Lenovo IdeaPad Z570 review

8 Aug 2011

A refined, well-built all-rounder that packs in a better feature set and higher performance than its affordable price suggests

Price when reviewed 
650
5

Lenovo’s IdeaPad Z570 hides its budget heritage well. Instead of the usual glossy plastics, Lenovo has employed brushed aluminium across the lid and wristrest to create a laptop that feels more luxurious than its £650 inc VAT price suggests.

The base is stout, and the lid does a great job of protecting the display. We had to prod firmly and deliberately on it before there was any sign of show-through on the panel itself. We’ve no doubt it will last on a commute.

Nor does that sturdy build come at the expense of hardware. Intel’s 2.3GHz Core i5-2410M processor and 6GB of RAM keep the system feeling spritely, and Lenovo has managed to shoehorn a Blu-ray reader and dedicated Nvidia graphics into the budget. Whether it’s playing an HD movie or firing through the latest game, the Lenovo punches well above its weight - as testified by an overall benchmark score of 0.66.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z570

Interestingly, though, Lenovo hasn’t opted for Nvidia’s Optimus technology, choosing instead to utilise a physical switch on the laptop's front edge. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing: where Optimus automatically switches between the Intel and Nvidia chipsets as it sees fit, the Z570 has you swapping chipsets at the flick of a switch, which you could argue gives you more control. Sticking with Intel’s integrated HD Graphics 3000, the Z570 lasted a healthy 5hrs 27mins in our light-use battery test.

The Lenovo also boasts a range of sensible, user-friendly features. The hardware wireless switch is a welcome addition, as is the row of touch-sensitive buttons along the keyboard’s top edge; a tiny shortcut key that sits alongside the backlit power button launches CyberLink’s backup and recovery suite.

It all makes for a laptop that’s a pleasure to use. A swift dab of a finger adjusts the volume, mutes the speakers or cycles through the Lenovo’s display modes and fan-speed settings. These features are useful: toggling the display’s movie mode slightly darkens the image - which we actually preferred to the default setting - and the fan control makes it possible to drop the speed right down in silent mode, or crank it up to full for gaming.

We could churlishly moan that squeezing in a numeric keypad leaves the Enter and right-Shift keys on the narrow side, but the keyboard’s scooped keys have such a crisp, precise feel that it’s a minor compromise. The touchpad, too, is superb: its wide, smooth surface delivers accurate cursor control.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z570

In fact, there’s only one thing that the Lenovo lacks, and it’s USB 3. One of the four USB 2 ports doubles as an eSATA connection, and the handy card reader and 2-megapixel webcam come as some recompense, but those hankering after the latest external drives will have to look elsewhere.

That minor omission aside, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Z570 is tough to criticise for the money. Even now we don’t think USB 3 has penetrated the market enough to make it a must-have, and when you consider that you’re getting a superb all-rounder with Blu-ray and switchable graphics for only £650, it’s hard to be anything other than impressed.

(Please note that, while our review model had the part code of M555BUK, Lenovo has changed the part code of the newer batch to M555GUK. The only difference is the colour: the new model is finished in a darker gun-metal grey, rather than silver.)

Details

Price ex VAT £542
Price inc VAT £650
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 4
Value for Money 6
Performance 4

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 377 x 248 x 37mm (WDH)
Weight 2.630kg
Travelling weight 3.1kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-2410M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM65
RAM capacity 6.00GB
Memory type DDR3
SODIMM sockets free 0
SODIMM sockets total 2

Screen and video

Screen size 15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal 1,366
Resolution screen vertical 768
Resolution 1366 x 768
Graphics chipset Nvidia GeForce GT 520M/Intel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics card RAM 1,000MB
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1
S-Video outputs 0
DVI-I outputs 0
DVI-D outputs 0
DisplayPort outputs 0

Drives

Capacity 640GB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Hard disk Western Digital Scorpion Blue
Optical disc technology Blu-ray reader/DVD writer combo
Battery capacity 4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT £0

Networking

Wired adapter speed 100Mbits/sec
802.11a support no
802.11b support yes
802.11g support yes
802.11 draft-n support yes
Integrated 3G adapter no
Bluetooth support yes

Other Features

Wireless hardware on/off switch yes
Modem no
ExpressCard34 slots 0
ExpressCard54 slots 0
PC Card slots 0
USB ports (downstream) 4
FireWire ports 0
eSATA ports 1
PS/2 mouse port no
9-pin serial ports 0
Parallel ports 0
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
SD card reader yes
Memory Stick reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Compact Flash reader no
xD-card reader yes
Pointing device type Touchpad
Integrated microphone? yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.3mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no
Carry case no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 27min
Battery life, heavy use 36min
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.66
Responsiveness score 0.77
Media score 0.69
Multitasking score 0.53

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Revovery partition