Lenovo’s new ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 (a mouthful of a name) is a workstation first, but its boring office aesthetics disguise a gaming beast with Nvidia’s coveted 30-series GPUs that are capable of playing the latest games with ray tracing and their highest graphics settings. If you’re still struggling to get the latest Nvidia 30-series GPUs, you should seriously consider this laptop instead.
Despite being a productivity laptop, the Thinkpad X1 Extreme Gen 4 doesn’t pull its punches. The 16-inch laptop can be configured with a 4K resolution, 600 nits of brightness, and Dolby Vision HDR. The Dolby Atmos-capable dual speaker system is also a plus. Rounding out the laptop is a 1080p webcam and dual noise-canceling microphones. At four pounds, the 17mm-thick laptop is a clunker, but it’s got three cooling systems to keep all of its tightly-packed internals from overheating.
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 is powered by Intel’s most capable business processor, the 11th Gen Core i9 vPRo H-series CPU; it’s hyperthreaded with eight cores and 16 threads, perfect for multithreaded workloads on apps such as Premiere Pro. Other notable features include support for up to two 2TB PCIe Gen 4 SSDs and up to 64GB of RAM, which is considered a sweet spot these days for intensive creative work and gaming.
There’s a base model that comes with Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics, but let’s be real, the only model that’s worth talking about is the one with Nvidia’s RTX 30-series GPUs. There are several 30-series GPU options, with the highest being the RTX 3080 mobile GPU with 16GB of VRAM — the new Razer’s Blade 14 has similar options. Although sporting the same name as the desktop GPU, there are some differences between the 3080 mobile and desktop versions.
Not the same, but better than nothing — Because of space constraints, mobile GPUs usually sacrifice power in order to fit into a laptop’s chassis. The mobile RTX 3080 is no exception, but the discrepancy in performance is a bit outside the average. According to UserBenchmark, the comparison between the desktop and mobile RTX 3080 GPUs is much wider than, say, the RTX 3060 GPUs. The desktop 3080 has a score that is 59 percent higher than the mobile version and a 60 percent higher Effective 3D Speed benchmark. Effective 3D speed is a measurement that combines several 3D rendering benchmarks.
The ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 has four RTX configurations, and something like the RTX 3060 is not a bad choice, especially since it has performance that is much closer to the desktop version. Again, on UserBenchmark, the desktop and mobile 3060s are almost neck and neck with the desktop version having a 13 percent and 9 percent advantage in Effective 3D Speed and average score, respectively.
Still, the RTX 3080 mobile outperforms all three of its mobile brethren — the 3050 Ti, 3060, and 3070 laptop GPUs — by a decent, if not wide, margin depending on the card. While the mobile 3080 doesn’t have the same performance as the desktop version, it’s still the best option if you’re looking for as much GPU power you can get. As I said, it’s either this or waiting for the GPU shortage to end — if that even happens. Your choice.
The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 launches in August, starting at $2,150 for the base model. The price for the model with the Intel Core i9 processor and RTX 3080 is not currently listed, but, judging by the price of the base model, expect it to be expensive.
Get in line — The great GPU shortage of 2020 continues, with no signs of stopping. Just a few months ago, Nvidia announced that the shortage would continue through 2021 but hoped that production would increase in the latter half of the year. To mitigate the shortage, Nvidia has even tried re-releasing older models, but that hasn’t helped in any meaningful way — it’s still damn hard to get a GPU from anywhere. Between a global chip shortage that has affected companies big and small across the world and the increased demand for GPUs by cryptocurrency miners, gamers are getting the short end of the stick.
The few GPUs out in the wild have been snatched up by scalpers, causing frustration among gamers who have had to put their PC builds on hold. Just a few weeks ago at a Micro Center in Dallas, throngs of people rushed the store in a scene that wouldn’t be out of place in a zombie apocalypse movie. It’s been rough, to say the least. But there is hope! Taiwanese computer components supplier Asrock believes the shortage could end soon due to a crypto-mining crackdown in China that has seen GPU prices in the country fall. If crypto miners stop hoarding GPUs, worldwide supply should sort itself soon enough. Until that happens, opting for a powerful laptop with RTX graphics like Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 might not be a bad idea.