Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Carbon vs ThinkPad T490 (2020)

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Winner
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen 14" Ultrabook - 1920 X 1080 - Core i7 i7-8565U - 16 GB RAM - 512 GB SSD - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - Intel UHD Graphics 620 - in-Plane Switch
Best Price
Lenovo ThinkPad T490 20N20032US 14" Notebook - 1920 X 1080 - Core i5 I5-8265U - 8 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD - Glossy Black - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - Intel UHD Graphics 620 - in-Plane Switching (IPS) Te
Model
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
ThinkPad T490
Test Result
Test Result 9.5/10 Excellent August 2020
Test Result 9.1/10 Very good August 2020
Manufacturer
Dell
Lenovo
RAM
16GB
8 GB
CPU
Intel Core i7 i7-8565U
Intel Core i5 I5-8265U
Graphics Card
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
256GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.1 lbs
3.24 lbs
Pros
  • Best Computing power for Office & Editing Use
  • Colorful display & quiet fans
  • Very comfortable Keyboard
  • Great Display Quality & Great with Linux
  • Cheaper Price than ThinkPad X1 Carbon
  • Large and fast SSD Storage space
Cons
  • More expensive than ThinkPad T490
  • Bad loudspeakers & noisey fans
Winner
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen 14" Ultrabook - 1920 X 1080 - Core i7 i7-8565U - 16 GB RAM - 512 GB SSD - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - Intel UHD Graphics 620 - in-Plane Switch
Model
ThinkPad X1 Carbon
Test Result
Test Result 9.5/10 Excellent August 2020
Manufacturer
Dell
RAM
16GB
CPU
Intel Core i7 i7-8565U
Graphics Card
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage Capacity
512GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
4.1 lbs
Pros
  • Best Computing power for Office & Editing Use
  • Colorful display & quiet fans
  • Very comfortable Keyboard
Cons
  • More expensive than ThinkPad T490
Best Price
Lenovo ThinkPad T490 20N20032US 14" Notebook - 1920 X 1080 - Core i5 I5-8265U - 8 GB RAM - 256 GB SSD - Glossy Black - Windows 10 Pro 64-bit - Intel UHD Graphics 620 - in-Plane Switching (IPS) Te
Model
ThinkPad T490
Test Result
Test Result 9.1/10 Very good August 2020
Manufacturer
Lenovo
RAM
8 GB
CPU
Intel Core i5 I5-8265U
Graphics Card
Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage Capacity
256GB SSD
Battery Time
Value for money
Weight
3.24 lbs
Pros
  • Great Display Quality & Great with Linux
  • Cheaper Price than ThinkPad X1 Carbon
  • Large and fast SSD Storage space
Cons
  • Bad loudspeakers & noisey fans

We tested and compared the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 versus Thinkpad X1 Carbon in terms of Performance, Display Quality, Portability, Price, Battery life & more.

Above you can see the Ranking with the test results and below you will find the in-depth reports of each Lenovo ThinkPad Laptop.

Ranking First: Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020)

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) review


Pros

  • Best Computing power for Office & Editing Use
  • Colorful display & quiet fans
  • Very comfortable Keyboard

Cons

  • More expensive than ThinkPad T490

Lenovo wants to continue the ThinkPad tradition in the Ultrabook format with the X1 Carbon. A flat case, which is up to the robust everyday use, as well as current technology and long runtimes should convince the target group in companies. The Ultrabook for professional users can convince in the test.

Carbon, not only sporty orientated car drivers think about the material, but also about a corresponding look. But if you expect a corresponding carbon look from the ThinkPad X1 of the same name, you shouldn’t expect too much.

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon looks like – a ThinkPad. Those who can’t immediately make out the low case height will hardly be able to distinguish the Ultrabook from other ThinkPads – especially the T-series. This doesn’t have to be a disadvantage, especially in large companies where the uniform look reigns.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) design

The haptics of the display lid on the ThinkPad X1 Carbon also corresponds to the well-known T-ThinkPads. Mobile computers with the name ThinkPad have been around since 1992. Once started at IBM, the ThinkPads have belonged to Lenovo since 2005.

