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Review

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme First Impressions: Performance and portability gets a new name at IFA 2018

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme aims to strike balance between consumers and professional requirements.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme FI main

Highlights

  • A familiar but practically useful design.

  • Signature ThinkPad keyboard with great travel and unmatched reliability.

  • Now, the X1 Extreme gets top of the line CPU for enhanced performance.

Lenovo recently the launched ThinkPad P1, its most powerful performance notebook yet. The ThinkPad P1 is a machine aimed at those looking for workstation-class machine and if you wondered about its consumer version then Lenovo is offering the same in the form of ThinkPad X1 Extreme. At IFA 2018 in Berlin today, Lenovo is launching the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, as a premium upgrade over the X1 Carbon.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a consumer-grade notebook that strikes a balance between performance, portability and price. As the name implies, Lenovo has gone to an extreme in order to engineer this laptop with a top-grade CPU and graphics processor. Ahead of its official unveiling in Berlin, Lenovo offered a sneak peak into the device and here are my initial thoughts.

Design and Display

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is not much different from the X1 Carbon and it is essentially a big screen version of it. The machine is built using carbon fiber reinforced housing with the bottom panel getting magnesium alloy casing. If you have ever seen a modern ThinkPad then you will find the X1 Extreme to be in line with those designs. It is black through and through and bleeds premium and productivity from all sides.

While the ThinkPad X1 Carbon featured a 14-inch display, the X1 Extreme switches to a larger 15.6-inch display. Lenovo is offering two options here: a 4K panel with touch support and a non-touch model with a 1080p panel. The 4K panel, in particular, is bright, supports 10 bit color and has support for 100 percent of the sRGB color space. The panel also supports Dolby Vision, the high dynamic range screen system tweaked to support 4K video format.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme also strikes a perfect balance in terms of ports. The 18.4mm thick laptop includes two full USB 3.0 ports, and two USB Type-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support. There is also an HDMI port, headphone jack and full-size SD card reader. The top lid has Lenovo branding at the top left corner while X1 branding is at the bottom right corner. Lenovo has brought all the good things we appreciated about X1 Carbon and added a larger display and more performance to make the X1 Extreme possible.

Hardware

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme next to a ThinkPad X1 Carbon

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme we got to test for a brief period was powered by Intel’s 8th generation six-core Core i7-8850H processor coupled with 32GB RAM and 256GB SSD storage. The laptop can be configured with up to 64GB of random access memory and uses dual PCIe SSD storage that can be updated at any time. Lenovo says it will introduce a model with the Intel Core i9 CPU in December, just in case you want more performance than a Core i7 can provide.

All the ThinkPad X1 Extreme variants also come standard with NVIDIA GTX 1050Ti GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 video memory. The video card might not be the greatest in the business but it is good enough for applications like video editing and basic gaming. With ThinkPad X1 Extreme, Lenovo is trying to brigde the gap between consumer and performance machines. The company claims this is the first real product for prosumers or pro-consumers.

If you are someone who was disappointed with the throttling issue on Apple’s new MacBook Pro, Lenovo is promising to have a machine not crippled by such issues. In order to achieve peak performance, Lenovo has added a dual-cooling mechanism that uses redesigned blades to effectively dissipate the heat. This is something that needs to be tested but Lenovo’s solution might be effective especially considering that the X1 Extreme is not the thinnest or lightest in the segment.

Keyboard, Trackpad, Software and Security

As a longtime ThinkPad user, you would expect a keyboard that is nothing short of excellent and same remains true for the X1 Extreme as well. Lenovo is basically moving the excellent keyboard with 1.8mm key travel offered on the X1 Carbon to this machine as well. You get a backlit keyboard that has nice spacing between the keys and a trackpoint located between the G, H and B keys. The trackpad is again directly taken from the Carbon and uses Windows Precision drivers for accurate response and fluid gesture mechanism.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme runs Windows 10 Pro with far-field microphones for quick response to Cortana and Alexa. It also comes with security features like optional Windows Hello facial recognition, TPM security chip, a fingerprint scanner and card reader support. On the standard model, Lenovo is offering a webcam that can be physically blocked using the Think Shutter; it’s an admittedly better solution to taping the webcam.

Final Thoughts

For long, professional users have been looking for a notebook that offers top-of-the-line performance without a compromise on portability. While most OEMs seem to be coming closer that ambition, Lenovo has delivered with its X1 Extreme. It is basically a larger ThinkPad X1 Carbon with performance that makes it stand apart. The real question would be – can it match or perform better than MacBook Pro?

For pro users, the question would also be whether your enterprise is willing to put down around $1,900. But if funds are not an issue and you are looking for a top-end Windows machine, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is among the best you can buy now.

  • Published Date: August 31, 2018 9:27 AM IST