Home Laptop Reviews Lenovo IdeaPad S340 15” Laptop Review – Less Than $500?

Lenovo IdeaPad S340 15” Laptop Review – Less Than $500?

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Lenovo IdeaPad S340 15” Laptop Review – Less Than $500?

The Lenovo IdeaPad S340 is a cheaper laptop that can often be picked up for under $500, so let’s find out just what we’re getting for the price in this detailed review to help you decide if it’s a laptop you should consider.

For the specs I’ve got an Intel i5-8265U CPU, 8GB of dual channel memory, a 256gb NVMe M.2 SSD and a 15.6” 1080p 60Hz TN panel. For network connectivity it’s got 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 5, but it’s too thin for a gigabit ethernet port, so you’ll need to use an adapter if you need that.

There’s no discrete graphics in my model, but newer versions are available with MX250 graphics and newer 10th gen CPUs, you can find examples of other configurations and updated prices linked in the description.

The top is all just a plain silver plastic with a subtle Lenovo logo on the edge, and the interior is a similar colour too. Overall the plastic chassis did have some flex to it but it felt solid enough, and all corners and edges were smooth.

The weight is listed at 1.79kg on their website, and mine was quite close to this. With the small 65 watt power brick and cable for charging the total weight rises to just 2kg, so it’s fairly lightweight and portable.

It’s less than 1.8cm thick, and the width and depth are similar to many other modern slim 15 inch laptops, giving it 7mm thin bezels on the sides. Despite the smaller bezels, the 720p camera is found in the ideal spot above the display in the middle, and it’s also got a physical privacy shutter you can slide across.

This is what the camera and microphone look and sound like on the S340, I’d say both are a little below average. The keyboard in my unit has no backlighting, however their website notes that it’s available in select models so it seems like that will vary.

Overall I had no problems typing with it, here’s how it sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. The plastic keyboard deck was fairly flexible when intentionally pushing down hard, however I never had any problems with the build quality during normal use.

There was an average amount of screen flex, however it was reduced by the large hinge that runs along most of the screen. The precision touchpad worked alright, it’s got the usual gestures and the size seemed ok.

As for the screen, the S340 is available with 3 different options, you can get it with a 1080p IPS option, however mine has the lowest 1366 by 768 resolution, and it’s a TN panel too. I’ve measured colour gamut with the Spyder 5, and got 57% of sRGB, 41% of NTSC, and 42% of AdobeRGB.

At 100% brightness I measured 232 nits in the center with a 90:1 contrast ratio, so very low results compared to machines I typically test, but the 1080p options should do better. As I’ve got a TN panel the viewing angles were quite bad, there’s colour shift when not looking at it front on, but to be fair you’ll probably be looking front on when using it anyway, oh and the screen goes all the way back.

TN panels are harder to get bleed photos due to the limited viewing angles, anyway despite the differences here there wasn’t any bleed in my unit that I could see with my own eyes. On the left from the back there’s the power input, HDMI output, USB 3.

1 Gen1 Type-C port, no Thunderbolt though, and 3.5mm audio combo jack. The HDMI version wasn’t listed, however after connecting a 4K monitor it only ran at 30Hz, so its version 1.3 or 1.4 rather than 2.

0 or newer. On the right from the front there’s status LEDs, full size SD card slot, and two USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A ports. Otherwise there’s nothing at all going on over on the back or front of the machine.

Due to the all silver finish it doesn’t really show up fingerprints. Underneath just has some air ventilation towards the back and rubber feet which did an ok job of preventing movement when in use.

To get inside, we only need to take out 10 TR5 screws, and one of the front screws doesn’t fully remove from the bottom panel. The speakers are found towards the front left and right corners, they sounded pretty average, a bit tinny at higher volumes without any bass, however they still got loud enough at maximum volume, and the latencymon results weren’t too bad.

Inside we’ve got the battery down the bottom left, 2.5” drive bay slot towards the right, single memory slot in the center, single NVMe PCIe M.2 slot to the right of that, and WiFi card right up the top right corner.

There’s a fair bit of empty space inside, and they do sell the S340 in a smaller 14” version too so I guess it’s just been stretched out for the larger 15” panel in this model. Although there’s only one single memory slot, the laptop comes with 4GB soldered to the board, so mine runs in dual channel with the 4GB stick.

I’ll also mention that although the stick is DDR4-2666 capable, the i5-8265U CPU only supports DDR4-2400, which is what it ran at. The S340 is powered by a 3 cell 52.5wh battery. Despite not being all that large, it lasted for over 14 hours just watching YouTube with the screen on 50% brightness, and this is thanks to the lower powered specs.

By default the S340 came with Windows 10 S, which basically prevents you installing untrusted apps outside of the Windows store, however you can easily disable this for the full version of Windows, so no problem there.

