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Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL Review: A great all-rounder with only one real weakness

Christian Hintze, 👁 Andreas Osthoff (translated by Mark Riege), 10/03/2019

Almost an ultrabook. The 15-inch all-rounder brings a GTX 1650 Max-Q in an elegant, slim aluminum case and is able to draw some attention with many positive values in the test. These include the bright, high-contrast display and the fast SSD, for example. However, it also shows a significant weakness.

Our test unit is the 15-inch version of the IdeaPad S540 in the Campus Edition, which is reduced in price for students and such. For the more affordable version, the price starts at 929 Euros (~$1016). If you increase the SSD to 1 TB and select the Home version of the Windows OS, the price reaches about 1100 Euros (~$1203). The elegant, slim combination of a multimedia device and entry-level gamer is also equipped with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, a Whiskey-Lake processor, and 12 GB of RAM.

But you have to pay attention to the label, since IdeaPad S540 is available in a 13, 14, or 15-inch version. The two digit number at the end of the label, which is "-15IWL" in our case, tells you about the display size.

As comparison devices, we mainly choose laptops with the same graphics card. These include the Acer Nitro 5, the HP Omen 15, the Asus TUF FX505DT, and the MSI PS63 Modern 8SC, which is equipped with the Max-Q variant of the GTX 1650 and uses the same processor. 

Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE (Ideapad S540 Series)
Graphics adapter
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 26.21.14.3111, Umschaltung zu Intel UHD Graphics 620
Memory
12288 MB 
Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1920 x 1080 pixel 141 PPI, CMN N156HCE-EN1, IPS, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Cannon Lake-U PCH-LP Premium
Storage
Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR, 1024 GB 
, , 918 GB free
Soundcard
Intel Cannon Lake-LP - cAVS
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 2 USB 3.1 Gen2, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: AMD/Intel, Card Reader: Full SD, 1 Fingerprint Reader
Networking
Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth Bluetooth 4.2
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 19.1 x 358 x 245 ( = 0.75 x 14.09 x 9.65 in)
Battery
70 Wh Lithium-Ion, Battery runtime (according to manufacturer): 15 h
Charging
fast charging / Quickcharge
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p HD webcam with IR camera
Primary Camera: 1 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: stereo (2x 2W) , Keyboard: AccuType , Keyboard Light: yes, 24 Months Warranty, 24 months Depot (bring-in incl. free pick-up and return service), battery: 12 months
Weight
1.876 kg ( = 66.17 oz / 4.14 pounds), Power Supply: 455 g ( = 16.05 oz / 1 pounds)
Price
1099 Euro
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

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Case - A 15-inch Lenovo ultrabook

Webcam with a shutter
Webcam with a shutter

The S540 looks quite elegant and stylish. This is due to the relatively slim design, the rounded corners throughout, and the primary use of aluminum with a dark-gray finish. The aluminum also ensures that the base cannot be warped. Plastic is only used in the slim display bezels inside the lid. The webcam on the top edge can be closed with a shutter.

Fan vent behind the hinge
Fan vent behind the hinge

The workmanship turns out very good overall, even if the base creaks slightly when warped towards the edges. The large hinge in the center holds the display lid tightly in position.

The S540 does not offer a maintenance flap, and the battery is built-in. The wide fan vent is placed in the back towards the display and is in part hidden by the hinge. 

Our test unit is one of the smallest and lightest representatives of 15-inch notebooks and is only beaten in this regard by the MSI PS63 (also Max-Q), which is again 3 mm (~0.1 in) slimmer and about 10 mm (~0.4 in) less deep. All the other comparison devices are significantly larger and thicker. The same goes mostly for its weight of 1.9 kg (~4.2 lb). Although the MSI is 200 grams (~0.44 lb) lighter, the Asus is 300 grams (~0.66 lb) and the HP Omen even 400 grams (~0.88 lb) heavier. 

