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Purchase Help: X1 Carbon (6 Gen) vs T490/T490s?

X1/X1-Carbon (X1Cx)/X1-Extreme (X1Ex) series and later, specific matters only
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Zarbar
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Purchase Help for (tech unsavvy) Law Student

#1 Post by Zarbar » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:07 pm

Hello all! I'm an incoming law student who is considering purchasing a T4x Series laptop for my three upcoming years of school. I've narrowed my ThinkPad search down to three machines--one isn't a T4x series.

X1 Carbon (6th Gen): Intel® Core™ i5-8250U, 8GB RAM, 256SSD, 300 nits FHD (1920 x 1080) display, 57Wh battery, 2.49 lbs. $999
T490: Intel® Core™ i5-8265U, 8GB RAM, 256SSD, 400 nits FHD low power (1920 x 1080) display, 50Wh battery, ~3.3 lbs. $1083
T490s. Intel® Core™ i5-8250U, 8GB RAM, 256SSD, 300 nits FHD (1920 x 1080) display, 57Wh battery, 2.81 lbs. $1100.

My main concerns with a machine have been, in order, 1) processing capability of basic reading/writing/research related to law school, 2) display/keyboard to avoid eye/wrist fatigue, 3) portability/battery (tied). I'm also hoping to spend the least possible on one of these models and not pay for a machine that ultimately outperforms my needs, as I won't be crunching data, running heavy programs, gaming, or even streaming videos from this laptop regularly. Just basic "school" functions in a reading/writing-heavy program.

I'm NOT a computer whiz, so knowing the real difference between these specs is difficult. My main questions are:
1. Is the X1C6 a good investment given the lower price, despite having an older processor and lower nits? I don't foresee myself needing a ton of upgrades (if any) in the future.
2. Will the weight with the T490 seem noticeable?
3. Is a 100-nits difference between these models noticeable for someone working indoors and mainly typing/reading?
4. Is there much difference between a 57Wh battery and a 50Wh battery w/ low power display?

Thank you all so much. All this research has me feeling like I have the technological insight of my grandfather...

Thinkpad4by3
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Re: Purchase Help for (tech unsavvy) Law Student

#2 Post by Thinkpad4by3 » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:29 pm

Welcome to the forum.

Actually this isn't the correct slot for it, since T4x stands for the (two digit) T40-T43 machines made by IBM from around 2003-2005. The correct place would be under the T430 and newer machines. Don't worry about it for right now.

For writing and normal school work, anything made in the last 8 years will work just fine. Heck, I use a T520 from 2011 on a regular basis. Processor and RAM won't matter too much, I just for future proofing, get a minimum of 8GB of RAM.

300 vs 400 nits really won't be noticable under artificial lightning like in schools. If you plan to work outside, then it might be an issue but if your inside 99% of the time, it will be a non-issue. Also note a lower brightness = better battery life.

3.3lbs vs 2.5lbs in a backpack would be nearly impossible to tell a difference. Even holding them side by side you'd be hard-pressed to find a difference. Don't go crazy over the weight it's a difference of less than a pound.

For the battery, honestly with modern 8th and 9th gen processors on a light load, if you can't pull 6 hours easily there is something seriously wrong. My 60Wh T450 at Max brightness pulls 4 hours in your situation, and remember the T490 has a significantly more power efficient display, processor, RAM, SSD and isn't locked at Max brightness. Low power display might yield an extra hour or so, it's one less watt give or take.

So basically it comes down to personal preference. I would also look at the T480, because if you are paranoid about battery life, you can always swap batteries on it. Also with the T490 you will be able to upgrade more in the future.

Which ever one you pick will serve you well.
Thinkpad4by3's Law of the Universe.

The efficiency of two screens equally sized with equal numbers if pixels are equal. The time spent by a 4:3 user complaining about 16:9 is proportional to the inefficiency working with a 16:9 display, therefore the amount of useful work extracted is equal.

BillMorrow
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Re: Purchase Help for (tech unsavvy) Law Student

#3 Post by BillMorrow » Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:50 pm

good advice from Thinkpad4by3 ..!

for myself, i like the X1C series with the touch high density display..
just got a "refurb" X1C extreme.. fully loaded version, 4K, 16 gig, 1TB, etc.. while terrific, it does use battery fast BUT can be charged just as fast..
probably way out of your budget..
so an X1C gen 3 might be cost effective and powerful enough for your needs.. be careful buying from a less-than-trusted source..
bear in mind though that your needs will surely expand to fill the available resources so you might think about that while picking the thinkpad you want..
my X1C extreme was a refurb i got off amazon using my Amex points to lower the cost to about $1725 MOL.. while i don't agree with bezos's politics he sure did build a great marketplace.. :)

i moved the topic to the correct forum..
Bill Morrow, kept by parrots :parrot: & cockatoos
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She was the type of person who kept a parrot.
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ZaZ
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Re: Purchase Help for (tech unsavvy) Law Student

#4 Post by ZaZ » Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:57 am

The difference in CPUs won't make a lick of difference, given the usage. I think the most significant difference is the weight, where the X1C has the advantage, though not hugely so.
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Re: Purchase Help: X1 Carbon (6 Gen) vs T490/T490s?

