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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2nd review. Recommendation

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2nd review. Recommendation

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2nd test

Lenovo's second attempt is more of the same, but better made and executed. With a similarly attractive and portable design, lightning-fast performance and the option of a gorgeous 4K HDR display, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is a great choice for both content creators and business users. It's also one of the best ThinkPads, but more on that later.

My first laptop had a 15-inch screen, and while I appreciated the space it offered, that thick hulk was too heavy to carry around. When it was time to upgrade, like many others, I followed the trend of smaller laptop screens that had taken hold over the last decade.

Now it's time to go back to a big screen, because 15-inch laptops like the ThinkPad X1 Extreme prove that a big screen doesn't necessarily mean big weight. At just 0.7 inches thick, the ThinkPad X1 Carbon is thin enough to fit in a handbag or backpack.

Lenovo has not made any major changes to the design of the second version. The sleek, thin and light chassis of this computer remains the best representation (besides the X1 Carbon) of the iconic, aesthetic look of Lenovo's ThinkPad.

On the lid of the X1 Extreme is a black ThinkPad logo, illuminated by a bright red "i" opposite a stylish X1 branding. Open the lid and you'll find the signature red ThinkPad accents on the touchpad buttons and pointing stick. There's more branding on the deck and screen bezels, but it's all subtle and doesn't take away from the minimalist look of the X1 Extreme

New to this year's model is a carbon fiber weave pattern on the lid of the X1 Extreme. The same pattern, introduced on the latest ThinkPad X1 Carbon, accentuates the luxurious, carbon fiber material of the X1 Extreme and gives the laptop the same aggressive edge as the carbon fiber decals on sports cars.

Connectivity of the Lenovo X1 Extreme 2nd

Business users who dock the ThinkPad X1 Extreme at the office will have no trouble connecting it to monitors, smartphones or other peripherals at home.

On the right side of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0 input and an RJ45 Ethernet dongle (requires an adapter).

Switch to the left side of the laptop and you'll find two USB 3.1 ports, an SD card reader, a Kensington lock and an optional smart card reader.

The X1 Extreme proves that a laptop doesn't have to be as heavy as an anvil to survive a fall. Reinforced with four layers of carbon fiber and an aluminum alloy bottom cover, the X1 Extreme is tested to 12 military durability standards, including high altitudes, excessive humidity and extreme temperatures.


The X1 Extreme's hardware not only protects the exterior, but also the sensitive data inside the machine. An IR camera on the top bezel enables fast and secure login via Windows Hello. Worried about the camera being hacked? The X1 Extreme has a webcam cover that you can simply slide to the left to cover it. You can then use the fingerprint sensor as an alternative login method.

Other security measures in the ThinkPad X1 Extreme include a discrete TPM 2.0 chip and Intel vPro technology.


The 15.6-inch 4K HDR display on our ThinkPad X1 Extreme is colorful, bright and sharp. The anti-glare panel may not have the same image quality as the new OLED display option, but it's an excellent choice for business users or content creators who are bothered by reflections.

The 3840 x 2160 resolution panel was so sharp that I could see the stitching in the clothes of the characters in the movie "The Shawshank Redemption." Vibrant colors exploded on the screen when I played the movie "Our Planet".

Our colorimeter measured an excellent 160% of sRGB coverage when we placed the device on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme's display. That means the laptop's panel is more saturated than the 16-inch MacBook Pro's (114%) this year.


I threw everything I could at the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, but the Intel Core i9-9880H processor with 32GB of RAM had no issues. I noticed no lag when I loaded 20 Google Chrome web pages, three of which had 4K video playing in the background

Content creators should check out our video transcoding test, which tasks a laptop with converting a 4K video to 1080p resolution. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme completed this task in less than 10 minutes

Finally, we have a Windows PC with a hard drive that can match the speed of a MacBook Pro. The 1TB M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe Opal2 SSD in the ThinkPad X1 Extreme copied 5GB of multimedia files in just under 2.7 seconds and reached a speed of 2034 megabytes per second.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme isn't designed for gaming, but its Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics card with 4GB of VRAM is a big upgrade over the integrated graphics card. In our gaming test, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme ran through Dirt 3 at 165 frames per second

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme's four bottom-mounted speakers produce a decent sound. In the song "Pride" by U2, it was nice to hear a solid midrange sound. Don't expect miracles in the low end, but the bass is accurate.

Extreme 2nd keyboard and keys

Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards are simply the best in the business. The Extreme's slightly curved keys hug the fingertips, and their generous travel seems deep. The combination of a strong click that makes your fingers jump from one key to the next and a soft landing when you press the keys makes typing on the X1 Extreme's keyboard a real pleasure

In the typing test, I achieved a speed of 180 words per minute with an accuracy rate of 98%. This result is slower than my typical average speed of 198 words per minute, but with fewer errors than my typical error rate of 3%.

Below the keyboard is a 3.9 x 2.7-inch touchpad, which is smaller than most 15-inch laptops. The smaller size didn't bother me, as the square surface provides enough vertical and horizontal space to perform Windows 10 gestures like pinching to zoom and three-finger swiping to switch windows.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme lasted 5 hours and 28 minutes in our battery test, which included continuous web browsing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness.

We expect short runtimes from Gaming laptops and workstations, but not from laptops designed for creatives and business users. For comparison, the XPS 15 with 4K display lasted 8 hours and 48 minutes, slightly longer than the 4K Spectre x360 (8:09). If the MacBook Pro (10:55) had lasted just one minute longer, it would have doubled the runtime of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme's 720p IR camera takes colorful photos and videos, but my face looked blurry in a selfie I took in our poorly lit office. I couldn't make out much detail in my face, and there was an unpleasant haze in the picture. The webcam is adequate, but I recommend buying a better external camera.

Weak cooling was one of the few criticisms we had of the first generation ThinkPad X1 Extreme. Fortunately, the new model fared much better in our heat test, reaching a maximum of 38 degrees, which is a good result.

I recommend downloading the Lenovo Display Optimizer app, which allows you to quickly switch between display modes to get the image that best suits your needs and preferences. In addition to the default Native setting, Photo, Video and Blue Light modes are available

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is just one step away from being the best 15-inch laptop on the market. It's almost the perfect laptop for content creators and business users. Its sleek design looks great, and it's surprisingly durable yet portable. The performance is also impressive thanks to the Core i9 processor and GTX 1650 Max-Q graphics. It's also worth noting that the device has room for 2 x NVME drives, which provides additional options in terms of resources

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