Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme vs. MacBook Pro 15

Which is best: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme or the 15-inch MacBook Pro?

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

Whether it’s for gaming, productivity, or media viewing, 15-inch laptops are some of our favorite laptops of all. They can be quite different from one another in design and platform though.

Taking a look at two of the top contenders in this class, we’re pitted the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme against the MacBook Pro 15-inch to see which notebook comes out on top.

Design

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

At first glance, it’s easy to see that the MacBook Pro has more of a pedigree for aesthetics, with the new 15-inch versions extolling all of the style virtues of its predecessors. The silver paint job and lid-logo have become commonplace in a number of laptop designs in recent years, but the MacBook Pro still retains that original flair. While the X1 Extreme certainly has trimmer bezels and a less-professional feel than some of its ThinkPad contemporaries, it’s still arguably the less stylish of the two.

It’s a little thicker in most dimensions too, though it does weigh about the same. It also comes with a broader selection of ports, with a pair of USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, a 4-in-1 SD card reader, an HDMI 2.0 output, headphone jack, and “Network extension” port, which can be used for Ethernet connectivity with an adapter. The MacBook Pro continues Apple’s focus on USB-C, by offering just four USB-C Thunderbolt 3 connectors and a headphone jack. Connecting anything else requires an adapter.

The Lenovo’s touchpad is a little smaller than the MacBook Pro’s, but its keyboard is one of the best we’ve used in some time, with long key travel and a crisp feel to key presses. The MacBook Pro’s keyboard is said to be improved over previous versions when it comes to dust and debris, but we’re keen to see more evidence of its long-term reliability before giving it much approval.

Nestled above the keyboard on the MacBook Pro 15 is the Touch Bar. We still haven’t found much of an everyday use for it, even if there are some fun ways to manipulate it.

Alongside different hardware designs, these notebooks do run completely different operating systems. The MacBook Pro makes use of Apple’s own MacOS platform with its collection of supported apps and programs. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme runs Microsoft’s Windows 10 with its own apps and programs. Each has their advantage, but apps that are unique to each could be a major factor in which is best for you.

Performance

best laptops for video editing macbook pro 15 2

The base model 15-inch MacBook Pro starts at $2,400 and comes with a six-core, eighth-generation Intel Core i7-8750H CPU clocked at 4.1GHz. That’s partnered with 16GB of DDR4 memory, 512GB of SSD storage, and an AMD Radeon Pro 555X graphics chip with 4GB of GDDR5 of its own. The $2,800 model comes with a slightly faster Core i7-8850H CPU and an AMD Radeon Pro 560X GPU. Both configurations can be upgraded to a Core i9-8950HK CPU clocked at 4.9GHz — don’t worry, that throttling issue has mostly been resolved. There are also options for 32GB of memory for up to $3,500. If you add on as much as 4TB of SSD storage the price rises to $6,700.

Every MacBook Pro 15 configuration comes with the same 15.4-inch IPS display with a resolution of 2,880 x 1,800. It can reach a brightness of 500 nits and supports Apple’s True Tone technology which allows it to customize the coloring of the display on the fly to match the palette of the room it’s in. The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme starts at $1,859, but it does sport only a 1080p display and is powered by an Intel Core i5-8400H CPU. It’s joined by 8GB of GDDR4 memory, 256GB of SSD storage, and a GTX 1050 Ti.

Raising the bar to $2,510 guarantees the Core i7-8850H CPU, as well as upgrading the memory to 16GB, and the storage to 512GB of PCIexpress SSD space. It also means getting a 4K display with touch functionality, which is more detailed and brighter than the 1080p alternative at 400 nits. The most expensive option is priced at $2,834 increases storage to 1TB and memory to 32GB, with an option to double the storage if needed.

The Core i9 MacBook Pro gives it an advantage over the Lenovo laptop, but the GTX 1050 Ti in the latter is a much more capable chip for gaming and 3D rendering — albeit still relatively entry-level in its own right. As much as the MacBook Pro offers more expansive hardware options, especially when it comes to storage, it is vastly more expensive, especially when you move the storage options beyond default configurations.

Portability

macbook pro 15 walkthrough 2018

The 15-inch MacBook Pro borrows much of the sleek portability of its 13-inch counterpart. It measures 13.75 x 9.48 x 0.61-inches and weighs just over four pounds. That makes it trimmer than the ThinkPad X1 Extreme by a small but noticeable margin. That Lenovo notebook measures 14.24 x 9.67 x 0.72-inches, but weighs effectively the same when equipped with the 4K screen. If you opt for the non-touch, 1080p version, however, the weight dips to 3.76 pounds, making the ThinkPad the slightly lighter option.

