Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three: The identical, solely quicker

“The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is especially quick given its elements, beating up on laptops with quicker processors.”

Pleasant OLED show with one of the best HDR

Nice keyboard and touchpad

Stable construct high quality

Glorious efficiency

Disappointing battery life

Costly

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2 made my listing of favourite laptops that I’ve reviewed for Digital Developments — and for good purpose. It was quick, well-built, and included a standout OLED show. Now, Lenovo has launched the laptop computer’s third-generation mannequin, and it’s turning the efficiency as much as 11.

Lenovo equips this new mannequin with Intel’s 10th-gen 45-watt CPUs to switch the earlier model’s Ninth-gen choices. My ThinkPad x1 Excessive Gen three overview unit wasn’t fairly as well-equipped as my Gen 2 mannequin — it has a Core i7-10850H with vPro this time round versus a Core i9-9880H — but it surely nonetheless featured 32GB of RAM and that pretty OLED show.

Word that the Core i9-10885H continues to be an possibility, and the GPU was upgraded, from an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q to a GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q. The worth? A whopping $2,404, although that’s on sale from a retail worth of $four,007. That’s some huge cash. Does Lenovo’s Gen three design nonetheless earn my suggestion?

Design

As earlier than, my overview unit encompasses a carbon fiber lid, which is a part of the elective 4K show. That provides not just a few structural integrity, however a extra hanging look. The underside of the chassis is aluminum, with the standard ThinkPad soft-coated plastic for the keyboard deck, which makes it extraordinarily comfy to make use of.

In different phrases, the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is equivalent on the skin to the Gen 2. There’s nothing incorrect with that. No purpose to fiddle with a superb factor, because the ThinkPad X1 Excessive enjoys the identical ThinkPad aesthetic as at all times. It’s all-black with only a few purple accents, together with the enduring blinking LED over the “i” in ThinkPad on the lid, the TrackPoint nubbin, and the sides of the TrackPoint buttons.

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ThinkPad followers can be fairly happy. Nevertheless, it’s not as trendy as the brand new Dell XPS 15, given the ThinkPad’s moderately massive bezels. The XPS 15 has tiny bezels that disappear round its 16:10 side ratio show. The HP Spectre x360 15 is on the reverse finish of the aesthetic spectrum, with its gem-cut design crying out for consideration, whereas the ThinkPad is completely satisfied to take a seat quietly within the shadows.

The laptop computer’s construct high quality is top-notch throughout, with a lid that doesn’t distort below stress, little or no keyboard flex, and a backside chassis that resists bending or twisting. It exudes energy and endurance, and evokes confidence that it might stand as much as a beating. My solely criticism is that the hinge is stiff, requiring two palms to pry open. Nonetheless, there isn’t a premium laptop computer that feels extra sturdy than the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three.

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The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is skinny at zero.72 inches, nearly equivalent to the XPS 15’s zero.71 inches, and a bit thinner than the Spectre x360 15’s zero.79 inches. The ThinkPad weighs four.zero kilos with the contact show (three.75 kilos with a non-touch show), in comparison with the Dell’s four.5 kilos and the HP’s four.23 kilos.

Connectivity stays a energy, with a proprietary energy connector (supplying 135 watts), two USB-C with Thunderbolt three, and a full-size HDMI 2.zero port alongside the left-hand facet. You’ll discover two USB-A three.2 ports and a full-size SD card reader (a welcome contact for artistic execs) alongside the right-hand facet. Wi-fi connectivity is offered by Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1.

I’ll additionally word that the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is upgradeable. The again cowl is comparatively straightforward to take away. You’ll be able to swap out the RAM and benefit from a second SSD slot.

Efficiency

I can’t evaluate the Gen three on to the Gen 2 due to the CPU and GPU variations, however the Dell XPS 15 and the HP Spectre x360 15 make for good comparability machines. The XPS 15 we reviewed ran with a Core i7-10875H, which is an eight-core CPU in comparison with the ThinkPad X1 Excessive’s six-core Core i7-10850H. The Spectre x360 15 is supplied with a six-core Core i7-10750H that’s clocked barely decrease than the ThinkPad’s CPU.

