Notebookcheck

Review Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE Ultrabook

Sascha Mölck (translated by Andreas Osthoff), 02/13/2014

Improved by Haswell. A notebook that you carry around all the time should be as light as possible, but also sturdy and enduring at the same time. Lenovo tries to meet these requirements with the ultrabooks of the ThinkPad S-series. We review the ThinkPad S540, the current 15.6-inch model from the series. The biggest improvement: The S540 models are equipped with Haswell processors.

For the original German review, see here.

Ultrabooks have found their ways into the business segment with their low weight, compact cases as well as long battery runtimes. Lenovo offers these products with the ThinkPad S-series, where the manufacturer wants to combine ThinkPad qualities with the features of ultrabooks. The previously reviewed devices ThinkPad S440 (Core i7-4500URadeon HD 8670M) and ThinkPad S531 (Core i7-3537URadeon HD 8670M) showed that it was a success for the most part. Our review finds out if the ThinkPad S540 can follow this trend.

We use the rivals Dell Latitude E7440 (Core i5-4200UHD Graphics 4400) and Fujitsu Lifebook E753 (Core i7-3632QMHD Graphics 4000) to classify the notebook. Our review configuration of the Lifebook costs more than 1,000 Euros (~$1367), but there are also less expensive versions.

The ThinkPad S540 is very similar to the ThinkPad S531, so we won't have a closer look at the case, the connectivity, the input devices and the speakers. The according information can be found in the review of the S531.

Connectivity

WLAN Problem

Many forums of online shops and also our own Notebookcheck forum are filled with complaints about the wireless module of the ThinkPad S531, and it seems that the S540 inherited the problem: The WLAN connection of our review unit caused trouble. The connection was lost from time to time without any apparent reason, but the problem is not the connection between the notebook and the router. The S540 just cannot access the Internet (evident from the small exclamation mark next to the wireless indicator). The download performance also drops significantly from time to time to a few kilobytes per seconds. The problems usually disappear automatically, but you will have to reconnect manually or restart the notebook to fix it immediately. The position of the notebook was not changed at any time; the distance to the FritzBox was around 4 - 5 meters.

We suspect a software and not a hardware problem. Why? We installed another hard drive with a new installation of Windows 8.1 and the according drivers. The mentioned wireless problems did not occur, so there is probably an issue with the preinstalled software. If you have the problem we recommend a clean Windows installation (= without the software from the manufacturer) to check if the problem is fixed before you return the notebook.

Operating system

The ThinkPad comes with a preloaded version of Windows 7 Professional (64-bit), but you can also install Windows 8 Professional (64-bit) from the provided DVD if you prefer it. A Windows 7 DVD is not in the box, so we recommend that you create a recovery DVD.

Maintenance

The ThinkPad does not have a maintenance cover, but accessing the components is still very easy. You just have to loosen some screws to remove the whole bottom cover and gain access to the memory, hard drive, WLAN module, SSD cache, fan and the battery. 

Contrary to the S531, the S540 is equipped with two memory slots. One slot is occupied with an 8 GB module. Replacing the hard drive is very easy. You can use 2.5-inch drives with a height of 7 or 9.5 mm. The ThinkPad is also equipped with an M.2 slot. Our review unit uses an SSD cache, but it is also possible to replace the cache with a larger drive and then use it as the primary drive. However, according SSDs are still rare. 

According to the hardware maintenance manual of the ThinkPad, the slot can also be used for appropriate 3G/LTE modems. Our review unit is however not equipped with the necessary antennas, so this option is not possible in this case. The according SIM card tray is still available. Replacing the battery is possible if it is damaged since it is only secured by screws. The fan can be dismantled if you want to clean it.

Display

Both the ThinkPad S540 and S531 use the same display, but the measurements of the S540 are slightly better. This is not surprising since two similar panels are never completely identical. The manufacturer can also influence the display brightness to a certain degree. Both ThinkPads have bright Full HD panels with a mediocre contrast ratio. Considering the price of the notebook we would have expected a better performance. 

