Lenovo IdeaPad S540 Review
The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 is part of Lenovo’s ultraslim and portable line for people that are looking for that extra size, and power over its smaller brother, the Lenovo S145. It features a 15.6-inch IPS FHD display, Intel’s 8th generation core i7 processor, and a battery rated to last for 12 hours.
If you’re in the market for a new work laptop, is this the right one for you? Find out in our full review!
Design & Construction
The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 has an excellent feel to it. It feels like it can take a few hits due to the rigorous amount of work you’ll be putting into it, while still looking elegant. We saw no flexing or creaking when pressing down or bending the laptop. The aluminum body has a smooth finish that’s smooth to the touch, with just enough texture. We like the color choice as well, as the matte color complements the sleek nature of the laptop.
On top, the Lenovo S540 has a clean design with only the Lenovo branding sitting on the lower right side. The lid is flat, with no angles or curves that you see on other laptops.
Below there are three rubber feet, a large intake grill, as well as the two speakers sitting on the front on both sides. The feet work well on most surfaces we tried. They provide ample elevation for the intake fans to suck in air. The speakers are down-firing but angled, which helps when you’re using it on your bed or some other surface that absorbs vibrations.
Following the clean design, the front has nothing on it. While there are no comfort grooves to help open the lid, it can still be done with one hand.
On the left, you can find the charging port, HDMI port, USB Type-C, and a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Situated on the right are LED indicators, SD card reader, and two USB Type-A ports.
There are no vents at the back, only the big hinge that spans across the laptop. The hinge does wobble a fair bit when moving the laptop, but it holds the lid in place when stationary. While we would’ve wanted a couple more USB ports, we’re okay with Lenovo’s choice of keeping it slimmer instead.
The keyboard is almost full-sized, with the nav keys sharing the arrow keys and can be accessed using the Fn key. The switches are the standard scissor-switch, chiclet-style keyboard with great tactile feedback, no noticeable pretravel, and around 1mm post-travel. There’s no key wobble, but the regular keys feel inconsistent when pressing on the side. The long keys feel like there are stabilizers, though, which is a big plus. The keyboard has two levels of white backlighting. To activate it, press that Fn key + spacebar.
The touchpad is smooth and responsive, with tactile buttons underneath. It’s not an oil magnet like Lenovo’s Legion Y545, but it’s not as smooth as the Screenpad on the Asus Zenbook 30 Edition. I think they have the right amount of sensitivity, and I did not experience any misclick (or tap) during my use.
Lenovo also added a fingerprint reader along with the webcam shutter for added security. The fingerprint reader responds quickly and unlocks the desktop within a fraction of a second.
Display & Multimedia
The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 sports a 15.6-inch IPS display capable of 300nits of brightness. While it’s good enough for everyday use, creative professionals might be better off looking elsewhere as it’s only rated for 72% NTSC. There’s noticeable ghosting when subjected to the ufotest, but it’s not noticeable when we used it for everyday tasks. Viewing angles are also great in low light, but we did experience noticeable glaring when under sunlight. The side bezels are slim, measuring 5mm while the top bezel that houses the webcam is twice as thick at 10mm.
The webcam is positioned at the top bezel and can record 1280 x 720p videos at 21 FPS. It’s good enough for video calls, but you’d want an external solution if you’re going to capture better videos. At default settings, the dual-array microphones use too much background noise suppression that makes low speaking volume almost inaudible. You could tweak the input gain in the settings, but you’d introduce some level of noise when doing so.
The angled bottom-firing speakers can get loud enough when you’re sitting right in front of it, but it will not suffice for a large room. The audio quality is good with a wide range, though some level of detail is lost. The highs are crisp, and the lows are punchy when listening close to the device. Overall they’re good enough for casual listening, movies, and videos.
Performance & Benchmarks
Powering the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 is an Intel Core i7-8565U paired with an NVIDIA GeForce MX 250 GPU. It’s equipped with 12GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD, with only 436GB available after formatting. Multimedia heavy users may want to get the 1TB model, or an external hard drive to store all their files. For our benchmarks, we ran several synthetic benchmarks so we can get an idea of how well the laptop performs. We did all tests with the laptop plugged in the socket, in a 28°C room with no airconditioning, with the backside slightly lifted for better intake. The Lenovo S540 is in its vanilla state, with no OS optimizations done to improve results.
First, we have Cinebench R15 and R20 scores. Even though the Asus Zenbook Edition 30 uses the same processor, the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 was able to edge it out by around 10%, which puts its performance in line with Intel’s 4th generation Haswell i7s.
Next, we put the NVIDIA GeForce MX 250 to the test using Unigine’s benchmarks. The graphics performance on the laptop is nothing to write home about, but it’s decent for GPU accelerated tasks.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 was not built for gaming, and the 3D Mark results show precisely that. However, if you’re into light and casual games, the IdeaPad S540 can handle them under lower graphical settings.
Lastly, we have Crystal Disk Mark 6 results, which show us how well the 512GB PCIe SSD performs.
|Read (MB/s)||Write (MB/s)|
Lenovo’s implementation of the i7-8565U offers great performance, but even more impressive is how it manages heat.
While it did hit a peak of 81-degrees on Core 4, the system automatically downclocked the CPU and quickly cooled off. It then maintained a steady 70-degree temperature across all cores throughout our 10 minute Aida64 stress test.
Doing our standard battery test of 1080p video loop with 50% brightness, 50% volume, headphones plugged in, and airplane mode, a full charge on the Lenovo Ideapad S540 lasted for 11 hours and 47 minutes. While its still 13 minutes shy of Lenovo’s claim of having a 12-hour battery life, it’s still performed great nonetheless. Professionals and students who are always on the go can continue working without the need to charge the laptop any time soon.
Overall, the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 ticks a lot of the boxes professionals and students look for in a laptop. It offers excellent performance, fast storage, 1080p display, long battery life, and portability. On the flip side, you do have mediocre display quality, poor GPU performance, and limited ports.
Priced at PHP 69,995, it’s easy to recommend it to people who are willing to pay the premium for portability. Hopefully, Lenovo will release something between the S540 and the S145 for people who want something in the middle.
Lenovo IdeaPad S540 specs:
15.6-inch FHD IPS display
Intel Core i7-8565U
NVIDIA GeForce MX 250
12GB 2400MHz DDR4 RAM
512GB PCIe SSD
WiFi 802.11 AC (2X2)
Webcam with Shutter
USB 3.1 Type-C
2 x USB 3.1 Type A (1 with charging support)
SD Card Reader
358mm x 245mm x 16.9mm
What we liked:
- Clean, minimalistic design
- Lightweight, ultra-thin body
- Responsive and sensitive touchpad
- Full-sized keyboard
- Great overall performance
- Long battery life
What we didn’t:
- The display has low NTSC rating and not enough brightness to battle glare
- Limited USB ports
- Relatively high price compared to competitors