Thinkpad A485 - Ryzen 5 2500U or Ryzen 7 2700U? Or something else?

Discussion in 'What Notebook Should I Buy?' started by Starlight5, Apr 11, 2020.

  1. Starlight5

    Starlight5 Yes, I'm a cat. What else is there to say, really?

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    Hello,

    I am looking for a unicorn - neither laptop currently available fully meets my requirements. Thinkpad A485 comes closest. I want to buy it and replace the screen with B140HAK02.3 from X1C6 for acceptable color reproduction, add 72Wh battery and AX200 WLAN card to better communicate with my NAS over 802.11ax home network.

    But maybe I am missing something, and there is a better alternative? Also, will I notice the difference between 2500U & 2700U, specifically in A485? Notebookcheck review of A485 is somewhat outdated, the heat&throttling problems were mostly addressed by BIOS updates. Review of native FHD Touch panel of A485 - overall meh, particularly suffers from very poor color reproduction.

    Hardware-wise, I need:
    1. At least 32GB RAM, preferably upgradeable
    2. AMD Ryzen 5 or 7
    3. At least FHD; I greatly benefit from WQHD and higher resolutions and/or built-in second screen a-la Zenbook Duo
    4. Touchscreen
    5. no PWM
    6. Thinkpad keyboard
    7. Replaceable m.2 2280 and/or 2.5" storage, multiple m.2 2280 appreciated
    8. Replaceable m.2 2230 wifi for future upgrades (wi-fi 6e once available)

    Other laptops I considered:
    * Thinkpad T495, T495s, T14, T14s - faster CPUs, less RAM possible, smaller batteries, much more expensive yet can't use displays over FHD, display lottery -> safe to assume will also need display replacement;
    * Thinkpad X1E/P1 1st Gen 4K pen&touch - Intel & poor battery life, but on the other hand 4K display with pen&touch;
    * Surface Laptop 3 AMD with reworked chassis to accommodate Thinkpad keyboard and adapter for properly sized m.2 2280 SSD - gorgeous display with pen&touch, but also very expensive with 32GB RAM, soldered outdated 802.11ac wifi adapter, too much work that will make the final result outrageously expensive, waste a lot of time and destroy warranty.

    General Questions

    1) What is your budget?
    There is no upper limit, but I would prefer to spend as little as possible and/or upgrade the machine to desired spec over time.

    2) What size notebook would you prefer?
    a. Ultraportable; 10" - 12" screen
    c. Thin and Light; 13" - 14" screen
    d. Mainstream; 15" - 16" screen

    3) Which country will you buying this notebook?
    eBay

    4) Are there any brands that you prefer or any you really don't like?
    a. Like: Thinkpad
    b. Dislike: Apple

    5) Would you consider laptops that are refurbished/redistributed?
    Yes

    6) What are the primary tasks will you be performing with this notebook?
    1. Browsing with hundreds of tabs across multiple browsers
    2. Reading books, comics, datasheets
    3. Light gaming, maybe streaming

    7) Will you be taking the notebook with you to different places, leaving it on your desk or both?
    Different places.

    8) Will you be playing games on your notebook? (If so, please state which games or types of games?)
    Light gaming like Darkest Dungeon & Endless Sky. Lowest settings are OK. I would also like to stream.

    9) How many hours of battery life do you need?
    At the very least 5 hours according to notebookcheck, I will benefit from longer battery life. Expecting 10 hours of light browsing from A485 with 24Wh+72Wh batteries.

    10) Would you prefer to see the notebooks you're considering before purchasing it or buying a notebook on-line without seeing it is OK?
    Online

    11) What OS do you prefer? Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Chrome OS, etc.
    Windows 10

    Screen Specifics

    12) What screen resolution(s) would you prefer? (See further below for explanations.)
    At least FHD, preferably higher

    13) Do you want a glossy/reflective screen or a matte/non-glossy screen? (See further below for explanations.)
    Matte

    Build Quality and Design

    14) Are the notebook's looks and stylishness important to you?
    Prefer black, not critical. Must be 2kg or less.

    Notebook Components

    15) How much hard drive space do you need?
    I need upgradeable m.2 2280 and/or 2.5" SSD slot to install 2TB-4TB SSD later

    Timing, Warranty and Longevity

    16) When are you buying this laptop?
    6 months

    17) How long do you expect to use this laptop?
    2 years

    18) How long could you afford to do without your laptop if it were to fail?
    A month. I can fix a reasonably designed laptop as long as it needs replacing parts without soldering, and parts are available on eBay or Aliexpress; will likely keep my current laptop with Wacom digitizer as a drawing pad anyway, so can wait for parts.

