The Lenovo Ideapad 520 is a full-fledged multimedia laptop for users who need a flexible notebook that can do a bit of everything. The variant we tested is the most high end version that comes with top-end specifications like a Core i7 7th Gen processor with a dedicated graphic card and 16GB of DDR4 RAM.
As the Ideapad 520 shows that not all costly laptops are good looking, but it never disappoints when it comes to getting the job done. It offers plenty of features, but there's nothing that makes it stand out of the crowded laptop market.
It retails at Rs 85,000, which is where we doubt if one should buy it or not. We decided to test it and see if it justifies the price, and here is what we found out.
Price and availability
As mentioned, we're testing the 80YL00Q3IN model of the IdeaPad 520. While the laptop is listed at Rs 85,999 on Lenovo's online store, Amazon.in is selling this model for 88,490.
I reviewed the Iron Grey variant of the laptop which comes with a partially aluminum chassis with some plastic at the bottom and around the display. Having aluminum is both good and bad as it makes it more sturdy but adds a little bulk on it too. So, this one weighs 2.2kgs which isn't considered very bulky looking at the 15-inch form factor it has, but it's not light enough to carry around with just one hand effortlessly.
While the bigger form factor makes it good for multimedia consumption and gaming, it also need a big carry bag to take it around. For a MacBook Air user like me, the shoulders do feel the strain when carried for a long.
It looks like any other box styled laptop when closed but tiny elements like the chamfered edges and shiny border around the screen and trackpad make add to the looks.
The laptop is thick at 22.9mm, despite of a thin display panel. It's not too thick, but still not something that ultrabook buyers will look for.
There's a good amount of real estate on both the display lid and the base. Where the display isn't spread over the whole area leaving space for thick bezels resulting poor screen to body ratio. Similarly, the base has keys in just 50% of its part leaving a lot of space to rest your palm next to the trackpad.
Keyboard and trackpad
It has a island type chiclet keyboard which comes with curved keys. It is something that Lenovo has been putting in most of its laptops and is also one of the best thing about this model. Typing is a breeze on this, thanks to the tactile feedback and adequate key travel.
The keys are wide and well-placed and have one level of backlit support. The only thing that feels weird about it is the crammed num-pad on the right. You might end up hitting the number keys accidentally as it is crammed into the left part despite of having adequate space.
The multi-gesture trackpad is smooth to use and quite precise. It has a matte finish on top of it, so that you can just touch and feel that you are at the right place. There’s a separate section that consists of the left and right click as well.
The IdeaPad 520 sports a 15.6-inch anti-glare display. The screen isn’t bad in particular, but at such high price, we expected it to be a little better than this. It’s a full HD panel but it is not bright as we expected it to be. The good part is that it doesn’t lose visibility even from extreme angles.
Its display is good to watch as the antiglare coating on the display dismisses the reflections entirely making it a worthy for those who stay in front of screen for long. While reading and surfing seems good, high resolution videos might seem very impressive at this price.
The panel is sharp, replicates detailed imagery but I found the brightness to be very poor. I expected a better overall performance as the competitors have way better panels in comparison at this price.
It has tons of ports for connectivity. It comes with 1X HDMI, 2xUSB 3.0, 1 X USB3.0 Type C, 4-in-1 Card Reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC), 1 X Ethernet port and also has a DVD drive.
This model of the Ideapad 520 packs Intel’s 7th Gen Core i7-7500U processor clocked at 2.7GHz. For enhanced graphics performance, it has a dedicated Nvidia 940MX 2GB graphics card adds up to the versatility of this laptop. The 16GB RAM DDR4 RAM makes it great for multitasking, which we experienced while using more than 30 tabs opened at one time. Most laptops start stuttering at this point, but it handles such tasks quite effortlessly. Although, there were some minor hiccups while switching between windows, but that was occasional.
I played FIFA 18 everyday on this laptop, and never noticed it lagging until the it was connected to the charger. Thanks to the hybrid GPU, it switched to Intel’s resident GPU as soon as I removed the charger.
Things would have been better if Lenovo had incorporated SSD in place of the 2TB HDD. The file transfer speeds are surprisingly low even when paired with Samsung T5 SSD.
There’s also a fingerprint sensor that’s compatible with Windows Hello and is pretty accurate and snappy.
Although the audio is powered by Harman, I didn’t find the 2x 2 W speaker to be immersive enough to blow me away. I would have been happier if there wasn’t a Harman branding to give an impression of good audio as it has nothing more than a mediocre audio. The speakers are placed under the deck, which produce crisp but low-pitched audio. So you can’t watch a movie in a noisy surrounding without a headphone.
The 720p HD webcam present on the ZenBook is pretty decent if put in well-lit conditions. In low-light, the pictures are marred by grains which is a bit of a low-point.
If we ignore the price, the Ideapad 520 is an all-round performer but it doesn't stand out in any of the departments. The performance is pretty commendable but it's not something that other laptops in this price range don't offer.
I would have liked a better design, display and audio at least on this laptop. Everything looks in place, but just not up to the mark. Either Lenovo should have kept the price aggressive to make up for the shortcomings that it has.
The Lenovo Ideapad 520 has is good companion to carry to, without being felt like a completely business laptop. It is a versatile machine to depend for almost every task.
The price is just too much for what it offers overall. The display and audio performance makes it feel boring, which could have covered up to lack of style. Despite of having a decent performance, it feels just too dull in front of its competitors in this price range.
It's quite confusing to feel disappointed with a machine that does almost everything you ask for decently, yet fails to stand out. At Rs 85,999, the laptop feels just too costly to recommend anyone who wants a complete multimedia laptop that does perform well.
The battery life is average, display disappoints and the design looks too dated for a laptop that's competing in 2018. All of this combined leaves us underwhelmd by what it offers at this price.