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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  • Gasaraki88 - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    I'm just not impressed. I thought an AMD iGPU would be very good and the 4 core/8 threads would be killer. But a Intel i5 with a MX150 is faster, better gaming, and better battery life.

    I was hoping for something from AMD but disappointed once again.
    Reply
  • TheinsanegamerN - Sunday, December 23, 2018 - link

    Agreed. I was really hoping this would be good. A SSD, A series APU, mobile 4G LTE service, all in a compact long battery life device is exactly what I want. But so many compromises, such low performance, for that high of a price? I'll have to pass. I guess the razer stealth will have to be my next laptop instead.

    Lenovo was able to fit a 45 watt dual core I7 and a 100Wh battery in the 12 inch X230, their inability to do that with more modern hardware is stunning.
    Reply
  • hanselltc - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    This thing is just sad. A laptop with not great components in a not great platform. Lets hope AMD really shake their mobile lineup up. If the idle powerdraw issue as well as the common thermal limitations are resolved, these are single chips that offer more GPU but less CPU, which on mobile could mean decent mobile light gaming. Reply
  • tipoo - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    As usual Lenovo appears to be being far too conservative on the CPU temperature limit. I get that these are business systems, but even in that workload I notice mine hitting those low clocks after getting warm too.

    I was going to suggest using Intel XTU to up that temperature limit, but...Not Intel. Any way to do that here?
    Reply
  • GreenReaper - Tuesday, December 18, 2018 - link

    Lenovo Vantage is... dubious - I'm not a fan of it auto-installing with admin privileges doing goodness-knows what. The worst part is that the lovely useful battery gauge also leaks handles, which means Explorer (and the system) gets slower over time and maybe even crashes. To turn it off: Right click the taskbar, Toolbars, Lenovo Vantage Toolbar.

    It's not the only Lenovo thing to do that - I've been in the forums a number of times.
    Reply
  • bananaforscale - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    That Cinebench multicore result is probably a driver/BIOS issue. I have an Acer Nitro 5 with the same APU and the result is 600+. It also rose by 30-ish points after a BIOS update (which also fixed what was probably a power state bug), and before that the original result was 530 that jumped to 570 after removing a "CPU driver". (530 to 604 just with software updates.)

    And it still leaves thermal headroom unused so it could be even better.
    Reply
  • pifaa - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    In UK, A285 is available with Ryzen7 and 16GB RAM. Several months ago there was a version with second - removable battery, but for some reasons they've cut it. AMD should put extra effort with drivers though. And some cheap SSD for that kind of money is not relevant. Reply
  • LindseyLopez - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    good laptop Reply
  • RoboJ1M - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    One thing that they don't really point out in this review is this:
    Finding a Raven Ridge APU with two RAM slots and a dual channel controller is HARD!
    You should point this out! All the other Raven Ridge laptops in that list are single channel but not stated in their specs, it's really hard to find this stuff out.
    My wife bought herself an HP Elitebook 745 with raven ridge after we got a guarantee that is dual channel.
    You need dual channel APUs, it's wants all the bandwidth you can find.
    And out had an Ethernet socket, a spring loaded collapsible one.
    Reply
  • Rookierookie - Wednesday, December 19, 2018 - link

    Basically any Lenovo Ryzen notebook has dual channel options. Reply

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