Lenovo ThinkPad T490 review: laptop workhorse

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Lenovo ThinkPad T490 can be called a boring laptop. But boring is not always bad; some people want security and reliability from a laptop, and the ThinkPad T490 strives to meet these requirements.

I tested the main version of the laptop withan 8th-generation Whiskey Lake Core i5-8265U processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 256 GB PCIe SSD, and a Full HD display (1920 × 1080). All this will cost you 84.5 thousand rubles. (approximately $ 1320).

But, does the ThinkPad T490 meet the reputation of a reliable device for demanding users who do not need the benefits of the X1 series? Learn from the review.

  • Specifications
  • Design and appearance
  • Display and picture
  • Ports and connections
  • Keyboard and Security
  • Performance
  • Battery autonomy
  • Alternatives
  • Should I buy?
  • Characteristics Lenovo ThinkPad T490


    8th Generation Intel Core i5-8265U (1.60 GHz, up to 3.90 GHz with Turbo Boost, 4 cores, 6 MB cache)
    8th Generation Intel Core i7-8565U (1.80 GHz, up to 4.60 GHz with Turbo Boost, 4 Cores, 8MB Cache)


    Windows 10 Home
    Windows 10 Pro


    14.0 HD (1366 × 768, 220 nits) anti-reflective
    14.0 FHD (1920 × 1080, 250 nit) IPS anti-glare
    14.0 FHD (1920 × 1080, 300 nits) IPS Anti-Glare Multi-Touch
    14.0 FHD (1920 × 1080, 400 nit) IPS with PrivacyGuard
    14.0 FHD (1920 × 1080, 400 nit) IPS low power consumption
    14.0 WQHD (2560 × 1440, 500 nits), glossy IPS with Dolby Vision HDR, 100% Adobe gamut


    up to 32 GB DDR 2400 MHz


    up to 1 TB PCIe SSD


    Intel® UHD 620, NVIDIA GeForce® MX 250 2 GB


    Dolby Audio Premium Dual 2W


    WLAN: Dual Band Intel 9560 802.11 AC (2 × 2)
    WWAN: Fibocom L850-GL 4G LTE-A Cat9 (optional)



    Ports and connectors

    2 × USB 3.1 Gen 1 (one always active), 1 × USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C (power, DisplayPort, data transfer), 1 × USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C / Intel Thunderbolt 3 (power, DisplayPort, data transfer), MicroSD card reader, Micro-SIM slot, HDMI 1.4, RJ45 Gigabit Ethernet


    HD 720p with ThinkShutter and cover, hybrid infrared (IR) with ThinkShutter


    Waterproof, backlight (optional)


    Authentication capabilities Fast Online Identity (FIDO), dTPM 2.0, fingerprint scanner, ThinkShutter, webcam security cover, PrivacyGuard (optional), Kensington lock slot


    Up to 16 hours


    32.89 × 22.7 × 1.77 cm

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    Design and appearance

    ThinkPad T490 design is much more consistentwhat the ThinkPad fans are used to seeing - the laptop is completely black, with a few red accents. The case is made of plastic with a fiberglass backing, it looks quite durable. The surface has a nice matte texture that makes the ThinkPad series so appealing. I should note the wide angle of the display, which was also demonstrated by the X1 Carbon, the rest of the body is pretty solid.

    One of the design features of the T490 islack of thin frames, here they are thicker than competitors. In general, the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 has become smaller compared to the T480, it is 1.78 cm thinner and 1.44 kg lighter. You definitely won't mix it up with a MacBook or XPS, but that's what you intended.

    Display and picture

    Unfortunately, the Full HD display in the T490 medisappointed. Colors look muffled and inaccurate, and the panel gains only 45% in the AdobeRGB color space and 61% in sRGB. Most premium laptops are closer to 95% in sRGB and 72% in AdobeRGB. You are unlikely to want to edit photos or videos on this screen.

    Worse, the display is not very bright, only 273 nits. Good panels have a brightness of 300 nits or more. The contrast on the screen of the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is also low - 670: 1, the latest premium laptops have a value closer to 1000: 1, and you will immediately notice the difference. But, the good news is that the ThinkPad T490 is available on the market with much better displays.