Especially earlier models of the T4x and T6x series enjoy an almost legendary reputation at regular notebook tables. Lenovo itself describes the ThinkPad X1 Carbon as a “legend”, in which 20 years of development work were invested.

Features

Equipment: The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is available in different equipment variants, the CPU equipment starts with a Core i5. Even if our test device adorns a Core i5 sticker, there is a Core i7-3667U inside in this case. This is currently the X1’s strongest available engine. The processor has access to 8 GByte DDR3 SDRAM in the test device. The X1 ThinkPads support Intel’s vPro technology in terms of remote maintenance.

The basic equipment in terms of display starts with a 14 inch HD display (1366 x 768 pixels) in the X1 Carbon. You can upgrade to a 14-inch display with HD+ resolution for an additional $115. This works with a resolution of 1600 x 900 pixels, both versions have an LED backlight in common. Our Core i7 test model is already equipped with the HD+ display as standard.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) back view

All models have an integrated webcam (720p) in the display frame. Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 is responsible for controlling the display unit on all models. The X1 Carbon comes with a Mini-DisplayPort for connecting external display units. A corresponding adapter isn’t included with the Ultrabook; Lenovo offers this for around $25 extra.

Lenovo exclusively offers solid state disks as mass storage for the Ultrabook. The capacity starts at 128 GBytes, a maximum of 256 GBytes are available. As with other Ultrabooks, SSDs from different manufacturers are also in the program. Our test device contains a 256 GByte SSD from SanDisk; Lenovo currently also offers 240 GByte Intel SSDs.

Our test device communicates in WiFi according to 802.11a/g/n with an Intel Centrino module. Furthermore, the Ultrabook communicates wirelessly via Bluetooth 4.0. The X1 also comes with a mobile broadband solution from Ericsson in the test configuration.

The Ultrabook does not have an Ethernet port on board. If you want a fixed network connection, you can get a USB 2.0. ethernet adapter from Lenovo for $15 on Amazon. Apropos USB: The X1 Carbon’s offer of corresponding connections is relatively clear; this is probably due to the compact case (331 x 18.8 x 226 mm).

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) office work setup mobile work station

One USB 2.0 and one -3.0 port each are available for connecting peripherals. The rest of the interface story is quickly told: A combo audio port and an SD card reader complete the offer. In terms of security, the Ultrabook comes with a fingerprint sensor, among other things.

Windows 7 Professional ran on our test device. Lenovo currently offers Windows 8 Pro and Windows 8. If necessary, downgrade rights to Windows 7 can be used in the pre-installed Windows 8 Pro. The X1 Carbon has a battery with a capacity of just under 46 Wh. A 90 watt adapter, which is supposed to provide for a quick charging of the battery, belongs to the test device.

The prices for the ThinkPad X1 Carbon start at around $1400, in the tested Core i7 configuration it’s around $1650 on Amazon. A three-year basic warranty is included in the price. An upgrade to a four-year on-site service on the next business day costs around $115.

Display

Display: A 14-inch display with HD+ resolution is used in our test device. It works with 1600 x 900 pixels and LED backlight. Lenovo also offers models with HD resolution (1366 x 768 pixels), but we recommend HD+ resolution here; the vertical resolution of 768 pixels isn’t a source of joy in everyday life.

The X1 Carbon’s data sheet shows a brightness of 300 cd/m² for the display. Our test device reaches a maximum brightness of 322 cd/m², which is its very pleasing value. In combination with the good anti-reflective coating, you can also work outdoors in friendly weather conditions.

The test display does really well in the uniformity of illumination – at least in the upper corners, and these are usually very present for the viewer.

We only register slight deviations in the single-digit percentage range here, and that is now almost an exception. The lower corners can’t quite keep up with that, the maximum in one corner is 14 percent – that’s usual for the class.

