Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 review
An attractive exterior, solid ergonomics and spritely performance combine to create a cracking budget laptop
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.
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 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.
|Price ex VAT||£416|
|Price inc VAT||£499|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||4|
|Warranty||1 yr return to base|
|Dimensions||376 x 250 x 33mm (WDH)|
Processor and memory
|Processor||Intel Core i5-3210M|
|Motherboard chipset||Intel HM76|
|SODIMM sockets free||0|
|SODIMM sockets total||2|
Screen and video
|Resolution screen horizontal||1,366|
|Resolution screen vertical||768|
|Resolution||1366 x 768|
|Graphics chipset||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|VGA (D-SUB) outputs||1|
|Optical drive||DVD writer|
|Replacement battery price inc VAT||£0|
|Wired adapter speed||100Mbits/sec|
|802.11 draft-n support||yes|
|Integrated 3G adapter||no|
|USB ports (downstream)||2|
|3.5mm audio jacks||2|
|SD card reader||yes|
|MMC (multimedia card) reader||yes|
|Camera megapixel rating||1.0mp|
Battery and performance tests
|Battery life, light use||5hr 33min|
|3D performance (crysis) low settings||47fps|
|Overall Real World Benchmark score||0.73|
Operating system and software
|Operating system||Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit|
|OS family||Windows 7|
|Recovery method||Recovery partition, burn own recovery discs|