Lenovo ThinkPad P1 vs ThinkPad X1 Extreme (2020)

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Winner
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 20QT0012US 15.6" Mobile Workstation - 1920 x 1080 - Core i7 i7-9750H - 16 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - NVIDIA Quadro T1000 with 4 GB - in-Plane Switching
Best Price
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2nd Gen 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) HDR 400 Display - Intel Core i5-9300H Processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe-NVMe SSD, NVIDIA GTX 1650 4GB, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Model
ThinkPad P1 Gen2
ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent August 2020
Test Result 9.3/10 Very good August 2020
Manufacturer
Lenovo
Lenovo
RAM
16 GB
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-9750H
Intel Core i5-9300H
Graphics Card
NVIDIA Quadro T1000 with 4 GB
NVIDIA GTX 1650 4GB
Storage Capacity
256GB SSD
512GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
5.99 lbs
3.76 lbs
Pros
  • Best mobile Work Station Laptop Performance (Video Editing, Heavy programs)
  • Very light, flat and easy to handle
  • Long and balanced battery life without sacrificing the strong CPU performance and graphics
  • Color rich 4K Display with very good image quality
  • Cheaper price than ThinkPad P1
  • Quiet cooling & great Keyboard
Cons
  • More expensive than ThinkPad X1 Extreme
  • Graphics card can not develop its full potential
Winner
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 Gen 2 20QT0012US 15.6" Mobile Workstation - 1920 x 1080 - Core i7 i7-9750H - 16 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - NVIDIA Quadro T1000 with 4 GB - in-Plane Switching
Model
ThinkPad P1 Gen2
Test Result
Test Result 9.6/10 Excellent August 2020
Manufacturer
Lenovo
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7-9750H
Graphics Card
NVIDIA Quadro T1000 with 4 GB
Storage Capacity
256GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
5.99 lbs
Pros
  • Best mobile Work Station Laptop Performance (Video Editing, Heavy programs)
  • Very light, flat and easy to handle
  • Long and balanced battery life without sacrificing the strong CPU performance and graphics
Cons
  • More expensive than ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Best Price
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2nd Gen 15.6" FHD (1920x1080) HDR 400 Display - Intel Core i5-9300H Processor, 16GB RAM, 512GB PCIe-NVMe SSD, NVIDIA GTX 1650 4GB, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
Model
ThinkPad X1 Extreme
Test Result
Test Result 9.3/10 Very good August 2020
Manufacturer
Lenovo
RAM
16 GB
CPU
Intel Core i5-9300H
Graphics Card
NVIDIA GTX 1650 4GB
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
3.76 lbs
Pros
  • Color rich 4K Display with very good image quality
  • Cheaper price than ThinkPad P1
  • Quiet cooling & great Keyboard
Cons
  • Graphics card can not develop its full potential

We tested and compared the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme versus Thinkpad P1 in terms of Performance, Portability, Price, Display Quality, Battery life & more.

Above you can see the Ranking with the test results and below you will find the in-depth reports of each Lenovo ThinkPad Laptop.

Ranking First: Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (2020)

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 review

Pros

  • Best mobile Work Station Laptop Performance (Video Editing, Heavy programs)
  • Very light, flat and easy to handle
  • Long and balanced battery life without sacrificing the strong CPU performance and graphics

Cons

  • More expensive than ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The case is typically for the Thinkpad series very well manufactured! The device is 2.3 cm thick at its highest point when closed. The height at the wrist-rest is 2 cm. The large touchpad first catches the eye when opened.

The shiny black Thinkpad lettering can be seen on the wrist-rest’s right. The fingerprint reader is located on the right side. The touchpad isn’t 100% centered. It’s 11.5 cm to the left side and 14.5 cm to the right edge.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 design test

But that shouldn’t further disturb the function. What I noticed: You can see fingerprints on the case, wrist-rest and touchpad quite quickly.

Keyboard, Touchpad & Trackpoint

As in the predecessor and sister models, the P1 is also a 6-row precision keyboard without number pad. The tested model has a backlight keyboard, which, as usual, can be controlled in two steps via the FN + space bar. Many keys have an additional LED installed, which indicates the function status.

  • These include, for example, the caps lock key, the ESC, F1 and F4 keys.
  • FN+ESC lets you activate or deactivate the FN lock.
  • FN+F1 switches the sound on or off.
  • FN+F4 turns the microphone on or off.