Keyboard & Touchpad

Handling: Even without the slanted ThinkPad lettering in the right corner, the X1 Carbon keyboard could be identified as a ThinkPad keyboard at first glance. Those switching from other ThinkPad keyboards will quickly find their way around.

Ultrabook keyboards undoubtedly present a challenge for designers. Despite the flat case, it is necessary to realize a proper stroke and stop – the whole thing should usually be a visual highlight. We have already experienced the whole range in tests: from the feeling of typing on a glass panel to spongy chiclet keys. Even if keyboards are always a bit of a matter of taste, especially speed typewriters, every little flaw quickly comes up.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) keyboard

And Lenovo does a lot right with the X1 Carbon: good stroke, adequate stroke and secure support. In everyday testing, we switched from standard ThinkPads and notebooks to the X1 again and again, and a seamless transition was always given. High writing speeds can be realized without any problems. Less accurate users will be pleased with the good orientation aids on the F and J keys as well as the keyboard illumination. Lenovo has banned the pause key, as it has in other ThinkPads, and an Fn combination offers this functionality.

The combination of trackpoint and touchpad has a long ThinkPad tradition. Switchers usually struggle with the trackpoint, while experienced ThinkPad users will appreciate the control element. The large TouchPad does its job well and precisely – that should be a matter of course, but it isn’t anymore.

The data sheet officially indicates a weight of 2.99 lbs for the Lenovo X1 Carbon, our scale stops at 2.97 lbs. This fits and is a good result for a business ultrabook. Power supply and cable together come to 0.98 lbs – which is an above average value for an Ultrabook.

This also applies to the dimensions of the power supply, which certainly adds something. However, if you look at battery life and especially charging time in this context, you might have to accept that, but more about that later.

Performance

Our test device currently contains the strongest motorization for the X1 Carbon, an Intel Core i7-3667U. You’re currently very well equipped for the current application scenarios with a Core i7, even if it carries a “U” in its label.

This CPU is specified with a TDP value of 17 watts. This processor works with a basic clock rate of 2 GHz, and in turbo mode it can even reach 3.2 GHz. Together with the 8 GByte DDR3 SDRAM, the processor provides for brisk propulsion.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) performance benchmarks gaming

Under Windows 7, we used BAPCo’s benchmark package SYSmark2012, an application benchmark that is supposed to simulate the usage behavior of business users. We used 15 applications that represent different scenarios. Often several programs are open at the same time, and sometimes the applications also work in the background. The package includes the following scenarios: Office Productivity, Media Creation, Web Development, Data/Financial Analysis, 3D Modeling, and System Management.

We achieve a rating of 134 under SYSmark2012 with our test notebook. And that is a respectable result. For comparison: A standard notebook with a Core i5 of the M-class thus has a rating of 125. If you want to compare the result with numerous configurations, you’ll find a corresponding overview in the BAPCo.

The solid state disk from SanDisk (SD5SG2256G1052E) contributes its share to the good system performance. No surprise in the graphics performance, Intel’s HD Graphics 4000 does a good job and is here at over 5200 3DMarks under 3DMark06. For comparison: Ultrabooks with Core i5-U processors are usually a few hundred 3DMarks lower.

Design

It is usually only noticeable in direct comparison: The ThinkPad X1 Carbon looks far less fragile than many other ultrabooks. The X1’s carbon stands for a carbon fiber reinforced upper side and a corresponding safety frame. The case is easily trusted for several years of business use.

The display lid is torsionally stiff and relatively insensitive to pressure from above. The hinges have the perfect mix between light and heavy duty. You can also work neatly here during a rougher train ride. Why the display can be opened completely to the horizontal, however, hasn’t really been revealed in everyday testing. Positive: A slide switch on the case side is available for cutting the radio connections.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) design

When switching from mains to battery operation, we noticed a disturbing characteristic of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon: Shortly after disconnecting the power adapter, the screen darkens briefly, just like in the past when changing drivers of hybrid graphics solutions. The effect also occurred in a colleague’s X1 used for comparison.

