Saturday, November 12, 2011

lenovo ideapad z470 review - part 1

Hi. This is going to be a rather quick informal review of my new Lenovo z470 laptop. I'll divide it into at least 2 parts since it might be a long document. Again, this is informal so dont expect too detailed discussions as I will tend to concentrate on points that I deem important.

Part 1.a : Introduction and Outside appearance

Ok I bought this in the lenovo store in SM city, san Fernando Pampanga. I have a 7 year old IBM laptop and the backlight is starting to fail. I already had it fixed once but it cuts out from time to time so I guess its time to replace it. Cash, it cost me Php 32,500 pesos.

Freebies are a keyboard protector, a shoulder bag, windows home premium, Open office 3, 4 gig ram and a package. The package either consists of a rather low quality wired mouse and headset (intex brand) or a 4 gig flash drive/sd card. Various brands of flash drives are available but the SD card (micro sd plus adaptor) is transcend brand. Unfortunately its only SDHC class 2. But I aded 200 pesos to upgrade the 4 gig sd card into an 8 gig one. You can also pay more to get other versions of win7 OS.

Specs are quite OK.
  • Intel core i3 2330M @ 2.2 ghz
  • 4 gigs PC3-10700 DDR3 ram. Curiously, the first stick is Transcend brand and the second is Nanya brand. Oh well, as long as it works and it does run in dual channel mode
  • 2 gig geforce 540m + built in Intel graphics, switchable, using optimus technology.
  • 750 gig western digital SATA hard drive
  • dual layer DVD reader/writer
  • 14 inch screen 1366 x 768. Actual size 31 cm width, 27.7cm height, 35.7cm diagonal
  • multitouch (I think) touch pad
  • 4-in-one card reader
  • bluetooth
  • wifi-N
You can get the official PDF flyer here.

My personal requirements for a laptop were not high. Pretty much for surfing and office work and maybe for downloading overnight. Any decent CPU and GPU would do. However I insisted on a large HD, a large screen and 4 gigs ram for snappy performance. But since on this laptopo, the CPU is pretty OK and it has CUDA as well as Intel Quick Sync, I might use it for video transcoding. For games, I have an old desktop with a core 2 duo and a geforce 560ti.

I chose lenovo because it has a good reputation and I used to have an IBM. Plus, they opened a store in my local SM which gave good prices and freebees.

As for initial impressions, I'm pleased. The back of the lid is glossy but that makes it into a fingerprint magnet. Screen is clear and nice. No dead pixels.

IMG_0082

IMG_0086



IMG_0106

Keyboard has some space in between the keys. Typing is more better comfortable than some netbooks I tried since the keys have some space. Being Lenovo I would expect no less since they have a rep for good laptop keyboards. Sorry but I cant be more specific than that. It just feels OK typing and thats. My previous laptop was an old IBM thinkpad R51E.

Caps lock tends to get hit accidentally because of the tight spacing between it and the A key but I just set windows to beep whenever I press it. The home and pgup keys are close to the backspace and enter keys respectively so they sometimes get hit.

UPDATE: Another problem is that the DEL key is very small plus the DEL and BACKSPACE and HOME keys are very very close to one another. The problem with this is you might hit the HOME key by mistake and if you did not notice, you would start typing with the cursor moved to the start of the line.

IMG_0108

I never liked touchpads and this touchpad is no different. The pencil eraser like TrackPoint on my old IBM is much better. But I have to make do. I eventually turned off the function that interprets a tap on the touchpad as a left mouse click to reduce errors.  I havent fully explored the multitouch but so far, 2 fingertips going closer or farther from each other seems to just increase or decrease font size in firefox. I just re-use my old beat up logitech mouse. Its much more responsive than the trackpad.

The increase from 2 to 4 USB ports is welcome. Although they are only usb 2.0, thats an acceptable trade off for the price. The right rear usb port does sometimes interfere with the power cord.

IMG_0111

And while on the subject of the power cord, I have found out that the position of the power outlet plus the L-shape of the power  cord's end makes the cord more prone to fouling when picking up the laptop and repositioning it. My old laptop had a straight plug and the power port was on the back, out of the way.

Haven't tested the optical drive yet for burning but the ergonomics of the eject button is bad. Its hidden from view if you are above the laptop and it barely sticks out so it is difficult to feel with your fingers. To top it off, its a bit difficult to push. I can imagine sticking a piece of rubber on the button in the future.

