Lenovo ThinkPad E480 laptop

Here is my short review of Lenovo ThinkPad E480 laptop.

Intel Core i7 8550 Kaby Lake Refresh, 14" LED 1920×1080 mate,
RAM 8GB DDR4 SDRAM, AMD Radeon RX 550 2GB, SSD 256GB, WiFi 802.11ac,
Bluetooth 4.1, (20KN0-01N)

I will just try to answer questions that had before I bought the Laptop

Keyboard / Tochpad

My main reason for new laptop was that I needed a laptop with good keyboad and touchpad with buttons (yep buttons). Reason for that is that I’m a web-developer I type 95% of the time and I need small touchpad so my hands don’t accidentally touch touchpad.

You may say that laptops with large touchpad have palm detection but in lot of cases that is pretty much non-existing when you reinstall Linux on the laptop (unless you spend several hours configuring it yourself)

Reason for touchpad with buttons was because the remaining 5% of time I’m doing lot of photo sorting / Gimp editing and I find it non-productiov with Macbook Air and Dell XPS 13 touchpad.

I can confirm that this Lenovo has great keyboard (one of the best I’ve ever typed on on laptop)

And don’t worry that red joystick in between the G, H,B keys will not limit your typing. I type with ten-finger technique on a Dvorak layout. I write lot of code (Web-developer) and I have quite large hands and the joystick not bothering me at all.

One more important thing. There is a Delete button well placed (top righ corner) ! Coming from Macbook Air, to have Delete key is a luxurious feeling.

Screen

I spend 10 - 16 hours a day at a Screen (no that’s not a metaphor, I’m serious) Therefore good screen is a priority.

I can confirm this laptop has really good Anti-glare (mate) screen, however be sure to buy 1920×1080 one as apparently there is a version with “cheaper” lover resolution screen

Anti glare is important for your eyes (as with glossy screen there is more glare bouncing to your eyes => they get more tired)

Body

Let’s be honest ThinkPad looks like something your grandpa should use. They are ugly duckling BUT they are designed for productivity.

You need to realize that this is a laptop built with plastic. If you looking for something more fancy and pretty you are at the wrong place. But I like how retro it looks.

I can confirm the body is reasonably good quality. It doesn’t wobble.

Some people were referring that the t480s model is much better build (as is should last longer). If you have extra $500 to spare on “better” maybe that’s better option for you. I’m happy with e480.

Gaming

There’s a dedicated Radeon RX graphic card inside the laptop. I only play Dota 2 from time to time and for the first time in my life I was playing it with so many details. The laptop didn’t even spin the fan (unlike integrated Intel graphic card chips laptops). So not sure how well it will perform other games but Dota 2 was good enough (I left the setting on recommended, but it was definitely not minimum)

Graphic card performance was never my key point. If the dedicated card wasn’t inside the laptop I would still buy it. But now that it’s there I enjoy it.

Performance

What more can I say: I7 8th gen + dedicated graphic card.

i7 8th gen processor is 4 physical core processor (8threads) and it is really really massive difference to work on (coming form MacBook Air 2012 i3 processor)

The laptop comes with i5 and i7 option. Go with i7. Those extra $200 will do quite the difference.

Update 25.03.2018: D. Klos had good point that i5 version will have better battery life and it’s still 4 phisical cores. So if battery life is priority and you don’t need dedicated graphical card then i5 version is good choice.

Battery

I was running integration tests (complex Ruby on Rails application with 3 types of databases) + encrypting disk + lunching other heavy load operations while on WiFi and the battery still lasted like 5 hours.

Battery is charged by USB-C adapter (USB-C charger was included in the package)

Developer experience

I’m a web-developer I can confirm that typing code is really productive on this laptop.

One good feature of this laptop is that the screen is extended and starts 3cm from the base it will help you a bit not to hunch your back.

I use to do lot of cloud coding ( ref1, ref2 ) but past few months I had situations where internet was not availible therefore my machine was only way how to be productive.

Ubuntu / Linux

I can confirm Ubuntu 16.04 is working out of the box. No issue. (I’ve manage to install Ubuntu without uninstalling Windows 10, just make sure you disable SafeBoot)

Touchpad works out of the box, camera, WiFi (unlike Dell XPS 13) No problems. Graphic card too.

Why Lenovo

Before this laptop I had Dell XPS 13 (late 2015 build). It was beautiful laptop but I needed to turn off touchpad each time I was writing code (my palms were detected by touchpad) I even installed several “palm detection” solutions nothing helped == beautiful but counterproductive (+ hardware issues like WiFi, sound card, …)

Plus my Dell XPS 13 Laptop snapped in 2 halves ! I was boarding a plane so I’ve closed the lid really quickly. When I opened it upon landing I found out the bottom and top part were separated from each other. The entire thing was held by 4mm thick aluminium stick that snapped in the middle (Think about how the screen part body is made from quite heavy metal base)

I fully take the blame. I should have been more careful. BUT it’s not like I throw the Laptop. The thing was designed by designers not by technical experts that’s for sure. That’s why I’m not recommending Dell XPS !

After that I’ve switched back to my Mac Book air 11 (2012 build) and reinstalled Ubuntu there. It was fine, no driver issues on Ubuntu but not really productive touchpad (again I need buttons). Also thing with MacBooks is that they gave glossy screens (not good for your eyes).

Before that I had company laptop HP Elitebook 4330 (2012 build) and that was the best laptop I’ve ever had! Good keyboard, antiglare screen, great touchpad (with buttons) firm laptop body, elegant, good Linux support.

I was therefore looking for HP notebook and I nearly bought HP ProBook 440 G5. It was pretty much all I wanted from a laptop BUT touchpad too big (I was afraid I would have palm detection issues) and no buttons.

Honestly I don’t trust Lenovo. They were caught several times for several years installing crapware to laptops (and even to bios !) and although that only affected Windows (which I would reinstall with Ubuntu anyway) the thing is I don’t like to buy stuff from such manufacturers.

But let’s put morals aside. I’ve searched the entire current laptop market and Lenovo e480 was the only one that matches all my expectations from a laptop (and for a good price).

So my message to Lenovo is: stop selling out your customers ! You are making great laptops you are just scaring away potential customers!

And message to HP: Build professional laptops with touchpad keys again FFS !

And to you: Lenovo e480 is a great laptop. Second best I ever had in my life (after HP Elitebook 4330.).

MacBook Air is fine but just a shiny gadget for that is not even close to these two laptops and Dell XPS 13 (late 2015) was a terrible waste of money.