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

ThinkPad X1 Extreme Battery Life, Acoustics, Thermals And Summary

We employed a custom 1080p HD video loop test developed in-house, to prove out battery life with our test group of machines. In all tests, Windows 10 Quiet Hours has been enabled and the displays are calibrated with meters on pure white screens to as close to 115 lux as possible. For the average laptop this is somewhere between a 40 - 60% brightness setting.

Since laptop displays significantly affect power consumption and battery life, it's important to ensure a level playing field with respect to brightness of the display for battery testing. And, since many laptop displays vary in brightness at each respective setting in Windows, this calibration with a meter is critical to ensure all displays are set to as near identical brightness output as possible, before running battery tests.

Battery Life - How We Test:

Our custom HotHardware video loop test takes a 1080p HD video with a 16Kbps bit rate and loops it repeatedly, with 1 minute break intervals in between. A timer log file increments minutes of up-time, every minute -- along with the grand total -- before system shutdown is stored and logged. 

Lenovo ThinkPad Extreme Battery Life Test

We ran this test multiple times and came up with the same results, within only about 12 minutes or so, by moving the power/performance slider in Windows 10 to its most optimal position for best battery life. We made sure the machine was also updated with the latest firmware and software patches from Lenovo and Windows Update as well. Regardless, the results speak for themselves and unfortunately, powering its 4K Dolby Vision HDR display is a significant workload, even for the X1 Extreme's capacious 80 Whr battery. The machine only held up to just under 4 hours of 1080p HD video playback, though our test dose use VLC player for cross-platform compatibility, which is a bit more strenuous than perhaps the Windows Movies & TV player. Regardless, CPU utilization during the test fluctuated only from 4 - 7%. We also ensured that it was running only on the Intel integrated HD graphics GPU and indeed for this test the GeForce GPU was not being utilized at all. In any event, what you see is what you get here; which is to say not quite two full length movies on the plane, unless you're in a power outlet-enabled seat, or back the display brightness slider down to less than optimal levels.

Update, 11/8/18: Lenovo reached out and noted that with the 1080p display option of the machine, and using the Windows 10 TV & Movies player, results in about 6 hours up video playback up-time. We'd offer that is a reasonable expectation as well, given this laptop's 80 Whr battery. 

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Acoustics & Thermals

At idle the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is virtually silent and you don't typically ever hear its fans spin up. Under our extended benchmarking, however, we did notice the machine's thermal solution kicking in. That said, Lenovo did an excellent job of engineering both adequate cooling with minimal throttling, along with -- dare we say -- almost pleasant acoustics for this new 15-inch ThinkPad X1 platform. Cooling fan whine can often times not only be an issue in terms of volume or loudness, but also pitch. In the case of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, fan pitch actually sounds both unoffensive (at least to our ears) and subdued volume-wise. And again, Lenovo achieved this relatively elegant cooling solution along with also delivering excellent thermal management performance overall, bleeding little top-end speed under extended, constant load.  

ThinPad X1 Extreme Life Style design

Performance Summary:

Lenovo's new 15-inch ThinkPad X1 Extreme delivered impressive performance for its weight class across our myriad of benchmarks, from office productivity to content creation, graphics rendering and gaming. Versus the likes of Dell's XPS 15 2-in-1 or the XPS 15 9570 with GTX 1050Ti graphics, Lenovo's new ThinkPad either slotted in between the two systems or lead them by a hair, depending on the workload. In any event, if you're the kind of power user that needs a light-weight machine with this sort of horsepower, Lenovo's combination of a stout 6-core Intel Core series CPU, coupled with this machine's GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q graphics engine, fast Samsung SSD, and 32GB of fast DDR4 memory, is hard to beat.

From a value perspective, the new ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a premium product to be certain, starting at $1673 for a base configuration that offers a quad-core CPU, 1080p display and the same GTX 1050 Max-Q graphics, but with a 256GB SSD and 8GB of RAM. However, that's generally a given with this class of laptop and room for growth on-board this ThinkPad is excellent, with easy access to both SSD and RAM components and support for up to a very healthy 64GB of RAM.

As configured for our review, there's no question you'll have justify the business case (or pleasure, we suppose) associated with a $3100 laptop price tag, but you do have a fair swath of configuration options to choose from, between its base price and our much more top-end review config. Was Lenovo sandbagging our benchmarks here? Maybe just a tad but it is what it is, as they say, and you can dial things back a bit if this config is too rich for your blood. In the end, the Lenovo ThinkPad Extreme is an extremely well-equipped, powerful laptop with a beautiful 4K HDR display option that delivers workstation and enthusiast-class performance levels in a light, 4lb, extremely well-built machine. As long as you don't mind the relatively short battery life of its high-end display configuration, this new, larger 15-inch format ThinkPad X1 variant will handle just about anything anyone would throw at a laptop these days, and do so with grace and agility.
approved hh

  • Enthusiast/Workstation-class performance in just 4 lbs.
  • Beautiful 4K Touch HDR display
  • Best laptop keyboard in market
  • Premium materials and build quality
  • Very user serviceable and upgradable
  • Supports up to 64GB of RAM
  • Cool and quietly powerful
  • Meager battery life with 4K HDR config
  • Pricey as configured and tested

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