Thinkpad X1 Excessive Gen 2

“The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 is a sturdy however smooth laptop computer that may work laborious, and play laborious.”

  • Wonderful efficiency
  • AMOLED show with wonderful HDR
  • Wonderful keyboard and touchpad
  • Superior construct high quality
  • Strong midrange gaming
  • Poor battery life
  • Too costly

ThinkPads are the pickup vans of the laptop computer world. They’ll take a beating, welcome tinkering, and at all times get the job carried out.

That made the unique Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive a bit of just like the Ford F150 Raptor. It was a ThinkPad, sure, however one with the silicon equal of a twin-turbo V6 mashed contained in the hood. The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 doubles down on that proposition with even quicker and extra extravagant elements. With an eight-core processor, 32GB of RAM, and a 4K OLED display, that is as spectacular a spec sheet as you’ll discover.

The $4,719 value (on sale for $2,831) targets inventive professionals who’re prepared to pay for energy, however is it value their hard-earned money?

The ThinkPad look, with no regrets

Lenovo didn’t mess with the X1 Excessive’s traditional ThinkPad design on this model. It’s principally the identical chassis because the earlier mannequin, solely a tiny bit thinner at 0.7 inches in comparison with 0.74 inches. It’s comparatively gentle, as properly, at 3.76 kilos. That is just like the Dell XPS 15, the ThinkPad’s most pure competitor, which is nearly precisely the identical dimension (regardless of having thinner bezels), and a bit thinner at 0.66 inches. Nonetheless, the Dell is nearly a pound heavier at 4.5 kilos.

The X1 Excessive Gen 2 appears rather a lot like every other ThinkPad, with only some small elaborations that are inclined to exemplify the X1 model. It’s black with purple accents, together with the standard purple LED that dots the “i” within the ThinkPad emblem on the lid, and the stylized X1 emblem within the reverse nook.

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Configurations with a 4K UHD possibility have a carbon-fiber weave on the lid, and the X1 Excessive Gen 2 is a bit more streamlined than the standard boxy ThinkPad. However all in all, you received’t mistake this for every other laptop computer model.

Construct high quality is great, as properly, due to carbon fiber up prime and aluminum within the chassis backside, and the X1 Excessive Gen 2 has the identical soft-touch coating on the keyboard deck that’s so comfy for lengthy typing periods.

The chassis backside pops off and gives entry to a number of elements.

The design additionally makes for excellent thermals that preserve wonderful efficiency (extra on that in a bit). And, in a nod to ThinkPad lovers who won’t be proud of the inventory components, the chassis backside pops off and gives entry to a number of elements together with the RAM, the Wi-Fi card, and the 2 (sure, two!) NVMe SSD slots.

The identical extends to the keyboard, which provides the identical sculpted keys, deep journey, and clicky mechanism that makes the ThinkPad keyboard probably the greatest round.

The purple TrackPoint nubbin is correct there in the course of the keyboard with the additional set of buttons stealing some house from the touchpad, which nonetheless manages to be giant and exact with its Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers. The AMOLED show is touch-enabled, and actually, it’s the show to decide on if you’d like a touchscreen.

Excessive efficiency

The X1 Excessive Gen 2 appears and feels similar to a ThinkPad, however does it run like one? It’s not whilst completely different because the ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen Four with its all-aluminum design. However the X1 Excessive Gen 2 isn’t similar to different ThinkPads inside.

Nope — this one runs an 8-core, 16-thread Intel Ninth-gen Core i9-9880H. That’s not fairly the quickest chip you will get in a laptop computer as we speak — the Core i9-9980HK within the Dell XPS 15 and Apple MacBook Professional 16 has a better frequency — however the Excessive is far quicker than typical ThinkPad fare.

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Trying on the Geekbench Four artificial benchmark, the X1 Excessive Gen 2 was slower than the Dell and the Apple as anticipated, however not by a lot.

