Lenovo Thinkpad x1 Extreme Review

Lenovo’s ThinkPad’s are well considered, solidly built, feature-rich business laptops. The 15.6-inch ThinkPad X1 Extreme is at present available in two off-the-page configurations. The laptop described as an “ultralight powerhouse” which can “handle demanding computing tasks without a hitch”, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is an expensive laptop but is it worth the value.

Lenovo doesn’t jumble around with the basic design of its ThinkPad range, so here we have a very standard look and feel. The matte-black frame looks vast on this comparatively large ThinkPad, which is decked only by the X1 logo sitting in one corner and the ThinkPad sign in the opposite corner. The whole unit narrows towards the front with the bottom edge raising itself to some extent from the desktop. This inclined edge continues into the sides and the back, allowing the sides and back to abide by a pair of speaker grilles that are faintly elevated from a desk which helps to avoid the stifled sound.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme is ‘extreme’ in several ways. The 15.6-inch screen is larger than any other laptops that have been seen in the X1 range before, for example, so it obviously requires bigger bodywork. The FHD non-touch version measures 361.8mm by 245.7mm by 18.4 mm and weighs 1.7kg, while the 4K touch version is slightly thicker (18.7mm) and heavier (1.8kg). This laptop is destined to spend most of its time deskbound, rather than be a regular travel companion.

Four layers of toughened carbon fibre are built into the lid section, including a core shock-absorbing layer. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme does not have a Yoga-style 360-degree rotating screen. It will lay back extreme enough to sit flat on a desk so that information can be shared, but there’s no option for a tent, presentation or tablet modes.

The 4K screen responds very well to touch input and is extremely sharp and bright, which appeals to users wanting to create content directly on-screen. The speakers deliver excellent sound and at a decent volume. Dolby Atmos support means that a range of sound profiles which are available to boost audio quality.

The keyboard is up to Lenovo’s typically high standards. The enter key is wide and tall, and there is sufficient space for the function keys and the arrow keys to be moderately large. Keys require a little more force to depress than usual, but this is easily lodged.

The entry-level model has a 720p camera just above the screen with a ThinkShutter, a cover that you can slide in front of the lens if you’re worried about privacy. The laptop features a Core i7 processor and discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti graphics which is a powerful combination that uses a new aluminium alloy bottom cover that is designed to disperse heat more efficiently. This is reasonably effective, although the system still runs slightly warm at times. RAM can be upgraded to 64GB.

There’s a liberal array of ports and connectors. The right edge has the SD card reader and two USB 3.1 ports, while the left edge has a full-size HDMI port, a 3.5mm headset jack, a mini-Ethernet port (Lenovo provides a dongle with an RJ-45 connector), and a pair of USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. Charging is done via Lenovo’s proprietary connector,

The 4K touch screen and Core i7 processor gave the 4-cell, 80Wh battery something of a defeat. With the screen working at its default battery-power brightness of 80 per cent and a moderately light workload of writing into a web-based app while listening to music, with some video playback, the battery was then reduced to 44 per cent after four hours of use. A full day’s work on battery power would be an impossible task with this configuration, especially under heavy workloads.

Though Lenovo, while we’re on the subject, claims a battery life of ‘up to’ 15 hours, noting that this “varies significantly with settings, usage, and other factors”. There are plenty of security facilities available, including a fingerprint sensor on the wrist rest, vPro support in some configurations, and a smart card reader as an optional extra. In addition, as we mentioned earlier, you can either choose to have the Think Shutter or an IR camera for Windows Hello authentication.

The only thing that lets down this laptop is its battery life and pricing otherwise it is a good option.’Extreme’ is the right word to portray this laptop as it has a large 15.6-inch screen which, in 4K guise is very amazing to watch; high-end CPU and discrete GPU options allow it to handle demanding tasks, and with two SSD slots there’s perspective for a lot of internal storage.

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