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Face Off: HP Pavilion 15 vs. Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 vs. Toshiba Satellite S50

A standard notebook for home. Not every household needs to have multi-mode devices or razor-thin notebooks. We compare some inexpensive Pavilion, IdeaPad, and Satellite notebooks with no tacked on extras.

Convertibles, detachables, and Ultrabooks -- oh my! Users looking for a more down-to-Earth notebook without the added bells and whistles are finding more and more gimmicky multi-mode solutions and fewer "normal" notebooks to choose from.

Fortunately, many standard mainstream notebooks have yet to make the transition to touchscreen, swiveling lids, or other novel bullet points. For this Face Off, we'll compare the popular and more affordable HP Pavilion 15, Lenovo IdeaPad Z50, and Toshiba Satellite S50 to see if these no-frills notebooks are still worth the time.

We encourage users to check out our dedicated review pages below for more data and detailed analyses of each of the three models. This comparison is by no means a replacement, but a condensed aid for those on the fence.

HP Pavilion 15 2015 Review (Pavilion 15 2014)

Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-70 Review (IdeaPad Z50-75 w/ Intel) (IdeaPad Z50-75 w/ AMD)

Toshiba Satellite S50-B Review (Satellite S50-A 2013)

HP Pavilion 15
HP Pavilion 15
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Toshiba Satellite S50

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Case

The new Pavilion 15 design is similar to its predecessor with just a few small differences. However, we will be focusing on the quality of the chassis instead. The completely plastic case has brushed aluminum-like surfaces to give the appearance of a more expensive notebook. Nonetheless, the base of the unit has above average resistance to twists and depressions and the hinges are taut. The lid is more susceptible to twists and warping as expected, though not any more than the average for its class.

The IdeaPad Z50 is designed a bit more sharply than the Pavilion 15. Unfortunately, its base and lid are both more susceptible to flexing and even suffers from audible creaking. The Toshiba notebook sports a similar brushed aluminum outer lid as the Lenovo with plastic used for the rest of the design.  Quality is better than the Lenovo and is similar to that of the HP.

While it's a tough call between the Pavilion 15 and Satellite S50, the edge goes to the Satellite notebook as it is thinner and a few hundred grams lighter than both other models without sacrificing build quality along the way.

Winner: Toshiba Satellite S50

384.5 mm / 15.1 inch 261.1 mm / 10.3 inch 25.2 mm / 0.992 inch 2.2 kg4.85 lbs375 mm / 14.8 inch 263 mm / 10.4 inch 25 mm / 0.984 inch 2.3 kg5.14 lbs380 mm / 15 inch 262 mm / 10.3 inch 19.9 mm / 0.783 inch 2 kg4.42 lbs

Ports in Comparison

HP Pavilion 15
HP Pavilion 15
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Toshiba Satellite S50

Connectivity

The core basics are available on all models with just one or two omitted features on each. The Pavilion 15 lacks Gigabit Ethernet and VGA, while the IdeaPad Z50 is down one USB 3.0 port and the Satellite S50 is missing an optical drive. One feature may be more desirable than the other depending on which is more important for your daily needs. For the target budget or mainstream audience, however, we find the VGA port on the Lenovo to be invaluable for schoolwork and external monitors.

No models make use of any dedicated docking ports.

Winner: Lenovo IdeaPad Z50

Ports and Connections

HP Pavilion 15 Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 Toshiba Satellite S50
USB 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0 1x USB 3.0, 2x USB 2.0 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
Video-out 1x HDMI 1x HDMI, 1x VGA 1x HDMI
Other SD reader, optical drive, 1x 3.5 mm audio, LAN (10/100), Kensington Lock SD reader, optical drive, 1x 3.5 mm audio, LAN (10/100/1000), Kensington Lock SD reader, 1x 3.5 mm audio, LAN (10/100/1000), Kensington Lock
Storage Bays 1x 2.5-inch SATA III 1x 2.5-inch SATA III 1x 2.5-inch SATA II
HP Pavilion 15
HP Pavilion 15
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Toshiba Satellite S50

Input Devices

The keyboard on the Pavilion 15 mirrors that of its predecessor with no major changes. That is, travel is shallow and feedback is on the softer side. Meanwhile, the keyboard on the Z50 is very poor as the entire surface can be easily warped. This alone makes the keys feel very cheap and the spongy feedback does little to help. Its only redeeming quality is perhaps the full-size Arrow keys at the cost of a slightly smaller Numpad.

