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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 Assessment: Not Your Dad’s ThinkPad

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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 Assessment: The quickest Thinkpad ever

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

Glorious efficiency

AMOLED show with wonderful HDR

Glorious keyboard and touchpad

Superior construct high quality

Stable midrange gaming

Poor battery life

Too costly

ThinkPads are the pickup vans of the laptop computer world. They will take a beating, welcome tinkering, and at all times get the job performed.

That made the unique Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive somewhat 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 parts. 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 $four,719 value (on sale for $2,831) targets artistic professionals who’re prepared to pay for energy, however is it price their hard-earned money?

The ThinkPad look, with no regrets

Lenovo didn’t mess with the X1 Excessive’s basic ThinkPad design on this model. It’s mainly the identical chassis because the earlier mannequin, solely a tiny bit thinner at zero.7 inches in comparison with zero.74 inches. It’s comparatively gentle, as properly, at three.76 kilos. That is much 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 zero.66 inches. Nevertheless, the Dell is nearly a pound heavier at four.5 kilos.

The X1 Excessive Gen 2 appears rather a lot like another ThinkPad, with only some small elaborations that are likely to exemplify the X1 model. It’s black with crimson accents, together with the same old crimson LED that dots the “i” within the ThinkPad brand on the lid, and the stylized X1 brand within the reverse nook.

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

Construct high quality is excellent, as properly, because of carbon fiber up high 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 snug for lengthy typing periods.

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

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

The identical extends to the keyboard, which affords the identical sculpted keys, deep journey, and clicky mechanism that makes the ThinkPad keyboard among the best round.

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

Excessive efficiency

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

Nope — this one runs an Eight-core, 16-thread Intel Ninth-gen Core i9-9880H. That’s not fairly the quickest chip you will get in a laptop computer immediately — the Core i9-9980HK within the Dell XPS 15 and Apple MacBook Professional 16 has the next 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 function. 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 nearly three minutes to finish the Handbrake check, which is gradual 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 (nearly 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 in case you’re working very demanding artistic apps like video or picture enhancing you then’ll wish to be sure Efficiency mode is turned on. You’ll discover the followers extra, and there shall 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 first rate graphics.

In all of our gaming exams, the ThinkPad was neck and neck with its legit 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 a couple of 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 perfect 15-inch mainstream laptops. That’s a primary for the road, and it proves the purpose that Lenovo is aiming for a unique group than the everyday ThinkPad purchaser — and that’s a superb factor.

No point out but of that attractive AMOLED show?

One space the place Lenovo hasn’t skimped on with the ThinkPad line, usually, is in its selection of shows. You’ll be able to select a stodgy previous Full HD (1,920 x 1,zero80) show if you’d like, and Lenovo offers you a pleasant one with 500 nits of brightness and assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient excessive dynamic vary (HDR) —  there’s additionally a extra mundane 300 nit, non-HDR show accessible. Then, you’ll be able to select a 4K UHD (three,840 x 2,160) IPS show that additionally affords 500 nits of brightness and Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR.

However you don’t need these shows, belief me. You need the one which outfitted 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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In case you’re a artistic skilled, you’ll love the X1 Excessive Gen 2’s efficiency in your most demanding artistic apps. And you then’ll love this show, because of its big selection of colours (100 % of sRGB and 97 % 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 comparable outcomes to the Dell XPS 15 and HP Spectre x360 15 outfitted with the identical show, and a lot better than any IPS show accessible on a laptop computer.

And in my extra subjective testing — that’s, firing up essentially the most difficult Netflix 4K HDR content material I do know — the show was the perfect I’ve used but. A few of the AMOLED shows I’ve used battle with Netflix HDR, being unable to course of the sign correctly and making darker scenes very exhausting to see. That’s not true with the Lenovo because of the Dolby Imaginative and prescient HDR assist that’s baked in. A few of the identical scenes in Altered Carbon that had 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 perfect Netflix binging laptop computer I’ve used.

Weirdly sufficient, that makes a ThinkPad the perfect 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 for the reason that final model, or my ears are totally 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 effective for watching Netflix — loads of quantity, first rate 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

Normally, I’ve discovered ThinkPads present disappointing battery life in comparison with different premium laptops, and the X1 Excessive Gen 2 is not any totally 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 parts, 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 internet searching check that offers the perfect concept 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 Eight.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.

Severely, that’s not nice battery life, and it’s all right down to the AMOLED show. You’ll get hours longer even with a normal 4K IPS show, to not point out a Full HD show. Word that our exams use a whole lot of brilliant screens, which use extra energy with AMOLED shows. Turning on darkish mode can assist 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 essentially the most highly effective ThinkPad ever, constructing in some highly effective parts whereas avoiding any sacrifices that might flip off the everyday ThinkPad fan. That makes it an amazing laptop computer for any PC fanatic or artistic skilled who calls for the perfect efficiency. The AMOLED show is likely one of the greatest you’ll discover in a 15.6-inch laptop computer, however battery life actually suffers. Hold that in thoughts while you’re choosing your show.

Are there any alternate options?

The ThinkPad’s most pure competitor is the Dell XPS 15, which might be configured with a good quicker Core i9 and the identical AMOLED panel. The Dell can also be cheaper, at $2,580 for roughly the identical parts — 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 choice 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 snug Netflix binging machine.

How lengthy will it final?

The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 seems like it’ll final endlessly, and it has the parts to match. The one-year guarantee is industry-standard and disappointing at this value level.

Must you purchase it?

Sure, even in case you’re not a ThinkPad fan. The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 is quick, extremely well-built, and has a ravishing AMOLED show choice that can please each artistic professionals and media addicts. Simply be sure you carry your charger with you in case you’re going to be away from the workplace for greater than half a day.

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