Laptops have, over the years, taken over the role played by the more conventional desktops, with people from all walks of life using laptops to get through their daily tasks. The market that has seen, arguably the largest adoption, is the performance and gaming market. There is a huge demand for laptops that are high on specifications and deliver consistent performance to customers who rely on graphic intensive tasks to get through the day. Lenovo has been one of the most consistent brands in the laptop market, with their X series of high performance laptops being a step above the rest on all accounts. The new Lenovo ThinkPad X1 carries the X tag higher with specifications and features that can outclass probably anything that steps up to it.
Can it step up to the likes of the 15 inch MacBook Pro or the Monstrous Dell XPS 15?
Lets find out –
- Design –The Lenovo X1 Extreme is a 15 inch business laptop made out of materials that scream performance and luxury. The laptop has a clamshell formfactor made out of matte black carbon fibre with a soft touch finish which gives the X1 Extreme a very premium feel. There is no in-your-face branding with the ‘X1’ tag subtly embossed on the bottom right hand side of the lid with the iconic ‘ThinkPad’ badge on the top left hand side of the lid. The red dot on the ThinkPad badge now lights up, which again, is subtle, but has just enough of a presence to grab people’s attention. The deck of the laptop is made out of the same matte black carbon fibre with soft touch, which makes it very palm friendly, and a nice step away from the traditional aluminium that we are used to seeing on the other laptops in its bracket. The slight let down however, is that the soft touch material is a finger print magnet and these things can get annoying when you start looking at it in the daylight.In other aspects, the X1 Extreme is very much like a typical ThinkPad with its iconic red pointing stick, three trimmed clickers on top of the touchpad and those superbly rounded keys. We have the round power button on the top right corner of the deck. Coming to the overall footprint, the Lenovo X1 Extreme features thin bezels that keep the footprint low. At 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches, the X1 Extreme takes up more space than the Dell XPS 15 (14.1 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches) and Apple MacBook Pro (13.8 x 9.5 x 0.6 inches), but does a better job against the likes of the Asus ZenBook Pro 15. The X1 Extreme weights lighter than the rest of the competition, and the compelling 3.8 pound number makes it one of the most supremely portable 15 inch performance laptops.
Coming to the ports, the X1 Extreme has not cut any corners at all, and personally, I am astounded at how easily Lenovo has managed to put in two USB 3.1 type A ports, an SD card reader, a smart card reader, a Kensington lock, two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI port, a headphone jack and the Lenovo proprietary AC power port in such a slim frame. This is definitely where the X1 Extreme stands out among the rest of the competition.
Durability is something of a Lenovo speciality , and with the X1 Extreme, the durability factor has been taken to a whole other level, with the rather slim and lightweight laptop being subjected to 12 MIL-STD-810G standards, which means it can survive high humidity, exposure to sand and dust, extreme temperatures and repeated drops. The X1 Extreme has superb security features under the hood as well. The laptop has been certified by the Trusted Computing Group (TCG) and supports dTPM encryption and Intel vPro technology. Along with this, we have an in built match on chip fingerprint sensor which teams up perfectly with the Windows Hello facial sign in to give you a complete security package.
- Display -The Lenovo X1 Extreme does feature the standard 1080p display variant, but if you want to truly experience the best of the X1 Extreme, and you wouldn’t mind breaking the bank for the same, go for the top end 4K HDR touch screen variant. The panel output is extremely detailed, with vivid and accurate colours which make the X1 Extreme one of the best laptops in the world right now in terms of the display. The display output is so rich, that I have been hard-pressed to re watch a lot of movies and Tv shows, just to experience them on this display. Even the Windows 10 icons receive a step up, thanks to the rich details of the display. The White balance too, is supremely accurate, but the colour saturation will have to be dialled down in a few cases, but its not such a ludicrous problem, so we will not deduct any points from Lenovo for this.Talking purely in terms of benchmark numbers, the X1 Extreme display panel covers a staggering 186% of the sRGB colour gamut, which is astronomical when compared to the industry average of a paltry 113%. The panel maxes out at 366 nits of brightness, which is in itself, very bright for a laptop display, and at the same time, is not as blinding as the display of the XPS 15 which features 447 nits of brightness.
