Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 2
"The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is a sturdy but slim laptop that can work and play hard."
AMOLED display with excellent HDR
Excellent keyboard and touchpad
Superior build quality
Solid midrange gaming
Bad battery life
ThinkPads are the pickups of the laptop world. You can be beaten, tinker welcome and always do the job.
The original Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme was somewhat similar to the Ford F150 Raptor. It was a ThinkPad, yes, but one with the silicone equivalent of a twin-turbo V6 in the hood. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 doubles this offering with even faster and more extravagant components. With an eight-core processor, 32 GB RAM and a 4K OLED screen, this is as impressive a data sheet as you will find.
The price of $ 4,719 (for sale for $ 2,831) is aimed at creatives who are willing to pay for electricity, but is it worth the hard earned money?
The ThinkPad look with no regrets
Lenovo has not struggled with the classic ThinkPad design of the X1 Extreme in this version. It's basically the same chassis as the previous model, just a little bit thinner at 0.7 inches compared to 0.74 inches. At 3.76 pounds, it's also relatively light. This is similar to the Dell XPS 15, the ThinkPad's most natural competitor, which is almost the same size (despite thinner bezels) and a little thinner at 0.66 inches. However, at 4.5 pounds, the Dell is almost a pound heavier.
The X1 Extreme Gen 2 looks like any other ThinkPad, with just a few small trimmings that illustrate the X1 brand. It's black with red accents, including the usual red LED that marks the "i" in the ThinkPad logo on the lid and the stylized X1 logo in the opposite corner.
Configurations with a 4K UHD option have a carbon fiber binding on the lid, and the X1 Extreme Gen 2 is slightly slimmer than the usual box-shaped ThinkPad. All in all, however, don't confuse this with another brand of laptop.
The processing quality is also excellent thanks to carbon fiber at the top and aluminum at the bottom in the housing. The X1 Extreme Gen 2 has the same soft-touch coating on the keyboard deck that is so comfortable for long typing.
The case base pops out and offers access to several components.
The design also provides great thermals that maintain excellent performance (more on that in a moment). And as a nod to ThinkPad enthusiasts who may not be happy with the standard parts, the case bottom bounces off and provides access to various components, including RAM, Wi-Fi card, and two (yes, two!) NVMe SSDs keys.
The same goes for the keyboard, which offers the same molded keys, deep travel, and click mechanism that make the ThinkPad keyboard one of the best on the market.
The red TrackPoint nubbin is exactly in the middle of the keyboard. The additional buttons steal space from the touchpad, which is still large and precise with its Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers. The AMOLED display is touch sensitive. In fact, you can choose whether you want a touchscreen.
The X1 Extreme Gen 2 looks and feels like a ThinkPad, but does it run like one? It's not even that different from the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 4 with its aluminum design. However, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 is not like other ThinkPads inside.
No – an 8th generation Intel Core i9-9880H with 8 cores and 16 threads is running here. That's not quite the fastest chip you can get in a laptop today – the Core i9-9980HK in the Dell XPS 15 and Apple MacBook Pro 16 has a higher frequency – but the Extreme is much faster than the typical ThinkPad plan .
Looking at the synthetic Geekbench 4 benchmark, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 was expected to be slower than the Dell and Apple, but not much.
When we ran our real handbrake test, which converted a 420MB video to H.265, the ThinkPad was even more competitive. However, there is one limitation: Lenovo used the Windows 10 slider to implement the smart cooling feature. Move the slider all the way to the right and you'll start the power setting that maximizes processor performance (and starts up the fans).
In standard mode, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 took almost three minutes to complete the slow handbrake test compared to the competition. The Dell XPS 15 took 102 seconds and the Apple MacBook Pro 16 115 seconds.
However, the ThinkPad only caught up to 118 seconds in performance mode (almost a full minute less than in standard mode). Keeping up with the faster CPUs from Dell and Apple is proof of how well Lenovo has tuned the laptop's thermal to ensure that the CPU maintains its performance. If you're running very sophisticated creative apps like video or photo editing, it's you I want to make sure that performance mode is enabled. You will notice the fans more and generate more heat than in standard mode, which is very quiet and cool for a high-performance laptop.
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 reached 65 FPS in Fortnite, with the detail set to high.
The X1 Extreme Gen 2 uses an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU, which sets it in close competition with many other 15-inch laptops such as the Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo's own Yoga C940 15. The X1 Extreme Gen 2 offers the ability to run modern games with 1080p and decent graphics.
In all of our gaming tests, the ThinkPad was on par with its legitimate competition. It managed Fortnite at 65 frames per second (FPS) at 1080p and high graphic details as well as 51 FPS with epic graphics. The XPS 15 with its GTX 1650 was only a few frames faster with 67 FPS at 1080p and high graphics and matched the Epic with the ThinkPad with 51 FPS. The Yoga C940 15, which also runs a GTX 1650 Max-Q, was a few frames per second less. The same relative performance was achieved in Assassin's Creed Odyssey and Civilization VI, where the X1 Extreme Gen 2 performed reasonably well.
