In review: Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is difficult to upgrade
Soldered Wi-Fi, soldered RAM, no more HDD/SSD combination options – it is safe to say that Lenovo ThinkPad laptops used to be more upgradeable. With the newest models of the 2019 generation, Lenovo has reduced the upgradeability of its compact business systems a lot. In the case of the ThinkPad X390 and the Thinkpad T490s, for example, the only possible upgrades are the SSD and the WWAN card.
The situation is a little bit better when it comes to the Lenovo ThinkPad T490. The thicker and heavier model still has a RAM slot, allowing for memory upgrades with up to 40 / 48 GB.
Seemingly, the ThinkPad T490 is the better choice for users who like to upgrade their own hardware. Unfortunately, Lenovo makes upgrading the T490 needlessly difficult, which we found out while reviewing the ThinkPad. The bottom cover, which has to be removed to upgrade the ThinkPad T490, is secured by screws and clips.
It is nothing new that PC manufacturers use such clips these days with thin & light ultrabook designs. However, in the case of the ThinkPad T490, the clips proved to be especially annoying, in particular the clips at the front edge of the system. It is not only difficult to open the chassis, it is difficult to close it as well – if not done right, the user risks retaining an annoying gap between chassis parts if the clips are not snapped in correctly.
The thinner ThinkPads X390 and T490s proof that Lenovo can design a chassis that is easier to open. Both of them have a service door without the annoying clips. It is unfortunate that these models are not really upgradeable due to their soldered RAM.