Review Lenovo IdeaPad S405 Notebook

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Martina Osztovits), 12/31/2012

Couch potato. Lenovo's IdeaPad S405 comes with a Trinity quad-core and a light case and is very quiet. But, how do its dark glare-type display and its 32 Wh battery blend in with mobile ambitions?

Lenovo IdeaPad S405: Does it deliver more mobility thanks to AMD Trinity?
Lenovo IdeaPad S405: Does it deliver more mobility thanks to AMD Trinity?

For the original German review, see here.

Whoever is looking for a mobile laptop, can choose between plenty of models. If you do not prefer a special manufacturer or look for specific components (CPU/GPU/SSD/FHD-TFT ...) the price is the only purchase criterion. In filtering for a price of less than 550 Euros (~$719), the flood of offers shrinks to a manageable number.

In the 13- and 14-inch range, AMD A4-4AMD A8-4 (Trinity, successor of Llano) or AMD E- and E2- (Bobcat) models are left over with this price filter, whereas the cheapest Intel models are equipped with Celeron or Pentium B CPUs. However, more advanced models based on Intel platforms use Core i3 or i5 (Sandy Bridge / Ivy Bridge) processors.

The reviewed AMD configuration from Lenovo attracts attention with its A8-4555M quad-core APU. 4 x 1.60 GHz are remarkable in this price range. Does the competition have to hide?

Samsung 535U3C (A4-4455M, HD 7500G, 500 Euros/~$654)

Lenovo IdeaPad S400 (i5-3317U, 480 Euros/~$628)

Acer Aspire V5-431 (Celeron 887, 400 Euros/~$523)

Lenovo IdeaPad U310 (i5-3317U, 500 Euros/~$654)

Acer Aspire V5-471 (i3-3217U, 500 Euros/~$654)

Case

Springy case
Springy case
Looks like a book
Looks like a book
Plastic (base plate)
Plastic (base plate)

The silver case is the same as the IdeaPad S400's and has the same weaknesses. The specified height of 22 mm does not take the big feet at the rear into account. With them, we measure 26 mm at the rear. Never mind! Everybody else does it too.

However, we really dislike the weak build quality of the base unit. It noticeably twists and significantly yields under medium pressure applied to the touchpad. The hinges have a soft stop and appear to be attached to the base unit via a diminutive connector. It is possible to noticeably dent the lower part of the lid. Furthermore, the lid can be twisted to some extent with both hands.

In general the surfaces are precisely manufactured, but scratches and abrasions will quickly collect on the coated plastic. This is true for the lid as well as the base plate. The palm rests are made from solid-colored, black plastic and is therefore less vulnerable.

The S405 does not have any maintenance hatches. As with the S400, it is possible to loosen all screws (beneath the feet!) and remove the base plate from the case. Subsequently, hard drive, RAM (1 slot), PCI Express Mini Card (WLAN/Bluetooth) and fan (cleaning) are accessible. 

Connectivity

The connectivity is still limited. VGA is missing. Only HDMI can be used to connect an external TFT. The Ethernet port is designed in a way that holds the RJ-45 connector very well.

Front side: no ports
Front side: no ports
Left side: Recovery button, RJ-45 (10/100 MBit), HDMI, USB 3.0
Left side: Recovery button, RJ-45 (10/100 MBit), HDMI, USB 3.0
Rear side: no ports
Rear side:  no ports
Right side: card readers, mic-headphone combi, 2 x USB 2.0, power connector
Right side: card readers, mic-headphone combi, 2 x USB 2.0, power connector

 

Communication

The AMD platform brings about new network components, but the range of functions stayed the same. The WLAN adapter (Atheros AR9485WB-EG) supports draft-n (b/g/n), but the wired network is only Fast Ethernet and not Gigabit LAN. The WLAN module has Bluetooth 4.0 + HS in the form of Atheros AR3012 built-in. 

The reception is excellent in three meters distance and upstairs (10 m). Outside the house, it quickly falls to three bars (15m) and one bar (40 m). These values are decent. The transmit power of the routers (Fritz!Box 7270) is reduced to 50 percent.

The webcam has a resolution of 1280x720 pixels. Images recorded with the preinstalled Lenovo You Cam are noisy. The image quality does not significantly improve in daylight.