The start button is not part of the keyboard, but is located above the “end” button in the bezel. A white LED indicates operation. On the keyboard, it can be typed very comfortably, just like on my previously tested T490s and T495s!

It also differs only slightly from the outer design of the predecessors, which are used in the T430 among others, so you don’t have to get very used to it. Another advantage is also the keyboard’s stroke. Even when typing very fast, it remains quiet. This is especially practical when the laptop is used, for example, by students in lectures or in the library.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 car mobile work station

As can be expected from Lenovo, the trackpoint is again very well implemented. The touchpad is, as already mentioned, 7 cm high and 10 cm wide and thus also leaves plenty of room for scrolling. It reliably recognizes normal and multi-touch inputs.

Left clicks can either be executed by double tapping on the touchpad or in the lower left area. For the right click, only the press remains in the right area.

Display

The tested P1 has a Full-HD HDR 400 IPS (1920 x 1080) 500 nits, 1200:1 contrast, 72% NTSC, viewing angle 170° display. The installed panel is an Innolux N156HCE-GN1! It has no touchscreen. It has strong colors and the viewing angle stability convinced me! At a conference with 5 people, all participants could still see the videos well from a semicircle.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 display

Since I couldn’t measure the brightness here either, I can only give a subjective opinion. This is: The Innolux N156HCE-GN1 comes across with good colors and contrasts. It was especially fun to edit videos on it.

As far as the color display is concerned, I would now recommend the Innolux for graphics editing and / or video editing. It can definitely compete with the AUO panels and is in my opinion suitable for the above mentioned work.

It has also passed the outdoor test. However, you should also avoid direct sunlight here, as the picture can look a bit “milky”. For work in the shade (e.g. under the sunshade) it is suitable in any case!

Sound, Microphone & Webcam

The P1 has two built-in loudspeakers, one on the left and one on the right, each on the bottom. These are oriented downwards. For my feeling the speakers sound “tinny”, but you can hear that in the short video. Since the speakers are directed towards the floor, the sound changes depending on the surface condition. For example, if you raise the P1, the sound is less “tinny”.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 ports

The integrated microphone sits in the display lid to the right of the webcam and ensures a clear recording even if the person is sitting almost a meter away from the laptop. The webcam has a privacy slide switch and can therefore be switched on and off.

When switched on, an additional LED indicates when Windows / a program is accessing the camera. An IR webcam 720p with ThinkShutter for Windows Hello is used here.

Performance

An Intel Core i7-9750H HexaCore 2.6- 4.5 GHz, 12 MB SmartCache, 45W TDP and the NVIDIA® Quadro® T1000 4GB GDRR5 128bit is built into the test device.

The P1 achieved an average of 1960 points in the test in mains operation with Cinebench R20. The highest measured value was 2095 points and the lowest value was 1825 points. Both tests were carried out at full power.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 performance

At the start of the application the clock rate was between 3.0 and 4.0 GHz. When video projects were rendered, all cores/threads ran at 2.4 GHz on average. Nvidia achieved 2102 points (35 FPS) in the graphics benchmark Geeks3D FurMark.

The graphics card gets the RAM (4 GB) from its own memory. So, you have enough buffer for graphic applications, CAD software and more demanding games with the Nvidia.

A 512 GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD Opal2 is built into the test device! The SSD should have enough space and also offer sufficient speed for many applications.

Fans noise level

The P1 has two fans! One for the CPU and one for the Nvidia! Despite the P1’s performance, you can work passively cooled (i.e. silently) in office mode. However, if it’s required (e.g. the Cinebench test or rendering video projects), you’ll also notice the waste heat on the keyboard and above the keyboard more clearly.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 view side

The whole top side along the keyboard probably also serves for heat dissipation. The CPU oscillates in balanced mode at about 9-10 watts, both in battery and mains operation.

In these areas the fan is either not heard at all or only occasionally. However, if e.g. a video is rendered, the fan is clearly and loudly audible. See here a video with recording devices on the sides of the case.

Battery life

According to the design, the battery is an 80Wh Li-io battery with up to 13 hours of runtime and RapidCharge: 80% in 1 hour.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 side view

The adapter weighs 0.71 lbs and supplies 135 watts for the P1. If you remember the “debris” from the W520/W530 era, you’ll find the adapter a “slim variant”.

