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5 Cool Features On Lenovo's ThinkPad X1 Extreme

The CRN Test Center finds a terrific display and impressive performance on Lenovo’s high-octane ThinkPad.

With the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, Lenovo takes the strongest features of its ThinkPad X1 line—and then gives you more of everything.

The result is a high-octane, eminently usable notebook that still remains fairly portable.

[Related: CES 2019: Lenovo Unveils Six Devices, Including New X1 Carbon And A 43-Inch Monitor]

At the CRN Test Center—where we are big fans of the X1 models, especially the X1 Carbon—we think the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a worthy addition to the portfolio.

What follows are five cool features we found on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme, which currently has a starting price of $1,673 (or $2,479 as configured with a six-core Intel processor, 32 GB of RAM and 4K touch screen).

Display

Lenovo has outfitted the ThinkPad X1 Extreme with a UHD/4K display, and it's a stunner. The screen is ultra vivid and bright (at 400 nits), and one of the best we've seen on a business notebook to date. It doesn't hurt that the display is big, too, at 15.6 inches. This makes the X1 Extreme the first model in the X1 series to come in a 15-inch form factor.

Multi-taskers should be thrilled with amount of display real estate—and number of browser tabs—that one can easily work with on the X1 Extreme.

The display is also a touch screen, which we found ourselves using only occasionally, partly because of the distance needed to reach the display ("gorilla arm" is a factor here). There's also a nontouch option, which is not as sharp (with FHD resolution) and not as bright (at 300 nits), but will save on the price tag.

One of the highlights of the X1 Extreme display is that Lenovo has managed to keep the bezels around the screen relatively small, especially on the left and right sides, where the bezels are quite slim. The top and bottom bezels aren't massive, either. And while the X1 Extreme is not a convertible, its display does fold back 180 degrees, which can come in handy.

The X1 Extreme display also supports Dolby Vision HDR for enhanced viewing, including for HDR video on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime.

CPU

Our tryout model came configured with one of Intel's first six-core mobile processors, from the eighth-gen Coffee Lake H series. The chip in our unit, the Core i7-8750H, is a powerhouse. A Geekbench 4 benchmark test yielded a single-core score of 5,012 and a multi-core score of 20,626, which are amazing results—faster than any other Windows 10 notebook we've tried to date, and nearly on par with the Core i9 chip in the latest 15-inch MacBook Pro, according to Geekbench data.

In the real world, the performance played out as you would hope, with high-speed loading and no problems whatsoever with juggling numerous intensive apps at once. The performance suggests the ThinkPad X1 Extreme should be a solid option for the "prosumer" set that Lenovo is targeting with this notebook.

Graphics

Speaking of prosumers—users that also want to do photo and video editing, or even graphics rendering on their notebook—the X1 Extreme stands out from past ThinkPad X1 releases by offering a discrete GPU. That would be the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti with MaxQ, a super-charged GPU that's powerful enough to enable casual gaming in addition to applications used by creative professionals (Lenovo mentions virtual reality and mixed reality apps as within the realm of possibility, too).

Portability 

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme rates well on portability, especially considering the 15-inch display size and everything that's packed in here (including a large battery). The minimal bezels help significantly in keeping the overall size down. And the notebook has a starting weight of 3.76 pounds, which makes it 12 percent lighter than the 15-inch ThinkPad T580 (and just two-thirds of a pound heavier than the ThinkPad X1 Yoga). It's not an absurd prospect to take this notebook with you on the go—as long as you can plug in (which we'll address next).

Fast-Charging

Perhaps not surprisingly, given all of its horsepower and its bright 4K touch screen, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme does not excel at battery life. We got six hours of battery life—at 80 percent brightness on the "better battery" setting in Windows 10—which puts it toward the lower end of notebooks we've tested over the past couple years. Lenovo included a sizable 80 Whr battery, but there's only so much that can be done when the energy demands are this high.

Fortunately, Lenovo has compensated by including fast-charging capabilities in the X1 Extreme. In our tryout, a half-hour of charging the notebook added back 40 percent of the battery capacity, which is a strong result considering the size of the battery. (We should note: The X1 Extreme did get hot while charging up.)

All around, we are impressed with the X1 Extreme. We think it might fill a need for workers that are looking for both high performance and a terrific display, as well as some degree of portability.

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