The Toshiba S50 isn't much better. Not only is feedback poor, but it can feel different depending on the section of the keyboard. The problem is especially pronounced on the long Space Bar. On the bright side, the keys are quiet and include a backlight unlike on the HP or Lenovo. The HP keyboard has the fewest issues out of the three and is easier to become accustomed to with regular use.

As for the multi-touch touchpads, Lenovo loses this round again for its poorer response around the edges and corners and poor dedicated mouse keys. The touchpads on the HP and Toshiba perform more consistently in comparison and use integrated mouse keys instead. Toshiba comes out the winner with its firmer texture and solid precision.

Winner: Keyboard -- HP Pavilion 15

              Touchpad -- Toshiba Satellite S50

Display

Our 1080p panel on the HP has the unfair resolution advantage against the 768p panels on both our Lenovo and Toshiba configurations. Thus, we should mention that the Z50 and S50 models do come with higher resolution options up to even 4K (3840 x 2160) on the latter.

We can compare other essential characteristics aside from resolution such as brightness, colors, and contrast. At just above 200 nits on average, the backlight on all three notebooks are just barely sufficient for indoor use and not even close for comfortable use outdoors. We especially expected the Z50 and S50 to carry brighter displays as they must overcome glare from their glossy panels.

Color accuracy without calibration is again similar between the three configurations. Color temperatures are overly cool as normal on budget TN panels and color coverage is just 40 percent of the AdobeRGB spectrum. Fortunately, these poor results are largely insignificant for day-to-day office and browsing use.

Contrast is poorer on the Pavilion 15 by as much as one-half when compared to the Z50 or S50. This becomes painfully obvious as blacks become muddy grays when watching videos.

Unfortunately, this is a "pick your poison" scenario as no display is indubitably better than the other. Opting for a Z50 configuration with 1080p may be the best bet without paying north of $1000 USD for the 4K option on the Toshiba S50.

Winner: Lenovo IdeaPad Z50

HP Pavilion 15
HP Pavilion 15
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Displays at a Glance

HP Pavilion 15 Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 Toshiba Satellite S50
Size 15.6-inch TN 15.6-inch TN 15.6-inch TN
Native Resolution 1920 x 1080 1366 x 768 1366 x 768
Pixel Density 141 PPI 100 PPI 100 PPI
Panel ID BOE Chi Mei N156BGE-EB1 LG LP156WH3-TLS2
Panel Matte Glossy Glossy
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ngLenovo IdeaPad Z50-75Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
Screen
Brightness middle
223
229
203
Brightness
215
211
208
Brightness Distribution
83
90
88
Black Level *
0.76
0.34
0.41
Contrast
293
674
495
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
8.5
8.27
9.93
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
9.35
9.01
10.84
Gamma
2.46 89%
2.28 96%
2.24 98%
CCT
10402 62%
10614 61%
11605 56%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
42
41.4
38
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
66

* ... smaller is better

HP Pavilion 15 color profile
HP Pavilion 15 color profile
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Toshiba Satellite S50
HP Pavilion 15
HP Pavilion 15
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Toshiba Satellite S50

Performance

CPU Performance

Multiple CPU and GPU configurations are available for all three models. We could have chosen more similar processors for all models, but having three different processors should give way to more interesting and differentiating results.