285
cd/m²
298
cd/m²
297
cd/m²
268
cd/m²
280
cd/m²
271
cd/m²
249
cd/m²
262
cd/m²
260
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 298 cd/m²
Average: 274.4 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 84 %
Center on Battery: 280 cd/m²
Black: 0.81 cd/m²
Contrast: 346:1
CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Saturation Sweeps
CalMAN - Saturation Sweeps

Performance

Lenovo's ThinkPad S540-series offers 15.6-inch ultrabooks for private and professional use. All devices provide sufficient CPU performance for common tasks. Thanks to the Radeon GPU you can also play current games – to a limited extent. Our review configuration currently retails for around 850 Euros (~$1161). Lenovo also offers other versions with different hardware equipment (display, processor, memory, hard drive and operating system). The ThinkPad is also available with a touchscreen. The cheapest version at the time of this review is the ThinkPad S540 20B30024GE. The differences compared to our review unit are the following: It is equipped with an HD display (1366x768 pixels) and Windows 8 Professional (64-bit) is the operating system. Smaller 14-inch ultrabooks are available within the ThinkPad S440-series; the configurations are basically identical.

CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
GPU-Z
GPU-Z
HWInfo
System information Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE

Processor

Our ThinkPad uses a Core i5-4200U dual-core processor based on Intel's current Haswell architecture. It has a nominal clock of 1.6 GHz, which can be raised up to 2.3 GHz (both cores) and 2.6 GHz (one core) via Turbo Boost. The Core i5 is a frugal ULV processor with a specified TDP of 15 Watts to meet the requirements of the ultrabook specifications.

The processor runs with 2.3 GHz in the single-thread tests of Cinebench and occasionally reaches 2.6 GHz for one core. Multi-thread tests are executed with 2.3 GHz. The results of the Latitude (Core i5-4200UHD Graphics 4400) are on the same level since both devices use the same processor. Fujitsu's Lifebook (Core i7-3632QMHD Graphics 4000) is faster because it has four cores and a higher clock as well. ThinkPad configurations with a Core i7-4500U can at least beat the Lifebook in regard to the single-thread performance (see our review of the ThinkPad S440).

Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
5720 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
9236 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
4664 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
5030
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
7717
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
3581
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
22.04 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
2.5 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
1.11 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
26.28 %
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
98 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
228 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
100 Points
Help
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE
Radeon HD 8670M, 4200U, WDC WD10JPVX-08JC3T5 + Sandisk SSD U110 16GB
1.11 Points ∼56%
HP ProBook 650 G1 H5G74E
HD Graphics 4600, 4000M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1.05 Points ∼53% -5%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C60041
HD Graphics 4600, 4000M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1.06 Points ∼53% -5%
Dell Latitude E7440
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Seagate Laptop Ultrathin ST500LT032
1.11 Points ∼56% 0%
Lenovo ThinkPad S531
Radeon HD 8670M, 3537U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
1.27 Points ∼64% +14%
Fujitsu Lifebook E753 Premium Selection
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Micron RealSSD C400 (MTFDDAK256MAM-1K12)
1.29 Points ∼65% +16%
Toshiba Tecra A50-A-12Z
GeForce GT 730M, 4300M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1.33 Points ∼67% +20%
Lenovo ThinkPad S440
Radeon HD 8670M, 4500U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
1.33 Points ∼67% +20%
HP EliteBook 8570w LY550EA-ABD
FirePro M4000, 3360M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
1.38 Points ∼69% +24%
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE
Radeon HD 8670M, 4200U, WDC WD10JPVX-08JC3T5 + Sandisk SSD U110 16GB
2.5 Points ∼14%
Dell Latitude E7440
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Seagate Laptop Ultrathin ST500LT032
2.47 Points ∼14% -1%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C60041
HD Graphics 4600, 4000M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2.55 Points ∼14% +2%
HP ProBook 650 G1 H5G74E
HD Graphics 4600, 4000M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2.6 Points ∼15% +4%
Lenovo ThinkPad S440
Radeon HD 8670M, 4500U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
2.74 Points ∼16% +10%
Lenovo ThinkPad S531
Radeon HD 8670M, 3537U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
2.92 Points ∼17% +17%
Toshiba Tecra A50-A-12Z
GeForce GT 730M, 4300M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
3.13 Points ∼18% +25%
HP EliteBook 8570w LY550EA-ABD
FirePro M4000, 3360M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
3.26 Points ∼19% +30%
Fujitsu Lifebook E753 Premium Selection
HD Graphics 4000, 3632QM, Micron RealSSD C400 (MTFDDAK256MAM-1K12)
5.79 Points ∼33% +132%