    Ports and connections

    In the ThinkPad T490 you will find full-size HDMI 1.4, USB-A 3.1 Gen 1, USB-C 3.1 Gen 1 with power, DisplayPort with data transfer, USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, microSD card reader and proprietary dock connector. All of them are located on the left side of the device. On the right is a full-size Ethernet and another USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 port.

    There’s even a micro-SIM slot in caseif you want to use the LTE data service or become truly portable. In the instance I tested there was even an Intel 9560 802.11AC module with Bluetooth 5.0.

    Keyboard and Security

    Another advantage of the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 iskeyboard. It is really comfortable, with a large depth of key travel and precise mechanism. White letters on black keyboards are clearly visible. The only thing I miss here is the backlight (there is a white backlight in some versions).

    The familiar red small trackpoint isright in the middle of the keyboard, it works just as well as on all ThinkPad models. Two additional trackpad buttons at the top hide a little space on the touch panel, but this is not critical. The touchpad is large enough, with support for Microsoft Precision, which means that various multi-touch gestures in Windows 10 are supported on it.

    Windows Hello Support Provideda standard fingerprint scanner that worked reliably throughout the test, and an additional infrared camera for face recognition. Privacy is also enhanced with ThinkShutter and a curtain that physically closes the webcam, protecting you from prying eyes.

    Iron productivity

    I got a Lenovo ThinkPad T490 with a review8th generation Core i5 processor. This is an excellent quad-core chip for basic tasks. In the GeekBench 4 synthetic test, the result was slightly below average: 4,158 for one core and 12,395 for all. The Handbrake test, which converts 420 MB video to H.265, took a little over five minutes to complete.

    ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga work almost onflush with the ThinkPad T490. It should be noted that some laptops with the same processor were faster, including the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s, which completed Handbrake one minute faster. However, with the 10th generation Comet Lake processors, the T490 would probably have better performance.

    You'll also get a discrete with ThinkPad T490NVIDIA GeForce MX250 graphics card. This is an entry-level graphics, but it surpasses the built-in Intel UHD 620. This will not only improve the gaming experience, but also the possibilities in creative applications.

    Battery autonomy

    In the local battery autonomy testThe ThinkPad T490 lasted 17.5 hours. If you use a demanding application that loads the processor, the laptop battery will provide you with about four hours of battery life. With this laptop, you will forget about the outlet for a whole, working day, when fast charging will allow you to recharge the device with energy by 80% per hour.

    X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga, which I tested earlier,had 4K displays and about the same 50-watt battery as the ThinkPad T490. But the time of their battery life did not impress me. In turn, the autonomy of the T490 with its low-power Full HD-screen and economical Core i5 was excellent. During testing, I passed the device through a series of popular and demanding tests, while the battery lasted 11.73 hours, this result surpasses most laptops on the market.

    Alternatives to ThinkPad T490

    In this review, I already mentioned a couple of alternativeoptions, including ThinkPad X1 Carbon and X1 Yoga (if you want a 2-in-1 device). Both of these laptops look better, a bit thinner and lighter, and work just as well. In addition, they offer 4K displays (and probably better Full HD), which the T490 cannot boast of.

    Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme - Anotheran alternative if you are looking for crazy fast components and superior extensibility. If you do not need the full 14 inches, I advise you to pay attention to the Dell XPS 13.


    Lenovo ThinkPad T490 justifies itsworkhorse status. Even if you don’t like the iconic look of the ThinkPad series, it’s worth recognizing that the T490 is well designed and works great. The main advantage is autonomy, its battery will last at least a day. Nevertheless, the display is not good enough, given the cost of the laptop.

    However, the ThinkPad T490 will last you untilthe onset of the apocalypse, and probably he will still have a little charge. There are good components and there are lots of options for connecting. Unfortunately, when you buy, you get only a one-year warranty, but Lenovo will gladly sell you a longer one, with its service and support.

    Should I buy?

    Yes, if for you performance, keyboard, usability and autonomy are the main selection criteria.


    • High build quality.
    • Superb keyboard and touchpad.
    • There is an option with discrete graphics.
    • Very long battery life.


    • Not the thinnest or lightest.
    • Not the best display at this price.

    Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Notebook Review - video