Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2: A multimedia laptop that may not have an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU after all
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 is an excellent multimedia laptop, albeit we would recommend overlooking the 4K SKUs if you care about battery life. The device, like its predecessor, has excellent build quality and one of the best keyboards in any modern laptop. While we cannot ignore the reports of keyboard issues affecting some Gen 2 units, these are likely isolated cases and will be covered under warranty.
However, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 possibly suffers from a more pressing issue that cannot be resolved by a warranty repair. In short, the Gen 2 has a GPU identity crisis. Depending on what you have read and from where you purchase a machine, you will either be told that the Gen 2 has a GeForce GTX 1650 or a GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU. The distinction is an important one, as the former outperforms the latter by about 15% in most benchmarks and real-world scenarios.
If you buy a Gen 2 on Lenovo UK or Lenovo DE, for example, then the product listing will inform you that the device contains a GeForce GTX 1650. Indeed, that remains consistent with Lenovo's Product Specifications Reference (PSREF) datasheet, which the company published in December. Conversely, Lenovo US states that the Gen 2 comes with the GTX 1650 Max-Q, as does the company's datasheet. On the other hand, Lenovo lists all US SKUs as having a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU on its PSREF website.
Having tested the X1 Extreme Gen 2, multiple machines report having a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, regardless of what NVIDIA drivers they have installed. However, the Gen 2 performs like it has a GTX 1650 Max-Q, with it being nowhere near GeForce GTX 1650 levels. Now, the Gen 2 could just be particularly poor at utilising its GPU, but that seems unlikely.
As the screenshots below demonstrate, GPUZ reports the "GeForce GTX 1650" in the Gen 2 as having identicals specifications to the GTX 1650 Max-Q in the Yoga C940-15IRH that we reviewed last year. By contrast, the GeForce GTX 1650 in something like the Acer Nitro 5 has higher GPU core and memory clock speeds, along with more ROPs and TMUs. The pixel fillrate, texture fillrate, and memory bandwidth of the GeForce GTX 1650 in the Nitro 5 is noticeably higher than the supposedly equivalent one in the X1 Extreme Gen 2.
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In short, the GPU in the X1 Extreme Gen 2 appears to be a GeForce GTX 1650 in name only. Even NVIDIA has confirmed privately to us that the device has a Max-Q GPU, and not a full GeForce GTX 1650 as Lenovo inconsistently advertises.
This is not an isolated case, either. Last year, we reported on OEMs omitting the Max-Q suffix from product listings or at launches, with Dell and Razer being found to have done so for certain laptops. Lenovo erroneously advertises the Yoga C940-15IRH as having a GeForce GTX 1650 GPU too, but the machine correctly reports it as being equipped with the GTX 1650 Max-Q.
While NVIDIA has form for sneaking in slower GeForce GPUs into some ultrabooks, these are at least identifiable from their Device IDs. The GeForce MX150 had 1D10 and 1D12 variants, for example, which were 25 W and 15 W versions of supposedly the same GPU. However, NVIDIA does not distinguish the GeForce GTX 1650 and GTX 1650 Max-Q by Device IDs, with both reporting as being 10DE 1F91 GPUs. Even subsystem IDs are of no help. The IdeaPad L340-15IRH, X1 Extreme Gen 2, Yoga C940-15IRH and IdeaPad S740-15IRH all have 17AA subsystem IDs, for example, despite only one having a true GeForce GTX 1650.
Ultimately, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 underlines that OEMs cannot always be trusted to provide basic specifications. The Gen 2 may well be one of the best multimedia laptops around, but thinking you have bought one thing and receiving another will likely leave a sour taste in people's mouths.