Dwelling With the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 4

Laptop computer computer systems hold getting higher, however the enchancment is often gradual from one 12 months to the subsequent. In Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 4, I seen an enormous enchancment over final 12 months’s X1 Excessive Gen 3, however the profit very a lot is dependent upon what you’re utilizing the machine for.

The X1 Excessive is an influence person’s laptop computer, with a 16-inch show, weighing 4.4 kilos by itself and 6.22 kilos with the 135-watt charger. It measures 0.70 by 14.13 by 9.99-inches (HWD), and as such it’s not practically as straightforward to hold as a typical enterprise laptop computer, however in fact, it has much more energy. The unit I examined had 16 GB of reminiscence and a 512 GB onerous drive.

The large distinction in efficiency comes all the way down to enhancements within the CPU and the GPU. The X1 Excessive Gen 4 I examined has an Intel i7-11800H processor within the 45-watt H-series a part of Intel’s Tiger Lake household produced on the 10nm SuperFin Course of, with 8 cores and 16 threads, a nominal clock velocity of two.3GHz, and a most turbo of 4.6GHz. As compared, the Excessive Gen 3 had a Core i7-10850H in final 12 months’s Comet Lake household, with 6 cores and 12 threads with a base velocity of two.7 GHz and a most turbo of 5.1 GHz. The extra commonplace high-end enterprise laptops I examined not too long ago, such because the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9, all had a 15-watt Core i7-1185 processor, a Tiger Lake-U processor with 4 cores and eight threads, a nominal velocity of three.0 GHz, and a most turbo of 4.8 GHz. So the Excessive Gen 4 has extra cores and threads, however a decrease high velocity per core.

The distinction exhibits up dramatically in some functions, and never a lot in others.

As an example, on my most demanding checks, it accomplished a MatLab portfolio simulation in simply over 23 minutes, a lot quicker than the 36 minutes recorded by final 12 months’s ThinkPad X1 Excessive Gen 3 and greater than twice as quick because the lower-power commonplace Tiger Lake laptops.

On a really massive Excel spreadsheet that used a lot of information, it took 40 minutes, higher than the 44 minutes I noticed with the Excessive Gen 3, however solely barely beating out the usual laptops (which took 41 minutes). It seems that Excel doesn’t actually use the additional cores.

Generally benchmarks, in fact, it often simply beats the usual laptops. But for one check, utilizing Y-cruncher to compute Pi to 1 billion digits, it was 10 to fifteen p.c slower, in all probability as a result of the nominal clock velocity of the 11800H is slower than that of the 1185.

On the graphics facet, the enhancements are way more fixed. The mannequin I examined included an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics with 6 GB of graphics reminiscence (different choices not examined go as much as an RTX 3080 with 16 GB of reminiscence), with a 16-inch show, whereas final 12 months’s had Nvidia’s Q-Max design specs. On the Cinebench R20 benchmarks, the Excessive Gen 4 scored over 5000 factors, in contrast with round 2000 on commonplace laptops and 3000 with the Gen 3. 3Mark’s TimeSpy confirmed a rating of over 6000, in contrast with 1700 to 1800 for normal laptops and 3500 for final 12 months’s mannequin.

I don’t think about laptops like this will likely be used a lot for gaming, however different graphics-intensive checks, corresponding to video modifying, labored very easily on this machine.

It has a 90-watt-hour battery, and I acquired not fairly 8 hours of life in my checks, an hour and a half higher than with final 12 months’s Excessive, although nonetheless notably shorter than the Tiger Lake-U laptops, which you’d count on.

Bodily, Gen 4 doesn’t look that a lot totally different from Gen 3, however the adjustments do appear fairly good. It continues to have an aluminum alloy case with a carbon fiber high, and is available in a matte-black design, however with what Lenovo describes as anti-fingerprint paint. The keyboard has the standard TrackPoint pointing stick, together with call-control choices on the operate keys. I discovered it top-of-the-line keyboards I’ve used not too long ago. The touchpad has been redesigned and is bigger. The laptop computer has a fingerprint reader constructed into the ability button, however considerably surprisingly for a 16-inch laptop computer, the keyboard doesn’t supply a devoted numeric keypad.

The show has been upgraded; it now has a 16-inch show with a 16:10 ratio with narrower bezels, bumping up the scale from the 15.6-in. 16:9 ratio seen in final 12 months’s mannequin. I examined a WQXGA (2560 x 1600 pixel) IPS show rated for 400 nits of brightness, and I appreciated the additional depth of the display screen. Different choices embody a 600-nit, 3840-by-2400 show, which can also be obtainable as a contact display screen. Not obtainable this 12 months is an OLED choice.

The left facet has a connector for a particular 135-watt charger, together with two USB-C/Thunderbolt ports, an HDMI connector, and a headphone jack. The suitable facet affords two full-size USB-A ports, certainly one of which might ship energy, and a full-size SD port.

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In fact, for extra ports, you should use a USB-C dock. I attempted it with each the ThinkPad Thunderbolt Dock 3 Gen 2 and OWC’s Thunderbolt Dock and it labored superb with exterior drives, an exterior keyboard, and with each a 2,560 by 1,440 HDMI monitor and an FHD DisplayPort monitor exterior screens. Nonetheless, in each circumstances, I acquired messages saying that the docks weren’t supplying sufficient energy, so it was operating the processor as if in airline mode, requiring me to make use of the X1 Excessive’s native charger along with the dock.

On the audio-visual facet, the unit I examined had an FHD 1080p webcam, among the many finest I’ve examined, producing a really sharp video. (Choices embody a model with an IR sensor.) It has up-firing audio system on both facet of the keyboard and twin microphones, producing loud, good-sounding audio, with Dolby Entry software program providing presets and an equalizer. Different choices embody fashions with a 5G modem.

As I have a look at the Lenovo web site, pricing begins at $1,770 for a mannequin with an i7-11800H, Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti with 4GB of reminiscence, 8 GB of RAM, and 256 GB of storage. A configuration nearer to my check unit, with the RTX 3060 graphics with 6GB of reminiscence, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB of storage, is promoting for about $2,195.

Machines just like the X1 Excessive Gen 4 aren’t for everybody – they’re greater and heavier than most of at the moment’s enterprise laptops, and thus more durable to hold round. However in order for you a bigger show, otherwise you want extra graphics efficiency or extra CPU cores, it is a big step ahead from even final 12 months’s machine. It’s superb to me how a lot energy a comparatively skinny laptop computer can have.

Right here’s PCMag’s full assessment.

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