The Lenovo Vantage software allows you to manage the system. For some reason it doesn’t seem to give you the option to swap between the performance modes, however you can use the function and Q key to swap between silent and performance modes.

Thermal testing was completed with an ambient room temperature of 21 degrees Celsius. As there is no discrete graphics I’ve only tested with a CPU only stress test, and worst case in performance mode the CPU is hitting 77 degrees.

These are the clock speeds for the same tests. The i5-8265U CPU has a maximum all core turbo boost speed of 3.7GHz on all 4 cores, however even in performance mode with a -0.1v undervolt applied we’re a little off this.

This was simply due to the default power limits, in quiet mode a 15 watt PL1 is defined, with 18 watts being the limit in performance mode, so these limits will prevent it getting too hot at the expense of some power.

Here’s what the CPU performance was looking like in Cinebnech, so we can get a nice boost to performance with performance mode, and then some extra in the multicore result with the extra undervolting.

As for the areas where you actually touch, at idle it was pretty average, around the typical 30 degrees point I often see. With the CPU only stress test in performance the middle of the keyboard approaches 40 degrees, with the back exhaust below the screen hitting the mid 40s, it only just barely felt warm to the touch.

Here’s what the fan noise sounded like while running these tests. At idle it was completely silent. With the CPU stress test running in quiet mode it was still on the quieter side, and then with performance mode it wasn’t that much louder at all.

All things considered, there were no issues with the thermal performance at all, CPU temperatures didn’t get too hot, the keyboard area was only a little warm to the touch, and the fans remained on the quieter side.

Although there aren’t any discrete graphics in my model, I have seen newer versions available with an MX250. Despite this, as my screen has a 1366 by 768 resolution I’ve still attempted to play some lightweight esports titles to see how it goes.

Dota 2 was tested playing in the middle lane, and it was playing very smoothly with low settings. At medium settings it looked significantly better but was noticeably slower, likely due to that lower 1% low performance, and ultra settings was a little laggy but not too bad.

Overwatch was tested in the practice range. I’ve used a 50% render scale at this resolution to get fair results, however the image was quite blurry and not ideal. With a 100% render scale it did look much better, but I was also seeing 30 FPS with low settings.

CS:GO was tested with the Ulletical FPS benchmark tool, and again the results weren’t great, but should at least be somewhat playable at this resolution with minimum settings. In the end you can still play less demanding esports titles at lower settings on the Intel graphics, it’s just not a very good experience.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the 256gb NVMe M.2 SSD, and the speeds were actually pretty decent. Results will vary with different drives, but they only seem to sell them with PCIe NVMe drives, so at least boot and program load times should be fast.

The SD card slot was also working well enough too, nothing amazing but better than many others. For updated pricing check the links in the description, as prices will change over time. At the time of recording you can pick up this config of the Lenovo S340 for $460 USD, granted it is on sale.

The Lenovo website has a few different configurations available, though the config I’ve got is closer to $700 here, so you’ll definitely want to look for a deal. Here in Australia we’re looking at around $1000 AUD, which with taxes removed is about $600 USD.

Let’s conclude by going through the good and bad aspects of the Lenovo IdeaPad S340 laptop. The positives of this machine are that it’s using a fairly good PCIe NVMe SSD, so you’ll get fast boot times and quick program loading.

It doesn’t get too hot even when under full CPU load and the fans run quiet. Despite the battery not being too large, due to the specs it’s paired with it can last a long time. It’s got a full size SD card slot, it’s on the thinner and lighter side with ok specs that should be decent for office or school work, all while available for under $500 USD.

The main downside for me was the TN screen, it’s not even Full HD, the viewing angles were bad, and the contrast was just terrible making it look very washed out. To be fair though it’s available with 3 different screen options, so you could get a brighter 1080p IPS panel which should resolve the viewing angle issue and would likely also have better contrast.

There was some flex to the plastic chassis, it wasn’t too bad or really that noticeable when using it normally, but yeah it is a plastic laptop. There’s 4gb of memory soldered to the motherboard, so you can at least run dual channel but it does limit upgrade options in the future to a single memory stick.

There was no discrete graphics in my unit, so only basic graphical work will be possible with the Intel graphics. Although you can play basic esports titles at low settings and low resolutions, it’s not a great experience and I definitely wouldn’t suggest buying with light gaming in mind.

If gaming is a priority then you’d probably be better served by spending an extra hundred dollars or so for something with Nvidia graphics, or otherwise check the second hand market. Overall it’s not that bad of a machine for the price, if you’re just doing office or school work I think it could be a good option when on sale for under $500 USD.

Let me know what you thought about the Lenovo S340 laptop down in the comments, and if you’re new to the channel consider getting subscribed for future laptop reviews and tech videos like this one.

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