Data carriers are also not included in the scope of delivery of the premium product, ThinkPad X1 Carbon, and can be made using pre-installed tools. Apropos tools: The so-called ThinkVantage tools have set the standard for notebooks and still do so in parts. Meanwhile, however, the scope is very extensive and due to the further development of Windows, one wonders in some places if something less wouldn’t be more.

Battery life

Ultrabooks usually have a slightly lower battery capacity than conventional notebooks due to their design. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon comes with a battery with just under 46 Wh. This is a quite common size in ultrabook circles. Lenovo speaks of a battery life of up to 8.2 hours in the ultrabook’s data sheet.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) back view

We determine a maximum runtime that is a bit higher and reaches eight hours and 20 minutes, but in a mode that is very much trimmed for economy. We choose the most economical energy scheme, cut all wireless connections and reduce the brightness as much as possible. During our test, a text input is made via a hardware instrument (auto save is activated) until the battery runs out. The notebook allows itself 5.2 watts, which is a good result.

MobileMark2012 from BAPCo tests the battery life for two scenarios: “Office Productivity” and “Media Creation”. As with the predecessor, a number of real applications are used in the new benchmark version. The benchmark procedure also includes work breaks.

A WiFi connection is also active during the test. The part “Media Creation” demands the notebook a little more than “Office Productivity” due to the application. The ThinkPad X1 Carbon reaches six hours and 21 minutes in Office Productivity, and the counter stops at 304 minutes in “Media Creation”. This correlates quite well with our practical experience: About six hours of real mobile working were mostly in it.

Those who demand more performance from the Ultrabook when on the move can do so for 100 minutes. We test this at full brightness, as well as CPU/graphics and SSD under load. Apropos load: The notebook only really attracts attention acoustically in this load test. Overall, it belongs to the quietest Ultrabooks that have passed our test course so far.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon (2020) airport laptop test

Among other things, the 90 watt adapter mentioned at the beginning provides for a quick battery charging – Lenovo calls it Rapid Charge. The battery in the test device was already fully charged again after 88 minutes. Lenovo also promises that 80 percent of the charging capacity is already available after 35 minutes.

Verdict

The ThinkPad X1 Carbon’s combination of business-suitability and a light-weight ultrabook fulfills the ThinkPad X1 Carbon to a particularly high degree, and we give a recommendation for this. Sure, there are more chic Ultrabooks, but their filigree cases are usually hardly trusted for daily professional use.

The X1 Carbon conveys a completely different solidity and is still very light at 2.97 lbs. The display of the tested version is good, the keyboard is splendid and the runtimes are acceptable. These are, after all, not insignificant points for a professional travel companion.

And yes, there are weak points: The ThinkVantage tools have lost their nimbus and seem a bit overloaded in some places. The standard 90 watt power supply unit charges very fast, but is still a decent humming noise in the luggage.

We would have to talk about the interfaces again, not to mention the surcharges for the adapter. But that’s what one is used to from premium products elsewhere, and premium is also the price of the device itself.

And finally, a well-intentioned piece of advice for ThinkPad owners: Those who are not eligible for an Ultrabook upgrade either in terms of rotation or budget should avoid contact with the X1 Carbon. The way back is no real pleasure, due to its convincing performance in the test, which is why the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon is ranking first versus ThinkPad T490.

Ranking Second: Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020)

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) review test


Pros

  • Great Display Quality & Great with Linux
  • Cheaper Price than ThinkPad X1 Carbon
  • Large and fast SSD Storage space

Cons

  • Bad loudspeakers & noisey fans

The classic. The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is a mobile workstation in 14-inch format and represents the classic Lenovo T-Series product line. Quality, features and reliability are very important here and are especially tailored to the corporate sector.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 “represents the current revision of the popular 14-inch Lenovo T-series. The successful combination of quality, interface selection, configuration options, reliability and mobility has always been a favorite here. The ThinkPad keyboard is a decisive quality feature here, which contributes significantly to the overall picture gained so far.

