Last year, Lenovo dropped the ThinkPad X1 Extreme – a 15-inch powerhouse laptop – on the market. Our video review gave it high marks for design and features and the company even improved battery life with later firmware updates. That laptop also became a fan favorite with many people buying and loving what a clear challenger to the Dell XPS 15 was.
Now, the company is giving a mid-cycle refresh to the juggernaut workstation. While most of the advances are modest on paper, combined they make this laptop is more of a winner than last year.
First up, the display. Users can now opt for 4K OLED with HDR and touch, which is a common trend in laptops this year. That display also has X-Rite Pantone color calibration making it perfect for graphics professionals.
To save some money though Lenovo has display options for Full HD, Full HD with HDR, or 4K HDR with all three of those being anti-glare too. That makes choosing between the 4K HDR anti-glare and 4K HDR OLED – which is glossy – difficult as both looked amazing in person.
|Windows 10 Pro
|Up to 9th Generation Intel H Core i9 Processors
|Up to 64GB DDR4 (2666MHz)
Non ECC Dual DIMM
|NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (MaxQ w/4GB GDDR5)
|Up to 4TB PCIe SSD
1920x1080 Anti-glare (300 nits)
1920x1080 Anti-glare w/HDR 400 (500 nits)
4K Anti-glare w/HDR 400 (500 nits)
4K OLED HDR w/Touch
|Two USB-A 3.1
Two USB Type C w/Thunderbolt 3
SD card reader
|Dolby Atmos Speaker System
|WiFi 6 (802.11 AX)
ThinkShutter camera cover
IR camera with Windows Hello
|361.8 x 245.7 x 18.4mm (18.7 w/touch)
|Starting at 1.07kg/3.76lbs.
The processor also jumps to a 9th Generation Intel H series configurable up to a Core i9. For graphics, users get an all-new NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 with Max-Q graphics a jump from the previous NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti.
Additional features include DDR4 RAM and dual 2TB PCIe SSD, which can be configured for RAID. And new for this year Wi-Fi 6 compatibility along with Windows Hello infrared and ThinkShutter – no longer do you have to choose between the two. A fingerprint reader is also on board to assist if you keep the privacy camera engaged.
Audio has never been a strong suit, but Lenovo did tweak the hardware a bit with support for Dolby Atmos improving on the software end.
Ports remain the same with two for Thunderbolt 3, two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, and one SD Card Reader.
Battery life is estimated at 14 hours from the 80 WHr battery, and Lenovo's Rapid Charge tech can take it from 0 to 80 per cent in just 60 minutes.
The laptop is still MIL-SPEC tested to withstand everyday spills, drops, and bumps.
The X1 Extreme gen 2 is still quite light too considering its size at just 3.76 pounds or 1.07 kg – making it about a half-pound lighter than the XPS 15.
Overall, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 looks like a fantastic follow-up to last year's model. Those 4K displays are no joke, and creative professionals will undoubtedly love all the power that this laptop delivers.
Look for this laptop in the coming months with pricing for the 4K OLED topping $3,000.
Extreme for work and play
When only the best of the best will do, the X1 Extreme offers a dedicated NVIDIA GPU and powerful Core i7 processors from Intel. The 4K display is also a gorgeous upgrade, allowing you to take advantage of larger screen real estate, so long as you don't need HDR support.
The X1 Extreme is all about portable performance
In order to enjoy extreme levels of performance, Lenovo decided to throw everything into the X1 Extreme Gen 2 without going overboard. There's an NVIDIA GTX 1650 (MaxQ) GPU, 9th Gent Intel Core i9 processors, and a 4K HDR OLED display, but you'll still get respectable battery life.
Affordable accessories that'll pair perfectly with your PC
Every one of these awesome PC accessories will enhance your everyday experience — and none cost more than $30.
KLIM Aim RGB gaming mouse ($30 at Amazon)
Whether you're a gamer or not, this is an absurdly good mouse for the price. It's ambidextrous, has a responsive sensor, a braided cable, tank-like build quality, and, yes, it has RGB lighting, though you can turn it off if that's not your thing.
AmazonBasics USB speakers ($16 at Amazon)
These neat little speakers may only pack 2.4W of total power, but don't let that fool you. For something so small you get a well-rounded sound and a stylish design. And they only cost $16.
Razer mouse bungee ($20 at Amazon)
Use a wired mouse? You need a mouse bungee to keep your cable tidy and free of snags. You get no drag on the cable, and this one has subtle styling, a rust-resistant spring and a weighted base, all for $20.
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.