Rating:
9/10
?
  • 1 - Does not work
  • 2 - Barely functional
  • 3 - Severely lacking in most areas
  • 4 - Functions, but has numerous issues
  • 5 - Fine yet leaves a lot to be desired
  • 6 - Good enough to buy on sale
  • 7 - Great and worth purchasing
  • 8 - Fantastic, approaching best-in-class
  • 9 - Best-in-class
  • 10 - Borderline perfection
Price:
Starting At $2,999
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop sitting open on a desk.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

Lenovo’s ThinkPad series of laptops garners high expectations from most—you expect a lot because these devices have a tremendous reputation. So, when I got my hands on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5, I expected greatness. I got just that.

Fresh out of another ThinkPad review, the X1 Carbon (Gen 10), I was graced with the latest Extreme model. As with the past iterations of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme, such as the Gen 4, the Gen 5 is a high performer that surpasses many other devices in its weight class. Its powerful Intel processor makes it easy to do just about anything in a timely manner, while its NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti GPU brings beautiful images to life—no matter what form of media you’re consuming. Working or playing, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 won’t let you down. I had to dig deep to find a few little faults.

This powerhouse laptop does come at a price, though, and a hefty one at that. My model, the 21DE0046US, costs over $3,600 for its premium features. Still, the battery life is about average—good, but not what you might expect for such a high-priced computer. However, considering its near-perfect performance, the X1 Extreme Gen 5 is an excellent buy for professional or personal use.

Here's What We Like

  • Gorgeous 4K display and graphics
  • Comfortable keyboard and trackpad
  • Sturdy, stylish design
  • Premium, near-perfect performance
  • Great for casual gamers

And What We Don't

  • Quite expensive
  • Average battery life
  • Fan gets very, very loud

How-To Geek's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews. Read more >>

Design: Premium and Comfortable

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop sitting closed on a desk.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

  • Dimensions: 14.15 x 9.99 x 0.7in (359.5 x 253.8 x 17.9mm)
  • Weight: 4.14lbs (1.88kg)
  • Display: IPS (in-plane switching LED), touchscreen with anti-glare
  • Screen Size: 16in
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1
  • Color: Black weave

The chassis of the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 is solid, so don’t expect this laptop to be lightweight. It’s a bit heavy to carry around, and its charger is, too (more on that later). But what you’re sacrificing in portability, you make up for in smooth, impressive performance.

The Extreme Gen 5’s body is gorgeous: a jet-black carbon finish with a woven top and a pleasant hand feel. The weave looks like a work of art, and you also get a ThinkPad logo with a red indicator light, so you’ll know your laptop is on (even if it’s closed).

The IPS display measures 16 inches, which makes this laptop perfect for consuming media. At the top of the display sits the integrated webcam with an inconspicuous privacy shutter and a dual-microphone array.

The keyboard is nestled between the device’s DolbyAtmos speaker system, and there’s a TrackPoint in the middle of the board. Below the typing area is the large TrackPad and three mouse buttons (right, left, and center).

I’m a fan of the large keyboard, the sizeable TrackPad, and the huge screen; as far as function meets design, the X1 Extreme Gen 5 knocks it out of the park.

Ports: Stay Connected to Whatever You’re Using

  • Ports: 2x Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, 2x USB 3.2 Gen ports (1 with Always On), 1x HDMI (up to 8K/60Hz), 1x 3.5mm Headphone/microphone combo jack, 1x Power connector, 1x SD Express 7.0 card reader
  • Optional Ports: 1x Nano-SIM card slot (WWAN support models)

When I look for a laptop, I think about many factors, and how many ports it has is one of them. If you use your device a lot like me—meaning, it’s your livelihood and you can’t be without a computer for a day—you’ll love the port options the X1 Extreme Gen 5 provides. On the left side of the device, the Extreme Gen 5 has a power port (for charging), two Thunderbolt 4 USB-C ports, an HDMI port, and a headphone/microphone jack.

On the right are two USB 3.2 Gen ports (one is Always On) and an SD Express 7.0 card reader.

