Notebookcheck

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop Review: A business laptop with long battery life and an iGPU

Benjamin Herzig, 👁 Andreas Osthoff (translated by Alex Alderson), 06/20/2019

Better without NVIDIA? We are already well acquainted with the ThinkPad T490, having reviewed the model with an NVIDIA GPU only last month. Now it is time for the model with only an Intel GPU to be subjected to our tests, but how will it perform in the absence of a dedicated GPU? Read on in our detailed review to find out.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is currently one of the best business laptops on the market, with it scoring 90% in our review earlier this year. Lenovo offers the 14-inch device in various configurations though, with some coming with dedicated GPUs and others without. Our first review unit falls into the former category with its NVIDIA GeForce MX250 GPU, so it may not necessarily best represent the whole T490 range.

Hence, we have decided to test another model to see how it stacks up. In today's test device there is the Intel Core i5-8265U instead of the Core i7-8565U, although both integrate the seemingly evergreen Intel UHD Graphics 620. Our new review unit also has a 256 GB SSD compared to its sibling’s 512 GB and lacks the latter’s dedicated GPU too.

However, both devices are identically designed and come with the same connectivity, input devices and speakers. Please see our first ThinkPad T490 review for our thoughts and test results for these areas.

Our present review unit retails for 1,521 Euros (~US$1,706) and carries the model number 20N2004EGE. The device includes the same low-power Full HD panel that we saw in our first ThinkPad T490 review along with 8 GB of DDR4 RAM and LTE connectivity.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE (ThinkPad T490 Series)
Graphics adapter
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR4-2400, 8 GB soldered, 1 SODIMM slot free
Display
14 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 157 PPI, NE140FHM-N61, IGZO IPS LED, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Cannon Lake-U PCH-LP Premium
Storage
Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G, 256 GB 
, M.2 2280, PCIe NVMe, 213 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Cannon Lake-LP - cAVS
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 2 DisplayPort, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm combined headphone and microphone jack, Card Reader: microSD, 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader
Networking
Intel Ethernet Connection I219-V (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 5.0, Fibocom L830-EB, LTE, GPS
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 18.9 x 329 x 227 ( = 0.74 x 12.95 x 8.94 in)
Battery
50 Wh Lithium-Polymer
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p with infrared
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: 6 row chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Lenovo Vantage, Microsoft Office trial, 36 Months Warranty
Weight
1.443 kg ( = 50.9 oz / 3.18 pounds), Power Supply: 345 g ( = 12.17 oz / 0.76 pounds)
Price
1520 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Size Comparison

337 mm / 13.3 inch 233 mm / 9.17 inch 20 mm / 0.787 inch 1.8 kg3.92 lbs331 mm / 13 inch 226.8 mm / 8.93 inch 18.45 mm / 0.726 inch 1.4 kg3.01 lbs331 mm / 13 inch 220.9 mm / 8.7 inch 17.9 mm / 0.705 inch 1.6 kg3.44 lbs329 mm / 13 inch 227 mm / 8.94 inch 18.9 mm / 0.744 inch 1.4 kg3.18 lbs329 mm / 13 inch 225.8 mm / 8.89 inch 16.1 mm / 0.634 inch 1.3 kg2.8 lbs326 mm / 12.8 inch 234 mm / 9.21 inch 17.9 mm / 0.705 inch 1.5 kg3.26 lbs

Connectivity


Left-hand side: USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, mini Ethernet, USB 3.0 Type-A, HDMI, 3.5 mm jack, microSD card reader
Left-hand side: USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C, Thunderbolt 3, mini Ethernet, USB 3.0 Type-A, HDMI, 3.5 mm jack, microSD card reader
Right-hand side: Smart card reader, USB 3.0 Type-A, RJ45 Ethernet, Kensington lock slot
Right-hand side: Smart card reader, USB 3.0 Type-A, RJ45 Ethernet, Kensington lock slot
SDCardreader Transfer Speed
average JPG Copy Test (av. of 3 runs)
Dell Latitude 7490
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 UHS-II)
137.6 MB/s ∼100% +78%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
81.2 MB/s ∼59% +5%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
77.8 MB/s ∼57% +1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 64 GB UHS-II)
77.4 MB/s ∼56%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
68.3 MB/s ∼50% -12%
Average of class Office
  (10.2 - 191, n=267)
60.7 MB/s ∼44% -22%
maximum AS SSD Seq Read Test (1GB)
Dell Latitude 7490
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 UHS-II)
203.2 MB/s ∼100% +146%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
89.9 MB/s ∼44% +9%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501)
87.8 MB/s ∼43% +6%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
86.4 MB/s ∼43% +5%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro M501 64 GB UHS-II)
82.5 MB/s ∼41%
Average of class Office
  (9.5 - 255, n=242)
77 MB/s ∼38% -7%
Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
650 MBit/s ∼100% +1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
648 MBit/s ∼100% +1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
642 MBit/s ∼99%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
Intel 8265 Tri-Band WiFi (Oak Peak) Network Adapter
625 MBit/s ∼96% -3%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
618 MBit/s ∼95% -4%
Average of class Office
  (5 - 688, n=210)
462 MBit/s ∼71% -28%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
667 MBit/s ∼100% +1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
662 MBit/s ∼99%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
Intel 8265 Tri-Band WiFi (Oak Peak) Network Adapter
520 MBit/s ∼78% -21%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
519 MBit/s ∼78% -22%
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
513 MBit/s ∼77% -23%
Average of class Office
  (34 - 688, n=210)
437 MBit/s ∼66% -34%

