Lenovo Z40 review

Avoid this budget laptop no matter the cost

Lenovo Z40 review

Why you can trust TechRadar We spend hours testing every product or service we review, so you can be sure you’re buying the best. Find out more about how we test.

The Lenovo Z40 is a heavy machine, considering it's 14-inch screen size and almost entirely plastic frame. Even the Z40's screen backflipping cousin the Lenovo Flex 14 is a lighter machine, tipping the scales at 4.4 pounds. The Acer Aspire V7 also weighs in at a very similar 4.41 pounds.

You'll also likely have trouble slipping the Z40 into a bag, as it measures a pudgy 13.74 x 9.6 x 0.97 inches. It was a snug fit trying to stuff the Z40 into my messenger bag designed with a medium-sized notebook sleeve.

Lenovo Z40 review

Meanwhile, it was a fools errand to try and slip it into some of my smaller bags. The Flex 14 is ever so slightly thinner and smaller at 13.25 x 9.50 x 0.85 inches, while the Acer Aspire V7 measures in at 13.4 x 9.4 x 0.9 inches.

Here is the Lenovo Z40 configuration given to TechRadar:

Spec sheet

  • CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.60 GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce 820M (2GB GDDR5 RAM)
  • RAM: 6GB DDR3L (1,600Mhz)
  • Screen: 14-inch HD (1366 x 768) LED
  • Storage: 500GB; 8GB SSD cache
  • Optical drive: Dual-layer DVD
  • Ports: 2 USB 2.0, HDMI, 2-in-1 SD/MMC card reader, Ethernet
  • Connectivity: 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: Integrated HD 720p Camera
  • Weight: 4.62 pounds
  • Size: 13.74 x 9.6 x 0.97 inches (W x D x H)

These aren't the most exciting specs you can get on a laptop, but this is the basic configuration for the Z40 priced at $599. The unit Lenovo sent TechRadar for the purposes of this review was equipped with a slightly dated CPU, which Lenovo has since replaced with a tiny bit faster 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-4210U processor. Aside from this small chip discrepancy, every Z40 also comes with a 1920 x 1080 display standard.

Also, interested UK and Australian readers won't be able to find the Z40 in their respective home countries. Instead, those in the UK can pick up the Z50, which comes with a larger 15-inch, 1080p screen, only 4GB of memory and a slower Intel Core i3-4030U processor for £399.

Similarly, only the Z50 is available in Australia with a much worse-equipped base configuration. Starting at AU$799, the laptop comes with a lower resolution 1366 x 768 display, Intel Core i3-4005U CPU and no discrete graphics – but on the bright side, there's 8GB of RAM.

Lenovo Z40 review

At such an affordable price point, the Lenovo Z40 falls into a large segment of equally, and in some ways, better-equipped notebooks. Take the first generation Lenovo Flex 14, for instance. That model comes priced $568 (about £363, AU$655) with a touchscreen, more RAM as well as a faster 128GB SSD storage drive. The only drawback to this cheaper, transforming multimedia laptop is that it lacks a dedicated graphics card for some casual gaming.

The $899 (about £574, AU$1,035) Acer Aspire V7 is another machine I've rated highly and would easily recommend. It's becoming increasingly hard to come by and it comes sporting a dated Nvidia GeForce GT 750M GPU, but the machine packs more enough power to get you through a day of tasks while making everything look great with its 1080p screen.


The only saving grace for this laptop is that it delivers decent performance. The Lenovo Z40 ran swimmingly with all my daily computing needs from image editing, web browsing and streaming 1080p videos.

Lenovo Z40 review

The rig was even able to keep up with some modern games such as Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel and Shadow of Mordor. That said, I had to turn most of the graphical options to their lowest settings in order to run these said titles with a maximum frame rate of 30 and 50 frames per second (fps), respectively.


  • 3DMark: Ice Storm: 36,948; Cloud Gate: 4,456; Fire Strike: 835
  • Cinebench CPU: 215 points; Graphics: 34.47 fps
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 2,347 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 2 hours and 38 minutes

Despite running with some rather average components, the Lenovo Z40 put up some respectable scores in our benchmark tests. Thanks to a discrete Nvidia 820M GPU, the Z40 rubs the Flex 14 into the dirt in almost every benchmark test. The budget multimedia scored 835 points with the 3DMark Fire Strike test and a PCMark 8 score of 2347 points, whereas the Flex 14 only tallied up 513 points in Fire Strike and 2026 in PCMark 8.

However, the Acer Aspire V7 tops out as the best performing machine despite needing to power a higher resolution screen and being saddled with a last generation Nvidia 750M graphics card (though punchier than the Nvidia 820M). The Aspire V7 put up a Fire Strike score of 1,456 points and PCMark 8 performance of 2,306 points.

Quick and not in a good way

Don't expect any longevity out of the Lenovo Z40. The PCMark 8 battery test completely wiped out the laptop after a quick 2 hours and 38 minutes. Running a laptop with regular use usually produces better numbers. Unfortunately, in this case the Z40 once again ran short and died after just 3 hours and 4 minutes.

Lenovo Z40 review

These results are especially disappointing, because I did not run any strenuous programs other than playing two games of Hearthstone. Otherwise, there was only some light web browsing in Chrome with just five tabs open at a time, while playing Google Music, working on a Google Drive document, and watching a short 30 minute video on YouTube.

This is a woefully poor showing even for a budget PC. The battery life of both the Lenovo Flex 14 and Acer Aspire V7 stretch past 3 hours and 30 minutes, even if just by a few minutes.

Tunnel vision

As if the inexcusable battery life wasn't bad enough, the Lenovo Z40 also packs one of the worst screens I've ever seen on a laptop. The biggest problem with the display – aside from the poor contrast and lackluster brightness – is its extremely narrow viewing angles. Just by tilting your head slightly, you can go from seeing a viewable image to an unintelligible mess of dark pixels.

With most other laptops, you can still get a good picture unless you're looking at it from rather wide angles. The Lenovo Z40, on the other hand, requires that you look at the image dead on. If you deviate even by just 10 degrees both vertically and horizontally, the picture quality drops off severely.

Lenovo Z40 review

Bundled software

Thankfully, Lenovo kept it light with the bloatware on the Z40. Much of the included software is actually useful, aside from the 30-day trial of McAfee Internet Security, which you'll be much better off replacing with Windows Defender or another firewall program. Here's a list of the most important apps you'll want to keep around:

  • VeriFace Pro: Passwords – pfft, unlock your laptop with your face.
  • Lenovo Companion: This dedicated tool lets you register your machine with Lenovo and check the warranty.
  • Lenovo Support: A quick guide to an electronic Lenovo Z40 manual, knowledge base and Lenovo's official discussion forums.
  • Amazon Kindle: eBooks are great, but more importantly, you'll also be able to read comics on your laptop with this app.
  • Evernote: This cloud-based notes and documents database app has made it into smartphones and tablets, so why not your PC too.
Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee was a former computing reporter at TechRadar. Kevin is now the SEO Updates Editor at IGN based in New York. He handles all of the best of tech buying guides while also dipping his hand in the entertainment and games evergreen content. Kevin has over eight years of experience in the tech and games publications with previous bylines at Polygon, PC World, and more. Outside of work, Kevin is major movie buff of cult and bad films. He also regularly plays flight & space sim and racing games. IRL he's a fan of archery, axe throwing, and board games.