System Performance

The system is snappy and there are no hiccups. This impression is also supported by the PCMark results. The Latitude (Core i5-4200UHD Graphics 4400) cannot quite keep up, but the reason is the additional SSD cache of the ThinkPad, which has a positive effect on PCMark. The fastest device is the Lifebook (Core i7-3632QMHD Graphics 4000) with a quad-core processor and a Solid State Drive.

A mobile device like the ThinkPad is perfect for a Solid State Drive. The operating system boots quicker and the overall system performance is improved. The PCMark results are improved as well. We tested it: Our SSD (Crucial RealSSD C300 – 64 GB) increased the score of the ThinkPad by around 47% to 4,445 points.

PC Mark
PCMark Vantage6279 points
PCMark 73021 points
PCMark 8 Work v24106 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score (sort by value)
Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE
Radeon HD 8670M, 4200U, WDC WD10JPVX-08JC3T5 + Sandisk SSD U110 16GB
3021 Points ∼44%
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E540 20C60041
HD Graphics 4600, 4000M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2538 Points ∼37% -16%
HP ProBook 650 G1 H5G74E
HD Graphics 4600, 4000M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2569 Points ∼37% -15%
HP EliteBook 8570w LY550EA-ABD
FirePro M4000, 3360M, Hitachi Travelstar Z7K500 HTS725050A7E630
2724 Points ∼39% -10%
Dell Latitude E7440
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Seagate Laptop Ultrathin ST500LT032
2734 Points ∼39% -10%
Lenovo ThinkPad S531
Radeon HD 8670M, 3537U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
3681 Points ∼53% +22%
Lenovo ThinkPad S440
Radeon HD 8670M, 4500U, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
4883 Points ∼70% +62%

Storage Solution

HD Tune
HD Tune
CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark

The ThinkPad is equipped with a hard drive from Western Digital. It has a capacity of 1 TB and works with 5,400 revolutions per minute. The hard drive is supported by an SSD cache (16 GB) from SanDisk. CrystalDiskMark determines a read performance of 99.3 MB/s and HD Tune an average transfer rate of 82.9 MB/s. These are good results for a 5,400 rpm drive. An ultrabook that is primarily designed for business users does not necessarily need such a large drive. A small Solid State Drive or a faster hard drive (7,200 rpm) would have been a better choice.

WDC WD10JPVX-08JC3T5 + Sandisk SSD U110 16GB
Transfer Rate Minimum: 49.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 117.4 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 82.9 MB/s
Access Time: 17.4 ms
Burst Rate: 226.6 MB/s

Graphics

Two GPUs are inside the thin ThinkPad: Intel's HD Graphics 4400 and AMD's Radeon HD 8670M. Both GPUs support AMD's Enduro technology, the counterpart to Nvidia's Optimus technology. The two GPUs are designed for different scenarios: Intel's GPU for simple tasks and operation on battery power, the Radeon chip for more complex applications like games. Application profiles are used to assign the GPUs with applications and the standard settings can be changed by the user at any time. The Radeon GPU belongs to the lower mainstream class. It supports DirectX 11.1 and runs with a nominal clock of 775 MHz, which can be raised to 975 MHz via Turbo. 

