Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15) review – the GeForce MX350 brings the low-voltage gaming to a new level




As soon as Lenovo introduced their new Ideapad series, everyone wanted to see one device – the Ideapad 5. Essentially, it can be viewed as a successor to the Ideapad S540, which was a very solid machine. Again, it comes in 14-inch and 15-inch variants, and Lenovo offers it with both Intel and AMD processors.

Today, we have the 15-inch model, equipped with Ice Lake CPUs. However, this review won’t be only a debut for this laptop, but also for the GeForce MX350 for our website. Unsurprisingly all of the rumors were true, and it uses a GP107 chip – the one used on the GTX 1050. However, it is downclocked, uses less than half of the power of the GTX 1050, and has only 2GB of GDDR5. Surely, this keeps the price down, but we’re yet to see how does it impact the performance.

In addition to that, there are other goodies featured in this notebook – some of them include a choice between TN and IPS panels, a fingerprint reader, embedded into the power button, a fancy color choice and interesting build material choice.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://gordigecr.it/series/lenovo-ideapad-5-15/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (15″) – Spécifications

Tous Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (15″) configurations

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, we got the mandatory paper manuals, and Ideapad 5 (15) and a 95W power adapter with USB Type-C connection. This enables the Rapid Charge technology, which fills the battery to 80% for just an hour. Additionally, you may receive the laptop with a 45W and a 65W power brick with a barrel-style plug. As there are three battery size options, the 45W charger doesn’t support Rapid Charge, whatsoever, while the 65W supports it for the two smaller battery sizes.

Design and construction

And because having one color and structure philosophy is too mainstream, Lenovo has decided to give you a choice of four different colors. They call them Abyss Blue, Graphite Grey, Platinum Grey, and Light Teal. Now that you’ve picked your favorite color, there are two options for the base material. Either you get aluminum (which is the same as the lid), or you get a PC/ABS plastic, with a soft rubbery feel. Interestingly, this will have an effect on the total thickness of the device – the all-aluminum laptop has a profile of 16.9mm, while the aluminum/plastic combo is 1mm thicker. Nevertheless, on both occasions, the starting weight is 1.66 kg, which is great for a 15-incher.

Our unit’s lid was incapable of opening with a single hand, despite the protrusion, aimed to help you with the grip. Thankfully, though, the bezels all around the display are thin and the top one houses a camera with a privacy shutter.

Alas, there is the base. As you can (probably) see, our device is equipped with the plastic base. The feel of the palm-rest area is really comfy, and it will never feel too cold. At the top of the base, you’ll find a grill, that hides two Dolby Audio-certified speakers. And to its right side, you will see the Power button/fingerprint reader combo. Then there is the keyboard, which has a backlight, a NumberPad section, and clicky feedback. We feel that the key travel is a bit short (something we saw on the Ideapad S540 (15) as well).

There is also the touchpad, which has an average size for a Windows machine. It also has a glass-like (Mylar) surface, which makes gliding seamless, and the clicking mechanism is fine. As a side note, the touchpad is a little bendy on the left and right lower corners, when you click it, but this is a general issue with most of the low-medium budget devices.

In terms of ventilation – all of the air intakes happen through the bottom plate, while the hot air exits the machine from in between the lid and the base.

Ports

On the left side you’ll see a charging port, followed by a USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen. 2) port (also used for charging and to output a DisplayPort signal), an HDMI connector, and an audio jack. Switch sides, and you’ll see two USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) ports (one of which has an Always-on function), and an SD card reader.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

All you need to have to get to this device’s internals is a Torx screwdriver and a plastic pry tool. First, undo all 9 Torx-headed screws and then start prying from one of the front edges.
That’s all.

Cooling-wise we have two heat pipes cooling both the processor and the graphics card, and there is a single fan there to blow the heat away from the quite narrow heat spreader.

Unfortunately, upgradability is a bit poor. All of the memory is soldered to the motherboard, although, it works at 3200 MHz and if you get the 8GB, 12GB, or 16GB options, it will be configured in dual-channel mode. In terms of storage, there is one M.2 slot that supports PCIe x4 drives. Interestingly, if you buy the laptop with some of the smaller battery options, you’ll get a 2.5-inch SATA drive slot, as well.

Speaking of which, this device comes with three different batteries of choice. The smaller one is a 45Wh unit, the next has 57Wh of capacity, and the third, and largest option, is a 70Wh beast.

Display quality

Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15) is equipped with a Full HD TN panel with a model number Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.62 cm), and the resolution 1920 х 1080 pixels. The screen ratio is 16:9, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 142 ppi, and a pitch of 0.18 х 0.18 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at distance equal to or greater than 60cm (24″) (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).

As expected from a TN panel – the viewing angles are terrible. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

The measured maximum brightness of 290 nits in the middle of the screen and 277 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 12%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 6330K – slightly warmer than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K, which is not bad.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.

Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is mediocre – 320:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 54% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Lenovo Ideapad S340 (15) indeed uses PWM to adjust its brightness. However, it does so up until 56 nits and with a very high frequency, which makes it practically safe to use for long work periods.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusion

Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15)’s display has a TN panel with a Full HD resolution, quick pixel response time, and a comfortable backlight in terms of PWM. Sadly, as a typical TN display, it has poor viewing angles, horrid contrast ratio, and a narrow color coverage (54% of sRGB).

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15) configurations with 15.6″ FHD TN Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5).

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

En plus de recevoir des profils efficaces et favorables à la santé, en achetant les produits de LaptopMedia, vous soutenez également le développement de nos laboratoires, où nous testons les appareils afin de produire les examens les plus objectifs possibles.

