Lenovo ThinkPad T490 evaluate: A basic workhorse
“The ThinkPad T490 is a basic workhorse.”
- Wonderful construct high quality
- Superior keyboard and nice touchpad
- Very lengthy battery life
- Possibility for discrete graphics
- Not the thinnest or lightest round
- Substandard show for the value
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The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is a boring laptop computer. However typically 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 individuals 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 this time in a enterprise laptop computer.
Does the ThinkPad T490 stay as much as its status of being a rock-solid alternative for discerning ThinkPad lovers who don’t want the aptitude of the X1 line?
The long-lasting ThinkPad
It’s turning into much less and fewer apparent what a ThinkPad is meant to appear to be. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon is shut, but it surely provides a carbon fiber weave to the lid of the 4K model that stands out in a method that ThinkPads sometimes don’t. And don’t get me began on the ThinkPad X1 Yoga‘s all-aluminum chassis. The ThinkPad T490 is rather more consistent with what a diehard ThinkPad fan needs to see — it’s black on black, with just a few pink accents breaking apart the monochromatic coloration scheme.
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 realize they’ll final without end, you’ll really feel the identical in regards to 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 stable sufficient. You have to look to the all-metal X1 Yoga for a extra inflexible chassis.
One function you gained’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 0.7 inches and lighter at 3.17 kilos at its heaviest in comparison with the heftier T480. It’s a welcome drop in measurement, 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.
One beat in that groove has at all times been wonderful connectivity. You’ll discover a full-size HDMI 1.Four port, a USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 port, a USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 port with energy supply, DisplayPort, and knowledge switch, a USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, a microSD card reader, and a proprietary docking station connector — and that’s all alongside the left-hand facet of the laptop computer. On the right-hand facet, there’s a full-size Ethernet connection and one other USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 port.
Critically, that’s a variety of connectivity, and all of the essential bases are lined. There’s even a micro-SIM slot in case you wish to add LTE knowledge service and be actually moveable. My evaluate unit included the Intel 9560 802.11AC radio with Bluetooth 2.0, however you’ll get Wi-Fi 6 in the event you go for the upcoming 10th-gen variations (extra on that later).
Oh sure, that pretty ThinkPad keyboard
One other ThinkPad factor that the T490 will get proper is its keyboard. I discovered it as wonderful as at all times, with loads of depth and a clicky, exact mechanism. The white lettering on black keycaps is simply as seen as at all times, though in a bizarre twist, backlighting is non-compulsory and my evaluate 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 like a lot.
The standard pink TrackPoint nubbin is correct there in the midst of the keyboard, and it really works in addition to at all times. After all, that additionally means two further buttons tacking some area from the touchpad, however that’s no massive deal. The touchpad is sufficiently big, 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 choice 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 definitely did.
Home windows Hey assist is supplied by a default fingerprint scanner that labored reliably in my testing, and an non-compulsory infrared digicam for facial recognition. Privateness is additional enhanced by the same old ThinkPad ThinkShutter that may bodily cowl the webcam and hold you protected from prying eyes.
Good efficiency, relying in your want
My evaluate unit was restricted to the Eighth-gen Core i5. That’s an amazing quad-core chip for fundamental productiveness duties, and the ThinkPad T490 isn’t any exception. It scored just a bit decrease than common on the artificial GeekBench Four benchmark, at 4,158 for single-core and 12,395 for multi-core. And, it took simply over 5 minutes to finish our Handbrake check 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 have been sooner, we should always word, together with the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s that completed the Handbrake check a couple of minute sooner. So, you will get sooner laptops with Core i5s, and presumably, the T490 itself will take a step ahead as soon as it’s accessible with 10th-gen Comet Lake CPUs within the subsequent a number of weeks.
Curiously, and it is a first: You may configure the ThinkPad T490 with a discrete NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU. That’s entry-level discrete graphics for positive, but it surely beats out the Intel UHD 620 built-in graphics in my evaluate unit. That chip won’t 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 check, working via a collection of widespread and demanding web pages till the battery ran out, the T490 lasted for a really robust 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 an excellent portion of a workday working the sorts of duties favored by productiveness customers.
Battery life in laptops retains getting higher, and the T490 has saved 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 check, once more a rating that’s close to the highest of our record. In the event you’re working a demanding software that stresses the CPU, the T490 will get you round 4 hours.
Battery life in laptops retains getting higher, and the T490 has saved up. It is a laptop computer that can hold you going all day lengthy away from a plug, which is an efficient factor since Lenovo dropped the modular bridge battery choice that graced the T480. With this sort of battery life, although, and with a fast cost functionality that can return the battery to 80 % in simply an hour, and also you’re much less more likely to miss the power to hot-swap batteries.
A disappointing show
I used to be ready to offer the ThinkPad T490 the next rating on this evaluate, however I’d left the show check to final. Sadly, the Full HD show in my evaluate unit is flat-out disappointing for a premium laptop computer, and that’s going to price the T490 some factors.
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 undoubtedly don’t wish to edit photographs or video on this display.
You gained’t hate the show, however you gained’t adore it, both.
To make issues worse, the show additionally isn’t all that vibrant, maxing at simply 273 nits. We prefer to see shows in a position to hit 300 nits or larger — that is the purpose at which a show has an opportunity of outshining vibrant ambient lighting. The T490’s distinction can 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 most important deal with productiveness work. You gained’t hate it, however you gained’t adore it, both. Extra essential, it’s not as nice to make use of as most different premium shows I’ve reviewed, and the laptop computer suffers for it.
The ThinkPad T490 lives as much as its standing as the road’s workhorse choice. It’s not thrilling to take a look at — until you actually love that iconic ThinkPad feel and look — but it surely’s well-built, it performs properly, and it lasts all day after which some on its battery.
Nonetheless, the show is a big disappointment. It’s simply not adequate for the value. That’s why I can’t advocate the ThinkPad T490 to most individuals despite its wonderful keyboard and sturdy development.
Is there a greater various?
I’ve talked about a few options already, together with the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga (in order for you 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. Additionally they provide 4K show choices (and certain higher Full HD shows) that the T490 doesn’t take pleasure in.
The ThinkPad X1 Excessive is an alternative choice in the event you’re searching for crazy-fast parts and superior expandability, however don’t overlook in regards to the Dell XPS 13 in the event you 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 in the event you look ahead to the 10th-gen CPU variations then you definitely’ll be absolutely up to the mark. You solely get a yr’s guarantee, which is a bummer, however Lenovo is completely happy to promote you an extended one with nice service and assist to go along with it.
Do you have to purchase it?
No, until you care most in regards to the keyboard or sturdiness.