But like almost every new model generation, the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 doesn’t get by without changes. Compared to the Lenovo ThinkPad T480, the thinner and much lighter case demands a lot of concessions from the user. Prospective buyers have to do without the flexible battery bridge system, for example, change to the smaller MicroSD memory card format and get along with partially soldered RAM.

The pricing currently starts at $700 in Lenovo’s online shop. In return, the customer essentially gets an Intel Core i5-8265U with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8 GB DDR4 RAM, a 256 GB solid-state drive and a FullHD IPS display.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) design

On the other hand, $900 (button above) have to be put on the table for the test device on Amazon. But an Intel Core i7-8565U, a dedicated Nvidia Geforce MX 250, 16 GB DDR4 RAM, a 1 TB solid-state drive and the high-resolution 14″ WQHD display are already included.

Design & Ports

Twelve military specifications (MIL-STD-810G) and 200 quality tests should prove the special case qualities of the Lenovo ThinkPad. In fact, you can hardly find any weaknesses in the test device. The wrist-rest is board-hard, the keyboard lies firmly, the display bezel can only be twisted a bit with force and the display hinges hold the screen firmly in position.

Merely the lower display frame between the widely spaced hinges can simply be pushed through. However, this shouldn’t have any negative relevance in practice.

Lenovo doesn’t buy the above-average stability and torsional stiffness of the business 14 incher with an excessive weight. The weighted 3.24 lbs isn’t record-breakingly low, but turns out pleasantly practical in view of the equipment and performance.

The model variants with a FullHD/touch display (about 3.42 lbs) or PrivacyGuard display (3.68 lbs) present themselves a bit heavier according to the data sheet.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) ports

The Lenovo ThinkPad doesn’t offer any separate maintenance flaps on the bottom, which is quite in line with the current trend, but the Chinese manufacturer is still quite moderate in terms of user replacement and upgrade work in the Lenovo ThinkPad T490. In the hardware maintenance manual you’ll find information about which components (Customer Replacable Units) you can get your hands on. As usual, you should inform yourself about the valid warranty conditions in advance.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is, by the way, only available in typical ThinkPad black. A silver-colored version, which is alternatively offered for example in various E or X series models, has been pinched for the business classic.

A special distinguishing feature to the less exclusively positioned ThinkPad product lines is the extremely diversified interface equipment. An HDMI 1.4b, 2 x USB 3.1 Gen.1 in type A format, 1 x USB 3.1 Gen.1 in type C format, a 3.5 mm jack port, Ethernet, a MicroSD memory card reader and a docking port with Thunderbolt 3 (incl. DisplayPort, charging, 40 Gbps) are always included.

In addition, the Lenovo Thinkpad T490 also has a smart card reader, NFC, an infrared camera with face recognition, an LTE broadband modem with GPS positioning function, a fingerprint reader or the practical camera cover, ThinkShutter, on request or depending on the configuration.

You can configure your personal ThinkPad individually very well in Lenovo’s online shop. The surcharges for individual components are quite moderate and thus allow a comparatively inexpensive customized configuration ex works.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) test keyboard

Lenovo has solved the interface positioning practically. Docking port and Ethernet connection are placed far to the rear on the sides and the distances between the interfaces are generally generous. External drives with a USB Y-cable (e.g. DVD burner) don’t find a connection here so easily, though, because the two USB type A ports are distributed on the two opposite sides.

The performance of the built-in interfaces mostly turns out very good in the test device. Transfer rates of up to 446 MB/s are possible via USB 3.1 Gen.1 and Sandisk’s Extreme 900 Portable SSD (USB 3.1 Gen.2) reaches up to 765 MB/s on the Thunderbolt 3. Real Thunderbolt 3 drives should deliver even higher transfer rates here.

