ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 Review: Green With Envy

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 is a powerful laptop with a strong software suite and a comfortable keyboard. But you end up paying a premium price, despite a lack of premium features. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 is a puissant business prosumer laptop that, for About $2,100, additionally gives you 4K and the legendary ThinkPad keyboard. But what initially looks akin to a low markup on this computer commences becoming marginally steeper when stacked up against other 10th Gen Intel-predicated competition, especially the HP Envy 15.

This ThinkPad’s still more frugal than certain other premium contenders like the Surface Book 3, but does it have similarly unique features to justify that price?

Specifications

CPU Intel Core i7-10850H
graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Memory 32GB DDR4-2933 MHz
Storage 1TB PCIe SSD
Display 15.6-inch, 3840 x 2160, IPS, multi-touch
Networking 802.11ax Intel Wi-Fi 6
Camera 720p, IR
Battery 80 Wh
Power Adapter 135 W
Operating System Windows 10 pro
Dimensions 14.2 x 9.7 x 0.7 inches
Weight 4 pounds
Price $2,129

Design of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 maintains the ThinkPad style with an all-business look that nonetheless is thin and sleek enough to be congruous for the habitation or on the go. A carbon fiber weave pattern (optional on 4K models) adorns the lid, while one of the corners plays home to an oversized glossy ebony and red ThinkPad X1 logo. In a nice touch, the red dot on the ThinkPad logo’s “i” withal fades in and out when the laptop is in slumber mode.

The inside of the laptop keeps the same general motif, with a ThinkPad logo in the bottom-right corner and an otherwise no-preposterousness look. The red TrackPoint that the brand associates itself with is of course at the keyboard’s center, but otherwise the most distinguishing design feature here is the hinge, which can bend far enough so that the screen is parallel to the keyboard.

The port selection here is also generous, keeping in line with the laptop’s utility-forward aesthetic. The left side is where you’ll find the charging port, as well as two Thunderbolt 3 ports, an HDMI 2.0 connection and a 3.5 mm combination headphone/microphone jack. The right side is where you’ll want to put your older accessories since it has the laptop’s 2 USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 connections. It also has a full-size SD card reader and a Kensington lock slot.


The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 is able to accommodate so many ports, partially because of its size. At 14.3 x 9.6 x 0.7 inches, it’s wider than most similarly sized laptops and not exactly thin. It does keep pace with other business prosumer laptops like the HP Envy 15, which is 14.1 x 9.3 x 0.7 inches large, but still finds itself beat by entries like the 13.6 x 9.1 x 0.7 inch Dell XPS 15 9500. Still, there are thicker laptops that have hit this category recently, like the 13.5 x 9.9 x 0.9 inch Microsoft Surface Book 3, though that does detach into a separate tablet.

Where this iteration of the ThinkPad X1 does excel is weight. At 4 pounds, it’s easily lighter than the 4.2-pound Surface Book 3, the 4.5-pound XPS 15 and the 4.7-pound Envy 15.

 Performance

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 has a Core i7-10850H Comet Lake processor as opposed to a more recent (and mobile-focused) Tiger Lake CPU. That’s understandable, since Tiger Lake doesn’t have an H series processor yet. But Comet Lake has been out long enough that competitors have had plenty of time to put out similarly potent machines, so this ThinkPad is entering into a diligent space.

Benchmarks of the Laptop

So how does the ThinkPad fit into the already well-developed 10th gen space? In our Geekbench benchmark, which tests general laptop performance, it scored 6,116 points, which is much higher than the Surface Book 3’s 3,831 points and just below the XPS 15 9500’s 6,174 points. It’s withal still within expectorating distance of the victor for this test; the Envy 15 scored 6,421 points.

The ThinkPad’s true performance commences shining when you optically canvass its file transfer and video editing speeds. The ThinkPad transferred 4.97 GB of files at a rate of 1,615.7 MBps during our testing, which was virtually double the celerity of its most proximate competitor. The most proximate is the Surface Book 3, which hit transfer speeds of 848.2 MBps, while the XPS 15 was stuck with a rate of 727 MBps and the Envy 15 with a rate of 650.6 MBps.

Graphics Performance of the Laptop

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 additionally packs an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q, which is enough power to let it moonlight in gaming if not dedicate itself to play. It’s additionally about on par with what we visually perceive from most of its competitors, with the XPS 15 sharing its GPU and the Surface Book 3 making a marginal upgrade to a 1660 Ti Max-Q. The Envy 15’s RTX 2060 Max-Q does give it a marginal edge, however.

The more graphically intensive Shadow of the Tomb Raider showed more proximate results in its benchmark at 1920 x 1080 and high settings, with the Envy 15 and Surface Book 3 still taking top scores but with a narrower margin. These laptops hit 49 fps and 42 fps respectively, while the ThinkPad came behind with 32 fps and the XPS 15 was once again controvertibly unplayable thanks to its 29 fps score.

Display on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 has a 15.6 inch 4K multi-touch IPS exhibit that’s plenty colorful but can run dimmer than competitors and can additionally suffer from poor viewing angles due to how glossy it is.

I tested the screen by optically canvassing the open source 4K film Tears of Steel on it, where I found that the image inclined to become hard to follow at viewing angles beyond about 75 degrees. This was less because of the screen washing out and more due to the display’s reflective surface diverting me from the action. When viewing the picture straight-on, colors were vivid but blacks lacked depth, maybe because the screen didn’t become effulgent enough to avail make the picture pop.

Software and Warranty

One of the key strengths to Lenovo’s computers is that they tend not to pack bloat, and while they do come with utility programs, most of them end up consolidated into one app. That’s the case with the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3, which doesn’t feature any marketing material or niche pack-ins aside from Windows’ usual offenders. It does, however, have a small but not overwhelming number of genuinely helpful programs.

You can find most of the ThinkPad’s utilities in the Lenovo Vantage program, which has features for running diagnostics, checking Wi-Fi network security, disabling the microphone and webcam, identifying serial numbers and more. Lenovo Pen Settings is where you’ll end up configuring any Lenovo pens you might buy – the laptop doesn’t come with one – while Lenovo Display Optimizer lets you change between picture modes optimized for movies, photos and mitigating blue light to help you sleep.

The most egregious program here is probably “Glance by MiraMetrix,” which uses eye tracking to move the mouse cursor and even windows  programs. 

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 also has a one-year limited warranty.

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3 thoughts on “ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 3 Review: Green With Envy”

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