Accessories

Our test sample comes with preinstalled Windows 8 64-bit. Recovery DVDs do not belong to the scope of delivery and should be created by means of OneKey Recovery and an external burner. The OneKey key (left side) launches the backup tool. The recovery mode of the hidden HDD partition is invoked by pressing this button when the notebook is turned off.

Warranty

The S405 comes with a 24-month bring-in warranty. In case of a defect, the customer has to send the notebook in. In addition, Lenovo offers a number of warranty extensions: on-site service and an extension of up to three years. The prices are manageable and easy to find out on the service page of the manufacturer.

Extended 24-month warranty
Extended 24 month warranty
OneKey Recovery Tool
OneKey Recovery Tool
Web cam: 1280 x 720
Web cam: 1280 x 720
Web cam: noise
Web cam: noise
Touchpad 2.0: freeze function
Touchpad 2.0: freeze function

Input Devices

Keyboard

The keyboard allows quick typing, but lacks a solid, definite feedback and a crisp pressure point. The key travel is medium, typing feels soft to springy. As with the S400, the keyboard base notably yields, especially in the center of the keyboard. Important keys like shift (right and left) and enter were shrunk. The cursor keys are standard size and the touch type markings can be felt clearly.

Touchpad

The big touchpad (diagonal: 12.6 cm/4.96 inches) could belong to a 17-incher. The friction of the surface is adequate and wet fingers do not cause a problem. The Synaptics ClickPad quickly interprets multi-touch gestures. A central click is interpreted as a left click. Unfortunately, the travel is short and even gets smaller to the top. As the ClickPad does not move much, working with the touchpad is difficult and troublesome. The pressure point can be felt clearly and is very audible.

Springy keyboard
Springy keyboard
ClickPad: without dedicated buttons (ClickPad)
ClickPad: without dedicated buttons (ClickPad)

Display

Lenovo still use the TN LED panel N140BGE LB2 from CMN (Chimei-Innolux, CMO). The 14-inch display delivers a resolution of 1366x768 pixels, a sufficient contrast (319:1), but only a moderate brightness. In addition, the brightness is unevenly distributed (67 percent). The darker right bottom segment can be clearly seen when the background is white. Most run-of-the-mill displays of our test sample achieve a more uniform distribution of brightness of above 80 precent. 

Alternatives with better brightness and anti-reflection coating are available: Samsung's Series 5 535U3C is significantly brighter (293 cd/m²) and matte. However, the Aspire V5-431, the IdeaPad U310 and the S400 have a reflective display.

181
cd/m²
175
cd/m²
157
cd/m²
194
cd/m²
172
cd/m²
150
cd/m²
191
cd/m²
161
cd/m²
130
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 194 cd/m²
Average: 167.9 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 67 %
Center on Battery: 172 cd/m²
Black: 0.54 cd/m²
Contrast: 319:1

For the sake of completeness we also check the color space. It is very small; sRGB coverage is about 60 percent. Asus' Taichi 21 proves that it is possible to perform better here.

ICC IdeaPad S405 vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
ICC IdeaPad S405 vs. AdobeRGB (grid)
ICC IdeaPad S405 vs. sRGB (grid)
ICC IdeaPad S405 vs. sRGB (grid)
ICC IdeaPad S405 vs. Asus Taichi 21 FHD (grid)
ICC IdeaPad S405 vs. Asus Taichi 21 FHD (grid)

The brightness of the CMN panel of 168 cd/m² is adequate for indoor use or in the dark. However, it is not sufficient for mitigating reflections in the sun. To the advantage of the S405, the pictures were taken on a day with low cloud cover. Apart from an anti-reflection coating a brightness above 250 cd/m² is required for pleasant outdoor work.

outdoor: direct sun from the side
outdoor: direct sun from the side
outdoor: sun, from the front
outdoor: sun, from the front
outdoor: indirect sun, reflections
outdoor: indirect sun, reflections

Even at the lightest vertical deviation, (from 15 degrees) ghosting (color shifts) lets images look ugly. This makes watching videos or pictures difficult for multiple persons. It is recommended to sit directly in front of the panel or move only up to 40 degrees in the horizontal direction. All things considered, these are bad conditions for a laptop panel, but unfortunately this is true for 80 percent of our test samples. The low-cost competitors mentioned in this review are similarly weak in terms of viewing angles.

