Whether you're working for a small company or toiling over a term paper, a good business laptop can make you more productive. However, many of the top business systems cost well over $1,000 and include extra manageability features --such as Intel vPro -- which only large corporations need. Starting at $699 ($1,004 as tested), Lenovo's ThinkPad E580 has the solid performance, wide port selection and good build quality you need, without the IT-friendly features you'll never use. Throw in a best-in-class keyboard and you have a 15-inch productivity powerhouse that even a startup can afford.
The ThinkPad E580 is available in both standard Lenovo black and a stunning dark-silver color. I really liked how the silver on our review unit carried over to not only the lid and deck, but also the touchpad, power button and fingerprint reader. The aluminum lid is a slightly darker and more attractive shade than the plastic body.
At 4.7 pounds and 14.5 x 9.9 x 0.8 inches, the ThinkPad E580 isn't particularly thin and light, but I was able to carry it in my backpack without getting sore muscles. Its weight is lighter than mainstream 15-inch consumer laptops such as the Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 (4.9 pounds, 1.2 inches thick), but it's also a little bit heavier than pricier business laptops such as the Dell Latitude 5590 (4.14 pounds) and Lenovo's own ThinkPad T580 (4.29 pounds). Fourteen-inch competitors such as the Latitude 5490 (3.8 pounds, 0.8 inches thick) and ThinkPad T480 (3.6 pounds, 0.78 inches thick) are also much more portable.
Durability and Security
Unlike more expensive ThinkPads, the E580 does not have to pass MIL-SPEC durability tests, which involve surviving extreme temperatures, shocks and vibrations. However, Lenovo's website says that the laptop "is built to last and tested for durability."
Because it's made for small businesses, the E580 does not have an option for Intel vPro manageability -- something only large corporations might want. However, it does have dTPM encryption and an optional fingerprint reader.
What Does the ThinkPad E580 Cost?
The ThinkPad E580 starts at $699 for the black model and $749 for a silver version, but you get more than just an attractive paint job for the $50. The silver model comes standard with a 1080p screen, while the black one starts with a low-res, 1366 x 768 panel and charges $50 to upgrade. Both models come standard with a last-generation Intel Core i5-7200U CPU, but you can pay just $15 to configure them with a new, Core i5-8250U, which is twice as fast on some tasks.
Our $1,004 configuration had a 1080p screen, a Core i5-8250U CPU and a 256GB SSD. When configuring from Lenovo.com, you can configure the E580 with up to a Core i7-8550U CPU and 16GB of RAM. You can purchase the laptop with both a hard drive an SSD that's up to 512GB installed or with just one storage drive.
The 15-inch, 1920 x 1080 screen on our ThinkPad E580 was more than good enough for productivity work, but bland colors and mediocre brightness make it a weak choice for movie viewing. When I watched a trailer for Avengers: Infinity War, colors like the red in Spider-Man's suit and the purple in Thanos' skin seemed flat, and it was sometimes difficult to make out all details in dark scenes.
According to our colorimeter, the E580 can reproduce a modest 80 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is well below the 110 percent premium laptop category average, but it's in line with Lenovo's own ThinkPad T480 (77 percent) and better than the Dell Latitude 5490 (65 percent).
The screen registered just 243 nits on our light meter, making it significantly dimmer than the category average (292 nits), but only slightly behind the ThinkPad T480 (269 nits) and way ahead of the Latitude 5490 (178 nits). Perhaps because of its nonreflective display, the E580 has decent viewing angles, with colors fading just slightly at greater than 45 degrees to the left or right.
The ThinkPad E580 is also available with a low-res 1366 x 768 screen that's standard on the black model, but not available on the silver version. We strongly recommend against getting a screen with this low amount of pixels, because you'll have a lot less screen real estate for editing documents and see fewer rows and columns in spreadsheets. It also only costs $50 to upgrade to the 1920 x 1080 panel.
The ThinkPad E580 is one of the loudest laptops I've tested in recent months. When I sat in my downstairs dining room, turned up the volume to maximum and played AC/DC's "Back in Black," my wife could hear the song clearly at the back of the second floor. The sound was only a little tinny, and I could hear some separation of sound between the percussion coming out of one side and the vocals out of the other. This would be a great laptop for giving presentations in a large conference room.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Pointing Stick
Even among ThinkPads, which are famous for their industry-leading keyboards, the E580's typing experience stands out. Thanks to highly responsive keys, which have a deep 1.78 millimeters of travel and require a strong 72 grams of force to depress, the keyboard felt alive under my fingers. Thanks to the strong tactile feedback and a nice audible click, I achieved a rate of 110 words per minute on the 10FastFingers.com typing test, one of my highest scores of all time.
Spreadsheet mavens will also appreciate the ThinkPad E580's dedicated numeric keypad. Our review unit had a nonbacklit keyboard, but you can get the ThinkPad E580 with a backlight for just $30 more.
