Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme: Everything you need to know
When it comes to business laptops, few brands are as iconic as Lenovo’s ThinkPad lineup. The classic black look, the red accents, and features like the pointing stick make each ThinkPad instantly recognizable. But as the PC market has evolved, new form factors have showed up, and the lineup has had to adapt to target each of those markets. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is one of those laptops that was created to respond to specific market needs, in particular those who want the absolute best performance in a laptop that still fits in an office environment.
With the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4, Lenovo has taken that further than ever. In addition to 45W Intel processors (up to an Intel Core i9), you now get NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics, plus up to 64GB of RAM. All of that in a package that’s still thin and features iconic ThinkPad elements like the pointing stick. If you want to know everything there is to know about Lenovo’s most powerful business laptop, you’ve come to the right place.
Navigate this article:
- Display and audio
- Webcam and Windows Hello
- Design and build quality
- Ports and wireless connectivity
First off, let’s take a look at the specs of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme. This should give you an idea of how powerful and capable it is.
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme|
|Size (WxDxH)||14.13 x 9.99 x 0.7 in (359.5 x 253.8 x 17.7 mm)|
|Weight||Starting at 3.99 lbs (1.81 kg)|
|Starting price||$1,531.80 (varies)|
While that should give you a decent idea of what to expect, let’s take a closer look at what the ThinkPad X1 Extreme brings to the table.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme: Performance
As the name suggests, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is all about performance, and even though you have a few options, there’s no option that’s going to be slow. Not only are these 45W processors from Intel, but they’re all at the top of the range too. There are three processors you can choose from; the base model is an Intel Core i7-11800H, and that’s already an 8 core, 16 thread processor.
From there, you can upgrade to the Core i7-11850H or the Core i9-11950H, both having the same number of cores and threads, but reaching higher speeds. These two are also vPro processors, meaning they have advanced security features for business users. Regardless of which processor you choose though, you’re going to get an incredibly fast machine that can handle even the most demanding tasks like video editing.
You can pair that CPU with your choice of NVIDIA graphics, all the way up to a GeForce RTX 3080, which is incredibly impressive for a business laptop. Your options are limited by the processor you choose though. If you choose the Intel Core i7-11800H, you can get either a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti or an RTX 3060; with the Corei7-11850H you can stick with Intel integrated graphics, get a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, or an RTX 3070; and finally, if you get the Intel Core i9-11950H, you’ll automatically get the GeForce RTX 3080.
Outside of the Intel integrated graphics, all the options here are incredibly powerful, meaning you can not only get work done, but even squeeze in some gaming if that’s your thing. Powerful graphics can also be useful for productivity and the ThinkPad X1 Extreme delivers. This all fits in a slim business-style chassis, so to help with cooling, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme pulls in air through the keyboard vents and expels it through the back.
Moving on to RAM, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme has two SODIMM slots, which you can configure out of the box with up to 64GB of RAM. The base configuration has just one 8GB stick, and for each configuration in-between, you can choose whether you want dual-channel memory or single-channel. For example, you can choose to have a single 16GB RAM stick or two 8GB ones, and it comes at the same price.
This is so you can choose whether you want more performance out of the box with dual-channel memory, or if you plan to add your own RAM later to get more capacity. Regardless, with up to 64GB of RAM, you can use the ThinkPad X1 Extreme for intense multi-tasking and memory-heavy workloads like large coding projects or managing databases.
Finally, there’s storage. You also get two SSD slots — on some models. Since the NVIDIA GPUs available are very powerful and generate a lot of heat, some additional cooling is necessary if you buy a higher-tier model. If you get Intel integrated graphics or the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, you get two SSD slots, which you can configure with up to 2TB each for 4TB in total.
If you go with an RTX 3060, 3070, or 3080, you only get one slot. The slot included by default supports PCIe Gen 4×4, but you have to specifically choose a PCIe Gen 4 SSD if you want the extra speed. The other slot, available on lower-end graphics models, only supports PCIe Gen 3. These are also user upgradeable, so you can always add or replace your storage later on.
Display and audio
The display on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is also impressive. Like many business laptops, it’s got a 16:10 aspect ratio, and in this case, it comes in a 16 inch size. Taller aspect ratios like this mean you get more surface area for the display, and thus, more space for things like text and UI elements when you’re working
What’s really impressive is that the base configuration comes in at WQXGA — or Quad HD+ — resolution, 2560 x 1600. Many laptops start with a Full HD+ display, but with a Quad HD+ panel by default, you’re already getting a stellar experience on the base level. For a laptop screen size, Quad HD+ strikes a great balance between sharpness and battery life, whereas Full HD+ panels can look a bit pixelated and 4K displays use a lot more power. This display covers 100% of the sRGB color gamut, which gives you solid color reproduction, though not the best out there. It has a maximum brightness of 400 nits, and no touch support.
If you do want 4K though, you have that option with the ThinkPad X1 Extreme. This upgrades the resolution to 3840 x 2400 (Ultra HD+), and it also increases the maximum brightness to 600 nits. This means you now get support for DisplayHDR 400, as well as Dolby Vision. For content creators, this panel covers 100% of Adobe RGB, a much better representation of real-life colors that makes this display ideal for video and photo editing. There’s also an option for touch support on this display, which also adds support for an active pen if you have one.
