Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 vs. Gen 4

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen4 Review
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen4 Review (Image credit: Windows Central)

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 5) was announced at MWC 2022. It's expected to launch in June starting at about $2,049. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 4) is currently available if you don't want to wait, though it notably won't come with as fresh of performance hardware owing to its age. It's still, however, a powerful laptop with plenty of security and business features. Let's take a look at the differences and similarities to help you decide which is best.

ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 vs. Gen 4 tech specs

Here's a look at what makes up these two laptops.

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Header Cell - Column 0 ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 5)ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 4)
ProcessorUp to 12th Gen Intel
Core i9 vPro (H-series)
Up to 11th Gen Intel
Core i9-11950H vPro
RAMUp to 64GB DDR5-4800MHz
Dual SODIMM slots
Up to 64GB DDR4-3200MHz
Dual SODIMM slots
GraphicsLaptop GPUs
NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti
NVIDIA RTX 3060
NVIDIA RTX 3070 Ti
NVIDIA RTX 3080 Ti
Laptop GPUs
NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti
NVIDIA RTX 3060
NVIDIA RTX 3070
NVIDIA RTX 3080
StorageUp to 8TB total
Dual M.2 PCIe 4.0 slots
Up to 4TB total
M.2 PCIe 3.0
M.2 PCIe 4.0
Display16 inches
16:10 aspect ratio
1920x1200 (FHD+)
IPS, anti-glare, non-touch, 500 nits, 100% sRGB, 165Hz, low blue light
2560x1600 (QHD+)
IPS, anti-glare, non-touch, 400 nits, 100% sRGB
3840x2400 (UHD+)
IPS, anti-glare, non-touch, 600 nits, 100% AdobeRGB, HDR 400, Dolby Vision, low blue light
3840x2400 (UHD+)
IPS, touch, anti-reflective, 600 nits, 100% AdobeRGB, HDR 400, Dolby Vision, low blue light
16 inches
16:10 aspect ratio
2560x1600 (QHD+)
IPS, anti-glare, non-touch, 400 nits, 100% sRGB, low blue light
3840x2400 (UHD+)
IPS, anti-glare, non-touch, 600 nits, 100% AdobeRGB, HDR 400, Dolby Vision, low blue light
3840x2400 (UHD+)
IPS, anti-reflective, touch, 600 nits, 100% AdobeRGB, HDR 400
Dolby Vision, low blue light
PortsTwo Thunderbolt 4
Two USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1)
SD card reader
HDMI 2.1
3.5mm audio combo
Two Thunderbolt 4
Two USB-A 3.2 (Gen 1)
SD card reader
HDMI 2.0/2.1
3.5mm audio combo
AudioTop-firing
Dolby Atmos
Dual far-field mics
Top-firing
Dolby Atmos
Dual far-field mics
WirelessIntel Wi-Fi 6E
5G sub-6 (CAT20)
4G LTE (CAT4)
Bluetooth 5.2
Intel Wi-Fi 6E
5G
4G LTE
Bluetooth 5.2
CameraFHD + IR hybrid
FHD
Webcam shutter
FHD + IR hybrid
FHD
Webcam shutter
Keyboard1.5mm travel
Backlit
1.5mm travel
Backlit
SecurityFingerprint reader
IR camera
dTPM 2.0
Webcam shutter
Kensington lock slot
Intel Hardware Shield
Fingerprint reader
IR camera
dTPM 2.0
Webcam shutter
Kensington lock slot
Battery90Wh90Wh
Dimensions14.13 x 9.99 x 0.78 inches
(359.5mm x 254mm x 18mm)
14.15 x 9.99 x 0.7 inches
(360mm x 254mm x 18mm)
WeightFrom 4.14 pounds (1.88kg)From 3.99 pounds (1.81kg)
ColorDeep BlackDeep Black
AvailabilityJune 2022Now
PriceFrom $2,049From $1,771

Design and features

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 5)'s 2022 refresh mostly focuses on internal hardware and, to a lesser extent, its display options. Both laptops weigh about the same amount and have essentially identical dimensions. These are durable PCs that have undergone MIL-STD-810H durability testing for the aluminum alloy body and carbon fiber lid.

