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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2: A multimedia laptop that succeeds in being worse than its predecessor

The 4K ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 suffers from too many shortcomings, at least 4K models anyway. (Image source: Lenovo)
The 4K ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2 suffers from too many shortcomings, at least 4K models anyway. (Image source: Lenovo)
The second generation of the X1 Extreme introduces new CPUs, a new GPU and a wider choice of displays. However, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 performs worse than its predecessor in some areas, especially in terms of its processor. We would recommend giving the 4K panel a miss too as it decimates battery life.

The second generation of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is more of a small update, as it retains the chassis and ports of its predecessor. Most changes that Lenovo has made are internal, with the company offering Coffee Lake-H processors and a newer GPU, along with Wi-Fi 6 connectivity and more displays from which to choose. Additionally, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 has quieter fans than its predecessor, especially under load. However, Lenovo has stuck with the same cooling system, so performance suffers as a result.

In practice, this means that the Core i7-9750H in our review unit cannot reach the levels set by the Core i7-8750H in its predecessor. Likewise, its GPU offers little in the way of improvements over the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti found in the original X1 Extreme. Our review unit claims that it has a GeForce GTX 1650, although Lenovo US thinks otherwise. Regardless, the X1 Extreme Gen 2 performs at GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q levels, with it unable to reach the performance that the GeForce GTX 1650 in the likes of the Acer Nitro 5 offers.

We also encountered calibration issues with our IPS 4K panel. While it has the potential to deliver excellent image quality, it performed surprisingly poorly out of the box. Poor factory calibration seemed to be the issue here, as additional calibration resolved the issues we initially had. A bigger problem with the optional 4K IPS panel, and with the 4K OLED one for that matter, is power consumption. Our review unit managed a paltry 4:45 hours in our practical Wi-Fi test on an 80 Wh battery, for example, a runtime that is about half what the practically identical but 1080p-equipped ThinkPad P1 2019 achieved.

This does not make the X1 Extreme Gen 2 a bad multimedia laptop. On the contrary, it has more than enough performance to see you through all tasks, including modern triple-A gaming. However, it simply does not meet our expectations. If you can cope with the smaller sRGB colour space, then we would recommend configuring the X1 Extreme Gen 2 with the optional 1080p 500-nit panel, instead. This will offer comparable image quality and considerably better battery life.

Please see our ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2019 review for our full thoughts on the device. As the device shares its chassis with its predecessor, we would recommend checking out the ThinkPad X1 Extreme 2018 4K and FHD reviews that we also published, too.

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2020 02 > Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 2: A multimedia laptop that succeeds in being worse than its predecessor
Alex Alderson, 2020-02-15 (Update: 2020-02-14)
Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - News Editor - @aldersonaj
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.