A few months ago, Lenovo added some new models to its Ideapad series in India. Targeted at users looking for good multimedia performance in a slim and light form factor, the Ideapad 530S that we have for review today is a very interesting offering.
It packs in good specifications, including a dedicated Nvidia GPU, and yet weighs only about 1.5kg. This makes it a very good contender for students or even content creators who want a decently powerful laptop without the bulk. Let’s check it out.
‘Classy’ sums up the design and look of the 530S nicely. The aluminium finish doesn’t attract fingerprints so it’s easy to keep clean. The Mineral Grey colour that we have makes for quite an understated look, and Lenovo also offers Copper, Liquid Blue, and Onyx Black trims. The base, trackpad, and fingerprint sensor have chamfered edges, which look good. With the lid closed, this laptop measures around 16.4mm in thickness. It's light as well as comfortable to carry around.
The display has slim borders on three of its four sides, and Lenovo has managed to squeeze in a HD webcam on the top, where it should be. The lid can be pushed all the way back, up to 180 degrees. It doesn’t have a lot of flex and we didn’t find any pixel warping even with pressure applied from the back. The single hinge has good torsion but the lid still wobbles easily if you’re using this laptop in a moving vehicle. The 14-inch IPS screen delivers punchy colours, and the full-HD resolution helps keep small icons and text looking sharp. The panel also has a matte finish, so reflections aren’t much of an issue.
The base has tapered edges towards the front, in order to create the illusion that the Ideapad 530S is slimmer than it actually is. Lenovo has made good use of the space on the sides, where you'll find a charging port, HDMI, USB Type-C (USB 3.1 Gen1) port, two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone/ microphone combo socket, a full-sized SD card slot, and a Novo pinhole button for activating Lenovo’s software recovery tool. You get a couple of white LEDs on the side for power and charging status, but none for hard drive activity.
The keyboard is well laid out, with good spacing between the backlit keys, and comfortable key travel. The arrow keys are clustered together but the oversized Right and Left keys make it easy to identify them. The fingerprint sensor is on the right and is quick at authentication. The large trackpad has a smooth surface, which offers good tracking performance and gestures are easy to perform.
The stereo speakers are placed on the bottom of this laptop, and sound slightly muffled when you place it on a couch or a bed, but are otherwise quite loud. The bottom has several cutouts that act as intake vents, while hot air is vented through openings near the hinge. Our Ideapad 530S unit just came with the charger, but the Lenovo India website mentions that a a basic backpack is also included with the retail units.
The 500 series is the premium tier in Lenovo's Ideapad lineup, and so in addition to the metal body, you also get some powerful components. At the time of writing this review, the Ideapad 530S is only available with a quad-core, multi-threaded Intel Core i5-8250U CPU and slight variations in RAM, storage and discrete GPU combinations. Going by Lenovo India’s website, prices start at Rs. 72,999 and go up to Rs. 78,999. The unit we’re reviewing is priced at Rs. 74,999, for which you get 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 512GB PCIe SSD, and an Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 memory. Other specifications that are common across all models include Wi-Fi 802.11ac with 2x2 MIMO antennas, Bluetooth 4.1, and a 4-cell battery.
The laptop ships with Windows 10 Home along with the usual fluff from the Windows Store and some apps from Lenovo. Lenovo Vantage is a well designed app for keeping your system drivers up to date. You also get a full license for Microsoft Office Home and Student 2016 and a trial version of McAfee Livesafe.
We used the Ideapad 530S on and off as our primary laptop for a few days and absolutely love its compact size and the feedback of the keyboard. It’s a tiny bit smaller than a MacBook Air but you get a larger display. We also found ourselves typing a lot and quite accurately with the keyboard, which is good if your work depends on it. The backlighting for the keys is also even. The Ideapad 530S doesn’t get too hot with regular use and runs pretty silently too. Under stress, you can hear the faint whirring of the exhaust fan, but it’s far from distracting.
The GeForce MX150 is a decently powerful entry-level GPU, and offers a good bump in performance over Nvidia’s popular 900 series, for example the GeForce 940MX. It also offers much better performance than Intel’s integrated graphics. As long as you’re okay with compromising a bit on a game’s quality settings, you can expect playable framerates at the display’s native resolution. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, we were able to average above 30fps at the Medium and High graphics settings. However, we wound up having to lower the settings quite a bit in newer games.
With FarCry 5, we managed just 21fps in the built-in benchmark, with the graphics set to the 'Low' preset. In Assassins Creed Origins, we averaged 17fps with the graphics set to Ultra, but dropping the resolution to 1280x720. Taking the graphics quality down a notch yielded better results of course. The keys get slightly warm when gaming but the palm rest stays very cool, which shows good thermal management.
The IPS panel is bright enough, and colour reproduction as well as viewing angles are good. Videos look great, and the stereo speakers sound loud and rich. The Ideapad 530S uses a Samsung PCIe SSD, which delivers very good read and write bandwidth. The laptop fared decently well in benchmarks. We got 3,542 points in PCMark 10, while 3DMark Fire Strike returned a score of 3,197 points. Memory bandwidth is a little low since this laptop uses a single stick of RAM. Footage from the webcam is average at best, and even with good ambient lighting, photos appeared a bit soft.
Lenovo promises eight hours of battery life from the Ideapad 530S but realistically, we managed to get roughly five hours on average. Our usage mostly involved using Chrome, along with a bit of video playback. It will be tough to get through a workday with non-stop usage. Our Battery Eater Pro test lasted for 1 hour and 40 minutes, which is a decent score for a laptop of this size. The battery supports fast charging, which delivers around an hour and half of runtime with a 15-minute charge, although the laptop needs to be powered off for this to be effective.
The Lenovo Ideapad 530S can be purchased from Lenovo’s online store directly. Our review unit retails for Rs. 74,999, which is a good price considering its build quality and specifications. It's not easily available on other popular e-commerce platforms yet, and the one listing we did find had a much higher price.
This laptop also offers better value than the more expensive 256GB version of the MacBook Air. We wish the Ideapad 530S had better battery life, but apart from this, it’s really hard to find any major flaw with it. It’s compact and well built, and it has an excellent keyboard, a good selection of ports, a crisp display, and good specs to boot.
Price: Rs. 74,999 (as reviewed)
Ratings (out of 5)