Viewing angles: Lenovo IdeaPad S405
Viewing angles: Lenovo IdeaPad S405

Performance

While we already tested the IdeaPad S400 (same case) with the i5-3317U at the beginning of October, its AMD counterpart S405 with an A8-4555M (Trinity, 1.6 to 2.4 GHz with Turbo) was launched at the end of November in Germany. The Core i5 model of the S400 costs only 60 Euros (~$78) more than our test sample. The S405 alternative is only 30 Euros (~$39) cheaper and comes with a dual-core A4-4355M (HD 7400G). The remaining configuration including a conventional hard drive (500 GB, 5400 RPM) is almost identical in (nearly) all S400/S405 models.

Together with the Radeon 7600G the performance should suffice office and Internet tasks. However, it could get critically low in 3D games (see gaming performance).

Systeminfo CPUZ CPU
Systeminfo CPUZ Cache
Systeminfo CPUZ Mainboard
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM
Systeminfo CPUZ RAM SPD
Systeminfo GPUZ Radeon HD 7600G
DPC Latenzen: Idle OK
DPC Latenzen: Idle WLAN Off/On OK
 
System information Lenovo IdeaPad S405

Processor

Office stress: The quad-core handles four simultaneous Origin installations without problems
Office stress: The quad-core handles four simultaneous Origin installations without problems

How does the low voltage quad-core CPU perform compared to competition from Intel? In the multi-threading test it is only slightly faster than the Celeron/Pentium-range (Aspire V5-431) (very similar performance). A ULV Core i3 (Medion S4216) is already 42 percent faster. In case CPU performance is important, you should consider buying an IdeaPad S400 (i5).

We won't recommend the Trinity dual-core alternative (Samsung 535U3C) as it is 31 percent slower. However, this is not true for the HD 7500G in the Samsung, which is even 71 percent faster thanks to dual channel DDR3 (OpenGL test). Because of the single channel mode of the S405 it loses all advantages compared to the HD 4000 (U310, S400) in the OpenGL test.

We could not even record the 2.4 GHz Turbo clock rate in the single-core test (constant 1.8 GHz). Battery powered, the results of the Cinebench R11.5 test match the ones in mains operation.

Cinebench R11.5
OpenGL 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad S405
11.99 fps ∼11%
Samsung 535U3C
20.5 fps ∼19% +71%
Acer Aspire V5-431-887B4G50Mauu
6.68 fps ∼6% -44%
Medion Akoya S4216 MD 99080
9.98 fps ∼9% -17%
Lenovo IdeaPad U310
10.22 fps ∼9% -15%
Lenovo IdeaPad S400-MAY8LGE
10.84 fps ∼10% -10%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad S405
1.24 Points ∼7%
Samsung 535U3C
0.85 Points ∼5% -31%
Acer Aspire V5-431-887B4G50Mauu
1.14 Points ∼6% -8%
Medion Akoya S4216 MD 99080
1.76 Points ∼10% +42%
Lenovo IdeaPad U310
1.87 Points ∼11% +51%
Lenovo IdeaPad S400-MAY8LGE
2.38 Points ∼14% +92%
Legend
      Lenovo IdeaPad S405 AMD A8-4555M, AMD Radeon HD 7600G, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
      Samsung 535U3C AMD A6-4455M, AMD Radeon HD 7500G, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
      Acer Aspire V5-431-887B4G50Mauu Intel Celeron 887, Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge), Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
      Medion Akoya S4216 MD 99080 Intel Core i3-3217U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024
      Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Intel Core i5-3317U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
      Lenovo IdeaPad S400-MAY8LGE Intel Core i5-3317U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
1583
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
3681
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
3471
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
1894 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
5021 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
3754 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.57 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
1.24 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
11.99 fps
Help

System Performance

PCMark 7 sub scores
PCMark 7 sub scores

Does the processor's weak computing power have an impact on system performance? The PCMark 7 results are disillusioning. The S400 performs 48 percent better. Because of the same hard drive (WD5000LPVT, 500 GB, no SSD cache) and the single channel HD 4000 this is mainly caused by the Core i5Akoya and U310 can not be directly compared as they profit from their SSD cache. The Celeron system (V5-431) is again outperformed though the advantage is small and hardly relevant in practice.

