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Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme adds graphics chops to its top biz laptop

Lenovo incorporates an Nvidia 1050 Ti Max-Q GPU into its ThinkPad X1 line to complement its Dolby Vision HDR-qualified screen.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme isn't the first Lenovo with discrete graphics or even the first mainstream ThinkPad with it: the 15-inch Yoga 720 launched with an Nvidia GTX 1050 option and the T series has had an option for Nvidia's mobile graphics solution, the MX150, for a little while. But the X1 Extreme is the first of its top-end ThinkPad X1 line of business laptops with the option to combine a GTX 1050 Ti Max-Q with the bright, wide-gamut 4K screen that debuted earlier this year.

That makes it a potentially high performer for creatives who don't need, or want to spend the money on, Lenovo's sibling lightweight mobile workstation the ThinkPad P1. Though the entry prices for both are close -- that laptop starts at about $1,900, while the X1 Extreme starts at $1,860  -- it isn't nearly as svelte-looking and doesn't offer the better, Dolby Vision HDR-supporting display.

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Of course, the first thing people think of for discrete GPUs is gaming, and this will probably deliver decent performance for those days when you need to kill a few hours in an airport or hotel room. However, the ThinkPad's keyboard feels a little mushy to me for gaming if you're not using a controller.

Heat's a big problem with the Max-Q designs, since their fans are supposed hit a lower sound volume than their high-test alternatives. Lenovo's addressed that by adding a heat-dissipating aluminum alloy bottom cover to its veteran X1 carbon-fiber body. Otherwise, it's the standard X1 clamshell design.

Other specs include:

  • Up to 8th-generation Intel Core i7 with vPro (Core i9 starting in November)
  • Windows 10 Pro 
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti (Max-Q with 4GB GDDR5) 
  • Display: 15.6-inch IPS 300nits, 4K IPS touchscreen 400nits 
  • Up to 64GB DDR4 RAM 2,666MHz 
  • Storage: up to 2TB SSD, SD card slot 
  • Battery life: up to 15 hours 
  • Two USB 3.1 Type-A ports, two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports and one HDMI 2.0 
  • Weight: 3.8 to 4 pounds/1.7 to 1.8 kg depending upon display
  • Microsoft Cortana and Amazon Alexa support
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