Lenovo ThinkPad X280 Review: Powerful, Business-Class Ultraportable

Lenovo ThinkPad X280: Refreshed With Kaby Lake-R

The ThinkPad line of notebooks has a long, storied history, from its beginnings as an IBM product, to Lenovo's continued refinements and improvements, generation over generation. ThinkPads are well known, often sought after products, especially by business-class road warriors, due to their no-nonsense design language, excellent keyboards, and reputation for reliability.  In addition, ThinkPads have had one other thing remain consistent over the years -- a glorious little red nub, called a TrackPoint or pointing stick, that remains faithfully nestled between the G and H keys. For some it's a love it or hate it sort of feature but Lenovo has maintained it generation after generation, so it's clearly more often the former case.

Thinkpad x280 style
That's not to say there's nothing new about Lenovo's capable ThinkPad X280 we'll be showing you here today. The ThinkPad X280 is a sleek 12.5" ultra-portable with a starting weight of just under 2.9 pounds. The recently-refreshed line-up features Intel's latest mobile processors, solid state storage options, and an array of security-conscious options like an IR camera array with facial recognition, a secure fingerprint reader, and even a built-in cover for the webcam called the Lenovo ThinkShutter. There's no need for a Post-It or tape with the ThinkPad X280 if you're worried about prying eyes high-jacking the machine's webcam.
ThinkPad outsidea
Lenovo ThinkPad X280
Specifications & Features
CPU Intel Core i5 8250U
Display 12.5" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS anti-glare multi-touch
Graphics Intel UHD 620
Memory 8GB DDR4 2100MHz
Storage Samsung MZVLB512HAJQ 512GB SSD
Optical  n/a
Ethernet RJ-45 (requires dongle, sold separately)
WiFi Intel 8265 Tri-Band
Interface (Left) Power, 1 USB 3.1 Type-C, 1 USB 3.1, mic/headset combo jack, HDMI 4.1
Interface (Right) USB 3.1, lock port
Interface (Back) n/a
Webcam 720p HD with ThinkShutter and microphone
OS Windows 10 Pro 64-Bit
Battery Lithium-Ion; 50.7Wh, claims up to 15 hours
Dimensions 12.1-in x 8.3-in x 0.70-in
Weight Starting at 2.87 lbs
Warranty 1 year
Price Prices Start At $889, Other Options Available

thinkpad x280 side
The specifications for the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 we evaluated were somewhat of a mixed bag. The machine is built around Intel's latest 8th Generation Core mobile processor platform and is packing a fast, NVMe-based Samsung SSD, which should provide plenty of performance. However, it was outfitted with only 8GB of RAM clocked at 2100MHz. Due to the relatively small 12.5" form factor and svelte, sub-3lb chassis, the X280 is also a bit light in the I/O department, though it does have multiple USB 3.1 ports (both Type-A and Type-C), fast Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and support for Intel vPro technology on some models.

With a Kaby Lake-U Core i5 processor, 512GB SSD, 8GB of DDR4, and a 1080p multi-touch screen, the X280 is priced at relatively affordable $1179, but the base price on Lenovo.com for a non-touch version with a lower-resolution screen and smaller SSD is only $885 at the moment. There are a wide range of configuration options available, however, including Core i7 processors, higher-capacity SSDs, a backlit keyboard, and more / faster memory that can push the price up closer to $1800.

So, how does the Lenovo ThinkPad X280 stack up against top-tier notebooks? Let's dig deeper and find out...

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