Office Work - screen profile

Travail de bureau

Le travail de bureau devrait être utilisé principalement par les utilisateurs qui passent le plus de temps à regarder des morceaux de texte, des tableaux ou simplement à surfer. Ce profil vise à offrir une meilleure distinction et une meilleure clarté en conservant une courbe gamma plate (2,20), une température de couleur native et des couleurs perceptuellement précises.

Design and Gaming - screen profile

Conception et jeux

Ce profil est destiné aux designers qui travaillent avec les couleurs de manière professionnelle, et pour les jeux et les films également. Design and Gaming pousse les panneaux d’affichage à leurs limites, les rendant aussi précis que possible dans la norme sRGB IEC61966-2-1 pour le Web et la TVHD, au point blanc D65.

Health-Guard - screen profile

Santé-Guard

Santé-Guard élimine le modulation de largeur d’impulsion nocive (PWM) et réduit le lumière bleue négative qui affecte nos yeux et notre corps. Comme il est adapté à chaque panneau, il parvient à maintenir la précision perceptive des couleurs. Santé-Guard simule le papier, ce qui réduit considérablement la pression sur les yeux.

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Sound

Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15)’s speakers produce a clear sound with decent quality. Its low, mid, and high tones are clear of deviations.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be downloaded from here: https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/products/laptops-and-netbooks/5-series/5-15iil05/downloads/driver-list

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. Provided that we have a sample unit from Lenovo, we weren’t expecting to see the true battery performance. And sure we didn’t – we got no more than five hours and a half of Web browsing and 15 minutes more in video playback.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
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For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
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We use F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.
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CPU options

This laptop comes with a range of Ice Lake processors from Intel. The choices include the Core i3-1005G1 (2c/4t), the Core i5-1035G1 (4c/8t), and the Core i7-1065G7 (4c/8t).

Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
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Les résultats sont issus de notre test de référence Photoshop (plus le score est bas, mieux c’est)
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Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (15″) CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (15″) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (15″) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different CPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / CPU.

Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
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Les résultats sont issus de notre test de référence Photoshop (plus le score est bas, mieux c’est)
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GPU options

Respectively, the integrated graphics cards for the aforementioned CPUs are the Intel UHD Graphics for the first two and the Iris Plus Graphics G7 for the last. Additionally, you can pick from two dedicated GPUs – the GeForce MX330 and the MX350, both equipped with 2GB of GDDR5 memory.

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (15″) GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (15″) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo IdeaPad 5 (15″) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Gaming tests

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Based on the long run results, the Ideapad 5 (15) happens to take the most out of the Core i5-1035G1 from all devices we’ve tested. Additionally, the temperature is never too high, hence the fan doesn’t speed up that much. If you want the processor even cooler, though, you can turn on the “Performance mode” from the Lenovo software, which will boost the fan, and it’ll shave a couple of degrees of the core.

Real-life gaming

Yes, we don’t have a benchmark to compare it with, but from what we can see, the Ideapad 5 (15) actually performs really well. It maintains a reasonably high clock speed and the 66C temperature is stable-enough.

Comfort during combined load

Relatively cool and quiet experience, under heavy combined load. Nothing more one would want.

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Verdict


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Last year, Lenovo provided an incredible machine in the face of the Ideapad S540 (15). It was fast, nimble, and was one of the best MX250 performers out there. Also, it delivered a full workday worth of battery juice and had an IPS panel. Now, the upgrade seems a little bit less exciting. Yes, the build quality is decent, and apart from some wobble on the keyboard deck, everything is more than fine.

However, there is still a 1080p TN option. And, this is what we got. Just… do us a favor and don’t repeat our mistake. It’s just not worth the cost-saving to get a TN panel, instead of an IPS one. Lenovo Ideapad 5 (15)’s display has a TN panel ((Innolux N156HGA-EA3)) with a Full HD resolution, quick pixel response time, and a comfortable backlight in terms of PWM. Sadly, as a typical TN display, it has poor viewing angles, horrid contrast ratio, and a narrow color coverage (54% of sRGB). Other than that, the performance is great. Both the Core i5-1035G1 and the GeForce MX350 have done a decent job, but honestly, we were more interested in the graphics card. As a first for us, it was refreshing to see something on this level for an ultrabook low-voltage graphics.

As you probably know, its predecessor – the MX250 was one of the most popular graphics cards when it comes to thin and light gaming. However, it had some implications, and the biggest one was the potential of the chip. This was tackled with the MX350, which is based on the GP107 graphics processor, found in the GTX 1050. Indeed, it doesn’t work as good as on the latter, but given its lower clocks, cut power, and 2GB memory, we feel it is a good evolution.

Now, let’s get back to the laptop. As Lenovo states on their official specs sheet, the Ideapad 5 (15) should be able to deliver up to 15 hours of battery life from the 70Wh unit. Well… we got five hours and a half. This is nearly three times lower. However, you have to know that we got an engineering sample, and it’s a rare sight to see a sample having a great battery life. On the other side, as soon as we find a retail unit, we’re going to rerun the test, and we’ll update the review.

Additionally, it lacks RAM upgradability. Yep, all of it is soldered to the motherboard, but thankfully it runs pretty quickly – at 3200 MHz and if you get the 8GB, 12GB, or the 16GB version, the memory will run in dual-channel mode. And as with other devices, choosing your battery size will have an impact on the availability of the 2.5″ SATA drive bay. Nevertheless, in all cases, you’ll get an M.2 PCIe x4 slot, which is a bit of a relief.

So, if you guys are looking to buy this device, tell us what you think about it? In our view, it is not yet worth the upgrade over the Ideapad S540, unless you get the IPS panel, max out the memory and the actual battery life is miles ahead. And of course, you wish to play games. Yes, the MX350 is a substantial upgrade over the MX250.

Pros

Cons

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://gordigecr.it/series/lenovo-ideapad-5-15/