Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Evaluation: This Traditional ThinkPad Has a Drawback

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Lenovo ThinkPad T490 evaluation: A basic workhorse

“The ThinkPad T490 is a basic workhorse.”

Glorious construct high quality

Superior keyboard and nice touchpad

Very lengthy battery life

Choice for discrete graphics

Not the thinnest or lightest round

Substandard show for the value

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is a boring laptop computer. However generally boring is nice — like financial system sedans which can be unparalleled at getting human beings from level A to level B with little or no fuss. Some folks need that safety and reliability in a laptop computer. The ThinkPad T490 goals to suit the invoice.

I reviewed a mainstream model of the laptop computer with an Eighth-gen Whiskey Lake Core i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive, all for $1,322 with a low-power Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) show. That’s about as vanilla as you will get at present in a enterprise laptop computer.

Does the ThinkPad T490 stay as much as its fame of being a rock-solid selection for discerning ThinkPad lovers who don’t want the aptitude of the X1 line?

The enduring ThinkPad

It’s turning into much less and fewer apparent what a ThinkPad is meant to appear like. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is shut, nevertheless it provides a carbon fiber weave to the lid of the 4K model that stands out in a manner that ThinkPads usually don’t. And don’t get me began on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga‘s all-aluminum chassis. The ThinkPad T490 is far more in step with what a diehard ThinkPad fan desires to see — it’s black on black, with only some purple accents breaking apart the monochromatic coloration scheme.

One characteristic you received’t discover on the T490 is skinny bezels.

The chassis is constructed of plastic with glass fiber backing, and it feels sturdy sufficient in hand. It additionally enjoys that soft-touch matte end that make conventional ThinkPads so inviting. In the event you like ThinkPads, it’s as a result of you understand they’ll final eternally, you’ll really feel the identical concerning the ThinkPad T490. I do have to notice some flex within the show, which the X1 Carbon additionally demonstrated, however the remainder of the chassis is strong sufficient. You might want to look to the all-metal X1 Yoga for a extra inflexible chassis.

One characteristic you received’t discover on the T490 is skinny bezels. They’re downright chunky. The laptop computer has been shrunk down total from the earlier T480 mannequin. It’s thinner at zero.7 inches and lighter at three.17 kilos at its heaviest in comparison with the heftier T480. It’s a welcome drop in dimension, which extends to the T490’s width and depth as properly. No person will mistake this for a MacBook or XPS, however that’s the purpose. ThinkPads dance to their very own groove.

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One beat in that groove has all the time been wonderful connectivity. You’ll discover a full-size HDMI 1.four port, a USB-A three.1 Gen 1 port, a USB-C three.1 Gen 1 port with energy supply, DisplayPort, and information switch, a USB-C with Thunderbolt three, a microSD card reader, and a proprietary docking station connector — and that’s all alongside the left-hand aspect of the laptop computer. On the right-hand aspect, there’s a full-size Ethernet connection and one other USB-A three.1 Gen 1 port.

Critically, that’s plenty of connectivity, and all of the necessary bases are lined. There’s even a micro-SIM slot in case you wish to add LTE information service and be actually transportable. My evaluation unit included the Intel 9560 802.11AC radio with Bluetooth, however you’ll get Wi-Fi 6 for those who go for the upcoming 10th-gen variations (extra on that later).

Oh sure, that beautiful ThinkPad keyboard

One other ThinkPad factor that the T490 will get proper is its keyboard. I discovered it as wonderful as all the time, with loads of depth and a clicky, exact mechanism. The white lettering on black keycaps is simply as seen as all the time, though in a bizarre twist, backlighting is optionally available and my evaluation unit didn’t have it. That’s a bummer, and it’s another reason for me to voice my desire of HP’s Spectre keyboards that I really like a lot.

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The standard purple TrackPoint nubbin is true there in the course of the keyboard, and it really works in addition to all the time. After all, that additionally means two additional buttons tacking some area from the touchpad, however that’s no massive deal. The touchpad is large enough, and it’s a Microsoft Precision model, which means Home windows 10’s numerous multitouch gestures are well-supported.

There’s no contact show, alas, though that’s an possibility for each the Full HD and the WQHD (2,560 x 1,440) panel. I’ve grown used to the touch shows — it’s a lot simpler for scrolling lengthy internet pages and tapping the occasional pop-up. Not everybody will miss its absence, however I actually did.

Home windows Good day help is supplied by a default fingerprint scanner that labored reliably in my testing, and an optionally available infrared digital camera for facial recognition. Privateness is additional enhanced by the standard ThinkPad ThinkShutter that may bodily cowl the webcam and preserve you secure from prying eyes.

Good efficiency, relying in your want

My evaluation unit was restricted to the Eighth-gen Core i5. That’s an ideal quad-core chip for fundamental productiveness duties, and the ThinkPad T490 is not any exception. It scored just a bit decrease than common on the artificial GeekBench four benchmark, at four,158 for single-core and 12,395 for multi-core. And, it took simply over 5 minutes to finish our Handbrake take a look at that converts a 420MB video to H.265.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga carried out equally, though simply barely faster. Another laptops with the identical CPU had been quicker, we should always observe, together with the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s that completed the Handbrake take a look at a few minute quicker. So, you will get quicker laptops with Core i5s, and presumably, the T490 itself will take a step ahead as soon as it’s out there with 10th-gen Comet Lake CPUs within the subsequent a number of weeks.

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Curiously, and this can be a first: You possibly can configure the ThinkPad T490 with a discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU. That’s entry-level discrete graphics for certain, nevertheless it beats out the Intel UHD 620 built-in graphics in my evaluation unit. That chip is not going to solely recreation higher however will present a lift for inventive functions.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga that I examined each had 4K shows and the identical roughly 50 watt-hours of battery capability because the ThinkPad T490. Suffice it to say that their battery life was underwhelming.

Enter the T490 with its low-power Full HD show and economical Core i5. In a phrase, battery life was wonderful. Beginning with our most real-world take a look at, working via a sequence of widespread and demanding web pages till the battery ran out, the T490 lasted for a really sturdy 11.73 hours. That’s close to the highest of our outcomes and beats out most laptops. It additionally implies that the T490 will final portion of a workday working the sorts of duties favored by productiveness customers.

Battery life in laptops retains getting higher, and the T490 has stored up.

In the event you prefer to binge Netflix after a protracted day’s work, then the T490 will fit your wants as properly. It lasted practically 17.5 hours in our native video take a look at, once more a rating that’s close to the highest of our record. In the event you’re working a demanding utility that stresses the CPU, the T490 will get you round 4 hours.

Battery life in laptops retains getting higher, and the T490 has stored up. It is a laptop computer that may preserve you going all day lengthy away from a plug, which is an effective factor since Lenovo dropped the modular bridge battery possibility that graced the T480. With this type of battery life, although, and with a fast cost functionality that may return the battery to 80 % in simply an hour, and also you’re much less prone to miss the power to hot-swap batteries.

A disappointing show

I used to be ready to offer the ThinkPad T490 a better rating on this evaluation, however I’d left the show take a look at to final. Sadly, the Full HD show in my evaluation unit is flat-out disappointing for a premium laptop computer, and that’s going to price the T490 some factors.

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Colours are surprisingly muted at simply 45 % of AdobeRGB and 61 % of sRGB. Frankly, these are the sorts of outcomes I count on from a laptop computer within the $500 vary. Most premium laptops are nearer to 95 % of sRGB and 72 % of AdobeRGB.  The colours aren’t all that correct, both. You positively don’t wish to edit images or video on this display screen.

You received’t hate the show, however you received’t adore it, both.

To make issues worse, the show additionally isn’t all that shiny, maxing at simply 273 nits. We prefer to see shows capable of hit 300 nits or larger — that is the purpose at which a show has an opportunity of outshining shiny ambient lighting. The T490’s distinction can also be poor at 670:1 — latest premium laptops are nearer to 1000:1, and you may inform the distinction. Black textual content on white backgrounds, for instance, don’t pop, making for a colorless expertise. 

Subjectively, the show is barely acceptable for the T490’s major give attention to productiveness work. You received’t hate it, however you received’t adore it, both.  Extra necessary, it’s not as nice to make use of as most different premium shows I’ve reviewed, and the laptop computer suffers for it.

Our take

The ThinkPad T490 lives as much as its standing as the road’s workhorse possibility. It’s not thrilling to take a look at — until you actually love that iconic ThinkPad feel and look — nevertheless it’s well-built, it performs properly, and it lasts all day after which some on its battery.

Nevertheless, the show is a big disappointment. It’s simply not ok for the value. That’s why I can’t suggest the ThinkPad T490 to most individuals regardless of its wonderful keyboard and sturdy building.

Is there a greater various?

I’ve talked about a few alternate options already, together with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga (if you would like a 2-in-1). Each of these are a bit of swankier, a bit of thinner and lighter, and so they carry out simply as properly. In addition they provide 4K show choices (and certain higher Full HD shows) that the T490 doesn’t take pleasure in.

The ThinkPad X1 Excessive is another choice for those who’re in search of crazy-fast elements and superior expandability, however don’t overlook concerning the Dell XPS 13 for those who don’t want a full the 14 inches.

How lengthy will it final?

The ThinkPad T490 will final via the apocalypse, and nonetheless most likely have a bit of cost left. It’s additionally well-equipped and linked, and for those who anticipate the 10th-gen CPU variations then you definitely’ll be absolutely on top of things. You solely get a yr’s guarantee, which is a bummer, however Lenovo is joyful to promote you an extended one with nice service and help to go along with it.

Must you purchase it?

No, until you care most concerning the keyboard or sturdiness.

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