Personal Experience: Video Editing / Office / University

90% of the time I always have a laptop with me when I am away from home. D. H. the laptop has to be with me to work, university or even for outdoor use (editing and sending video material for a TV station).

Therefore I attach importance to the fact that the laptop a) has the necessary computing power and b) has a good battery life.

At work I used the P1 with the Adobe software:

  • Adobe Audition,
  • After Effects,
  • Photoshop,
  • Premiere

It’s an arithmetic servant who has more than fulfilled all my needs at work for me! I cut two big projects with the P1 (including 4K material) and it still had air up in the cut. Since my most modern Thinkpads are a W520 and T430 (Intel) in full expansion, there are worlds in between here.

Even in battery mode, the P1, adapted to the respective performance requirements, has asserted itself confidently in video editing. It can also work well outdoors or in bright offices in summer with the 500 nits. For example, I used the P1 in the field and edited a video there.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 office setup working station

The battery displays 4:01 h in pure office mode (Word, Excel, reading PDFs, surfing) and fully charged. The consumption is ~9.7 Watt. If, for example, videos are edited (no stretching), the display oscillates around 2 hours. In battery mode, a 1:30 minute video in ausrendern (which took 27 minutes) used up half of the battery.

Since I’m still studying on the side, I also have the laptop with me during the lectures. Here the factors space (size) and battery life are important. Due to the course of studies, computing power is rather less in demand. Thanks to its flat design, the P1 can be stored very well in a backpack / bag and doesn’t take up too much space.

However, it takes up considerably more space in lectures and makes it difficult to use with writing pad. After all, it is a 15.6 device! But if you write down your notes exclusively with the laptop, it fits on the student’s bench. But for my course of studies it is a clear overkill to use the P1 there!

The maximum requirements are PDFs, internet research and watching videos! Nevertheless, with the appropriate battery setting I was able to benefit from its runtime and work/play around 200 minutes actively on it.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 office setup

The P1 faced the X1 Extreme and my W520 in a work scenario. This was tested with Adobe Premiere 2020, where a reportage of about 1h30min was used, which, however, didn’t contain any complex effects, but only tested the encoding performance.

The P1 completed the H.264 export (default setting “YouTube 1080p HD”) with a proud 27 minutes. The W520 was ready after 1:20 minutes. The X1 Extreme also completed the task in under 30 minutes.

However, the P1 didn’t fall back on the Nvidia as primary graphics card for the encoding performance. The built-in Intel graphics unit completed the task together with the CPU. The Nvidia only showed 10% load during encoding.

In my eyes the P1 is a good workstation for users who

  • occasionally need an Nvidia with at least 4 GB RAM.
  • can still manage with 4 GB VRAM in the application area.
  • need a good CPU performance with the corresponding battery power.

Verdict

If I was willing to pick up the necessary change for the P1, I would buy it. But since it can do more than I need in terms of power, it would not be a sensible purchase for me at the moment. I currently lack the programs / applications that would justify the use of the Nvidia.

Since the video editing (encoding) is handled by the Intel GPU as mentioned above, the T490s would be enough for me as a new device. However, I can still manage with the W520 and T430 (both in full configuration) in video editing and graphics processing without problems.

The P1 is definitely a recommendation if you’re looking for 4k videos, CAD applications or simply a long-term investment in a powerful laptop. Thus, programs that require a lot of CPU and GPU power can be used on the P1 without hesitation, which is why the Lenovo Thinkpad P1 is ranking first vs Thinkpad X1 Extreme.

Ranking Second: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (2020)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review

Pros

  • Color rich 4K Display with very good image quality
  • Cheaper price than ThinkPad P1
  • Quiet cooling & great Keyboard

Cons

  • Graphics card can not develop its full potential

Lenovo has been reorganizing its powerful ThinkPad series for several years now. The “W” workstation series has been replaced by the P series with 15.6″ and 17.3″ displays – the most powerful devices in the ThinkPad lineup, but also a great compromise on mobility.

However, the T series “p” models, which were more compact with a 14.0″ display and continued to do without power-saving ultrabook CPUs, seemed to be dropped after the ThinkPad T470p, which was introduced in 2017, was no longer available as a successor.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme test performance

Among others, Lenovo addresses this clientele, but also X1 Carbon customers, who need more performance, with the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, which was introduced at the end of 2019 and which we test here.

