Overview of the budget laptop Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL
As we said in a recent review of the Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL, Lenovo is releasing many solutions, including frankly budget ones under the IdeaPad brand. The Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL that came to our test is a bright representative of the budget segment: a plastic case, a weak configuration, and a TN screen. Let’s see how such a laptop performs in real life and its non-obvious advantages and disadvantages.
Configuration and equipment
If there is always room for at least one or two modifications to inexpensive laptops, God himself ordered budget solutions to have them. IdeaPad L340-15IWL laptop modifications may differ in processor, graphics card, storage, display, wireless network adapter, and operating system. Only the body does not change here. However, there is inevitably something in common: you can choose a processor from Celeron to Core i5, but all these are low-performance (and low-power) models; the only option for a discrete graphics card is the ultra-budget Nvidia GeForce MX110; the screen changes by no means for the better, it is always TN, only the resolution can be 1366×768 instead of 1920×1080. The price, however, is quite consistent with the set of components in the online store of Lenovo itself (at the time of preparation of the article). The cost of various modifications varied from 40 to a little to as much as 17 thousand rubles! True, we tested almost the older model in this set – 81LG00N0RU:
Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL (81LG00N0RU)
- CPUIntel Core i5-8265U (4 cores / 8 threads, 1.6 / 3.9 GHz, 15 W)
- can also be installed Celeron 4205U, Pentium 5405U, or Core i3-8145U
- RAM1×4 GB DDR4-2400 (soldered) + 1 SO-DIMM slot
- Video subsystemNvidia GeForce MX110 (2 GB DDR5)
- Intel UHD Graphics 620
- may not have a discrete card at all, and the processor may use the UHD Graphics 610 video core
- Screen15.6″ 1920×1080 TN semi-matte (BOEhydis NT156FHM-N61 (BOE0812)) 1366×768
- TN screen option available
- Sound subsystemRealtek codec, 2 speakers
- Storage device1 × 256 GB SSD (SK Hynix SC401 (HFS256G39TNH-73A0A), M.2, SATA600)
- 128 GB or 512 GB
- SSD can also install, 500 GB or 1 TB HDD can be install in addition to or instead of SSD
- optical drive
- card reader
- Network interfaces wired networkRealtek RTL8168/8111 (Gigabit Ethernet)
- Wireless networkIntel Wireless-AC 9462 (802.11ac, 1×1)
- Wi-Fi 802.11ac (2×2) can be installed
- Bluetooth Bluetooth 5.0
- Interfaces and portsUSB2 USB 3.0/3.1 Type-A + 1 USB 3.0/3.1 Type-C
- Video outputs1 HDMI
- Audio outputs1 combo for headset (minijack)
- Input DevicesKeyboardwith digital block
- IP telephonyWebcam640×480, with curtain
- Microphonethere is
- Battery36 Wh
- Dimensions36.5×25.5×2.5 cm
- Weight without power supply1.83 kg
- Power adapter65W (20V 3.25A), 212g, 2m cable
- Operating system Windows 10 Home
may ship without an OS at all
The laptop comes in a small cardboard box with carrying handles. The contents are securely packed, and only a very small power adapter (comparable in size to other smartphone chargers) and a power cord are included.
Appearance and ergonomics
The appearance of the Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL does not give rise to any dreamy associations. Yes, the case has beveled edges in modern fashion, but it does not give the impression of being particularly thin and elegant. Dimensions – approximately 36.5 × 25.5 × 2.5 cm (case thickness excluding legs – 23 mm), that is, fairly standard dimensions for a laptop with a 15.6″ screen, but far from advanced, especially the thickness. The weight of 1.83 kg can be described as the light for its class.
The case is entirely plastic, and the plastic of the central part is gray, completely without frills, and moderately rough. Layers of smooth plastic with a hidden pattern in a slightly lighter color are glued on top of the lid and the work surface. It looks nice, but fingerprints remain on the smooth plastic, which is rubbed off with incredible difficulty. It’s good that they are not visible from any angle. Of course, soft plastic is more slippery, but generally, there are no problems with holding the laptop in your hands.
