We select and review products independently. When you purchase through our links we may earn a commission. Learn more.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 Laptop Review: Powerful and Well-Rounded

Rating: 8/10 ?
  • 1 - Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 - Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 - Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 - Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 - Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 - Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 - Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 - Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 - Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 - Absolute Design Nirvana
Price: $1,748.45
Lenovo X1 Extreme Gen 4 laptop on wooden table near books and records
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

After testing its predecessor in late 2020, I was excited to get my hands on Lenovo’s latest iteration—the ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 laptop. And as expected, the Gen 4 proved that its premium components and smart design are worth its high price.

Despite being about the same size as the Gen 3, the Gen 4 offers sizable improvements all around—not just bare-minimum spec bumps. With dedicated graphics, an 11th Generation H-series processor, a bright IPS display, and plenty of port options, the Lenovo’s Gen 4 is a solid laptop choice for professionals and students alike. It can even handle casual gaming and basic creative tasks without breaking a sweat.

Though it’s not without a few drawbacks, Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 laptop is a feature-rich laptop well suited for general use. As I tested it, I was consistently impressed by its refined design (compared to last year’s Gen 3) and truly appreciated the solid spec upgrades it brings to the table.

Here's What We Like

  • Tall and roomy 16:10 display
  • Top-notch specs
  • All-around solid design

And What We Don't

  • Pricey
  • No OLED configuration option
  • Battery life isn't great
  • Gets hot and loud under heavy use

Review 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 >>

Specs As Reviewed

  • CPU: 11th Generation Intel i7-11800H (2.3GHz, up to 4.6Ghz with Turbo Boost, 8 cores, 16 threads, 24MB cache)
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 3200MHz
  • Display: WQXGA 16-inch IPS UHD (2560 x 1600), HDR 400, 600 nits, 16:10 display, non-touch
  • Storage: 512GB SSD
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB
  • Camera: 1080p FHD
  • Ports: 4-in-1 SD card reader, 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, Kensington Nano Security Slot, 2 x USB-C Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, barrel jack oower in, 3.5mm Audio jack
  • Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX210 802.11AX (2×2) 160MHz, Bluetooth 5.2
  • Audio: Dual Dolby Atmos speakers
  • Battery: Integrated Li-Polymer 90Wh, Rapid Charge support
  • Dimensions: 14.2 x 10 x 0.7 inches
  • Weight: 3.99 pounds

Design

If you’re wanting a laptop with a modern, lightweight design, this ain’t it. In the grand tradition of Lenovo’s ThinkPad line, the latest iteration focuses on function over form. And while the Gen 4 is incredibly powerful and reliable, with its components set up exactly the way they need to be to work well, it’s very much still the iconic black rectangle Lenovo fans have come to either love or hate over the years. But, this isn’t a bad thing.

Top-down shot of Lenovo Gen 4 laptop open on wooden table next to sculpture and Radiohead vinyl
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

Although the Lenovo aesthetic isn’t the flashiest, you’ll soon forget about that, as this laptop does a tremendous job of packing a bigger screen and lots of impressive components into what’s pretty much the same chassis as the Gen 3. This is a win for anyone who was a fan of the previous generation’s dimensions.

The ThinkPad Gen 4 model I tested sports a solid matte-black design all around, though other configurations offer the black weave design on the lid. Of course, it also boasts the iconic “ThinkPad X1” logo on the lid and just the basic “ThinkPad” logo on the right side of the interior palm rest area. The chassis surrounding the keyboard and trackpad has a soft rubberized coating that’s pleasant to the touch. Plus, the laptop’s thin bezels, carried over from the Gen 3, give you the maximum amount of screen real estate (without a quirky notch).

The chassis does have a bit of flex if you press on it, but it still feels quite solid and it doesn’t creak. The lid feels much more rigid and doesn’t have any noticeable give when you try to bend it. And given that the laptop passed the MIL-STD-810H certification (meaning it was tested to endure vibrations, shock, and other environmental extremes), you can have peace of mind knowing that it’ll stand up to your daily adventures, wherever they take you, and the four-cell 90Wh battery stays powered with the included 230W AC adapter.

As for the laptop’s ports, you’ve got a lot to work with. There are two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4, an HDMI 2.1 port, a full 4-in-1 SD card reader, a Kensington Nano Security Slot, barely jack for power, and last (but certainly not least), a 3.5mm audio jack. That’s a solid selection of ports that should serve the average user well. However, it was disappointing to see a lack of USB-C charging, as that would give you another port to work with.

Security-wise, the laptop has a Smart Power On match-on-chip touch fingerprint reader and a webcam privacy shutter. It does lack Windows Hello, a noticeable miss for a pricey laptop with a focus on productivity.

Display

The Gen 4’s display is where Lenovo made some interesting choices, in my opinion. Comparing it to the Gen 3, this laptop’s screen increased from 15.6-inches to 16 inches. It also rocks a taller 16:10 aspect ratio instead of the familiar 16:9 we’ve seen on past models, which allows you to see more of your Slack chats at one time, or whatever else you’re doing.

