Lenovo Thinkpad E485 Review

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This is my honest, much needed and unbiased review of the new (budget) Lenovo Thinkpad E485 with AMD Ryzen (Raven Ridge) APU
Table of Contents


Last year I built a PC with a AMD Ryzen 5 1600 and I was truly impressed. Then now its time for me to get a new laptop and it was only natural to look for something that had AMD in it. I am very excited for my first Thinkpad, I even starting writing the same day as I ordered the unit (which took its damn time to be delived. More than 10 work days when a estimate of 7 was given by Digital River, Lenovo’s partner seller in Europe).

I will be using this machine for music production (not professionally, just a hobby), occasional light gaming and work related stuff (I’m a Systems Engineer). Windows will be a secondary OS (for the music stuff mainly, since my DAW of choice - which is Reason - requires it) and Linux (Arch / OpenSUSE) will be my daily driver.

Also, this the first review I ever did, please don’t expect much as I lack the experience :)

Overview

  • AMD Ryzen 7 2700U Processor (6 MB Cache, 3.80 GHz)
  • Windows 10 Home 64 (keys are cheap on eBay and Linux is my focus so I could save some money here).
  • 35,6 cm (14,0”) FHD IPS (1.920 x 1.080)
  • 8GB DDR4 2400MHz SODIMM (I plan to add another 8GB stick soon)
  • AMD Radeon RX Vega 10 GPU
  • 256 GB Solid-State-Disk, M.2 2280, PCIe 4.0 (16 GT/s), OPAL 2.0
  • 45Wh battery
  • 65W charger (3 Pins) – EU (USB Type C)
  • Qualcomm Atheros QCNFA435AC with Bluetooth 4.1
  • 1 year warranty
  • Price: ~ €760 (~ €120 being VAT)

I needed a laptop where I could have at least two hard drives and the E485 makes that possible by having a M.2 slot and a regular 2.5” slot. Build quality looks solid, metal lid and sturdy plastic. The keyboard is very (!!!) good, super confortable, well positioned and the trackpad is ok, nice size too. There seem to be an issue when you type fast and this was corrected by BIOS 1.32

The port selection is fair but I disagree with the microSD slot (would prefer a full size SD like most models have).

Opening the laptop to install a 2.5” SSD was easy but some plastic clips seem to have broke down during the process (I was really careful). After closing, it doesn’t seem that any significant clips were broken, it closed perfectly so I don’t think I should worry.

The speakers are alright, audio is ok. But that’s it, not amazing by any means.

Battery and Screen

The battery capacity is not amazing, but at this price point I will not complain. Same goes for the screen, but again, the price range kinda makes this ok (and I don’t really care about this, its more than enough for any kind of usage that doesn’t require color accuracy, for a person like me it is a nice screen). It lasts around 4h (Linux and Windows) but with the expected fix, it should last at least a couple hours more.

The screen suffers from some bleeding on the corners but only really visible during the boot screen and for a couple of seconds. It is fine otherwise.

The laptop charges fast (50% or so in around 30 minutes), feels like my OnePlus 6 with the Dash Charger.

Linux

Linux runs well in this machine. The only necessary thing to do is add ivrs_ioapic[32]=00:14.0 to the boot parameters (thanks to Evil Azrael). You will need a recent kernel and this is the kind of issue Lenovo will probably fix with another BIOS update.

UEFI boot works perfectly too (I am using systemd-boot, previously called gummiboot). Arch installation was done using the Zen Arch Installer because I’m lazy.

As of now I have yet to figure out the Fn keys functions in Linux, this is not yet working for me (haven’t put effort to fix this yet, I’m sure it will be trivial). My current setup uses BSPWM so it is barebones. A full DE like KDE or Gnome will probably not have any issues like this. Sound works out of the box, wireless too.

Performance

Cpu-Z screenshot for the CPU (it is indeed 15W):

In Windows, Cinnebench score is consistently ~ 640 / 32 FPS with one RAM stick only (8GB DDR4). I expect a little better graphic performance with another stick running in dual channel.

3DMark results can be found here, I haven’t noticed any thermal issues:

Lenovo Thinkpad E485 3DMark

For Linux, you can see the results of a few of the Phoronix Test Suite tests here:

In both Windows and Linux, I did not noticed any thermal issues. Fan noise is definately present when under load but nothing annoying.

I got “unlucky” and my laptop came with the generic NVMe drive, which is not as fast as a Samsung EVO for example but it is still pretty good. Wireless is also decent and works OOB with Linux.

Conclusion

I am satisfied with the laptop, considering its price. I mean, I will be satisfied once Lenovo fixes the battery problem. Other than that, I was not expecting a good build quality for this price, but the E485 gives you that. The device is really nice and I can reccommend it!

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