A Tempting Proposal - ThinkPad + Ryzen?


#1

I’m seriously reconsidering my current machine setup. No particular reason, other than wanting to consolidate my various machines into one, get something more durable and a little more modern, with some additional horsepower needed for those more intensive applications.

See, I’m thinking about returning to school to study mechanical engineering from next year, and neither my 2012 MacBook Pro or 2015 MacBook Air are capable enough to handle the application workloads.

That, and a new machine would be nice. I’ve become more interested in decent tools, something robust, resilient and easily repairable, with good documentation and access to service parts. Not to mention AMD is building some excellent silicon at the moment, and I certainly wouldn’t mind making the switch into that camp either.

So earlier this evening, I come across this:

https://www.lenovo.com/au/en/laptops/thinkpad/thinkpad-a-series/ThinkPad-A485/p/22TP2TAA485

The 14" Lenovo ThinkPad A485 with AMD Ryzen Pro processor and AMD Radeon Vega graphics. This machine has user-expandable memory, storage and even battery options for additional runtime. It has dedicated USB-A and USB-C ports, HDMI and even Ethernet onboard. The keyboard is water resistant and the enclosure is glass-fibre reinforced polycarbonate. Lenovo even provides the service documentation and tools on their website for everyone to access.

To me, it sounds absolutely perfect. Sure, I’d have to discard my collection of applications and move back across to Windows, but it’s hardly a deal breaker. Not to mention that if I sold my current Macs as second hand, in the near immaculate and well-specced conditions they are, the returns would cover most - if not all - of the purchase price.

But…

I’m an Apple service technician. My first-hand experience is with Mac failures and failure rates, service procedures and corporate policies.

I have no experience with Lenovo, and as much as I can read reviews and listen to ThinkPad owners telling me how brilliant their machines are, they don’t address the questions I often ask to determine how good a product actually is. Like:

" What are some common issues to look out for with this brand? "
" Are they durable in practice? How well do they hold up after a few years of active service, both in electrical and structural (casing) terms? "
" Does the manufacturer make the product easy to service, and easy to get service when needed? "

But I know AppleTalk members are more clued in than the average consumer, and some are working in the industries that actually use these products every day. I know on a discussion board such as this one, there’s sometimes an inclination to steer toward an Apple solution, but setting that option aside for a moment (as it’s simply too expensive and doesn’t meet my other criteria), from experience - what does everyone think of the ThinkPad?

Or if not the ThinkPad, perhaps another machine make, model or brand I should be looking into?


#2

That’s a really nice device, they’ve always been nice to be honest. I never really agreed with the perception that Thinkpads are business laptops, because they’ve always been well specced and all-round performers.

That said, a PC is a PC is a PC. At the end of the day you need to be comfortable with Windows and that all the apps you use are available on Windows.


#3

I have always had windows machines as well as Apple machines, whilst I don’t know that particular model I’ve had several Think Pads over the years (and several Dells) and the Think Pads have always surprised me with how well built they are (the Dells not so much but Dell service and support is a bit better in rural areas). It looks like an excellent laptop.

But in car terms Apple are VW and Lenovo is Toyota (and the Think Pad range are Camrys), that’s not a bad thing… but don’t expect flair in the design, just moderately high tech and reliability.

Can you live with that? And the fact that the OS isn’t Apple?

I know I can because I used Windows at work and Apple at home and I’m fine with either but for someone who’s only Apple it’s a bigger concern.


#4

I’m certainly pleased to hear that. I’m hearing some positive feedback about the ThinkPad so far and am tempted to make the leap, depending on whether I can move my existing equipment on for a decent amount.

Sounds more than reasonable to me. The ThinkPad design appeals to me over the MacBook either way. Simple, clean lines, functional and durable.

Most definitely. I’m somewhat tired of macOS. It works, most of the time, but I want to explore the field and experiment with different technology again. Perhaps that could involve Windows, or another *NIX based OS of some kind. I spend enough time at work troubleshooting macOS issues and attending Apple training seminars, so when I come home it would be nice to sit down with something different.


#5

I simply couldn’t run an OS other than macOS as my workstation and get my work done anywhere near as efficiently. Sadly, that means I’m chained to Apple’s hardware offerings… :man_shrugging: I think we’re through the trough of poor hardware though, so I’m excited for the future. Can’t wait for a new Mac Pro next year and new Mac mini hopefully this year.


#6

I work in Windows a fair bit. The reason I’ll use a MacBook as my main computer for the foreseeable future is because I can run Windows in Parallels, but still use MacOS for all the Mac apps I love. I like having the best of both worlds, and honestly with the power of MacBook Pros in recent years I’ve never had an issue running both Windows and Mac simultaneously. I just use Spaces to swipe between them, or if I’m at a desk I use Windows on an external display.

If you’re definitely not going to need MacOS then the Thinkpad is a good machine, you’ll like it. If you want some options then maybe all you need to do is get a copy of Windows and Parallels (or VMware Fusion - I think it has recently been updated to use Metal), and run them side-by-side on a MacBook.


#7

Thinkpads are well engineered and reliable in my experience, Lenovo’s over all are very reliable. In a past job we rolled out 100’s of them (desktops and servers) and never had a single issue with them, probably about 60 servers and 300-350 desktops.


#8

I thought so too, but I see some potential service issues with some 2018 models on the horizon. (But that’s beside the point and hasn’t had a major influence on my decision making, so I won’t get into too much detail there.)

That’s been my current setup, in combination with Boot Camp on the 2012 15". It’s a decent performer, but runs remarkably hot and but drags its heels for 3D intensive applications, so it’s showing its age a bit there, otherwise I’d stick with it.

A newer machine is an option, but in Apple’s product lines, the higher price is prohibitive. That and the Ryzen hardware looks really appealing.

It’s something I can figure out, in any case.


#9

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