Lenovo Ideapad 320 Intel Core i5 Review

The Lenovo Ideapad 320 Core i5 variant with a GeForce 940MX GPU is a decent machine but comes at a very steep price. Hence, it is not the ideal option for someone looking a mainstream laptop and with a 65K price tag, it lacks the looks and build quality of a upper mid-tier laptop.

Case & Connectivity

The plastic case of the IdeaPad comes in the color variant “platinum grey”. A pattern is imprinted on the topside of the chassis that gives it a brushed metal feel. The case appears to be well-built and therefore gives no cause for criticism. There is room for improvement in terms of flexibility: The chassis is excessively flexible in many places. It should have been more rigid.

There are no surprises in terms of connectivity: The laptop comes equipped with two USB Type-A ports (USB 3.1 Gen 1) and one USB Type-C port (USB 3.1 Gen 1), which are accompanied by one HDMI Out port and a gigabit Ethernet port. The card reader is not particularly fast. The transfer of 250 JPG files (each around 5 MB) was completed with an average speed of 26 MB/s. We tested the card reader with our reference-grade SD card (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II).

The chip in the Wi-Fi module is supplied by the company Realtek. It supports not only the wireless LAN standard 802.11a/b/g/n, but also the faster wireless AC standard. The data transfer rates that we have measured under optimal conditions (no other Wi-Fi enabled devices in close proximity, a short distance between the laptop and the server PC) were in good order.

Input Devices

Image result for Lenovo Ideapad 320 Intel Core i5 keyboard

The unlit chiclet-style keyboard of the IdeaPad comes with a numeric keypad. The flat, slightly rough keys have a short travel distance and a clear operating point. The key resistance is, essentially, in good order, however, it is a little too crisp for our taste. During typing, the keyboard exhibits some noticeable flex in the middle. This did not prove annoying, however. All in all, Lenovo delivers a decent keyboard here.

The multitouch-enabled ClickPad takes up a surface area of 10.5 x 7 cm (~4.1 x 2.8 in). Therefore, there is enough space for gesture control. The various gestures can be enabled and disabled in the configurations menu of the ClickPad. The smooth surface of the ClickPad makes finger-gliding easy, and the corners of the ClickPad also register inputs. The ClickPad has short travel and a clear pressure point.

Display

The matte 15.6-inch display of the IdeaPad has a native resolution of 1920×1080. Neither the brightness (207.3 cd/m2) nor the contrast ratio (516:1) are appropriate for the device’s price tag. Here we would expect values well above 300cd/m2 and 1000:1, respectively.

Unfortunately, the display presents a brightness distribution of 70% and PWM flickering with a frequency of 25000 Hz. Such a high frequency, however, should not lead to headaches and/or eyestrain amongst individuals susceptible to flickering.

Screen Flickering

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession – a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.

Screen flickering / PWM detected 25000 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 25000 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 70 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 25000 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 55 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9267 (minimum: 43 – maximum: 247500) Hz was measured.
When it comes to color reproduction, the display fails to impress. With a DeltaE-2000 color deviation of 12.01, it lies far from the target value (DeltaE lower than 3). Moreover, the display suffers from a distinct bluish cast.

The plastic case of the IdeaPad comes in the color variant “platinum grey”. A pattern is imprinted on the topside of the chassis that gives it a brushed metal feel. The case appears to be well-built and therefore gives no cause for criticism. There is room for improvement in terms of flexibility: The chassis is excessively flexible in many places. It should have been more rigid.

There are no surprises in terms of connectivity: The laptop comes equipped with two USB Type-A ports (USB 3.1 Gen 1) and one USB Type-C port (USB 3.1 Gen 1), which are accompanied by one HDMI Out port and a gigabit Ethernet port. The card reader is not particularly fast. The transfer of 250 JPG files (each around 5 MB) was completed with an average speed of 26 MB/s. We tested the card reader with our reference-grade SD card (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II).

The chip in the Wi-Fi module is supplied by the company Realtek. It supports not only the wireless LAN standard 802.11a/b/g/n, but also the faster wireless AC standard. The data transfer rates that we have measured under optimal conditions (no other Wi-Fi enabled devices in close proximity, a short distance between the laptop and the server PC) were in good order.

Input Devices

Image result for Lenovo Ideapad 320 Intel Core i5 keyboard

The unlit chiclet-style keyboard of the IdeaPad comes with a numeric keypad. The flat, slightly rough keys have a short travel distance and a clear operating point. The key resistance is, essentially, in good order, however, it is a little too crisp for our taste. During typing, the keyboard exhibits some noticeable flex in the middle. This did not prove annoying, however. All in all, Lenovo delivers a decent keyboard here.