The ThinkPad is the only device with a dedicated GPU within our competition and should have an advantage in the 3D Mark benchmarks. However, this is only the case when the CPU influence is not too big. The Lifebook (Core i7-3632QMHD Graphics 4000) has a much more powerful CPU compared to our ThinkPad and is the fastest device in 3DMark06. However, 3DMark 11 shows the impact of the fast GPU inside the ThinkPad. Dell's Latitude (Core i5-4200UHD Graphics 4400) uses the same CPU and is therefore almost identical with the ThinkPad in CPU demanding benchmarks. 

A look at our comparison chart shows that the ThinkPad delivers better results than its predecessor ThinkPad S531. The difference is especially big in 3DMark 11, even though both notebooks have the same GPU. There are two reasons for that: The S540 has a newer GPU driver and the GPU of the S540 also has a higher Turbo clock (975 vs. 825 MHz).

3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
5057 points
3DMark Vantage4769 points
3DMark 111513 points
3DMark Ice Storm32029 points
3DMark Cloud Gate3977 points
3DMark Fire Strike767 points
Help
Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE
Intel Core i5-4200U, AMD Radeon HD 8670M, WDC WD10JPVX-08JC3T5 + Sandisk SSD U110 16GB
Lenovo ThinkPad S531
Intel Core i7-3537U, AMD Radeon HD 8670M, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
Fujitsu Lifebook E753 Premium Selection
Intel Core i7-3632QM, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Micron RealSSD C400 (MTFDDAK256MAM-1K12)
Dell Latitude E7440
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Seagate Laptop Ultrathin ST500LT032
Lenovo ThinkPad S440
Intel Core i7-4500U, AMD Radeon HD 8670M, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
3DMark (2013)
-6%
4%
-10%
1%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score3202932119
0%
34900
9%
33916
6%
38463
20%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score39773702
-7%
5184
30%
3832
-4%
3713
-7%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score767673
-12%
558
-27%
514
-33%
699
-9%

Gaming Performance

The ThinkPad is not designed for gamers, but the performance is still sufficient for the occasional gaming session. The CPU/GPU combination manages smooth frame rates in many current titles, but you will have to live with reduced resolutions and medium to low settings. Similar to the 3DMarks we can see that the S540 is better than the S531 – despite the same GPU. We already mentioned that the newer GPU driver and the higher Turbo clock of the GPU are the reasons for that.

low med.high ultra
Dead Space 3 (2013) 673226.1fps
Crysis 3 (2013) 19.2fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 52.827.317.6fps
SimCity (2013) 132.122.2fps
StarCraft II: Heart of the Swarm (2013) 166.147.825.7fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 39.224.119.6fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 22.5fps
GRID 2 (2013) 5029.921.7fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 23fps
Dota 2 (2013) 4219.2fps
Splinter Cell: Blacklist (2013) 39.814.3fps
The Bureau: XCOM Declassified (2013) 28.217.1fps
Total War: Rome II (2013) 40.630.526.2fps
F1 2013 (2013) 462825fps
Batman: Arkham Origins (2013) 4022fps
Battlefield 4 (2013) 33.624.817.1fps
Call of Duty: Ghosts (2013) 27.321.3fps
Need for Speed: Rivals (2013) 23.519.4fps
X-Plane 10.25 (2013) 51.224.8fps
Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE
Intel Core i5-4200U, AMD Radeon HD 8670M, WDC WD10JPVX-08JC3T5 + Sandisk SSD U110 16GB
Lenovo ThinkPad S531
Intel Core i7-3537U, AMD Radeon HD 8670M, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV
Fujitsu Lifebook E753 Premium Selection
Intel Core i7-3632QM, Intel HD Graphics 4000, Micron RealSSD C400 (MTFDDAK256MAM-1K12)
Dell Latitude E7440
Intel Core i5-4200U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Seagate Laptop Ultrathin ST500LT032
BioShock Infinite
-13%
-15%
1280x720 Very Low Preset39.235.78
-9%
36.5
-7%
1366x768 Medium Preset24.120.48
-15%
18.6
-23%
1366x768 High Preset19.616.76
-14%
16.4
-16%
Dead Space 3
-32%
1024x768 Low Preset6752.8
-21%
1366x768 Medium Preset3220.1
-37%
1366x768 High Preset26.116.3
-38%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-13% / -13%
-15% / -15%
-32% / -32%

