The Lenovo ThinkPad T580 (starting at $1,089; $1,899 as reviewed) is a good business laptop with an excellent keyboard, quick, powerful performance and plenty of security features. A dull display and subpar battery life are definitely obstacles, the latter of which can be overcome with an extended battery. Despite a couple of flaws, the ThinkPad T580 is a very good system for business professionals looking for a premium 15-inch laptop, inching close to one of the best laptops.
The T580 looks like an oversized version of other ThinkPad laptops with its matte-black finish, curved island-style keys and silver branding on the deck and lid. Of course, it wouldn't be a ThinkPad without the iconic red trim around the touchpad clickers and the red rubber nub between the G and H keys.
Two sturdy metal hinges hold up a large 15-inch display that's flanked by relatively thick bezels. The T580 isn't a convertible but its touch-screen display folds back 180 degrees to lie completely flat. Underneath the screen is a backlit keyboard with a number pad and a small fingerprint sensor.
A subtle stonewashed finish on the plastic chassis gives the T580 a premium feel, though it doesn't stand up to aluminum builds. The T580's unassuming appearance won't garner much attention, but it's appropriate for an office environment.
The ThinkPad T580 isn't the most portable laptop given its large footprint at 14.4 x 10 x 0.8 inches. While its 4.2-pound weight is manageable, you won't want to go on long trips with the T580, especially after you snap on the hefty extended battery attachment. For comparison, the HP EliteBook 840 G5 weighs 3.39 pounds and is 12.8 inches wide, and the Dell Latitude 5490 weighs 3.8 pounds and is 13.1-inches wide. Note, both of those laptops have 14-inch displays.
Security and Durability
The Thinkpad T580 is tested against 12 military-grade certification tests and passed 200 in-house durability tests. It can withstand extreme conditions such as high humidity, low temperatures and exposure to sand.
Still, we had build-quality issues with our review unit. When I held the laptop with one hand, the right side of the lid lifted from the chassis, creating a hairline gap between the deck and right edge. The left side didn't have the same problem, which suggests the anomaly is a quality control issue rather than a design error.
We don't blame you for worrying about online security these days. Fortunately, the Lenovo ThinkPad T580 has several useful features to ease your fears, including built-in Fast Identity Online (FIDO) authentication that's designed to add an extra layer of security using two-factor authentication.
Like other ThinkPads, the T580 includes a TPM 2.0 chip for hardware-based security. It also comes with an optional infrared (IR) camera for facial recognition and a built-in webcam cover.
The 15.6-inch touch-screen display on the T580 is a major letdown. The panel is sharp and fairly bright, but it's not colorful enough.
The trailer for Creed II looked dark and dreary. I also noticed a slight purple tinge in white balance that was even more noticeable on news sites.
In our lab tests, the ThinkPad T580 reproduced only 68.3 percent of the sRGB color gamut. We don't expect such a low rating at this price. For comparison, the HP EliteBook 840 G5 (with a privacy screen) produced an impressive 119 percent of the color spectrum and the premium laptop average is 110 percent. The T580 topped the Dell Latitude 5490 (65 percent), a 14-inch business machine with a notably poor display.
The ThinkPad T580's display gets fairly bright, averaging 288 nits. That's slightly below the premium laptop category average of 301, but it's much brighter than the Dell Latitude 5490 (178) and the HP EliteBook 840 G5 (217). The HP EliteBook 840 G5 with the integrated privacy screen reached a blinding 619 nits of brightness.
The touch-sensitive panel responded quickly to my swipes and taps. I sped through YouTube, scrolling through and selecting videos with ease. The display's matte finish effectively fights reflections.
Keyboard, Touchpad and Pointing Stick
Lenovo has introduced some excellent keyboards to its ThinkPad line over the years, and the T580 gets the same treatment. The backlit keyboard with a number pad is a pleasure to type on. Key presses have the ideal amount of springiness and each tap is greeted with a rewarding "click."
With a key travel of 1.7 millimeters -- in the middle of our recommended range of 1.5 to 2 mm -- and an actuation force of 68 grams, I could type on the T580's keyboard for hours without feeling discomfort.
The number pad makes a welcome return to the T580's keyboard, but it comes with some baggage. The print screen, control, alt and arrow keys are all undersize and the home row is offset to the left. While I found it only mildly annoying, the shifted keyboard could be a dealbreaker for some.
On the 10fastfinger.com test, I achieved a slightly below-par 103 words per minute with my usual accuracy of 95 percent.
The T580's 3.9 x 2.6-inch touchpad is small and also off-centered to the left. That didn't stop me from performing Windows 10 gestures, like right-clicking with a two-finger tap, dragging windows, and zooming in and out. If you're not a fan of touchpads, you can move your cursor around using the little red pointing stick.
The Lenovo T580's speakers sound good and got so loud that I had to turn them down when listening to tunes in a small conference room. The epic riff in the White Stripes' "Seven Nation Army" blared with rich guitar work, and the deep rhythm of the effects pedal reminded me why it's such a recognizable anthem.
The speakers also did a good job presenting more pared-down music. When I listened to the Milk Carton Kids' acoustic track "New York," the duo's Simon and Garfunkel-esque harmonies were clear and forward. I never heard any distortion, even when listening at maximum volume.
