The ThinkPad T480s isn’t the best laptop of CES, but it has a place in my heart

We’re only eight days in to 2018, but it’s already shaping up to be an awesome year for laptops. We’ve seen versatile 2-in-1s like the Samsung Notebook 9, powerhouses like the HP Spectre x360 15-inch, and affordable traditional laptops like the Asus Zenbook 13. You’ll hear a lot about these laptops, and more, at CES – but there’s one you likely won’t hear much about, even though you should: the Lenovo ThinkPad T480s.

Admittedly, I have a soft-spot for the T-series. A Lenovo ThinkPad T41 put me through college, and I still sometimes use a T420s as my zen PC, which I break out whenever I want to write without distraction. Every T-Series laptop has prioritized simple, functional traits that don’t grab headlines, but do make a laptop nice to use. Anti-glare displays. Good battery life, with the option to buy an extended battery for insane endurance. And, of course, that iconic keyboard.

Even I concede, though, that the T-Series has struggled lately. It slipped into a middle-ground between the big, powerful laptops, and super-portable ultrathins. Lenovo’s X1 laptops became the flagship.

But never fear, T-Series faithful. This year’s T480s is the laptop you’ve been waiting for.

Let’s talk weight. The T480s starts at 2.9 pounds despite its 14-inch screen. That’s almost as light as the last generation of Dell XPS 13, and lighter than Apple’s MacBook Pro 13. It’s also just four-tenths of a pound heavier than the X1 Carbon, and lighter than the X1 Yoga.

Its size is impressive, too. The system is just .7 inches thick, 13 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. It’s not setting records, sure, but it’s again only slightly larger than the X1 Carbon. Do you really care if your laptop is .6 inches or .7 inches thick? Really?

Likely not. What you might care about, though, is the T480s’ performance. It supports up to 8th-gen Intel Core i7 processors, like every other laptop announced at CES 2018. That doesn’t give it an edge over anything else, but it’s a big leap all the same. The two extra cores available in the latest Intel mobile hardware make a difference in the most demanding applications.

It also offers up to 24GB of RAM and, better still, optional Nvidia MX150 graphics. As I’ve said before, the MX150 is a surprisingly capable chip. It adds some extra go if you need a GPU for productivity, and makes the occasional Overwatch break a lot more enjoyable. The old T470s didn’t offer discrete graphics, not even as an option.

What’s not to love? Seriously – why wouldn’t you want this laptop? It’s thin. Its fast. It has a great keyboard and plentiful screen options. It even hits up to 13.5 hours of battery life. The retail price of $1,269 isn’t higher than its competitors, and Lenovo is known for frequent sales.

You’ll see flashier laptops in 2018. Laptops with gold finishes. Laptops with displays brighter than the sun. Laptops made from the same stuff as your running jacket. That’s all fine – but before you get wrapped up in the hype, remember the T480s. It could serve you better, and longer, than the new hotness.


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