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
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
Security dTPM 2.0
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.

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  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    I agree. I have a hihg-DPI Lenovo that I dock, and when I undock, I get blurry fonts in Office because my desktop monitor is old-DPI. I’d have to log out and back in each time I docked and undocked, which is not a convenient thing to do going from my desk to a 1 hour meeting and back. We run Windows 10, but we stay a few versions back for testing/stability (I assume).
  • GreenReaper - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    They've had the TN 1366x768 screens for years - I'm using one now (albeit with several other better ones plugged in). It works, but it's pretty bad colour-wise and the low resolution is why sites still need to be designed for such resolutions: they're still sold, new.
  • Spunjji - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Why do OEMs keep putting capable processors in a chassis with terrible thermal management? If the CPU can't even hit its base frequency under load and yet is *below TDP* then something is very badly wrong with the design.

    That plus the terrible WiFi seems like unnecessary own-goals. It's a shame. AMD have a lot of work to do to catch up on idle power draw, but they're never going to get the investment necessary if their processors only ever get crammed into half-baked products.
  • johnny_boy - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    A shame about the idle power draw coupled with a small battery. The screen also sucks but at least it can be upgraded. I was surprised at the performance difference of the iGPUs in the 2500u and 2700u, especially since the CPU tests often ran worse on the 2700u. I wish there were more 2700u laptops available, because that is the sort of iGPU performance I am looking for. And with pretty darn good linux driver support, Ryzen is very enticing (for someone like me).
  • mczak - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    There is just about zero GPU performance difference between a 2700U with Vega 10 and a 2500U with Vega 8 (ok not quite zero but it's tiny). Just about any significant difference between these two comes down to the actual implementation, that is configured TDP, thermal limits, cooling.
    And apparently Lenovo blew this completely on this notebook.
  • sfwineguy - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Sorry to miss something obvious here, but why (per the graphs) did the 2700u underperform the 2500u in some of the CPU tests? Doesn't that confound expectations? Is the 2700u reviewed in another piece that explains how its little brother beats it up in some tests?
  • MonkeyPaw - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Probably better cooling in the Lenovo, allowing the CPU to stay boosted higher and more often.
  • YukaKun - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    "It would be nice to see a 16 GB offering, but for office tasks, 8 GB should suffice."

    Oof... That couldn't be more wrong, my dear Brett. The amount of bloatware *cough*McAffee*cough* is just bonkers. 8GB is the *minimum* an enterprise laptop needs nowadays to run a bit less like a hog. For development, 16GB has been the minimum for years (~2013) and now it's moving to 32GB per developer laptop.

  • HStewart - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    As a developer unless you are using a lot of Virtual Machines, I don't see much of need to go more 16GB of RAM - However, if you a 3D Graphics Artist, I would believe it will be useful for large scene. most of my machines have 16G. My actual work machine for development has 12G but it older 3rd generation i7.
  • A5 - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Meh, it's not just VMs.

    GCC will use as much RAM as you'll let it if your project is of sufficient size, not to mention web browsers, Outlook, etc.

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