The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three carried out in addition to anticipated, or higher. In Geekbench 5, for instance, it scored 1,299 within the single-core take a look at and 6,372 within the multi-core take a look at. The XPS 15 scored 1,314 and seven,549, respectively, whereas the Spectre x360 15 scored 1,237 and 5,013.

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our Handbrake take a look at that encodes a 420MB video to H.265, the ThinkPad took simply over two minutes. That was surprisingly near the XPS 15, which completed simply 9 seconds quicker regardless of having two extra cores and 4 extra threads. The Spectre x360 15 completed in simply over 2.5 minutes, making the ThinkPad fairly a bit quicker than the distinction in clock speeds would point out.

In Cinebench 20, the ThinkPad scored 486 within the single-core take a look at and a pair of,888 within the multi-core take a look at. The XPS 15 was a lot faster at 488 and three,582, respectively, whereas the Spectre x360 15 held its personal towards the ThinkPad at 469 and a pair of,523. On this take a look at, it appears Dell’s additional cores have been key.

It’s value noting that AMD’s Ryzen 4000 chips compete properly even towards Intel’s 45-watt CPUs. For example, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 with the Ryzen 7 4800U took simply two seconds longer to complete the Handbrake take a look at than the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three, and it scored 482 and three,255 in Cinebench 20 — beating out the ThinkPad, and competing with the XPS 15.

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Lastly, I ran the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three by our Premiere Professional take a look at that renders a two-minute 4K video, and it took 4 minutes and 52 seconds to complete. The XPS 15 completed proper at 5 minutes, and the Spectre x360 15 took over seven minutes to finish the take a look at. The ThinkPad excelled right here, beating out the XPS 15 regardless of having a slower CPU and GPU (the XPS 15 makes use of the non-Max-Q model of the GTX 1650 Ti). My working principle is that Lenovo bested Dell in making a thermal design that may preserve mixed CPU and GPU efficiency over a protracted interval.

In brief, the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is a quick laptop computer that may meet the necessity of demanding artistic professionals. In case your wants run to extra mundane productiveness duties, then it’s overkill — however is it ever a nasty factor to have an excessive amount of efficiency? I don’t suppose so.

Gaming

The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three can deal with gaming as nicely, competing strongly towards the XPS 15 and Spectre x360 15. Within the 3DMark Time Spy take a look at, the ThinkPad scored three,572, in comparison with the XPS 15 at three,860 and the Spectre x360 15 at 2,963.

Transferring on to real-world gaming, the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three aced Civilization VI, the place it averaged 124 frames per second (FPS) at 1080p and medium graphics, and 68 FPS at extremely graphics. The XPS 15 managed 114 FPS and 64 FPS, respectively, whereas the Spectre x360 15 ran at 89 FPS and 60 FPS. Once more, the ThinkPad punched above its weight class, beating out a laptop computer with a quicker CPU and GPU in a recreation that depends on each for finest efficiency. The identical held true at 4K, the place the ThinkPad averaged 66 FPS in medium graphics and 36 FPS at extremely graphics, in comparison with the XPS 15 at 51 FPS and 30 FPS, respectively, and the Spectre x360 15 at 55 FPS and 30 FPS.

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In Fortnite, the ThinkPad averaged 83 FPS at 1080p and medium graphics, and 60 FPS at epic graphics. The XPS 15 scored 74 FPS and 60 FPS, respectively, and the Spectre x360 15 managed 67 FPS and 47 FPS. Every of those laptops dropped beneath 30 FPS at 4K, so I received’t hassle reporting the outcomes at that decision. Fortnite stays finest at 1080p on laptops with midrange discrete GPUs.