Equipped with an Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB PCle-NVME OPAL2.0 M.2 SSD, the ThinkPad T580 powered through a rigorous workload without a blip. It had no issues running 20 Microsoft Edge tabs -- six of which played YouTube videos while another two ran Twitch streams at 1080p. I switched between tabs without any lag and didn't have to wait for videos to convert to their highest possible resolution.
The T580 performed admirably in our lab tests, matching or outperforming other laptops in the premium laptop category. In the Geekbench 4 test, which determines processor and memory performance, the ThinkPad T580 scored 14,384. That's a narrow victory over the HP EliteBook 840 G5 (14,178) with the same i7-8650U processor and a blowout compared with the premium laptop average (12,655).
The ThinkPad T580 took 17 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files from one hard drive to another. At a rate of 299 megabytes per second, the T580 is speedier than the Dell Latitude 5490 (267 MBps) but it fell behind the lightning-quick HP EliteBook 840 G5 (509 MBps).
The standings were flipped in our Excel Macro test where the ThinkPad T580 matched 65,000 names with addresses in 1 minute and 5 seconds, beating the HP EliteBook 840 G5 (1:23) but losing to the Dell Latitude 5490 (0:59). It handily defeated the average rate of 1 minute and 33 seconds for premium laptops.
The Thinkpad T580 isn't meant for gaming but it can play some titles at low graphics settings. Its integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 (upgradable to Nvidia GeForce MX150) ran the racing video game Dirt 3 at 61 frames per second. That's well above our 30-fps playability threshold but slightly below the 71 fps premium laptop category average.
Battery life on the Thinkpad T580 is a mixed bag. On one hand, the T580 lasted a dismal 5 hours and 52 minutes on our battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits brightness) when configured with the default 24Wh rear battery. That's almost 2.5 hours short of the premium category average (8:20) and a troubling 4 hours behind the Dell Latitude 5490 (9:54). It also falls short of the HP EliteBook 840 G5 with (6:17) or without (8:31) its power-hungry privacy screen.
We strongly recommend you upgrade to the optional $39 75Wh rear battery, which boosted the T580's battery life to an outstanding 11 hours and 56 minutes. You can easily get through a full day of use with the higher-capacity battery, but it comes at the expense of portability. The heavy cylindrical attachment noticeably sticks out of the bottom of the laptop, adding 0.5 pounds and making it a chore to carry around.
The 720p webcam on the ThinkPad T580 is decent. It captured a bright, well-exposed image of my face under soft office lighting. However, images lack sharpness and exhibit far too much noise. There was a lot of graininess in my face and I looked slightly out of focus. On a positive note, the webcam did a good job of picking up the color in my dark blue shirt and the slight tinge of red in my sunburned cheeks.
A privacy feature Lenovo calls ThinkShutter lets you cover the webcam by sliding it to the right, blocking its line of sight. It's a reassuring feature at a time when it feels like our privacy is under siege.
The deck of the T580 remained cool after we streamed a 1080p video for 15 minutes, but the underside can get a bit toasty. The touchpad remained at a comfortable 84 degrees Fahrenheit, while the space between the G and H keys got up to 92 degrees.
The underside of the laptop was the hottest area we recorded during our heat test. It reached 105 degrees, which is considerably warmer than our 95-degree comfort threshold. Fortunately, we don't see many users placing this notebook on their laps.
Software and Warranty
The ThinkPad T580 is light on preinstalled software. Instead of individual apps for every service, Lenovo neatly packaged its utility tools into Vantage, which lets users change hardware settings, look for system updates, and run diagnostics scans. It also houses important information about the laptop such as its serial and product numbers. One thing Lenovo could do away with is the Vantage toolbar, a redundant icon that lets you adjust settings.
Vantage is a genuinely useful tool, unlike the superfluous additions Microsoft brings to the table, including Candy Crush Soda Saga, Bubble Witch 3 Saga and Disney Magic Kingdoms.
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Lenovo gives customers a range of customization options. The $1,796 unit ($1,889 on Amazon) I reviewed included an Intel Core i7-8650U processor, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB PCle-NVME OPAL2.0 M.2 SSD and an extended rear battery. The $2,379 top-of-the-line model bumps the display resolution from 1080p to 4K and flaunts a 1TB SSD. It also has an IR camera for facial recognition login.
A $1,089 entry-level model comes with an Intel Core i5-8250U CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB 7,200-rpm hard drive. Alternatively, you can customize your ThinkPad T580 and add extras like a smart-card reader, an IR camera, a backlit keyboard and an extended battery.
I'm torn on the Lenovo ThinkPad T580. For $1,796, you get an excellent keyboard, strong performance and a great selection of ports. However, the display is quite dull given the high price, and the endurance from the standard battery is below average; that's why we recommend springing for the 6-cell cylindrical battery if you're going to be spending a fair amount of time away from your desk.
If you want a more portable laptop, consider the excellent HP EliteBook 840 G5. The 14-inch machine has strong battery life, an excellent display and a sexy design. If you can stretch your budget and don't need a 15-inch display, then go for the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. This 5-star powerhouse has some of the T580's best qualities but in a stunning, lightweight carbon-fiber chassis. Otherwise, the T580 is a solid option.
Credit: Laptop Mag