Once we ran our real-world Handbrake check that converts a 420MB video to H.265, the ThinkPad was much more aggressive. There’s a caveat, although: Lenovo has leveraged the Home windows 10 energy slider to implement its Clever Cooling characteristic. Transfer the slider all the way in which to the best, and also you’ll kick off the Efficiency setting that maximizes processor efficiency (and ramps up the followers).

In commonplace mode, the X1 Excessive Gen 2 took virtually three minutes to finish the Handbrake check, which is sluggish in comparison with the competitors. The Dell XPS 15 took 102 seconds, and the Apple MacBook Professional 16 took 115 seconds.

In Efficiency mode, although, the ThinkPad caught up, taking simply 118 seconds (virtually a full minute lower than in commonplace mode). Maintaining with the quicker CPUs within the Dell and the Apple is a testomony to how properly Lenovo tuned the laptop computer’s thermals to ensure the CPU can preserve its efficiency, and if you happen to’re working very demanding inventive apps like video or photograph enhancing then you definately’ll wish to be certain Efficiency mode is turned on. You’ll discover the followers extra, and there will likely be extra warmth generated than in commonplace mode, which could be very quiet and funky for a high-performance laptop computer.

The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 hit 65 FPS in Fortnite with element set to Excessive.

The X1 Excessive Gen 2 makes use of an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q GPU, which places it in shut competitors with many different 15-inch laptops such because the Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo’s personal Yoga C940 15. It additionally bucks the ThinkPad pattern, giving The X1 Excessive Gen 2 the chops to run fashionable video games at 1080p and respectable graphics.

In all of our gaming exams, the ThinkPad was neck and neck with its reputable competitors. It managed 65 frames per second (FPS) Fortnite at 1080p and excessive graphical element, and 51 FPS with epic graphics. The XPS 15 with its GTX 1650 was simply a few frames quicker at 67 FPS at 1080p and excessive graphics and matched the ThinkPad at 51 FPS at epic. The Yoga C940 15, additionally working a GTX 1650 Max-Q, was just a few frames per second much less. The identical relative efficiency held in Murderer’s Creed Odyssey and Civilization VI, the place the X1 Excessive Gen 2 did fairly properly.

The underside line is that Lenovo has certainly produced a ThinkPad within the X1 Excessive Gen 2 that’s as competent a gamer as the very best 15-inch mainstream laptops. That’s a primary for the road, and it proves the purpose that Lenovo is aiming for a special group than the standard ThinkPad purchaser — and that’s factor.

No point out but of that beautiful AMOLED show?

One space the place Lenovo hasn’t skimped on with the ThinkPad line, generally, is in its selection of shows. You may select a stodgy outdated Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) show if you’d like, and Lenovo will provide you with a pleasant one with 500 nits of brightness and help for Dolby Imaginative and prescient excessive dynamic vary (HDR) —  there’s additionally a extra mundane 300 nit, non-HDR show obtainable. Then, you possibly can select a 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) IPS show that additionally provides 500 nits of brightness and Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR.

However you don’t need these shows, belief me. You need the one which geared up my assessment unit, the 4K UHD AMOLED show promising, you guessed it, 500 nits of brightness and Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR. These are the identical specs because the lesser shows, however don’t let that idiot you. This can be a stunning show.

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If you happen to’re a inventive skilled, you’ll love the X1 Excessive Gen 2’s efficiency in your most demanding inventive apps. And then you definately’ll love this show, due to its big selection of colours (100 p.c of sRGB and 97 p.c of Adobe RGB), its excessive brightness (401 nits by my colorimeter, lower than marketed), unbelievable distinction of 401,870:1, and good accuracy of 1.55 (1.Zero and fewer is superb). It ought to come as no shock that these are related outcomes to the Dell XPS 15 and HP Spectre x360 15 geared up with the identical show, and a lot better than any IPS show obtainable on a laptop computer.