As for audio, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme has two top-firing speakers with 2W of power each, and Lenovo says they’re 20% more powerful than the previous generation. Since these are firing upwards at you, you should get a solid audio experience, and it’s still impressive considering everything else packed into this chassis.
Webcam and Windows Hello
Many laptops that focus on raw performance tend to overlook the webcam quality, but Lenovo didn’t do that here. Out of the box, you get a 1080p webcam with the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, which is still uncommon on many Windows laptops. Like many business laptops, the webcam has a physical shutter that covers the lens if you have any privacy concerns because of it. You also get two far-field microphones so you can be heard clearly during calls.
If you enjoy the extra convenience, you can also configure the ThinkPad X1 Extreme with an IR camera for Windows Hello. This makes logging in extremely easy since you can just look at the computer and be signed in. The IR camera is also included by default if you choose the Ultra HD+ display. There’s no support for human presence detection, however. This is something Lenovo includes on some of its laptops, and it would allow the laptop to wake up automatically when you approach it, so it can unlock completely hands-free.
If you don’t want facial recognition, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme also has a fingerprint reader built into the power button for biometric authentication.
ThinkPad X1 Extreme: Battery life
As it packs incredibly powerful specs, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme also requires a large battery to keep things running when you’re not plugged in. It packs a 90Whr battery and supports Rapid Charge, meaning it can charge up to 80% in one hour.
According to Lenovo, that 90Whr battery can last you up to 10 hours, but this is going to vary depending on your usage and configuration. Lenovo doesn’t say which configuration ran the test, but if you opt for an Intel Core i9 processor and RTX 3080 graphics, it’s probably going to be significantly lower.
The charger included also varies with your configuration to ensure that the laptop will charge even if you’re using it. You get a 135W power adapter if you have Intel integrated graphics, a 170W adapter if you get a GeForce RTX 3050 Ti, and a 230W charger for the remaining models. It also uses a proprietary port for charging, not USB Type-C.
Design and build quality
As far as design goes, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme stays true to the lineage of the ThinkPad family. The laptop is almost entirely black, with a silver and red ThinkPad logo, plus a red pointing stick. It also uses a unique combination of materials. The bottom of the laptop uses an aluminum alloy for the casing, while the top uses a carbon fiber hybrid.
And yes, you do get the red pointing stick that’s a trademark of the ThinkPad lineup. Even with all the power packed inside, Lenovo still fit the pointing stick in the middle of the keyboard and the additional mouse buttons above the trackpad.
Also like other ThinkPads, you can get it with a woven carbon fiber pattern on the lid, instead of the flat black paint version. However, this isn’t an upgrade you can just choose. If you buy the laptop with a Quad HD+ display, you get the black paint lid; if you choose the Ultra HD+ panels, you get the woven pattern lid.
Ports and wireless connectivity
Connectivity is another one of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme’s strengths, and it has a lot of ports built right in. It starts with two Thunderbolt 4 ports, offering 40Gbps of data throughput for displays, external GPUs, or other peripherals using a Thunderbolt dock. It also has two USB Type-A ports, HDMI, a full-size SD card reader, and a headphone jack, in addition to the proprietary charging port. Additionally, one of those USB Type-A ports is always on, meaning you can use it to charge your phone, even if the laptop is in sleep mode.
For wireless connectivity, you get an Intel AX210 wireless module, which includes support for Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, as well as Bluetooth 5.2. These are the latest version of each technology, so you won’t have to worry about having outdated technology anytime soon.
Finally, Lenovo also says you’ll be able to get optional support for 5G cellular networks with a Qualcomm Snapdragon X55 modem. 5G is the latest generation of cellular networks, and it promises increased bandwidth so it can accommodate more devices at faster speeds. For a laptop, the essential takeaway here is that you can stay connected to the internet no matter where you are. You don’t need to rely on insecure public Wi-Fi networks to get work done on the go, which is a big deal for security.
5G support isn’t available if you get GeForce RTX 3060, 3070, or 3080 graphics, however. At the time of writing, it’s actually not available at all on Lenovo’s configurator, but it should become available in the near future.
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme: Pricing
Officially, the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme starts at $2,149. However, things are a bit trickier than that. Lenovo’s website constantly has promotions and “eCoupons” available that vary all the time, so determining a proper base price is complicated. Even individual upgrades can vary in price, which makes it hard to give a specific price list.
What Lenovo considers the “base” configuration is available for $1,629.20, as of the time of writing this. This includes an Intel Core i7-11800H processor, NVIDIA GeForce 3050 Ti graphics, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. It also comes with the Quad HD+ display option, without the IR camera, and running Windows 10 Home.
The cheapest configuration however involves upgrading to the Intel Core i7-11850H. This is because you can then remove the dedicated graphics, and stick with Intel’s integrated GPU. Currently, that’s available for $1,531.80.
If you want to upgrade the processor, GPU, and RAM all the way, you’ll be spending over $4,000 on your configuration. Currently, this costs $4,223.40, but again, it’s subject to change. Lenovo’s website says the regular price of this configuration is $7,039, but you’ll probably never see it at that price.
If you’re interested in the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, you can buy it using the link below to fully configure your setup. As we’ve discussed, there are a lot of configuration options available, so it’s all about finding what fits your needs the best. If you’re not convinced, check out our list of the best laptops you can buy today.