What it gives up in the process, however, is a 4K OLED HDR touchscreen that was sent from the heavens. That was hands down one of the best features of the Gen 3 so the disappointing WQXGA 2560 x 1600 not-touchscreen inevitably leaves me wanting more. And the only thing that hurts more than that is the complete lack of an OLED configuration upgrade—it’s IPS all the way down.

The Lenovo Gen 4 laptop on wooden table
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

That said, this screen is still undeniably good for an IPS display. It produces a picture that’s vivid and clear with decently bold blacks, immaculate whites, and vibrant colors. And speaking of which, colors seemed remarkably accurate, albeit a little bit duller than what a nice OLED could reproduce (for those who care, the display covers 100% of sRGB but only about 80% of AdobeRGB, though upgrading to the WQUXGA display will likely improve that). Overall, the Gen 4’s display is absolutely good enough to handle everyday photo editing, graphic design, and other creative endeavors.

The display’s 1200:1 contrast ratio looked solid and everything from cartoons and action movies to the photos I edit each day all looked terrific on it. The anti-glare display gets nice and bright, maxing out at 400 nits, which made it easy to view documents, chats, YouTube videos, and everything else clear as day whenever I was in a bright room. Compared to other IPS displays I’ve used, I think the Gen 4’s is about as good as you’re gonna get on a productivity laptop.

Camera and Audio

The good news? This laptop comes with a webcam! The bad news? It’s only 1080p. Even though that’s a massive upgrade from the Gen 3’s utterly depressing 720p webcam, it’s underwhelming given how incredibly online life has become in the past two years. The webcam is good enough for casual video calls with your family or friends, but if you plan on taking video calls for work or class, you should probably buy a dedicated webcam instead.

Looking at the Lenovo Gen 4 laptop from an angle
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

The built-in webcam does a decent job of capturing colors and other details with little noise … if you’re in a well-lit area. Don’t be mad, though, if you use it in a dimly lit room and notice that you look a bit grainy.

As for the laptop’s audio, the dual 2W up-firing speakers support Dolby Atmos and are comfortably set on either side of the keyboard. They got plenty loud during testing and easily filled small- to medium-sized rooms (like a bedroom or living room) with sound and without distortion.

Highs and mids sounded bold and clear, as did vocals. As you’d expect from a laptop, however, the bass was lost for the most part. I felt like the speakers held up just fine for watching Netflix or YouTube, and even for playing music in the background. If you’re looking for a more audiophile-friendly audio experience, though, I’d recommend picking up either a nice pair of true wireless earbuds or a portable Bluetooth speaker.

Likewise, the dual far-field mics leave something to be desired. Again, just like Gen 4’s laptop and speakers, they work and are just fine for garden-variety usage. If you will be using it regularly for work, school, or streaming, we recommend purchasing a good USB microphone, a webcam with a microphone, or either earbuds with a microphone so you sound better.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Few laptops have a keyboard so iconic as Lenovo’s ThinkPads, and this one is no exception. It has the company’s (dare I say divisive?) large sculpted keycaps that are spaciously laid out. A row of 12 small function keys lines the top of the keyboard and includes the Home, End, Insert, and Delete keys, along with call control keys.

While the keys each have a satisfying tactile clack that feels snappy, they also require a bit more pressure to depress them compared to other non-mechanical keyboards. Many folks who have used the keyboard (myself included) are not fans of the plentiful travel distance and added force it takes. My fingers absolutely got tired much more quickly with this keyboard compared to my keyboard (Logitech’s MX Keys), which I hate because I need to type all day every day.

Close-up on the Lenovo Gen 4 laptop's keyboard and TrackPoint nub
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

Additionally, this keyboard (like the Gen 3 and other models) switches the location of the two Function and Control keys. This is a manufacturer choice that annoys me to no end because I use the Control key on a regular basis. However, you can easily remap them in the included Lenovo Vantage software or in the BIOS if you’re brave enough. The keyboard is also backlit with white LED lighting and has a spill-resistant design, which is great for those of us who are clumsy.

Of course, no Lenovo laptop would be complete without the famous red TrackPoint nub that sits in the center of the keyboard. With the consistently terrific TouchPad, the ThinkPad laptops always have, I’m still not convinced it’s necessary to keep the nub, though the experience here just wouldn’t be the same without it.

But, if you’re intent on ignoring it and only care about the TouchPad, allow me to sate your curiosity. The TouchPad is awesome! It’s spacious, but not sprawling, and gives you enough space to perform multi-finger swipe gestures. Texture-wise, I feel it strikes the perfect balance between smooth and grippy. And best of all? The TouchPad has a satisfying pressure-to-click ratio that you’ll love, plus the clicks aren’t obnoxiously loud. What more could you ask for?

Performance and Power

The Gen 4 has a truly impressive specs sheet, and you can easily get a sense of the machine’s capabilities once you put it to work. It’s clear that Lenovo thought hard about the design of this laptop, and the result is a premium 16-inch laptop that’s well-equipped and nearly as powerful as a dedicated gaming machine.