When lifted, the lid moves back a little (increasing the overall depth of the laptop) but does not fall below the bottom plane. If desired, the top can tilt slightly less than 180°. In any position, the lid is fixed rigidly, it is inconvenient to change its status with one hand, and it is impossible to open it at all (although it picks up very well). There are no elements on the lid, except for a small plate with the manufacturer’s name, which is not too elegantly inserted. The large casing that hides the screen hinges is made of plastic; the only ventilation openings for removing hot air are brought into the slot formed by it on the back of the case.
There are no interface connectors on the rear panel, and nothing is installed on the front panel except for a card reader (our model does not have a card reader). But there are no interface connectors on the right side either! Yes, an optical drive can be installed there (it was not in our model either), but still, there is a lot of space on the right. A pair of USB connectors would not hurt. Unfortunately, the sidewalls have a specific shape with a strongly sloping bottom and the formation of a wedge tapering towards the front edge, and there is not enough room for relatively thick ports in the front of this wedge. As a result, everything important is on the left. It is not always convenient.
So, on the left is a power connector for a branded round plug, a power outlet, an HDMI video output, a pair of USB 3.0 / 3.1 Type-A, a minijack for connecting a headset, and one USB 3.0 / 3.1 Type-C, and a hidden Novo button. Starting the laptop with this button (you need to press it with a paperclip or something similar) allows you to enter BIOS Setup, select a boot device, or launch the operating system recovery tool – Microsoft Diagnostics and Recovery Toolset (DaRT). For the RJ-45 connector (yes, 8P8C), the thickness of the upper part of the sidewall is also not enough, so a spring-loaded pull-back cover partially covers it. It sounds scary, but the Ethernet cable is easily plugged into the connector without looking and is usually fixed in the connector for the duration of the operation. There are no problems here.
The LED at the power connector in orange indicates charging in progress—the color changes to white when the battery is filled up to 90%. The laptop additionally does not inform about the full charge of the battery. In front of the left sidewall is a laptop status indicator: it lights up milky white during normal operation, often blinks white when the battery is discharged (less than 20% charge), and rarely blinks white when the computer is put to sleep.
Stereo speakers are located on the beveled sides, at the front edge of the case. On the bottom, except for the legs, there is only a small segment with ventilation holes for sucking in cold air. The fan of the internal cooler is located almost exactly along the center line, so it is impossible to accidentally block it, for example, by placing the laptop on your lap.
The plastic frame around the screen is rather big. The thickness of the indentation is 8 mm on the left and right. 19 mm on the top and 22 mm on the hinged casing on the bottom. The camera’s picture quality is very poor (resolution of 0.3 megapixels is not the worst thing in it). Still, there is also an unexpected plus: a manually retractable shutter that physically covers the lens and thus guarantees protection from peeping at you via the Internet. Let’s save insulation!
We generally praise Lenovo for the keyboard layout: since the laptop still does not claim to be the pinnacle of style. They simply installed a standard keyboard on almost the entire case width – without backlighting and a strange character font, but with a numeric keypad with a normal size of the primary keys. The keys are standard, quiet membrane, and comfortable. The distance between the centers of the keys in one row is 19 mm, and between their edges – is 3 mm. The essential travel is 1.5 mm.
Unfortunately, there are also disadvantages. Firstly, it is inconvenient to use such “arrows,” and it is generally impossible to find them. Yes, this is a typical option, but the choice is unsuccessful. Secondly, the top row of keys is half height. Where to save space here – only developers can answer. And at the same time (also to save space, probably), the power button is included in the general block of keys and is not highlighted. This is guaranteed to lead to erroneous clicks and curses. The power button has a built-in LED that functions like the indicator on the left side of the case.
There are few keys for editing, only Insert and Delete. The rest are hung on the same “arrows” with Fn. Moreover, Fn is located on the left, so you can’t take such a chord with one hand. By default, the top row of keys is used to control the parameters of the laptop (changing the volume, screen brightness, disabling the touchpad, camera, wireless communication modules, etc.), and the F1-F12 buttons are pressed with Fn. Usually, they do the opposite, and you can change this setting only in BIOS Setup.
