Lenovo Thinkpad E490 first impressions

A couple of weeks ago, I got my new Thinkpad E490. It replaces two desktop PCs and my old laptop, so I needed a serious work horse. The most obvious choice within Lenovo’s line-up would be a T480, but I found those to be rather expensive. It’s follow-up model has just been announced, but the new T490 has fewer configuration options.

All in all, the E490 seemed the best choice for me. I got the i7 version with loads of RAM. Here’s a few things I noticed so far:

  • Ubuntu 18.04 installed in minutes with all hardware working flawlessly, except for the fingerprint scanner (which you can probably get working with a little effort).
  • The E490 is built like a tank. This may be the “economy” model, but it has true Thinkpad build quality.
  • When it was announced, there was talk of a plastic and a slimmer metal option for the lid. I did not get an option to pick either while ordering, but the lid on mine is metal. Very nice, but a fingerprint magnet.
  • It has more recent Intel CPUs than the T480, which are slightly faster.
  • SSD options top out at 512 GB, but the E490 has a trick up its sleeve. It has a standard SATA drive bay, in which I installed a 1 TB SATA SSD. Ideal for a speedy data disk, although not quite as fast as an NVMe drive. Installation requires no special hardware, and the procedure is detailed step-by-step in the manual.
  • Yes there’s a red LED in the Thinkpad logo on the lid.
  • Man, the keyboard is excellent.
  • Hooking up a large display is a bit tricky. Over HDMI, my 3440*1440px screen runs at an “okay-ish” 50Hz. This will probably be 30Hz for 4K screens. The USB-C port supports DisplayPort alternate mode, but you’d need a docking station to simultaneously charge the laptop.

If you’re considering picking up an E490, I’d recommend looking around for coupons. I entered a bunch of codes and got mine at a spectacular price.

Roy Tanck
I'm a freelance WordPress developer, designer, consultant, meetup organizer and speaker. In my spare time I love to go out and take pictures of things.

5 thoughts on “Lenovo Thinkpad E490 first impressions”

  1. Thanks for that. I’ve usually gone for DELLs, but I’m drawn towards the keyboard of the ThinkPads.
    Would it be indiscreet to ask how much is “spectacular” (or at least a ballpark figure)?

    1. The top model, with 32 GB of RAM and the 512 GB SSD cost me just under a thousand euros before taxes. That with the integrated Intel graphics and Windows Home (to reduce the “Windows Tax”). I’m still not sure how I got to that price, but my best guess is that two coupons were both applied. I really pays to just enter any code you can find.

  2. Do you have the Radeon GPU version? What about the battery life when using ubuntu linux?
    I am thinking to go for e490 but I do not know if I should pick up the ext. GPU card version.
    I have experienced significant power draw when using my old dell xps l502x laptop (2011 model) running ubuntu linux, due to its power-hungry nvidia graphic card.

    1. Mine has the integrated GPU, because I’m not interested in games. With it, I seems to be getting decent battery life, although I’ve not yet transferred all my work stuff to it, so I’m not using it full-time yet.

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