Raw processing power is weakest on the IdeaPad Z50 and its A10-7300 APU for both single-threaded and multi-threaded operations. The differences are consistently more pronounced for single-threaded operations. Even with this disadvantage, the Lenovo still scores within just a few percentage points of the HP and Toshiba in PCMark 7 due in part to its hybrid drive.

See our dedicated CPU pages on the Core i5-5500U, AMD A10-7300, and Core i5-4200U for more comparisons and benchmarks.

Hardware at a Glance

HP Pavilion 15 Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75 Toshiba Satellite S50
CPU 2.4 GHz Core i7-5500U 1.9 GHz AMD A10-7300 1.7 GHz Core i5-4200U
TDP 15 W 19 W 15 W
RAM 12 GB DDR3-1600, dual-channel, 2x SODIMM slots 8 GB DDR3-1600, dual-channel, 2x SODIMM slots 8 GB DDR3-1600, single-channel, 2x SODIMM slots
GPU Nvidia GeForce 940M AMD Radeon R6 M255DX AMD Radeon R7 M260
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
112 Points ∼51%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
58 Points ∼27%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
101 Points ∼46%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
289 Points ∼7%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
159 Points ∼4%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
240 Points ∼5%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
1.42 Points ∼58%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
0.68 Points ∼28%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
1.12 Points ∼46%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
3.18 Points ∼7%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
1.81 Points ∼4%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
2.53 Points ∼6%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2662 Points ∼26%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
7400 Points ∼10%
wPrime 2.0x
1024m (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
838.252 s * ∼10%
32m (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
23.429 s * ∼5%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - --- (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
1463.82 Seconds * ∼7%
3DMark
Fire Strike Extreme Physics (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2052 Points ∼7%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Physics (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
4920 Points ∼15%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2041 Points ∼6%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
3544 Points ∼11%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Physics (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
3431 Points ∼9%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
1497 Points ∼4%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
2501 Points ∼6%
PCMark 7
System Storage (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
1611 Points ∼23%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
3309 Points ∼46%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
1533 Points ∼21%
Computation (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
14788 Points ∼52%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
5928 Points ∼21%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
12344 Points ∼44%
Creativity (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
5745 Points ∼40%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
5340 Points ∼37%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
5121 Points ∼36%
Entertainment (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
2830 Points ∼26%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2411 Points ∼22%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
2713 Points ∼25%
Productivity (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
1655 Points ∼15%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2261 Points ∼21%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
1487 Points ∼14%
Lightweight (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
2233 Points ∼31%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2832 Points ∼39%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
2085 Points ∼28%
Score (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
2937 Points ∼32%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2875 Points ∼31%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
2766 Points ∼30%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
3903 Points ∼60%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
4257 Points ∼65%
Creative Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
3464 Points ∼33%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
3626 Points ∼34%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
3069 Points ∼50%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2742 Points ∼45%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
3223 Points ∼53%
X264 HD Benchmark 4.0
Pass 2 (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
11.71 fps ∼0%
Pass 1 (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
61.55 fps ∼23%

* ... smaller is better

GPU Performance

According to 3DMark, the GeForce GT 940M and Radeon R6 M266DX Dual Graphics are both neck-to-neck. The Radeon R7 M260 in the Toshiba S50 is 20 to 30 percent slower than the graphics horsepower of the Pavilion 15 or IdeaPad Z50. There are no performance benefits from enabling Dual Graphics on CineBench benchmarks.

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
2359 Points ∼5%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
2316 Points ∼5%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
1844 Points ∼4%
3DMark
Fire Strike Extreme Graphics (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
677 Points ∼3%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
1592 Points ∼4%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
1559 Points ∼4%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
1057 Points ∼3%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
8760 Points ∼5%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
9663 Points ∼5%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
5549 Points ∼3%
Cinebench R11.5 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
48.21 fps ∼28%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
21.05 fps ∼12%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
41.08 fps ∼24%
Cinebench R15 - OpenGL 64Bit (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
60.66 fps ∼24%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
23.91 fps ∼10%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
36.66 fps ∼15%

Gaming Performance

The results from the synthetic GPU benchmarks carry over nicely to real-world gaming performance. 

