ThinkPad E485 - (Underrated gem!)

Discussion in 'Lenovo' started by Kuro Kensei, Dec 16, 2018.

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  1. Kuro Kensei

    Kuro Kensei Notebook Consultant

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    Hello Everyone!

    I would like to share my experience with this machine in hopes that it might help those of you who are considering this laptop but not sure about its pro's and con's.

    TP2.jpg

    Specs (including aftermarket upgrades):

    CPU/GPU: AMD Ryzen 2700u Vega 10
    RAM: 32 GB, (2x16GB HyperX @3200Mhz CL 20, alas, running at reduced clocks @2400Mhz CL15, BIOS limitation)
    Storage: NVMe SSD - Corsair Force MP510 - 480GB; additional 2.5" storage bay available!
    Screen: FHD AG - Upgraded to 100% sRGB, 300+nit, 1:700 contrast, matte IPS FHD panel!


    I purchased my machine with stock RAM and storage for 600$ during the ThinksGiving deal. As you can see, it's very cheap for a ThinkPad. So, what's the catch? Is AMD Ryzen's performance so underwhelming compared to its Intel counterparts? Let's find out!

    3DMark06
    3DMark06-1.PNG
    3DMark11
    3DMark11.PNG
    Cinebench
    Cinebench1.PNG
    3DMark - FireStrike
    FireStrike.PNG

    As you can see these are some pretty interesting numbers. But it gets way more interesting. Looking at the temps, fan speeds and clocks I noticed a few striking things:

    The CPU package never gets enough juice to perform at its maximum potential. It's limited at ~11W burst TDP, while according to AMD, it should be able to run @15W sustained and 25W burst TDP. Which means its being crippled by the BIOS to run at half its possible performance.
    Correction! Upon additional testing it's been confirmed that the APU is set to run @22W sustained, with burst TDP of 25W. This is still below the capability of this chip, as the competition (i7-8650u) is able to burst all the way to 50W!

    Not surprisingly, same thing is affecting the iGPU. It's never able to reach its maximum clocks of 1300Mhz, peaking at 1050Mhz during all my tests.
    Temperature throttling? Not a chance! Temps never even reach 80C in this machine. This is considered ice-cold for a notebook CPU that can heat up to 90-100c before any real throttling kicks in. The fan doesn't seem to be stressed much either. The 2-piped heatsink is more than adequate to dissipate 25-35W. So why would Lenovo lock it down?

    After some more digging I found out that it's not just Lenovo. Other vendors are doing the exact same thing! But not without exceptions. There's a couple of HP's with 2500u that run at higher TDP and show amazing CPU scores!

    Whether it's for political or some other reason, I don't know and could care less. But I do care to unlock the maximum performance of this machine.

    So, even with its crippled performance, the E485 show great CPU/GPU scores, with GPU twice as powerful as the Intel chip.

    As for general build quality and features, please refer to this review, which I agree with for the most part.

    I will add to this having 2 storage bays (1 full size NVMe + 2.5" bay) is not too shabby for a slim 14" notebook. As of today, you can slap 6TB of storage capacity into this machine (2TB NVMe SSD + 4TB 2.5" SSD).

    To be continued...
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  2. Kuro Kensei

    Kuro Kensei Notebook Consultant

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    Here's the clocks/temps info after running all the benches:

    temps.PNG

    temps2.PNG
     
  3. Kuro Kensei

    Kuro Kensei Notebook Consultant

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    So, just out of curiosity, I ran Cinebench R15 when on battery - and look at those numbers!!

    Cinebench-R15-battery.PNG

    That's a desktop i7-3770 CPU level of performance at 7-8W power draw!
     
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  4. Kuro Kensei

    Kuro Kensei Notebook Consultant

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    Ok, I've switched to the dark side for the time being and moved to Linux on this machine.

