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Lenovo ThinkPad T480 (Core i7-8650U, FHD) Laptop Review


Think again. Today, we take a look at our second T480 configuration, this time with a Core i7-8650U, 512 GB NVMe SSD, and an FHD embedded touchscreen—at a lower price than before: a little over $1,700. Can this revised configuration take care of business?

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Ticker

Hot on the heels of the T480s we reviewed just last week, the Lenovo ThinkPad T480 is in our labs again. The bigger brother of the T480s, this is Lenovo’s more conventional 14-inch laptop, with (most) of the familiar amenities to which business professionals have grown accustomed. We first encountered this machine back in March, a configuration which included a Core i7-8550U CPU and GeForce MX150 dedicated graphics (and which sold for around $1848). Today, the CPU has been further upgraded to a Core i7-8650U, but the GPU is back to traditional integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620. Such a configuration would be more sensible for those disinterested in GPU-heavy activities, as power consumption and heat are likely lower—and, of course, so is the price: $1,712 currently at Amazon.

Because the fundamentals haven’t changed since our previous review, we’ll be skipping the initial case, connectivity, and other design-oriented sections and jumping directly into what’s new with this configuration. For much more information on any of those items, check out our original review from a few months back.

Display

14 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 157 PPI, 10-point multi-touch; embedded touch, B140HAK01.0, TFT-LCD, glossy: no

Mainboard

Intel Sunrise Point-LP

Storage

Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, 512 GB

Soundcard

Realtek High Definition Audio

Connections

3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 Thunderbolt, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm combo, Card Reader: SD, 1 SmartCard, 1 Fingerprint Reader

Networking

Intel Ethernet Connection I219-LM (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.2

Size

height x width x depth (in mm): 20 x 337 x 233 ( = 0.79 x 13.27 x 9.17 in)

Battery

24 Wh Lithium-Ion, hot-swappable for other capacities

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit

Additional features

Speakers: 2.0, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 36 Months Warranty

Weight

1.63 kg ( = 57.5 oz / 3.59 pounds), Power Supply: 290 g ( = 10.23 oz / 0.64 pounds)

Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

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Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS Dell Latitude 7490 HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900

337 mm / 13.3 inch233 mm / 9.17 inch20 mm / 0.787 inch1.6 kg3.59 lbs331 mm / 13 inch227 mm / 8.94 inch19 mm / 0.748 inch1.4 kg3.06 lbs331 mm / 13 inch220.9 mm / 8.7 inch17.9 mm / 0.705 inch1.6 kg3.44 lbs326 mm / 12.8 inch234 mm / 9.21 inch17.9 mm / 0.705 inch1.5 kg3.26 lbs323.5 mm / 12.7 inch217.1 mm / 8.55 inch15.95 mm / 0.628 inch1.1 kg2.48 lbs

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Ticker

The T480 we’re reviewing today actually includes the same panel we evaluated in the previous model, except today’s also features embedded touch. It’s a 14-inch FHD (1920×1080) matte TFT-LCD display, and while brightness and contrast subjectively seem to be decent, it conspicuously lacks vividness (suggesting poor color coverage).

255.5
cd/m²
274.9
cd/m²
285.1
cd/m²
266
cd/m²
276.7
cd/m²
281.4
cd/m²
257.8
cd/m²
269.2
cd/m²
279.6
cd/m²

Distribution of brightness

X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2

Maximum: 285.1 cd/m² Average: 271.8 cd/m² Minimum: 3.96 cd/m²

Brightness Distribution: 90 %

Center on Battery: 276.7 cd/m²Contrast: 1318:1 (Black: 0.21 cd/m²)

ΔE Color 7.22 | 0.4-29.43 Ø6.1, calibrated: 5.01

ΔE Greyscale 6.7 | 0.64-98 Ø6.3

54% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 34% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)