The IdeaPad Z50 is again nearly on par with the Nvidia hardware in the Pavilion 15. However, users should note that AMD Dual Graphics is more likely to cause issues when gaming simply due to poorer driver support. Meanwhile, the Radeon R7 M260 is slower by 20 percent in Bioshock Infinite.

No matter the choice, all GPUs here are much more powerful than the common Intel HD 4000 or HD 4400. Gaming in 720p is possible on Low to Medium settings. For more technical information and benchmarks, see our dedicated GPU pages on the GeForce GT 940M, Radeon R6 M255DX, and Radeon R7 M260.

Tomb Raider
1366x768 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
34 fps ∼7%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
33.6 fps ∼7%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
33.6 fps ∼7%
1366x768 Normal Preset AA:FX AF:4x (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
61.6 fps ∼11%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
47.1 fps ∼8%
1024x768 Low Preset (sort by value)
HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
129.1 fps ∼21%
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
61.3 fps ∼10%
BioShock Infinite
1366x768 High Preset (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
33.3 fps ∼9%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
24.9 fps ∼6%
1366x768 Medium Preset (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
38 fps ∼9%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
31.75 fps ∼8%
1280x720 Very Low Preset (sort by value)
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
51.6 fps ∼11%
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
53.22 fps ∼12%
HP Pavilion 15
HP Pavilion 15
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Toshiba Satellite S50

Stress Test

To test system stability, we run both Prime95 and FurMark to simulate maximum stress. These unrealistic conditions do not represent daily workloads, but are instead meant to put both the CPU and GPU at 100 percent capacity.

The CPUs on all models throttle under these intense loads, especially on the Toshiba S50. The effect is less pronounced on the Lenovo Z50 and Pavilion 15. Core temperature in the latter notebook, however, stabilizes at a much higher 86 C due in part to its faster raw clock rates.

Meanwhile, all discrete GPUs perform surprisingly well with no major throttling issues at all. GPU temperature is lowest in the Pavilion 15 even though it is faster than the AMD solutions in the Lenovo and Toshiba.

Winner: HP Pavilion 15

HP Pavilion 15
HP Pavilion 15
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50
Toshiba Satellite S50
Toshiba Satellite S50
CPU and GPU Clock Rates Under Stress

HP Pavilion 15 Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 Toshiba Satellite S50
Rated GPU Core Clock (MHz) 1072 - 1176 533 - 855 940
Stable GPU Core Clock on FurMark (MHz) 1163 785 940
Rated CPU Core Clock (GHz) 2.4 1.9 1.7
Stable CPU Core Clock on Prime95 (GHz) 2.3 - 2.5 1.5 0.8 - 2.4
Maximum CPU temperature 86 C 72 C 82 C
Maximum GPU temperature 68 C 72 - 75 C 75 C

Emissions

System Noise & Temperature

The fans on all models are always spinning by default even when on the Power Saver profile. The Pavilion 15 includes the option to turn off the fan if processing loads are low enough, but the system will override the feature as soon as processing demands pick up.

The Lenovo and Toshiba are quieter compared to the HP. However, the fans in the Toshiba tend to pulsate more noticeably and frequently. The IdeaPad Z50 comes out ahead for its less distracting fan noise and lower noise in general.

As for surface temperatures, the Toshiba notebook is the warmest by far when under heavy processing loads. It also has the warmest hot spot with a recorded 57.1 C on the bottom of the notebook compared to 40 to 45 C on the HP and Lenovo. Meanwhile, temperature development is quite uneven on the Lenovo compared to the HP or Toshiba as half of its keyboard can be much warmer than the other half. Thus, surface temperatures are cooler and flatter on the HP despite it having the loudest fan noise.