IMG_0115

The exhaust is on the left side. A quick test shows that the exhaust can get a bit uncomfortable specially if the laptop is working. Heat will eventually conduct through the plastic bottom and sometimes it might be too hot for your lap. However as long as you keep the intake ports clear and you do not load the laptop like running a CPU or GPU intensive app, the temp at the bottom of the laptop is acceptable.

Using the software PCwizard and Coretemp, and GPU-z, I measured the temps. Energy management mode was set to "balanced" and thermal management was set to "efficient thermal dissipation". All temps in degrees C. The laptop is placed on my table to ensure more or less OK airflow under the laptop
  • Room temp = 28
  • idle = CPU 51, GPU 43
  • Load using MSI Kombustor GPU burn in = CPU 73, GPU 77
  • Transcoding a DVD (files on the HD) to ipod, using Badaboom TRIAL v2.0.0.128 = CPU = 71, GPU = 67 (only around 60-70% load)

The bezel surrounding the screen sticks out a fraction of a millimeter on the right side of the screen so you can use your fingernail to raise it a bit. But this is only a small problem. This is the only thing I can see that reflects bad build quality, aside from the fingerprint magnet. No obvious scratches or poor workmanship. Then again, I'm no expert with regards to build quality, so don't take my word for it.

Part 1.b. Accompanying software, drivers and related features

Lenovo has several drivers and software that make things easier. I'll go through some of them

Battery life is claimed to be 2-3 hours but I havent tried it yet. An interesting note is that the battery software can be told to optimize the charging profile for either battery life or battery health. If you choose battery life, then the battery will charge up to ~100%. If you choose health, the batt will only charge up to ~50%. This will decrease battery life to 1 hour using balanced or 1.5 hours using the power saver setting but since the battery is not stressed out, it will last longer before needing replacement. This setting is recommended if you mostly use the laptop while plugged in.

I did use the built in software to recalibrate the battery lifespan value, but I did not do any battery life benchmarks, so the above values are approximate.

On the left right front is a selector switch. Basically wifi on or off, although I'm not sure if bluetooth is included. On the right left front is the Optimus on/off switch.


Optimus technology essentially means that the laptop has a power thrifty Intel video card and another discrete Nvidia video card. If optimus is off, only the intel video card is active. If optimus is on, the laptop by default uses the intel vid card but switches to the nvidia when CUDA is needed or you run gpu accelerated stuff like games. I'll try this out in part 2 with benchmarks.

Microsoft security essentials antivirus is included.

CPU temp at idle is a little high at ~ 65 deg C at idle while GPU temp is ok at 55 deg C. At load using MSI Kombustor 2.0.0, I get CPU and GPU temps of 70+ deg C.

Lenovo has something called onekey theatre. A button on the upper right controls it. Basically the settings are always off, always on and automatic or intelligent. Intelligent means the software decides when to turn it on or off. While off, the colors look a bit muted and light. while on the color and detail pops out.

I'm not gonna review the speakers. They are loud enough and quality is OK. I'm not that picky.

So to end part 1, I can say that the quality and value for money is quite good. I say 4/5 stars. But again, this is not a formal review and my requirements are not that high.

A future blog post will be part 2 of this review, benchmarks. So stay tuned!

update: Part 2 is online!

The end.

    17 comments:

    Brahmana said...

    Hi,

    Congratulations on your new laptop and thank you for the review. I have a few follow up questions (These will probably be covered in your part-2 but I will ask anyways):

    1) How is the battery back up? Specifically in the following situations :
    - Duration when you just start it and do not run any application apart from what the OS starts by default at start-up (keeping the wi-fi on)
    - Duration when you run with one instance of Firefox and probably an instance of chrome each being used for regular browsing through out. (You can throw in audio playback also)

    2) Temperatures - the cores, the GPU and the system in general, in these cases
    - Temperature at boot up after having stayed switched for a long time (like over night).
    - Temperature after just browsing (non-flash sites) and some MS-Office usage after an hour
    - Temperature when using Flash in your browser - video playback, video chat or anything that uses Flash.
    - Temperature when transcoding a video, may be, using VLC.

    3) Build quality - What do you make of the build quality. The same specs cost almost double if brought as Thinkpad. Z series are the most discounted laptops and I am guessing it is the build quality that is making the difference. So how good/bad is the build quality. It is probably very early for you, but an initial review is also helpful.