PCMark 7 - Score
Lenovo IdeaPad S405
1627 Points ∼25%
Samsung 535U3C
1368 Points ∼21% -16%
Acer Aspire V5-431-887B4G50Mauu
1450 Points ∼22% -11%
Lenovo IdeaPad S400-MAY8LGE
2416 Points ∼36% +48%
Medion Akoya S4216 MD 99080
3354 Points ∼51% +106%
Lenovo IdeaPad U310
3491 Points ∼53% +115%
4.3
Windows 8 Experience Index
Processor
Calculations per second
6.2
Memory (RAM)
Memory operations per second
5.9
Graphics
Desktop performance for Windows Aero
4.3
Gaming graphics
3D business and gaming graphics
6.1
Primary hard disk
Disk data transfer rate
5.9
PC Mark
PCMark 71627 points
Help

Mass storage

HD-Tune 76 MB/s read
HD-Tune 76 MB/s read
Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: 66 MB/s read
Crystal Disk Mark 3.0: 66 MB/s read

Unlike Ultrabooks Lenovo does not use an SSD cache to accelerate the slow rotating hard drive in the S400 and the S405. So, a cold start of Windows 8 is not lightning fast, but neither does it take longer than about 25 seconds (inputs possible, loading continues). The Western Digital Scorpio Blue (WD5000LPVT, 500GB) achieves bad read results in our HDD comparison. 66 MB/s in CrystalDiskMark are below average. An SSD could easily improve the HDD sub score of PCMark 7 from 1,438 to 4,000-5,000 points. But this would disproportionately increase the prices of the S405 and make it uninteresting for price conscious users.

Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
Transfer Rate Minimum: 36.7 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 90.9 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 76.3 MB/s
Access Time: 17.9 ms
Burst Rate: 82.9 MB/s
CPU Usage: 7.6 %

Graphics card

The HD 7600G is part of the Trinity APU and does not have a dedicated video memory. As is already indicated by 3DMark 2006, even HD 4000 graphic chips are faster as they are incorporated in better CPUs (Test depends on the CPU). The 3DMark 11 test checks the pure GPU performance with DirectX 11. The result is on par with a fast HD 4000 (Tarox Modula Ultrabooki7-3517U, +3 percent), but tends to be slightly better than the majority of HD 4000 GPUs in our reviews. E.g. the IdeaPad U310 (i5) performs 35 percent worse in 3DMark 11 (throttling). Without throttling the Intel GPU is about 10 percent slower.

3D Mark
3DMark 0310271 points
3DMark 055486 points
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
3504 points
3DMark 11672 points
Help

Gaming Performance

The gaming performance is shockingly low. This gets apparent when compared to the Intel HD 4000 and the Radeon HD 7450M (S300). Although the Intel graphics is slower in all games, at this low level (-9 to -40 percent) this is not a notable advantage for the HD 7600G in the S405. The dedicated HD 7450M, which was significantly outperformed by the GeForce GT 620M in the IdeaPad S300 review, achieves higher frame rates.

Certainly dual channel would have been of help, but, due to the lack of a second RAM slot, it can't even be retrofitted. Therefore, a clear statement remains, which is supported by the gaming table dominated in red: Regardless whether games are old or new, they are a no-go for the IdeaPad S405. Even old games like Risen from 2009 must be played at lowest settings, i.e., low @ 800x600 pixels.

