Review: ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is impressively fast, with the right settings

ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 from Lenovo.
Enlarge / ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 from Lenovo.

andres cunningham

Specs at a glance: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 (as per review)
To show 16-inch 3840 × 2400 (283 PPI) IPS touch screen
OS Windows 11 Pro
CPU Intel Core i7-12800H (six P-cores, eight E-cores)
RAM 16GB DDR5 4800MHz (2 DIMMs)
GPUs Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti (8GB, 100W), Intel Iris Xe
Storage 1TB NVMe SSD
networks Wi-Fi 6E (802.11ax), Bluetooth 5.3
Drums 90Wh
ports 2x Thunderbolt 4, 2x 5Gbps USB-A, SD card reader, HDMI 2.1, headphones
Size 13.57 × 9.06 × 0.17 inches (344.7 × 230.1 × 18.0mm)
Weight Starting at 4.14 lbs (1.88 kg)
Warranty 1 year
revised price $3,280 from Lenovo

our opinion the fifth-generation version of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme is, spoiler, pretty much the same thing we said about the fourth generation version. It gets hot and expensive, but it’s powerful and arguably a better option than Dell XPS 15 for people whose laptop is their primary computer rather than a sidecar for a desktop workstation or gaming PC, thanks to expanded port selection and more powerful GPU options.

It also changes even less than is typical for a year-over-year laptop upgrade, adding Intel’s 12th-gen Alder Lake CPUs but keeping the same Nvidia RTX 3000-series GPUs and similar memory and storage configurations. We’ll point you to last year’s review for extensive feedback on the keyboard, ports, and overall appearance, which haven’t changed much year-over-year. It uses the typical comfortable Lenovo laptop keyboard, plus pointing button and trackpad—all the best you can get in a laptop from Lenovo, Dell, Apple, or any other company.

The X1 Extreme is also reasonably easy to upgrade and service compared to thinner and lighter laptops, with easily accessible DDR5 RAM slots and a pair of M.2 SSD slots. In our review model, one had a 1TB SSD and the other was open for upgrades. Lenovo still publishes a hardware maintenance manual (PDF) to help people make those and other updates and fixes.

We’ve been given a version with a different display and GPU than we got last year, giving us a better idea of ​​how higher-end configurations will perform, but less of an idea of ​​year-over-year battery life changes. or other improvements (the move from 11th to 12th Gen Intel CPUs has been bad for overall battery life, though laptops like the ThinkPad using H-series chips have managed to hit the point balance or improve slightly).

One notable change from last year’s X1 Extreme: Lenovo offers several different configuration options for its 16-inch screen. There’s a new 1920×1200 display on the base model, down from the 2560×1600 display that was last-gen’s low-end option. However, if you go for the 2560×1600 display, you’ll get a noticeable refresh rate improvement, from the typical 60Hz all the way up to 165Hz. Typically, you should stick to 60Hz most of the time for the good of battery life, but higher refresh rates can make animations and scrolling look smoother and make games feel smoother and more responsive; it’s worth looking into if you think it will play. games on the X1 Extreme regularly.

There's no OLED display option, but the 4K IPS display that Lenovo offers gets nice and bright.
Enlarge / There’s no OLED display option, but the 4K IPS display that Lenovo offers gets nice and bright.

andres cunningham

High-end options are 4K IPS displays, one with a touchscreen and one without (unlike the XPS 15, there’s no OLED option available). We tested the top-end 3840×2400 IPS touchscreen; the panel is bright and sharp, with a respectable 1397:1 contrast ratio and a maximum brightness of 557 nits (as measured by our colorimeter). But its color gamut coverage is somewhat disappointing for something this expensive, with 98.3 percent coverage of the sRGB gamut (which is fine) and 85.1 percent coverage of the DCI-P3 gamut. (which is a bit low). Apple’s MacBook Pros and Dell’s OLED display for the XPS 15 run the DCI-P3 gamut, and while it’s not a must-have feature for everyone, Lenovo isn’t quite up to its competition here.

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