Lenovo ThinkPad T490 review – a businessman’s companion

While all of the manufacturers are rushing to innovate, changing the design philosophy of their laptops every year, there is one brand that stays true to its legacy. Even though the ThinkPads, in general, have become thinner and lighter with the passage of time, they still look pretty much the same as the original IBM models. Take a look at the ThinkPad T490 for example. It still features the U-shaped keys. It still has all of the security features of a premium ThinkPad and, of course, it still features “the nipple”.

You can get it with a capable Whiskey Lake processor, a 1080p or WQHD IPS panel and an optional LTE card slot, so you can take your business practically anywhere. It also has one significant feature that distinguishes it from the more budget ThinkPad E490 – it has a ThinkPad Pro Dock connector on the side, that lets you connect all of the important stuff to it, so you can just plug the laptop to the dock and forget about managing your cables every time you go to work.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/lenovo-thinkpad-t490-t495/


Specs Sheet

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 / T495 - Specs

  • LG LP140WF3-SPD2
  • Color accuracy  5.5  3.9
  • up to 8000GB SSD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 1x 2280 M.2 NVMe slot 
  • RAM
  • up to 48GB
  • OS
  • Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Home
  • Battery
  • 50Wh, 3-cell, 50Wh, 57Wh, 3-cell, 45Wh, 3-cell
  • Body material
  • Plastic / Polycarbonate, Glass Fiber
  • Dimensions
  • 329 x 227 x 17.9 mm (12.95" x 8.94" x 0.70")
  • Weight
  • 1.52 kg (3.4 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 1x USB Type-C
  • 3.2 Gen 2 (10 Gbps), Thunderbolt 3, Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort, HDMI
  • 1x USB Type-C
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), Power Delivery (PD), DisplayPort
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps), Sleep and Charge
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • HDMI
  • 1.4b
  • Card reader
  • microSD
  • Ethernet LAN
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ac
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.0
  • Audio jack
  • combo audio / microphone jack
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera
  • HD
  • Backlit keyboard
  • optional
  • Microphone
  • Speakers
  • 2x 2W
  • Optical drive
  • optional
  • Security Lock slot

All Lenovo ThinkPad T490 / T495 configurations


What’s in the box?

ThinkPad T490’s package has two compartments – one for the 65W charging brick (which according to Lenovo can charge your battery from 0-80% in 60 minutes) and one for the laptop itself. Interestingly, the laptop is not protected by cardboard or foam, but some kind of plastic material.

Design and construction

Apart from the familiar ThinkPad design, Lenovo has incorporated engineering plastic (PPS) and Polyamide, both infused with glass fibers for extra durability. This not only helps the laptop to be extremely sturdy but results in a matte finish that is less susceptible to fingerprints and also makes the laptop lighter. In fact, it weighs 1.52 kg and has a height of 17.9mm.

Lenovo has boarded the bezel-less design train with the T-series as well, as the T480 (T490’s predecessor) was more or less based on its respective predecessor – the ThinkPad T470. Additionally, we found it difficult but almost possible to open the lid of the ThinkPad T490 with just one hand. On top of the display, you’ll find the ThinkShutter – a cover that hides your camera with the flick of a switch. If you are into Windows Hello, there is also an optional IR face recognition camera.

On the base of the laptop, you can see the classic ThinkPad keyboard design. It is illuminated with a backlight, has decent key travel and clicky feedback. In the middle, you can find the mandatory red knob. Right above the keyboard is where the speakers reside (good to see front-facing speakers), while below it there is the touchpad, which features the “nipple” supporting mouse buttons.

By the way, the touchpad itself is relatively fast and responsive. On its right side is located the fingerprint reader. Similarly to the Lenovo ThinkPad X390 Yoga, it is one of the fastest and most accurate on the market.

On the bottom, you can only see some ventilation grills, while the exhaust hot air is coming out of the right side of the laptop.


