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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 Review: Premium Performance

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Sarah Chaney

Rating:
8/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $3,511

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 sitting on wooden desk next to google home, smartphone, notebook, mouse, and Lego set
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme laptop series always receives glowing reviews from our team. We’ve reviewed Gen 1, Gen 3, and Gen 4, and loved every new iteration. Is the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 just as awesome? Why, yes. Yes, it is.

Not much has changed about the design of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme between Gen 4 and Gen 5. But inside? All the important specs you could think of received an upgrade. This latest generation sports a 12th Gen i7-12800H processor, dedicated graphics, and a stunning 4K display, making this a great laptop for professional, educational, or personal use.

Unfortunately, one of the specs that didn’t improve is the battery capacity. Since the Gen 1 version released in 2018, there’s only been a small increase in battery capacity—from 80Wh to 90Wh—while other specs have been swapped for upgraded versions that are even more power-hungry. All that said, if you don’t need more than five to six hours of laptop use away from an outlet, there’s so much to love about Lenovo’s new ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5.

Here’s What We Like

  • Beautiful 4K touchscreen display
  • Keyboard feels awesome
  • Near-perfect performance overall

And What We Don’t

  • Pricey compared to other laptops with similar specs
  • No OLED configuration option
  • Poorer than average battery life

Review Geek’s expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Specs as Reviewed

  • CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12800H with vPro (E-Core Max 3.70 GHz, P-Core Max 4.80 GHz with Turbo Boost, 14 Cores, 20 Threads, 24 MB Cache)
  • RAM: 16 GB DDR5 SDRAM (4800MHz)
  • Storage: 1 TB M.2 (NVMe) SSD
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070Ti 8GB
  • Display: 16-inch (3840 x 2400) IPS, anti-reflective, anti-smudge, touchscreen with Dolby Vision, HDR 400, 600 nits
  • Battery: 90 Watt hours
  • Connectivity: 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (Wi-Fi 6E), Bluetooth 5.2
  • Operating System: Windows 11 Pro
  • Ports: 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 (1 powered), 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, SD Express 7.0 4-in-1 card reader, Headphone / mic combo, HDMI 2.1
  • Camera: FHD 1080p hybrid infrared (IR) with webcam privacy shutter
  • Audio: Up-firing Dolby Atmos speaker system, Dual far-field mics
  • Dimensions: 14.2 x 10.0 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight: 4.14 lbs
  • Price as Reviewed: $3,510.89

Design and Build Quality

Carbon fiber surface on exterior of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

The first thing I noticed about Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 was how heavy it was. It only weighs 4.14 pounds, and my current laptop weighs 3.09 pounds, but man, that extra pound sure makes a difference. This is a workhorse of a laptop, and most people buying something like this probably wouldn’t be moving it very often, but its weight and larger 16-inch display make it bulkier and harder to travel with. Despite being so heavy, you can open it up with one hand, and it has a strong magnetic close feature that I love.

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 has a neat design, though my photos of the top of the laptop don’t quite do the design justice. It almost has this criss-cross design where half of it shimmers in the light. As you’d expect with a laptop as expensive as this one, everything feels pretty dang premium, including the keyboard and the trackpad.

Close up of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 keyboard and trackpad
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

The keyboard feels wonderful to type on. Like most laptops, the keys are atop rubber dome switches, but I really liked the level of resistance there was with every keystroke on this particular laptop’s rubber dome keyboard. I performed a typing test on the laptop I use every day—er, well, on my Logitech MX Mechanical Mini keyboard—and typed 95 words per minute. Then, I loaded up the same test on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme and typed 96 words per minute, which reaffirmed my thoughts that the keyboard feels naturally smooth to type on.

For such a large laptop, it feels like a waste not to have a ten-key number pad on the side, but the speakers currently reside to the left and right of the keyboard. Could the speakers have been relocated to make room? I don’t know, maybe. But Lenovo’s had a very similar design for all previous generations of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, so it likely won’t change any time soon.