Port selection is identical, with dual Thunderbolt 4, dual USB-A 3.2, HDMI, SD card reader, and 3.5mm audio combo jack. A Kensington lock slot is available for added security. On that note, both laptops come with optional IR camera alongside the 1080p webcam, as well as a shutter for some extra privacy. A fingerprint reader comes standard, and both come with a dTPM 2.0 chip.

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

The move to a keyboard with 1.5mm key travel in the X1 Extreme (Gen 4) — down from 1.8mm — wasn't appreciated by everyone, but it's still one of the best typing experiences you'll find. The newer Gen 5 model uses the same 1.5mm travel. The touchpad is the same on the newer laptop, as is the TrackPoint system with physical click buttons. On either side of the keyboard are top-firing speakers for unmuffled audio. Sound quality is excellent, made even better thanks to Dolby Atmos. This is unchanged for the new X1 Extreme.

ThinkPads are meant for business, and anyone who needs to stay connected at all times — even outside of Wi-Fi range — can get 4G LTE and 5G connectivity with either model. It's optional, but it joins the standard Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 connectivity.

Display

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

Lenovo moved the X1 Extreme to displays with a 16:10 aspect ratio for the Gen 4 models, a change that's sticking around for the foreseeable future. The taller displays offer more screen real estate while also shrinking the lower bezel (or chin) for a more modern look.

The X1 Extreme (Gen 4) has three displays available. The lowest you can go is a 2560x1600 (QHD+) resolution with 400 nits brightness, 100% sRGB color, low blue light, and anti-glare finish. Next up is a 3840x2400 (UHD+) resolution with 600 nits brightness, 100% AdobeRGB color, low blue light, Dolby Vision, HDR 400, and anti-glare finish. And finally, the 3840x2400 touch model has 600 nits brightness, anti-reflective finish, 100% AdobeRGB color, low blue light, Dolby Vision, and HDR 400.

These same displays are available for the X1 Extreme (Gen 5), so there's no missing out with the newer model. However, there's also an FHD+ version with boosted refresh rate. It has a 1920x1200 resolution, anti-glare finish, 500 nits brightness, 100% sRGB color, and low blue light. This would make a great display for gaming thanks to the high refresh rate and lower resolution. The available performance hardware would no doubt be able to push high frame rates in modern games. It's something to keep in mind if you want a laptop that can handle business during the day and gaming in the evening.

Performance

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

The X1 Extreme has always lived up to its name, nearing the performance you'd expect from many desktop PCs. The Gen 4 models are available with 11th Gen Intel Core CPUs, with up to a Core i9 with vPro. These are powerful chips, but they're overshadowed by the new 12th Gen Intel Core CPUs that come with the X1 Extreme (Gen 5). You can also get up a Core i9 vPro chip in the newer X1 Extreme, assumedly with Core i7 vPro and non-vPro options just like Gen 4 models.

NVIDIA's RTX 3050 Ti and RTX 3060 Laptop graphics cards are available in both laptops. The X1 Extreme (Gen 4) has RTX 3070 and RTX 3080 options as well — laptop versions of two of the best graphics cards available — while the Gen 5 comes with more powerful Ti versions of those same GPUs.

The DDR4 RAM in the X1 Extreme (Gen 4) has been bumped up to DDR5 in the Gen 5 models. As for storage, both M.2 slots in the Gen 5 are PCIe 4.0 with 4TB drives available in each slot for 8TB total. The X1 Extreme (Gen 4) has a mix of PCIe 3.0 and PCIe 4.0 with 4TB total. Note that the two larger GPUs eliminate one of the M.2 slots in the X1 Extreme (Gen 4). It's unclear whether the same will happen in the Gen 5 models. Battery size is the same at 90Wh. Depending on the performance hardware you opt for, battery life will differ.

Bottom line? The X1 Extreme (Gen 5)'s newer hardware will give it an edge in terms of performance. But the Gen 4 can hold its own against plenty of laptops, and you won't have to wait until June to get your hands on one.

The wait is worth it for the X1 Extreme (Gen 5)

If you can wait until June for its release, the X1 Extreme (Gen 5) will offer the best performance possible. The new FHD+ display with 165Hz refresh rate might also tempt those who want to split time between work and gaming. Be prepared to pay more compared to the older model.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 4) is available now

If you can't wait for the latest X1 Extreme, the Gen 4 model is still one of the best Lenovo laptops with a ton of performance overhead. It will cost less than the newer models, though it doesn't have the same FHD+ display option or as new of performance hardware.