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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 review: a ThinkPad with a twist

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 review: a ThinkPad with a twist
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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 review: a ThinkPad with a twist

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 assessment: a ThinkPad with a twist

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 is a ThinkPad by means of and thru. It’s acquired the keyboard nub, the discrete mouse buttons, and the all-black chassis with scattered dots of pink. (In case you’ve seen its predecessor, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2, you’ll know what you’re getting — the fashions are similar, with completely different chips.)

However this ThinkPad has a distinctive function you don’t see on daily basis: an OLED display. That, mixed with its discrete GPU, places the X1 Extreme Gen 3 out of the enterprise laptop computer house that ThinkPads historically dominate and into the crowded marketplace for ultraportable content-creation machines. Amongst these opponents, the X1 Extreme has some vital drawbacks that preserve it from reaching the highest of the pack. However it nonetheless consists of the options which have made ThinkPads so dominant throughout the board, and meaning there’s definitely an viewers for it.

Like different ThinkPads, the X1 Extreme is customizable for a number of worth factors. All configurations have an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q. The bottom mannequin is $2,734 (presently discounted to a rather more affordable $1,640) and consists of a Core i5-10400H, 8GB of RAM, 256GB of storage, a 1920 x 1080 non-touch show, and a customary 720p HD webcam. Amongst prebuilt fashions, you may go all the best way as much as a system with a Core i9-10885H, 64GB of RAM, 1TB of storage, a 3840 x 2160 OLED touchscreen, and an IR digicam, all for — look forward to it — $4,959 (presently listed at $2,974.40). My check configuration is within the center; it consists of a Core i7-10850H, 1TB of storage, 32GB of RAM, and the OLED touchscreen. It has an MSRP of $4,111 however is presently listed at $2,466. You possibly can tweak many of the specs to your liking, although some are depending on others; for instance, all fashions that don’t have the bottom show come with the IR digicam.

This mannequin has two completely standout options. The primary is the keyboard. ThinkPads often have nice keyboards, and this one isn’t any exception. It’s one in all my favourite keyboards that I’ve tried on a workstation laptop computer this 12 months, with the doable exception of the Dell XPS 15. The keys have a snug texture and a heck of a lot of journey, with out being too loud. The typing expertise feels nearer to that of a mechanical keyboard than to that of flatter laptop computer keys. I really discovered myself eschewing my private laptop computer throughout my testing interval in favor of the ThinkPad due to how a lot I like typing on it.

There’s a row of helpful hotkeys on the highest of the deck. New to the X1 Extreme are three buttons tailor-made to distant work: F9 brings up the notification heart, F10 solutions calls, and F11 ends calls. There are additionally keys to chop the quantity and microphone, toggle airplane mode, and modify quantity and brightness.

The ports on the left side of the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 3.

Ports embody two USB 3.2 Gen 1, two Thunderbolt 3, one HDMI 2.0, one SD slot, one combo audio jack, and an non-obligatory Nano-SIM card slot.

One fast factor concerning the keyboard: the Fn and Ctrl keys are swapped from the places the place you’ll discover them on most keyboards. That is how ThinkPad keyboards have been laid out since without end, and you’ll remap the keys by means of the BIOS or with Lenovo’s utility app should you choose. However should you’re not a common ThinkPad consumer, otherwise you’ll be swapping between this machine and a private laptop computer, it’s price noting that it’ll take time to regulate (otherwise you’ll be utilizing mislabeled keys). I’ve been utilizing the X1 Extreme for nearly a week, and I’m nonetheless by accident hitting Fn on a regular basis.

The second standout function is the 15.6-inch 4K OLED panel. It covers one hundred pc of the sRGB spectrum, one hundred pc of Adobe RGB, and one hundred pc of P3. (Mainly, it maxed out our colorimeter.) The panel is sharp and vibrant with nice distinction. You possibly can watch streaming content material that helps HDR and swap between numerous coloration profiles with Lenovo’s Show Optimizer.

Construct high quality is one other energy. Like most of its ThinkPad siblings, the X1 Extreme feels fairly sturdy. There’s no flex within the keyboard or lid, and Lenovo says it’s been examined in opposition to “12 military-grade certification strategies and over 20 procedures” for resistance to vibrations, shocks, excessive temperatures, humidity, and the like. The laptop computer achieves this with out sacrificing a lot portability. It’s on the thick facet at 0.74 inches — however at 4 kilos, it’s lighter than many opponents together with the Dell XPS 15 and the MacBook Professional 16.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 3 angled slightly to the right, open. The screen displays an outdoor nighttime scene with the Lenovo logo on the right.

Lenovo says the multi-layered carbon fiber high cowl “gives sturdiness and weight benefits.”

The chassis has a black end with a good texture. The ThinkPad emblem on the appropriate palm relaxation and the X1 emblem on the highest cowl add splashes of pink. The lid has a distinctive carbon-fiber weave sample, which appears and feels just like the carbon-fiber palm rests on the Dell XPS 15. (That is solely out there on UHD fashions). Lenovo says this materials is lighter and extra sturdy than aluminum and different frequent chassis supplies. It’s additionally doubtless a part of the rationale for the X1 Extreme’s lofty price ticket.

