“The IdeaPad S540 is a quintessential mid-range laptop that stands out with features such as privacy shutter”
It’s hard to tell one mid-range laptop from the other since most, if not all of the models, boast similar hardware and sport near-indistinguishable designs too. Lenovo however, is hoping that its IdeaPad series will stand out from the crowd, as the range takes inspiration from its pricier brethren in the Yoga lineup. The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 is a fine example of the same. But has the brand been successful in achieving that? Well, that’s what I’m here to find out. Stay with me.
Design and display
The first thing that grabs your attention about Lenovo’s IdeaPad S540 is how minimal and classy it looks. Constructed out of aluminium and clad in a grey hue, the laptop has a subliminal-yet-attractive look. It’s also quite sleek at 16.95mm, though with a 15-inch display, it isn’t the lightest device in its class.
While Lenovo claims that the IdeaPad S540 has “Near borderless bezel”, I wouldn’t consider it to be a bezel-less display. You see, it does have slim bezels on the left and right, but there are noticeable bezels up top that house the web cameras, with the ones at the bottom are really chunky and makes you think if only the company would have been able to minimise them. Worth noting however, that the webcam can be disabled by using the privacy shutter, which is such a neat idea and much needed in today’s day and age.
With that said, the 15.6-inch display on the IdeaPad S540 is a delight, all thanks to full HD resolution. The IPS panel ships with a matte coating on top, and has excellent viewing angles too as it can pivot 180-degrees on the hinge mechanism. However, with a peak brightness of just 300 nits, you might struggle to use the display in bright environments.
Coming back to the design of the S540, the laptop’s minimalistic aesthetics continue in the keyboard area too, though there sure seems to be a lot of unused space. Above the keyboard, the only functional element is a power switch, while below it is a trackpad with the fingerprint sensor placed towards the right. Granted, the layout looks quite tidy, however, the laptop would’ve benefitted with top-firing speakers. That being said, the bundled bottom-firing speakers on the machine do a decent job too as the pair gets adequately loud and surprisingly, pack a wallop in the low-end too.
Due to its sheer size, the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 doesn’t compromise on I/O. On the left spine, you’ll find the proprietary charging socket (would’ve preferred a Type-C charging port, considering our review unit isn’t backed by a power-hungry GPU), an HDMI port and a USB Type-C interface. You’ll also get two USB ports, a full-sized SD card slot – which is a rarity these days, along with a fingerprint sensor with the device which, during my testing, worked flawlessly and allowed me to jump into my workflow in a jiffy.
Keyboard and trackpad
The large 15.6-inch display on the Lenovo IdeaPad S540 grants it a full-sized keyboard, including a dedicated Numpad. The chiclet-style keys offer satisfactory travel and there’s a decent amount of space between the individual buttons too, ensuring a good typing experience. I got acquainted with the keyboard fairly quickly, however, it does involve a learning curve as I had to shift my hands towards the left owing to the presence of the full-sized Numpad.
That apart, the layout is quite spacious and I typed my heart out on the S540 during my stint with the machine. In a similar fashion, the unit’s trackpad is fantastic too, as it comes with support for Windows precision drivers and is large enough to give my fingers room to comfortably use gestures too.
Hardware and software
The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 is a mid-range offering and if you needed any proof of that, then simply take a peek under its hood. Powering the show on the notebook is Intel’s Core i5 8th-gen processor. The quad-core i5-8265U chipset is clocked at 1.8GHz and works alongside 8gigs of RAM to deliver smooth usage. During my time with the machine, I rarely ever yearned for more horsepower as apps opened quickly and multitasking was rapid too. To give you a better picture, I did run a slurry of synthetic benchmarks on the laptop and going by the scores, you’d be wise to assume that the IdeaPad S540 is no slouch when it comes to performance.
Sadly, the same can’t be said about the machine’s gaming prowess. While the laptop does come with a dedicated graphics card in the form of the NVIDIA MX250, it’s not geared towards AAA gaming and therefore, you will have to tone down the graphics settings on demanding games like Witcher 3 quite a bit. That said, if you’re more of a casual gamer, then titles like Counter-Strike: Global Offensive worked just fine on the laptop and offered over 100fps with the visual settings maxed out.
Lenovo claims that the IdeaPad S540 offers buyers up to nine hours of battery life, however, I managed to drain the machine completely in a little over four hours on moderate use. Therefore, I’d advise you to carry the bundled power brick if you plan on staying mobile for a while. I did run BatteryEaterPro on the machine, which drained the laptop in 100 minutes, which isn’t terrible, but it’s not great either.
The Lenovo IdeaPad S540 starts at Rs 60K for the Core i5 variant with a hybrid storage solution. For the price, the laptop offers a large display, powerful hardware with a dedicated graphics card and respectable battery life.
With that said, you could get your hands on a significantly more powerful machine from brands like ASUS, as the company recently slashed prices on its latest gaming machines. However, if you’re looking for a discreet and professional-looking notebook that won’t get bogged down by ginormous XLS documents, then the S540 won’t disappoint you.
Editor’s rating: 4 / 5
- Elegant looks
- Capable hardware
- Fingerprint sensor for seamless authentication
- Privacy Shutter for webcam
- The display doesn’t get too bright
- Can get more powerful machines for the price