Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 review

28 Jan 2013

An attractive exterior, solid ergonomics and spritely performance combine to create a cracking budget laptop

Price when reviewed 
499
5

Where most budget laptops are bedecked in sombre monochrome plastic, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Z580 partners bold, glossy looks with a speedy Intel Core i5 processor.

It's no lightweight - it measures 33mm thick and weighs a portly 2.41kg - but it’s the most striking budget laptop we’ve seen in a while. Glossy white glimmers across the lid and sparkles around the Scrabble-tile keyboard inside. Build quality is excellent by any measure, and while there’s some give in the top and bottom plastic panels, the chassis feels sturdy and free from excessive flex.

The specification is unusually potent. Under that attractive exterior lies an Ivy Bridge-class Core i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM, and this helps the Lenovo to power past Core i3- and AMD-powered models. With an overall score of 0.73 in our Real World Benchmarks, this is one of the fastest budget laptops we've ever tested.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z580

There's no room in the budget for dedicated graphics, but the integrated Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU will be adequate for most people's needs. With an average frame rate of 47fps in our Low quality Crysis test and 21fps in our Medium quality test, gaming at modest resolutions and reduced detail settings is still on the cards. And it's thanks to the frugal graphics performance that stamina remains competitive, with the IdeaPad enduring 5hrs 33mins in our light-use battery test.

Lenovo’s laptops typically excel when it comes to ergonomics and the IdeaPad Z580 is no exception. We aren’t keen on the narrow right Shift key, but it doesn’t take long to adapt to it. Typing is immensely comfortable – the scooped-out keys give way with a cushioned spring and there’s no give in the keyboard’s base.

The buttonless touchpad’s broad surface provides fuss-free cursor control and, unlike many of its peers, we rarely found ourselves struggling to register left- or right-clicks. If there’s one issue, it’s the two-fingered scrolling support: we occasionally found the touchpad refusing to scroll down pages until we separated our fingers by just the right amount.

Lenovo IdeaPad Z580

Lenovo has also made room for touch-sensitive buttons below the display for adjusting the volume, muting the speakers, toggling the display presets, and even tweaking the fan speeds by choosing between silent or standard operating modes.

We were particularly impressed by the Lenovo’s display. The 1,366 x 768 resolution is par for the course, but its quality is up with the best we’ve seen at this price. Brightness reaches a middling 229cd/m2, but contrast hits an impressive 260:1, and respectable colour accuracy delivers vibrant colours and natural skin tones.

There’s little missing from the IdeaPad Z580. Our review unit featured an ample 750GB hard disk (although newer models will come with a 1TB HDD), two USB 3 ports, a single USB 2 port, a DVD writer, SD card reader, and D-SUB and HDMI video outputs. Only networking lets the side down, with single-band 802.11n and 10/100 Ethernet looking rather stingy.

Whatever you might think of the styling, Lenovo's put together a cracking budget laptop. If you want a fast laptop for everyday tasks and simply can't afford to spend any more, the IdeaPad Z580 won't disappoint.

Details

Price ex VAT £416
Price inc VAT £499
Overall rating 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 4
Performance 5

Warranty

Warranty 1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions 376 x 250 x 33mm (WDH)
Weight 2.410kg
Travelling weight 2.8kg

Processor and memory

Processor Intel Core i5-3210M
Motherboard chipset Intel HM76
RAM capacity 8.00GB
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 Intel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
HDMI outputs 1

Drives

Capacity 1.00TB
Spindle speed 5,400RPM
Optical drive DVD writer
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

Modem no
USB ports (downstream) 2
3.5mm audio jacks 2
SD card reader yes
MMC (multimedia card) reader yes
Integrated webcam? yes
Camera megapixel rating 1.0mp
TPM no
Fingerprint reader no
Smartcard reader no

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use 5hr 33min
3D performance (crysis) low settings 47fps
Overall Real World Benchmark score 0.73
Responsiveness score 0.88
Media score 0.76
Multitasking score 0.54

Operating system and software

Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS family Windows 7
Recovery method Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs