Lenovo IdeaPad S300 review

A budget, pseudo-Ultrabook with plenty of power and good looks

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Hot on the heels of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, at its heart the Lenovo IdeaPad S300 features a brand new Ivy Bridge version of the mid-range Core i5 processor, which kicks out a decent 1.7GHz, making it perform admirably in most tasks.

Although the 4GB of memory is a little on the low side, Windows 7 happily runs on this, and with that processor calling the shots, the Lenovo IdeaPad S300 can handle most things thrown at it.

You can happily have multiple browser tabs open, as well as an HD movie running in the background and a word document in another window for good measure. The Cinebench benchmarking software gave the Lenovo IdeaPad S300 a lower than usual score for this kind of hardware, but the real-life results prove that numbers don't always add up.

Lenovo IdeaPad S300 review

While all laptops featuring Ivy Bridge Core i5 processors come with integrated HD 4000 graphics - as does the Lenovo IdeaPad S300, naturally - Lenovo has seen fit to also add an AMD Radeon HD 7450 graphics card with 1GB of video RAM.

This deals with the more demanding tasks when you want it, while the more battery-friendly HD 4000 integrated graphics takes over when you want to conserve juice.

The Lenovo IdeaPad S300 intelligently switches between the two graphics avenues when needed, although handily you can manually adjust it if need be.

Lenovo IdeaPad S300 review

Unusually, 3DMark gave an average score when put through its paces, and the end result was even less than other machines we've seen running just the HD 4000 integrated graphics.

Suffice to say, this laptop isn't capable of any sort of high-end gaming, but it will happily play slightly older games at lower settings.

Thankfully, however, the Lenovo IdeaPad S300 does a great job when it comes to high definition video, no matter whether it's 720p or 1080p Blu-ray quality movies. Playback is wonderfully smooth, and the HDMI does its job of outputting them onto the big screen.

Lenovo IdeaPad S300 review

The speakers, as standard, aren't quite as impressive. That's until the Dolby Advanced Audio software kicks in, which helps to enhance the performance of what is a fairly basic speaker setup. They do tend to get a little stressed at higher volumes, causing things to get harsh, but otherwise they do a very good job.

The Lenovo IdeaPad S300's biggest struggle in performance is its battery life.

These days we've come to expect a lot from an Ultrabook. They're designed with portability in mind, so they have to be able to operate for as long as possible.

Lenovo IdeaPad S300 review

The Lenovo IdeaPad S300 managed a pretty paltry 122 minutes when we put it through the Battery Eater test. Even the lesser among the Ultrabook brigade can easily better that.

It's likely that the regular mechanical drive found under the hood is contributing to this poor battery life, or it could just be down to a small capacity battery. Lenovo claims five hours from the Lenovo IdeaPad S300, which is probably not far off the truth under mixed use.

Benchmarks
Cinebench 10 - 7,466
3DMark - 4579
Battery Eater - 122 mins