#5 Post by dr_st » Mon Jul 15, 2019 4:40 am

Hi, Zarbar and welcome to the forum. :)

I cleaned up the little mess you've made with the cross-posting of the same thing 3 times, and merged all replies to this thread.

If you prefer this thread to be in the T430/T530+ forum, let me know and I will move it, but please don't start another one.

To give you my opinion on your question, I tend to agree with ZaZ:
ZaZ wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 2:57 am
The difference in CPUs won't make a lick of difference, given the usage. I think the most significant difference is the weight, where the X1C has the advantage, though not hugely so
I would go and say that the weight difference between X1C6 and T490 is quite significant - between X1C6 and T490s, not so much. But the X1C6 also has a smaller footprint.
Thinkpad4by3 wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:29 pm
Processor and RAM won't matter too much, I just for future proofing, get a minimum of 8GB of RAM.
I would even advise 16GB (unless one goes for the T490), since there are no sockets and RAM is not upgradable on the T490s/X1C6.
Thinkpad4by3 wrote:
Sun Jul 14, 2019 3:29 pm
3.3lbs vs 2.5lbs in a backpack would be nearly impossible to tell a difference. Even holding them side by side you'd be hard-pressed to find a difference. Don't go crazy over the weight it's a difference of less than a pound.
Based on my TP25 vs X1C experience, I'd say they weight and size differences would be noticeable side by side or carrying in hand, but not in the backpack. T490 closes the gap somewhat, as it is slightly smaller and lighter than T470/T480/TP25, but I believe it would still be a noticeable difference.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Purchase Help: X1 Carbon (6 Gen) vs T490/T490s?

#6 Post by w0qj » Mon Jul 15, 2019 9:25 am

OP's requirements as we understand it:
~Portability & Battery: tied for priority
~Budget for a sufficient laptop with future-proof; no overkill in functionality.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Assuming that you get your T480 in the near future before these "older" stock runs out:
~T480 = circa 2018 so is on clearance sale now.

1. May we recommend T480 with 16 GB RAM and a sufficiently large HDD/SSD, and a FHD (1920x1080) matt screen LCD of 250 nits to 400 nits.
~Decide in advance if you need a mobile broadband (WWAN) option when you buy; cannot add this in later. (We find this very convenient).

~16 GB RAM for future-proof your machine (it's easy to get over 8 GB RAM usage nowadays).
[Edit: Many thanks to dr_st, correction as below]:
T480 has two (2) sockets and none of the RAM soldered. ie: Both banks of RAM are user-upgradable.
Therefore suggest you buy either:

a+b) 8 GB or 16 GB RAM for T480
(Note: Both RAM slots are in sockets and therefore user-upgradable; these are not soldered).

a) 6 GB RAM T480 from ThinkPad (8+8 GB RAM), OR
b) 8 GB RAM 480 (8 GB RAM + one_free_socket), for future upgradability to total 16 GB RAM as needed.
(ie: do not buy that 8 GB RAM (4GB + 4GB RAM).

Note: Must buy 16 GB RAM per-configured! There are two RAM slots in T480, one soldered and one user-upgradable.
If you buy 8 GB RAM per-installed (not recommended), there's no telling if they gave you 8 GB (x1) module with one free slot, or 4 GB (x2) modules meaning you have already maxed out @8GB!

dr_st wrote:
Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:27 am
T480 has two sockets and no soldered RAM; T480s/T490 have one soldered slot and one socket; T490s has one soldered slot and no sockets.
~Final RAM Comment: All X1 Carbon models (X1C7, X1C6, etc.) have RAM soldered; user *cannot* upgrade RAM later on!

~500 GB HDD/SSD should be enough to future-proof your machine, especially if you do not plan your own HDD/SSD upgrading.

~FHD (1920x1080) LCD screen, preferably IPS option for better brightness.
From our own usage (mostly indoors and occasional outdoor use), any ThinkPad LCD screen 250 nits and above is sufficient. 400 nits is quite bright, "would be nice to have" category).
Avoid those 4k LCD screen options; these 4k screens are very bad for your battery power!

~Cost: T-series generally is the least expensive, slightly bigger but not that much heavier. Agree with others that this size/weight difference is barely noticeable in your backpack T480 vs X1C6!