As I’ve said in other Lenovo ThinkPad reviews, I’m not a huge fan of the red dot—or, the TrackPoint—in the middle of the keyboard. It feels more natural to me to use a wireless mouse or even the trackpad—which feels incredibly smooth and responsive on this bad boy—rather than try to control the TrackPoint. Absolutely no hate if you love the red TrackPoint, it’s just not my preferred way to move the mouse and ends up going untouched on ThinkPad laptops.

Ports available on the left side of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

There are plenty of available ports to hook up pretty much anything you want in terms of peripherals. Plus, you can hook up wireless mice or wireless keyboards via Bluetooth 5.2 if you ever run out of USB ports. There’s an HDMI 2.1 port, headphone/microphone combo jack, and an SD Express 7.0 four-in-one card reader, and four total USB ports—two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports (one powered) and two USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports.

The only gripe I had concerning this laptop’s ports is that it’s not charged via USB-C. Since it seems like that’s the direction most devices are leaning towards across the board, it was a bit annoying to have to charge the laptop with a proprietary cord—along with the large and heavy power brick that came along with it. However, I understand that Lenovo likely avoided the USB-C charging route to accommodate the 90Wh battery.

Ports available on the right side of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

Display

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 has a 16-inch touchscreen IPS display with a 4K resolution, 60Hz refresh rate, and 600 nits. On paper, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme has a better display than my current laptop—Lenovo’s Yoga 9i—except for OLED technology behind the screen. OLED tech makes such a huge difference in the vibrancy of all the colors on your display, and despite the Yoga 9i’s display only having 400 nits, it just looked brighter than the ThinkPad X1 Extreme’s display.

Close up of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 display showing natural lake desktop wallpaper
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme has a 4K display, which is awesome. Many laptops still sport a 1080p resolution, so I loved seeing crisp 4K on this laptop. I watched a TED Talk on YouTube at full brightness, and it looked great. On the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, you can see minute details, and the overall picture was crisp and bright—just not quite as vivid as my Yoga 9i.

Performance

Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a powerful laptop. I mean, hello, it has a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-12800H processor, 16GB of DDR5 SDRAM, and a NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU with 8GB of dedicated RAM—a step up from the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 in every way. Nothing ever felt stuttery or laggy, no matter how much I threw at it, but the laptop did get fairly hot and loud when it was working really hard, just like the Gen 4 version did.

To test out the ThinkPad X1 Extreme’s overall performance capability, I threw a bunch of Google Chrome tabs at it—30, to be exact—with Netflix playing a TV episode, YouTube playing a video, and Steam, Discord, and the Epic Games Store open in the background. The CPU didn’t even flinch, and the laptop had no issues at all handling the memory usage from Chrome.

ThankPad logo on bottom corner of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop keybaord
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

When the laptop is simply turned on, and I’m not moving the mouse or running any programs, the CPU usage percentage is at zero, and the memory usage percentage is around 32%. Scrolling through a menu or just moving the mouse gradually increases the CPU usage by 3-4%. When everything I mentioned above was open, the memory usage hovered around 67%, and the CPU usage mainly stayed around 6-7%, occasionally hopping up to around 10%. The fans were audibly running, but the laptop didn’t feel hot, and it wasn’t that noisy.

Next, I opened a few games: Stardew Valley through Steam and Borderlands 3 through Epic Games. Here’s where the fans really kicked up, and the laptop became hot to the touch.

When I started up Stardew Valley, the laptop was unplugged and had 87% battery remaining. After I opened the game and loaded a save file, the CPU usage was around 4%, memory usage was 50%, and the fans were still fairly quiet. Walking around in the game and performing actions made the CPU usage jump to 18%, but memory usage stayed the same at 50%.