In the traditional place under the keyboard is a slightly recessed touchpad measuring 105×70 mm. In this case, it does not have dedicated keys, you can press almost the entire area of the touch panel, but this requires an uneven effort (it is easiest to do this in the lower part). Pressing conditionally in the lower right corner is perceived as pressing the right mouse button. Still, it is not always possible to get there the first time (as an alternative, you can use a two-finger press anywhere). Clickpads have fans, but the article’s authors are not among them. All these clicks without a fixed point of application or effort are annoying. You can often move the cursor with your finger to find the pressure area. Otherwise, there are no complaints about the touchpad, it is conveniently located, and if desired, it can be quickly turned off.
The bottom panel of the case is removed after unscrewing 13 screws – fortunately, with a regular Phillips screwdriver. Removing the panel reveals all essential components: cooler, non-removable battery, wireless module, single memory slot, M.2 drive, 2.5″ drive bay, and optical drive bay through an adapter). There was neither a disk nor a hard drive in our laptop modification, but other modifications are possible. There are three places for installing drives in a laptop, which is always useful.
The laptop comes with an almost clean Windows 10 Home edition. Preinstalled applications have only a trial version of McAfee antivirus. Lenovo Vantage’s proprietary utility does not do much of what we would like:
- It does not provide up-to-date information about the laptop hardware.
- It does not allow you to control the operation of the cooler.
- You cannot even switch the mode of the function keys (you will have to do this in BIOS Setup).
What you can do:
- Check for updates for proprietary utilities and drivers.
- Enable fast charging and battery-saving mode.
- Configure the microphone and webcam.
- Change the screen’s color temperature and turn on “eye protection mode.”
The drivers are copied to the disk in advance, but since there is only one drive in the laptop, they are copied to it, and if you decide to reinstall Windows with a disk format, you will lose them. And yet, it’s convenient.
TN-screen is, of course, a specific thing. The authors, who have long been surrounded by the best IPS and OLED screens (and manufacturers always strive to offer better models for tests), have allowed themselves to forget such solutions. How bad is it? Well, we will not even raise the issues of color gamut and color accuracy – it is clear that laptops like the Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL are not purchased for professional work. But the TN screen is also inconvenient in everyday life: if you lean back a little differently in your chair, the edges fade or invert; you come up to look at the screen from the side – you don’t see the usual clear picture, you have to bend your head or turn the laptop towards you. What kind of work is there under the bright sun – here in the room, it would be nice to get a beautiful, readable image! Of course, you can work behind such a screen, although using an interface with a white background is highly desirable because black fades just unmercifully. But this is objectively the weakest point of the laptop. Well, hardware tests – no one canceled them.
The Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL laptop uses a 15.6″ BOE NT156FHM-N61 (BOE0812) TN panel with a resolution of 1920×1080.
The outer surface of the matrix is black, hard, and semi-matt (mirroring is weakly expressed). There is no special anti-reflective coating or filter and no air gap. When powered from the mains or the battery and with manual brightness control (there is no automatic adjustment to the light sensor), its maximum value was only 224 cd / m² (in the center of the screen on a white background). The maximum brightness is low. It will help if you are looking for a dense shadow to work on a clear day outside.