Touchscreen, Trackpad, and Keyboard

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop's keyboard lying on a desk.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

  • Touchscreen: Capacitive-type multi-touch, supports 10-point touch, supports Lenovo Precision 2 Pen (sold separately)
  • Keyboard: 6-row, spill-resistant, multimedia Fn keys, two LED backlight modes
  • Trackpad: 2.67 x 4.53in (67.7 x 115mm) glass surface multi-touch touchpad

After using quite a few Lenovo laptops, I know they have fantastic touchscreens, and the X1 Extreme Gen 5 follows suit. The sensitivity to touch is just right; you can easily use your laptop like a tablet if you want to. This model also supports Lenovo’s Precision Pen 2, an active stylus for touchscreen laptops, which is fantastic if you like to draw or take notes while you work.

The TrackPad is large enough to please but not so large that it gets in the way while you’re typing. It’s responsive, and even if you prefer a wireless mouse, you’ll find you don’t need it much of the time.

As for the keyboard, it’s a comfortable, stand-out star for people who type a lot. As someone who bangs away at a set of keys for hours every day, I have no complaints about its performance. It’s clicky and springy in all the right ways.

Performance: Forget “All Work and No Play,” the Extreme Does Both

  • Processor: Intel Core i7 12800H (14 cores, 20 threads)
  • Operating System: Windows 11 Pro
  • RAM: 16GB, up to 64GB
  • Memory Slots: 2x DDR5 SO-DIMM slots, dual-channel capable
  • Storage: M.2 2280 SSD, 1TB

From streaming TV shows to editing photos in Photoshop to browsing the web with an embarrassing amount of tabs open, the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 was an absolute game changer for me. Productivity is where this laptop shines most.

In my time with the X1 Extreme, I used it to play games, watch videos, and work on articles in WordPress, Google Docs, and Skyword. I also used it to video chat with my writing group, edit a short story, record audio, listen to tunes on Spotify, touch up some pictures in Photoshop, and build a website with Wix. I found no faults in its multitasking power—this laptop didn’t freeze on me even once.

At one point, I had almost 30 tabs open in my browser, a 22GB game downloading, a YouTube video playing, and I was editing media in Photoshop. Not a blip. This is the power you can expect from this laptop.

Among the recent ThinkPad laptop drops, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad E14 Gen 2 or the Z13 Gen 1, the X1 Extreme is among the best in terms of performance and function.

Casual Gaming Is a Go

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop sitting on a desk playing a video game intro.
Game: As Dusk Falls Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

  • GPU: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti

I’m not a pro gamer. If you’re the type who wants a high-performance gaming laptop, it’s best to stick to those models and get exactly what you want out of performance, speed, and graphics. But if you like playing games to escape after a hard day’s work, you’ll be pleased with what the X1 Extreme Gen 5 can handle.

I played everything from Life Is Strange: True Colors to As Dusk Falls to My Time At Portia, and it was clear from the get-go that the Extreme passes with flying colors. The most impressive feat during my gaming runs was how well the X1 Extreme handled Life Is Strange: True Colors. The game isn’t as demanding as As Dusk Falls (which weighs in at an almost 70GB download size), but the graphics and performance blew me away.

The screen’s refresh rate is only 60Hz, which works well, but I noticed a few slight issues with screen tearing and stuttering during some cut scenes and panning; it wasn’t enough to stop me from playing and was small enough to ignore.

During As Dusk Falls, the largest of my downloads, I got the same near-perfect performance for someone who indulges in gaming as a pastime. Gaming worked well with whatever I used: a PC gaming controller or a mechanical keyboard and a mouse.

For someone who loves atmospheric role-playing games, Lenovo’s X1 Extreme Gen 5 performed better than I expected, and I could easily see myself purchasing this laptop for its performance in both work and play.

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Display: Stunning Clarity That Makes Every Medium Shine

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop playing a 4K YouTube video.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

  • Brightness: 600 nits
  • Native Resolution:  3,840 x 2,400p (WQUXGA)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX, Intel Iris Xe Graphics
  • Refresh Rate: 60Hz

The graphics on the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop aren’t just good—they’re great. With a 4K, Wide Quad Ultra Extended Graphics Array (WQUXGA) resolution, streaming movies or playing games feels like an immersive experience. The IPS display is beautiful, though it’s important to note that Lenovo doesn’t offer an OLED option if you’re building your own online.

The crisp quality was apparent in everything I did, but the X1 Extreme Gen 5 comes to life when playing games or watching movies and videos.

The colors are vibrant, and there’s a depth that pops thanks to the well-balanced brightness and contrast. From animal videos to holiday movies or the dark, moody shades of Netflix’s hit Wednesday, the X1 Extreme Gen 5’s picture quality never disappointed me.