Size Comparison

360.4 mm / 14.2 inch 262 mm / 10.3 inch 26.8 mm / 1.055 inch 2.2 kg4.92 lbs360 mm / 14.2 inch 263 mm / 10.4 inch 25 mm / 0.984 inch 2.3 kg5.11 lbs358 mm / 14.1 inch 245 mm / 9.65 inch 19.1 mm / 0.752 inch 1.9 kg4.14 lbs357 mm / 14.1 inch 234 mm / 9.21 inch 16 mm / 0.63 inch 1.7 kg3.68 lbs

Equipment - A meager IdeaPad S540

In terms of equipment, our IdeaPad presents itself as stingy. You look in vain for a LAN connection or Thunderbolt 3. There are only 3 USB slots, with one of them Type C. At least, there is a full-sized SD card reader. In addition, there is an HDMI port and an audio port, but that is it. 

Lenovo's choice of power connector is annoying. While you can still see the typical round plug in the product images, the manufacturer actually used the old SlimTip connection that was often used earlier in ThinkPads. Unfortunately, charging via USB-C is not possible.

The wrong power connection shown in the product images
The wrong power connection shown in the product images
Our test unit uses the SlimTip connection
Our test unit uses the SlimTip connection
Power plug and charger
Power plug and charger

Despite the limited number of connections, the two USB-A ports are positioned very close together, so that some thicker USB devices might block each other.

Left: power, HDMI, USB-C (3.0), audio
Left: power, HDMI, USB-C (3.0), audio
Right: SD card reader, 2x USB-A (3.1)
Right: SD card reader, 2x USB-A (3.1)
Front: no connections
Front: no connections
Back: no connections
Back: no connections

SD Card Reader

The IdeaPad achieves average values in the SD card performance measured with our Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II reference storage card. Since neither the Acer, nor the Asus even have a card reader, we compare it with other entry-level gaming notebooks. The significantly more expensive Dell shows what a fast SD card reader can do: it is more than twice as fast than the Omen and the IdeaPad.

SDCardreader Transfer Speed
average JPG Copy Test (av. of 3 runs)
Dell XPS 15 7590 9980HK GTX 1650
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
172.4 MB/s ∼100% +119%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
82.9 MB/s ∼48% +5%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
80.5 MB/s ∼47% +2%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
78.6 MB/s ∼46%
Average of class Multimedia
  (11.2 - 190, n=179)
58.2 MB/s ∼34% -26%
maximum AS SSD Seq Read Test (1GB)
Dell XPS 15 7590 9980HK GTX 1650
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
192.1 MB/s ∼100% +123%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
89.9 MB/s ∼47% +4%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
87 MB/s ∼45% +1%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
  (Toshiba Exceria Pro SDXC 64 GB UHS-II)
86.3 MB/s ∼45%
Average of class Multimedia
  (10.2 - 253, n=176)
74.4 MB/s ∼39% -14%

Communication

You cannot connect the IdeaPad S540 to the Internet via cable, since it lacks the corresponding RJ-45 port. The WLAN performance remains within an average range. Other than that, there is also Bluetooth 4.2 for communication.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
674 MBit/s ∼100% +4%
Dell XPS 15 7590 9980HK GTX 1650
Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650x Wireless Network Adapter (200NGW)
674 MBit/s ∼100% +4%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
646 MBit/s ∼96% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
645 MBit/s ∼96%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
Realtek RTL8822BE Wireless LAN 802.11ac PCIe Adapter
586 MBit/s ∼87% -9%
Average of class Multimedia
  (44 - 1291, n=144)
508 MBit/s ∼75% -21%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
680 MBit/s ∼100% 0%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
679 MBit/s ∼100% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
677 MBit/s ∼100%
Dell XPS 15 7590 9980HK GTX 1650
Killer Wi-Fi 6 AX1650x Wireless Network Adapter (200NGW)
644 MBit/s ∼95% -5%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
Realtek RTL8822BE Wireless LAN 802.11ac PCIe Adapter
617 MBit/s ∼91% -9%
Average of class Multimedia
  (46.1 - 1374, n=143)
489 MBit/s ∼72% -28%

Security

Optional fingerprint sensor
Optional fingerprint sensor

It is unusual that Lenovo does not include a slot for a Kensington Lock. Other than that, TPM 2.0 is on board. 