    19) Would you be willing to pay significantly extra for on-site warranty, or would it be acceptable to you to have to ship the laptop to the vendor for repair with perhaps a week or more outage?
    I am used to extended on-site warranty which often comes with used business laptops. I am not used to paying extra for it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2020
  2. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    You sure that's going to fly?
     
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  3. Charles P. Jefferies

    Charles P. Jefferies Lead Moderator Super Moderator

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    I don't see why AMD versus Intel would matter in the context of what you want to do. You might want to look at a 6-core/12-thread or better CPU for your requirements, which to me look like heavy multitasking. For that, the HP ZBook 15 and the Dell Precision 7540 come to mind. Yes, they're a little chunky, but both offer excellent factory screen options with high color accuracy and very good expansion capabilities. Battery life might be the only problem, as I don't think either can get 10 hours, but you have to weigh that against everything else.

    Charles
     
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  4. Starlight5

    Starlight5 Yes, I'm a cat. What else is there to say, really?

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    Comparing panelook data and photos of both panels, they seem to be electrically and physically compatible. I see no reason why it shouldn't. There is also LP140WFC-SPA1 which is superior on paper but no idea whether it is PWM-free or not, or if it will work

    @Charles P. Jefferies thank you for advice!

    I have completely lost my trust in Intel as a CPU manufacturer. Some of the recently discovered vulnerabilities in their CPUs are unfixable, e.g. the recent CSME one, and overall severe vulnerabilities in Intel CPUs are discovered pretty much every couple months for the last two years - while AMD CPUs don't have it nearly as bad. Thus I only consider AMD machines for the time being.

    Sadly they are both Intel. Still, I researched latest models in the series you mentioned from both HP & Dell, as well as their predecessors.

    * Intel CPU aside, Zbook 15 G6 has one major problem - weight. Compared to 1st gen Thinkpad X1E/P1 with 4K touch & 8750H, Zbook 15 G6 should (judging by G5) offer about twice the battery life at the expense of much higher weight and off-centered keyboard. So-so tradeoff, to be honest.

    * Zbook 15 G5 doesn't have a trackpoint, and I doubt it is possible to use palmrest+touchpad+keyboard from G6.

    * Precision 7540 doesn't offer high-res touch displays according to datasheet, only FHD, and lasts about as much as Thinkpad X1E/P1 on battery despite being much heavier - not an option for me.

    Overall, I would definitely prefer an AMD machine over vulnerable Intel, even if the latter is faster.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2020
  5. Mastermind5200

    Mastermind5200 Notebook Virtuoso

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    These security issues you speak of are important to note but realistically you will never see them implemented upon you so there isn't real need to fret over them. At the same time, I would still go for an AMD laptop, just wait until 4th gen mobile is out, as it currently creams anything has to offer in the mobile space, you've got the R9 4900HS consuming less power than a 9980HK and destroying performance wise. At the same time, on a gaming laptop with a 4900HS and a 2060MQ, you can achieve about 8-10 hours of battery life. Now imagine a 6c/12t with a bigger battery and no dGPU. So, I'd just wait until a vendor that actually produces high quality laptops to refresh their current lineup with them.
     
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  6. Starlight5

    Starlight5 Yes, I'm a cat. What else is there to say, really?

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    @Mastermind5200 thank you!

    I have a different view on that.
    I read announcements for upcoming Ryzen laptops - and everything I've seen so far is disappointing. Particularly, Thinkpad T14 AMD which I had high hopes for only comes with FHD screens, has less max RAM (48GB) & battery (50Wh) compared to A485 (64GB & 96Wh).
    That's a sensible advice, but with my bloody long list of requirements it's very hard to find something more or less satisfying. Actually purchasing takes quite some time too, since I typically search for slightly used and/or auctioned laptops, to somewhat offset the expensive upgrades I throw into them post-purchase, which either are not available from manufacturer or cost absolutely insane compared to very same parts sold separately.
     
  7. Mastermind5200

    Mastermind5200 Notebook Virtuoso

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    Then don't go with a T14, wait until other vendors decide to refresh their laptops.
     
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  8. ZaZ

    ZaZ Super Model Super Moderator

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    Having done a few of these myself, the devil's in the details. It's more likely that it won't work than it will in my experience, though I have no specific knowledge of these models. You might want to ask this on ThinkPads.com where they tend to be a bit more techy about this stuff.
     
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  9. Mastermind5200

    Mastermind5200 Notebook Virtuoso

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    R/thinkpads and their discord are also a lovely source of information
     
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  10. Starlight5

    Starlight5 Yes, I'm a cat. What else is there to say, really?

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    Still waiting, nothing worthwhile released so far. )'=
     
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