At this point, the game had only been open for maybe 10 minutes, and the battery had already dropped from 87% to 78% remaining. Then, I left the game open for another 10 minutes without moving my character and timed it to further test how much the battery life would drop. The remaining battery life dropped from 78% to 65%, which is kind of sad. During this whole process, the fans stayed consistent noise-wise at a low volume and kept the laptop cool.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 sitting on wooden desk with waterfall wallpaper shown on display
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

Stardew Valley isn’t a graphically intense game, but Borderlands 3 is, and the laptop’s heat and fan noise certainly reflected that. The memory usage moved between 40% and 60% throughout the whole process of loading the game, waiting for instructions in between missions, and moving around and shooting things. The CPU usage hovered between 25% and 35% while the game was loading, went back down to 10% while waiting for in-game mission instructions, and jumped up to 40-50% during demanding in-game moments where I was running or actively shooting.

The game looks fantastic on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme’s display. You can see all the little animated details, and I was reminded of how much I love the comic book animation style in Borderlands 3. Once the game loaded, the fans kicked on and weren’t noisy enough to be annoying—at least, in the very beginning. The more I played, the more the laptop got hotter, and the fans got louder. The laptop was charging during this particular gaming session, but even after unplugging it, the fans wouldn’t stop until I fully closed the game. Once I closed everything, the fans quieted down pretty quickly.

Moving around in the game felt silky smooth, even when I lowered the resolution from 4K to 1080p as an attempt to quiet the fans and let the laptop stop working so hard. In-game shooting felt highly responsive and accurate, and I didn’t experience any lag or screen tearing. Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is certainly powerful enough to run practically any game. You just might have to put up with noisy fans while you’re playing.

Audio

Typically, the best way to test out a laptop’s speakers is to compare them to your current laptop’s speakers. Unfortunately, my Lenovo Yoga 9i—which I bought shortly after I reviewed it—has a Bowers & Wilkins rotating soundbar that sounds better than any other laptop I’ve ever tested.

I chose to play the current number one song on Billboard’s Hot 100 list: Anti-Hero by Taylor Swift. Usually, I don’t expect much out of a set of laptop speakers. Most people aren’t using their laptop speakers to play music or watch movies because they’ve already got a pair of headphones or earbuds. Because of this, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 surprised me a little. Taylor’s voice came through really well, but there was something lost in the lower notes, the harmonies, and the overall beat.

Close up of Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 left speaker and keyboard
Sarah Chaney / Review Geek

First, I had the song playing at Volume 20, and then I upped it to Volume 50 to see if it would sound distorted or muffled. At this higher volume, I could hear the harmonies and the smaller song elements more, but the discrepancy between the bass and the mids was larger here. Listening to Anti-Hero at Volume 20 was a more enjoyable experience on both the ThinkPad X1 Extreme and the Yoga 9i.

On my Lenovo Yoga 9i, I could clearly hear the harmonies within the song, the echoey nature of her voice, and the atmospheric background sounds that made the song fuller. The lower notes and the beat were much more defined on this laptop compared to the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, but the mids still came through stronger.

Webcam

A large portion of laptops on the market have a 720p webcam because people don’t use them that often, so why put effort into it? However, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is a step above all those other laptops, with its 1080p hybrid infrared webcam. Unfortunately, that’s a small step above because it’s still a pretty grainy picture. Then, the webcam has a privacy shutter, which I always love to see, though I’d be surprised to see a laptop without one of these nowadays.

Battery Life

As we found with our review of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4, the battery life isn’t anything special. With a battery life of roughly five to six hours, it should be able to last you almost a full work day, as long as you’re not playing games or running any crazy demanding programs. This is such a massive workhorse of a laptop, so it stinks that the battery capacity is so small. Just having the laptop open and awake for 15 minutes dropped the battery from 65% to 61%.

Verdict: It Performs Really Well at Everything, But Is It Worth It?

Overall, this laptop feels great to type on, works wonderfully with any task I throw at it, and it’s pleasing to look at. That said, I’d love to see even more changes with the next iteration of Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme. Some of the features that are currently missing, like a longer battery life or an OLED screen rather than LCD or LED, would make this an absolutely stellar laptop.

Rating: 8/10

Price: $3,511

Here’s What We Like

  • Beautiful 4K touchscreen display
  • Keyboard feels awesome
  • Near-perfect performance overall

And What We Don’t

  • Pricey compared to other laptops with similar specs
  • No OLED configuration option
  • Poorer than average battery life





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