Review: Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is a powerful laptop with heat issues


Enlarge / Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 4.

Andrew Cunningham

The term “desktop replacement” is a bit old-fashioned as a descriptor for laptops these days, if only because fewer people have desktop computers they are trying to replace. But I find it hard to think of a better term for something like Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, currently in its 4th generation.

Where other laptops like Dell’s XPS 15 have ditched ports and only offer limited GPU options in an effort to downsize and become more mobile, the X1 Extreme still comes with a healthy selection of ports. (both in number and variety) and offers GPUs up to Nvidia’s RTX 3080. Its 16-inch display is also subtly but noticeably larger than the 15.6-inch panels you’ll find in other laptops with similar speeds and weights.

(If you buy an X1 Extreme Gen 4, you can also check out the Lenovo P1 Gen 4, which is a workstation-branded version of an essentially identical laptop with Nvidia A and T-series workstation GPUs in most models rather than mainstream RTX-series GPUs. If you can get a P1 for less than a comparable X1 Extreme, that’s a safe trade to do.)

The problem with the X1 Extreme, if you can stand the price, is that it gets hot – in practice this means you can either get good temperatures and give up some performance, or you can get the full performance of the laptop and put up with it. sometimes uncomfortable temperatures. Other high-end laptops we’ve tested don’t require this compromise. But if you can look past that detail, there’s a lot to like here.

Look, feel, display and ports

As is typically the case with Thinkpad keyboards and trackpads, the X1 Extreme are both excellent.
Enlarge / As is typically the case with Thinkpad keyboards and trackpads, the X1 Extreme are both excellent.

Andrew Cunningham

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (4th generation)

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Most ThinkPads use the same base model: a solid black body, a comfortable scissor-switch keyboard, and a square design (with different levels of boxing: cheaper models are more square and expensive models are thinner and taller. elegant). The X1 Extreme mostly looks like an elongated X1 Carbon the same way the XPS 15 looks like the XPS 13 and the 16in MacBook Pro looks like the 14in version. It’s not flashy, but I’ll take an indescribable but harmless laptop that prints non-removable logos on itself.

The keyboard experience is subjective, but ThinkPad keyboards are some of the best around, with the right combination of key movement, key firmness, and tactile feedback. That’s not the main reason for choosing the X1 Extreme over the XPS 15 or MacBook Pro, but it’s a solid selling point. Whether the TrackPoint nub is something you need or something you ignore most of the time will be up to you, but the large multi-touch trackpad is responsive and precise.

If you were looking for a reason to prefer the ThinkPad over the XPS 15, however, Lenovo’s port selection might seal the deal. The X1 Extreme gives you two Thunderbolt 4 ports, a dedicated power jack, a full-size HDMI port, a pair of USB Type-A ports, and a full-size card reader. If you need to use a lot of external accessories at once, port selection is a big step up from the XPS 15, which has a card reader plus two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a USB-C port. (one of which will need to be used by the laptop charger). It’s also a bit better than the 16-inch MacBook Pro, although swapping out those two USB-A ports for an additional Thunderbolt 4 port might be desirable depending on your needs; a Thunderbolt 4 port can to become a USB-A port when needed, but USB-A ports can only be USB-A ports.

The ThinkPad’s 16-inch display is also excellent and noticeably larger than the 15.6-inch screen of the XPS 15 9510, despite how close those numbers are. Our review unit comes with the base 2560 × 1600 non-touch screen, although upgrades to the 3840 × 2400 4K touch and non-touch screen are also available. Even the lower resolution display was impressive for an IPS panel, with a peak brightness of 443 nits and a contrast ratio of 1391: 1 (as measured by our i1 Display Studio colorimeter).

The X1 Extreme's screen is larger than 15.6-inch laptops like Dell's XPS 15, but that also significantly enlarges its footprint.
Enlarge / The X1 Extreme’s screen is larger than 15.6-inch laptops like Dell’s XPS 15, but that also significantly enlarges its footprint.

Andrew Cunningham

This display also covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut, although its DCI-P3 81.5% gamut coverage is nothing special. The OLED version of the XPS 15 that we tested has higher contrast and DCI-P3 range support at 98.7%, but given the slightly grainy appearance and oversaturated color of the OLED display, we would always recommend a high quality IPS panel for most photos and videos. editors.

The downside to the larger screen is that even with thin bezels, the X1 Extreme has a noticeably larger footprint than the XPS 15, about half an inch wider and almost an inch deeper (although the two laptops start at the same weight of 4 pounds and are each lighter than Apple’s latest 16-inch MacBook Pro). While the XPS 15 can, with some effort, be stowed away in many bags designed to hold 13-inch laptops, the X1 Extreme is long and deep enough that it won’t hold up.


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