Optionally, you can get a fingerprint reader, which is positioned on the right side below the keyboard in our test unit.

Accessories

The box itself includes only the usual accessories, such as the charger and a quick-start manual. For an additional 50 Euros (~$55), for example, you can get a docking station.

Docking stations
Docking stations

Maintenance

As long as you have the right Torx screw driver on hand, the maintenance is uncomplicated. You can then remove the 10 screws quickly, and the bottom of the case almost opens by itself after several clicks. Fortunately, there is no need to stress when trying to pry it open, which often brings up anxious worries of breaking something. 

The bottom then offers access to the two fans, the battery, the SSD, the Wi-Fi module, and the RAM, which sits beneath a (loose) metal cover.

Torx screw profile
Torx screw profile
Without the bottom case cover
Without the bottom case cover
Covered RAM
Covered RAM
RAM revealed
RAM revealed

Warranty

The manufacturer offers a 24-month warranty (bring-in incl. free pick-up-and-return service). There is only a 12-month warranty for the built-in battery. At an additional cost, you can extend or increase the warranty service.

Input Devices - A Lenovo laptop with a good keyboard

Keyboard

The keyboard
The keyboard

The keys are sized sufficiently large and well labeled. A two-step keyboard illumination facilitates typing in dark surroundings. However, this is only optional! The pressure point is comfortable, and the stroke is quite short but still noticeable. The noise development is restrained. On the right side, a number block is squeezed in. The only annoying thing is that the size of the Up and Down arrow keys is reduced by half. The power button is positioned separately on the right side above the keyboard.

Touchpad

The touchpad
The touchpad

At about 10.5 x 7 cm (~4.1 x 2.8 in), the touchpad is sized sufficiently large and forms a visual and haptic contrast. The surface offers very good sliding characteristics, and input is also registered accurately in the corners and edges. One disadvantage of the keys being integrated into the touchpad is that you cannot press both mouse keys at the same time to stop a drag-and-drop via the right mouse key, for example. The clicking noises are still acceptable, but the right edge of the pad is not completely tight and produces some clattering.

Display - The Lenovo PC is ahead of the competitors

Lenovo uses a matte IPS display from Chi Mei with a Full-HD resolution. The display is able to convince, which already begins with a brightness of more than 300 nits and a good brightness distribution (88%). The panels in the Asus, HP, and MSI competitors are up to 15 - 37% darker and the brightness distribution is also less even.

While we can see some minimal screen bleeding in the lower corners on the photo, which has been brightened up a lot, in practical operation this is almost not noticeable, even in dark scenes. 

