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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 vs. Dell XPS 15

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 and the Dell XPS 15 sit at the top of our list of best 15-inch laptops for several reasons. They’re both incredibly well-built and fast, and they offer outstanding large-format displays.

But they’re not identical. In fact, they’re quite different, with the XPS 15 aimed at being a more portable 15-inch laptop and the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 serving as the most powerful mainstream ThinkPad. Check out our comparison to see which one is right for you.

Specs and configurations

  Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 Dell XPS 15 9520
Dimensions 14.15 inches x 9.99 inches x 0.7 inches 13.56 inches x 9.06 inches x 0.73 inches
Weight 4.14 pounds 4.22 pounds (non-touch)
4.62 pounds (touch)
Processor Intel Core i7-12700H
Intel Core i7-12800H
Intel Core i9-12900H
Intel Core i5-12500H
Intel Core i7-12700H
Intel Core i9-12900HK
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
Intel UHD graphics
Intel Iris Xe graphics
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
RAM 8GB DDR5
16GB DDR5
32GB DDR5
64GB DDR5
8GB DDR5
16GB DDR5
32GB DDR5
64GB DDR5
Display 16.0-inch 16:10 Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS
16.0-inch 16:10 WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS 165Hz
16.0-inch UHD+ (3840 x 2400) IPS
15.6-inch 16:10 Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) IPS
15.6-inch 16:10 3.5K (3456 x 2160) OLED
15.6-inch 16:10 UHD+ (3840 x 2400) IPS
Storage 256GB PCIe 4.0 SSD
512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD
1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
4TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
512GB PCIe 4.0 SSD
1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
2TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
Touch Optional Optional
Ports 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x nano SIM (optional)
Full-size SD card reader
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Full-size SD card reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 1080p with Windows 11 Hello infrared camera 720p with Windows 11 Hello infrared camera
Operating system Windows 11 Windows 11
Battery 90 watt-hours 86 watt-hours
Price $1,458+ $1,249+
Rating 3.5 out of 5 stars 4.5 out of 5 stars

Design

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is built for performance, but that doesn’t mean it’s thicker or heavier than the XPS 15, which is built to be a highly premium 15-inch ultrabook. In fact, the ThinkPad is thinner at 0.70 inches versus 0.73 inches and lighter at 4.14 pounds versus 4.62 pounds. It’s an inch deeper thanks to a slightly larger display and thicker display bezels.

The ThinkPad differs in its thermal design, which is more aggressively tuned to keep airflow maximized and heat down, and in its ease of expansion, including dual SSD slots. It’s also constructed of aluminum in the bottom chassis and carbon fiber in the lid, contributing to its light weight. The XPS 15 has an aluminum chassis and lid and carbon or glass fiber on the keyboard deck. It’s a denser laptop, but both machines are incredibly rigid and exude durability. The hinge on both is smooth and confident.

Aesthetically, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 maintains the iconic black-on-black color scheme with red accents, and the high-end display offers a carbon weave on the lid. It’s a bolder look than the streamlined silver chassis of the XPS 15 with either black or white keyboard deck. The XPS 15 looks more modern, but if you’re a fan of the ThinkPad aesthetic, then you’ll love the X1 Extreme Gen 5.

Both laptops have excellent keyboards with plenty of travel, precise, snappy switches, and comfortable bottoming actions. The ThinkPad’s keycaps are slightly larger and more sculpted, but the XPS 15 has better key spacing. Either way, you’ll love typing on both machines. The ThinkPad includes the usual TrackPoint nubbin in the middle of the keyboard, and its two buttons take space away from the relatively small touchpad. The XPS 15’s touchpad, on the other hand, is huge for a Windows machine and a better overall experience. Both laptops offer touch displays as an option.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is much stronger in connectivity, with a solid mix of Thunderbolt 4 and legacy ports. Both laptops support the latest wireless connectivity, but the ThinkPad also has optional 5G WWAN support for always-connected internet.

Finally, the ThinkPad also sports a 1080p webcam that’s much better than the XPS 15’s old-school 720p version. Both laptops have infrared cameras for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition along with fingerprint readers. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 offers better overall security and manageability for enterprises thanks to its vPro processor support.

Performance

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

We reviewed the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 with the 45-watt Core i7-12800H CPU with 14 cores (six Performance and eight Efficient) and 20 threads, along with an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU. The XPS 15 we reviewed was equipped with a Core i7-12700H, a slightly slower-clocked version of the same processor, and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti.

The ThinkPad was faster in most of our benchmarks, with the XPS 15 holding its own in our Handbrake test when set in performance mode. We noticed that Lenovo ramped up the GPU in the ThinkPad’s performance mode, which is reflected in both the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that uses the GPU to speed up certain operations in Adobe’s application and the 3DMark Time Spy test. Both laptops are very fast for productivity tasks and can handle creative processes as well, but the ThinkPad is significantly faster.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5
(Core i7-12800H)
Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
Geekbench 5
(single / multi)
Bal: 1,783 / 12,354
Perf: 1,768 / 12,020
Bal: 1,470 / 9,952
Perf: 1,714 / 11,053
Handbrake
(seconds)
Bal: 77
Perf: 77
Bal: 100
Perf: 77
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
Bal: 1,861 / 14,561
Perf: 1,859 / 14,609
Bal: 1,509 / 11,578
Perf: 1,806 / 13,313
Pugetbench Premiere Pro Bal: 720
Perf: 928
Bal: 760
Perf: 729
3DMark Time Spy Bal: 5,494
Perf: 9,114
Bal: 4,470
Perf: 4,520

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 can be configured with up to an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti GPU, making it a much faster gaming laptop. The XPS 15 is okay with its RTX 3050 Ti, but the ThinkPad has much more headroom if gaming is important to you.

Display

Dell XPS 15 9520 front view showing display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

We tested both laptops with their UHD+ IPS displays, and both produced excellent results when tested with our colorimeter. They’re bright, enjoy excellent contrast for IPS displays, and have wide and accurate colors. They may not have the inky blacks of OLED panels (although Dell offers that as an option), but they’re both spectacular displays for creators. They’re also great for productivity users and media consumers, the latter thanks to Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR) support that makes streaming high-res video a treat.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5
(IPS)
Dell XPS 17 9720
(IPS)
Brightness
(nits)
472 543
AdobeRGB gamut 99% 100%
 sRGB gamut 100% 100%
Accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)
0.51 0.58
Contrast ratio 1,520:1 1,870:1

Portability

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 left side showing ports.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

These are both large laptops that take up some space in a backpack, and neither is particularly light. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is a bit lighter and thinner, though, while being a bit deeper.

The ThinkPad also has a larger battery, and it saw slightly better battery life in our suite of tests. Given the power inside these laptops, though, neither is going to last a full day’s work doing any kind of demanding tasks. And both have larger power bricks that are a bit of a hassle to carry around.

Dell XPS 15 9520
(Core i7-12700H)
Dell XPS 17 9720
(Core i7-12700H)
Web browsing 9 hours, 38 minutes 7 hours, 36 minutes
Video 12 hours, 40 minutes 13 hours, 5 minutes
PCMark 10 Applications 11 hours, 14 minutes 7 hours, 3 minutes

Conclusion

Sometimes, you need to consider how well a laptop meets its design criteria rather than how it directly matches up against another machine. The Dell XPS 15 is less expensive than the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 but also can’t be configured with the same high-performance components.

But it’s better at being a thin and light 15-inch machine overall, with a cohesive design and construction that elevates it above the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5. If you’re looking for the most power, though, Lenovo’s laptop wins out.

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