    Just wanted to let you guys know that in order to be able to boot and install Linux on Ryzen Lenovo's (Lenovo, please fix your BIOS parameters!), you have to use the following flag at boot:
    ivrs_ioapic[32]=00:14.0
    All you do is hit 'e' at the boot menu and add this line to the boot parameters. You will also need to add this to your grub to make the change permanent after the installation by editing the /etc/default/grub file and then running update-grub. The parameter isn't my finding, all credit goes to Evilazrael.

    I've tried Ubuntu 18.04, 18.10, Mint, Fedora 29 - all loading and installing without any problem. Currently using Parrot (I'm a security analyst, so that's my go to daily driver). It took way more tinkering to get it running on this laptop, so if anyone wants to try Kali/Parrot on their Lenovo's sporting Ryzen chips - let me know and I'll post a detailed guide.

    Linux performance is just as amazing! Idle power draw is around 9-10 watt during light browsing. It's a bit higher than in Windows and does affect the battery life. But you can expect a good 4.5hrs of surfing in Linux and 5.5 hours in Windows. Still pretty good in my opinion as I rarely get stuck in places with no power.
     
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  5. Kuro Kensei

    Kuro Kensei Notebook Consultant

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    A quick update after staying on Linux for 4 days.

    Everything seems pretty stable. No WiFi issues. Bluetooth is working fine! BTW, Parrot OS 4.4 detected and installed BT drivers automatically (unlike Ubuntu and Mint). Temps are really low (45C at room temp of 25C), fan is inaudible unless running benches or playing games. I'm still trying to figure out how to reduce the battery drain rate, maybe should experiment with PowerTop or tlp. Next step - upgrading the screen! I really need a wide gamut 14" panel that could fit this machine. If anyone knows model numbers I could look for - please let me know!
     
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  6. Kuro Kensei

    Kuro Kensei Notebook Consultant

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    Update!

    I've just upgraded the screen on this beast to a N140HCE-EN1 rev. C1. It's a great panel and nearly a drop in replacement (just use the two bottom screws and ignore the top ones, the bezel will hold it nicely).

    The difference is night and day, but I can't take a good picture to show you the colors, have no decent camera lol

    100% sRGB
    300nit brightness
    700:1 contrast
    Very good response

    You can get it from ebay for about 50$, but I paid Amazon a nice extra bonus to get it delivered faster. No regrets so far.

    On a much more exciting side, I've learned that it's possible to fully unlock TDP on this machine through linux! Still going over the process as it's not very easy, especially when running a non-standard non-Ubuntu based distro. I will be back with more good news! Stay tuned...
     
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  7. Kuro Kensei

    Kuro Kensei Notebook Consultant

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    Here's the best I could do with my cellphone's camera. This is at 10% screen brightness in a brightly lit office, lol, anything higher and the image is too bright for the camera. I think this panel hits around 400nit in reality.
    parrot1.jpg
     
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  8. Aikimox

    Aikimox Weihenstephaner!

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    Major Update!
    Big News!
    It is possible to unlock the TPD on this machine both in linux and windows!

    Here are two vids showing the results and some steps:
    All credit goes to Arvo and his bois on discord!
    Windows -
    Linux -

    It's been reported that someone has already achieved a score of 740 in Cinebench R15 CPU Multi! That's a true full TDP quad core level of performance in a 28-35W package. I'm still trying to free up some time to make the changes, but my schedule is pretty tight at the moment. Wanna repaste first, then run benchmarks. Gaming, futuremark, 3dmark scores are coming soon! It's getting so interesting now. Wonder what excuse will vendors produce and how they are going to 'tackle' the situation? An underdog 500$ laptop is doing some serious butt-kicking both in the CPU and iGP sector. I'm expecting some MX150 and higher scores there.
     
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  9. Kuro Kensei

    Kuro Kensei Notebook Consultant

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    That's just amazing!

    This machine is simply rocking it! Will see if I can figure out how to do this in Linux (trying to stay away from Windows as much as I can, lol)

    Never lose Faith, Brothers and never lose Hope!
     
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  10. custom90gt

    custom90gt Doc Mod Super Moderator

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    How are your temps with the TDP limits removed?
     
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