Best Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Alternatives Windows Central 2021
Lenovo's second-generation ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a powerful 15-inch Ultrabook, complete with dedicated GPU and up to a 4K OLED touch display. It has an outstanding keyboard, plenty of ports, and lots of extra features for security and ease of use. If it's not quite what you're looking for, we recommend checking out Dell's XPS 15 (7590). It offers awesome performance and stellar 4K OLED display, and it's available at a more accessible starting price. There are also some other great alternatives to the X1 Extreme (Gen 2), which we've rounded up here.
- Best Overall: Dell XPS 15 (7590)
- Best Gaming: Razer Blade 15 Advanced
- Best Workstation: Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)
- Best Convertible: HP Spectre x360 15t
Best Overall: Dell XPS 15 (7590)
Dell's XPS 15 is no doubt one of the main laptops Lenovo wanted to compete with when it released the X1 Extreme. Considering how impressive the XPS 15 (7590) really is, it makes a near-perfect alternative if you're not a fan of the ThinkPad lineup.
The XPS 15 has up to a 15.6-inch 4K display, with your choice of non-touch OLED or touch LCD panel. The former lands you 100% DCI-P3 color reproduction, while the latter hits 100% AdobeRGB with a bit more brightness. There's also an FHD display option that helps cut down on cost, and it hits 100% sRGB color reproduction for a lower-res but beautiful picture.
Ninth-generation Intel hardware is available from a Core i5-9300H up to a Core i9-9980HK, whereas the X1 Extreme tops out at Core i9-9880H vPro processor (CPU). Storage and RAM in the XPS 15 are user-upgradeable. From the factory, you can configure up to 2TB of M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) storage, as well as 32GB of DDR4 RAM. Like the X1 Extreme, the XPS 15 can be configured with a dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 graphics card (GPU) with 4GB of VRAM.
The XPS 15 lacks an IR camera for Windows Hello as well as some of the extra security features most ThinkPads ship with, and its keyboard just won't compare to what the X1 Extreme offers. Still, Dell's laptop features a larger 97Wh battery and an overall design that's hard to beat.
- 4K OLED or LCD touch display options
- NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU available
- 9th Gen Intel Core hardware
- Larger 97Wh battery compared to X1 Extreme
- Beautiful aluminum chassis
- Inferior keyboard compared to X1 Extreme
- No IR camera for Windows Hello
Best Gaming: Razer Blade 15 Advanced
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2) includes a dedicated GPU to help with editing and creative work, and it will handle some light- to mid-range gaming, especially with the FHD display option. However, for true gaming performance from a 15-inch laptop, we recommend checking out something like the Razer Blade 15 Advanced.
Not only is the Blade 15 Advanced equipped with features gamers want — customizable RGB lighting, robust audio, upgradeable SSD and RAM, and a decent port selection for gaming peripherals — it also boasts some impressive power. Choose from either an NVIDIA RTX 2070 or 2080 Max-Q GPU, and pair it up with a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9750H CPU with six cores.
The 15.6-inch display is available in FHD or UHD (4K). With the former, enjoy a 240Hz refresh rate for incredibly smooth visuals, or go with the latter if you crave OLED and extra pixels. The bezel is slim around the screen, and everything is housed in a sleek aluminum chassis that's just 0.70 inches (17.8mm) thin.
- Far better gaming performance
- Customizable RGB lighting
- Display specs geared for gaming
- Thin aluminum chassis
- Decent audio from top-firing speakers
- Pay a lot for performance
- Many unnecessary features for non-gamers
- Keyboard could be better
Best Workstation: Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)
The second-gen ThinkPad P1 shares a lot with the X1 Extreme, including overall size, battery, and up to a 15.6-inch 4K OLED touch display. You're going to get a stellar keyboard, webcam shutter, plenty of ports, and the black ThinkPad look, as well as an IR camera, fingerprint reader, and Wi-Fi 6 connectivity.
Where the ThinkPad P1 pulls away from the X1 Extreme is internal hardware options. The P1 is geared toward designers and developers, so it can be configured with up to an Intel Xeon E-2276M CPU and NVIDIA Quadro T2000 GPU with 4GB of VRAM. Add up to 64GB of ECC RAM to complement the Xeon CPU, and grab up to 4TB of SSD storage space in a RAID 0/1 configuration.
The P1 also includes numerous Independent Software Vendor (ISV) certifications, ensuring the device will work optimally with popular programs. The only downside here is that you'll pay quite a bit more for the specialized features.
- Available with Intel Xeon hardware
- Up to an NVIDIA Quadro T2000 GPU
- 4K OLED display optional
- Wi-Fi 6 connectivity
- Plenty of ISV certifications included
- More expensive than X1 Extreme
Best Convertible: HP Spectre x360 15t
If you're looking for a 15.6-inch laptop that can convert into tent, stand, and tablet mode, HP's Spectre x360 15t is a solid option. It uses 9th Gen Intel Core CPUs for excellent performance, bolstered by up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM and 2TB of M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD storage. Like the X1 Extreme, the Spectre x360 15t is available with an NVIDIA GTX 1650 dedicated GPU with 4GB of VRAM.
The display comes in either 4K LCD or AMOLED, both with touch function and inking support to go along with the convertible design. An active pen is included with all models. The bezel is a bit thick along the top of the display where an IR camera is seated, though the same holds true (if slightly less so) on the X1 Extreme.
The gem-cut chassis has a far more premium look than the ThinkPad, and it's loaded with ports for connecting accessories. There's no webcam shutter, but there is a killswitch that completely interrupts power to the camera. Also included is a fingerprint reader for further security. The biggest downside with the Spectre x360 15t is no doubt its use of Synaptics touchpad drivers, though that's changing with a 2020 refresh.
- Beautiful gem-cut convertible design
- Touch display with inking support
- Wi-Fi 6 connectivity
- IR camera and fingerprint reader
- Dedicated NVIDIA GPU
- No Precision touchpad drivers
- Bezel is relatively thick along the top
There are plenty of 15.6-inch Ultrabooks on the market, but the combination of power, looks, and display options from something like the X1 Extreme (Gen 2) isn't that common. If you're not one for the ThinkPad look and the extra security features it includes, Dell's XPS 15 is no doubt a fine alternative. Its keyboard won't match up for anyone who types a lot, but otherwise, it brings strong performance and a sleek design.
Choose from FHD or 4K (OLED or LCD) display options, add a dedicated NVIDIA GTX 1650 GPU for improved performance, and choose from 9th Gen Intel Core hardware. RAM and SSD are user-upgradeable after purchase, making it easy to keep the laptop relevant into the future.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Cale Hunt is a staff writer at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on PC, laptop, and accessory coverage, as well as the emerging world of VR. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
Rich Edmonds is a staff reviewer at Windows Central, which means he tests out more software and hardware than he cares to remember. Joining Mobile Nations in 2010, you can usually find him inside a PC case tinkering around when not at a screen fighting with Grammarly to use British words. Hit him up on Twitter: @RichEdmonds.
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