Subsequent up is Murderer’s Creed Odyssey, the place the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three managed 52 FPS at 1080p and medium graphics, and 30 FPS at extremely excessive. The XPS 15 was at 47 FPS and 26 FPS, respectively, whereas the Spectre x360 15 hit 40 FPS and 25 FPS. Once more, not one of the machines exceeded 30 FPS at 4K. It’s exceptional to see the X1 Excessive Gen three common 30 FPS at ultra-high on this recreation, as Odyssey is extraordinarily demanding.

In Battlefield V, the XPS 15 took the lead at 60 FPS at 1080p and medium graphics and 50 FPS at extremely graphics, whereas the ThinkPad was at 56 FPS and 44 FPS, respectively, and the Spectre x360 15 managed 55 GPS and 44 FPS. As soon as once more, 4K was south of the minimal 30 FPS that we contemplate playable.

General, the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three performs very nicely for a laptop computer on this class. The truth that it bested the XPS 15 in all however one recreation is spectacular, and whereas 4K gaming isn’t suggested, you’ll be completely satisfied working trendy titles at 1080p and the right graphical settings. Anybody in search of higher recreation efficiency might want to contemplate a gaming laptop computer.

Show

I really like OLED shows. They’re brilliant, colourful, and unparalleled in distinction. The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three’s OLED isn’t any totally different, though it’s not one of the best OLED show we’ve examined.

This ThinkPad’s show just isn’t as brilliant as some OLED panels, coming in at 369 nits in comparison with the HP Spectre x360 15’s 426 nits. Each laptops have anti-reflective glass, so the HP comes throughout as fairly a bit brighter. As well as, the Spectre’s distinction was 426,180:1 in comparison with the ThinkPad’s 369,390:1 — a meaningless distinction in real-life use, however a big distinction numerically, nonetheless.

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Dell’s XPS 15 doesn’t use OLED and as a substitute opts for a extra conventional IPS show. Its brightness got here in at 442 nits, and the distinction ratio reached 1480:1 (which is excellent for an IPS show). The distinction hole just isn’t as noticeable in actual life because the numbers recommend. Nonetheless, the OLED panel within the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is superior to the Dell XPS 15 when viewing motion pictures or high-quality photographs in a darkish room.

Word that based on the specs, Lenovo cranks up the brightness when working excessive dynamic vary (HDR) content material. I observed this in my testing.

Colour gamut is one other space the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three fell a bit quick. It lined 100% of sRGB and 96% of AdobeRGB. That compares to the Spectre at 100% and 98%, and the XPS 15 at 100% of each gamuts. It’s not an enormous distinction, however for a artistic skilled in search of one of the best AdobeRGB assist, these few share factors would possibly matter.

The ThinkPad’s coloration proved correct, although, at a DeltaE of zero.91 (decrease is healthier on this benchmark). The XPS 15 was at zero.65, and the Spectre x360 15 at 1.21. All three shows carry out nicely, however the XPS 15’s wonderful accuracy makes it prepared for color-critical work out of the field.

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None of that is meant to disparage the ThinkPad’s show. It’s beautiful in real-world use. Motion pictures and pictures have a high-contrast, vibrant look that pops off the display, and the darkest scenes in HDR are clear due to the panel’s assist for Dolby Imaginative and prescient. As with the Gen 2 mannequin, the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is among the many finest units you’ll discover for watching Netflix in HDR, and it’s a lot better than the opposite, non-Dolby Imaginative and prescient-enabled laptops I’ve reviewed.

If OLED isn’t your factor, Lenovo does provide three different show choices. There are two Full HD choices at 300 or 500 nits, in addition to a 600-nit 4K IPS panel, to select from. We usually anticipate they’ll all carry out nicely for his or her respective pricing, however OLED is our favourite.

Audio was a energy, with two downward-firing audio system pumping out loads of quantity with out distortion. Mids and highs have been clear, and there was even a contact of bass. You’ll be effective watching Netflix and YouTube movies by your self or with just a few associates, however for music, as ordinary, a superb set of headphones is usually recommended.