Emissions

System Noise

The ThinkPad is hardly audible during idle. The fan is usually deactivated and you can only hear the noise of the hard drive with 31.4 up to 32.5 dB(A). These values can be improved when you replace the hard drive with a Solid State Drive. Latitude (30.5 up to 32.3 dB(A)) and Lifebook (29.6 up to 32.2 dB(A)) are comparable with the ThinkPad. Medium load (3DMark06) and maximum load (stress test, Prime95 and FurMark simultaneously) only result in a moderate increase to 33.5 and 36.8 dB(A). Both the Latitude (40.2 and 45.8 dB(A)) and the Lifebook (38.2 and 48.6 dB(A)) are much louder. The ThinkPad does, however, have a problem with a slightly whining fan under load. It is still tolerable in our opinion, but this is a subjective impression.

Noise Level

Idle 31.4 / 31.6 / 31.7 dB(A)
HDD 32.5 dB(A)
Load 33.5 / 36.8 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

Stress test ThinkPad S540
Stress test ThinkPad S540

None of the three devices gets very warm during idle, but the ThinkPad and the Latitude are much cooler than the Lifebook. This is a result of the frugal ULV processors. Maximum load does lead to a noticeable increase of the temperatures around the fan exhaust of the ThinkPad and some spots even exceed 50 °C. The increase of the competitors is not as steep, but the S540 is better compared to its predecessor; the S540 is cooler than the S531 thanks to the Haswell processor.

Our stress test (Prime95 and FurMark for at least one hour) shows a CPU clock of 1.8 up to 1.9 GHz, both with AC power and on battery. The GPU only runs with its maximum Turbo clock (975 MHz) on AC power and only with 400 MHz on battery power. The CPU temperature leveled off at around 81 °C in our stress test (on AC power), which simulates an extreme scenario that is not realistic for everyday use. The CPU can use its Turbo during common tasks, which is supported by our benchmarks.

Max. Load
 32.5 °C52.7 °C52.5 °C 
 29.1 °C43.6 °C36.9 °C 
 27.7 °C31.4 °C31 °C 
Maximum: 52.7 °C
Average: 37.5 °C
48.1 °C54.3 °C36.2 °C
38.7 °C38.5 °C32.6 °C
32.5 °C32.3 °C31.3 °C
Maximum: 54.3 °C
Average: 38.3 °C
Power Supply (max.)  47.4 °C | Room Temperature 22.4 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The ThinkPad consumes between 7.1 and 13 Watts during idle. The Lifebook needs a bit more power (7.9 up to 14.7 Watts), but the Latitude (3.3 up to 8 Watts) is much more frugal. Medium load (3DMark06 running) and maximum load (stress test, Prime95 and FurMark simultaneously) result in 33.7 and 44.4 Watts for the S540. The Lifebook needs more energy once again (45.5 and 65.7 Watts), but that is not surprising when you consider the standard voltage quad-core CPU. The Latitude consumes the least amount of energy with 28.7 and 33.1 Watts.