The memory card reader, now integrated in the smaller MicroSD format, still transfers data via UHS-I standard. Faster UHS-II memory cards are thus slowed down, just like in the Lenovo ThinkPad T580. In the test, the device from Genesys Logic reaches up to 94 MB/s during reading.

The test device can also use a mobile LTE broadband module from Fibocom in addition to AC-WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 for the wireless interfaces. The SIM slot is integrated as a drawer at the rear and can be conveniently filled from outside.

Sound

The two 2 watt loudspeakers only have a few multimedia features. They clearly position themselves in the businesslike, less demanding office environment. Dominant highs garnished with a bit of midrange and bass provide sufficient audio quality for internet tasks or some background music, but should be quickly replaced by external solutions for presentations, movies or reviewing audio recordings. Boxes or headphones can be connected via USB, 3.5 mm jack or Bluetooth, for example.

Apparently, the test device with the driver and BIOS versions installed/available at the time of testing is not suitable for real-time audio tasks.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) closed view

The tool already reports latencies of over 3,503 µs after 1:40 minutes runtime. This is far above the limit of 1,000 µs. Impairments such as crackling noises, synchronization errors or dropouts could occur here. Disabling the usual suspects like network or battery components does not bring any improvement.

Here, interested parties must go for a more detailed troubleshooting or hope for driver or BIOS updates.

Safety

In addition to the usual password protection at BIOS and system level, the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is equipped with a Trusted Platform Module 2.0 and Opal 2.0-compliant solid state drives. The test device also has an infrared camera for face authentication (Windows Hello), a fingerprint reader, NFC and a smart card reader.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) safety test

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is equipped with a cable lock on the right side of the case for physical security against theft and the webcam can be conveniently locked with the ThinkShutter sliding cover. Not all security features are included in every model variant.

Keyboard & Touchpad

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 still comes with a high-quality keyboard. With a crisp pressure point, medium stroke, firm support and quiet stroke noise, not only frequent writers should feel comfortable here at first go.

The keys are executed in a comfortable 19 mm grid and even the arrow keys haven’t been compulsively squeezed into one line in opposition to many competitors.

The layout corresponds to the usual ThinkPad tradition, and also brings along swapped FN and Ctrl keys and a pushbutton positioned at the bottom. The assignment of the FN and Ctrl keys can be swapped in the BIOS or via the Lenovo Vantage tool if necessary. The keyboard illumination has two different brightness levels and supports the recognizability of the lettering in unfavorable lighting conditions.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) keyboard test touchpad

As already in the predecessor, this equipment detail isn’t part of the standard scope of delivery and can therefore be missing in certain model configurations.

In return, the red trackpoint, which is the trademark of many ThinkPads, is always included. Besides the look, the utility value is also convincing. After a bit of getting used to it, the mouse pointer can be moved quickly and precisely over the desktop and thus represents a welcome alternative to the touchpad.

In return, the 100 x 68 mm touchpad annoys in the test device with a moderately controllable operation. The gliding characteristics are excellent and the mouse keys integrated in the touchpad also work perfectly, but the mouse pointer often jumps over the target in a way that is difficult to control and thus causes incorrect input.

Whilst this effect is particularly noticeable in native resolution, the bouncing is much less pronounced at a screen scaling of 150%. The test device is equipped with the latest Synaptics driver. Because the ThinkPads tested so far haven’t shown any even approximately comparable behavior on the touchpad, this is classified as a characteristic of the test device in this case.

Display

The test device is equipped with the high-resolution WQHD panel (209 ppi, 16:9) and can also beat the in-house competition almost without exception when it comes to other features. Merely the glossy display surface could displease some users.

After all, an integrated anti-reflective layer provides for a reduction of the mirror effects and should, together with the maximum brightness of 479 cd/m², reconcile somewhat in this respect.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) display test

Apart from that, there’s hardly anything to criticize about AU Optronics’ WQHD display. The maximum brightness doesn’t reach the promised 500 cd/m² in the test, but it is quite adequate with the measured 475 cd/m². The brightness distribution is only average with 83%, but no conspicuous cloud formations or brightness differences are visible to the naked eye in the black image and in practical use.