Lenovo IdeaPad S405
AMD A8-4555M, AMD Radeon HD 7600G, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
Acer Aspire V5-431-887B4G50Mauu
Intel Celeron 887, Intel HD Graphics (Sandy Bridge), Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
Lenovo IdeaPad S400-MAY8LGE
Intel Core i5-3317U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
Medion Akoya S4216 MD 99080
Intel Core i3-3217U, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024
Lenovo IdeaPad S300 MA145GE
Intel Core i3-2365M, AMD Radeon HD 7450M, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
Fifa 13
1366x768 High AA:2xMS30.523.9
-22%
18.2
-40%
56
84%
Mass Effect 3
1280x720 all off18.416.7
-9%
15.9
-14%
24
30%
Battlefield 3
1024x768 low AA:- AF:2x11.59.1
-21%
9.8
-15%
17.5
52%
Risen
800x600 all off/low AF:0x32.227
-16%
20.5
-36%
49.6
54%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-15% / -15%
-22% / -22%
-26% / -26%
55% / 55%
low med.high ultra
World in Conflict - Benchmark (2007) 882611fps
Far Cry 2 (2008) 50.521.9fps
Left 4 Dead (2008) 36.2fps
Risen (2009) 32.2149.7fps
StarCraft 2 (2010) 27.718.816.6fps
Battlefield 3 (2011) 11.58fps
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 19.912.48.6fps
Mass Effect 3 (2012) 18.412.8fps
Darksiders II (2012) 16fps
Sleeping Dogs (2012) 20.614.76.8fps
Counter-Strike: GO (2012) 4831.824.8fps
F1 2012 (2012) 211513fps
Borderlands 2 (2012) 16.1129.2fps
Fifa 13 (2012) 664530.5fps
Dishonored (2012) 19.614.112.4fps
Medal of Honor: Warfighter (2012) 10.78.96.8fps
Need for Speed: Most Wanted (2012) 16.510.3fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012) 20.415.66.9fps
Hitman: Absolution (2012) 13.996.9fps
Assassin´s Creed III (2012) 9.17.6fps
Far Cry 3 (2012) 13.78.2fps

Emissions

Respect: Even under full load the fan is hardly audible and the base remains cool.
Respect: Even under full load the fan is hardly audible and the base remains cool.

System Noise

Regardless of the load the S405 never exceeds 32 dB (A). With 32.2 dB (A), the somewhat disturbingly clacking hard drive drowns out the fan. The fan never turns off completely. When it slowly rotates, we can hardly hear the measured 30-31 dB (A).

In our stress test (full load) Prime95 (CPU) and FurMark (HD 7600G) run simultaneously for two hours. But, the noise only increases to 31.5 dB (A). If run individually, 3DMark2006, a game or Prime95, produce a noise level of 32 dB (A). Even the similarly frugal Trinity competitor, the Samsung Series 5 535U3C gets loud during the stress test (42 dB (A)). The noise level of the IdeaPad U310 and the S400 are comparably high.

Noise Level

Idle 30.3 / 30.3 / 31.3 dB(A)
HDD 32.2 dB(A)
Load 31.3 / 31.5 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

While idle the keyboard and palm rests of the S405 remain cool. On the left side, weak hotspots develop next to the exhaust vent. But, we only measure 32 degrees Celsius there. In office use (low load, much idle time) the temperature increases a bit.

The laptop can also be used on the lap without problems in stress scenarios. Under load the temperatures only increase by an average of 2.5 degrees Celsius (36.5 degrees Fahrenheit) on the top side (at some parts by 6 degrees/42.8 degrees Fahrenheit). Our stress test is an extreme scenario, which checks the performance of the cooling system in the worst case.

During the mentioned stress test with simultaneously running Prime95 and FurMark, the CPU clocks of the four cores fall to 908 MHz. The HD 7600G has priority in such scenarios and clocks steadily with 423 MHz (core). The CPU clock immediately changes after the GPU stress ends. Thanks to Turbo the clock of each core individually varies between 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz.

Stress test CPU+GPU: @start 900 MHz / 423 MHz
Stress test CPU+GPU: @start 900 MHz / 423 MHz
Stress test: @end 900 MHz / 423 MHz
Stress test: @end 900 MHz / 423 MHz
Prime95 CPU stress only:
Prime95 CPU stress only:
clocks vary @900 MHz bis 1,8 GHz
clocks vary @900 MHz bis 1,8 GHz
Max. Load
 35.9 °C30 °C27 °C 
 38 °C35.1 °C26.1 °C 
 33 °C32 °C25.6 °C 
Maximum: 38 °C
Average: 31.4 °C
28.4 °C27.1 °C32.6 °C
27.4 °C27.6 °C29.8 °C
24 °C25.1 °C35.9 °C
Maximum: 35.9 °C
Average: 28.7 °C
Power Supply (max.)  48.5 °C | Room Temperature 21.9 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

Two speakers sit on the underside at the front. Their sound emphasizes mid tones and lacks bass and differentiated treble. The volume is decent for a notebook and is sufficient for a small room (e.g. for a presentation). There are no distortions when turned up loud, which is probably due to the low-vibration rubber cushion of the two speakers.