Design

After removing the X1 Extreme from its noble original packaging, the case of the X1 Extreme also makes a very good impression throughout. Optically, the device fits perfectly into the X1 series, it looks elegant, simple and as if it is all of a piece.

The ThinkPad logos are, as in the entire X1 series, designed in black with a red dot on the i, the red dot on the display lid serves as an operation LED. The gap dimensions are very even, and nowhere are plastic latching lugs visible. Lenovo has paid great attention to the noble appearance.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme design review

With 3.75 lbs (variant with FHD display), the X1 Extreme belongs to the lightest representatives of its class. It also looks very thin with 18.4mm at the thickest part. Even if it still loses the comparison to the Dell XPS 15, Lenovo makes good use of the device’s dimensions; the display edges are comparatively thin.

The edge under the display, and thus the depth of the entire device, could have been smaller, though. Lenovo installs a keyboard without a number pad, so that there are also wide margins left and right of the keyboard. To the right of the keyboard there is a power switch and fingerprint reader.

The X1 Extreme’s display lid is made of carbon reinforced plastic and has a rather smooth surface. It’s very thin, but still looks stable and is actually surprisingly torsionally stiff. It also effectively protects the display against external pressure – good news for users of full backpacks.

The display is connected to the notebook via a central hinge, which holds the display firmly in place, but still allows opening with one hand and can be opened up to 180°. Lenovo hides the cooling air vents in the recess of the hinge.

The top case is made of an aluminum alloy and feels astonishingly soft – a bit reminiscent of the rubberized wrist-rest of earlier flagships like the ThinkPad Reserve Edition or the ThinkPad X300 and X301. But this also means that the palm rest is not as cold on cooler days as it is with aluminum cases. The surface coating unfortunately seems a bit sensitive to scratches or other damages, in fact you can already see slight traces of the display on the palm rest after a few days of use.

Because of the X1 Extreme’s very large palm rest, our tester has therefore taken the precaution of putting down his wristwatch with metal strap.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme side view

The base plate with one large and two small feet is made of synthetic stuff and is also softly coated. It seems much more stable than, for example, early generations of the ThinkPad X1 Yoga, but still rattles slightly.

The maintainability of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is excellent for such a thin notebook. After removing the base plate, you have direct access to the battery, RAM bar (under black foil), SSDs, fan and WiFi card.

CPU and GPU are even built into the underside of the mainboard, so that not only can the fans be easily cleaned, but also after a few years of operation, the thermal paste can be easily renewed after removing the fan without removing the mainboard.

All in all, the X1 Extreme is still a very compact 15.6″ notebook. As the comparison with a 14″ ThinkPad of a similar performance class, the T470p, shows, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is only marginally larger, but significantly thinner and lighter and offers a 1.6″, i.e. 4cm larger display diagonal.

Keyboard, Touchpad & Trackpoint

The X1 Extreme, like the X1 Carbon, has a keyboard integrated into the top case without a number pad, so that you type in the middle of the display – this is more comfortable, and a wider keyboard with a number pad would probably have caused problems with the interfaces due to the low height, so it wouldn’t have been possible.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme keyboard

The layout corresponds to that of all current ThinkPad series with six rows of keys, whereby the upper one (Esc, function keys and Pos1-End-Enter-Del) has only about half the height. The keyboard is backlit, two levels can be switched by pressing the Fn space bar. Unfortunately there is no brightness sensor for automatic control.

As part of the X1 series’ design, Lenovo designs the device’s status LEDs, such as the power LED in the power switch and the LEDs of the Caps Lock, Fn Lock (Esc) key and the mute switch (speaker and microphone) no longer in green and red, but white.

ThinkPad fans will miss color accents here, but in purely practical terms, the LEDs are also less noticeable – during the test, I didn’t notice that the loudspeakers are muted for once.

The typing feel of the keyboard is first class. The stroke is very rich and allows fast and error-free typing. At the same time, the keyboard remains very quiet even when typing fast, which is ideal for use in quiet rooms like a library.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme closed view

The key stroke is slightly lower than on ThinkPads, e.g. the T-series, but still has to be praised, as it turns out considerably larger in comparison to other, similarly thin devices. Probably due to the integrated design, the keyboard doesn’t rattle either.

Only the single key in the top case, the power switch, unfortunately doesn’t have a convincing pressure point – you have to press much harder than you’re used to from older ThinkPads, but even before that there is a slight pressure point, so that you first think you’ve pressed the power switch.