Winner: System Noise -- Lenovo IdeaPad Z50

              Surface Temperature -- HP Pavilion 15

Average Fan Noise and Surface Temperature

HP Pavilion 15 Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 Toshiba Satellite S50
Fan Noise when idling 34.5 dB(A) 32.1 dB(A) 31.7 - 33.1 dB(A)
Fan Noise under high loads 44.1 - 52.5 dB(A) 36.9 - 38.4 dB(A) 37.2 - 43.6 dB(A)
Average surface temperature when idling 27.8 C 25.9 C 24.9 C
Average surface temperature under high loads 32.5 C 31.3 C 39.3 C
Ambient temperature during test 25 C 20 C 22 C

Battery Life

All battery packs on the three notebooks are easily removable from the rear. It's worth noting that the Toshiba S50 utilizes screws in addition to latches, so a screwdriver is required.

Battery runtimes are longest on the Pavilion 15 by a noticeable margin. This may be attributed to its more efficient Broadwell core and Optimus graphics compared to the Haswell, Kaveri, and Radeon cores in the Toshiba and Lenovo. The Toshiba S50 comes close, but our WiFi v1.3 test is noticeably more demanding compared to our original WiFi test. 

Winner: HP Pavilion 15

HP Pavilion 15-ab022ng
41 Wh
Lenovo IdeaPad Z50-75
32 Wh
Toshiba Satellite S50-B-12U
44 Wh
Battery Runtime
Reader / Idle
563
266
490
WiFi v1.3
267
Load
88
63
116
WiFi
136
306

Verdict

The HP Pavilion 15 is the more solid choice around the home once users look past the below-average contrast.
The HP Pavilion 15 is the more solid choice around the home once users look past the below-average contrast.

The notebook that is more susceptible to damage and with weaker build quality can be quickly crossed off of our list. Unfortunately for Lenovo, this means it is more difficult for us to recommend the IdeaPad Z50 over the Pavilion 15 or Satellite S50. It may have a marginally better display and a useful VGA port, but its problems are difficult to ignore including its low battery life and poor keyboard.

For a standard no-frills notebook without a four-digit price range, the Pavilion 15 and Satellite S50 are good choices. However, the lighter of the two notebooks has the much shorter battery life than the other, so none of these models are ideal for the frequent traveler. For home and indoor use, the Pavilion 15 gets the small edge over the Toshiba for its accessibility and balanced keyboard.

Buy HP Pavilion 15 2015

Buy Lenovo IdeaPad Z50

Buy Toshiba Satellite S50

HP Pavilion 15 2015Lenovo IdeaPad Z50Toshiba Satellite S50

+ Stronger chassis

+ Matte panel

+ Nvidia graphics

+ Longer battery life

+ Lower surface temperatures

Lower fan noise

+ Higher contrast

+ VGA port

Stronger chassis

+ Thinner and lighter

+ Solid touchpad

- Higher fan noise

- No Gigabit Ethernet

- Higher CPU temperatures

- Lower contrast

- Heavier

- Dual Graphics

- Poor keyboard and touchpad

- Weaker chassis

- Poorer battery life

- Glossy panel could be brighter

- No Optical drive

- More difficult maintenance

- Glossy panel could be brighter

- Uneven keyboard feedback

- SATA II only

- Higher surface temperatures

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Archive of our own reviews > Face Off: HP Pavilion 15 vs. Lenovo IdeaPad Z50 vs. Toshiba Satellite S50
Allen Ngo, 2015-09- 3 (Update: 2018-05-15)
Allen Ngo
Allen Ngo - US Editor in Chief
After graduating with a B.S. in environmental hydrodynamics from the University of California, I studied reactor physics to become licensed by the U.S. NRC to operate nuclear reactors. There's a striking level of appreciation you gain for everyday consumer electronics after working with modern nuclear reactivity systems astonishingly powered by computers from the 80s. When I'm not managing day-to-day activities and US review articles on Notebookcheck, you can catch me following the eSports scene and the latest gaming news.