The ThinkPad X1 Extreme might be my dream laptop

I’m not the target audience for a “mobile workstation” laptop. I don’t edit video. I don’t run complex simulations. I rarely even edit photos, and when I do, it’s a simple change of aspect ratio in GIMP. Yet two years ago, Lenovo’s ThinkPad P50 seduced me with its combination of simple functionality and incredible power. I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. I use a PC for work, then relax by firing up a PC game like World of Warcraft or Warframe. Lenovo’s ThinkPad P50 handled both without trouble.

Handling the P50 itself, though, was trouble. It weighed 5.6 pounds and was about an inch thick, enough to make hauling it in my usual messenger bag a chore. The problem might’ve been a deal breaker if I were to buy it for my own, personal use.

Lenovo understand my plight, it seems, and now it has a solution: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme.

Lenovo has wrapped everything I liked about the hefty P50 into a much more portable device.

For those unfamiliar, the X1 lineup serves as the flagship ThinkPads. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga are top-tier portable business laptops with one weak spot. They’re not all as powerful, especially in the graphics department. The X1 Extreme fixes that issue — and then some.

I’ll get straight the point. The ThinkPad X1 Extreme comes with Nvidia’s GeForce 1050 Ti Max-Q graphics chip. It’s not god-tier hardware, but we’ve tested plenty of 1050 Ti hardware in the past and have always judged the 1080p gaming performance on the enjoyable side of adequate.

Lenovo’s decision to pick this chip, instead of the workstation-focused Quadro line, is a bit weird given the ThinkPad’s supposed focus on business use. Not that I care. That’s not what I want it for. I’d rather have the GeForce; it moderates the laptop’s price and will offer access to driver updates that focus on gaming instead of CAD.

And here’s the other key point: The X1 Extreme keeps the 15-inch display, but it weighs about 3.8 pounds.

That’s almost half what the P50 weighed. That’s what 13-inch laptops weighed just a few years ago. You can buy a lighter laptop, to be sure, but at 3.8 pounds it’s light enough to not feel like a burden. It even shaves about a half-pound off the weight of Microsoft’s Surface Book 2 15-inch, a device I often tote to and from the Digital Trends office.

I often worry that laptop progress has stalled. I worry that today’s laptops aren’t that much better than those which came a few years ago. But here, I can see and feel the progress. Lenovo has wrapped everything I liked about the hefty P50 into a much more portable device, and they’re not even charging more for it. The X1 Extreme will start at $1,860 – the P50 I loved in 2016 was priced at $2,350.

There’s no doubt I’ll be giving the X1 Extreme a close look, and I won’t have to wait long to do it. The first units will be sold later this month. If you want a Core i9 model you’ll have to wait until December, but if your interest in the X1 Extreme aligns with mine, you can skip that.

As for me, well, I hope to see the X1 Extreme in our lab soon. A World of Warcraft expansion just came out, and I need to put it through its paces.

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