Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Review: A Workhorse That's Got Game

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme: A Full-Featured 15-Inch With Guts

Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 series of business-class laptops have long been staff favorites here at HotHardware, because in terms of fit, form, and functionally they just get things done. Lenovo ThinkPad keyboards have arguably been the best in the business for years and general ergonomics of the ThinkPad X1 line have been excellent. Furthermore, starting with the first ThinkPad X1 Carbon, their utilitarian designs have begun to incorporate more sleek ultrabook styling, while maintaining their usual understated and clean ThinkPad lineage.

back open ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

More recently, Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Carbon and Yoga have incorporated either high-end OLED displays or full Dolby Vision HDR compliant panels with inky saturation, great brightness, and strong contrast. Drop in Intel's latest 8th Gen Core series processors and there really isn't much more you could want from this workhorse, except for maybe a bit more CPU and GPU horsepower of course.

And then Lenovo decided to introduce the new ThinkPad X1 Extreme 15-inch platform. Take the original Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, stretch its screen real estate to a 15-inch 4K HDR panel (1080p options available as well), drop in a 6-core 8th Gen Intel Core i7 series processor along with discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics and 32GB of RAM, and you have the all new ThinkPad X1 mobile workstation-class machine we're looking at here today. Remember that good ol' ThinkPad X1 Carbon workhorse? Yeah, well, the X1 Extreme is built for running with the bulls...

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Specifications & Features
Processor Options 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8850H Six-Core (9MB Cache, 2.6GHz to 4.3GHz)
Display
15.6-inch UHD (3840x2160) With Dolby Vision HDR, 400 nits
Graphics Intel UHD Graphics 620 And NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
Memory
32GB DDR4-2666 (Socketed SO-DIMMs)
Storage
1TB Samsung MZVLB1T0HALR NVMe PCIe SSD - 3200MB Read / 2400MB Write
Audio 2 x 2 Watt Speakers, Dolby Audio Premium, 360° Far-field Microphones
Ethernet Via Dongle Ethernet Extension
Wireless Connectivity
Intel Wireless-AC 9560, Wi-Fi 2x2 802.11ac + Bluetooth 5.0
Interface (Left)
AC Power, 2xThunderbolt 3 Type-C, HDMI 2.0, Ethernet Ext Connector, Headphone/MIc Combo
Interface (Right)
Optional Smart Card Reader, SD Card Reader, 1x USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A
1 x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A w/ Alway-On, Kensington Lock
Interface (Back) N/A
Webcam
IR camera and HD720p Camera, Fixed Focus
Operating System
Windows 10 Pro
Battery 80Whr
Dimensions WxDxH (Non-Touch): 14.24" x 9.67" x 0.72"; 361.8mm x 245.7mm x 18.4mm
WxDxH (Multi-Touch): 14.24" x 9.67" x 0.74"; 361.8mm x 245.7mm x 18.7mm
Weight
4.06 lbs (Multi-Touch), 3.76 lbs (Non-Touch)
Manufacturer Warranty
3-year parts warranty, 1-year labor
Pricing $3096 As Configured And Tested With Promotions

ThinkPad X1 Extreme bottom cover removed internals
Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Extreme - Rather Serviceable

As Lenovo configured and shipped our review system, you might say it's packin', so to speak. We've got a hexa-core Intel 8th Gen Core i7 series mobile processor on board with a fat 9MB of cache and peak Turbo Boost of 4.3GHz, along with 32GB of fast DDR4-2666 RAM, and a 1TB Samsung NVMe SSD. Coupled with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 memory, you've got some serious firepower in a reasonably light-weight, just over 4 pound package. And yes, that package is also quite serviceable for the end user, with only seven simple Philips head screws needing removal to grant access to the X1 Extreme's internals.

As you can see, peeling back a small piece of anti-static film on each slot shows a pair of 16GB standard DDR4 SO-DIMMs for our 32GB config. You also get access to a standard M.2 style slot for the PCIe SSD on board, and there's a spare unpopulated area on the PCB as well (yellow tape covering it), underscoring that Lenovo can enable the machine with a two M.2 slot configuration if you so choose. We also have access to the system's large 80 Whr battery and the Intel Wireless-AC 9560, Wi-Fi 2x2 802.11ac + Bluetooth 5.0 combo NIC that sits in its slot along the left edge of the bottom side of motherboard. Also visible is the ThinkPad X1 Extreme's dual blower-style fan and heat-pipe system, and the machine's two bottom firing speakers on the left and right front edges of this laptop's chassis. 

power brick and ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Finally, there's the ThinkPad X1 Extreme's power brick, a compact but stout 135 Watt palm-sized (large palm) AC adapter with Lenovo's proprietary USB-like yellow power connector. And yes, all that firepower doesn't come cheap. As configured and tested, this machine clocks in at $3096 with its beefy 32GB of RAM, 4K HDR display and 1TB NVMe SSD pushing up its price point. However, the X1 Extreme's starting price for the platform is a more digestible $1673 currently on Lenovo's site.

So, that's what's powering this new ThinkPad beastie; let's get a closer look at its design, build quality, software, and user experience, next...

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