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New ThinkPad X1E Gen 2 BIOS update (1.26) makes it faster than the XPS 15 7590

By Douglas Black , last updated on October 13, 2019

Update: October 13, 2019 added HWiNFO logs of extended gaming benchmarks

We recently noted in our review of the X1 Extreme Gen 2 a few days ago that performance was a bit weaker than it should be due to thermal and power-limit throttling. In my comparison, I pointed the CPU performance was slower than the XPS 15 7590‘s despite having same hardware.

Luckily, a new BIOS update, 1.26, for the X1 Extreme Gen 2 has just been released by Lenovo, and it seems to ameliorate this problem — for the CPU, anyway (no difference in GPU performance was detected).

As a result, we can observe a significant increase in CPU performance compared to both undervolted and stock configurations of the Cinebench R15 64-bit Multi 10-loop test, and the X1E G2 is able to outperform its rival, Dell’s XPS 15 7590 (i7-9750H SKU). Average scores of 10 runs of CBR15 64-bit multi for the new and old BIOS revision for the X1E G2 in comparison with the XPS 15 7590 are below:

  • XPS 15 7590 Stock: 991
  • XPS 15 7590 UV -125mv: 1106
  • ThinkPad X1E Gen 2 Stock (1.25 BIOS): 968
  • ThinkPad X1E Gen 2 UV -125mv (1.25 BIOS): 1099
  • ThinkPad X1E Gen 2 Stock (1.26 BIOS): 1054
  • ThinkPad X1E Gen 2 UV -125mv (1.26 BIOS): 1138

That’s an excellent increase in performance, and one I’m very glad to see. In my opinion, users should always have the option of choosing quieter operation at the cost of performance, but the option to run at maximum speeds with higher fan noises should never be taken away. Naturally, with the 1.26 update, fan speeds are a bit higher along with temperatures: Without an undervolt, the CPU goes up to 97-98C on most cores and the fan hits a modest ~4400 RPM. Undervolting by 125mv yields a peak temperature of only 87-88C on all cores, however.

HWiNFO benchmarks

Without an undervolt, the X1E G2 does allow itself to get near its thermal peak, though fans max out at around 4400 RPM. Undervolting reduces maximum temperatures to 88C while increasing performance.

X1E G2 with BIOS update 1.26

X1E G2 with BIOS update 1.26 now outperform the XPS 15.

On request, below is a HWiNFO log of extended gaming with a fairly strenuous game (Killing Floor 2 at 1080p with settings maxed, including Nvidia Flex). Thermal and game performance is quite solid and noise is kept low, as well. However, note the power-limit throttling of the CPU to an average of 20W.

HWiNFO log of Killing Floor 2

The HWiNFO log of Killing Floor 2 shows solid temperatures and performance of the card, though CPU is limited to an average of 20W.

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Based in Hong Kong, Douglas Black is a veteran editor of Notebookcheck, university lecturer, researcher, and writer.

24 Comments

  1. Chris

    October 7, 2019 at 4:46 pm

    Thanks for the update, would you mind checking if DPC latency has changed?
    DELL XPS 15 had the same issues but it was fixed in a recent update.

    • Douglas Black

      October 7, 2019 at 5:28 pm

      I will do my best to try and check on the next couple of days!

      • Marc Jensen

        October 10, 2019 at 12:19 am

        DPC latency is unusable in current state. updated to 1.26 today made very little difference. adverage latency is around 100-300us with peaks of 3000us at least every 10 seconds

    • Pedro

      October 16, 2019 at 11:33 am

      Has DPC latency really been fixed for the XPS 15? I read somewhere it hasn't really been fully fixed.

      • Douglas Black

        October 16, 2019 at 11:42 am

        I don't have mine anymore but I would guess it has not been fixed or I'd have read about it

  2. Daniel

    October 7, 2019 at 8:31 pm

    Hi! I applied the BIOS update, and got 1000 more points in Cinebench R20! But now I can't change the brightness of the screen and it is stuck at around 50%. Have you noticed the same bug? I have the 500 nits FHD screen.

