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Lenovo IdeaPad S145 – should I buy one?

(Image credit: Lenovo)

You’ve likely heard of Lenovo, and perhaps seen some of the company’s laptops online – or indeed in real life, maybe in a cafe somewhere – because this Chinese firm is actually the number one notebook manufacturer in the world. Lenovo has lots of hardware out there, and many popular brands including IdeaPad, with the S145 being a budget model which starts from a very low price point.

And as you might expect, as such the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 cuts corners in an effort to keep the price down. So don’t expect the base models of this machine to be capable of taking on all computing tasks – it’s really designed for light usage such as checking emails, web browsing, and a spot of document editing or similar.

That said, there are pricier versions of the S145 which really beef up the processor and some other components – and one of these even has a really tempting discount applied right now, as we recently highlighted on our best cheap laptop deals page. Although bear in mind that even with these higher-end versions of the IdeaPad S145, you’re still getting some of the same hardware that’s in the most basic model, so this doesn’t quite marry up – we’ll go into that in more detail in the next section.

Note that the advice we’re providing here is just our expert opinion on this budget-friendly Lenovo product, drawing on our broad knowledge of the laptop world and anecdotal reports on the device – we haven’t reviewed the IdeaPad S145 (not yet, anyway).

As well as the aforementioned deal, we might well expect some chunky discounts to spring up with the S145 when Black Friday rolls around, so be sure to keep a close watch on our constantly updated roundup of the best Black Friday laptop deals, where you’ll see all the top discounts picked out (not just Lenovo-related ones).

The bottom line: If you want a solid budget notebook which gets the job done for light computing usage, the S145 is definitely worth looking at, particularly if it gets discounts at the lower-end. For not a lot of money, you can get a large screen and lots of storage in a decent all-round package.

Pros: Very affordably priced. Fairly robustly built for a budget machine. Large screen and plentiful storage are definite positives in this price bracket.

Cons: So-so low-resolution screen. Battery life isn’t great. 1TB hard drive might be capacious, but it’s not fast.

Key specs

  • CPU: Intel Celeron / Pentium / Core i3, i5, i7
  • Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics / Intel Iris Plus Graphics
  • RAM: 4GB / 8GB
  • Screen: 15.6-inch 1,366 x 768-resolution TN anti-glare
  • Storage: 1TB HDD / 128GB / 256GB / 512GB SSD
  • OS: Windows 10

Lenovo IdeaPad S145: everything you need to know

As we’ve already outlined, Lenovo’s IdeaPad S145 is primarily aimed at the budget end of the market, and the entry-level models are priced at a temptingly cheap level.

The S145 is a fairly portable laptop, which isn’t particularly weighty, and while it’s fashioned from plastic (unsurprisingly, at this price point), for a budget notebook it’s actually relatively robust and solidly enough put together.

The base models use Celeron or Pentium processors, which means that with these machines you won’t be able to run demanding apps or computing workloads, but they’ll be fine for your typical sort of light usage as we’ve already noted. So the foundations of this machine are certainly solid, but what are the other pros and cons to be aware of here?

Display: It’s great to get a large 15.6-inch display at this price point, with plenty of screen real-estate for, say, watching movies, or maybe even a spot of light gaming. But there are some quality issues with the screen, which is only 1,366 x 768-resolution, so not very sharp, and a bit lackluster overall.

Beefier CPUs: If you want something more powerful than those aforementioned basic Celeron or Pentium chips, the more expensive versions of the IdeaPad S145 offer up to 10th-gen Intel Core i7 processors, giving you an engine with far more grunt. Going by the currently available models of this laptop as detailed by Lenovo, the top-end model that runs with this CPU benefits from powerful integrated graphics (Intel Iris Plus Graphics), 8GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD which provides very nippy storage. The downside is you’re paying quite a bit more and you are still stuck with that not so great 1,366 x 768-resolution screen, and the same overall build quality (which might be sturdy enough, but is more low-end than mid-range, of course). There are ramifications in terms of the battery here, too…

Battery blues: There’s a relatively small power pack in this laptop, so don’t expect too much in the way of battery longevity – particularly if you buy one of the pricier models equipped with more powerful hardware components (which exact more of a toll on the battery).

Roomy storage: The base models – all the really cheap Celeron and Pentium variants – all currently run with a 1TB hard drive, so the good news there is you’ve got lots of storage for a laptop. The bad news? It’s a 5400rpm hard disk, which isn’t the end of the world, but it doesn’t offer the snappiest loading times for your applications. The other SSD models are naturally way, way quicker in this respect.

Don’t try this at home: It is possible to open the S145 – by undoing about 10 screws – and as many customer reviews have pointed out, once inside, it’s easy to upgrade the memory, and that slower hard drive to an SSD. Upgrading those components won’t cost much, and will give you a much peppier laptop than the basic version. However, opening the machine will void the warranty – you won’t have any comeback – so any user upgrade is undertaken at your own risk, so we wouldn’t recommend this course of action. Lenovo notes that a certified technician must undertake any work on the notebook, otherwise the warranty is void. Risk-takers – you have been warned!

Conclusion: The Lenovo IdeaPad S145 is a good option at the budget end of the market, and in the main, it cuts the right corners, maintaining a decent enough build quality for a cheap machine. The display isn’t the best, but there have to be compromises somewhere when making a really budget-friendly notebook. The higher-end options currently sold by Lenovo may not make all that much sense for the reasons we’ve gone into above, but it’s still useful to have options of course. And who knows – maybe a well-placed hefty Black Friday discount could make one of those normally much pricier models into a much more compelling proposition.

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TechRadar is scouring every retailer and rounding up all the top deals over the Black Friday period, and we’ve put all the best Black Friday deals and Cyber Monday deals in easy-to-navigate articles to help you find the bargains you’re looking for.