Keyboard and touchpad

ThinkPad followers are choosy about their keyboards, however the X1 Excessive Gen three ought to fulfill. It has properly sculpted keycaps which can be simply the precise dimension, with wonderful spacing. Personally, I discover the mechanism slightly stiff, but it surely does present tons of suggestions and a really exact bottoming motion. In case you like a lighter contact, as I do, HP’s Spectre keyboard may be extra your fashion. However should you like extra suggestions whereas typing, the ThinkPad’s keyboard will match the invoice. Oh, and it’s spill-resistant, if that issues to you.

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The same old TrackPoint nub is in the midst of the keyboard, and it really works nicely, as anticipated It does drive a pair of buttons, although, taking some house away from the touchpad. Talking of which, the touchpad is a glass-covered Microsoft Precision touchpad that works nicely for swiping and utilizing Home windows 10’s multitouch gestures.

The show is touch-enabled on this mannequin, and it’s exact and responsive. Fortunately, it has an anti-smudge coating that resists fingerprints. It’s equal to the show on the HP Spectre x360 15 on this regard.

Home windows 10 Hiya assist is offered by a quick and responsive fingerprint reader and an infrared digital camera with facial recognition assist. There’s a privateness shutter that may disable the latter, so that you would possibly need to configure each strategies for logging in and not using a password.

Battery life

Right here’s the place you pay the value for all that efficiency and the power-hungry OLED show. Merely put, this ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three configuration’s battery life isn’t a energy.

In our demanding Basemark net benchmark take a look at, the ThinkPad managed about three.5 hours, which isn’t horrible for a 45-watt CPU. The XPS 15 lasted 16 minutes much less, whereas the Spectre x360 15 didn’t even make it to a few hours.

In our web-browsing take a look at, which supplies one of the best indication of common productiveness longevity, the ThinkPad simply exceeded 5.5 hours, which is 80 minutes lower than the XPS 15 and 32 minutes lower than the Spectre x360 15. And in our video take a look at that loops by a Full HD Avengers trailer, the ThinkPad was at 6.5 hours, 50 minutes lower than the XPS 15 and 11 minutes greater than the Spectre x360 15.

These aren’t nice outcomes, however they’re anticipated. If you’d like higher battery life, then you definately’ll need to go for one of many Full HD show choices. In any other case, be ready to hold the facility brick round.

Our take

Lenovo stored what was finest in regards to the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 2, and made it quicker. That makes the Gen three mannequin an incremental, however nonetheless significant, improve that merely improves what was already a superb 15-inch laptop computer.

Admittedly, it’s most tasty to ThinkPad followers, and there’s nothing incorrect with that. If that’s you, and also you desire a laptop computer that’s as highly effective as another in its class, then the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is a superb selection.

Are there any alternate options?

The Dell XPS 15 is the ThinkPad’s most evident competitor. They’re each highly effective, skinny and lightweight, and well-built 15-inch machines that enchantment to the identical type of customers. You’ll get a 16:10 show and a extra trendy look with the XPS 15, however the ThinkPad is the higher performer.

In case you’re into 2-in-1s, the Spectre x360 15 is a superb selection. It’s not as quick, but it surely provides a extra elegant look, a barely higher OLED show (except you’re watching Netflix in HDR), and the flexibleness of a 2-in-1. The Spectre can be a number of hundred dollars cheaper, though it might’t be configured as powerfully because the ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three.

Lastly, you can contemplate HP’s Envy 15, a 15-inch laptop computer that provides quite a lot of energy for not some huge cash. It doesn’t fairly sustain with the ThinkPad, but it surely has an amazing OLED show of its personal and prices a whole bunch of dollars much less.

How lengthy will it final?

The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three is extraordinarily sturdy, well-configured, and can final for a few years of productive service. We’d like greater than a one-year guarantee at these costs, however Lenovo does provide a plethora of guarantee improve choices.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. The ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen three just isn’t solely essentially the most highly effective ThinkPad you should buy, it’s one of the crucial highly effective 15-inch shopper laptops, interval.

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