TrackPoint and touchpad are also convincing. The TrackPoint allows quick and precise navigation. The mouse buttons require experienced TrackPoint users to get used to them a bit, but in this series they are probably designed as click buttons instead of membrane switches like the keyboard keys, in order to reduce the height. The stroke of the keys is thus significantly smaller and makes them look a bit less valuable in direct comparison to older devices.

The glass touchpad is, as usual at Lenovo, a “Precision Touchpad” integrated by Windows 10. It is sufficiently large and reliably recognizes normal and multi-touch inputs.

Clicks are registered by pressing the entire touchpad; Lenovo also provides a full feeling here and avoids any rattling.

Display

Our test device is equipped with the matt Full HD IPS display. Lenovo advertises this display with a brightness of 300 nits and 72% gamut (color space coverage, but no reference color space is given).

Optionally, the X1 Extreme can be equipped with a 4K HDR-IPS display that reaches 400 nits brightness and 100% gamut – it additionally supports multi-touch input with up to 10 fingers and a digitizer pen, but also has a reflective surface.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme display test

The Full HD display built into the test device comes from the manufacturer BOE and has the designation NV156FHM-N61.

It can convince at first glance, colors are displayed vividly and remain comparatively constant even at extreme viewing angles. For an objective impression, we measured the display with a Datacolor Spyder 5 colorimeter.

The color space coverage is 95% sRGB and 73% Adobe RGB. Thus, the display is definitely suitable for color-accurate graphics editing, even if not perfect. The maximum achievable brightness of 321.5 cd/m² (measured centrally) allows comfortable working in brightly lit rooms or even outside – the display only has to admit defeat in direct sunlight, in which case you can’t see much anymore.

In the dark, the display can be dimmed to 4.5 cd/m² (measured centrally) and thus allows comfortable working even in complete darkness.

Sound, Microphone & Webcam

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme has two speakers mounted on the left and right edge of the palm rest and radiate downward through openings in the base plate. The loudspeakers reach a reasonable volume and are sufficient to e.g. fill a small conference room (about 20 seats) with sound for a conference call.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme office setup video editing

The sound quality is mediocre – probably due to the low height of the speakers, low frequencies are unfortunately very weak, mids are reproduced well and clearly, however, trebles are blurred and tend to distort at high volumes. Here, the X1 Extreme has to clearly surrender to the top dog, the Apple MacBook Pro. The dual array microphone ensures good intelligibility in telephone conferences.

Our test device is equipped with a normal webcam as well as an IR camera for Windows Hello support, which is why the mechanical ThinkShutter camera cover is missing. As soon as one of the cameras is active, a white LED on the right of the camera module turns on.

To the left and right of the camera unit there are two IR diodes that flicker briefly in the Windows 10 lock screen until after a short second the face is correctly recognized and you are automatically logged in – a practical feature that can’t be tricked, at least not with a printed photo, and still works reliably even in dark environments.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme design test

Of course the camera unit also offers a normal camera for video calls. It only has a resolution of 1280×720 pixels, which Lenovo has unfortunately not increased for years, but the image quality turns out good.

In comparison to a ThinkPad T470p, the picture looks more detailed at the same resolution because the camera noticeably makes less noise. However, a clear picture noise is also visible in low light on the X1 Extreme.

Ports & Interfaces

Despite the thin design, Lenovo has not spared on ports: Two USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports (USB type A, classic USB port) and two USB 3.1 Gen 2/Thunderbolt 3 ports (USB type C) allow the connection of numerous peripherals.

Monitors can be connected via the USB type C ports, which also support the DisplayPort standard, or via HDMI 2.0. Lenovo also installs a card reader for normal SD cards, as well as a 3.5mm combo jack for headphones and microphone, and an optional smart card reader.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme ports test

Merely an Ethernet socket isn’t possible in the X1 Extreme’s height, but Lenovo instead installs a proprietary, small socket and supplies a suitable adapter so that you don’t have to fall back on USB solutions.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is charged via a square 20V power supply connection – USB type C probably can’t provide enough power, as the X1 Extreme is delivered with a 135W power supply in the test configuration.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme connects wirelessly via an Intel Wireless-AC 9260 via WiFi in both 2.4 and 5 GHz according to the current 802.11ac standard. The card also supports Bluetooth 5.0, which is completely incomprehensible for a notebook designed for mobility: WWAN (Internet connection via mobile radio, i.e. UMTS/HSDPA/LTE) is not even optionally available.

