John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Lenovo T450s review

I last purchased an Asus T300 Chi two and a half years ago. This is pretty amazing longevity for me. I have to say, I have become completely disenfranchised with the idea of a Windows tablet. I had such high hopes. The on screen keyboard on Windows is still light years behind Andoid or iOS. The T300 is a combination tablet/laptop. Using the Core M processor it is light, silent, cool, good battery life and has some amazing properties. But since buying it I have used it as a tablet no more than a handful of times. The pen on it isn’t great, and palm rejection on Windows 10 is still to date, inferior to Windows 8. The major irritations (and admittedly these are minor) with the T300 comes down to the keyboard. Feel is ok but not great. Key location is good but not perfect. The touch pad is annoying and I can not tell you how many times I have tried to press the right mouse key and somehow, no idea how, it thinks I pressed the left mouse button. But the biggest irritation with the keyboard is the fact it’s bluetooth, which means it needs to be charged, doesn’t wake up the tablet and there is a delay between when you want it and when it’s ready. The dongle needed to do normal size USB ports is also a mild irritation.

So let’s start with what was I looking for. 8G RAM, preferably a Core i5 (for heat/battery reasons), SSD (once you’ve been on one you can’t go back, it’s that transformative to the experience), a decent keyboard, preferably with a touchstick (not a touchpad), a touchscreen (once you’ve been on a touchscreen you keep pecking on the screen when it’s not a touchscreen and wondering why it’s not doing anything, again no road back) and resolution that is reasonable. Having a 14″ screen that has x768 is silly. That said the UBER high resolution of the T300 presented some challenges in apps like RDP.

So in searching around I landed on Lenovo for the touchstick. I looked at a couple models, a Carbon, an X260 before landing on this one. I actually was going to buy the X260 and saw this one instead. For a little more money the screen went from 12.5″ to 14. Given my current eye sight (ya I know go get glasses) I decided to go with the T450s. The other benefit of the larger screen is the keyboard itself is larger with more normal key layount, an added plus. The t450 can also take an optional docking station. So let’s have look at the unit …

First off comes the processor. The Core i5 5300U is better than the Core M in all but one place, power consumption. The Core i5 draws a whopping 15W Vs 4.5. Here’s a good Processor comparison and another one. We will see if the added power consumption translates into a machine too hot for the lap, something I’ve had in the past. The Core i5 is NOT passively cooled so this means there is a fan , this isn’t a silent laptop, something that has annoyed me in the past, I guess we will see. Like all the Core processors this supports proper suspend, none of that problematic active standby like the Atoms have that always results in a dead battery … Drawing ~ .5%/hr in suspend the system can sit in suspend for almost a week. You can also set the system to go into hibernate to insure your never with a dead battery. Resume from suspend is super fast, ~2 seconds and reasonably fast on hibernate ~20 seconds.

Memory wise the Core i5 takes DDR3 Vs DDR4, which doesn’t sound like a big deal but worth noting. The memory on this unit comes from a single SODIMM. The specs from lenovo seem to say it maxes out at 12G, but oddly their own web site offers a 16G modules for it, albeit pricey. I found a good Youtube video showing how easily the SODIMM can be replaced. CPU-Z shows a 4G SODIMM which would then imply there’s 4G soldered onto the planar to make up the 8G.

Display wise this unit is 1920×1080, so full HD. The T300 was 2560×1440 but I knew this and chose to accept it. Honestly I don’t think the super high resolution has been all that beneficial. If there is one place that is a low light on this laptop, it is the display, which IMHO is acceptable but average. The unit comes with both a VGA out as well as a mini display port. The mini display port with an optional, inexpensive dongle can get converted to HDMI. Handy, and flexible! The video chip is an Intel 5500. With a bit of digging I found max resolution with the 5300U is 3840 x 2160 @ 60 Hz on display port. The graphics chipset supports some basic, lower end gaming and a GPU shows up on the task manager.

Networking wise Lenovo went with an Intel G wired NIC as well as a dual band (2.5/5G), Intel 7265 A/C wireless card. One of the benefits of the normal laptop (Vs tablet size) is that it can have a built in wired NIC. While not something I use often, it’s a nice to have. And you can also add a cell card for LTE connectivity. It would be a SIERRA EM7345 (Lenovo PN 4XC0F46957), and is available pretty reasonably (~$100 CDN) on ebay. The WIFI on the T450s is comparable in terms of speed and reception to the T300, no issues. I actually wondered if it might be better, but if it is, it’s not noticeable. A while back I did a post on Wireless N and actually went back to my own post to re-tune my wifi location and settings. I was able to get 300mb/s link rate and transfer rates maxing out aroung 180mb/s (measured using iPerf).

The T450s I got has a 250G SSD, an Intel SSD Pro 2500. It clocks in at 191/291 MB/s (compared to the T300 which got 177/175). So pretty fast!

Being a normal size laptop it comes with 3 USB3 (full size) ports, and as expected they are SUPER fast. This comes in handy for transferring large files to/from a USB thumb drive. This is another place having a super fast SSD comes in handy. Initial setup is less painful.

Battery wise Lenovo has included two batteries. One that is internal to the laptop and then the main battery. Using this arrangement the main battery can be swapped live to a second battery. The T450s includes some fast charging technologies that are really noticeable in how quickly this unit charges back up.

The weight on this unit is 3.5 lbs, compared to 720g for the T300. But honestly I don’t travel all that much right now so not an issue. The weight difference is of course, quite noticeable.

If there is one place this laptop shines it’s hand down the keyboard. I spend a fair bit of time on my three blogs, emails, etc so I really value the keyboard. The travel/feel on the keys is excellent. The placement is perfect. I use a lot of keyboard short cuts, so when things like home, end, insert etc get moved or are fn key based I find I am less efficient. Having worked for IBM for a long time I got totally use to the touchpoint or as we called it the G spot (haha). Glidepoints more often annoy me, but this glide point is not bad. I have yet to accidentally touch it and have the mouse move inadvertently. And I actually use the middle button to drag/scroll down. I do it without thinking. The proper left and right mouse buttons are super welcome and offer lots of positive feedback. This keyboard is done, like only Lenovo can do!

On the bottom of the unit is a docking station port. Not something I envision using but could be a convenience in a home office. Of course given this unit has USB 3 you can also use the more standard USB docking stations.

There are some companies that could learn from Lenovo. Loading up a new Thinkpad from scratch is one of the easiest experiences (in the PC world). You load Lenovo system update and it in turn grabs all the drivers needed. It works, works smoothly and works well. And updates to drivers etc all flow the same way.

You can not boot from the SD card, but can boot from a USB flash drive. I bought one of the small ones a SanDisk Ultra Fit USB 3.0 Flash Drive (SDCZ43-064G-GAM46). So spoiler alert, don’t buy one of these it’s super slow with write speeds of barely 14MB/s but read speeds of 103MB/s. I loaded ubuntu on this and it works fine. I ran into a show stopper for me, Kodi does not playback well on this laptop under ubuntu. No issues on Windows.

Overall this is an excellent laptop and I am very happy with it. A nice move forward from the Asus and I am thrilled to have a good keyboard and touch point!

November 8, 2018 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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