Display

Sub-pixel array: NE140FHM-N61
Sub-pixel array: NE140FHM-N61
Our review unit doesn't suffer from backlight bleeding
Our review unit doesn't suffer from backlight bleeding

Lenovo currently allows shoppers to choose from six display options with the T490, although our review unit has the same low-power Full HD display that the first T490 we tested had. They both have BOE NE140FHM-N61 panels, so we shall keep this section short as we have covered the display in depth in our previous ThinkPad T490 review.

According to Lenovo, this matte IGZO IPS display should achieve a maximum brightness of 400 cd/m², although X-Rite i1Pro 2 measures our current review unit averaging 409 cd/m². The BOE panel is about 5% brighter than the low-power alternative made by AUO, which we examined in our ThinkPad T490s review.

In short, our tests underline that the BOE panel is excellent overall. It is bright and evenly so, while it suffers from hardly any backlight bleeding. It is a PWM display, but it flickers at 2,400 Hz, which should be high enough not to cause anyone any health issues.

421
cd/m²
426
cd/m²
408
cd/m²
397
cd/m²
428
cd/m²
393
cd/m²
407
cd/m²
416
cd/m²
389
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 428 cd/m² Average: 409.4 cd/m² Minimum: 5.2 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 91 %
Center on Battery: 428 cd/m²
Contrast: 1476:1 (Black: 0.29 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.6 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6.1, calibrated: 2
ΔE Greyscale 5.4 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3
92.2% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 60% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.09
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
NE140FHM-N61, , 1920x1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
NE140FHM-N61, , 1920x1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
B140HAN05.7, , 1920x1080, 14
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
IVO M140NVF7 R0, , 1920x1080, 14
Dell Latitude 7490
AUO503D (D04YD_B140HAN), , 1920x1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
Lenovo LP140WF6-SPB7, , 1920x1080, 14
Response Times
-2%
13%
42%
36%
48%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
71.2 (33.2, 38)
74 (33.6, 40.4)
-4%
61.6 (30.8, 30.8)
13%
33 (15, 18)
54%
41.6 (22, 19.6)
42%
35.6 (17.6, 18)
50%
Response Time Black / White *
44.8 (21.2, 23.6)
45.6 (22.8, 22.8)
-2%
38.8 (21.2, 17.6)
13%
26 (15, 11)
42%
32 (16.4, 15.6)
29%
24.8 (13.2, 11.6)
45%
PWM Frequency
2427 (50)
2451 (50)
1%
3125 (90)
29%
Screen
1%
15%
3%
-11%
-38%
Brightness middle
428
418
-2%
391
-9%
655
53%
308.6
-28%
307
-28%
Brightness
409
400
-2%
389
-5%
630
54%
294
-28%
295
-28%
Brightness Distribution
91
88
-3%
87
-4%
93
2%
89
-2%
90
-1%
Black Level *
0.29
0.24
17%
0.23
21%
0.56
-93%
0.23
21%
0.25
14%
Contrast
1476
1742
18%
1700
15%
1170
-21%
1342
-9%
1228
-17%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.6
4.7
-2%
3.4
26%
3.27
29%
6.07
-32%
5.7
-24%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
8.2
8.7
-6%
4.7
43%
5.92
28%
10.58
-29%
21.3
-160%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
2
2.1
-5%
1.1
45%
3.22
-61%
1.67
16%
4.7
-135%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
5.4
5.9
-9%
4
26%
2.85
47%
7.3
-35%
3.7
31%
Gamma
2.09 105%
2.06 107%
2.49 88%
2.45 90%
2.061 107%
2.11 104%
CCT
7562 86%
7350 88%
6809 95%
6065 107%
7269 89%
7353 88%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
60
59.9
0%
62.4
4%
57
-5%
62
3%
37.4
-38%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
92.2
92.1
0%
97.4
6%
88
-5%
97
5%
58.7
-36%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-1% / 0%
14% / 15%
23% / 11%
13% / -4%
5% / -25%

* ... smaller is better

CalMAN: Colour Accuracy
CalMAN: Colour Accuracy
CalMAN: Colour Saturation
CalMAN: Colour Saturation
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Grayscale
CalMAN: Colour Accuracy - calibrated
CalMAN: Colour Accuracy - calibrated
CalMAN: Colour Saturation - calibrated
CalMAN: Colour Saturation - calibrated
CalMAN: Grayscale - calibrated
CalMAN: Grayscale - calibrated

The BOE does suffer from a slight blue tint out of the factory though, but additional calibration eliminates this. We have included our calibrated ICC profile in the box above our comparison table should you wish to use it.