Performance

The Intel Core i7-8750H is one of the currently most powerful notebook CPUs with 6 cores that clock between 2.2 and 4.1 GHz. However, built into a device designed for mobility like the X1 Extreme, the question arises: How much performance can the CPU actually deliver?

Lenovo has created good conditions with a strongly designed cooling system consisting of two fans with large heat pipes. Unfortunately, an artificial limitation of the CPU seems to take effect in battery mode. We have tested two different settings:

In the optimized setting, the CPU performance is set to “Battery optimized” and the temperature management to “Balanced” in the BIOS. In Windows 10, the energy profile is set to “better performance”. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme thus achieves an average score (5 runs) of 1109 points in our comparison benchmark Cinebench R20.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme performance test benchmarks

In the setting for maximum performance, the BIOS settings are both set to “maximum performance”; in Windows, “maximum performance” is set. Here the performance increases a bit more, on average 1400 points can be reached.

In mains operation this choke does not work anymore. Now the CPU can perform considerably more and the X1 Extreme reaches an average of 2236 points in Cinebench R20. However, the thermal throttling is now effective, since the CPU temperature rises up to 97°C (more about that later). We have therefore tried to lower the CPU voltage with Intel’s Extreme Tuning Utility (XTU) (Undervolting).

Surprisingly, our test device remained stable under full load even with undervolting around 0.14V. This increases the Cinebench score by another almost 300 points. We can therefore only recommend owners of the X1 Extreme with this CPU to run the device with undervolting as standard.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme performance benchmarks test

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme has two GPUs in the Nvidia Optimus network: The Intel HD Graphics 630 integrated in the CPU, which uses the RAM as VRAM, and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q with 4GB RAM.
The X1 Extreme achieves 436 points (8 FPS) with the Intel GPU and 2176 points (36 FPS) with the Nvidia GPU in the well-known graphic benchmark, Geeks3D FurMark, in each case with an average of five runs. The latter can thus clearly distance itself from the integrated graphics here.

As an additional plus, the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q from Adobe Premiere CC is supported as a CUDA accelerator. Unfortunately, it is still necessary to experiment with various combinations of Intel and Nvidia graphics drivers until the CUDA acceleration works reliably.

Lenovo installs a 512 GB Intel 760p Series NVMe-SSD in M.2-2280 format (80mm long), which is connected via PCIe 3.0 x4. This is a very fast drive that should also be able to cope with professional applications.

The X1 Extreme even has 2 M.2-2280 slots, so the device can be equipped with two SSDs. RAID 0/1 is then optionally supported.

Noise & temperature levels

As already described, Lenovo has given the X1 Extreme a potent cooling system with two fans and heat pipes connecting them. Furthermore, the hardware can also work very energy efficient despite the impressive performance – the consumption regularly drops below 7 watts in office mode. In normal operation the fans remain switched off or work on the lowest level, whereby the notebook remains completely silent.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme test review

Under load, however, the fans turn up quickly, as the thin design does not allow a heat sink with a large heat capacity. The fan noise is comparatively high, which is probably due to the fan design and the air outlet integrated into the hinge, but not particularly loud – in an otherwise very quiet room this can quickly become annoying, but with other ambient noise it doesn’t bother in any way.

During the Cinebench CPU benchmark, we observed a CPU temperature increase of up to 75°C in battery mode with “optimized performance”, the fan becomes clearly audible at about 70°C. The temperature then remains in the range around 70°C, while the CPU frequency oscillates between 1.69 and 1.74 GHz and the CPU is limited at a TDP of 17-18W.

Intel XTU shows “Thermal Throttling” despite the comparatively low temperature – presumably the above mentioned limitation of the CPU performance is due to battery operation.

When set to “high performance”, the CPU temperature climbs up to 80°C, but then drops to 70-75°C with the fan running. At the beginning, the CPU clocks up to 2.89 GHz for a short time, but then settles down in the long run at a stable 1.74 GHz and 20W TDP.