To evaluate the readability of the screen outdoors, we use the following criteria obtained from testing screens in real conditions:
Maximum brightness, cd/m²TermsReadability score
Matte, semi-matte, and glossy screens without anti-reflective coating
150 Direct sunlight (more than 20,000 lux) unreadable
Light shadow (approximately 10,000 lux) barely readable
Light shade and light clouds (no more than 7500 lux) work is uncomfortable
300 Direct sunlight (more than 20,000 lux) barely readable
Light shadow (approximately 10,000 lux) work is uncomfortable
Light shade and light clouds (no more than 7500 lux) work comfortably
450 Direct sunlight (more than 20,000 lux) work is uncomfortable
Light shadow (approximately 10,000 lux) work comfortably
Light shade and light clouds (no more than 7500 lux) work comfortably
These criteria are very conditional and may be revised as data accumulate. Note that there may be some improvement in readability if the matrix has some transflective properties (part of the light is reflected from the substrate, and the image can be seen in the light even with the backlight turned off). Also, glossy matrices, even in direct sunlight, can sometimes be rotated to reflect something quite dark and uniform (on a clear day, for example, the sky), improving readability. In contrast, matte matrices need to be blocked from Sveta. In rooms with bright artificial light (about 500 lux), you can work more or less comfortably even with a maximum screen brightness of 50 cd / m² and below. In these conditions, maximum brightness is not a significant value.
Let’s return to the screen of the tested laptop. If the brightness setting is 0%, then the brightness is reduced to 2.3 cd/m². Thus, in complete darkness.
There is no significant backlight modulation at any brightness level, so there is no screen flicker. As proof, here are graphs of the dependence of brightness (vertical axis) on time (horizontal axis) at various values of the brightness setting:
The laptop’s audio system is based on the Realtek codec. The sound output is carried out through two speakers on the bottom angle in the front of the case. According to subjective feelings, the speakers are relatively quiet. The laptop sounds only like a personal workplace. You can’t organize a disco with it. Tests confirm that the maximum volume of the built-in speakers was measured while playing an audio file with pink noise, and the full volume was 68.4 dBA. This is 4 dBA below the average for laptops tested as of this writing. At low volumes, it is easy to ensure that the speakers do not wheeze even at maximum, and the sound quality is good for its form factor, without obvious flaws. Support for Dolby Audio technology is declared to play sound in the Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL.
We also tested the headphone output quality using the Creative E-MU 0202 sound card. The quality turned out to be very good.
The laptop uses a 4-core (8-thread) Intel Core i5-8265U processor with a maximum frequency of 3.9 GHz. This is an entry-level (though certainly not the lowest) solution. The stock TDP of the processor is only 15 W. It will not allow the cores to work at high frequencies for a long time. However, Lenovo, in this case, took the opportunity to reconfigure the processor: its TDP is reduced to the lowest possible value – 10 watts. It is these figures that we saw in the tests under load. In this way, the (already low) performance of the processor is limited.
We also note that the laptop has only 4 GB of memory in the base. Moreover, the memory also works in single-channel mode. That is, there will be some additional losses (not that big, but performance is not too much here anyway). Some tests of our methodology crashed, and we attribute this result precisely to insufficient memory – in any case, careful low-level testing did not reveal any problems in the operation of the actual RAM. The LAMMPS test (from the methodology) took almost an order of magnitude longer than the reference system, and the reason is the same.
Testing in games
The laptop has two video cards; that is, the integrated graphics core of the processor is complemented by a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX110. However, do not rush to rejoice: this is an entirely entry-level solution – the good old GeForce 920MX, still of the Maxwell architecture. It would seem that installing such a card is just throwing dust in the eyes of the buyer. Yes. But not really. It’s hard to believe that Lenovo’s marketing department didn’t realize how much easier it is to lure the less-informed person into buying the company’s laptop when competitors only offer integrated graphics for the same price. The IdeaPad L340-15IWL comes with Nvidia’s discrete graphics accelerator.
It is unlikely that anyone will call the Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IWL the laptop of their dreams. But this is the kind of laptop chosen in real life by people who need an inexpensive computer with an emphasis on portability. Not in the sense of battery life records, but in the importance of the ability to move the device to another room or even turn it off and put it in a drawer, freeing the table. Of course, all these laptops are the fruit of a compromise, sometimes even unreasonable. Unfortunately, when money is not enough, you have to make compromises.
But there is good news: the budget laptop is not only in terms of features but also in price. If, in the case of the tested configuration of the IdeaPad 530S-15IKB, we talked about the cost of 60 thousand rubles. Then, in this case (and we tested far from the junior modification of the IdeaPad L340-15IWL). We are talking about the amount of up to 40 thousand.