- Touchpad and Keyboard -Lenovo keyboard have been fantastic over the years, and X1 Extreme is no exception. With 1.7mm of key travel and superbly curved and tactile keys, the keyboard is one of, if not, the best keyboard in the laptop market today. The keys may be a bit stiff due to the slightly bumped up actuation force, but when you put in the work, you will see that you will literally blaze through any typing assignment with relative ease. There is no dedicated number pad on the X1 Extreme, but the well sized keys compensate for this, and you will not really feel anything amiss once you start using the same.The iconic red pointing stick has been retained in the X1 Extreme and can be found seated snugly at the centre of the keyboard. The dimpled top of the pointing stick catches your movements accurately, and make for a reliable second touch pad when you need to do some general browsing.
Also, the Lenovo X1 Extreme features a 3.9 x 2.3-inch touchpad which is superbly calibrated and the buttery smooth surface lets you blaze through all the available gestures for Windows 10, without glitching once.
- Performance -When it comes to raw performance, the X1 starts to flex its muscles and delivers an unbelievable experience. The Lenovo X1 Extreme comes with an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, 32GB of RAM and a 1TB SSD, which, even on paper, makes for a compelling argument. When you bring it to life however, you will see that in reality, there was really no argument to begin with. The X1 Extreme makes google chrome tabs look like a cup of tea, and doesn’t break a sweat when you decide to load multiple 1080p videos simultaneously. If you then decide to stream a video live, do so by all means, but do not expect the X1 Extreme to tire out. It is powerful, fast and without a doubt, one of the best in the business.When it comes to benchmark scores, the 22,021 clocked in by the X1 Extreme, outperforms the likes of the Dell XPS 15 and the Asus ZenBook Pro 15, while just falling short against the 15 inch MacBook Pro(i9 variant). That said, the Lenovo X1 Extreme still stands tall among the performance laptop bracket, which features an average score of 13,000.
The X1 Extreme features a brilliantly fast hard drive. With an average transfer rate of 1,017 megabytes per second, the X1 Extreme easily outclasses the Asus ZenBook Pro 15 (424MBps) and the Dell XPS 15 (391MBps), but falls just short of the MacBook Pro (2,724 MBps).
When it comes to the rather more hardcore video transcoding test, the X1 Extreme shows everyone who’s the boss by converting a 4K video to 1080p in 10 minutes and 3 seconds, which currently, is an unbeaten number.
While the benchmarks place the X1 Extreme on the podium, what is truly surprising is that although the laptop has been made for business, the X1 Extreme features the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti GPU with 4GB of VRAM. The dedicated GPU is powerful enough to play most modern titles at low-to-medium graphics settings. While you do get a decent 35 fps and 30 fps frame rates, they are nowhere near the 50 fps average for gaming segment competitors. Do keep in mind however, that the X1 Extreme is by no means a gaming piece, so its more of a bonus that you can do a bit of casual gaming without breaking the bank.
- Battery Life and Heat-When it comes to the battery life, the X1 Extreme takes its first big hit. The laptop clocked in 6 hours and 7 minutes of battery backup in the tests, and we can see that, compared to the likes of the XPS 15 (8:28) and the MacBook Pro (10:21), the X1 Extreme loses out by a huge margin. True, the MacBook Pro does not really feature a display that is as pixel packed as the X1 Extreme, but the gap in battery life is very hard to ignore.The only silver lining for the X1 Extreme in this case, is that it is miles ahead of one of the competitors, the Asus ZenBook Pro 15, which powers out after just 4:28.
On paper, Lenovo claims that the aluminium under body helps in easier dissipation of heat, and keeps the device cool. This is again not completely true, since the X1 Extreme heats up to concerning temperatures at certain hotspots, making it unbearable at times.
- Conclusion -The Lenovo X1 Extreme is one of the best business laptops in the market today. The brand is highly recognised in the market, making it a worth buy, even if you have to splash the cash for the 4K model. Yes, the battery life is not the best, and there are some heating issues, but the impact is variable since these are parameters that cannot be exactly quantified thanks to variation of use deepening on the consumer.The positives outweigh the negatives in case of the X1 Extreme, with a sleek design, superb durability and blazing fast performance acting as valid USPs and giving it the edge in terms of the rest of the segment.