In mains operation, the CPU temperature rises to 97°C, but doesn’t drop even after the fan has started – in this case the cooling capacity actually limits the CPU. The frequency is initially at 3 GHz (TDP: 46W), drops after about 30s to 2.8 GHz (TDP: 43W) and remains stable there. Thermal Throttling” is also displayed here.
In our experiments with Intel XTU, we unfortunately couldn’t lower the temperature enough to prevent thermal throttling.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme design test

However, at -0.14V the CPU achieves stable 3.4 GHz at the same temperature and a corresponding performance increase. At lower voltage the notebook couldn’t be reliably activated from standby.

Battery life

The X1 Extreme comes with a lithium polymer battery with a nominal capacity of 80.4 Wh. The cells in our test device come from the manufacturer Celxpert – a relatively new member in the group of battery suppliers.

The comparatively large battery also allows a correspondingly wide range of runtimes. We chose a well-known test, “Battery Eater 2.70”, in order to be able to evaluate the battery life comparably. In the “Classic Test”, which loads the CPU and GPU with an OpenGL scene, the test device turned itself off after 1h36min at 5% charge level.

In the “Reader’s Test”, which scrolls regularly in a text document, the battery allows a runtime of 13h10min and impressively shows that even a very powerful notebook can be operated extremely energy efficient in office mode.

Of course, the “Reader’s Test” is a scenario with an extremely low load so that the runtime will turn out shorter in normal office mode. But in the everyday test, about 9-10 hours were still possible without any problems, so that the X1 Extreme can last a whole office working day without charging.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme office setup

If work is pending that demands more performance from the device, the battery life will of course go down to its knees. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible to make a comparable measurement here. In my everyday life with Office and Internet, but also with complex image processing, I achieved a runtime of approximately 7 hours.

Lenovo advertises a charging time of 5% to 80% in 60 minutes for the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. With the included 135W power supply, which still uses the square 20V charging plug instead of USB type C, our test device reaches a charge level of 80% after about 70 minutes – a bit slower than advertised, but still an impressive result. After a total of about 130 minutes the battery reaches 100%.

Verdict

The X1 Extreme is very well suited for viewing photos and videos. The display is bright and shows good colours, and the black level is also convincing subjectively. The speakers are sufficiently loud and clear. Depths are unfortunately rather weak, and you should rather connect external speakers for music consumption.

Such a powerful notebook is of course also predestined for editing media content. After the calibration, the display allows for a mostly color-accurate work. We therefore tested both the development of RAW photos in Adobe Lightroom Classic and video editing in Adobe Premiere Pro CC and compared it with a similarly well-equipped, but of course older ThinkPad T470p (i7-7820HQ, 16GB RAM).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme work station test

Editing photos in Lightroom Classic runs extremely smoothly, feeling faster than on the older T470p. We also exported a folder of 226 RAW photos (24MP .CR2, taken with Canon EOS 5D Mark III) as JPEG for direct comparison. The X1 Extreme won this comparison after 7min45s, but was closely followed by the T470p, which exported the photos after 7min54s.

The X1 Extreme also easily handles 1080p video editing in Premiere Pro CC. Compared to the older T470p, it has the big advantage that the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q is supported as a CUDA accelerator, which should speed up the rendering of complex effects considerably.

For comparison, we had a report of about 1h30min at our disposal, which, however, didn’t contain any complex effects, but was only supposed to test the encoding performance. The X1 Extreme completed the H.264 export (default setting “YouTube 1080p HD”) in 28min36s. Interestingly, the T470p won the comparison with 28min02s here.

In any case, the X1 Extreme is well suited as a device for media work – probably all the better with the 4K HDR display, which is supposed to completely cover the sRGB color space.

However, if you’re thinking about upgrading from an older device, you should check carefully whether your application purposes will benefit from two additional CPU cores – this is not necessarily the case even with multi-core optimized software, as our test shows.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme has proven in the ThinkPad Forum review to be a great device for users who value mobility, but still need plenty of CPU and GPU power.

Case and input devices are excellent, only the wrist-rest seems a bit sensitive with its sheer size. Lenovo hasn’t spared any effort on the interface equipment either, despite belonging to the ultra mobile X1 series. CPU and GPU are powerful, but the CPU is slowed down in battery mode – it’s a pity that this can’t be avoided at the moment. The display is solid, more demanding users have an (expensive) alternative with the 4K HDR option.

Too bad: WWAN is not even optionally available, which is why the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme is ranking behind vs ThinkPad P1. In view of the equipment, the price of $1700 (student model) also seems justified. All in all, the X1 Extreme is an all around recommendable device that creates a successful compromise between high performance and good mobility.


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