On the left side, there is a USB Type-C charging port, a USB Type-C Thunderbolt connector as well as a dedicated docking station port (all of them connect to the ThinkPad docking station), after that There is a single USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) port, an HDMI 1.4 connector, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. Then on the right, there are a single RJ-45 connector and a USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1), separated by the cooling exhaust and at the end, there is a Smart card reader. If your device is equipped with LTE capabilities, the SIM card slot will be located on the back.

Display quality

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is equipped has a Full HD IPS screen, model number LG Display LP140WF3-SPD2. Its diagonal is 14″ (35.56 cm), and the resolution – 1920 х 1080. Additionally, the screen ratio is 16:9, the pixel density – 157 ppi, their pitch – 0.161 x 0.161 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from at least 56 cm (from this distance, the average human eye can’t see the individual pixels).

Viewing angles are comfortable. We have provided images at 45 degrees to evaluate quality.

The maximum measured brightness is 275 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 270 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 9%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6900K (average) – slightly colder than the 6500K optimum for sRGB. The average color temperature through the grey scale before profiling is the same – 6900K.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 70% Brightness (White level = 141 cd/m2, Black level = 0.14 cd/m2).
Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color sensitive work (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is acceptable – 1010:1 (940:1 after profiling).

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Lenovo ThinkPad T490’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers just 52% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Lenovo ThinkPad T490 with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 26 ms

Health impact – PWM / Blue Light

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490’s display doesn’t rely on PWM to adjust its brightness levels. This makes it comfortable for use during extended work periods, without presenting any harm to your eyes in this aspect.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.


Lenovo ThinkPad T490 has a Full HD IPS display with a good contrast ratio, comfortable viewing angles, and adequate default settings. Its backlight doesn’t flicker at any brightness level and as the only major disadvantage can be considered the narrow color coverage.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Lenovo ThinkPad T490 configurations with 14.0″ LG Display LP140WF3-SPD2 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS panel.

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount


This laptop actually sounds not bad – its sound is relatively loud and while its low tones have some deviations, the mids and highs are clear.


You can get all of the drivers and utilities for the ThinkPad T490 from the dedicated app if you have Windows preinstalled on the laptop. If you don’t, however, you can get them from Lenovo’s official support page: https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/products/laptops-and-netbooks/thinkpad-t-series-laptops/thinkpad-t490-type-20n2-20n3/downloads

Storage performance

SSD model (240-256GB variants) Max.Seq.Read (GB/s) Max.Seq.Write (GB/s) IOPS 4K Read IOPS 4K Write Latency Read (ms) Latency Write (ms)
Toshiba KXG6AZNV256G NVMe 3.23 1.73 13603 41453 0.035 0.028
WDC PC SN520 NVMe 1.75 1.30 11116 33886 0.136 0.028
Toshiba KXG50ZMV256G NVMe 1.53 0.79 12187 28625 0.053 0.243
Toshiba KBG30ZMS256G 1.48 0.24 8091 19820 1.564 0.309
LITE-ON CA3-8D512-Q11 3.18 1.66 9864 25136 0.171 0.041
Intel Pro 6000p Series 1.83 0.59 7792 28266 0.075 0.033


Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. A 50Wh battery capacity is fair enough for a 14-inch ultrabook.

We got 11 hours and a half of web browsing and more than 12 hours and a half of video playback – perfectly enough for an entire workday.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

We use F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.

CPU options

Lenovo is offering the ThinkPad T490 with a choice from two Intel processors – Core i5-8265U and the Core i7-8565U. Additionally, the device comes in an AMD version, though its name is ThinkPad T495 and is fruit for another review.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 / T495 CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 / T495 models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo ThinkPad T490 / T495 model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different CPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / CPU.

GPU options

If you need something more than the integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620, you have the option to get the ThinkPad T490 with the NVIDIA GeForce MX250, equipped with 2GB of memory.

Lenovo ThinkPad T490 / T495 GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 / T495 models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo ThinkPad T490 / T495 model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.