The four-cell, 80 watt-hour battery in the Lenovo laptop gives it up to 15-hours of life on the spec sheet and we managed to pull around five and a half hours out of it in our video loop test. The MacBook Pro 15’s 83.6 watt-hour battery is rated for up to 10 hours of movie playback. We don’t have any hands-on battery life testing for this particular MacBook model, but the 13-inch variant is rated for 10 hours as well, and those claims held up in our testing.

It could be that the ThinkPad lasts longer in ideal scenarios, but in heavier usage settings the MacBook’s larger battery may give it a longer use time between charges.

Price is still a problem for the MacBook Pro

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme review
Rich Shibley/Digital Trends

There’s no doubt that Apple products demand a premium in almost all of the markets they compete in and to some extent, it’s worth it, but that price is a high one in this head to head.

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme offers comparable or better hardware at a lower cost than the Apple alternative. It offers a broader selection of ports, and it’s not exactly ugly in comparison. It’s not quite as portable and its hardware options aren’t as expansive, but you get a fantastic keyboard and don’t have to pay for a gimmicky Touch Bar to go along with it.

Don’t get us wrong. The MacBook Pro 15 is a great laptop and offers much more bang for your buck than the MacBook Pro 13 with a Touch Bar, but it’s still not enough of a killer machine that we can recommend it over a solid workhorse like the Lenovo option.

Computing

This limited-time Dell deal cuts $330 off the price of the XPS 15

Dell is currently running a limited-time sale that is cutting the pricing on the XPS 15 down by $330, but only through Thursday, March 21, and with the use of a special coupon code. 
Deals

From Chromebooks to MacBooks, here are the best laptop deals for March 2019

Whether you need a new laptop for school or work or you're just doing some post-holiday shopping, we've got you covered: These are the best laptop deals going right now, from discounted MacBooks to on-the-go gaming PCs.
Deals

From Air to Pro, here are the best MacBook deals for March 2019

If you’re in the market for a new Apple laptop, let us make your work a little easier: We hunted down the best up-to-date MacBook deals available online right now from various retailers.
Computing

HP’s spring sale cuts prices on the 15-inch Spectre x360 by $270

Looking for a new laptop to start off the spring season? HP has you covered and is currently running a sale that is cutting $270 off the price of the 15-inch touchscreen variant of its Spectre X360 Windows 10 convertible laptop. 
Computing

Get ready to say goodbye to some IFTTT support in Gmail by March 31

If This Then That, the popular automation service, will drop some of its support for Gmail by March 31. The decision comes as a response to security concerns and is aimed to protect user data.
Computing

Get the new Dell XPS 13 for $750 with this limited-time deal

Dell is currently running a limited time deal lasting through Thursday, March 28, where you can bring home a version of this year's new XPS 13 for around $750 with the use of a special coupon code. 
Computing

Nvidia faces attacks from AMD, Intel, and even Google. Should it be worried?

Nvidia announced an expanded array of RTX server solutions designed to leverage the power of ray-tracing at GTC 2019. The effort will help Nvidia take on Google's Stadia in game streaming with GeForce Now, and the company's investments in…
Mobile

This is the easiest way to save your iPhone data to your computer

Living in fear of losing your contacts, photos, messages, and notes on your iPhone? Fear no more -- in this guide, we'll break down exactly how to back up your iPhone to your computer using Apple's iTunes or to the cloud with iCloud.
Mobile

Here are the best iPad Pro keyboard cases to pick up with your new tablet

The iPad Pro range can double as laptops, but they do need proper keyboards to fill in effectively. Thankfully, there are loads to choose from and we rounded up the best iPad Pro keyboard cases right here.
Computing

Microsoft’s Clippy came back from the dead, but didn’t last very long

Before Cortana, Alexa, and Siri even existed, Microsoft Clippy dominated the screens of computers in the 1990s to help assist Microsoft Office users when writing letters. He recently made a bit of a comeback only to die off again.
Computing

How 5G networks will make low-latency game streaming a reality

Faster speeds and more bandwidth are some of the many promises that 5G can deliver, but for gamers, the most important thing is low latency. To achieve low latency, carriers like AT&T and Verizon are exploring hybrid models for game…
Deals

Time to do taxes? Save up to 50 percent on H&R Block tax software this weekend

Tax season is stressful, and with new tax laws in effect this year, it's not a bad idea to get some help. H&R Block has you covered: For two days only, you can save 50 percent on its great software so you can file your taxes online and save…
Computing

Stop dragging windows on your Mac. Here's how to use Split View to multitask

The latest iterations of MacOS offer a native Split View feature that can automatically divide screen space between two applications. Here's how to use Split View on a Mac, adjust it as needed, and how it can help out.
Computing

Breeze through security with these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags

Getting through airport security is a drag, but your laptop bag shouldn’t be. Thankfully, these checkpoint-friendly laptop bags will get you and your gear to your destination with ease.