Audio and Video: Inspired Sound and Call Quality

A close-up of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 laptop's speaker system.
Cianna Garrison / How-To Geek

  • Audio: High Definition (HD) Audio, Realtek ALC3306 codec
  • Speakers: 2x 2W Dolby Audio Premium Stereo Speakers
  • Microphone: Dual array microphone, far-field, Dolby Voice
  • Camera: FHD 1080p + IR hybrid, with privacy shutter, fixed focus

The webcam on the X1 Extreme Gen 5 performed well enough to skip any external camera options I had on hand. The picture came through clear in good lighting, and I didn’t look too washed out (like I usually do on laptop cameras). I was shocked at how well the IR hybrid camera handled dim lighting, too. I didn’t appear too grainy on calls and didn’t need to search for brighter areas. When possible, I’d still recommend heading to a room that has better lighting.

The speaker system during gaming and streaming was loud enough at about 70 to 80% in most cases, but I did crank it up to 100% a couple of times. The Extreme Gen 5’s speakers perform well—but there’s some drop-off in quality once you hit about 85%. Overall, these speakers do their darndest to keep you jamming to whatever you’re listening to, and they don’t sound too crunchy like other laptop speakers. Audiophiles will miss the deep bass, but average listeners will be more than satisfied.

Video call participants told me the sound quality was great, and I can confirm when recording myself that the dual-array mics do as good a job as you’d hope for on a laptop. I wouldn’t record pro audio with the integrated mic (obviously), but for your everyday meetings and other tasks, it works well.

Microphone Test on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 Laptop in a Quiet Environment

Microphone Test on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 Laptop in a Noisy Environment

Battery Life and Charging: Keep the Charger Nearby

  • Battery: Integrated Li-Polymer 90Wh battery, supports Rapid Charge (charge up to 80% in 1hr)
  • Charger: 230W slim tip (3-pin) AC adapter
  • Battery Life: Up to 14.5 hours at 150 nits during local video playback

As far as the 90-watt battery goes, it does a decent job. The laptop’s charge wasn’t below average and kept up for a good five to six hours of moderate usage most days, which I was happy with.

Considering the battery was a complaint in the previous Extreme models, I wish Lenovo would remedy the situation with a longer battery life. I would trade some of the laptop’s capabilities for a longer-lasting charge any day of the week. You can get pretty close to an 80% charge in one hour (I got around 65 to 70% in most instances).

If you plan to game, I wouldn’t step away from the charger for too long. While gaming, the battery went from 61% to 7% charge in about 25 minutes, so gaming plugged in is the best way to go. And don’t be alarmed by the loud fan—it sounds like a room fan once it gets going.

As for the charger, it’s quite large, but you should expect that of a 230W charger. It’s roughly the same as a pro-size mobile phone in length and about an inch thick.

It weighs nearly two pounds and feels like a brick—but Lenovo’s X1 Extreme is more about productivity than slim, lightweight portability, so I don’t think it’s a problem. Rather, just something to be aware of if you’re considering purchasing this laptop.

Should You Buy the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 Laptop?

If you’re looking for a laptop that can handle media and editing programs, plus casual gaming, large downloads, multiple internet tabs, and any sort of multitasking you can drum up, you don’t need to look any further than the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5.

The main letdown lies in the battery power. Still, if you only use a laptop in five to six-hour stints, you’ll be satisfied. If you’re gaming, you’ll want the charger on hand. For the price, if you don’t need a device with so many bells and whistles, but productivity is important, you might want to check out other options, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10, which will cost you less and still performs well.

Would I rank this among the best laptops in its lineup? You bet. If you have the money and want to invest in a computer that won’t let you down, you can get the same model Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 5 I tested for around $3,600 today or customize your own at Lenovo starting at $2,999.

Rating:
9/10
Price:
Starting At $2,999

Here’s What We Like

  • Gorgeous 4K display and graphics
  • Comfortable keyboard and trackpad
  • Sturdy, stylish design
  • Premium, near-perfect performance
  • Great for casual gamers

And What We Don't

  • Quite expensive
  • Average battery life
  • Fan gets very, very loud
Profile Photo for Cianna Garrison Cianna Garrison
Cianna Garrison has over five years of experience writing everything from food news and limited-time products to the details on the latest iPhones and earbuds. In the past, she’s worked for online magazines, blogs, and more, with technology and social media being one of her primary interests.
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