Subpixel grid
Subpixel grid
Minimal screen bleeding
Minimal screen bleeding
326
cd/m²
338
cd/m²
326
cd/m²
300
cd/m²
330
cd/m²
309
cd/m²
299
cd/m²
311
cd/m²
297
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
CMN N156HCE-EN1
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 338 cd/m² Average: 315.1 cd/m² Minimum: 6.5 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 88 %
Center on Battery: 332 cd/m²
Contrast: 1650:1 (Black: 0.2 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.4 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6, calibrated: 2.7
ΔE Greyscale 4.8 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
88.5% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 57.8% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.24
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
CMN N156HCE-EN1, , 1920x1080, 15.6
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
LGD05CE, , 1920x1080, 15.6
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
CMN N156HCE-EN1 (CMN15E8), , 1920x1080, 15.6
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
Panda LM156LF-GL, , 1920x1080, 15.6
Dell XPS 15 7590 9980HK GTX 1650
Samsung 156WR04, SDCA029, , 3840x2160, 15.6
Response Times
-1%
-6%
15%
29%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
39.2 (21.2, 18)
40 (21.2, 18.8)
-2%
41.6 (23.6, 18)
-6%
30.4 (14, 16.4)
22%
2.3 (1.1, 1.2)
94%
Response Time Black / White *
29.6 (16.4, 13.2)
29.6 (17.2, 12.4)
-0%
32.8 (22.8, 10)
-11%
27.6 (17.6, 10)
7%
2.4 (1.1, 1.3)
92%
PWM Frequency
25510 (20)
25510 (28)
0%
59.52 (100)
-100%
Screen
-35%
-6%
-42%
8%
Brightness middle
330
251
-24%
207
-37%
286.2
-13%
421.2
28%
Brightness
315
232
-26%
199
-37%
267
-15%
417
32%
Brightness Distribution
88
76
-14%
84
-5%
84
-5%
94
7%
Black Level *
0.2
0.17
15%
0.22
-10%
0.33
-65%
Contrast
1650
1476
-11%
941
-43%
867
-47%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.4
6.2
-41%
3.77
14%
5.45
-24%
6.06
-38%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
7.4
18.6
-151%
5.98
19%
18.08
-144%
11.89
-61%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
2.7
4.8
-78%
2.59
4%
4.47
-66%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
4.8
4.2
12%
3.22
33%
5.3
-10%
2.8
42%
Gamma
2.24 98%
2.32 95%
2.42 91%
2.1 105%
2.15 102%
CCT
6760 96%
7454 87%
7072 92%
7679 85%
6235 104%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
57.8
36.5
-37%
57
-1%
37.6
-35%
81
40%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
88.5
57.4
-35%
88
-1%
59.1
-33%
99.6
13%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-18% / -30%
-6% / -6%
-14% / -33%
19% / 14%

* ... smaller is better

In terms of the black value (0.2) and contrast (1650 : 1), the Chi-Mei display is even able to increase its advantage to the competitors. The Asus and the MSI in particular do not even achieve a contrast of 1000 : 1. The color deviations are also okay and can be reduced further via calibration.

ColorChecker
ColorChecker
Grayscale
Grayscale
Saturation
Saturation
ColorChecker calibrated
ColorChecker calibrated
Grayscale calibrated
Grayscale calibrated
Saturation calibrated
Saturation calibrated

Even though the color space coverage is rather decent (89% sRGB, 58% AdobeRGB), only the HP Omen achieves similar values here, and the Asus and the MSI are left behind. 

AdobeRGB: 57.8%
AdobeRGB: 57.8%
sRGB: 88.5%
sRGB: 88.5%
Sunlight from the sides
Sunlight from the sides

Using the IdeaPad S540 outdoors is not a problem, which is ensured by the very good brightness (>300 nits) in combination with the high contrast and good black value. Due to the matte surface, there are no reflections.

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
29.6 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 16.4 ms rise
↘ 13.2 ms fall
The screen shows relatively slow response rates in our tests and may be too slow for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 71 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (24.8 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
39.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 21.2 ms rise
↘ 18 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 44 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (39.5 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM detected 25510 Hz ≤ 20 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 25510 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 20 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 25510 Hz is quite high, so most users sensitive to PWM should not notice any flickering.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9331 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

The viewing angle stability of the S540 is particularly good. Even when pressed, the display hardly reacts with any undesired wave-forming or such. 

Performance - Less is more in the IdeaPad

The combination of an Intel Core i7-8565U, Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 (Max-Q), 12 GB of RAM, and a 1-TB SSD turn the IdeaPad S540 into a capable all-rounder that is ready for practically any task. Even gamers are served well, at least at the entry-level.

Lenovo also offers the S540 with the weaker Intel Core i5-8265U. At an extra cost, you can increase the RAM, up to 36 GB are possible. Unfortunately, there is only a single RAM slot, and 4GB are soldered-in. The SSD can also be replaced.

A positive point is that the LatencyMon tool did not detect any annoying latencies. 

