Lenovo IdeaPad 530S

Lenovo may be best known for its flagship Yoga 920 hybrid and all the splendor of its watch-band inspired hinge, but the things we’ve always loved from this brand are its inexpensive Ultrabooks. Lenovo has had a long tradition of announcing understated, well-designed and extremely affordable ultra-light notebooks like the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S and Lenovo IdeaPad 710S.

Now, Lenovo is bringing the same value-oriented sensibilities to the even more affordable 14-inch IdeaPad 530S. But don’t think this laptop cuts any corners to hit an even lower price point. On the contrary, the IdeaPad 530S looks to be an even better-equipped machine, with a 1440p display, the latest 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processors and Nvidia MX150 discrete graphics.

Pricing and availability

Available later this month, the 14-inch IdeaPad 530S starts at $799 (about £590, AU$1,070). At this price point, the budget Ultrabook comes equipped with a 7th-gen Intel Kaby Lake Core i7 processor, 4GB of RAM, a 128GB PCIe SSD and a Full HD display. That’s not too shabby, and it’s about on a par with what you would get from a similarly priced Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Pro with base specs.

The larger 15-inch IdeaPad 530S starts at $849 (about £630, AU$1,140), and comes with an 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor – we’re following up with Lenovo on whether this will be a Kaby Lake Refresh or Coffee Lake chip.

Design

The Lenovo IdeaPad 530S really doesn’t have any standout design elements; rather it’s more of a cohesive design that looks functional, modern and understated. It feels like Lenovo has taken the minimalistic design of the Lenovo Miix 630 and applied it to this laptop, and it really works well.

The whole laptop is fashioned from an iron-gray metal that feels as solid as actual iron. The anodized finish adds to the impression of solidity, giving a rustic-looking matte finish rather than a reflective one.

You’ll find a diamond-cut edge of polished metal all around the keyboard deck as the only aesthetic embellishment on this machine, aside from the discreet Lenovo logo on the corner of the lid.

Weighing barely three pounds and measuring a mere 0.6 inches thick, the IdeaPad 530S is about as small and light as a pre-USB-C craze Ultrabook, and that’s a good thing. It’s light enough to never bother you while you’re carrying it around, while not being so thin as to sacrifice any full-sized ports.

Speaking of which, the IdeaPad 530S features a full-sized HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, a USB-C 3.1 port and an SD card reader – which has become all but extinct on ultra-thin Ultrabooks.

The keyboard offers the same crisp typing experience that you’ll either love or hate, as AccuType is often a divisive laptop key switch. Thankfully the trackpad is simply divine, giving you plenty of space to swipe and tap around on a large glass-lined surface.

Features

While the stock configuration of the IdeaPad 530S isn’t too much to get excited about, you can really load up this thin-and-light laptop with some serious power. Upgrades include 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processors, Nvidia MX150 discrete graphics, 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD. That’s the sort of power you would typically see in a mildly thick 15-inch laptop, not a 14-inch Ultrabook.

Perhaps what’s more impressive is the 2560 x 1440 resolution screen you can also add to this laptop. You might be asking why not 4K, but a QHD display should give you more than enough sharpness on a 14-inch panel, while fewer pixels should also help prolong this laptop’s battery life.

Talking of the battery, Lenovo promises that the IdeaPad 530S will last eight hours on a full charge, which seems impressive for a discrete GPU-powered laptop that’s smaller than others in its class. But eight hours is still on the short side, and our real-life testing almost always sees shorter run times.

This machine also comes equipped with rapid charging capability, so plugging it into the wall for a mere 15 minutes should give you two hours of battery life. We’ll be sure to put Lenovo’s battery claims to the test when carrying out our full review.

Early verdict

On paper the Lenovo IdeaPad 530S looks like a lightweight powerhouse that’s affordable to boot. Depending on how an upgraded model prices out you could be looking at one of the best deals around for a capable machine that looks and feels good.

Still, this laptop will come up against a lot of tough competition, such as the Samsung Notebook 9 Pro, when it releases, so we’ll reserve our final judgement until we can see how it stacks up.

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