Hello and welcome to another AIC video.
So in my last video on my lenovo thinkpad x series, I waxed eloquent about my x270, and how much I thought it was one of the last real thinkpads, so why am I sitting here with an x280? Greener grass.
So not all that long ago, I had a P43s, which I was using to work on and edit my videos, and it was a pretty decent mobile computer as well, but I decided to upgrade to a Legion to be able to game and do more editing of 4k video. The legion however is not as portable as I would like. So I got the itch to fill that hole in my computer needs, something small and portable, that I could take with me on long trips and also be able to play some light games like minecraft with my kids. I had had an X270 before, but thought that I really wanted something newer, hopefully with better graphics. I found a seller with these on ebay for a pretty decent price. I’ll link to that seller in the description, as they have a pretty decent inventory of both x280’s and x270’s.
So I ordered it, and got it, and yeah, It’s just OK.
So what is similar to the x270? It has the same screen, keyboard, and touchpad, they are excellent in both devices. So it is not an upgrade there for sure.
What is better? Well it is thinner, and lighter, it has a better battery life than the standard batteries in my x270. The 8th gen CPU is a pretty big step up from the x270 in performance. Graphics is slightly better as well. This is probably the biggest selling point of this laptop over the x270, if you need raw cpu performance, yeah, this is the better system. The thing is… if you need raw CPU performance, you would probably buy a different system. Of the same generation of laptop, you would buy a P52, with a 6 core 12 thread processor that isn’t an ultrabook cpu as it puts this system to shame.
It does support NVMe storage. My x270 only has sata 3 speeds, where this has pcie speeds, so storage is faster on paper, but honestly, I cannot tel much of a difference in person.
What isn’t better? Wellllllll…. The thing that is probably the most frustrating for me, is the lack of upgradeable ram. Only 8 gigs isn’t enough for my use case. I like to run virtual machines for work stuff, or when I’m testing out software I’m not sure about, or trying to troubleshoot other issues that people are having. And while the CPU is good, with 4 cores and 8 threads, with only 8 gigs of ram, I run into a bottle neck often of not having enough ram. Just booting the system consumes over 3gb of ram, a single chrome tab will chew up another gig. Ram is a strong limitation.
A minor annoyance is the vent. On previous thinkpads I’ve owned, they have either vented out the back, or to the left. This one vents out the right. The times I’m using a mouse on this, typically means I’m pushing it pretty hard, and the laptop directing that warm air on my hand is annoying. I know that this is probably a non issue for most people, but it annoys me enough for me to mention
And one of the more frustrating aspects is the lack of ports. So on the right hand side, we have the always on USB 3.0 port, and a place for a smart card reader (not included on my system). On the left is where you find most of the ports, a type c with power delivery and display port, a lightning port with the dock connector, another 3.0 port, hdmi, and headphone/microphone jack.
While the two type c ports are a nice addition, it’s missing an all important ethernet jack. I know this might not seem important to most people, but I personally use my wired network quite frequently. Mostly to transfer large video files around, and the lack of a jack is frustrating. I have USB dongles that give me that back… but that means remembering where they are, something I don’t feel should be necessary on a computer meant for work.
Another VERY annoying port is the SD card reader… It’s not a slot you can just plug in on the side of the system like EVERY OTHER COMPUTER I OWN! Even my nearly 20 year old notebooks have just an SD card reader slot on the side of the system. But NO, they had to integrate it with the SIM card slot on the BACK of the computer. What does that mean? To access it, you have to have a special tool to eject it, and you cannot do it while just using the system, you must either have the screen closed or open all the way. And OK, fine. On a sub $200 notebook that has only 64 gigs of storage, I get it, you toss the SD card in there and leave it. It IS your storage expansion. But on a system like this that has upgradeable NVME storage? Nope, IF you need to pull things off the SD card, it’s going to be in and out all the time. I know I’ve probably spent more time on this than I should but its DUMB, and it’s dumbness makes me mad.
And while you can use any of these other USB hub thingies, if you want a proper Lenovo dock, they haven’t been around all that long and are far too expensive 2nd hand. They go for close to $100 with power cord.
Are there any redeeming qualities? It’s actually a pretty darn good computer. It’s light, with plenty of battery life, USB-C charging is life, and for 99% of people out there, they would be perfectly happy using this for day to day activities. So much so, I bought my wife one. She loves it, and it has nearly replaced her desktop for daily use. It plays the games she likes to play without hiccups, it has enough guts to manage dozens of open chrome tabs. My wife loves the touch screen, and the finger print sensor, two things she really wanted in a new laptop.
And that’s the thing. The x series has gone more main stream. It used to be a serious work laptop for the serious professional, with the x280, it has become… friendly for all. My wife will never open this up and upgrade the ram or the memory, she’ll just use it till it becomes too slow to use anymore, or broken, and she’ll be ready for the next device. If you need a good computer, absolutely get one, but if you need a work tool, find a good x270.
Thanks for watching.