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Lenovo Ideapad 530s

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The Lenovo Ideapad 530S proves you don’t need to spend 1,000 for a premium laptop that doesn’t skimp on performance. You get a 15.6-inch, 1080p display; an 8th Gen Core i5 CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD — the minimum specs we recommend for a laptop at this price. However, the highlight is the compact, aluminum design, which could easily make people mistake the Ideapad 530S for a more expensive laptop.

While there aren’t any deal-breakers, this machine does underwhelm in some areas. The laptop’s battery life falls short of the competition, and its slim bezels border a dull display. Still, the Ideapad 530S is a good option for anyone who doesn’t want to splurge on a premium laptop, but feel like they did.

Specs

CPU Intel Core i5-8250U
Operating System Windows 10 Home
RAM 8GB
Hard Drive Size 256GB

Design

The Lenovo Ideapad 530S’ design reminds me of a monochrome painting you’d find in a contemporary art museum. There isn’t much too it, and yet, it’s mesmerizing. Every design cue feels like it has a purpose, adding up to a laptop that looks elegant and feels expensive.

The Ideapad 530S would blend in nicely with Apple’s portfolio of laptops, and that’s quite a compliment. The machine sports a two-tone silver aluminum deck and light-gray lid and keyboard. The contrast is subtle, but it gives the laptop a unique look. A small, dark-gray rectangle with Lenovo branding hides on the side of the lid like a T-shirt tag. A slanted hinge and chrome trim around the deck and touchpad add even more elegance to this sophisticated design.

Unfortunately, the deck of our review unit wobbled when I applied pressure to the left of the touchpad. A replacement unit Lenovo sent us didn’t have the same issue, suggesting it’s not widespread.

Ports

Because of its thin chassis, the Ideapad 530S is light on ports. However, it has pretty much everything you could ask for, short of a Thunderbolt 3 input.

On the left side, you’ll find an HDMI, a USB 3.0 port, a USB 3.1 Type-C input, a headphone/mic combo jack and a DC power connector.

The right side is rather sparse, housing only a 4-in-1 card reader and a second USB 3.0 port.

Display

The Ideapad 530S’ 15-inch, non-touch 1080p display gets plenty bright, but I wish it were more vibrant. When I watched a trailer for The House with a Clock in its Walls, the ornate gilding around Jack Black’s kingly chair was perfectly visible. I didn’t even have to squint to see the intricate design on the back of his playing cards.

Keyboard and Touchpad

While not as brilliant as those on ThinkPad laptops, the Ideapad 530S’ backlit keyboard is decent in its own right. I was greeted to pleasantly tactile feedback each time I registered a key press, and the keys felt springy, not mushy.

However, with 1 millimeter of key travel (below our 1.5-mm preference), the keyboard is rather shallow. Combine that with an above-average actuation force of 71 grams, and the Ideapad 530 isn’t the most comfortable to type on for extended periods.

With a score of 112 words per minute, I wasn’t able to reach my typical 115 wpm average in the 10fastfingers.com typing test. Also, at 92 percent, my accuracy was below my 95 percent average.

Audio

The Lenovo Ideapad 530S’ speakers get loud enough to fill a large room, but the audio lacks depth. When I listened to Panic! At the Disco’s new song “High Hopes,” vocals were clear but the pop track sounded thin and veiled. The speakers also failed to separate instruments, which resulted in a grating clash of high-pitched drum hits and shrill guitar sounds.

Webcam

The Ideapad 530S’ webcam is a notch above average, but that’s not saying much. Despite the Ideapad 530S’ narrow bezels, the webcam is located above the display, where it belongs. The 720p camera took a long time to adjust to the bright lighting behind me, but once it did, I was able to make out fine details in my face, like strands of hair in my beard. The selfie cam accurately captured the natural red tone of my face, but my dark-blue shirt leaned gray. The image I captured in our dimly lit office didn’t exhibited much noise.

Heat

The Lenovo Ideapad 530S ran warm in our heat test, but not uncomfortably so. When we played a 1080p YouTube video for 15 minutes, the touchpad maintained a reasonable 89.5 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the location between the G and H keys warmed to 94 degrees, while the underside breached our 95-degree comfort threshold, hitting 96 degrees. The hottest location on the laptop, the lower-left bottom corner, was only 1 degree warmer

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