Review | Lenovo IdeaPad S540 laptop

Lenovo is the world’s largest computer vendor as of 2019, with the IdeaPad range being part of its consumer laptop lineup. In this review, we’re going to be looking at the S540 model with a 15-inch screen, and ample specs including 12 gigs of memory, an Intel i7 processor, and a dedicated Nvidia GPU. Noteworthy is the inclusion of a 128 GB SSD and a 1TB HDD, making it a very functional multi-purpose laptop. Let’s dive into the details of my month with it, using it as a daily driver.

Design and Ergonomics

The IdeaPad S540 has a stylish design and is one of the lightest and slimmest laptops sporting a 15-inch screen. The test unit had a beige-gold color, which Lenovo calls copper. The entire case is aluminium and has a matte finish. The edge styling is tapered and angular, giving it a very sleek modern contemporary look. At just under 1.9 kilograms, it looks and feels both premium and business ready.

In terms of connectivity, the right side features a 3.5mm audio jack, a USB Type-C port, an HDMI port, and a power outlet. On the left side are two USB Type-A ports, and an SD card reader. The included charger is relatively small; just slightly bigger than an Ultrabook charger.

As someone who personally loves portability, and owns an Ultrabook, the S540 is a little bigger, and the added heft becomes noticeable when carrying it for extended periods. But the trade-off is the larger screen and the benefits it brings with it.

Worth mention is the inclusion of a fingerprint scanner for biometric authentication.

Specs and Performance

The S540 is no slouch and comes with specs that show that it means business. Some customization is available in terms of integrated graphics, amount of memory, and storage options. Below are the specs of the unit I was using:

  • CPU – Intel i7-8565U
  • Memory – 12GB DDR4
  • Storage – 128GB PCIe x4 SSD, and 1TB HDD
  • Screen – 15” FHD 1080p IPS LCD
  • GPU – Nvidia MX250
  • Battery – 52.5Wh
  • Wi-Fi – 802.11ac
  • Connectivity – USB 3.1 Type-C, 2x USB 3.1 Type-A, HDMI, SD Card Reader, and 3.5mm Headphone/Audio Jack
  • Speakers – 2x 2W Speakers (Dolby Audio)

With 4 cores and 8 threads, in day-to-day use, with plenty of multitasking, there were absolutely no noticeable drops in performance. Thanks to the SSD, boot-up is super-fast, at around five seconds. Application load times are snappy, and overall system performance is very responsive.

Under normal use, looking up Windows Task Manager indicated memory use of just 5.5GB, with the processor even dropping to 1.2 GHz to save battery.

One of my personal favorite features being the inclusion of both an SSD and an HDD, allowing for both performance and storage. Usually, it’s always one or the other, meaning a tradeoff. If you want the speed, you need to carry an external hard drive. But with the S540 it was possible to enjoy the best of both worlds; with zippy performance, and enough storage to archive over 50 DVDs — a project which I undertook with the help of an external USB Asus DVD drive.

Battery and Charging

Battery life depends on the use-type, and associated CPU load. Pushing the processor and GPU while playing a taxing game would result in a quicker drain.

This laptop supports fast-charging, with 45 minutes getting you up to 50%.

Below is the Charge Matrix (while the laptop was in use):

  • Starting at 5%
  • 15 Mins – 17%
  • 30 Mins – 31%
  • 45 Mins – 47%
  • 60 Mins – 62%
  • 90 Mins – 86%
  • 118 Mins – 100%

With an external USB DVD drive connected, and constantly copying DVDs to the hard drive one after another, the battery went from 100% to 50% at the 4-hour mark.

When the battery is running low, there is a warning message at 10%, indicating a little over 30 minutes of battery remaining. At 5% the unit auto shuts down, after saving all open documents. When in sleep mode, pressing the spacebar displays a battery level indicator onscreen.

Software and User Experience

The IdeaPad S540 comes pre-loaded with Microsoft Windows 10 Professional, 64-bit. Being the full-fledged version of Windows 10, expect an up to date Windows experience. The test unit comes with MS Office 360 on it, the subscription-based MS Office variant.

Thanks to the slightly larger dimensions, compared to an Ultrabook, the keypad was well spaced and very comfortable for prolonged use. Unfortunately, the keys are not backlit. The touchpad was about okay; functional but not special.

I regularly played music on the laptop, and sadly the included speakers are just about okay. My expectations were realistically minimized given that these are tiny laptop speakers; but there are indeed other better-sounding laptops, including the Asus Zenbook series.

Value and Competition

At P59,995, the IdeaPad S540 isn’t cheap, but it does offer great specs and makes for a very functional, and highly capable, all-rounder sorta laptop. It’s more functional than an Ultrabook and comes in at similar pricing. That said, it isn’t a laptop for someone on a budget, as it is a premium product.

Conclusion

If you’re in the market for a laptop that you can use as a daily driver, which is business-ready, has solid specs, both a big screen and keypad affording productivity, while still being sleek and premium, then look no further. The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 hits the nail on the head. It’s all-round competence, and the inclusion of an SSD and HDD combo is just superb.

Model: S540-15IWL

Price: P 59,995

Verdict: Bringing style and portability to a business/productivity-focused laptop

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