Lenovo IdeaPad S405 review

Pros

  • Low price
  • Attractive design
  • Decent keyboard

Cons

  • Sluggish performance
  • Limited feature set

As a budget system, the Lenovo IdeaPad S405 comes with all the usual caveats: A lower quality construction, fewer features, and just good enough hardware. That said, for an inexpensive laptop that will get you online and cope with light work, the Lenovo IdeaPad S405 looks good, produces a passable performance, and does it all for an affordable price.

Design

The IdeaPad S405 looks sleek with a metallic finish, but it's superficial, with its 1.54kg chassis being made largely out of plastic. Measuring 335 x 240 x 21mm (WxDxH), it is reasonably slim for a low-priced laptop, but the chassis flexes and bows noticeably whenever you pick up the laptop by the corner or type on the keyboard.

The 14in display offers a standard 1,366 x 768 resolution, high enough for 720p video and side-by-side multitasking, but unsurprisingly there’s no support for full HD content. The TFT LCD display is best viewed head-on, as the viewing angles are quite narrow, and even when viewed at a slight angle – as one would when sharing a video with someone – I saw colour distortion.

The keyboard, though made by Lenovo, doesn't feel as luxurious as on the firm’s more expensive models, largely due to the all plastic construction. The keyboard flexes as you type, and the keys don't quite have the solid smooth feel experienced on other (pricier) IdeaPad laptops. That said, the sculpted keycaps and relatively smooth key movement is better than you'll get on most laptops in this price range.

The IdeaPad S405 is equipped with 2 Watt speakers and Dolby Advanced Audio v2, but sound quality was good, not great. When testing the bass with Silent Shout by the Knife, you could hear the bass, but it was empty sounding. When testing treble and volume with Jimi Hendrix's Bold as Love instrumental, the speakers initially produced clear sound sound, but the clarity dropped off the higher the volume went. At full volume, there's enough oomph to fill a large room, but you won't be able to ignore the buzz that comes with it.

Features

The IdeaPad S405 is outfitted with a modest collection of ports, with two USB 2.0 ports, one USB 3.0 port, an HDMI port, SD card slot, and a compact Ethernet port. While you also have 802.11n Wi-Fi, you won't find Bluetooth – that's one of the compromises you'll make for the lower price. Lenovo also has built in its OneKey Recovery, which gives you a single button to restore your system in the event of a crash or other problem.

The IdeaPad S405 features a 500GB, 5,400 rpm hard drive, which isn't particularly large, but is a common size in value-priced systems. You won't have all 500GB available out of the box, however, with space being occupied by the operating system – Windows 8 (64-bit) – a recovery partition, and several preinstalled programs.

On the start screen you'll find several apps, such as Kindle Reader, Evernote, and a 60-day trial of Microsoft Office 2013. Dig in further on the desktop side and you'll also find McAfee Internet Security, Lenovo Cloud Storage (with SugarSync), and Nitro Pro PDF reader. Lenovo covers the IdeaPad S405 with a one year limited warranty on parts and labour.

Performance

The Lenovo IdeaPad S405 uses a 2.1GHz AMD A6-4455M APU paired with 4GB of RAM. AMD uses a slightly different take on the CPU, which AMD calls the APU, and it puts the processor and the accompanying graphics processor – an AMD Radeon HD 7500G – on the same chip die. This isn't the newest processor to begin with, and when stacked against the Intel Core processors used in competing systems, it has a tough time keeping up.

In Cinebench, the IdeaPad S405 scored 0.79 points, a poor performance falling way behind the likes of the Acer Aspire V5. This performance gap was made all the more obvious in our Handbrake and Photoshop tests, which the IdeaPad S405 crawled through in 4 minutes and 14 seconds, and 11 minutes and 33 seconds respectively. The IdeaPad S405 will be fine for light productivity and web browsing, but it will slow down dramatically with any processor intensive application.

Despite the inclusion of the AMD Radeon HD 7500G graphics processor, the IdeaPad S405 had somewhat limited graphics capability. Though sufficient for web browsing and video playback, gaming performance will be limited to online and casual games, and nothing remotely demanding.

On a more positive note, the IdeaPad S405’s 4-cell lithium-ion battery did reasonably well in our battery rundown test, lasting 4 hours and 7 minutes – a solid result.

Verdict

Some budget laptops offer more than simple affordability, with features and components that belie their wallet-friendly price. While these systems may cut corners with wobbly construction or a trimmed down feature set, they do so while still delivering adequate performance.

The Lenovo IdeaPad S405 is definitely affordable, but it comes with too many shortcomings to recommend – the sluggish performance and its limited capabilities are a bit too much to put up with even given the low price.

Specifications

Manufacturer and Model

Lenovo IdeaPad S405

Processor Name

AMD A6-4455M

Operating System

Microsoft Windows 8

Weight

1.54kg

Graphics Card

AMD Radeon HD 7500G

Screen Type

Widescreen

Type

Value

RAM

4GB

Networking Options

802.11n

Processor Speed

2.1GHz

Primary Optical Drive

External

Screen Size

14in

Storage Capacity

500GB