Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 Review: Price, Specs and Performance

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In the world of laptops, we don’t get to see many laptops that can be configured with an OLED display. Most of the ones who have this feature are dedicated gaming laptops. But what if you want just want a “normal” laptop that you can carry around to your office? Well, Lenovo might just have the thing for you with its 2nd Gen ThinkPad X1 Extreme.

As the name suggests, this laptop does not compromise when it comes to specs. Even apart from the super-premium OLED display, it also has specs that might send it knocking in the gaming laptop territory without looking the part. For most people, including myself, this is exactly what most people look for in laptops.

So we know that the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a powerhouse but how does it compare when stacked up against the best from Dell, HP and ever Sony? Let’s take a detailed look at the specs and find out.

Design

Image: Lenovo

In the looks department, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme does look like almost every other ThinkPad out there, which may annoy some people who want their laptop to stand out. However, people who love the Lenovo design won’t be complaining much as the classic ThinkPad aesthetics have their own charm.

Open the ThinkPad up and in front of you, there’s the 15.6″ display. The bezels are a bit towards the larger size, especially compared to what we’re getting from other brands. But that shouldn’t bother you as it does not, in any way, look bad. Quite the contrary, actually. Move down and you get the keyboard.

Now, the keyboards on ThinkPads have always been the best in business. Lenovo has somehow figured a way to make chicklet keyboard feel great while typing and I’m glad it did. I also love the fact that like every other ThinkPad, this also gets a red nipple mouse in between the keyboard, which has become a hallmark of the lineup. Below the keyboard, you have a decently-sized trackpad with physical buttons.

Image: Lenovo

Turn the device around and that’s where things get a lot better. The lid of the X1 Extreme has a carbon fiber weave texture to it. This is something that we see on high-performance supercars and even smartphones like the OnePlus 7T McLaren Edition. However, if there’s any one brand that can get away with doing this on a laptop, it’s Lenovo.

Regardless, I love this back, it sets the laptop apart and being a petrolhead myself, I would definitely buy this for the aesthetics. On the top-left, you have the familiar slanted ThinkPad logo that’s present throughout the lineup. On the bottom-right, you have a small and subtle X1 logo, that lets people know you have a high-performance and premium ThinkPad.

Performance

Image: Intel

Powering the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, are a couple of CPU options that you can choose to get according to your need and budget. They are as follows:

  • 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-9300H Processor (2.40GHz, up to 4.10GHz with Turbo Boost, 4 Cores, 8MB Cache)
  • 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-9400H with vPro™ (2.50GHz, up to 4.30GHz with Turbo Boost, 4 Cores, 8MB Cache)
  • 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-9750H Processor (2.60GHz, up to 4.50GHz with Turbo Boost, 6 Cores, 12MB Cache)
  • 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-9850H with vPro™ (2.60GHz, up to 4.60GHz with Turbo Boost, 6 Cores, 12MB Cache)
  • 9th Generation Intel® Core™ i9-9880H with vPro™ (2.30GHz, up to 4.80GHz with Turbo Boost, 8 Cores, 16MB Cache)

These are a lot of options for any laptop and needless to say, they’ll be enough to confuse the buyer when deciding which one to get. Something that surprises me is the fact that we now have the 9th Gen Intel® Core™ i9-9880H as a top of the line option. Previously it was something only found in gaming laptops and MacBooks but now it has trickled down to regular laptops. Along with that, you get a 4GB NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1650 Max-Q as standard, which makes a powerful combo for tackling medium to high-intensity software.

Image: Lenovo

Next, let’s talk about the display options. Like the CPU, there are many to choose from depending on what you want and how much you’re willing to give for it. They are:

  • 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) 300 nits, IPS, anti-glare
  • 15.6″ FHD (1920 x 1080) 500 nits, IPS, anti-glare with Dolby Vision™ HDR 400
  • 15.6″ UHD (3840 x 2160) 500 nits, IPS, anti-glare with Dolby Vision™ HDR 400
  • 15.6″ UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) OLED, 400 nits, multi-touch, AR/AS with Dolby Vision™ HDR 500

Again, you can do well with the base display but if you can afford it, the OLED panel is the one to have. It’s vibrant, has a 4K resolution and goes up to 400 nits of brightness. What more do you want from a laptop display? The refresh rate, however, is at 60Hz, nothing fancy there. Coming towards the memory and storage, you can have anywhere from 8GB to 64GB of 2666 MHz DDR4 RAM. Similarly, you can have a storage space from 256GB to 1TB of PCIe NVMe SSD.

Lenovo claims a battery life of 14 hours with the 4-cell 80Wh battery on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. I’m impressed with how Lenovo managed to squeeze this much juice out of a battery like this. Most of it may be down to the more efficient Intel 9th Gen processors. Charging the battery is a 135W AC adapter that does the job quick enough.

Connectivity

Image: Lenovo

When it comes to connectivity, the X1 Extreme does not disappoint, especially compared to modern laptops. You have all the ports and slots that you’ll ever need to connect anything that’s not yet obsolete. The ports, slots and wireless comms include:

  • 2 USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports
  • 2 USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports (Type-C/Thunderbolt 3) for Power Delivery, DisplayPort, Data transfer
  • SD card slot
  • HDMI 2.0 port
  • Smart card reader (optional)
  • 3.5mm headphone/mic jack
  • Ethernet Extension Adapter
  • Intel® AX200 Wi-Fi 6 802.11AX
  • Bluetooth® 5.0

Price & Verdict

The base price of the Gen 2 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is $1416.38, which makes it quite an expensive laptop. However, if you consider the base specs of the device, you’re getting a 9th Gen Intel i5 CPU along with an NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU, a 15.6″ 1080p IPS display, an 8GB RAM and a 256GB NVMe SSD storage. This is actually usable compared to base models of most other laptops. However, the price will only go up from here and if you want to enjoy any OLED goodness, be prepared to pay over $2000 for it.

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