The display also has an excellent 1,476:1 contrast ratio, although it is 18% lower than what our first ThinkPad T490 review unit achieved on account of its higher black value. Both panels are just as colour accurate as each other though.

Unsurprisingly, both displays have equally good colour-space coverages. 92.2% sRGB and 60% AdobeRGB are good enough for some light photo-editing, but the displays in the ThinkPad T490s and Dell Latitude 7490 offer slightly truer colour accuracy than the T490 can. The BOE panel cannot cover enough of the red and blue sections of AdobeRGB to be considered good enough for professional use in our opinion.

92.2% sRGB colour-space coverage
92.2% sRGB colour-space coverage
60% AdobeRGB colour-space coverage
60% AdobeRGB colour-space coverage
Using the ThinkPad T490 outside in the shade
Using the ThinkPad T490 outside in the shade
Using the ThinkPad T490 outside in the sun
Using the ThinkPad T490 outside in the sun

The IGZO panel is also suitable for outdoor use. The matte finish diffuses reflections well, and its high maximum brightness ensures that you should be able to read it under direct sunlight. The display will still look washed-out though, so we would recommend using the T490 in the shade where possible.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
44.8 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 21.2 ms rise
↘ 23.6 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 98 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (25.1 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
71.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 33.2 ms rise
↘ 38 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 98 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (40.2 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 2427 Hz ≤ 50 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 2427 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 50 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 2427 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9429 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

The T490 has stable viewing angles, although its display suffers from the IPS-typical glow effect, a common problem of many IPS panels. This does not affect readability in daily use and only becomes visible at extreme viewing angles.

Viewing angles: NE140FHM-N61
Viewing angles: NE140FHM-N61

Performance

The most important difference between the various ThinkPad T490 models is the inclusion or lack of a dedicated GPU. Lenovo includes a stronger cooling system with models that have a dedicated GPU than those that do not too. Our current review unit has one heat pipe from its CPU heatsink to its fan, compared to the two that its GeForce MX250-equipped sibling has.

Interestingly, Lenovo restricts the SKUs with dedicated GPUs to Core i7 processors, meaning that you can only buy a Core i5-equipped T490 without a GeForce GPU. The company has also opted to solder 8 GB or 16 GB of RAM to the motherboard depending on the version that you buy and leaves a SO-DIMM slot free should you need to add more RAM at some point. Theoretically, you could upgrade the 8 GB model to 40 GB or the 16 GB model to 48 GB if you buy a 32 GB SO-DIMM module.

HWiNFO
HWiNFO
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z Caches
CPU-Z Caches
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Mainboard
GPU-Z
GPU-Z
LatencyMon
LatencyMon
 
 

Processor

Lenovo has equipped our review unit with a Core i5-8265U processor, which is a 15 W and quad-core Whiskey Lake chip that many OEMs use in their thin and compact laptops. The CPU supports Intel Turbo Boost for an all core maximum clock speed of 3.9 GHz, with its base clock being 1.6 GHz. Please see our CPU benchmarks page for more information on the Core i5-8265U and how it fares against other CPUs.

Intel allows OEMs to configure the TDP beyond 15 W, with Lenovo opting for the maximum of 25 W. The processor can also temporarily peak at 29 W at maximum Turbo Boost speeds, which explains why the first Cinebench R15 Multi 64Bit score is so much higher than subsequent results. Our review unit drops from 650 points to 613 points by the second run through of our CB R15 Multi 64Bit loop, but it stabilises at this level for the remaining 30+ pass-throughs. The CPU consistently consumes 25 W too and operates at about 2.9 GHz, which is only 200 MHz shy of when it briefly hits 29 W.

The Core i5-8265U in our review unit scores slightly less than the Core i7-8565U in the other ThinkPad T490 that we have reviewed, which is probably on account of its weaker cooling system as well as its lesser CPU. Nevertheless, our Core i5-powered review unit does not thermal throttle like the ThinkPad T490s with the same CPU does, and it scores considerably more than the Core i7-8550U-equipped HP EliteBook 840 G5.

The T490 does not throttle its CPU performance on battery power.