The multitouch-enabled ClickPad takes up a surface area of 10.5 x 7 cm (~4.1 x 2.8 in). Therefore, there is enough space for gesture control. The various gestures can be enabled and disabled in the configurations menu of the ClickPad. The smooth surface of the ClickPad makes finger-gliding easy, and the corners of the ClickPad also register inputs. The ClickPad has short travel and a clear pressure point.

Display

The matte 15.6-inch display of the IdeaPad has a native resolution of 1920×1080. Neither the brightness (207.3 cd/m2) nor the contrast ratio (516:1) are appropriate for the device’s price tag. Here we would expect values well above 300cd/m2 and 1000:1, respectively.

Unfortunately, the display presents a brightness distribution of 70% and PWM flickering with a frequency of 25000 Hz. Such a high frequency, however, should not lead to headaches and/or eyestrain amongst individuals susceptible to flickering.

Screen Flickering

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession – a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.

Screen flickering / PWM detected 25000 Hz

The display backlight flickers at 25000 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 70 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 25000 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 55 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9267 (minimum: 43 – maximum: 247500) Hz was measured.

When it comes to color reproduction, the display fails to impress. With a DeltaE-2000 color deviation of 12.01, it lies far from the target value (DeltaE lower than 3). Moreover, the display suffers from a distinct bluish cast.

Performance

With the IdeaPad 320-15IKB, Lenovo has a 15.6-inch all-rounder in its product range. The machine offers enough performance for all of today’s usage scenarios. Our test device is available for 800 Euros (~$940). Other hardware configurations are also available; the prices start at 400 Euros (~$470).

Processor

Lenovo has equipped the IdeaPad with an Intel Core i5-7200U (Kaby Lake) dual-core processor. What we are dealing with here is a low-TDP, mid-range CPU, which has enough computing power to completely satisfy the requirements of most users. The processor has a base clock speed of 2.5 GHz. Intel’s Turbo Boost Technology can increase the frequency up to 3.1 GHz (for both cores). The Turbo is used both when the laptop is plugged in and when it runs on battery power.

Whether the Turbo can be reliably used while the laptop is plugged in we tried to determine by running Multithreaded tests in Cinebench R15 for 30 minutes in a continuous loop. The results generally stayed on the same level. No drop in performance was observed.

System Performance

Image result for Lenovo Ideapad 320 Intel Core i5 processor

The IdeaPad offers more than enough performance for office and Internet applications. Thanks to a dedicated graphics chip, users can also play video games on the device. We did not encounter any problems. The system ran smoothly and without a hitch, which is supported by the very good results from PC Mark benchmarks. An increase in performance is not possible. Lenovo has already squeezed everything out of it.

Storage Devices

A solid-state drive from Hynix serves as the system drive. It is a 2.5-inch model with a capacity of 256 GB, of which only 185 GB is available to the user. The rest of the storage space is reserved for Windows Installation files and for the recovery partition. The data transfer rates proved to be in good order.

Graphics Card
The GeForce 940MX graphics chip was one of the mid-range category of GPUs until the GeForce MX150 came along. Nowadays it is only considered an entry-level graphics card. It supports DirectX 12 and operates at a core clock speed of up to 1189 MHz. The graphics chip has 2048 MB of GDDR5 memory by its side. The memory works noticeably faster than DDR3, which is often used instead of GDDR5. Therefore the IdeaPad performs considerably better in the 3Dmark benchmarks than notebooks that come equipped with the DDR3 variant of the 940MX graphics card, such as the MSI CX62 7QL.

All in all, there are three variants of the 940MX graphics chip (two GDDR5 variants and one DDR3 variant). You can find further information about the differences between the two GDDR5 variants in our review of the Acer TravelMate P259-MG.

Power Consumption

The laptop does not draw too much power in most usage scenarios. In idle operation, we measured the maximum power draw of 7.3 watts – a good result. During our stress test, the power consumption increased to a mere 42 watts, since the CPU and the GPU were both throttling. The nominal power draw of the AC adapter amounts to 65 watts.

Gaming Performance

The hardware of the IdeaPad allows most computer games to run smoothly at HD resolution (1366×768) at the medium quality settings. Games that have low system requirements allow for better settings, whereas titles with high system requirements, such as “For Honor”, may require lowering the resolution and/or the graphics settings.

Battery Life

Our practically-oriented Wi-Fi test simulates loads which are consistent with browsing the web. The test runs with the “balanced” profile selected, the brightness set to 150 cd/m² and power saving functions switched off. The IdeaPad’s battery runtime comes in at 4 hours and 39 minutes – not an outstanding result. We expect battery runtimes of 5 to 6 hours from a 15.6-inch notebook. The reason for bad battery life is the low-capacity (30 Wh) battery.

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