Lenovo IdeaPad 530S review

A budget Ultrabook that’s too basic

Lenovo IdeaPad 530S

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Luckily, for all the flaws the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S has, its performance is actually pretty admirable. We are able to get through an entire workday with a ton of tabs open in Chrome, iTunes and Slack without a hitch. We get that the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S aims to be a no-nonsense office work machine, and it at least pulls that off.


Here’s how the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Sky Diver: 4,220; Fire Strike: 966; Time Spy: 381
Cinebench CPU: 543 points; Graphics: 42 fps
GeekBench 4: 3,925 (single-core); 12,722 (multi-core)
PCMark 8 (Home Test): 3,247 points
PCMark 8 Battery Life: 3 hours and 53 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 5 hours and 58 minutes

The benchmarks are pretty impressive, too. Scoring 543 in Cinebench and a very respectable 12,722 in the GeekBench 4 multi-core test, the Intel Kaby Lake Refresh CPUs on offer here continue to impress us with their performance boost over 7th-generation processors. 

Don’t be fooled by the presentation of the laptop, this thing can get some work done, and it can multitask like a champ. Just don’t expect to do much in the way of gaming on this thing. The integrated graphics resulted in a paltry 3DMark Time Spy score of 381 – beyond the odd indie game, just don’t even try it.

Lenovo IdeaPad 530S

Battery life

In the TechRadar battery test, we loop a movie in VLC Media Player at 50% brightness and volume, with all radios except for Wi-Fi turned off. In those parameters, the IdeaPad 530S is actually kind of impressive. Now, don’t get us wrong, a battery life of six hours isn’t anything to write home about, but you should be able to get through most projects without having to reach for the charger.

However, you shouldn’t expect it to get you through a full day of work. In the PCMark 8 Battery test, which simulates more real-world workloads like word processing and video conferencing, the IdeaPad scored just three hours and 58 minutes – which will almost get you to your lunch break. 

Unfortunately, you won’t be able to carry this laptop around without its charger, and since it doesn’t use USB-C, you won’t be able to have any chargers pulling double duty.

Software and features

What is really surprising about the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S is the almost complete lack of bloatware. Beyond a few Lenovo branded programs that either update drivers or suggest different apps, the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S actually comes out of the box relatively clean. 

Save for McAffee LiveSafe, there’s basically no third party software here. 

With a laptop like this, we’d expect all kinds of software that we’d have to go through and remove, but we have to give Lenovo props here: it does offer a relatively clean install of Windows 10.

Final verdict

The Lenovo IdeaPad 530S isn’t a terrible laptop – it’s just not especially great, either. If you’re looking for a laptop to get some work done and you really don’t care about anything else, it’s going to be fine. 

But, when you start looking at products at comparable price points, it just doesn’t make sense to pick this laptop up over many similarly-priced options. You can get laptops from other manufacturers – hell, even from Lenovo itself – at the same price points that make so much more sense. You can get better displays, better speakers, better trackpads ... better, well, pretty much everything elsewhere.

That’s precisely why it’s so hard to recommend this laptop – it gets the job done, and it isn’t what we would consider a bad product, but why would you buy the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S over laptops with more features for a similar price? We just can’t think of an answer to that question.

Bill Thomas

Bill Thomas (Twitter) is TechRadar's computing editor. They are fat, queer and extremely online. Computers are the devil, but they just happen to be a satanist. If you need to know anything about computing components, PC gaming or the best laptop on the market, don't be afraid to drop them a line on Twitter or through email.