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Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel Core i5-8265U: Ø617 (613-650)
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00 Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel Core i7-8565U: Ø639 (632-673)
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00 Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel Core i5-8265U: Ø584 (566.02-686.12)
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel Core i7-8550U: Ø526 (517.01-554.05)
Dell Latitude 7490 Intel Core i5-8350U, Intel Core i5-8350U: Ø531 (519.92-595.49)
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
Intel Core i7-8565U
180 Points ∼100% +10%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Intel Core i7-8550U
167 Points ∼93% +2%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
Intel Core i5-8265U
163 Points ∼91%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
Intel Core i5-8265U
162 Points ∼90% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
Intel Core i7-8550U
161 Points ∼89% -1%
Average Intel Core i5-8265U
  (111 - 163, n=22)
154 Points ∼86% -6%
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel Core i5-8350U
153 Points ∼85% -6%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel Core i5-8250U
143 Points ∼79% -12%
Average of class Office
  (20 - 193, n=518)
111 Points ∼62% -32%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel Core i5-8250U
724 Points ∼100% +17%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel Core i5-8250U
716 Points ∼99% +16%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
Intel Core i5-8265U
686 (min: 566.02, max: 686.12) Points ∼95% +11%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
Intel Core i7-8565U
680 (min: 592.15, max: 661.89) Points ∼94% +10%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
Intel Core i7-8550U
657 Points ∼91% +6%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
Intel Core i5-8265U
617 (min: 613, max: 658) Points ∼85%
Average Intel Core i5-8265U
  (483 - 750, n=24)
603 Points ∼83% -2%
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel Core i5-8350U
569 Points ∼79% -8%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Intel Core i7-8550U
554 Points ∼77% -10%
Average of class Office
  (36 - 1050, n=526)
337 Points ∼47% -45%
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
617 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
44.89 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
163 Points
Help

System Performance

Our review unit has decent system performance, although the absence of a dedicated GPU restricts it to the midfield of our PCMark comparison tables. You should experience no slowdowns or stutters in daily use though.

PCMark 10
Digital Content Creation
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
GeForce MX250, 8565U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
3778 Points ∼100% +24%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3258 Points ∼86% +7%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Intel SSD Pro 7600p SSDPEKKF512G8L
3210 Points ∼85% +6%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
3036 Points ∼80%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3004 Points ∼80% -1%
Average Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (2620 - 3210, n=18)
2977 Points ∼79% -2%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
2954 Points ∼78% -3%
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba KSG60ZMV256G
2911 Points ∼77% -4%
Average of class Office
  (320 - 3884, n=136)
2603 Points ∼69% -14%
Productivity
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
GeForce MX250, 8565U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
7392 Points ∼100% +22%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
6651 Points ∼90% +9%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
6500 Points ∼88% +7%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Intel SSD Pro 7600p SSDPEKKF512G8L
6441 Points ∼87% +6%
Average Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (5836 - 6556, n=18)
6220 Points ∼84% +2%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
6083 Points ∼82%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
5739 Points ∼78% -6%
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba KSG60ZMV256G
5721 Points ∼77% -6%
Average of class Office
  (1266 - 7964, n=136)
5415 Points ∼73% -11%
Essentials
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Intel SSD Pro 7600p SSDPEKKF512G8L
8361 Points ∼100% +12%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
8236 Points ∼99% +10%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
GeForce MX250, 8565U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
7981 Points ∼95% +7%
Average Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (7278 - 8689, n=18)
7903 Points ∼95% +6%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
7471 Points ∼89%
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba KSG60ZMV256G
7376 Points ∼88% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
7358 Points ∼88% -2%
Average of class Office
  (2683 - 8992, n=136)
6875 Points ∼82% -8%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
6423 Points ∼77% -14%
Score
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
GeForce MX250, 8565U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
4341 Points ∼100% +17%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Intel SSD Pro 7600p SSDPEKKF512G8L
3985 Points ∼92% +8%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
3906 Points ∼90% +5%
Average Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (3573 - 3985, n=18)
3775 Points ∼87% +2%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
3704 Points ∼85%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3686 Points ∼85% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3602 Points ∼83% -3%
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba KSG60ZMV256G
3564 Points ∼82% -4%
Average of class Office
  (803 - 4597, n=137)
3214 Points ∼74% -13%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
GeForce MX250, 8565U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
5277 Points ∼100% +9%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
5025 Points ∼95% +4%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
5004 Points ∼95% +4%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Intel SSD Pro 7600p SSDPEKKF512G8L
4927 Points ∼93% +2%
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba KSG60ZMV256G
4906 Points ∼93% +2%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
4824 Points ∼91%
Average Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (4302 - 4927, n=16)
4743 Points ∼90% -2%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4508 Points ∼85% -7%
Average of class Office
  (1226 - 5428, n=337)
4008 Points ∼76% -17%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Intel SSD Pro 7600p SSDPEKKF512G8L
4244 Points ∼100% +24%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
GeForce MX250, 8565U, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
4052 Points ∼95% +18%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
3966 Points ∼93% +15%
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8350U, Toshiba KSG60ZMV256G
3723 Points ∼88% +8%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3675 Points ∼87% +7%
Average Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (3150 - 4244, n=17)
3517 Points ∼83% +2%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3503 Points ∼83% +2%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
3436 Points ∼81%
Average of class Office
  (1169 - 4770, n=393)
3046 Points ∼72% -11%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3436 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4824 points
Help

