Decent overall quality but awesome performance

Last year, the line-up of Lenovo’s IdeaPad laptops spread quite evenly across the price band but the naming was a touch misleading. In the budget and mid-range segments, we had the IdeaPad 330 and IdeaPad 330S, two very similar-sounding model names but different in construction, quality and performance. In the upper mid-range segment was the IdeaPad 530S, which we mentioned in our review had a remarkable performance combined with excellent design. What about this year?

In this year’s ’40 ‘series of IdeaPad’ S ‘models, we have the IdeaPad S540, the successor to the IdeaPad 530S. Just below it sits the IdeaPad S340, which surprisingly comes with features like a privacy shutter for webcams. Below, we have the IdeaPad S145: a valid 15.6-inch budget model starting at Rs 26,990, with an Intel or AMD chip. Let’s take a closer look.

Performance

While the new IdeaPad S145 is offered on Lenovo’s official website with an AMD Ryzen 5 3000-Series processor, our review unit comes with an Intel Core i3-8145U CPU (Whiskey Lake Refresh from last year) with 4GB RAM. Storage was taken care of by a WD Blue 1TB hard drive spinning at 5,400rpm. Needless to say, there were no isolated graphics cards on board; Only Intel UHD Graphics 620 integrated GPU. According to the Hardware Maintenance Manual published by Lenovo, 4GB of onboard memory can be expanded up to a maximum of 12GB by adding an 8GB DDR4 RAM chip.

The Intel 8th Gen Core i3 CPU comes with a Platri 4GB RAM and a slow hard drive

The review unit has worked decently on our CPU and GPU benchmarks. At least its score was better than last year’s IdeaPad 330 and IdeaPad 330S. In PCMark 8’s conventional creative test, the review unit scored 2805 points, which is almost three times the score of the IdeaPad 330 and about 300 points more than the IdeaPad 330S in the same test. PCMark 8’s conventional home and work test scores were similar. In 3DMark’s Fire Strike and Sky Diver, the review unit picked up 796 and 3385 points, respectively.

The daily performance of the IdeaPad S145 review unit was very poor, but I can confidently chalk it up to less RAM and lazy hard drive inside. It takes more than two minutes for the laptop to be cold-booted on the Windows 10 desktop and fully ready for use. The Start menu takes an average of more than six seconds to pop up. Everyday applications like Chrome, File Explorer, and OneNote cause constant stuttering and window freezing when used simultaneously. Enlarging a window can sometimes take up to five seconds, and the contents are stretched and distorted. Even a single YouTube video in the foreground often stutters and hangs.

In short, the IdeaPad S145 is an unbearably lazy device if you use it with 4GB RAM and hard drive. If you plan to use your laptop for everyday work, I suggest you buy a variant with a minimum of 8GB RAM and a solid-state drive. If you’ve already purchased it in the same configuration as our review unit, consider increasing the RAM to 8GB and replacing the hard drive with a SATA III solid-state drive. You should not spend more than Rs 5,000 for a 256GB unit. These two upgrades will go a long way in improving the day-to-day performance of these laptops.

Battery

In our standard battery benchmark test, the IdeaPad S145 review unit scored 3 hours, 16 minutes, an advantage of about forty minutes compared to the scores obtained by the IdeaPad 330 and IdeaPad 330S from last year. In daily testing, where the screen is set to 70 percent brightness and Bluetooth + Wi-Fi enabled, the laptop loses 42 percent of its charge in about two hours. It took about an hour and a half to charge from 36 percent to about 95 percent. During the test, multiple examples of Chrome, OneNote, File Explorer, as well as WhatsApp for PC, were opened. In short, the 35Wh dual-cell lithium-ion polymer battery inside the IdeaPad S145 seems to be an ideal companion for continuous long-term operation away from the wall socket. This laptop is expected to be used continuously for up to three and a half hours.

Display, audio and IoT

The IdeaPad S145 has a 15.6-inch non-touchscreen display with full HD resolution and a maximum of 220 net brightness. According to Lenovo, the screen is capable of covering up to 45 percent of an indeterminate color space (although we think its sRGB). In reality, the colors of the screen are completely washed away, the white of the backlight continues to glow brightly. Also, the matte finish on the screen creates a grainy effect on the screen, making the viewing experience even worse. Tilting the display even a few degrees down makes the text on the screen unreadable. In short, the IdeaPad S145’s display isn’t very good for image / video-centric work. That said, it will occasionally work for spreadsheets or documents.

