Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 review: powerful, as always

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 outside against green scenery.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5

MSRP $2,974.00

“The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is seriously fast, even if the design is a bit old-school.”

Pros

  • Outstanding productivity and creative performance
  • Solid build quality
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Spectacular IPS display
  • Good connectivity
  • Competent battery life

Cons

  • Larger chassis than some
  • Touchpad surface is too small
  • Aesthetic is old school
  • Expensive

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme is the real workhorse of the line. Now in its fifth generation, it comes packing Intel 12th-gen H-series CPUs with vPro and ultrafast discrete GPUs up to the Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti.

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is certainly a fast laptop, even if its overall design is getting a bit long in the tooth. If you enjoy that traditional ThinkPad aesthetic and build, but also need that extra performance, the X1 Extreme Gen 5 will satisfy.

Specs

  Specs
Dimensions 14.13 inches by 9.99 inches by 0.78 inches
Weight 4.14 pounds
Processor Intel Core i5-12700H
Intel Core i7-12800H vPro
Intel Core i9-12900H vPro
Graphics Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 Ti
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti
Nvidia GeForce RTX 3080 Ti
RAM 16GB to 64GB DDR5
Display 16-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1,920 x 1,200) IPS non-touch
16-inch 16:10 WQXGA (2,560 x 1,600) IPS non-touch 165Hz
16-inch 16:10 UHD+ (3,840 x 2,400) IPS non-touch
16-inch 16:10 UHD+ (3,840 x 2,400) IPS touch
Storage 512GB PCIe 4.0 to 8TB PCIe 4.0 SSD (with dual storage)
Touch Optional
Ports 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x full size SD card reader
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Optional 5G WWAN
Webcam 1080p with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello
Operating system Windows 11
Battery 90 watt-hour
Price $1,650+

Price and configurations

The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is a highly configurable laptop. At the low end, it’s $1,650 for a Core i7-12700H, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, an Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti, and a 16-inch 16:10 WUXGA IPS non-touch display.

The most expensive machine you can configure using Lenovo’s tool, at $4,612, includes a Core i9-12900H, 64GB of RAM, a 4TB SSD, an RTX 3080 Ti, and a 16-inch 16:10 WQUXGA display. My review unit runs $2,974 with a Core i7-12800H vPro, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, an RTX 3070 Ti GPU, and a touch-enabled WQUXGA display. Note that the laptop can accommodate two SSDs, meaning you can expand storage beyond that point by simply dropping in another drive.

Clearly, this is an expensive laptop. But it’s not more expensive than many other powerful 16-inch laptops like the MSI Creator Z16P and the MacBook Pro 16, which can cost even more.

All about performance Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 top down view showing vPro label.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

As mentioned in the introduction, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme is all about providing the best performance among mainstream ThinkPad laptops. The fifth-generation model upgrades to 45-watt Intel 12th-gen CPUs, DDR5 RAM, and PCIe 4.0 SSDs.

All of that should result in a meaningful upgrade from the previous generation. I reviewed a configuration with a 14-core/16-thread 45-watt Intel Core i7-12800H, which is a fast CPU that supports Intel vPro technology to plug into corporate environments. The laptop also included the discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, a fast GPU for both gaming and creative tasks.

Lenovo throttles the GPU in balanced mode and unleashes it in performance mode.

I used Lenovo’s thermal management utility to test in both balanced and performance modes. Interestingly, the utility made little difference in our CPU-intensive benchmarks, with the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 still performing well compared to several similar laptops.

However, when I ran the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that uses a live version of Adobe Premiere, the ThinkPad was slow in balanced mode. It came in second slowest behind the MSI Creator Z16P. When I switched to performance mode, however, the ThinkPad’s Pugetbench score jumped to 928, among the leaders we’ve tested. That indicates that Lenovo throttles the GPU in balanced mode and unleashes it in performance mode.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 rear view showing carbon fiber lid and logos.Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The bottom line is that if you want to get the best performance in GPU-intensive applications like Adobe’s Creative Suite, you’ll want to crank up to performance mode. You’ll deal with more fan noise, but it’s more than worth the uptick in performance. When switched into performance mode, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is a seriously fast productivity machine and a legitimate creator workstation.

It even competes with the vaunted M1 Pro MacBook Pro 16, and when configured with the Core i9-12900H and RTX 3080 Ti GPU, would likely keep up with the M1 Max MacBook as well. It’s worth noting, though, that the much less expensive HP Envy 16 with the RTX 3060 also performed well in this benchmark.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
Pugetbench
Premiere Pro
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5
(Core i7-12800H)
Bal: 1,783 / 12,354
Perf: 1,768 / 12,020
Bal: 77
Perf: 77
Bal: 1,861 / 14,561
Perf: 1,859 / 14,609
Bal: 720
Perf: 928
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 4
(Core i7-11800H)
Bal: 1,520 / 7,353
Perf: N/A
Bal: 106
Perf: N/A
Bal: 1,519 / 10,497
Perf: N/A
N/A
HP Envy 16
(Core i9-12900H)
Bal: 1,839 / 11,187
Perf: 1,811 / 11,387
Bal: 83
Perf: 84
Bal: 1,919 / 12,538
Perf: 1922 / 12,525
Bal: 814
Perf: 932
MSI Creator Z16P
(Core i9-12900H)
Bal: 1,769 / 14,034
Perf: 1,835 / 14,051
Bal: 71
Perf: 69
Bal: 1,844 / 15,047
Perf: 1,837 / 16,084
Bal: 717

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