Storage Devices

As with the first ThinkPad T490 that we tested, Lenovo has equipped the T490-20N2004EGE with a Toshiba M.2 2280 SSD. Our review unit has a 256 GB drive compared to the 512 GB one in the previous device that we tested. The PCIe NVMe drive has excellent transfer speeds, but there are faster SSDs on the market, namely the Samsung PM981 and the Intel 760p. Its 512 GB sibling performed better in CrystalDiskMark too, but OEMs generally reserve faster transfer speeds for their higher capacity drives.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
Dell Latitude 7490
Toshiba KSG60ZMV256G
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
Intel SSD Pro 7600p SSDPEKKF512G8L
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G
Average Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
 
CrystalDiskMark 5.2 / 6
-56%
17%
-2%
8%
-5%
12%
-10%
Write 4K
119.9
79.41
-34%
155.37
30%
153.1
28%
122.03
2%
96.09
-20%
126.6
6%
115 (111 - 120, n=2)
-4%
Read 4K
39.94
27.37
-31%
47.61
19%
48.3
21%
45.56
14%
31.12
-22%
43.61
9%
38.2 (36.5 - 39.9, n=2)
-4%
Write Seq
1334
343.9
-74%
1623.59
22%
866.3
-35%
1497.34
12%
919.3
-31%
1342
1%
908 (482 - 1334, n=2)
-32%
Read Seq
1357
472.7
-65%
1345.56
-1%
903.9
-33%
2385.23
76%
2089
54%
1251
-8%
1391 (1357 - 1425, n=2)
3%
Write 4K Q32T1
311.2
206
-34%
340.71
9%
424.6
36%
240.94
-23%
425.6
37%
297.7
-4%
333 (311 - 356, n=2)
7%
Read 4K Q32T1
400.6
188.3
-53%
449.28
12%
403.2
1%
338.03
-16%
275.3
-31%
376.4
-6%
403 (401 - 406, n=2)
1%
Write Seq Q32T1
1642
343.3
-79%
1965.4
20%
1725
5%
1528.4
-7%
958.3
-42%
2969
81%
1069 (495 - 1642, n=2)
-35%
Read Seq Q32T1
2778
532.6
-81%
3398.3
22%
1780
-36%
2915
5%
3118
12%
3228
16%
2278 (1777 - 2778, n=2)
-18%
Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G
Sequential Read: 1491 MB/s
Sequential Write: 1388 MB/s
512K Read: 1096 MB/s
512K Write: 413.1 MB/s
4K Read: 39.72 MB/s
4K Write: 168 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 558.1 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 408.5 MB/s

Graphics Card

One of the main decisions to make when choosing between which T490 to buy is whether you need the additional graphics performance that a dedicated GPU brings. The Intel UHD Graphics 620 in our review unit is only powerful enough for light tasks like video-streaming and playing undemanding games, regardless of whether you have the system running in single or dual-channel mode. The system cannot get quite as much performance from its Intel GPU when running in single-channel mode, but the difference is negligible in daily use. The Core i5-8265U-powered and dual-channel ThinkPad T490s, for example, is only about 7% faster than our review unit.

The T490 does not limit its GPU performance on battery, for reference.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
NVIDIA GeForce MX250, Intel Core i7-8565U
4748 Points ∼100% +176%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, Intel Core i7-8550U
4300 Points ∼91% +150%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
1849 Points ∼39% +8%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8265U
1839 Points ∼39% +7%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8265U
1718 Points ∼36%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (1235 - 1979, n=153)
1705 Points ∼36% -1%
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8350U
1648 Points ∼35% -4%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
1633 Points ∼34% -5%
Average of class Office
  (185 - 5332, n=640)
1289 Points ∼27% -25%
3DMark
2560x1440 Time Spy Graphics
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
NVIDIA GeForce MX250, Intel Core i7-8565U
1134 Points ∼100%
Average of class Office
  (76 - 1158, n=44)
473 Points ∼42%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (299 - 402, n=24)
348 Points ∼31%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
NVIDIA GeForce MX250, Intel Core i7-8565U
3863 Points ∼100% +283%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, Intel Core i7-8550U
3585 Points ∼93% +256%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
1336 Points ∼35% +33%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8265U
1336 Points ∼35% +33%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (557 - 1401, n=122)
1117 Points ∼29% +11%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8265U
1008 Points ∼26%
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8350U
1001 Points ∼26% -1%
Average of class Office
  (138 - 4109, n=462)
997 Points ∼26% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
963 Points ∼25% -4%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
NVIDIA GeForce MX250, Intel Core i7-8565U
23354 Points ∼100% +176%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, Intel Core i7-8550U
21893 Points ∼94% +159%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8265U
10881 Points ∼47% +29%
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i7-8550U
10331 Points ∼44% +22%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (6910 - 11436, n=139)
9101 Points ∼39% +8%
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8265U
8448 Points ∼36%
Dell Latitude 7490
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8350U
7943 Points ∼34% -6%
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Intel Core i5-8250U
7658 Points ∼33% -9%
Average of class Office
  (1208 - 27117, n=509)
6914 Points ∼30% -18%
3DMark 11 Performance
1847 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
7289 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
937 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The UHD Graphics 620 is only powerful enough to handle older and undemanding games. BioShock Infinite and Dota 2 Reborn are playable at minimum graphics, for instance, but more complex titles like The Witcher 3 are beyond the capabilities of the UHD Graphics 620.