Battery Life

Power consumption: 40 Watts are sufficient
Power consumption: 40 Watts are sufficient
Weight with cable: 279 gram
Weight with cable: 279 gram

Power Consumption

The 14-incher proves to be frugal. But considering the small battery capacity of 32 Wh, it should have been even more frugal. The Aspire V5-431 (8-11 Watts) and Samsung's 535U3C (7-14 Watts, significantly brighter!) also have a power consumption between 7 and 12 Watts while idle. The 14-inch IdeaPad S400 (5-8 Watts) is really frugal, but disappoints with a similarly dark display.

The difference between the Intel platform (S400) and the AMD-Trinity (S405) gets apparent under highest load. The HD 7600G requires 27 Watts during computer games or other load (tested with 3DMark 06). As the Turbo favors the Radeon in the stress test and limits the CPU clock to 900 MHz, we only measured 26 Watts here. If only Prime95 or FurMark run, the power consumption is 26 or 25 Watts. The Intel system needs 18 Watts under GPU load and 30 during the stress test.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.2 / 0.4 Watt
Idle 7.2 / 11 / 12 Watt
Load 26.9 / 25.7 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 960

Battery Life

WLAN test: 175 Min.
WLAN test: 175 Min.
Classic test 81: Min.
Classic test 81: Min.

The small 32 Wh battery prevents a long battery life. While idle the 14-incher only achieves 5:37 hours (S400 5:07, 535U3C 7:00). However, minimum brightness, inactive Wi-Fi modules, and CPU/GPU at idle speed won't allow active working.

The WLAN test is much more realistic. Here the laptop shuts down after 2:55 hours (S400 1:55, 535U3C 4:19). System load is low in the WLAN test. A script loads web sites in 40 second intervals. Some of them play videos (flash). The TFT-is dimmed to about 150 cd/m² (one level). 

The IdeaPad U310 performs better in this aspect. Its 46 Wh battery makes 4:17 hours possible in the WLAN test and 6:31 hours while idle. Overall, thin low-cost laptops perform worse than more expensive Ultrabooks in terms of battery life. Even the wannabe Ultrabook Aspire V5-431 (400 Euros/~$523) suffers from its small 37 Wh battery (3:00 WLAN test). Sony's Vaio SVT1311M1ES (5:16 hours; 45 Wh) and Asus' UX32A-R3001V (4:22 hours; 45 Wh) are examples from the Ultrabook range.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
5h 37min
WiFi Surfing
2h 55min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 21min

Verdict

The Lenovo IdeaPad S405 (MAZ4EGE) is a frugal 14-inch laptop with relatively low performance. This would not be a problem for a lightweight (1,580 gram/~3.48 pound) notebook always on-the-move if it wasn’t for the short battery life of three hours (WLAN test). The reflective display, which is too dark for outdoor use also limits mobility. Apparently, the manufacturer did not learn anything from the Netbook era: If a laptop performs well in terms of mobility, the user will also accept low performance.

Unfortunately, the S405 does not perform well in office aspects like input devices, connectivity and build quality either. The keyboard yields significantly, VGA is missing and the base unit and lid are non-rigid

However, we appreciate low waste heat and system noise. It's hardly believable, but the temperatures remain nearly at idle level even under full load where the 14-incher never exceeds 32 dB (A). Most laptops are that loud while idle.  Correspondingly, the maximum power consumption is 27 Watts (without charging).

At 540 Euros (~$706) it is not really expensive. But, at best, the performance of its Radeon HD 7600G (IGP) can keep up with Intel Ultrabooks while the weak processor of the APU and single channel DDR3 slow down current games. So, the achieved frame rates are often only a tad better than the Intel HD 4000's. 