Power Consumption

Off / Standby 0.0 / 0.1 Watt
Idle 7.1 / 11.5 / 13 Watt
Load 33.7 / 44.4 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The ThinkPad managed an idle runtime of 13:19 hours and clearly beats the Lifebook (10:06 h) and the Latitude (10:15 h). The idle runtime is determined by Battery Eater Reader's Test with minimum display brightness, activated energy-saving mode and deactivated wireless modules. The battery of the ThinkPad lasted for 2:24 hours under load, which is once again better than the Lifebook (1:19 h) and the Latitude (1:10 h). We use Battery Eater Classic Test (maximum display brightness, high-performance profile and activated wireless modules) to determine the runtime under load.

Our WLAN test resulted in 7:05 hours for the S540, and neither the Latitude (5:17 h) nor the Lifebook (5:54 h) can keep up. This test simulates web browsing with a script that refreshes websites every 40 seconds. The energy-saving mode is active and the display brightness is adjusted to around 150 cd/m². We use a loop of the short movie Big Buck Bunny to determine the battery runtime during video playback. The energy-saving mode is active, the wireless modules are deactivated and the display brightness is adjusted to around 150 cd/m². It took 5:49 hours before the battery was empty. We did not perform this test in our reviews of the competitors.

Battery runtimes of the ThinkPad are very good and the direct comparison with the predecessor ThinkPad S531 also shows an improvement. The S540 lasts longer with the same battery capacity. 

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
13h 19min
WiFi Surfing
7h 05min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
5h 49min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 24min
Battery Runtime
Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE
Reader / Idle
799 min ∼30%
Load
144 min ∼5%
WiFi
425 min ∼16%
H.264
349 min ∼13%
Lenovo ThinkPad S531
Reader / Idle
654 min ∼24%
Load
103 min ∼4%
WiFi
325 min ∼12%
Legend
      Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE Intel Core i5-4200U, AMD Radeon HD 8670M, WDC WD10JPVX-08JC3T5 + Sandisk SSD U110 16GB
      Lenovo ThinkPad S531 Intel Core i7-3537U, AMD Radeon HD 8670M, Samsung SSD 840 250GB MZ7TD256HAFV

Verdict

Lenovo ThinkPad S540
Lenovo ThinkPad S540

"Lenovo's ThinkPad S531 is a very good ultrabook with many positive aspects." That was the verdict of the S531, and it also applies for the ThinkPad S540: The notebook offers a good application performance and is also powerful enough for occasional gaming sessions. The ultrabook also has a very large hard drive. Case and input devices are – similar to the predecessor – excellent. Battery runtimes have also been improved compared to the S531. However, these positive aspects are also combined with some drawbacks. There are problems with the wireless connection and the fan whines slightly under load. Lenovo also only grants a warranty of 12 months. These issues do not meet the requirements of the price. The display causes criticism as well: It is bright, but the contrast is very low and the viewing angle stability is not very good either. We expect more in this regard.

Fujitsu's Lifebook E753 is an interesting alternative if you need more CPU performance. It is equipped with standard voltage processors, which are much more powerful than the ULV versions inside the ThinkPad. The Dell Latitude E7440 can score with its low weight and it also has the best maintainability within our competition.

Review unit courtesy of ...
Read all 1 comments / answer
static version load dynamic
Loading comments

Comment this article:

In Review: The Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE, courtesy of:
In Review: The Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE, courtesy of:

Specifications

Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE
Processor
Graphics adapter
AMD Radeon HD 8670M - 2048 MB, Core: 775-975 MHz, Memory: 900 MHz, 13.251.0.0, Enduro
Memory
8192 MB 
, DDR3, single-channel, two slots (one occupied)
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, LEN40B4, B156HTN03.4, TN LED, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
Harddisk
WDC WD10JPVX-08JC3T5 + Sandisk SSD U110 16GB, 1000 GB 
, 860 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
Connections
2 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: combined stereo jack, Card Reader: SD, MMC, Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Sensors: Brightness sensor, Vibration sensor, Trusted Platform Module 1.2
Networking
Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit-LAN (10/100/1000MBit), Intel Dual Band Wireless-N 7260 (a b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 20.7 x 379 x 252 ( = 0.81 x 14.92 x 9.92 in)
Weight
2.11 kg ( = 74.43 oz) Power Supply: 234 g ( = 8.25 oz)
Battery
63 Wh Lithium-Ion, 14.8 V, 4250 mAh
Price
899 Euro
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64 Bit) + Windows 8 Pro (64 Bit)
Additional features
Webcam: HD-Webcam, Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, Microsoft Office 365 (trial), Norton Internet Security, ThinkVantage Software