In short, go for the GeForce MX250-equipped option if you want a laptop that can handle some light gaming. The Thunderbolt 3 port that Lenovo has included only utilises two lanes of PCIe, which is not enough to get decent performance from an external GPU.

low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 53.0428.3322.93fps
The Witcher 3 (2015) 15fps
Dota 2 Reborn (2015) 6438.21815.9fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 21.1411.9fps
X-Plane 11.11 (2018) 23.615.914.3fps

Emissions

Fan Noise

Amazingly, the fan curve of our review unit is more aggressive at idle than its GeForce MX250-equipped sibling. While our first ThinkPad T490 test device always ran silently at idle, the fan in our current review unit regularly cycles on and off. The opposite is the case under load though, with the fan in the ThinkPad T490 equipped with a dedicated GPU running more loudly and at a higher-pitched frequency than its integrated GPU sibling.

One of the major criticisms that we had with our first ThinkPad T490 review unit was its speakers. Specifically, they emitted a distorted tone when we muted the device, which is not by design. Lenovo recognised this and fixed it in a BIOS update, but we can still hear the noise when other audio is playing. The effect is subtle though and should not bother most people as music or videos typically drown out the interference.

However, our current review unit suffers from coil whine. We can only hear this when we press our ear to the keyboard, but your experience may vary.

Noise Level

Idle
28.8 / 28.8 / 31.7 dB(A)
Load
34 / 36.1 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.8 dB(A)
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2027.532.931.230.230.630.12526.225.824.726.825.825.73125.528.229.824.728.329.94025.125.126.725.227.128.15025.12325.123.423.226.36324.323.124.922.122.322.78023.922.122.621.722.922.510022.822.422.522.222.521.712523.92322.822.323.522.516022.320.520.921.821.621.12002221.120.321.722.62125021.121.521.721.221.421.131521.121.320.420.420.52040021.520.620.720.22020.250021.320.920.319.719.42063022.521.721.120.418.420.480022.721.620.519.518.219.7100024.122.420.72017.520.2125023.721.819.919.117.319.6160024.122.319.81916.419.6200023.221.118.818.315.918.5250023.421.519.218.615.518.9315026.423.820.619.715.720.2400027.925.722.119.815.421.3500025.322.318.317.315.317.8630021.318.516.51615.216.4800018.716.615.815.515.215.61000017.415.715.315.215.115.21250015.615.115.114.915151600015.215.115.214.814.614.9SPL36.13431.730.928.831.3N2.31.91.61.41.21.5median 22.5median 21.5median 20.3median 19.7median 17.3median 20Delta1.41.31.71.42.71.430.726.429.330.629.230.325.12626.127.329.931.1313131.927.727.429.531.427.222.824.72430.625.923.225.82422.225.124.523.222.422.4262222.322.822.322.521.921.52221.622.222.62222.521.321.722.822.923.222.622.323.122.724.521.82321.82221.321.521.622.321.921.421.32222.821.621.52022.323.622.121.419.823.524.522.821.618.724.224.722.32118.224.423.821.720.417.723.624.722.420.417252522.920.716.625.124.422.119.916.12426.724.32115.926.729.526.621.815.729.127.622.418.715.526.921.919.217.515.521.719.317.416.615.518.918.216.616.415.417.716.5161615.116.316.315.91614.915.837.234.732.429.4372.62.11.71.22.5median 22.8median 22.1median 21median 17.7median 22.51.41.41.62.51.3hearing rangehide median Fan NoiseLenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGELenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00

Temperature

System information during a combined FurMark and Prime95 stress test
System information during a combined FurMark and Prime95 stress test

The absence of a dedicated GPU helps the T490 keep its surface temperatures in check. We measured the hottest area of our review unit reaching 49.3 °C, which is 6.7 °C than the hottest point on its sibling. We cannot say at this point whether the lower surface temperatures will have any effect on the longevity of the laptop, but it will feel noticeably cooler to the touch.