The strongest competitors stem from the same manufacturer. The top models of its 14-inch and 13-inch siblings, IdeaPad S400 (i5-3317U) and IdeaPad U310 (i5-3317U), do not cost more than 100 Euros (~$131) more, but calculate significantly faster. With Core i3 and optional Free DOS, they can even be notably cheaper than the S405. Due to its low Trinity performance, Samsung's 535U3C is notably outperformed, but the 13.3-incher delivers a significantly brighter and matte display and a longer battery life.

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In Review: Lenovo IdeaPad S405
In Review: Lenovo IdeaPad S405

Specifications

Lenovo IdeaPad S405

:: Processor
AMD A8-4555M 1.6 GHz
:: Mainboard
AMD A60M
:: Memory
4096 MB, Single Channel DDR3
:: Graphics adapter
AMD Radeon HD 7600G, Core: 424 MHz, 8.982.7.1000 / Win8 64
:: Display
14.0 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, CMN N140BGE LB2, TN LED, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT, 500 GB 5400 rpm
:: Soundcard
HD Audio
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: combi audio port, Card Reader: SD, MMC,
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller 10/100 (10MBit), Atheros AR9485WB-EG Wireless Network Adapter (b g n ), Atheros AR3012 4.0 + HS Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 22 x 330 x 230
:: Weight
1.58 kg Power Supply: 0.279 kg
:: Battery
32 Wh Lithium-Ion, 14.8 V 2200 mAh
:: Price
550 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: 1280x720, Speakers: 2 x stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, Office 2010 (trial), Lenovo YouCam, OneKey Recovery, Telephony, 24 Months Warranty

 

Top secret S405?
Top secret S405?
RAM (1/1 slots occupied, 1 x 4 GB)
RAM (1/1 slots occupied, 1 x 4 GB)
and the WiFi module (mini PCI Express)
and the WiFi module (mini PCI Express)
The speakers are cushioned by low vibration rubber buffers.
The speakers are cushioned by low vibration rubber buffers.
The sound is decent, but lacks bass.
The sound is decent, but lacks bass.
The CMOS battery (contains volatile BIOS information) is unfortunately soldered.
The CMOS battery (contains volatile BIOS information) is unfortunately soldered.
The North Bridge of the AMD chip set does not require cooling.
The North Bridge of the AMD chip set does not require cooling.
But, the APU does (heatpipe).
But, the APU does (heatpipe).
The touchpad is stabilized by a plastic base.
The touchpad is stabilized by a plastic base.
A characteristic of Lenovo laptops: The OneKey button launches the recovery tool.
A characteristic of Lenovo laptops: The OneKey button launches the recovery tool.
The battery constrains mobile use.
The battery constrains mobile use.
The Intel based S400 model already had to struggle with only 32 Wh.
The Intel based S400 model already had to struggle with only 32 Wh.
Accessories: quick start guide, warranty information
Accessories: quick start guide, warranty information
AMD Trinity brings frugal, but poorly performing components
AMD Trinity brings frugal, but poorly performing components
The following components can be replaced: HDD (7 mm height),
The following components can be replaced: HDD (7 mm height),
Now we get an impression why the base unit is not resistant to twisting.
Now we get an impression why the base unit is not resistant to twisting.
You simply need to loosen the visible screws and those beneath the feet.
You simply need to loosen the visible screws and those beneath the feet.
Lenovo do not (yet) list its AMD based IdeaPad S405 on its German home page.
Lenovo do not (yet) list its AMD based IdeaPad S405 on its German home page.
Maybe the AMD configuration shall not distract the buyers from the S400 Intel model.
Maybe the AMD configuration shall not distract the buyers from the S400 Intel model.
Or did Lenovo simply forget it?
Or did Lenovo simply forget it?
Well, this is not important for our review.
Well, this is not important for our review.
In being based on the AMD Trinity platform, the 14-incher is not an Ultrabook.
In being based on the AMD Trinity platform, the 14-incher is not an Ultrabook.
Slim case and frugal components...
Slim case and frugal components...
...create an Ultrabook experience
...create an Ultrabook experience
Apart from the big touchpad the input devices are not ideal for prolific writers.
Apart from the big touchpad the input devices are not ideal for prolific writers.
Despite a sufficiently long key travel a springy keyboard is not ideal.
Despite a sufficiently long key travel a springy keyboard is not ideal.
In addition, the base unit notably twists and reduces the quality experience.
In addition, the base unit notably twists and reduces the quality experience.
It lacks some interfaces and some are not up-to-date (no Gigabit-LAN).
It lacks some interfaces and some are not up-to-date (no Gigabit-LAN).
The underside of the S405 does not house a maintenance hatch, but only a big fan grille.
The underside of the S405 does not house a maintenance hatch, but only a big fan grille.
But, the base plate can be removed completely.
But, the base plate can be removed completely.
The weak 32 Wh battery prevents long battery life.
The weak 32 Wh battery prevents long battery life.

