Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 review

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

5
Price when reviewed 
499

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.

Warranty

Warranty1 yr return to base

Physical specifications

Dimensions376 x 250 x 33mm (WDH)
Weight2.410kg
Travelling weight2.8kg

Processor and memory

ProcessorIntel Core i5-3210M
Motherboard chipsetIntel HM76
RAM capacity8.00GB
Memory typeDDR3
SODIMM sockets free0
SODIMM sockets total2

Screen and video

Screen size15.6in
Resolution screen horizontal1,366
Resolution screen vertical768
Resolution1366 x 768
Graphics chipsetIntel HD Graphics 4000
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
HDMI outputs1

Drives

Capacity1.00TB
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Optical driveDVD writer
Battery capacity4,400mAh
Replacement battery price inc VAT£0

Networking

Wired adapter speed100Mbits/sec
802.11a supportno
802.11b supportyes
802.11g supportyes
802.11 draft-n supportyes
Integrated 3G adapterno
Bluetooth supportyes

Other Features

Modemno
USB ports (downstream)2
3.5mm audio jacks2
SD card readeryes
MMC (multimedia card) readeryes
Integrated webcam?yes
Camera megapixel rating1.0mp
TPMno
Fingerprint readerno
Smartcard readerno

Battery and performance tests

Battery life, light use5hr 33min
3D performance (crysis) low settings47fps
Overall Real World Benchmark score0.73
Responsiveness score0.88
Media score0.76
Multitasking score0.54

Operating system and software

Operating systemWindows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
OS familyWindows 7
Recovery methodRecovery partition, burn own recovery discs

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