Is the mid-range Lenovo Z50-75 one of the best budget laptops at the moment... probably not
The Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75, which is the subject of today’s review, is a budget laptop (~$430) with good all-round qualities for everyday activities, but all in all the configuration is nothing too impressive if you’re looking for top notch performance.
The 15.6’’ screen with a resolution of 1366x768 (100 dpi) is produced by the Taiwanian Chi Mei Optoelectronics (CMO). It’s a simple TN screen, not a high quality so you get a clear bluish cast which can be corrected via an adapted colour profile. Overall, the colour reproduction and grayscale have room for improvement.
The Lenovo Z50-75’s glare screen does not perform well under low brightness outdoors and in direct sunlight, you basically get a mirror. This makes the more suitable for home use rather than outside portable device.
The AMD processor reaches the full 3.2 GHz in practice. However, this is limited to very short load peaks and simple single-thread benchmarks like SuperPi. The clock rate drops even further in multi-threading – to 1.8 GHz, which is just below the base rate.
Lenovo has not opted for just any 1 TB hard drive but for a so-called SSHD. These drives combine the high capacity of an HDD with the responsiveness of an SSD by integrating an additional flash storage cache. Seagate's SSHD installed here has a capacity of 8 GB, which is enough to significantly speed up booting Windows and important programs. All this happens fully automatically in the background; the user does not see the swift cache.
The Z50-75 can stand up to Intel-based rivals. The swift-responding SSHD offers a higher added value than a faster processor in many situations. The operating system can be used right after booting without delays, unlike with hard drives lacking an SSD cache where a certain waiting time has to be figured in. Also, the 8 GB working memory proves extremely useful particularly in multitasking involving complex software.
Both the integrated Radeon R6 and the dedicated Radeon R5 M230 are in the low-end sector. First the Crossfire array opens the way for an impressive overall performance. That at least functions exemplarily with AMD's new Catalyst Omega 14.12 in the popular 3DMark series. The gains when dual-graphics is enabled are approximately 70 to 80%, which boosts the Radeon R6 M255DX to the level of a GeForce 840M from Nvidia. This mid-range model is found in many identically priced laptops of other manufacturers.
Although the integrated fan is always active even when idling, its low speed level is only noticed in very quiet surroundings. That, alongside the hard drive's restrained hum, results in a noise level of just above 32 dB(A). The Z50-75 is noticed considerably more during load with approximately 37 to 38 dB(A). However, this is not a really distracting operating noise. The fan's low-pitched and stable noise characteristic particularly contributes to this positive impression.
The laptop only heats up marginally even in the vent's area when the Windows desktop is idle. Light load, such as browsing, does not increase the temperatures much so that it is possible to use the device on the lap without restrictions. Two spots first surpass 40 °C during full load. The wrist rest and many other surfaces remain relatively cool.
The Z50-75's idle consumption of 7.1 to 12.9 watts is consistently approximately 3 watts higher than the Intel-based sister model. This will, of course, hardly be noticed on the electricity bill, but it will affect the battery life.
Despite the relatively high energy requirement, Lenovo installs a weak 32 Wh battery that only provides correspondingly moderate runtimes.
The user will only be able to browse on the Internet or play videos for just over 2 hours in everyday use when the screen's brightness is set to 150 cd/m². It is also possible to drain the battery in roughly 60 minutes when the hardware is loaded with a 3D application.
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness) 4h 26min
WiFi Surfing 2h 16min
Load (maximum brightness) 1h 03min
Lenovo Z50-75 specifications
LENOVO Z50 AMD
Up to 16GB DDR3
HD 720p camera (1MP)
Up to 1TB HDD or 1TB SSHD with 8GB NAND flash
Stereo speakers with Dolby® Home Theater®
Up to 4 hours
Dimensions (W x D x H)
15.11" x 10.43" x 0.98" (384 mm x 265 mm x 25.0 mm)