The T490 without an NVIDIA GPU also does not thermal throttle when stress tested. We subjected our review unit to a combined FurMark and Prime95 stress test that we left running for an hour, throughout which its CPU maintained its 25 W TDP. CPU clock speeds dropped to around 1.7 GHz, but this does not represent throttling even though its core temperatures peaked at 91 °C. Instead, this behaviour reflects that we were also pushing the integrated GPU hard, and the two components share the same TDP. Hence, running the UHD Graphics 620 at full tilt reduces the amount of power available to the CPU, which explains why it could only maintain a clock speed of 1.7 GHz.

Max. Load
 36.9 °C
98 F
37.4 °C
99 F
34.1 °C
93 F
 
 34.1 °C
93 F
37 °C
99 F
41.1 °C
106 F
 
 28.2 °C
83 F
30 °C
86 F
29.6 °C
85 F
 
Maximum: 41.1 °C = 106 F
Average: 34.3 °C = 94 F
41.3 °C
106 F
49.3 °C
121 F
42.1 °C
108 F
38.9 °C
102 F
41.7 °C
107 F
38.5 °C
101 F
26.8 °C
80 F
27.9 °C
82 F
26.9 °C
80 F
Maximum: 49.3 °C = 121 F
Average: 37 °C = 99 F
Power Supply (max.)  34.8 °C = 95 F | Room Temperature 20.7 °C = 69 F | Voltcraft IR-900
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 34.3 °C / 94 F, compared to the average of 29.4 °C / 85 F for the devices in the class Office.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 41.1 °C / 106 F, compared to the average of 33.9 °C / 93 F, ranging from 21.2 to 62.5 °C for the class Office.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 49.3 °C / 121 F, compared to the average of 36.4 °C / 98 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 22.6 °C / 73 F, compared to the device average of 29.4 °C / 85 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 30 °C / 86 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.1 °C / 82.6 F (-1.9 °C / -3.4 F).
Heat-map of the top of the device under load
Heat-map of the top of the device under load
Heat-map of the bottom of the device under load
Heat-map of the bottom of the device under load

Power Management

Power Consumption

Interestingly, our review unit is not as energy efficient when idling as the first ThinkPad T490 that we reviewed. The T490 without a dedicated GPU consumes between 2% and 8% more at idling despite also being equipped with a nominally weaker CPU. Expectedly, our previous ThinkPad T490 review unit consumes considerably more under load on account of its more powerful CPU and GeForce MX250 GPU.

Lenovo includes a 65 W power supply in the box, which charges the T490 quickly. Our review unit consumed a maximum of 47.3 W during our tests, meaning that it does not even come close to reaching the maximum capacity of the included power supply.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.28 / 0.43 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 2.34 / 5.22 / 8.82 Watt
Load midlight 35.8 / 47.3 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
8265U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba KXG5AZNV256G, IGZO IPS LED, 1920x1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
8565U, GeForce MX250, Toshiba XG5 KXG50ZNV512G, IGZO IPS LED, 1920x1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
8265U, UHD Graphics 620, Intel SSD Pro 7600p SSDPEKKF512G8L, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
Dell Latitude 7490
8350U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba KSG60ZMV256G, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 2560x1440, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
8550U, GeForce MX150, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
 
Average of class Office
 
Power Consumption
-21%
-11%
14%
-31%
-44%
-24%
-19%
-81%
Idle Minimum *
2.34
2.16
8%
2.62
-12%
2
15%
3.1
-32%
3.6
-54%
3.8
-62%
3.9 (1 - 12.4, n=161)
-67%
7.63 (2.34 - 32, n=953)
-226%
Idle Average *
5.22
5.04
3%
5.16
1%
4.7
10%
6.8
-30%
7.1
-36%
8.3
-59%
7.15 (4.3 - 15.5, n=161)
-37%
11.4 (4.2 - 42, n=953)
-118%
Idle Maximum *
8.82
8.64
2%
8.7
1%
5.7
35%
10.1
-15%
9.5
-8%
10.7
-21%
9 (5.2 - 16.6, n=161)
-2%
13.9 (5 - 67, n=953)
-58%
Load Average *
35.8
63.2
-77%
40
-12%
38.4
-7%
48.4
-35%
63.9
-78%
35.5
1%
35.3 (12.9 - 51.6, n=161)
1%
37.2 (7.43 - 99.3, n=938)
-4%
Load Maximum *
47.3
67.5
-43%
64
-35%
38.9
18%
67.1
-42%
67.3
-42%
37
22%
43.6 (22 - 79, n=161)
8%
45.8 (12.2 - 129, n=940)
3%
Witcher 3 ultra *
50
53.9

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

Wi-Fi battery life test at maximum display brightness: 7:42 hours
Wi-Fi battery life test at maximum display brightness: 7:42 hours
Charging time: 2:10 hours
Charging time: 2:10 hours

All T490 models have 50 Wh batteries, so it should follow that the device with lesser hardware should have better battery life. It is a shame that the battery is no longer removable as it was with the ThinkPad T480 though.