(*3*)

There are twin far-field microphones that work alongside Cortana.

One notice on the construct: the lid and chassis aren’t the worst fingerprint magnets I’ve ever seen, however they do decide them up. After a few days of use, the keyboard deck was fairly smudgy.

Lastly, the X1 Extreme comes with some useful options for distant conferences. You possibly can optimize the twin microphones for numerous settings (together with voice recognition, solo calls, and convention calls) in Lenovo’s Vantage software program. They didn’t have any hassle selecting up my voice. And the stereo audio system are effective, delivering distortion-free audio with percussion and bass which are audible however not distinctive. You possibly can create customized equalizer profiles within the preloaded Dolby Entry software program, and you can even toggle presets for situations like voice, music, films, and video games.

The infrared webcam was additionally a nice shock — whereas a bit grainy, it was pretty color-accurate and delivered a respectable image in low-light environments. There’s a bodily privateness shutter that’s straightforward to click on backwards and forwards. You possibly can signal into the X1 Extreme with Home windows Whats up facial recognition, in addition to a match-on-sensor fingerprint reader on the facet of the keyboard deck, which was fast to arrange and didn’t often have hassle recognizing me.

All of these items is just like the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 — there’s not a lot noticeable change. The Gen 3’s upgrades are on the within. It has a six-core tenth Gen Intel processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q, the place its predecessor had a ninth Gen Intel processor and a GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q.

The Core i7-10850H isn’t essentially the most monstrous processor round, particularly in comparison with AMD’s latest H-series chips. However it does carry the business-specific advantages of Intel’s vPro platform, and it did a effective job with my piles of spreadsheets, emails, Slacking, and different normal workplace work.

Equally, the GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q is a midrange graphics card — it’s not what you’d need to use for critical gaming or high-throughput skilled video modifying. However for novice creators and different artists, it may definitely lend a hand.

My check mannequin scored a 386 on PugetBench for Premiere Professional, which assessments its proficiency in real-world Premiere Professional duties. That’s not a shameful rating amongst high opponents, nevertheless it’s not nice both. The system is available in below scores we’ve seen from the Dell XPS 15 with the identical GPU, and the six-core MacBook Professional, which has AMD Radeon Professional 5300M. And, in fact, it loses out to creator machines with extra highly effective Nvidia chips, such because the lower-priced Gigabyte Aero 15 with an RTX 3060.

In case you’re going to be doing intense content material work, put together to listen to the followers. Even once I was simply bouncing round in Chrome, they had been audible very often. On the plus facet, they did their job: the laptop computer’s backside, keyboard, touchpad, palm rests, and hinge all remained chilly.

The keyboard and touchpad of the Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 3 from above.

Lenovo says the ThinkPad can cost as much as 80 p.c in 60 minutes with its “Fast Cost” function.

One other compromise you’re making right here is battery life. I solely averaged 4 hours and 59 minutes on our battery check, which concerned utilizing the ThinkPad for steady workplace multitasking on the Battery Saver profile, with the display round 200 nits of brightness. I ran a trial with out utilizing Chrome to see if that might make a distinction; it didn’t. And this outcome really appears to be a bit on the excessive facet — Tom’s {Hardware} acquired a fair pithier two hours and 19 minutes on a artificial streaming benchmark.

It’s not surprising that a machine with a 4K display and a discrete GPU wouldn’t final all day. However I acquired extra juice out of the Gigabyte Aero 15, which has each an OLED show and a heftier graphics card. And should you don’t want the high-resolution display (which many individuals gained’t), the Dell XPS 15 (which nonetheless has an distinctive show) lasted an hour longer with my workflow, whereas my colleague Dieter Bohn acquired as much as eight hours out of the MacBook Professional. Of us who’re within the X1 Extreme who would favor to not have it plugged in on a regular basis ought to take into account an FHD (1080p) mannequin.

The Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 3 open on an outdoor rock slab. The screen displays an outdoor night scene with the Lenovo logo on the right side.

It’s a ThinkPad by means of and thru.

In the end, the choice between the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 and different 15-inch thin-and-light workstations actually boils all the way down to: would you like a ThinkPad?

That is to say that the X1 Extreme shares most of the strengths and weaknesses of Home windows machines just like the XPS 15. Each have dazzling shows, respectable chips, sturdy construct, boisterous followers, and mediocre battery life. Each have best-in-class keyboards and touchpads, with common webcams and audio system.

However a ThinkPad and an XPS are nonetheless very completely different machines — and should you’ve used any member of both lineup earlier than, you most likely know which one you favor. They’ve completely different appears and completely different feels. The ThinkPad is barely lighter and barely thicker, with extra ports and bigger bezels. The XPS is a bit extra highly effective, however the ThinkPad has further enterprise options.

The XPS, attributable to its lower cost, is a extra accessible mannequin for many customers. And the X1 Extreme’s weaker chips and poor battery life, particularly, are robust drugs to swallow at such a excessive worth. However there’s nonetheless a marketplace for the X1 Extreme — and should you’re prepared to sacrifice a little bit of energy, a bit of cash, and a little bit of battery life for the distinctive benefits of a ThinkPad, you most likely fall into it.

Pictures by Monica Chin / GadgetClock

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