Lenovo Ideapad S540 (15) review – shatters your expectations




Lenovo Ideapad S540 (15) is a particularly interesting device. On one side, it has the price of an ASUS VivoBook, but on the other, you can get it with up to a GeForce GTX 1650 – like a ZenBook. So, how does a manufacturer make an all-aluminum chassis, fits such a GPU inside, offers up to 2TB of NVMe SSD storage, and still manages to maintain adequate pricing?

Well, first, let’s note that our version of the laptop came with the GeForce MX250 instead – a weaker GPU indeed, however, it is a lot more efficient, and you should expect better cooling with quieter fans. By the way, we can’t pass the sticker on the laptop that states “Beyond expected performance”. These are some pretty bold claims, Lenovo. But, the question is, do they stand behind their words?

We are certainly going to check it out, and honestly, all of the laptops carrying the MX250, recently have kind of disappointed us, so. Expectations are high with this one. By the way, we forgot to mention that the notebook comes with a 1080p IPS panel.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://gordigecr.it/series/lenovo-ideapad-s540-15/

Contents

Specs Sheet

Lenovo IdeaPad S540 (15″) – Spécifications

Tous Lenovo IdeaPad S540 (15″) configurations

What’s in the box?

The package of this laptop is not really the most representable. Inside you’re going to find the Ideapad S540 (15), some paper manuals, and a 65Wh power adapter.

Design and construction

At this footprint, 18 mm really looks thin, guys. As a matter of fact, the overall design of this device is stunning. There are two iterations of the machine – one with plastic surrounding the matte display, and one with a glass cover on top of it. This results in a 1.80 kg weight for the former and 1.95 kg for the latter. On the other side, it doesn’t matter which one you get, the entire body is made out of aluminum.

We don’t know if it is due to the lightness of the laptop, or the hinge design, but it is impossible to open the laptop with a single hand, as the base lifts up when the lid reaches around 45 degrees. If you look closely at the area above the display, you are going to notice the proprietory camera cover.

Further below, you can see a full-layout keyboard, that has pretty big keycaps. At the same time, the arrow keys are a bit weird, and the “Shift” and “Enter” buttons have another key directly attached to it, which leads to some confusion when you are typing. And while the feedback from the keys is pretty clicky, we found the travel to be too shallow. On the bright side, there is a backlight that has two brightness levels.

After the keyboard, you are going to notice the touchpad, which is left-centered and has a glass cover. This helps it with the gliding, as glass is usually more comfortable than regular plastic. Additionally, on the right side of the base (just underneath the auxiliary “Enter” key), you can see the fingerprint reader.

Finally, at the bottom, there are two elongated ventilation grills, as well as two speaker cut-outs. As usual from this kind of laptop, the hot air comes out from the section in between the base and the display.

Ports

On the left side, you can see the power plug, an HDMI connector, a USB Type-C 3.1 (Gen. 1) port and an Audio jack, while on the right there are two USB Type-A 3.1 (Gen. 1) ports (one of which is always on) and an SD card reader.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

There are 10 Torx-head screws between you and the internals of this laptop. After you remove them, make sure you use a plastic pry tool so you don’t damage the panel in the process.

Once you’re inside, you are going to encounter a pretty sufficient cooling solution. It comprises one heat pipe, cooling both the CPU and the GPU, and one dedicated only to the graphics card. All of this ends with a rather long heat spreader and two relatively small fans blowing at it.

This laptop has 4GB of soldered memory, and there is one RAM DIMM for upgrades. Additionally, you can put one M.2 NVMe SSD with up to PCIe x4 speeds and one SATA 2.5″ drive, placed on either side of the battery.

Speaking of which, this laptop is equipped with a 52.5Wh unit.

Display quality

Lenovo Ideapad S540 (15) has a Full HD IPS panel with a model number BOE NV156FHM-N48 (BOE0700). 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).

Viewing angles are comfortable. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

The measured maximum brightness of 277 nits in the middle of the screen and 260 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 13%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 6600K – almost matching the sRGB standard of 6500K, which is great.
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 very good – 1340:1.

