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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review: what’s so extreme about this laptop?

lenovo thinkpad x1 extreme review
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme

Product Name: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review

Offer price: £1,620

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Buy from Lenovo

  • Power
  • Design
  • Battery life

Our verdict

If you need that little bit more grunt from your laptop, this is an excellent choice from the legends of Lenovo



  • By heck it’s fast
  • Superb upgrade options
  • Great warranty and security features


  • Can get noisy when pushed
  • Expensive

If you know anything at all about Lenovo’s ThinkPad range then there is much about the ThinkPad X1 Extreme that won’t surprise you. And that’s not what this review is about. Instead, we’re going to focus on what is “extreme” vs its rivals and its siblings.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review: extremely fast

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review

Everything about this machine is quick. The SSD inside is right up there with the fastest I’ve seen. The combination of top-end Core i7 processor and 32GB of memory in my test system also meant it was damn fast in benchmarks such as Geekbench 4.

There’s even a dedicated graphics chip inside, with Lenovo choosing the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. That’s not a top-end chip but has enough grunt to get you through most games. Full results at the bottom of this review.

My test unit included a single 1TB SSD, but there’s space for two disks – you can specify from 256GB to 2TB!

A final note on battery life – it lasted for just under seven hours when I ran a continuous video with the screen at a medium setting. That’s a decent result, but not extreme. Still, it means that you can carry this 1.8kg laptop with you for a day and not worry about bringing the power supply.

Extremely quiet (most of the time)

99% of the time, you won’t hear anything from the fans inside the X1 Extreme. They do make themselves known when pushed, with a distinct whirr – but not an unpleasant one. (Note that some owners have complained about the noise, but I suspect that’s a software glitch with their early systems.)

I also love how quiet the keys are. They do make a sound, but it’s a gentle tap rather than the aggressive clip of many laptops. You could use this in a quiet train carriage without getting that look.

Extremely lovely screen

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review

I’m also a huge fan of the screen. It’s big, measuring 15.6in across and with a 3,840 x 2,160 resolution, but it actually produced the best set of test measurements I’ve seen from a laptop display.

The colour accuracy and coverage is incredible. Again, full results are at the bottom of this review, but it has no obvious flaws. That’s even more impressive when you consider it’s a touchscreen, which sometimes comes with a compromise.

Note that Lenovo also sells with the X1 Extreme with a non-touch 1,920 x 1,080 screen. It has two advantages: one, it’s anti-glare (the touchscreen is shiny); two, it’s cheaper. I haven’t been able to test its quality, however.

Extremely well designed

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review

This is an eminently practical laptop. Take the top row of shortcuts on the keyboard, all clearly labelled. Or the separated-out cursor keys, huge Enter key and choice of trackpoint or trackpad.

Or consider the array of ports. Two old-style USB-A ports sit on the right-hand side, along with a full-size SD card reader. Over on the left, you’ll find two USB-C ports, a docking connector and full-size HDMI port.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review

The only downside is that Lenovo doesn’t find room for a full-size Ethernet port, instead relying on a bundled adapter that slips into a proprietary port. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d lose.

Extreme security

Lenovo has always emphasised security for its ThinkPads, and you’re protected by multiple layers. There’s a fingerprint reader on the right-hand side of the keyboard, and an infrared camera that supports Windows Hello’s facial recognition (supplied with the 4K touch panel, not the non-touch Full HD display).

All models also include a “ThinkShutter” for the main 720p webcam; this slides over the webcam when not in use. Note that the infrared camera that comes with the 4K touchscreen doesn’t include ThinkShutter.

That’s backed up with all the management software you’d expect from Lenovo while a three-year on-site warranty comes as standard. Note the optional smart card reader, too, as that only adds £6 to the price.

Extreme expense

And now the downside. You have to pay for all this quality, and Lenovo isn’t shy about pumping up the price.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme starts at £1,620 over on Lenovo’s website, which includes a Core i5-8300H processor (still an excellent processor), Windows 10 Home rather than Pro, 8GB of RAM, 256GB SSD and the non-touch Full HD panel.

Note that you can heavily customise this, so if you want that base specification but two 1TB SSDs instead of the single 256GB disk then you can. It’ll just cost you an extra £600.

If you max out everything – 64GB of RAM, 2TB SSD, Core i7-8750H processor – then it comes to £3,796. A snip.

Or you can choose one of the two “quick ship” models at £2,300 and £2,680 apiece; just note that they include a 4K non-touch panel that we haven’t tested.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review: Test results

Note these results were for the X1 Extreme with a 4K touchscreen, 1TB SSD, 32GB of RAM and a Core i7-8750H processor. All models ship with Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics.

Day-to-day speed
Geekbench 4 single-core5,144
Geekbench 4 multicore20,931
PC Mark4,773
Cinebench R15 processor 1,057
SSD speed (AS SSD)
Sequential read1,954MB/sec
Sequential write2,218MB/sec
Small files (4KB) read52.2MB/sec
Small files (4KB) write135.4MB/sec
3D acceleration (inc games)
Cinebench R15 graphics 103.2fps
GFXBench Car Chase (on-/off-screen)32.3/142fps
GFXBench Manhattan 3.1 (on/off@1440p)47.1/128fps
3D Mark (Time Spy)2,394
Rise of Tomb Raider (High, 1080p, DX12)52.8fps
Screen tests
Max brightness405cd/m2
sRGB gamut coverage99.9%
Adobe RGB coverage97.7%
Delta E (ave/max)0.25/0.64

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About the author

Tim Danton

Tim Danton is editor-in-chief of PC Pro magazine and has written about technology since 1999. He enjoys playing with gadgets, playing with words and playing tennis. Email tim@bigtechquestion.com

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