    You will probably run very elaborate technical benchmarks with Right mark and stuff like that, but the kind of measurements that I specified above will tell how the laptop will perform under real world loads/tasks. Hope will you be able to give me some answers.

    Thanks in advance. :)

    Regards

    Vince said...

    Brahmana, I'm updating the blog to answer some of your questions.

    Thea said...

    Hi, pansin mo ba kung madilim yung webcam ng unit mo? Thanks.

    Vince said...

    @Thea

    Its a little dark but when I turn on more light and shine it on my face, it becomes acceptable. You can adjust the brightness of the camera

    bonoixb05 said...

    I also bought the the Z470, and may I ask how can I adjust the brightness of the camera? Thank you.

    Vince said...

    the cam brightness can be controlled via options in programs that use the camera. Like for example skype or in the lenovo easy capture program

    xianne said...

    Hi,

    I'd like to ask, minsan ba parang medyo nanginginig ung screen display?

    I bought mine last friday, i'm not sure baka due to OS lang kaya ganun.. btw, my OS is windows 7 home premium..

    Hope to hear your response regarding this.

    Many thanks! :)

    Vince said...

    @xianne


    no I have never seen any problem like that. try updating your nvidia/intel vid card drivers

    Anonymous said...

    Hi I just bought this laptop but the webcam is so dark. I tried fixing brightness and stuff it still is quite dark for me. Is there any software that can fix this? Thanks

    Anonymous said...

    hello. I installed CoreTemp in my z470. its temp ranges from 56,57 - 62,63. is this normal?

    I noticed that there is static electricity on the chassis. specifically, on the top part.

    Vince said...

    "1) How is the battery back up? Specifically in the following situations :"

    sorry but i did not do such detailed battery life measurements



    "2) Temperatures - the cores, the GPU and the system in general, in these cases
    "
    I already posted idle and load temps

    "3) Build quality - What do you make of the build quality. The same specs cost almost double if brought as Thinkpad. Z series are the most discounted laptops and I am guessing it is the build quality that is making the difference. So how good/bad is the build quality. It is probably very early for you, but an initial review is also helpful."

    I'm not too picky on the build quality so I don't think I am qualified to comment much on this. I'm a macgyver fanatic and totally clueless about fashion so if it works, its fine with me. But as far as I can tell, build quality is OK. The home and end keys get hit often but that's the price you pay for a compact keyboard

    Vince said...

    "Anonymous Anonymous said...

    hello. I installed CoreTemp in my z470. its temp ranges from 56,57 - 62,63. is this normal?

    I noticed that there is static electricity on the chassis. specifically, on the top part."

    I posted the idle and load temps in this article. I have not noted any static electricity

    Jose Gil said...

    I am here in Thailand and I plan to buy this laptop. Price is around 29K pesos on Shops here. Hopefully I can get the blue one. thanks for this review. I am now reading the part 2 of this blog post

    Anonymous said...

    Downside ng unit na yan Wifi nagreformat ako ng unit na yan di na mabalik ung Wifi eh. Even sa US yan ang problem nila khit nainstall mo ung power management ek ek wala rin use. di ko nga alam pano ko ibabalik wifi ng unit ko .. hays.. any suggestions? please email me: attari.nintendo@yahoo.com very much appreciated sa mga reply nio. salamat ng mrami po.

    Free Antivirus Download said...

    lenovo laptops are not more powerful and they have many complaints. free antivirus download

    Anonymous said...

    Hello there.I also have the same unit, Lenovo Z470. I bought it last 2012 at SM MEgamall (PC live). I got disappointed. After a year (2013), it suddenly stopped working. I didn't know the exact reason. What I did was to go to an AUthorized service center. To be exact, I sent it to Lenovo concept store at MEgamall. Another disappointment. I waited for several months. However, they didn't fix it. I just decided to pull my unit out. Habang tumatagal, dumadami ang sira sa knila. From that time, I swear not to buy from PC Live and Accent Micro (sister companies). Their service isn't good. Sa ngaun, naghahanap pa ako ng matinong magaayos at titingin sa unit ko.

    Anonymous said...

    using this laptop (Z470 without nvdia, just intel HD3000) and installed Mac OSX 10.7.2 - only few things not working, battery indicator and card reader. fast and stable for 10.7. may have occasional screen artifacts but none-the-less it serves me well on my work. :D

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