Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2) review: How does it compare to the X1 Extreme?

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2) (Image credit: Windows Central)

Lenovo's attack on the 15-inch powerhouse Ultrabook market includes both the second-gen ThinkPad X1 Extreme and ThinkPad P1, two devices that are almost identical yet are geared for different usage scenarios. I recently reviewed the X1 Extreme (Gen 2), ultimately handing it a Best Award thanks to its balance of design, features, and performance.

While the X1 Extreme's internal hardware is more geared toward the average user who likes extra power, the ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2) counterpart is a truer mobile workstation with internal hardware meant to work with specialized professional software. I made the switch to the P1 more than a week ago to test it out and decided that a standard full review would be redundant. Instead, I'll highlight some of the configuration differences and performance levels to help highlight what the P1 does better than the X1 Extreme.

This laptop doesn't come cheap, and you might be able to find a great deal during Black Friday sales. Just be sure Lenovo isn't also offering up some tasty deals of its own; deep coupon discounts are often applied at the official retailer. We've seen models with a Core i7 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 256GB SSD, and NVIDIA Quadro T1000 dedicated GPU go for somewhere around $1,760 at Amazon (opens in new tab), so be sure you're getting a better deal than that during Black Friday.

Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2) at a glance

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Lenovo supplied Windows Central with a review unit of the second-gen ThinkPad P1. This exact model includes a 9th Gen Intel Core i7-9850H vPro processor (CPU), 32GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM, a 2TB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), NVIDIA Quadro T2000 dedicated graphics card (GPU) with 4GB of GDDR5 VRAM, and a 4K non-touch IPS display. This exact model costs almost $4,000 before any discounts, coming down to about $2,824 (opens in new tab) with the usual Lenovo coupon add-ons. An Intel Xeon E-2276M CPU and ECC RAM can be added for those who need it, though you will understandably pay more.

To put the price into perspective, a similar X1 Extreme model with a NVIDIA GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU and 1TB M.2 SSD costs almost $600 more as configured, though Lenovo's coupon add-ons bring it down to about $2,628 (opens in new tab). Considering these two laptops are almost physically identical, it's good that Lenovo is attempting to keep prices almost the same for similar internal hardware. If you want specialized hardware you'll pay more, but otherwise there's not much difference.

Like the X1 Extreme, the P1 has upgradeable SSD and RAM to help keep it relevant longer into the future. You can purchase a high-end CPU and cut costs on supporting hardware, only to upgrade yourself when you find a good deal. If you'd rather just buy straight from the factory and not worry about any DIY upgrades, Lenovo offers a ton of customization options.

Here's a detailed breakdown of the specs found in our review units of both the ThinkPad P1 and ThinkPad X1 Extreme.

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CategoryThinkPad P1ThinkPad X1 Extreme
OSWindows 10 ProWindows 10 Pro
Processor9th Gen
Intel Core i7-9850H vPro
Up to 4.6GHz
Six cores
9th Gen
Intel Core i7-9850H vPro
Six cores
Up to 4.6GHz
RAM32GB DDR4-2666MHz
Dual channel
32GB DDR4-2666MHz
Dual channel
GraphicsNVIDIA Quadro T2000
4GB GDDR5 VRAM
NVIDIA GTX 1650 Max-Q
4GB GDDR5 VRAM
Storage2TB M.2 PCIe SSD
RAID 0/1 support for dual SSDs
1TB M.2 PCIe SSD
RAID 0/1 support for dual M.2 SSDs
Display15.6 inches
3840x2160 (UHD)
IPS, non-touch, matte
Dolby Vision HDR
15.6 inches
3840x2160 (UHD)
OLED, Touch
Dolby Vision HDR
PortsTwo USB-A 3.1
Two Thunderbolt 3
HDMI 2.0
Ethernet extension connector
3.5mm audio
UHS-II SD card reader
Two USB-A 3.1
Two Thunderbolt 3
HDMI 2.0
Ethernet extension connector
3.5mm audio
UHS-II SD card reader
AudioDual 2W speakers
Dolby Atmos
Dual 2W speakers
Dolby Atmos
WirelessIntel Wireless-AX200 (2x2)
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
Bluetooth 5.0
Intel Wireless-AX200 (2x2)
802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6)
Bluetooth 5.0
CameraFront-facing 720pFront-facing 720p
SecuritySmart Card reader (optional)
IR camera
ThinkShutter webcam cover
dTPM 2.0
Fingerprint reader
Smart Card reader (optional)
ThinkShutter webcam cover
IR camera
dTPM 2.0
Fingerprint reader
TouchpadPrecision
TrackPoint system
Precision
TrackPoint system
Battery80Wh
135W AC adapter
80Wh
135W AC adapter
Dimensions14.24 x 9.67 x 0.74 inches
(361.8mm x 245.7mm x 18.7mm)
14.24 x 9.67 x 0.74 inches
(361.8mm x 245.7mm x 18.7mm)
WeightNon-touch: 3.75 pounds (1.7kg)
Touch: 4.0 pounds (1.81kg)
Non-touch: 3.75 pounds (1.7kg)
Touch: 4.0 pounds (1.81kg)

Comparing Lenovo's ThinkPad P1 and X1 Extreme

Sitting closed side by side, the X1 Extreme and P1 are physically identical save for the small X1 branding on the lid of the former device. I won't go into too many details about the design since I already wrote about the X1 Extreme, but know that the P1 uses the same aluminum alloy for the main chassis, it has the same carbon fiber finish on the lid, and it has undergone the same MIL-STD 810G durability testing.