Gamma: 2.321

Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
B140HAK01.0, TFT-LCD, 14, 1920×1080
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
NV140FHM-N46, TFT-LCD, 14, 1920×1080
Dell Latitude 7490
AU Optronics AU0223D, IPS, 14, 1920×1080
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
IVO M140NVF7 R0, IPS, 14, 1920×1080
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
B140QAN02.0, IPS, 14, 2560×1440
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *

39.2 (22, 17.2)

Response Time Black / White *

30.8 (18, 12.8)

PWM Frequency

990.1

3125 (90)

Brightness middle

276.7

Brightness

272

Brightness Distribution

90

Black Level *

0.21

Contrast

1318

Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *

7.22

Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *

25.87

Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *

5.01

Greyscale DeltaE2000 *

6.7

Gamma

2.321 95%

2.517 87%

2.36 93%

2.45 90%

2.14 103%

CCT

6656 98%

6886 94%

6962 93%

6065 107%

6377 102%

Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)

34

Color Space (Percent of sRGB)

54

* … smaller is better

We measured a mediocre average brightness of 272 cd/m² with a mostly-consistent 90% distribution. Contrast is good at 1318:1, a product of a low black value of 0.21 cd/m².

Color coverage is indeed woefully inadequate for all purposes but the most basic of office use—and even for that, the dreary, washed-out color palette disappoints. The panel only manages 54% of sRGB and 35% of AdobeRGB, and it pales in comparison to all competitors apart from the similarly disappointing T480s. As an example of how far off the mark the T480 is here, the Latitude 7490 (a direct competitor) provides roughly double the coverage. Ditto with the EliteBook 840 G5, whose results are similar to the Latitude.

The display isn’t just lacking in saturation, it’s also well off the mark as it applies to color accuracy. Our CalMAN measurements turned up an initial ColorChecker average DeltaE of 7.22 (Blue being the most deviant color at a whopping 25.87) and a Greyscale average DeltaE of 6.7. These values dropped to 5.01 / 2.1 post-calibration, but Blue (and magenta, to a lesser extent) remains highly inaccurate. Other readings, such as the Average CCT of 6656 and average gamma of 2.321 (pre-calibration) are much better overall.

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.

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 not detected

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9603 (minimum: 43 – maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Unlike the T480s, the T480 display exhibits no PWM at any brightness setting, which is a plus. Viewing angles are wide from every vantage point, and outdoor use—while not ideal due to the low brightness—is comfortable enough in shaded areas.

The T480 is available preconfigured with a range of different 7th and 8th-generation Intel Core i5/i7 CPUs, DDR4 RAM configurations maxing out at 32 GB dual-channel, and storage drives (both mechanical and solid-state). While our previous T480 test unit was packed with an Intel Core i7-8550U and NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics, today’s machine foregoes the dedicated GPU and instead opts for the less expensive integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620. However, the CPU has been bumped up to a Core i7-8650U. Is it worth spending the extra money for the top-end Core i7 option?

Before we dive in, we should mention that performance unplugged is mostly unchanged (as confirmed by a secondary run of 3DMark 11: 1896). Also, LatencyMon reports no issues with DPC Latencies and thus no trouble streaming real-time audio and video, even with all wireless devices enabled.

Cinebench R15Cinebench R15

The Intel Core i7-8650U SoC looks great on paper, and it’s certainly quite a bit faster in multi-core operations than its 7th-generation predecessors (as shown in the table below, where our current machine beats the T470s in Cinebench R15 multi-CPU by some 58%). But is it really worth the upgrade over the Core i7-8550U?

Oddly enough, today’s test unit—even after updating to the latest BIOS, tweaking power settings, and plenty of other preparatory measures—consistently scored below the previous T480 review unit we evaluated. This is quite obviously a firmware limitation, and it could probably be resolved via some power tweaking with specialized utilities (possibly in peril of warranty voidance), but it shouldn’t have to be. Unfortunately, as a result, our Core i5-8250U T480s review unit which we tested last week actually scored above today’s larger T480—much higher; some 23%—which suggests that those in search of raw performance should actually opt for the T480s instead (since it also beats the previous T480 and all other units in today’s comparison field).

