A couple of months back Lenovo released the ThinkPad A285; a 12.5-inch business-class notebook featuring AMD’s Ryzen Pro mobile processor, complementing their 14-inch A485 Ryzen Pro powered model. These are the first two Lenovo ThinkPad models to feature AMD's Ryzen APU, and with it the latest generation of their Pro series, offering enhanced security, and manageability, over the normal consumer variants.

As it so happens, this is also our first time looking at a Ryzen Pro APU. So for those out of the loop on AMD's enterprise-focused parts, what's significant about Ryzen Pro? The Pro in Ryzen Pro is important for IT administrators, where manageability of devices is the key to keeping them secure and up to date. Ryzen Pro offers other features as well which will be of interest to the enterprise, such as a minimum of 24 months of planned availability of parts, meaning volume purchases should be able to maintain repairs and image stability.

Ryzen Pro also offers DRAM encryption as an option, which is OS and application agnostic, with a low performance impact. It also features an dTPM 2.0. And as a business-class device, it offers management via AMD’s implementation of Desktop and mobile Architecture for System Hardware, or DASH, which offers management tools such as the redirection of keyboard, video, and mouse (KVM), remote power-on, and other features for wide-scale device management.

Putting theory into practice, we have the subject of today's review: Lenovo's ThinkPad A285. The staunchy Lenovo laptop ships with AMD's Ryzen 5 Pro 2500U APU, which like its non-pro counterpart is a quad-core processor with eight threads, and a base frequency of 2.0 GHz with a boost frequency of 3.6 GHz. On the GPU side it offers 8 Vega GPU cores (CUs) as well, which is a step below the 10 cores offered on the fastest Ryzen Pro SKU, the Pro 7 2700U.

Lenovo ThinkPad A285
  As Tested: Ryzen 5 Pro 2500U, 8GB, 512 GB, 1080p
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 PRO 2500U
4C/8T, 2.0-3.6 GHz
15W TDP
GPU Vega 8 iGPU
512 SPs, 1.1 GHz
RAM 8 GB DDR4 Dual-Channel
Display 12.5-inch 1366x768 TN
Optional 1920x1080 IPS anit-glare with multitouch
Storage 256-512 GB NVMe
Networking Realtek 8822BE Wireless
802.11ac 2x2:2
Realtek GbE (optional dongle required)
Connectivity USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-C x 2
USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A x 1
USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A (always on) x 1
HDMI 2.0
Smart Card Reader (optional)
Headset jack
MicroSD
Security dTPM 2.0
ThinkShutter
AMD GuardMI
Windows Hello Optional Fingerprint reader
Battery 48 Wh
65-Watt AC Adapter
RapidCharge 80% in 60 minutes
Dimensions 308 x 210 x 17.4 mm
12.1 x 8.3 x 0.7 inches
Weight 1.26 kg / 2.78 lbs
Price Starting at $890.99
As tested: $1209.59

Lenovo has been doing ThinkPads a long time, so the rest of the device fits in well with what businesses would be looking for. Unfortunately, the display Lenovo uses in their base model is a 1366x768 TN panel, but they do offer a proper 1920x1080 IPS model as well with touch. There’s also a fingerprint reader for Windows Hello, and the new ThinkShutter which can be slid over the webcam, which is a great privacy feature Lenovo has introduced.

The Thinkpad A285 offers plenty of connectivity for a small device, with two USB-C Gen 2 ports, one Type-A Gen 2 port, and one Type-A Gen 1 port which offers always-on power. There’s HDMI 2.0, and DisplayPort over USB-C. If you need to dock the laptop, Lenovo offers a couple of options including a USB-C dock. For those that need it, you can add-in a Smart Card reader as well.

On the network side, Lenovo offers an 802.11ac solution, as well as a dongle for a native Ethernet adapter, since laptops are generally too thin now to offer a full-size Ethernet port.

With a starting weight of 2.78 lbs, this ThinkPad is well equipped and should be easy to use on the go.

Design
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  • Evil Underlord - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    It seems odd not to compare with the Thinkpad X280, esp. given how often the review notes the shared chassis. Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, December 20, 2018 - link

    We haven't reviewed the X280. Reply
  • Masospaghetti - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    Any idea if this laptop is set up to use dual channel RAM? For the GPU performance to be so poor it looks like it's in single channel mode. The Acer Swift is set up with dual channel for comparison.

    I know the E series laptops can be configured either way depending on the physical RAM that installed (1 stick or 2) and Lenovo offers 8 GB as either 1x8 or 2x4.
    Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, December 20, 2018 - link

    There's a CPUID picture on the first page showing it in dual-channel and it's listed in the specs as well. Reply
  • Masospaghetti - Thursday, December 20, 2018 - link

    I see. I'm just saying that the performance is in-line with competitors with single channel memory. Maybe its a memory bandwidth problem even with dual-channel? I would be curious to see memory throughput on this compared to other Ryzen laptops. Otherwise the performance of this machine is inexplicably low. Reply
  • watersb - Thursday, December 20, 2018 - link

    Reviews this detailed are all too rare elsewhere. I am a Mac refugee that has really gained respect for the ThinkPad product line over the past year. Keyboard is fantastic...

    The performance and design tradeoffs here are confusing to me. This laptop could well come in a $2000 retail, and yet does not seem competitive with other devices in this price range. An 8GB RAM single configuration seems like plenty, until I consider that our standard corporate deployment is starting to use "CONTAINERS!!! VIRTUAL SANDBOXES!!!" like that's the new XML hotness.

    Heavy sigh.

    Great to see a sub-15Watt AMD APU, though.
    Reply
  • Ruimanalmeida - Thursday, December 20, 2018 - link

    So, as a summary:
    for the moment, if you need to buy NOW a laptop, better to choose one with an Intel processor, with or w/o discrete graphics processor. Due to required cooling for AMD processors to be fully exploited ... and others. By the way, I'm not an Intel employee!
    Reply
  • Lopez951 - Monday, December 31, 2018 - link

    Every Ryzen PRO processor and Ryzen PRO Processor with Radeon Vega graphics contains a powerful, integrated security co-processor running AMD GuardMI technology helping to enable power-on to power-off protection https://krogerfeedback.me/www-krogerfeedback-com-g... Reply
  • Shahnewaz - Saturday, January 12, 2019 - link

    So is it really down to just the standard DDR4 SODIMM memory they're using that's causing such a large battery drain? Reply
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