 

[+] compare
Slim and light – the ThinkPad S540.
Slim and light – the ThinkPad S540.
Large maximum opening angle of the lid.
Large maximum opening angle of the lid.
You have to remove the bottom cover of the base unit...
You have to remove the bottom cover of the base unit...
...to access the components.
...to access the components.
There are two memory slots.
There are two memory slots.
Replacing the hard drive is no problem.
Replacing the hard drive is no problem.
The hard drive is supported by an SSD cache.
The hard drive is supported by an SSD cache.
The fan can be removed to clean it.
The fan can be removed to clean it.
CPU and GPU are soldered onto the motherboard.
CPU and GPU are soldered onto the motherboard.
Good: Two WLAN antennas.
Good: Two WLAN antennas.
Lenovo integrates a SIM card slot. However, an according modem or antennas are not available.
Lenovo integrates a SIM card slot. However, an according modem or antennas are not available.
The battery can be replaced if it is damaged.
The battery can be replaced if it is damaged.
It has a capacity of 63 Wh.
It has a capacity of 63 Wh.
The PSU weighs 234 grams and has a nominal output of 65 Watts.
The PSU weighs 234 grams and has a nominal output of 65 Watts.
Next to the power connector is the port for the according docking station.
Next to the power connector is the port for the according docking station.
The accompanying OneLink Dock is available for around 120 Euros (~$164).
The accompanying OneLink Dock is available for around 120 Euros (~$164).
A clickpad and...
A clickpad and...
...a TrackPoint act as a mouse replacement.
...a TrackPoint act as a mouse replacement.

Similar Laptops

Devices from a different Manufacturer and/or with a different CPU

Devices with the same GPU

» Review Update HP Pavilion 17-e126sg Notebook
Core i5 4200M, 17.3", 2.9 kg
» Review Lenovo ThinkPad S440 Touch Ultrabook
Core i7 4500U, 14", 1.86 kg

Devices with Same Screen Size and/or Weight

» Lenovo Edge 15-80H10004US Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4210U
» Asus F555LD-XX243H Notebook Review Update
GeForce 820M, Core i3 4010U
» Dell Latitude E5550 Notebook Review
HD Graphics 4400, Core i5 4310U

Links

Compare Prices

Pro

+Good application performance
+Excellent battery runtimes
+Sturdy case
+Good input devices
+Two Windows operating systems
+Matte and bright Full HD display
 

Cons

-Problems with the wireless connection
-Slightly whining fan under load
-Low-contrast display
-Only 12 months warranty

Shortcut

What we like

The good battery runtimes, the great case and the good input devices.

What we miss

A display with a better contrast.

What surprises us

Lenovo uses a low-end display for a comparatively high-priced ultrabook. 

The competition

Dell Latitude E7440Fujitsu Lifebook E753, HP ProBook 650, Asus Zenbook UX51V, Lenovo ThinkPad T530/T540, Lenovo ThinkPad S531, Lenovo ThinkPad S440, HP EliteBook 8570w.

Rating

Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE
02/11/2014 v3
Sascha Mölck

Chassis
96%
Keyboard
94%
Pointing Device
90%
Connectivity
55%
Weight
86%
Battery
92%
Display
75%
Games Performance
77%
Application Performance
90%
Temperature
72%
Noise
90%
Add Points
75%
Average
83%
84%
Office *
Weighted Average
> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Review Lenovo ThinkPad S540 20B30059GE Ultrabook
Author: Sascha Mölck, 2014-02-13 (Update: 2014-02-13)