The display brightness can be regulated with percentage accuracy over 11 predefined brightness levels or in the Windows display settings. For example, brightness level 8 delivers 226 cd/m² and brightness level 6 137 cd/m² in the test device.

The black value is 0.241 cd/m² at maximum brightness in the delivery state, but deteriorates to 0.337 cd/m² after profiling. The achieved contrast of 1,987:1 and 1,409:1 is however impressive in both cases.

Already in the data sheet it can be seen that the WQHD display should offer a high color space coverage. The sRGB color space, as well as the AdobeRGB color space can actually be reproduced almost completely. Fine color gradations do not get lost in a uniform pulp, as is the case with many competitors, but are displayed in a differentiated manner.

However, true color reproduction is only possible in the AdobeRGB color space. With an average DeltaE 2000 (deviation from the ideal, the less the better) of 0.8 and a maximum DeltaE 2000 of 3.2, the panel provides reference values.

Performance

According to the Product Specification Reference (PSREF), the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is available with the Intel Core i5-8265U or the Intel Core i7-8565U. Depending on the model variant, the Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated in the processors is combined with a dedicated Nvidia Geforce MX 250 in the Nvidia Optimus network.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) video edidting

Only M.2 PCIe drives with a capacity of up to 1 TB are currently offered in the Lenovo online shop in this country. Lenovo basically still has conventional 2.5-inch hard disks or combinations with Intel’s Optane memory in its program.

The main memory is partly soldered on and then offers a capacity of 8 GB or 16 GB. This can be supplemented by a commercially available, suitable SO-DIMM module (DDR4) in a free RAM slot. The maximum RAM capacity is thus limited to 48 GB.

The Intel Core i7-8565U is an economical 4-core processor from Intel’s ULV Whiskey Lake family and regularly gets by with a thermal design power (TDP) of 15 watts. Clock rates of up to 4.6 GHz and up to 8 threads that can be operated simultaneously make this CPU solution suitable for a wide range of applications.

As with all other notebook concepts, the actual retrievable performance of the CPU depends on the cooling system and the manufacturer’s coordination. The TDP can be raised to 25 watts or lowered to 8 watts.

In the Lenovo ThinkPad T490, the Intel Core i7-8565U is allowed to run permanently with high clock rates. The extended TDP of 25 watts is utilized here. This not only provides for very good test results in the benchmarks, but should also lead to an above average processor performance in practice.

The test device achieves 192 points in the Cinebench R15 64 bit single thread test and 678 points in the multi-thread test. Both results surpass, for example, the Intel Core i7-8565U in Asus ZenBook UX433FN. In return, the Dell XPS 13 9380 can beat a few more points in the multi-threaded test.

If the processor is constantly under stress, the test device delivers a very constant performance. The Geekbench stress test doesn’t fall below the result mark of 13,000 points. Conspicuous fluctuations are not visible. Beyond the usual 13 Geekbench stress test runs, the tester still delivers a result of 13,122 points after the 24th run.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) performance benchmarks gaming

An Optimus composite of Intel UHD Graphics 620 and Nvidia Geforce MX 250 works in the graphics section of the Lenovo ThinkPad T490. Depending on the task, either the economical Intel solution or the more powerful Nvidia graphics is used. You can either assign this on your own or leave it to the well-functioning automatic.

In the test, the Nvidia Geforce MX 250’s performance with 2 GB GDDR5 graphics memory placed itself on the level of the Nvidia Geforce MX 150 in the Acer Aspire 5 A515. The variants in the Huawei MateBook X Pro or Dell Inspiron 17 (7773) have a somewhat weaker performance, which is mainly due to the lower clock rates. The graphics unit runs with up to 1.721 MHz in the Lenovo ThinkPad T490.

