Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 Review: Powerful Portability

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme: Graphics and Gaming

UL’s well-known 3DMark benchmark suite features tests that target different types of computing devices. We selected Cloud Gate, Sky Diver, and Night Raid tests since they are light-duty 3D graphics and gaming benchmarks aimed at PCs that weren't built specifically for gaming. We also have plenty of comparison data for Cloud Gate and Sky Diver, which is the more strenuous of the two tests. Night Raid is UL's newest addition, which measures DirectX 12 performance in mainstream PCs.

3DMark Benchmarks
3D Performance

chart 3dmark cloudgate lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme

Most of the laptops here use integrated graphics, with just a few exceptions. Thanks in part to the ThinkPad X1 Extreme's discrete GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, and also because of the CPUs six physical cores, Lenovo's system places near the top of our chart. While this isn't a gaming-focused machine, the overall score is leaps and bounds better than anything with integrated graphics, and even leaves the Core i7-8705U and Vega M combination in the dust. The XPS 15 pulls out the overall win here, thanks in part to the physics test's heavy multi-threading capabilities. 

chart 3dmark skydiver lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme

The Sky Diver benchmark shows the same thing as Cloud Gate. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme just has a distinct advantage thanks to its discrete graphics solution. Integrated graphics hold back the vast majority of our pack, and the Extreme again takes second place overall thanks to its strong hardware. 

chart 3dmark nightraid lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme

Night Raid is a much closer race between the two GeForce GTX 1650-equipped laptops. The XPS 15 and its eight-core CPU pull this one out again, but this time the margin is pretty thin. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme's Core i7-9750H is no slouch. Regardless, these systems with competent discrete graphics leap far ahead of the rest of the pack. 

GRID Autosport
Drive Simulation Performance

GRID Autosport is a cross-platform racing simulation developed by Codemasters. The developer wanted to make up for GRID 2, which released to mediocre reviews from critics and gamerse alike. Codemasters set out to improve GRID Autosport's handling and environment rendering to make it a true racing simulator. The third GRID game is built on Codemasters' EGO engine that boasts more realistic physics and damage systems to add a bit of danger and some extra realism to the racing. The developer also tuned its graphics engine to perform well over a wide variety of mainstream systems, which makes it a great test for systems with integrated graphics. We tested at 1080p with the High image quality preset.

chart gridautosport lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme

We're not sure if it's the fact that the GeForce GTX 1650's Max-Q configuration runs in a lower-power mode, or if the extra CPU cores go to a great advantage, but the ThinkPad X1 Extreme trailed the XPS 15 by a pretty wide margin this time around. At the High preset, the Dell's average framerate was a full 50% higher than the Extreme, and even the XPS's minimum framerate bested the Lenovo's average.

The margin persisted through multiple runs of this benchmark, too, which is important to note considering the next result. That's not to say that the ThinkPad X1 Extreme's performance was bad. Our test system still averaged more than 100 frames per second, and the minimum of 75 is nothing to sneeze at. 

Middle Earth: Shadow of War
Orc-Slaying Performance

Monolith’s fun Orc combat title Middle Earth: Shadow of War, delivers a ton of visual fidelity even at its lower quality settings. To get an overview of performance, we tested at high, medium, and low image quality settings at 1920x1080.

chart 3dmark shadowofwar lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme

In Middle Earth: Shadow of War, the tables have turned and the ThinkPad X1 Extreme has bested the mighty XPS 15. The margin of victory is around 10% at low and medium settings, but on the high preset, the two systems dueled to a tie. Regardless, performance at all three settings was very good, and the game is perfectly playable on High.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme might not be a gaming-focused system, but it'll serve the weary road warrior well from their hotel rooms. It doesn't have the performance of NVIDIA's latest Turing GPUs with hardware-accelerated ray tracing, but it also doesn't command the electrical power or occupy the same footprint of one of those gaming beasts, either. 

Next up let's take a look at battery life and noise. 

Related content