And in my extra subjective testing — that’s, firing up probably the most difficult Netflix 4K HDR content material I do know — the show was the very best I’ve used but. Among the AMOLED shows I’ve used battle with Netflix HDR, being unable to course of the sign correctly and making darker scenes very laborious to see. That’s not true with the Lenovo due to the Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR help that’s baked in. Among the similar scenes in Altered Carbon that have been too darkish in HDR mode on the HP Spectre x360 13, for instance, are completely lit on the X1 Excessive Gen 2.

Weirdly sufficient, this ThinkPad is the very best Netflix binging laptop computer I’ve used.

Weirdly sufficient, that makes a ThinkPad the very best Netflix binging laptop computer I’ve used. And a clamshell, as well. The HP Spectre x360 15 is shut, however you need to flip HDR off to get near the identical expertise. And Lenovo even improved the audio high quality because the final model, or my ears are completely different. We didn’t discover the audio within the first model to be all that spectacular, however I discovered the Gen 2’s audio to be simply nice for watching Netflix — loads of quantity, respectable highs and mids, and even a touch of bass from the 2 downward-firing audio system on the chassis backside.

However darn it, battery life is a disappointment

Typically, I’ve discovered ThinkPads present disappointing battery life in comparison with different premium laptops, and the X1 Excessive Gen 2 is not any completely different. My assessment mannequin is especially challenged, with 80 watt-hours of battery life (the HP Spectre x360 15 has 84 watt-hours and the Dell XPS 15 has 97 watt-hours), some power-hungry elements, and a show that sucks a whole lot of juice when it’s displaying something aside from darker content material.

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In our net shopping check that provides the very best thought of typical productiveness battery life, the ThinkPad barely managed 5 hours. The Dell XPS 15 AMOLED went for 7.5 hours and the HP Spectre x360 15 AMOLED lasted for nearly 8.5 hours (albeit with a slower U-series CPU). The X1 Excessive Gen 2 didn’t do a lot better looping our check Avengers trailer, at six hours — the XPS 15 exceeded eight hours and the Spectre x360 15 was a lot robust at 11 hours. Lastly, when working our most CPU-demanding Basemark check, the ThinkPad lasted for 3 hours, which the Dell matched and the HP exceeded by 90 minutes.

Critically, that’s not nice battery life, and it’s all right down to the AMOLED show. You’ll get hours longer even with a regular 4K IPS show, to not point out a Full HD show. Notice that our exams use a whole lot of shiny screens, which use extra energy with AMOLED shows. Turning on darkish mode might help with battery life, however nothing you do will get the X1 Excessive Gen 2 to final something close to a full workday away from a plug.

Our take

The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 is probably the most highly effective ThinkPad ever, constructing in some highly effective elements whereas avoiding any sacrifices that will flip off the standard ThinkPad fan. That makes it an important laptop computer for any PC fanatic or inventive skilled who calls for the very best efficiency. The AMOLED show is among the greatest you’ll discover in a 15.6-inch laptop computer, however battery life actually suffers. Maintain that in thoughts once you’re choosing your show.

Are there any alternate options?

The ThinkPad’s most pure competitor is the Dell XPS 15, which will be configured with a fair quicker Core i9 and the identical AMOLED panel. The Dell can also be cheaper, at $2,580 for roughly the identical elements — together with the extra highly effective Core i9-9980HK CPU.

The HP Spectre x360 15 is a really highly effective 2-in-1 various, though you’re restricted to a 45-watt Core i7 because the quickest CPU possibility and 16GB as the utmost RAM. It’s fairly a bit cheaper, although, at $2,020 on sale, and its AMOLED show and media mode make it a barely extra comfy Netflix binging machine.

How lengthy will it final?

The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 looks like it’s going to final eternally, and it has the elements to match. The one-year guarantee is industry-standard and disappointing at this value level.

Must you purchase it?

Sure, even if you happen to’re not a ThinkPad fan. The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 is quick, extremely well-built, and has a lovely AMOLED show possibility that may please each inventive professionals and media addicts. Simply ensure you carry your charger with you if you happen to’re going to be away from the workplace for greater than half a day.

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