View of the ports on the right side of the Lenovo Gen 4 laptop
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

The unit I reviewed has an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 and an 11th Generation Intel i7-11800H processor, so it’s powerful enough to handle everyday productivity tasks, creative work, and a bit of gaming. That said, it is not a gaming laptop; despite its great hardware, it just doesn’t have the thermals to keep up with intensive gaming sessions. In fact, it got pretty hot even when I only had a few applications open while playing Geometry Wars, a far-from-intensive game.

As I ran the laptop through various stress tests, I felt that its only real shortcoming is that it uses single-channel RAM. Using two 8GB sticks instead of a single 16GB stick would be a much better complement to the otherwise fantastic hardware, and it would help more intensive processes run a little more smoothly. There were two times when I pushed it hard during tests—with about 40 Chrome tabs open along with Slack and Spotify—that Chrome completely seized up, citing not enough memory.

That said, the Gen 4 is a great laptop otherwise; I’d recommend upgrading to a dual-stick setup if you can, which is an easy fix if you think you’ll regularly be pushing this laptop’s limits. In my other tests, it managed to copy files quickly and it never lagged or froze as I did moderately-intensive photo editing and graphics creation. Heck, it even handled lightweight gameplay and HD video playback like a champ. I think performance could be better, but then again, the Gen 4 was not designed to be a dedicated workhorse for creators or gamers.

View of the Lenovo Gen 4's interior
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

Lenovo offers up four configuration options for the Gen 4, which is nice if the specs on this laptop don’t tickle your fancy. You can configure up to an 11th Generation Intel Core i7-11850H processor with vPro (2.50GHz, up to 4.80GHz with Turbo Boost, 8 cores, 16 Threads, 24MB cache), a 16GB DDR4 3200MHz, a 1TB SSD, a WQUXGA 4K Dolby Vision display, and an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 8GB. Or, if you have the know-how, feel free to upgrade components on your own—the laptop’s bottom panel is removable and held in place by seven captive Philips head screws.

Battery Life

As I tested this laptop, one of the most consistent things I found myself thinking was that I wished its battery life was better. However, given its sizable display and artillery of high-end components, it’s honestly super understandable that it doesn’t knock it out of the park with all-day endurance.

Lenovo lists the Gen 4’s expected battery life based on two benchmarks, stating that it’ll last 10.7 hours via MobileMark 2018, and 12.8 with JEITA 2.0. That … just wasn’t the case here, unfortunately. When I ran my standard workload on it—which consists of having 12-18 Chrome tabs open, Slack open, and very occasionally Adobe Photoshop, Spotify, or YouTube—and kept the screen at medium brightness and the volume around 25-33%, the Gen 4 lasted anywhere from eight and a half hours to eight hours and 45 minutes.

When I pushed it harder—opening up double the Chrome tabs, streaming HD video or music for the majority of the day, editing more photos and graphics, and playing a good amount of moderately intensive video games with the screen brighter and the volume louder—it barely made it over the seven-hour mark on average. Again, I’d probably be mad about it if the laptop didn’t do such a swell job performing each task with its fancy-pants components.

The back left corner of the Lenovo Gen 4 laptop with the lid closed
Kevin Bonnett / Review Geek

Depending on how you use it, the Gen 4 may not get you through a full day at work, and you may well have to lug around the annoyingly large power brick (and its thicc cables) to keep it juiced all day. However, if you’re an efficient worker and keep your workload light, I could easily see the laptop lasting all day without issue.

Final Thoughts

The thing I love about Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is how effortlessly it blends powerful components into a streamlined design, all without making it bigger and bulkier than the Gen 3. With its 11th Generation H-Series Intel processor and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 graphics, it’s a smart option that sits somewhere in between a gaming laptop and a productivity laptop. Plus, it’ll keep up with pretty much any task you throw at it.

I love the Gen 4’s bright, large display—it makes it easy to comfortably view everything from documents to your coworker’s cat on a Zoom call—as well as its nice array of ports offers easy connectivity for monitors and peripherals. The solid matte black design and soft rubberized interior give it a simple—yet quintessentially Lenovo—aesthetic that’s great for school, work, home, and anything in between without costing you extra for useless frill.

Likewise, I wish it had better battery life, a higher-quality camera and audio, and the Gen 3’s heartbreakingly gorgeous 4K OLED display. And while it absolutely has its limits when it comes to performance, the Gen 4 can readily able to handle everyday tasks for professional users, creatives, students, and casual gamers. Overall, I felt that the X1 Extreme Gen 4’s steep price point is easily justified by its long list of well-rounded features, premium components, and high-quality design making. It’s a seriously terrific laptop that’ll work for most people.

Rating: 8/10
Price: $1,748.45

Here’s What We Like

  • Tall and roomy 16:10 display
  • Top-notch specs
  • All-around solid design

And What We Don't

  • Pricey
  • No OLED configuration option
  • Battery life isn't great
  • Gets hot and loud under heavy use

Suzanne Humphries Suzanne Humphries
Suzanne Humphries was a Commerce Editor for Review Geek. She has over seven years of experience across multiple publications researching and testing products, as well as writing and editing news, reviews, and how-to articles covering software, hardware, entertainment, networking, electronics, gaming, apps, security, finance, and small business. Read Full Bio »