    • Douglas Black

      October 8, 2019 at 2:38 am

      That's interesting. I didn't try adjusting brightness. Will check tonight

    • Archuk

      October 8, 2019 at 2:59 am

      I had this bug on other lenovo laptop. Make sure you have the last intel driver for video adapter installed.

  3. Archuk

    October 9, 2019 at 10:55 pm

    How is the gaming without egpu? Can 1650 handle gaming?

    • Douglas Black

      October 10, 2019 at 2:08 am

      It can fairly well. It's around a 970m from a few years ago, though better at quite a few things

      • Archuk

        October 10, 2019 at 7:08 am

        I mean have you tried it yourself? You that article about egpu, but given the fact that egpu are costly and heavy, I would just get a gaming laptopnor desktop.
        Can it handle the heat?
        Or it turns your laptop into an oven?

        • Douglas Black

          October 10, 2019 at 7:11 am

          I have used it for the review and benchmarks, but only a few hours playing games as I have the eGPU as noted. You will see pretty good FPS rates and reasonable temps, especially with v-sync on. You will be getting 60 fps is most modern games at high detail, though anything upcoming like Cyberpunk 2077 is going to be a struggle I expect. pascal and turing seem to keep temps at 78C or lower, and they will lower boost clocks to keep GPU temps under that.

      • Archuk

        October 10, 2019 at 7:10 am

        87-88c under peak… Do you mean gaming or combined cpu/gpu stress test? How much does it affect the surfaces?

        • Douglas Black

          October 10, 2019 at 7:13 am

          88C was peak gaming with undervolts and no-vsync. If you use vsync, I would expect temps a bit lower. The palm rest is okay as are WASD, but the area just above WASD where the fan is quite hot to the touch. It's nowhere near as scorching as something like a Razer Blade, but it's not a place you'd like to touch.

          • Archuk

            October 11, 2019 at 9:07 am

            I did not mean vsync. How did you get 88c. Is it when running a stress test (like aida or prime95) or during gaming? If it is during stress test – do you stress CPU only or GPU as well (using haven, furmark or something similar)?

          • Douglas Black

            October 11, 2019 at 9:10 am

            88C is from running 3dmark stress test in a loop and also demanding 3d games *with* vsync. My peak CPU temps in those same tests without vsync is 95C with 78C GPU. I don't run furmark + prime95 anymore as I found it represented an unrealistic GPU load.

          • Archuk

            October 13, 2019 at 2:11 am

            I am not sure prime95 + haven or prime95 + furmark is that unrealistic. I have thought that too, but then I got similar temps when running far cry 5….

            I understand that these temps are after undervolting? Did you repaste? What cpu clocks do you get ( if it gets oven hot, it should be able to keep high cpu clocks – right?). Also. Is there a way to control it? Like profiles in lenovo vantage, etc?

          • Douglas Black

            October 13, 2019 at 6:59 am

            I'm going to run a set of benches tonight with more sensors enables in hwinfo that will hopefully answer your questions

          • Archuk

            October 13, 2019 at 2:12 am

            I mean there are scenarios under which I might prefer lower temps at the cost of performance. Does lenovo provide means to control this behavior?

  4. Oscar

    October 10, 2019 at 5:50 am

    Does this update fix the stutter problem when connected to external monitor?

    • Douglas Black

      October 10, 2019 at 6:00 am

      No. You still need to disable the intel iGPU and re-enable it. I will add that to the review actually, I forgot about it.

      • Zeb

        October 15, 2019 at 8:50 pm

        Can you comment on how you get the undervolt to stick?

        I have the Gen 2 X1E, when I undervolt using the Intel Extreme Tuning Utility I have seen the voltage return to default on reboot.

  5. Ben

    October 29, 2019 at 8:41 pm

    Hi Douglas,

    Lenovo just released BIOS 1.27 today, and I wonder if it solves any issues related to the connection with eGPU and/or external monitor in your previous article? Waiting for your updated review and thank you in advance.

    • Douglas Black

      October 30, 2019 at 2:38 am

      Thanks for the tip! I will check when I'm back home in a couple of days.

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