The ThinkPad P1 comes with the same perks as the formidable X1 Extreme, but it's far better cut out for specialized work.

Ports are also exactly the same, offering up solid connectivity with dual Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, dual USB-A 3.1, and an SD card reader handling the brunt of peripherals. There's still a speedy fingerprint reader to the right of the keyboard for extra security on top of the IR camera for facial recognition. Dimensions and weight are exactly the same between both laptops.

While the X1 Extreme review unit includes an OLED 4K touch display with edge-to-edge glass, the P1 review unit has a non-touch 4K IPS display with matte finish. Instead of the edge-to-edge glass that covers the bezel, there's a fiber hybrid surround that's slightly raised. There's still a front-facing 720p camera and IR camera built into the top bezel, complete with a privacy ThinkShutter cover. This display can also be had on the X1 Extreme, as can the OLED display be configured into the P1. Lenovo simply sent me different builds for a bit of variety.

Whereas the OLED display option offers 100% DCI-P3, 100% sRGB, and 100% AdobeRGB, color gamut coverage, the 4K IPS option brings 100% sRGB, 100% AdobeRGB, and about 86% DCI-P3. If you need accurate DCI-P3 coverage for the work at hand you'll no doubt want to shell out the extra money for the OLED model, but otherwise the 4K IPS display is still a great option. If you don't need 4K at all, the P1 has two FHD display options, one with and one without Dolby Vision HDR 400.

Source: Windows Central P1 on the left and X1 Extreme on the right, both set to the same 40% brightness. Notice how much brighter the OLED option is at this setting. (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

One major benefit of the non-OLED, non-touch 4K display in the P1 is a boost to battery life. I ran PCMark's video rundown test simultaneously on both laptops to get an idea of the power draw when not running any heavy programs. Unsurprisingly, the P1 managed to hit five hours and 51 minutes, while the X1 Extreme hit four hours and 29 minutes. Whether you choose the P1 or X1 Extreme, you're going to get a significant boost to battery life by foregoing the OLED option.

Part of the second-gen improvements in the P1 is a move to NVIDIA Quadro T1000 or T2000 dedicated GPUs. Compared to the NVIDIA GTX 1650 in the X1 Extreme, the Quadro hardware is designed to handle specialized workloads in the professional sector. If you're working with software like AutoCAD, Revit, and SolidWorks, you're likely going to want to opt for the P1. It also comes with numerous ISV certifications that guarantee the system is going to perform optimally when handling this type of work.

Both laptops can be configured with up to a 9th Gen Intel Core i9-9880H vPro CPU, but only the P1 has the additional option for an Intel Xeon E-2276M vPro CPU. Like the NVIDIA Quadro, Xeon hardware is designed specifically to handle specialized work. I ran some benchmarks to see how well the second-gen ThinkPad P1 compares to the X1 Extreme and some other laptops we've recently reviewed.

CPU

Geekbench 5.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

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DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)i7-9850H1,2335,216
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)i7-9850H1,1604,168
Dynabook Portégé X30-Fi7-8665U1,2363,473
Dynabook Tecra X50-Fi7-8665U1,2413,043
Dell Inspiron 13 7390 2-in-1i7-8565U1,1112,965
Lenovo ThinkPad P53Xeon E-2276M1,2376,152
Surface Laptop 3 13.5Core i5-1035G71,1774,413
Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 7390Core i7-1065G71,2093,571
Surface Laptop 3 15Ryzen 57692,720
Dell XPS 15 7590Core i9-9980HK1,1767,624

Same CPU, better raw performance seen in single- and multi-core scores in the ThinkPad P1.

PCMark

PCMark 10 Express

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DeviceScore
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)4,969
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)4,915
Dynabook Portégé X30-F3,881
Dynabook Tecra X50-F4,128
Dell Inspiron 13 7390 2-in-13,764
Lenovo ThinkPad P535,668
Surface Laptop 3 15 (AMD)4,006
Dell XPS 15 75905,521
Dell Precision 35413,906

The PCMark 10 Express test measures how well the system performs with general tasks, while the Extended version adds in some heavier work. The P1 scored 4,980 in the extended test, while the X1 Extreme managed 4,850.

3DMark

Time Spy

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DeviceGPUScore
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)Quadro T20002,956
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)GTX 1650 Max-Q3,190
Lenovo ThinkPad P53Quadro RTX 50006,760
Lenovo Legion Y740 15RTX 2070 Max-Q6,406
Lenovo Legion Y740 17RTX 2080 Max-Q7,128

3DMark

Fire Strike

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DeviceGPUScore
Lenovo ThinkPad P1 (Gen 2)Quadro T20006,632
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)GTX 1650 Max-Q7,198
Dell XPS 15 (7590)