Gaming tests


CS:GO HD 1080p, Low (Check settings) HD 1080p, Medium (Check settings) HD 1080p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS 33 fps 22 fps – fps

DOTA 2 HD 1080p, Low (Check settings) HD 1080p, Normal (Check settings) HD 1080p, High (Check settings)
Average FPS 58 fps 29 fps 15 fps


Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5) HD 768p, Normal (Check settings) HD 768p, High (Check settings) HD 768p, Very High (Check settings)
Average FPS 29 fps – fps – fps

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Average core temperature (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i7-8565U (15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Lenovo ThinkPad T490 2.61 GHz (B+45%) @ 77°C 2.60 GHz (B+44%) @ 86°C 2.39 GHz (B+33%) @ 93°C
Lenovo ThinkPad E590 2.60 GHz (B+44%) @ 65°C 2.00 GHz (B+11%) @ 61°C 2.02 GHz (B+12%) @ 64°C
ASUS ZenBook 15 UX533 3.92 GHz (B+118%) @ 65°C 3.82 GHz (B+112%) @ 79°C 2.71 GHz (B+51%) @ 75°C
HP Spectre x360 15 (15-df0000) 3.10 GHz (B+72%) @ 69°C 1.92 GHz (B+7%) @ 61°C 1.88 GHz (B+4%) @ 64°C
Dell Inspiron 14 5482 2-in-1 3.12 GHz (B+73%) @ 96°C 2.56 GHz (B+42%) @ 94°C 2.01 GHz (B+12%) @ 76°C

Although pretty warm, throughout the entire test, the Core i7-8565U performed good enough. With that said, the Lenovo ThinkPad T490 wasn’t very loud or so, but we’ve tested quieter devices… more efficient, as well. In contrast to the low-temperature philosophy of its more budget-friendly cousin – the ThinkPad E590, the T490 was pushing its processor to the limit of its cooling.

Comfort during full load

As we mentioned, the fan was more on the loud side for a business notebook. Additionally, it ran a little warm on the outside as well with a maximum temperature of 47.7C beneath the “F7” key. On the bright side, the palm-rest area remained cool.


Lenovo ThinkPad T490 is a great laptop for the average businessman. No matter whether you work with spreadsheets, SQL or other databases, or you are just traveling with your own work – this laptop is going to provide you with everything you need. In addition to that, if you also stay in the office quite frequently, there is the perfect solution of getting the ThinkPad dock, that lets you use up to three UHD monitors, and have a 10GB/s transfer speed.

Virtually, you may not need a docking station for the simple reason that the ThinkPad T490 is loaded with I/O. From a couple of Type-C ports (one of which supports Thunderbolt and another one for charging) to a full blown HDMI and RJ-45 connectors. Additionally, there is the option to put an LTE SIM card in it. Then there is the keyboard, that has a backlight illumination and spill resistance, next to the long key travel and clicky feedback.

Build quality is on point with engineering quality plastic, infused with glass fibers to make it even stronger. When you combine this with more than 11 hours and a half of web browsing and a full hour more of video playback, you get a laptop that is aiming at the high seat of business laptops… if it wasn’t for the Latitude 13 7390 and its display. It is brighter, punchier and considerably more color-accurate than the one (LG Display LP140WF3-SPD2) on this laptop.

At least the ThinkPad T490 doesn’t use PWM to adjust its brightness levels and the sound quality is on point. Performance is on point, as well, although, the laptop compensates with high fan noise and temperature, which is both slightly uncomfortable.

If you are not in a great need of the business features of this laptop, we would certainly recommend its cheaper cousin – the ThinkPad E490 or ASUS ZenBook 14 UX433.


  • Industrial build quality
  • The display doesn’t use PWM to adjust its brightness levels (LG Display LP140WF3-SPD2)
  • Pleasant spill-resistant keyboard with long travel and clicky feedback
  • Great I/O selection
  • Supports Thunderbolt
  • Charges with USB Type-C


  • Warms up under heavy load
  • Its display covers only 52% of sRGB (LG Display LP140WF3-SPD2)
  • Micro SD instead of a full-sized SD card reader

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/lenovo-thinkpad-t490-t495/

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