In spite of this disappointment, today’s T480 actually isn’t too far off the category average for the i7-8650U. The 580 points we received as an initial result in Cinebench R15 multi-CPU is around 6% below the current average of 612 for that CPU, and only 7% below the Dell Latitude 7490. Moreover, in the Cinebench loop test, the first result was actually an even higher 604 (before later dropping permanently in the second and all subsequent runs to the 558 – 569 range). What this means is that, in general, performance is actually not too far below what we’d expect to see for a machine equipped as such—and it’s still well above what we saw from the 7th-generation Intel chipsets (T470 et al). But regardless, given the results we saw from the less expensive i7-8550U setup, we can’t really recommend springing for the i7-8650U unless a corrective firmware build rolls out to address the discrepancy.

Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit

166 Points

Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit

580 Points

Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit

49 fps

Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit

97.8 %

Help

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Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64 Bit

Today’s T480 configuration excels in our general system performance tests, scoring 4027 points in PCMark 10 and 3846 points in PCMark 8 Home Accelerated. The former is at the top of the list, and the latter is just 5% below the peak performer, the Dell Latitude 7490 (with 4029). Anecdotally, our time using the machine was smooth and operation was consistently fast.

Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Average Intel Core i7-8650U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
(3216 – 4103, n=10)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Average of class Office
(1169 – 4770, n=383)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Average Intel Core i7-8650U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
(2117 – 3174, n=10)
Average of class Office
(320 – 3884, n=125)
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Average Intel Core i7-8650U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
(5271 – 7142, n=10)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Average of class Office
(1266 – 7964, n=125)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Average Intel Core i7-8650U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
(6877 – 8992, n=10)
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Average of class Office
(2683 – 8992, n=125)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Average Intel Core i7-8650U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
(2403 – 4078, n=10)
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Average of class Office
(803 – 4597, n=126)
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2 3846 points

Help

While the T480 is among a dying breed of laptops this size which still support mechanical hard drives (standard slim 7mm height), our test unit shipped with an adapter installed in that same bay—and within the adapter was the formidable Samsung PM981, an extremely fast NVMe SSD that consistently tops our benchmark charts. It does so here as well, nearly matching the speeds of the same drive installed in our X1 Carbon review unit, and dominating the rest of the field by double-digit margins.

It’s worth mentioning that, while there is no NVMe/M.2 slot on the T480’s board, the WWAN slot can be tapped to accommodate a second M.2 SSD, though the form factor is small, and this option is obviously mutually exclusive with the inclusion of a WWAN adapter. All such configurations direct from Lenovo only include 2-lane PCIe capability from the primary 7mm drive bay SSD (within the adapter) as well, which is curious. Another example of the latter limitation is our review unit from March, which only managed speeds consistent with 2-lane operation. Today’s unit suffers no such limitations and wholeheartedly embraces 4-lane speeds.

Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Dell Latitude 7490
Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Average Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Copy Game MB/s

382.33

904.88

1107.45

983 (607 – 1273, n=26)

Copy Program MB/s

227.09

326.2

460.17

412 (233 – 526, n=26)

Copy ISO MB/s

872.35

1687.75

1246.8

1610 (917 – 3259, n=26)

Score Total

4425

3893

(2348 – 4771, n=35)

-12%

Score Write

1945

1700

(147 – 2379, n=35)

-13%

Score Read

1639

1455

(896 – 2125, n=35)

-11%

Access Time Write *

0.035

0.1127

(0.026 – 2.52, n=35)

-222%

Access Time Read *

0.045

0.0494

(0.029 – 0.073, n=35)

-10%

4K-64 Write

1703.61

1438

(96.2 – 2105, n=35)

-16%

4K-64 Read

1446.81

1220

(664 – 1823, n=35)

-16%

4K Write

107.42

106

(1.76 – 142, n=35)

-1%

4K Read

50.45

49.9

(31.7 – 58, n=35)

-1%

Seq Write

1340.88

1564

(487 – 1991, n=35)

17%

Seq Read

1419.88

1853

(1049 – 2697, n=35)