Full HD display but weak colors

The lower front of the IdeaPad S145 has two small speakers, which provide flat, inspiring sound despite the Dolby Badge (and bundled Dolby Audio app). Even at times the maximum volume is insufficient for a two minute YouTube watch and the sound is mostly flat across low, medium and high, which is best used for Windows error sound and message notifications. If you want clear audio, it’s best to invest in a pair of headphones or a portable wired speaker.

As well as weak sound

The IdeaPad S145 has most of its ports on the left side of the body, which should prove convenient for right-handed mouse users. On the left, there’s a proprietary round-pin power port for charging, a full-size HDMI port, a USB-A 2.0 port, and several USB-A 3.1 ports. On the right, what we see is a full-size SD card reader and a 3.5mm audio jack for the headset. Being a budget model, the laptop avoids the increasingly ubiquitous USB-C port. It also does not have a fingerprint scanner. Images from a VGA webcam are understandably grainy and pixel-shaped

Port on the left …

… and the port on the right …

Keyboard and touchpad

The IdeaPad S145’s keyboard isn’t particularly comfortable – but it’s not particularly uncomfortable either. The whole keyboard island and the individual key-caps are lightly convex in that they protrude upwards in the center. This is exactly the opposite of what laptop manufacturers usually do to provide a more comfortable typing experience, that is, to create a cloth design (for easy key identification). In the case of the IdeaPad S145, this is probably done to maintain rigidity across the keyboard island. On the plus side, the numpad section has dedicated keys for media playback, such as play / pause, next track and previous track. If anything, I wish the keys were backlit, but this price range is a bit more than you would want from a laptop.

Dedicated media playback key on top of the numpad

Because it is not a Windows 10-recognized accuracy unit, the touchpad is slow and uneven in tracking the movement of pointers across the screen. The acceleration of the pointer also varies according to the direction of finger movement, which creates an unpleasant touchpad experience. A triple-tap opens Windows Search by default, and Windows settings allow you to adjust the sensitivity of the touchpad unit only. Surprisingly, the click buttons on the bottom of the plain plastic surface of the touchpad have a great feel. All things considered, you better get yourself a wired or wireless USB mouse.

Touchpad is a non-accurate unit but click works well

Construction and design

The IdeaPad S145 uses plastic in its construction, much like last year’s IdeaPad 330. The laptop’s top cover and keyboard island have a glossy plastic finish and a light brushed design in plain silver. Not only does this give the device a toy look, it also makes it less grippy in the user’s hands, especially when rushing it out of the backpack. Fortunately, keycaps, hinges, base panels and screen bezels use a darker shade for some contrast and thus improve visual appeal.

The glossy plastic top cover can do more with a matte finish for more class and grip

The Lenovo badge on the top cover of the IdeaPad S145 is a refreshing single-sticker unit that sits flush with the lid surface. Opening and closing the lid on one side reveals quite a bit of flexibility on the surface of the lid. The same keyboard is observed on the island when the keys are tapped tightly. On the plus side, the laptop lid opens at a maximum of 180 degrees (much like the more expensive ThinkPad range). What’s more, the laptop’s power brick is now integrated with the wall plug, making the whole charging kit more portable and attractive. All things considered, the price range of the IdeaPad S145 looks and feels decent for a laptop although a matte finish all around would have been better appreciated due to the grip and overall appearance.

The display folds all the way back

The last row

With the current configuration of the Lenovo IdeaPad S145, an Intel 8th Gen Core i3 CPU, 4GB RAM, and a 1TB hard drive, its Amazon.in listed price is not a terrible price for Rs 32,990. But you shouldn’t buy it yet unless you want to use it for very basic computing (such as occasional email checking or watching offline videos). It is unsuitable for multitasking and serious web use. We recommend that you upgrade RAM to 8GB and replace its lazy hard drive with a solid-state drive before using it for serious work. Alternatively, choose a variant of the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 with those upgrades at the time of purchase.

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