This is sufficient for 65 fps in Unigine Heaven Basic and 3,260 points in 3DMark Firestrike, for example. Frugal games can thus be displayed smoothly with a reserved resolution and quality settings. If you want to play games more often and ambitiously, you should look for a notebook with a more powerful graphics unit.

Otherwise, the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 has of course many important detail features in the graphics area. UHD videos run smoothly, external 4k displays can be controlled with a refresh rate of 60 Hz and video conversions can be accelerated via CUDA or Intel Quick Sync Video.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 can be equipped with two internally installed mass storage devices in M.2 format. Toshiba’s PCIe-M.2-SSD XG6 with a capacity of 512 GB (gross) is used in the test device. This solution delivers very good transfer rates of up to 3,245 MB/s for sequential read (QD32) and 2,948 MB/s for sequential write (QD32).

Noise & temperature levels

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is so little demanded in simple office use with less demanding tasks like internet research, word processing, spreadsheets or image editing that the notebook usually works silently in these situations. Electronic noises didn’t occur in the test device.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is unimpressed by short demanding CPU calculations and compensates for these without a fan insert. The fan only generates a sound pressure level of 30.4 dB(A) under longer load, which can increase up to 36.1 dB(A) in the further course.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) side view

In opposition, the fan gets up to speed much faster when using the Nvidia Geforce MX 250 and already generates a sound pressure level of 36.4 dB(A) after a few seconds. The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 has a pleasantly sonorous fan noise without annoying, high frequency noise. Moreover, no hectic speed changes occurred in the test.

The temperatures on the case’s surfaces are usually well below the 50-degree mark after an hour of stress test. Merely a small hotspot on the central bottom then reaches a clearly noticeable 61.2°C and the material heats up to 56.4°C directly on the air outlet. Both should prove to be uncritical during normal handling on the desk. The power supply unit heats up to 46.6 °C.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 proves to be quite modest despite a high-resolution display and dedicated Nvidia graphics. The entire consumption spectrum ranges from a minimum of 2.0 watts (idle, display off) up to 66.7 watts under full load in the test. However, the load peak is only present for a short time and drops to 53.4 to 55.8 watts after the clock rates settle down briefly. The power supply unit is specified with a rated power of 65 watts and offers sufficient reserves apart from the short load peak even under full load.

Battery life

The now integrated battery system represents a decisive change to the predecessor Lenovo ThinkPad T480. Whilst the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 still used battery bridge technology with an internally inserted and an externally exchangeable battery, the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 now generally has to make do with a 50 Wh battery built into the case. Alternative capacity sizes are not available.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 (2020) design test

This of course offers advantages in case size and weight, but robs the 14 incher of the previous flexibility in terms of battery configuration and the possibility of uninterrupted continuous operation.

The battery runtimes achieved in the test turn out well, but are rather in the midfield in comparison to the competition. Moreover, a portion of the runtimes are generated at the expense of performance. In the PC Mark 8 system benchmark, for example, only 2,266 points instead of 3,575 points are achieved in battery mode. The bottom line is that the 5 to 8 hours achieved in the test should be sufficient for many tasks, though.

The 65 watt adapter needs 2:09 hours in idle for charging the 50 Wh battery. This corresponds to the usual time frame.

Verdict

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 has also become a very good business notebook in the current version, Lenovo ThinkPad T490. Case, keyboard, display and performance show themselves from their best side in the test device and hardly give cause for criticism. These basic characteristics are complemented by restrained emissions, a manufacturer’s warranty according to its status and flexible customization options.

However, the now more compact and lighter case requires compromises in the battery equipment and bans the flexible battery bridge system of its predecessor. This limits the possible battery life and prevents uninterrupted continuous operation in outdoor use.

The interface equipment with the memory card reader in MicroSD format or the WQHD display with its reflective surface might also displease some users., which is why the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is ranking behind vs ThinkPad X1 Carbon.


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