31%

* … smaller is better

CDM 5/6 Read Seq Q32T1:
1779 MB/s

CDM 5/6 Write Seq Q32T1:
1718 MB/s

CDM 5/6 Read 4K Q32T1:
360.9 MB/s

CDM 5/6 Write 4K Q32T1:
287.3 MB/s

CDM 5 Read Seq:
865.3 MB/s

CDM 5 Write Seq:
844.7 MB/s

CDM 5/6 Read 4K:
44.43 MB/s

CDM 5/6 Write 4K:
123.2 MB/s

Sequential Read:
1419.88MB/s

Sequential Write:
1340.88MB/s

Access Time Read:
0.045ms

Access Time Write:
0.035ms

3DMark 113DMark 11

Our previous T480 test candidate featured NVIDIA GeForce MX150 dedicated graphics, which (while decidedly low-end within the realm of dedicated GPUs) can actually manage many games at low settings and lower resolutions. Today’s unit dials that back to the more budget-friendly (and power-efficient) Intel UHD Graphics 620, which by contrast absolutely cannot handle gaming, of course. The immense gap between the benchmark scores of the two machines is evidence of this (e.g., 1507 vs. 4211 in 3DMark 11).

Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
(959 – 1968, n=142)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8650U
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8250U
Average of class Office
(169 – 4957, n=628)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
NVIDIA GeForce MX150, 8550U
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8650U
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8250U
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
(1235 – 1979, n=142)
Average of class Office
(185 – 5332, n=629)
3DMark 11 Performance 1978 points

Help

Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
(4.5 – 16, n=121)
Average of class Office
(1.8 – 54.8, n=234)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
(8.1 – 34.5, n=129)
Average of class Office
(6.23 – 128, n=326)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
(11.5 – 45.5, n=129)
Average of class Office
(7.18 – 145, n=346)
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
(18.3 – 81.7, n=129)
Average of class Office
(12.2 – 204, n=348)

Under full CPU stress, the T480 manages clock rates of 3.2 – 3.4 for 20 seconds or so before temperatures reach 83 °C and clock rates subsequently permanently plummet to the 2.7 – 2.9 range. Temperatures afterward are stable at 72 °C.

During GPU stress, GPU clock rates are initially 850 MHz – 1000 MHz with spikes to 1150 MHz, alongside temperatures in the 60s °C and climbing toward a max of 68 °C. Shortly after the maximum is reached, however, the CPU clock rate drops all the way to 1.4 GHz, creating thermal (and TDP) headroom for the GPU to jump up to a (mostly) stable 1050 – 1100 MHz frequency with temperatures consistently 62 °C.

Adding back in CPU stress on top of the full GPU load does nothing to budge CPU frequencies at this point, which now subside even further to just 1.3 GHz. The GPU retreats also to 950 – 1000 MHz, and temperatures reach an absolute maximum here of 71 °C (stable at closer to 70 °C in the end).

CPU Clock (GHz) GPU Clock (MHz) Average CPU Temperature (°C) Average GPU Temperature (°C)
Prime95 Stress 2.8 72
FurMark Stress 1050 62
Prime95 + FurMark Stress 1.3 950 70 70

The internal cooling fan is relatively quietThe internal cooling fan is relatively quiet

Noise levels are roughly in line with those of the previous MX150-equipped T480 review unit—which is to say, as unobtrusive and quiet as the best business PCs are expected to be. The device is totally silent while idling (the fan doesn’t run, and we couldn’t detect any electrical noise from the machine), and it’s not that much louder even under load, with an average level of 35.7 dB(A) and an overall maximum of just 38.8 dB(A).

