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The ThinkPad T480


January 4 2018

I look at the new Lenovo ThinkPad T480 laptop computer.

==Lenovo’s new ThinkPads: An overview==

Before the opening of CES, Lenovo announced a number of ThinkPad laptops this year:

  • They have completely revamped the small “X” series of ThinkPads; the new X280 is a good deal thinner and lighter than the X270. To get this, Lenovo had to make it less user-serviceable and have the battery not last as long. I think this is a wise decision on Lenovo’s part; this adds another very small and light computer to their lineup. They have also added an X380 Yoga to the lineup.
  • The E series of lower cost laptops have already been updated late last year, with the E480 and E580 already available in some markets.
  • The L series, another low-cost lineup from Lenovo, has a number of models for 2018: L380, L380 Yoga, L480, and L580
  • Finally, Lenovo has introduced three new T series laptops: The T480, the thinner T480s, and the T580. There will be no T480p; now that Intel’s 15-watt chips have four cores, Lenovo does not feel the need to have a separate line with 4-core chips.

Since I am typing this on a T470, I will go over its successor, the T480.

==Comparing the T470 and T480==

The 2017 T470 I currently own is not a computer for gamers: There are no graphics acceleration options; the only GPU option is the limited one included in Intel’s 2017 Kaby Lake line of microprocessors (Intel HD Graphics 620). Only really good for older games. While the GeForce 940MX was an option for the T470 in some markets, the only T470 with that chipset available here in the United States was the T25.

The T480 has the option to have a NVIDIA GeForce MX150, which can play most 2017 games, albeit at lower resolution (1280x720 or 1920x1080) and in-game graphics settings. While not a dedicated gaming computer, this allows users to play recent games in a pinch.

Speaking of video, the T480 has more display options than the older T470; the maximum resolution available for the T470 is 1920x1080; the T480 has the option for a 2560x1440 display. It remains to be seen if the T480 display will be brighter and have better colors than the T470 display.

The ports on the right hand side are the same on both models: We have a SD card slot in the back; in front of that is an RJ45 ethernet port (very useful when I bring my computer to the office), then a USB3 A port, an HDMI port, another USB3 A port, and finally a 1/8 inch headphone (or microphone) port.

On the left hand side, the ports have changed. The T470 has a square Lenovo “Slim Tip” power socket; in front of that is another USB3 A port; and finally there is a combined USB-C and Thunderbolt 3 port, which can also power the laptop. The T480 only has two left-hand ports: A USB-C port which can power the machine, as well as a combination Thunderbolt 3/USB-C/Docker port. The T470 has its docking bay port on the bottom; the T480 has no ports on the bottom. Neither laptop has ports in the front or back.

The T470’s Thunderbolt 3 port has only two “PCI Lanes”, which means it is only half as fast as a four-lane full speed Thunderbolt 3 port; I do not know whether the T480’s Thunderbolt 3 port will be a 2-lane or 4-lane port.

The new T480 is using Intel’s newer four-core “Kaby Lake R” 15-watt processors, which, at the high end, can have almost twice the performance as the older “Kaby Lake” CPU offerings available for the T470 line of computers, while offering the same 15W TDP (average power used) as the older, slower chips. Note that single threaded performance has not significantly changed between the two models.

==More information==

More information about the new ThinkPad computers from Lenovo is available here:

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