This theory holds too, with our review unit lasting 27% longer overall in our battery life tests than its sibling. The difference between the two devices is only around 30 minutes in our practical Wi-Fi test, but our current review unit lasted significantly longer in our looped H.264 video test. The T490 without an NVIDIA GPU obliterates its GeForce MX250-equipped sibling in our battery life under load test though.

Overall, only the ThinkPad T480 of our comparison devices has better battery life than the T490 without an NVIDIA GPU. The former’s 22-Wh larger battery only nets an average of 11% longer runtimes though. Or review unit edges out the ThinkPad T490s with its 7-Wh larger battery by around 3% too. This is an impressive feat considering that they are equipped with mostly the same components.

Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 (Edge)
9h 32min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
11h 17min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 41min
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE
8265U, UHD Graphics 620, 50 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N3S02L00
8565U, GeForce MX250, 50 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T490s-20NYS02A00
8265U, UHD Graphics 620, 57 Wh
Dell Latitude 7490
8350U, UHD Graphics 620, 60 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L8S02D00
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, 57 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
8550U, GeForce MX150, 72 Wh
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, 50 Wh
Average of class Office
 
Battery Runtime
-27%
-3%
-4%
-8%
11%
-22%
-34%
Reader / Idle
1671
570 (101 - 1857, n=794)
H.264
677
523
-23%
834
23%
721
6%
638
-6%
428 (139 - 834, n=175)
-37%
WiFi v1.3
572
543
-5%
607
6%
548
-4%
537
-6%
794
39%
444
-22%
411 (105 - 964, n=335)
-28%
Load
161
75
-53%
99
-39%
124
-23%
159
-1%
101 (37 - 259, n=743)
-37%

Pros

+ robust design
+ more compact and lighter than its predecessor
+ varied connectivity
+ comfortable input devices
+ bright & colour-accurate display
+ efficient Full HD panel
+ above-average CPU performance
+ fan typically remains switched off
+ decent battery life
+ three-year warranty

Cons

- display has poor reaction times
- no full-sized SD card slot
- Thunderbolt 3 only utilises two PCIe lanes
- case is difficult to open
- no Power Bridge support

Verdict

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE laptop review. Test device courtesy of notebooksandmore.de.
The Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE laptop review. Test device courtesy of notebooksandmore.de.

The Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is an excellent business laptop with or without an NVIDIA GPU. The model without an NVIDIA chip is slightly better than the technically more capable ThinkPad T490 in some areas, which pushes its overall rating up to 91% from the 90% that we gave to its MX250-equipped sibling.

Among other things, our review unit has better battery life than the ThinkPad T490 with a dedicated GPU. The former runs cooler than the latter too and does not suffer from the same annoying speaker noise that plagued our first test device. Lenovo largely eliminated this with a BIOS update, so it should not affect any ThinkPad T490 SKU going forwards.

Additionally, the Intel version of the T490 does not throttle when stress tested on account of its nominally weaker CPU too. The other highlights of the first T490 that we tested remain as well, like the robust and lightweight case, the fantastic input devices along with the bright and colour-accurate display. We are also fans of the versatile selection of ports and above-average CPU performance.

Both models suffer from largely the same drawbacks though. The low-power screen has poor response times, while the inclusion of only a microSD card reader rather than a full-sized one seems like a missed opportunity. Likewise, while we like that Lenovo has included a Thunderbolt 3 port, we cannot understand why the company only allows it to utilise two lanes of PCIe. Moreover, disassembling and re-assembling the case is a pain, and the lack of Power Bridge functionality makes the T490 less flexible than its predecessors.

Cooler and more enduring: The Intel GPU variant of the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is better than its NVIDIA GPU sibling in some areas and is a fantastic business laptop.

Overall, the T490 with only an Intel GPU should be more than enough for people who do not need the added graphics capabilities that the GeForce MX250 brings. If you occasionally like to game after work or need a laptop on which you can process video edits, then the T490 with an NVIDIA GPU would be a better choice in our opinion.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490-20N2004EGE - 06/19/2019 v6
Benjamin Herzig

Chassis
87 / 98 → 89%
Keyboard
93%
Pointing Device
91%
Connectivity
76 / 80 → 95%
Weight
70 / 20-67 → 100%
Battery
92%
Display
88%
Games Performance
57 / 68 → 84%
Application Performance
90 / 92 → 98%
Temperature
91%
Noise
95%
Audio
55%
Camera
39 / 85 → 46%
Average
79%
91%
Office - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo ThinkPad T490 Laptop Review: A business laptop with long battery life and an iGPU
Benjamin Herzig, 2019-06-20 (Update: 2019-06-21)
Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - News Editor
I got my first smartphone aged 11, my first PC aged 12 and I have been tinkering with electronics ever since. I like to keep abreast of the latest news and technology, which inevitably leads me to switch my laptop and phone every few months. When I'm not writing for Notebookcheck, you will find me seeking out new coffee shops, bars and trying to find some hidden gems in record stores.