Noise Level

Idle

28.3 / 28.3 / 28.3 dB(A)

Load 35.7 / 38.8 dB(A)
red to green bar

30 dB
silent

40 dB(A)
audible

50 dB(A)
loud

min:

dark

, med:

mid

, max:

lightBK Precision 732A (15 cm distance)

environment noise: 28.3 dB(A)

Fan noise profileFan noise profile

Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
UHD Graphics 620, 8250U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
GeForce MX150, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Dell Latitude 7490
UHD Graphics 620, 8650U, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
off / environment *

28.3

Idle Minimum *

28.3

Idle Average *

28.3

Idle Maximum *

28.3

Load Average *

35.7

Load Maximum *

38.8

Witcher 3 ultra *

32.5

* … smaller is better

Fortunately, temperatures are still very reasonable even in spite of the low noise levels. Under load, today’s T480 (again, with its weaker integrated graphics) is much cooler than the previous MX150-equipped review unit. We measured average temperatures of 31.3 °C / 34.5 °C on top/bottom of the base unit respectively, with hot spots directly in center of 40.2 °C / 54.6 °C. One other hot spot in the right center quadrant underneath of 50 °C, however, might prove uncomfortable if the machine is resting on the lap during sustained processing loads.

Idle temperatures aren’t a problem either, but on today’s machine, they’re perhaps more of a problem than the load values. With averages of 26.2 °C / 28 °C on top/bottom, these readings are some 6 – 8 °C above ambient temperatures, which could be irritating during daily use in some environments. Fortunately, Lenovo’s Power Manager software offers options to fine-tune cooling and fan operation, so it should be able to be mitigated if the proper steps are taken.

33 °C
91 F
30.8 °C
87 F
25 °C
77 F
39.4 °C
103 F
40.2 °C
104 F
25.6 °C
78 F
30.4 °C
87 F
30 °C
86 F
27.6 °C
82 F
Maximum: 40.2 °C = 104 F
Average: 31.3 °C = 88 F
28 °C
82 F
32.4 °C
90 F
31 °C
88 F
30.2 °C
86 F
54.6 °C
130 F
50 °C
122 F
29.2 °C
85 F
27.8 °C
82 F
27.6 °C
82 F
Maximum: 54.6 °C = 130 F
Average: 34.5 °C = 94 F

Power Supply (max.) 38 °C = 100 F | Room Temperature 20 °C = 68 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer

25.6 °C
78 F
26.2 °C
79 F
25.4 °C
78 F
26.6 °C
80 F
27.6 °C
82 F
25.4 °C
78 F
26 °C
79 F
26.2 °C
79 F
27 °C
81 F
Maximum: 27.6 °C = 82 F
Average: 26.2 °C = 79 F
26 °C
79 F
27.4 °C
81 F
27.2 °C
81 F
28.8 °C
84 F
32 °C
90 F
30.6 °C
87 F
29 °C
84 F
25.8 °C
78 F
25.2 °C
77 F
Maximum: 32 °C = 90 F
Average: 28 °C = 82 F

Room Temperature 20.2 °C = 68 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer

(+) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 31.3 °C / 88 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 40.2 °C / 104 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 54.6 °C / 130 F, compared to the average of 36.4 °C / 98 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.2 °C / 79 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 30.4 °C / 86.7 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.2 °C / 82.8 F (-2.2 °C / -3.9 F).

The T480 speakers haven’t changed since the previous unit—but to recap, they’re average overall, with moderate volume and almost no bass reproduction. Mids and highs aren’t too bad, and the speakers should be sufficient for the typical phone call or voice conferencing session. For anything more, we recommend headphones or Bluetooth speakers.


dB(A)0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2036.539.936.52535.236.935.23133.235.433.24034.935.234.95034.832.634.86334.632.834.68031.831.931.810031.53231.512531.630.231.616032.528.932.520040.428.440.425050.626.950.631558.827.458.840060.426.660.450061.325.861.363060.925.460.980066.92566.9100064.624.964.6125061.724.461.7160059.224.159.2200056.22456.2250060.723.960.7315063.923.863.9400063.623.663.6500060.423.760.4630066.223.566.2800064.523.464.51000064.823.264.81250063.82363.81600054.323.154.3SPL7536.475N36.52.736.5median 60.7median 24.4median 60.7Delta7.61.57.634.134.233.532.932.131.631.233.129.832.629.731.530.332.228.240.427.745.327.547.227.151.326.75426.454.225.257.22556.224.560.224.363.324.568.424.464.824.46923.769.923.573.823.370.923.367.823.362.623.263.523.165.223.270.123.367.723.264.73680.42.645.8median 24.4median 63.51.76.8hearing rangehide medianshow median Pink NoiseLenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010USDell Latitude 7490

Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)

Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (75.03 dB)

Bass 100 – 315 Hz(-) | nearly no bass – on average 19.8% lower than median

(±) | linearity of bass is average (12.7% delta to prev. frequency)

Mids 400 – 2000 Hz(+) | balanced mids – only 2.3% away from median

(+) | mids are linear (6.7% delta to prev. frequency)

Highs 2 – 16 kHz(+) | balanced highs – only 2.8% away from median

(±) | linearity of highs is average (7.4% delta to prev. frequency)

Overall 100 – 16.000 Hz(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (19.9% difference to median)

Compared to same class» 42% of all tested devices in this class were better, 9% similar, 48% worse

» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 21%, worst was 51%

Compared to all devices tested» 41% of all tested devices were better, 7% similar, 52% worse

» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Dell Latitude 7490 audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (73.77 dB)

Bass 100 – 315 Hz(±) | reduced bass – on average 14.8% lower than median

(±) | linearity of bass is average (9.4% delta to prev. frequency)

Mids 400 – 2000 Hz(+) | balanced mids – only 4.4% away from median

(±) | linearity of mids is average (8% delta to prev. frequency)

Highs 2 – 16 kHz(+) | balanced highs – only 4.4% away from median

(±) | linearity of highs is average (8.2% delta to prev. frequency)

Overall 100 – 16.000 Hz(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (17.8% difference to median)

Compared to same class» 25% of all tested devices in this class were better, 9% similar, 66% worse

» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 21%, worst was 51%

Compared to all devices tested» 28% of all tested devices were better, 7% similar, 65% worse

» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Power consumption, Prime95 CPU stressPower consumption, Prime95 CPU stress

In direct correlation with the differences in heat development between the two machines, today’s T480 also manages vastly lower load power consumption—just 45.7 W on average (versus 63.9 W from its MX150-equipped counterpart). Idle numbers haven’t changed much: 7.7 W average with a maximum of 9.3 W.

Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, TFT-LCD, 1920×1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP, TFT-LCD, 1920×1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
8550U, GeForce MX150, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 1920×1080, 14
Dell Latitude 7490
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung PM961 MZVLW256HEHP, IPS, 1920×1080, 14
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, Toshiba KXG50ZNV1T02, IPS, 1920×1080, 14
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 2560×1440, 14
Idle Minimum *

3.8

Idle Average *

7.7

Idle Maximum *

9.3

Load Average *

45.7

Load Maximum *

46.1

Witcher 3 ultra *

53.9

* … smaller is better

The T480 preserves the dual-battery approach of its predecessors, which in this case constitutes a 24 Wh internal battery paired up with an external (hot-swappable) battery of the user’s choice. We received all three battery options for review today: the Lenovo 61 (24 Wh), 61+ (48 Wh), and 61++ (72 Wh). We performed separate battery life tests for each of the three options, but the result shown in the table below is based on the smallest of the three (24 Wh + 24 Wh)—so keep that in mind when comparing.

Regardless, for whatever reason, we actually measured better battery life from our previous review unit while using the same set of battery options (even in spite of the hypothetically higher power consumption, which may not necessarily apply during web surfing depending on a variety of factors). Still, today’s machine manages very good battery results, with even the super-slim, incredibly light 24 Wh + 24 Wh configuration lasting 7 hours and 17 minutes—nearly enough for an entire workday for the average person.