~T480 because it is the last generation of ThinkPad to have external battery (so you can buy replacement external battery in the future, or buy a 2nd battery for usage/battery longevity).
(T490/T490s/T480s/X1C7/X1C6 all have internal battery only!)
www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-l ... 628.0.html

~T480 because it is has SD-Card reader.
(T490/T490s/T480s/X1C6 has MicroSD-Card reader, while the X1C7 does not have MicroSD-Card reader at all!)

~T480 because it has a built-in RJ45 internet port. (The T490 & T480s also has RJ45 internet port).
(These models require a separate internet dongle for LAN Ethernet connection: T490s/X1C7/X1C6).

~Finally, X1C6 (circa 2018) vs X1C7 (circa 2019): X1C6 has a 10% larger battery than X1C7 because of X1C7 subwoofers!!
(X1C6 with 57 Whr battery, vs X1C7 with 51 Whr battery)

Sources:
www.lenovo.com/hk/en/laptops/thinkpad/t ... 2TP2TT4800
www.lenovo.com/hk/en/laptops/thinkpad/t ... 2TP2TT480S
www.lenovo.com/hk/en/laptops/thinkpad/t ... 2TP2TT4900
www.lenovo.com/hk/en/laptops/thinkpad/t ... 2TP2TT490S
www.lenovo.com/hk/en/laptops/thinkpad/t ... 2TP2TXX16G
www.lenovo.com/hk/en/laptops/thinkpad/t ... 2TP2TXX17G

Also, you can check for very detailed ThinkPad reveiws by searching at:
(Disclaimer: I'm an avid ThinkPad user, but I don't work for them!)
www.notebookcheck.net
www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T ... 682.0.html
www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T ... 784.0.html
www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T ... 150.0.html
www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-T ... 689.0.html

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
As a final comment, we happened to see the T490s in person a few days ago.
IMHO, T490s should be cancelled, because it looks just like X1 Carbon now! T490s even require an internet dongle for internet!
This is from someone who had used X1C3 & X1C4 for almost 5 years.
(Honestly, if ThinkPad had the guts to change 12" to 13" LCD for X280 >> X390, they would have the guts to cancel T490s models).

T490 is cheaper than T490s.
X1C6 or X1C7 if you want flat out thin/light (T490s is slightly thicker/heavier).

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Oh, and do have fun choosing your ThinkPad!
Last edited by w0qj on Sun Jul 28, 2019 1:31 pm, edited 9 times in total.
Daily Driver: X1 Extreme 1st Gen (X1E1): i7 | 16GB | 1TB | IPS
Current Thinkpads: X1E1 | X1C4 | X1C3 | X250 | X230 | T410
Retired Thinkpads: T42 | 560 (circa 1996)
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Re: Purchase Help: X1 Carbon (6 Gen) vs T490/T490s?

#7 Post by dr_st » Mon Jul 15, 2019 11:27 am

T480 has two sockets and no soldered RAM; T480s/T490 have one soldered slot and one socket; T490s has one soldered slot and no sockets.
Thinkpad 25 (20K7), X1 Carbon (20HQ), Yoga 14 (20FY), T430s (IPS FHD + Classic Keyboard), X220 4291-4BG
X61 7673-V2V, T60 2007-QPG, T42 2373-F7G, X32 (IPS Screen), A31p w/ Ultrabay Numpad, A21m 2628-GXU

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Re: Purchase Help: X1 Carbon (6 Gen) vs T490/T490s?

#8 Post by w0qj » Mon Jul 15, 2019 12:10 pm

Great, dr_st, spot on advice as usual!

(Above posting corrected for this soldered RAM info for T480/T480s/T490/T490s).
Daily Driver: X1 Extreme 1st Gen (X1E1): i7 | 16GB | 1TB | IPS
Current Thinkpads: X1E1 | X1C4 | X1C3 | X250 | X230 | T410
Retired Thinkpads: T42 | 560 (circa 1996)
~~IBM Thinkpad era computer bag !

w0qj
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Re: Purchase Help: X1 Carbon (6 Gen) vs T490/T490s?

#9 Post by w0qj » Mon Aug 19, 2019 11:54 am

Here's an article comparing the T490s vs X1 Carbon:

www.pcmag.com/review/370089/lenovo-thinkpad-t490s

The gist of above article as below:

~Size of T490s and X1 Carbon is almost the same.

~X1 Carbon: Brightest LCD option is 400 nits
~T490s: Brightest LCD option is 250 nits
Daily Driver: X1 Extreme 1st Gen (X1E1): i7 | 16GB | 1TB | IPS
Current Thinkpads: X1E1 | X1C4 | X1C3 | X250 | X230 | T410
Retired Thinkpads: T42 | 560 (circa 1996)
~~IBM Thinkpad era computer bag !

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