The bottom line is that Lenovo actually developed a ThinkPad in the X1 Extreme Gen 2 that is as competent a player as the best 15-inch mainstream laptops. This is a premiere for the line and shows that Lenovo is aiming for a different group than the typical ThinkPad buyer – and that's a good thing.
No mention of this beautiful AMOLED display yet?
One area in which Lenovo has generally saved up with the ThinkPad line is the choice of displays. If you want, you can opt for an unwieldy old Full HD display (1,920 x 1,080). Lenovo offers you a beautiful display with 500 nits of brightness and support for the Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range (HDR) – there is also a more profane 300 NIT screen non-HDR display available. You can then choose a 4K UHD IPS display (3840×2160) that also offers 500 nits of brightness and Dolby Vision HDR.
But you don't want these displays, trust me. You want the device my test device is equipped with, the promising 4K UHD AMOLED display, 500 nits brightness and Dolby Vision HDR. These are the same specs as the smaller displays, but don't let that fool you. This is a nice ad.
If you're a creative professional, you'll love the power of the X1 Extreme Gen 2 in your most demanding creative apps. And then you will love this display, thanks to its wide range of colors (100 percent from sRGB and 97 percent from Adobe RGB), its high brightness (401 nits from my colorimeter, less than advertised) and an incredible contrast of 401.870: 1 and a good one Accuracy of 1.55 (1.0 and less is excellent). It is not surprising that these results are similar to those of the Dell XPS 15 and HP Specter x360 15, which have the same display and are much better than any IPS display available on a laptop.
In my more subjective testing, i.e. launching the most difficult Netflix 4K HDR content I know, the display was the best I've ever used. Some of the AMOLED displays I've used have problems with Netflix HDR because they can't process the signal properly and darker scenes are very difficult to see. This is not the case with the Lenovo thanks to the built-in Dolby Vision HDR support. For example, some of the scenes in Altered Carbon that were too dark in the HD Specter of the HP Specter x360 13 are perfectly illuminated 2 in the X1 Extreme Gen.
Oddly enough, this ThinkPad is the best Netflix laptop I've ever used.
Oddly enough, a ThinkPad is the best Netflix laptop I've ever used. And another conch shell. The HP Specter x360 15 is nearby, but you'll need to turn HDR off to get the same experience. And Lenovo has even improved audio quality since the last version, or my ears are different. We didn't find the audio in the first version particularly impressive, but I found the Gen 2's audio was good for watching Netflix – lots of volume, decent highs and mids, and even a hint of bass from both speakers shooting down the bottom of the case.
But damn it, the battery life is a disappointment
In general, I've found ThinkPads offer disappointing battery life compared to other premium laptops, and the X1 Extreme Gen 2 is no different. My test model is particularly challenged with a lot of juice when it shows something other than darker content with 80 watt hours of battery life (the HP Specter x360 15 has 84 watt hours and the Dell XPS 15 has 97 watt hours), some power-hungry components and a display that sucks a .
In our web browser test, which gives the best idea of the typical battery life of productivity, the ThinkPad barely managed five hours. The Dell XPS 15 AMOLED ran for 7.5 hours and the HP Specter x360 15 AMOLED almost 8.5 hours (but with a slower U-series CPU). The X1 Extreme Gen 2 didn't loop our test Avengers trailer much better after six hours – the XPS 15 exceeded eight hours and the Specter x360 15 was much stronger after 11 hours. In our CPU-demanding Basemark test, the ThinkPad lasted three hours, which corresponded to the Dell and the HP exceeded 90 minutes.
Seriously, this is not a good battery life and everything depends on the AMOLED display. Even with a standard 4K IPS display, you will be hours longer, not to mention a full HD display. Note that our tests use lots of bright screens that use more power on AMOLED displays. Turning dark mode on can extend battery life. However, if you do nothing, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 will keep you plugged in for almost a full working day.
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is the most powerful ThinkPad ever. It contains some powerful components and avoids sacrifices that would turn off the typical ThinkPad fan. This makes it a great laptop for any PC enthusiast or creative professional who demands the best performance. The AMOLED display is one of the best you'll find in a 15.6-inch laptop, but the battery life really suffers. Keep this in mind when choosing your display.
Are there alternatives?
The most natural competitor of the ThinkPad is the Dell XPS 15, which can be configured with an even faster Core i9 and the same AMOLED panel. At $ 2,580, the Dell is also cheaper for roughly the same components – including the more powerful Core i9-9980HK CPU.
The HP Specter x360 15 is a very powerful 2-in-1 alternative, although you're limited to a 45-watt Core i7 as the fastest CPU option and 16 GB as maximum RAM. At $ 2,020, however, it is significantly cheaper. Thanks to its AMOLED display and media mode, it's a slightly more convenient Netflix binging machine.
How long it will take?
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 seems to last forever and has the appropriate components. The one-year warranty is industry standard and is disappointing at this price.
Should you buy it
Yes, even if you are not a ThinkPad fan. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is fast, incredibly well built, and has a beautiful AMOLED display option that will please both creative and media addicts. Just make sure you have your charger with you when you are away from the office for more than half a day.