Battery Runtime

NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 7h 17min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 11h 52min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 12h 54min
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, 24 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T480s-20L7002AUS
8250U, UHD Graphics 620, 57 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L6S01V00
8550U, GeForce MX150, 72 Wh
Dell Latitude 7490
8650U, UHD Graphics 620, 60 Wh
HP EliteBook 840 G5-3JX61EA
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, 50 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS03900
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, 57 Wh
Reader / Idle

1671

1116

1328

WiFi v1.3

437

Load

159

91

106

Pros

+ very good general system performance

+ thoughtful design with clever additions

+ diverse port selection

+ quiet operation

+ embedded touch display with good contrast

+ great input devices

+ dual-battery configuration allows for hot swapping

Cons

– curiously lower CPU performance as compared to T480s and previous T480 unit

– very poor display color coverage and accuracy

– hot spots on bottom under load

– display lid susceptible to twisting

– audible case creaks/popping when pressure is applied to lower-left corner (near smart card reader)

In review: Lenovo ThinkPad T480In review: Lenovo ThinkPad T480

As before, Lenovo’s venerable ThinkPad T480 remains a top competitor within the business market. It is a product of years of refinement and careful revision, rivaled only by a handful of truly top-notch machines. As we said during our last review, its construction is mostly very solid, the design is ever-practical (and immediately familiar), and there’s a good selection of ports on board. The input devices are also very good, the machine is quiet under operation, and it’s fast, too—at least, for general application performance, and in context with category averages for CPU performance.

What’s improved with today’s model versus the previous starts with the price, which is currently around $1,712 (at Amazon). Beyond that, since this configuration lacks dedicated graphics, temperatures and power consumption are also well below the values we measured from the previous model—though there are still a couple of bothersome hot spots on the bottom of the machine under load. The display remains bright and features good contrast, but as before, the color coverage is woefully inadequate, which leads to drearily washed-out colors and lackadaisical picture quality.

Though it falters in the realm of display color quality and a few other sparse categories, Lenovo’s venerable ThinkPad T480 remains a top competitor within the business market. It is a product of years of refinement and careful revision, rivaled only by a handful of truly top-notch machines.

Unlike the MX150 setup, this machine (of course) can’t really handle any sort of heavy GPU operation such as even light gaming. That’s expected—but what was unexpected is the lower CPU performance we received from the Core i7-8650U in our test unit versus the cheaper Core i7-8550U in March’s model. Perhaps most puzzling of all is the CPU performance ravine separating the T480s and today’s T480; even with the latest BIOS and all power settings properly configured, we couldn’t provoke scores anywhere close to what we saw from our Core i5-equipped T480s last week.

Still, though it falters in the realm of display color quality and a few other sparse categories, the T480 remains mentionable amongst the respected ranks of such competitors as Dell’s Latitude 7490, HP’s Elitebook 840 G5, and Lenovo’s own X1 Carbon. The real choice is whether the T480 or T480s makes more sense for your particular application—but apart from the aforementioned quibbles, it’s hard to find major fault in any of these options.

Lenovo ThinkPad T480-20L50010US – 2018-07-1607/16/2018 v6
Steve Schardein

Connectivity

62 / 80 → 78%

Games Performance

58 / 68 → 85%

Application Performance

91 / 92 → 99%

Office – Weighted Average

Steve Schardein, 2018-07-18 (Update: 2019-04-30)

Steve Schardein

In grade school, my first computer—an Apple IIGS—started it all for me. Later, in the nineties, if I wasn’t repairing computers for family and friends, I was busy cooking up nifty Visual Basic projects and playing PC games like Command & Conquer and Heroes of Might and Magic. Soon, much of my free time was spent moderating popular gaming forums and covering the industry for various websites. All the while, I never stopped repairing computers, and in 2006, I started a technology consulting company in Louisville, KY—Triple-S Computers—which I have been fortunate to nurture to great success by specializing in not only repairs, but also new machine consultations and purchasing, data recovery, and malware/security. And since 2012, I have proudly contributed many dozens of reviews to Notebookcheck, a site which I have long considered to be the ultimate authority on laptops and related technology. Today, I am truly living my dream: still a child at heart, ever-curious, constantly learning, and thankful to you, our readers.

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