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 S540 (15)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 51% 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 S540 (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 S540 (15)’s display doesn’t use PWM only at maximum brightness. Additionally, the flickerings are with a very low frequency – 200 Hz, which makes the display uncomfortable and possibly harmful for your eyes. Thankfully, our Health-Guard profile fixes that.

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 S540 (15)’s display has IPS panel, Full HD resolution, comfortable viewing angles, good contrast ratio, and adequate default settings. Sadly, it covers only 51% of sRGB and uses PWM to adjust the brightness at every level, except the maximum. Moreover, it does so with a very low frequency, which is easy to detect even by the non-sensitive person. However, our Health-Guard profile is designed to tackle this issue.

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 S540 (15) configurations with 15.6″ FHD IPS BOE NV156FHM-N48 (BOE0700).

*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 S540 (15)’s speakers are relatively loud and have good quality. Their mid and high tones are clear, while the lows have some deviations, hence, the speakers lack the punch in the bass.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this laptop can be downloaded here: https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/products/laptops-and-netbooks/ideapad-s-series-netbooks/s540-15iwl/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. The laptop has a 52.5 Wh battery back.

Mainly due to a good optimization from Lenovo, the laptop was able to reach around 11 hours and a half of Web browsing and about 12 hours of 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’s processor options are pretty straightforward – the Core i3-8145U, Core i5-8265U and Core i7-8565U.

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

GPU-wise, there is the integrated UHD Graphics 620 by default. If you want some graphics enhancements, but you are still looking for a business-grade laptop, the MX250 would be the better option. Lastly, there is a GTX 1650-equipped model, which is the most versatile up to this moment.

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.

Lenovo Ideapad S540 (15) proved to have pretty good cooling. Not only it was able to handle the Core i5-8265U easily, but it did so almost without breaking a sweat, or a decibel. It reminds us of the ASUS ZenBook 15 UX534 a little.

Real-life gaming

Certainly the Ideapad S540 (15)’s GPU is working at lower frequencies than that on the VivoBook S15 S532, however, the temperature difference is noticeable. Keep in mind that both of the devices house a 25W (the more powerful) version of the MX250.

Comfort during full load

We measured a maximum temperature of 43C. While this is quite on the warm side, we didn’t experience any problems.

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Verdict

From what we’ve noticed during all extensive tests, we can comfortably say that Lenovo was… kind of right in their statement on the sticker. We are talking about the one, which says “Beyond expected performance”. Currently, the Ideapad S540 (15) is one of the best GeForce MX250-equipped laptops we have had in our hands. What is interesting about it? Well, it is only 17mm thick and weighs just 1.80 kg. Oh yes, and it is built out of aluminum – not plastic.

So, there are two major things that you simply cannot argue against – price and performance. How about, making it three – add the battery life. We managed strong 11 hours and a half of Web browsing on this laptop while playing videos resulted in more than 12 hours of battery life.

Yes, yes, there should be something wrong about it. Certainly, there is – we weren’t big fans of the keyboard of this laptop. While it has one of the largest keycaps on an ultrabook, we found the key travel to be too shallow and the location of some keys to be leading to more frequent than usual typos. On the bright side, the keyboard feels clicky and has a backlight, while the touchpad has a glass surface and is a good hit.

As far as the display is concerned, the IPS panel (BOE NV156FHM-N48) would generally be good as it has a decent contrast ratio, comfortable viewing angles, and adequate default settings. However, the screen is let down by poor color coverage (51% of sRGB) and aggressive PWM in brightness adjustment. Thankfully, our Health-Guard profile is designed to protect you from the harmful flickerings. Find out more here.

And despite the fact that the Ideapad S540 (15) doesn’t feature a Thunderbolt port, we can totally forgive it, simply, because of the price tag. Moreover, upgradability is decent, with one RAM DIMM, an M.2 PCIe x4 slot and an additional 2.5″ SATA drive slot.

So if you are looking at a laptop that has decent performance and efficiency, you can go for this laptop. If we have to refer it to another device, the Ideapad S540 (15) would be the VivoBook S15 S532, that actually looks sexy.

Pros

Cons

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://gordigecr.it/series/lenovo-ideapad-s540-15/