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The Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 is one of the most powerful laptops to have arrived for testing, in the recent months. This is completely updated with the Ivy Bridge series processors. From what we have seen, this is worth considering if this falls within your budget.
Build & Design
Lenovo has taken the safe path with the IdeaPad Z580 as far as the looks are concerned. The colour scheme, the finish and the overall poise of the laptop has a lot of sophistication. Compare this to the colourful laptops or even the hardcore gaming ones, and you know that a lot of users will not be attracted by that, and equally, some demographic will crave for it. With the Z580, Lenovo ensures that anyone who checks this out at the store will not mark it down for looks.
The brushed metal finish on the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580’s lid is very much appreciated, because it doesn’t catch fingerprints, scratches and the usual scuffmarks that come with regular usage. Open it up, and the same finish carries on around the keyboard as well. There is something of a dual tone here though, with a lighter shade of grey running just above the keyboard. This is where the power key and the speakers sit. Five illuminated quick access keys above the speakers, but they hide away rather well when the laptop is not switched on.
Port placement is spread around both side spines, with the optical drive on the right. While the rest of the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580’s finish is very classy, we don’t understand why there is a cheap looking plastic glossy bezel around the display.
Overall, the look of the IdeaPad Z580 doesn’t have anything other than the conventional and the ordinary. This may be a very powerful laptop, but is going to equally appeal to a gamer as well as to someone who needs a very powerful desktop replacement.
Features & Specifications
The Z580 comes with a lot of power packed in – Intel Core i7-3632QM quad core processor clocking at 2.1GHz with Turbo Boost taking it to 3.2GHz. There is a whopping 8GB of RAM to help it along.
Graphics capabilities pack quite a punch, with the Nvidia GeForce GT630M (2GB) being used for gaming. The Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 will switch between this and the Intel HD 4000 graphics, depending on the power source and the mode you have selected.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Z580’s 15.6-inch display has a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels. There is no shortage of data space, with the 1TB hard drive. However, unlike the newer gen ultrabooks, this one doesn’t have the SSD option or a flash drive for caching and quick boot functions.
The optical drive is also Blu-ray capable, and that is a real value addition. For the movie buffs, hooking this up to a HDTV via HDMI will solve most confusion! If you happen to use this laptop itself, then the Dolby audio engine does a really good job. Unlike the more showoff-ish Beats Audio, or even Skull Candy that Dell now deploys, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580’s Dolby setup is precise and too the point. Audio at similar volume levels is clearer, and there is distinct better handling of the vocals.
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) comes preloaded on the machine, but there is significantly lesser preloaded trials and software on the machine. Cleaning this up doesn’t take too long! However, where Lenovo have dropped the ball is with their utilities and applications. Yes, there are some very interesting utilities like the Power Manager that even has the feature for cleaning fan dust! But there are just too many of them, and most of them are also starting up with the OS. HP seemed to have sorted that out by streamlining the features within one app. We tried disabling them like we always do, but that ended up badly with Windows needing repairs before it could boot again. We seriously recommend a clean install of the OS to enjoy the full punch the machine can offer.
There is just one word for the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580’s score in this section – blazing fast. The spec sheet had pretty much ensured that we knew it was going to be a quick machine, and it is. The PC Mark Vantage score of 8464 is surpassed only by the Core i7-3610QM on the Toshiba Satellite L850. The CPU (CineBench) score of 5.38 is much ahead of the bunch of Core i5 laptops that we tested recently, and quite significantly so.
Overall, the performance is excellent. After our benchmark tests, we used this laptop as our primary machine, and the experience was very smooth. Boot-up times improved considerably after we cleaned up the start menu, and deleted some of the preloaded trial software. Ideally, if you are facing any sluggishness, we would suggest re-installing from a clean image of Windows. We did that, and the real world usage performance improved massively.
For gaming, the Nvidia GeForce GT630M (2GB) graphics chip is providing some impressive results. The 3D Mark 06 score of 9335 is among the highest across all laptops, and the CineBench OpenGL score of 25.3 indicates very good gaming performance. Even when gaming, this one does equally well when compared to the AMD Radeon 7730M (2GB) that comes with the Inspiron 15R Special Edition, despite the GT630M scoring slightly lower in the Fps score tests. There is no visible performance difference between the two with almost all games we tried.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Z580’s display has some good points, and some bad points. The brightness levels are quite good, and text has a definite amount of crispness. Colour depth is adequate, but black levels are not up to the mark. This is very helpful when reading text or watching a movie. However, the reflective nature of the display isn’t helpful, and if you have 2 people watching something on this, the one slightly on the side will not have the best possible experience.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Z580’s keyboard is comfortable to type on, once you get used to the inward dip on every individual key. There is the dedicated number-pad as well, but the left alignment of the keypad with respect to the ideal center positioning is another thing you need to get used to. Once the “getting used to” part is done, using this keyboard is a fairly comfortable experience. It doesn’t have the chunky response feel of some other keyboards, but feels quite precise and assured when typing a document very quickly.
Expectedly, the battery life does dip quite a bit under the load of so much processing power. In our system stressing battery test, the Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 lasted 2 hours and 24 minutes. While this may not be much when compared to ultrabooks and lesser-powered laptops, but anyone buying this powerful a machine won’t ideally be buying it for enhanced battery life. For them, even this is a bonus, since this will last around 3 hours under a typical real world usage scenario.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Z580 doesn’t look any different from the rivals, and neither does it make great noise about what it can possibly offer. It delivers excellent performance, good gaming experience, and all this in a chassis that is put together well. The sophisticated and wide appealing looks mean no user demographic is turned off even before considering. The rival, the Dell Inspiron 15R Special Edition with similar specs is available for around Rs 10000 less, but that one has an AMD Radeon HD 7730M graphics (Nvidia fans, do take note!) and no Blu-ray drive.