During testing, the 3.9 x 2.6-inch buttonless touchpad provided accurate navigation, without a hint of stickiness or jumpiness. It also responded immediately and accurately to multitouch gestures such as pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe.
Like other ThinkPads, the E580 has a TrackPoint pointing stick located between its G and H keys. While some users may not like pushing a red nub, I prefer using the TrackPoint to the touchpad, because I can get extremely precise navigation, without ever lifting my hands off the home row.
The ThinkPad E580 got a solid score of 10,712 on Geekbench 4, a synthetic test that measures overall performance, which is better than the 9,820 premium laptop category average. The Core i7-8650U-powered Dell Latitude 5490 (14,838) and Core i5-8350U-enabled Lenovo ThinkPad T480 (12,047) both scored higher. The Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576G-5762), which has the same Core i5-8250U processor, scored a lower mark of 9,820.
Lenovo's 15-inch laptop took just 1 minutes and 19 seconds to match 65,000 names with their addresses in an Excel spreadsheet. That's quicker than the category average (1:41) and the Aspire E 15 (1:30), but the ThinkPad T480 (12,047) and Latitude 5490 (14,838) were even faster.
The E580 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in just 18 minutes and 32 seconds, several minutes quicker than the category average (22:05) and the Aspire E 15 (25:15). The ThinkPad T480 (18:09) Latitude 5490 (16:00) fared even better.
The 256GB SSD copied 4.97GB of files in 21 seconds for a rate of 242.3 MBps. That's slightly below the category average (273.9 MBps), the Latitude 5490 (267 MBps) and the ThinkPad T480 (267 MBps). The Aspire E 15 was much slower (149.7 MBps).
With its integrated Intel HD 620 graphics, the ThinkPad E580 is powerful enough for productivity work, watching videos and playing very lightweight games. The laptop returned a score of 70,362 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, which is below the Dell Latitude 5490 (89,735), Lenovo ThinkPad T480 (132,991), Acer Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 (122,144) and the category average (82,122).
Lenovo's laptop was able to play Dirt 3 at a smooth 52 frames per second, which is a little shy of the category average (60 fps) and the Latitude 5490 (69 fps). The ThinkPad T480 with Nvidia MX150 graphics returned a blazing 117 fps, while the Aspire E 15 got a barely playable 33 fps.
The ThinkPad E580 has just enough juice to get you through a work day, provided that you don't pump up the brightness to max. The laptop lasted a modest 8 hours and 19 minutes on the Laptop Mag Battery Test, which involves continuous surfing over Wi-Fi. That's less than the category average (8:51), Latitude 5490 (9:54), the Aspire E 15 E5-576G-5762 (9:26) and the ThinkPad T480 with extended battery (17:19). However, with its three-cell battery, the T480 only managed 8 hours and 7 minutes of run time.
If you're making a video call from your desk, an external webcam is better than any built-in laptop camera, but the ThinkPad E580's shooter is pretty good.
When I shot a selfie under the dim lights above my desk, colors were accurate, and my face appeared fairly bright.
On the right side, you'll find a full-size Ethernet port, a USB 2.0 port and a microSD card reader.
On the left, there are two USB 3.1 Type-A connectors, HDMI out, an audio jack and a USB Type-C port that's used for charging.
Lenovo's 15-inch laptop stayed pleasantly cool throughout our tests. After streaming a video for 15 minutes, the keyboard registered a cool 92 degrees Fahrenheit and the touchpad hit just 78 degrees, both well below our 95-degree comfort threshold. The bottom was just a little warm at 97 degrees.
Software and Warranty
The ThinkPad E580 comes with just a couple of first-party apps. Lenovo Vantage gives you fine control over your audio output, camera, wireless, power consumption and more; it also checks for system updates. Lenovo App Explorer is Lenovo's own, largely unnecessary app store that points you to downloads. One of the recommended apps when I tried it was "YouTube," which does nothing more than put a shortcut for youtube.com on your desktop.
MORE: How to Use Windows 10
There's also the typical pile of bloatware that Microsoft preloads on every Windows 10 PCs. Unnecessary titles include Bubble Witch 3 Saga, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Autodesk Sketchbook. Fortunately, it's easy to uninstall unwanted apps in Windows 10.
Lenovo backs the ThinkPad E580 with a standard one-year warranty, where the company pays for shipping both ways. You can also pay extra to extend the warranty up to five years in total, add accidental damage protection or upgrade to on-site service. See how Lenovo fared on our tech support showdown and best and worst laptop brand ratings.
With its awesome keyboard, attractive design and strong performance, there's a lot to love about the Lenovo ThinkPad E580. If you've got a larger budget or you need Intel vPro, consider the ThinkPad T480, which lasts 17 hours on a charge, or its 15-inch equivalent, the T580.
However, with a starting price under $700, this laptop is a great choice for small businesses or anyone who needs a 15-inch productivity laptop and doesn't want to break the bank.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/Laptop Mag