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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  • YukaKun - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    It's just the amount of bloatware enterprise companies decide to bundle with their laptops. Keep in mind the context where this laptop will be used.

  • tipoo - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    How true. Corporate software really bogs down requirements compared to how light vanilla Windows 10 would be on a consumer system. McAffee in particular.
  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    So let's get this straight:
    1. I say 8 GB is enough for office tasks
    2. You say 8 GB is the minimum for an enterprise laptop

    So you agree.

    Second, you say it's not enough for development which needs 32 GB. Developing code is not an office task. Office tasks are email, spreadsheets, and some web browsing. This is not a laptop targeted at developers. Lenovo offers plenty of more powerful laptops for that task.

    You may not think about it from an enterprise perspective, but if they are going to order 5000 of these laptops, they are going to order the one that meets their needs for the lowest price. If they don't need 16 GB of RAM for every office worker, they aren't going to spend $100 more x 5000 laptops to cover the developers.
  • gglaw - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    Agreed, this is a very small budget business/office machine. People wanting 16-32GB have a host of other things to worry about first and would not consider a laptop in this tier. Every part of it is budget conscious. The developer looking for a 32GB laptop that can handle workloads closer to a desktop would not even see this product on their radar.
  • YukaKun - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    Depends on what you define as an office task.

    Having a bazillion spread sheets open and Outlook and other software (Corporate ones) that you cannot close or get rid of, those 8GB will come short sooner rather than later. My point is simple: you can indeed get away with 8GB, but it won't be ideal nor the best experience. That is where you're wrong IMO. Nowadays you NEED 16GB for the enterprise laptops. The amount of bloat is going up, and not down.

  • Samus - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    There was plenty of thickness to put an RJ45 port on that chassis. Just pure laziness. Is this a business machine or not? I can tell you IT departments hate machines without Ethernet ports, because I work in one.
  • Brett Howse - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    This has native Ethernet via the dongle, or you can dock it. If you are in IT you would have this dongle on your bench if needed. If the laptop is on the desk it would be docked. This is really a non-issue.

    If the laptop required a USB Ethernet that would be a different story but it does not.
  • TheinsanegamerN - Sunday, December 23, 2018 - link

    So its a non issue because you say it is?

    Well, I work in IT, and I say it IS an issue! When I am configuring hundreds of these things, an extra step really adds up over time, and when the machine is thick enough to have the port natively, that is incredibly annoying.
  • Rookierookie - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    I think the A485 uses SO-DIMMS, which is why they offer more RAM. The 14-15" AMD offerings from Lenovo are pretty good value; this one just makes too many compromises.
  • Phynaz - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Good going AMD. Another crap mobile platform.

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