) and MacBook Pro (8:00) show how much more power a Core i9 CPU radiates over the Core i7 chip.

Finally, we have a Windows PC with a hard drive that rivals the speed of a MacBook Pro. The 1TB M.2 2280 NVMe Opal2 SSD, on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, doubled 4.97 GB of multimedia files in 2.5 seconds, to an impressive 2,035.7 megabytes per second. Competitive laptops that come close to or above the average premium laptop (1,023.4 MBps) – including the Specter x360 15 (565.5 MBps, 1 TB SSD), MacBook Pro (PCIe NVMe 2 TB M.2 SSD; 1.017 , 9 MBps) and XPS 15 (1 TB PCIe) SSD, 508 MBps) – will not come close to Lenovo.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review – Battery life

Something had to ruin the party. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme lasted at least 5 hours and 28 minutes in our battery test, surfing the web continuously over Wi-Fi at 150 nits. We expect short run times on laptops and gaming workstations, not laptops designed for creators and business users. In comparison, the XPS 15 with a 4K screen lasted 8 hours and 48 minutes, slightly longer than the 4K Specter x360 (8:09). If the MacBook Pro (10:55) had lasted 1 minute longer, it would have doubled the run time of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme.

Heat

lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme review

Inadequate cooling was one of the few complaints we had with the first generation ThinkPad X1 Extreme. Fortunately, the new model fared much better in our heat test, with a temperature of 99 degrees Fahrenheit. This is still above our 95-degree comfort limit, but nowhere near the 123 degrees where the Gen 1 version passed the same test (playing a 15-minute video in 1080p). The ThinkPad X1 Extreme’s 2nd generation touchpad (82 degrees) and the machine’s keyboard center (92 degrees), two places where you usually rest your hands, were warm to the touch.

Pricing and configuration options

With a starting price of $ 1,721, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is one of Lenovo’s most expensive laptops. For that price, you get a 1080p anti-glare screen, along with an Intel Core i5-9300H CPU, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB SSD and graphics from the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU. Upgrading to a 1080p configuration with a Core i7-9850H CPU, 32 GB of RAM, a 1 TB SSD and a GTX 1650 GPU raises the price by $ 2,659. Our $ 3,066 review unit is equipped to the same specifications, but has a 4K HDR screen.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Review – Conclusion

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is one step away from the best 15 inch laptop on the market. Again, the flaw is in reduced battery life compared to other 4K rivals. If a long run time is crucial for you, you can choose a 1080p panel, but you will miss out on the beautiful 4K HDR display option. In addition to the disappointing battery life, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen is almost a perfect laptop for content creators and business users. The sleek design looks great and is surprisingly durable and portable.

Performance is also impressive, thanks to a Core i7 CPU and GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics. You can even equip the X1 Extreme with 64 GB of RAM, even if the storage space is up to 1 TB. We recommend the Dell XPS 15 over the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, because it has a longer battery and a lower price. You should also consider the Specter x360 15, although we expect the redesigned model with 9th generation processors.

Apple’s 16-inch MacBook Pro is another good option when you’re not on a budget; it has long battery life and epic performance, but it is significantly heavier than the X1 Extreme and has a less colorful screen.

In short, the 2nd generation ThinkPad X1 Extreme is an excellent laptop with a notable flaw that many customers find difficult to ignore.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Score

8 Total score

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 from Lenovo is an excellent alternative to the MacBook Pro, but it has a major drawback.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Pros and Cons

PROS

  • Light and attractive chassis
  • Beautiful 4K HDR anti-glare monitor
  • World-class keyboard
  • Bubble performance

CONS

  • Short battery life (on 4K model)
  • Storage limited to 1 TB
  • expensive
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