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Compare Prices

Amazon.com

Lenovo IdeaPad S405 14" Slim Notebook (AMD A6-4455M 2.10GHz CPU, 4GB DDR3 1333 RAM, 500GB HDD, AMD Radeon HD 7500G, 802.11 b/g/n, Windows 8) Model 20196, MO 59351953

Laptop-Power Laptop Charger for Lenovo Ideapad S405 Compatible Replacement Notebook Adapter Adaptor Power Supply - Laptop Power (TM) Branded (UK Powercord and 12 Month Warranty)
» 11.99 GBP (lowest price)
11.99 GBP Amazon Marketplace UK

Lavolta 40W Original Lavolta AC Adapter Laptop Charger for Lenovo Ideapad S9 S9E S10 S10E S10W S10G S12 S100 S110 S200 S205 S205S S206 S300 S400 S405 G575 G580 U130 U160 U260 / MSI Windpad 100W 100W-040UK CR650 X430 U100 U115 U120 U135 U130 U135DX U180 / Advent
» 12.90 GBP (lowest price)
12.90 GBP Amazon Marketplace UK

Besthe2u Original 65W Charger laptop AC adapter power supply charger cord for Lenovo G455 G470 G530 G550e G560 G565 G570 G575 G580 G780 Y466 E46 Z360 Z460 G460 Z470 Z570 IdeaPad U460 U460s S300 S400 S405 V470 V570 PA-1650-56LC 36001651 20V 3.25A
» 15.25 GBP (lowest price)
15.25 GBP Amazon Marketplace UK

Lavolta 40W Charger for Lenovo IdeaPad S9 S9E S10 S10E S10G S10W S12 S100 S110 S200 S205 S205S S206 S300 S400 S405 U130 U160 U260 Laptop - Original Lavolta Notebook AC Adapter Power Supply Plug Cord - 20V 2A
» 12.99 GBP (lowest price)
12.99 GBP Amazon Marketplace UK

The displayed prices can be up to one day old.

Pro

+light
+24 month warranty
+works always quietly
+decent system performance
+maintenance possible
+low power consumption
 

Cons

-springy keyboard
-short battery life
-only Fast Ethernet
-slow hard drive
-reflective, dark display
-only a single RAM slot (single channel)
-no VGA port

Shortcut

What we like

the removable battery, and the unlimited accessibility of fan, RAM, 2.5-inch HDD, and WiFi module

What we'd like to see

If low power at all cost, then the battery life should be long and the display bright and matte.

What surprises us

The S405 AMD model is not even cheaper than its Intel based S400  sibling. Because of the weak 32 Wh battery Lenovo unfortunately misses a long battery life.

The competition

Slim and light for below 600 Euro: Samsung 535U3C (A4-4455M), Lenovo IdeaPad S400 (i5 3317U), IdeaPad U310 (i5 3317U), Acer Aspire V5-431 (Celeron), Aspire V5-471 (i3 3217U)

Rating

Lenovo IdeaPad S405
12/18/2012 v3
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
78%
Keyboard
80%
Pointing Device
84%
Connectivity
60%
Weight
91%
Battery
79%
Display
64%
Games Performance
62%
Application Performance
87%
Temperature
89%
Noise
94%
Add Points
75%
Average
79%
80%
Office *
Weighted Average

> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Review Lenovo IdeaPad S405 Notebook
Author: Sebastian Jentsch, 2012-12-31 (Update: 2013-06- 6)