LatencyMon
LatencyMon
 

Processor

While some of the competitors use Coffee Lake Refresh CPUs and the Asus even has a Ryzen processor, Lenovo uses the Intel Core i7-8565U Whiskey Lake CPU from last year with the integrated UHD Graphics 620. The performance depends mainly on the TDP setting.

We can already see in the Cinebench loop chart that the MSI, for example, uses the same CPU to a fuller extent and that the S540 appears throttled in comparison. On the other hand, the performance drops less over time (6% after the first run). In contrast, the Asus competitor with the Ryzen CPU is clearly ahead, and the IdeaPad can only best the competitors in the single-core test.

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Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel Core i7-8565U: Ø624 (617.82-662.76)
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel Core i7-8565U: Ø639 (616.5-695)
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73 AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, AMD Ryzen 7 3750H: Ø741 (732.32-778.15)

The HP Omen with the i5-9300H is also able to do better in the multi-core test and can achieve a significant advantage of about 24%. In battery mode, the values remain constant in Cinebench R15.

Cinebench R10
Cinebench R10
Cinebench R11.5
Cinebench R11.5
Cinebench R15
Cinebench R15
Cinebench R15 battery
Cinebench R15 battery
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U
189 Points ∼100%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Core i7-8565U
183 Points ∼97% -3%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
Intel Core i5-9300H
171 Points ∼90% -10%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (73.1 - 193, n=48)
170 Points ∼90% -10%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
157 Points ∼83% -17%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U
152 Points ∼80% -20%
Average of class Multimedia
  (36 - 201, n=373)
129 Points ∼68% -32%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
799 Points ∼100% +28%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
Intel Core i5-9300H
769 Points ∼96% +24%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Core i7-8565U
695 Points ∼87% +12%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U
622 (min: 617.82, max: 662.76) Points ∼78%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U
600 (min: 548.41, max: 619.74) Points ∼75% -4%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (361 - 815, n=49)
586 Points ∼73% -6%
Average of class Multimedia
  (73 - 1550, n=389)
494 Points ∼62% -21%
Cinebench R11.5
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U
2.16 Points ∼100%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U
1.88 Points ∼87% -13%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (0.65 - 2.16, n=11)
1.811 Points ∼84% -16%
Average of class Multimedia
  (0.39 - 2.28, n=419)
1.297 Points ∼60% -40%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U
6.9 Points ∼100%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U
6.45 Points ∼93% -7%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (4.09 - 7.4, n=11)
6.31 Points ∼91% -9%
Average of class Multimedia
  (0.59 - 17.6, n=685)
3.77 Points ∼55% -45%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U
9435 Points ∼100%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (5474 - 9435, n=6)
8104 Points ∼86% -14%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U
7975 Points ∼85% -15%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1011 - 9435, n=513)
4459 Points ∼47% -53%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U
25638 Points ∼100%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U
25361 Points ∼99% -1%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (14542 - 26851, n=6)
21376 Points ∼83% -17%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1968 - 45795, n=513)
12050 Points ∼47% -53%
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
6820 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
9435 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
25638 Points
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
6.9 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
76.12 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
2.16 Points
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
99.62 %
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
189 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
109 fps
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
622 Points
Help

System Performance

The PCMark tests attest the IdeaPad S540 with a good system performance at the expected level. There are only minimal differences between the competitors.

In Windows everyday operation, everything runs smoothly, which is ensured by the good cooperation between the components. 

PCMark 10
PCMark 10
PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 8 Home
PCMark 8 Work
PCMark 8 Work
PCMark 10
Digital Content Creation
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 3750H, Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
5282 Points ∼100% +7%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 9300H, WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
5044 Points ∼95% +2%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
4947 Points ∼94%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-512G
4918 Points ∼93% -1%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (4680 - 4947, n=3)
4848 Points ∼92% -2%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1001 - 7161, n=102)
3761 Points ∼71% -24%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
GeForce MX250, 8265U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3637 Points ∼69% -26%
Productivity
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 9300H, WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
7261 Points ∼100% +1%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (7175 - 7201, n=3)
7184 Points ∼99% 0%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-512G
7177 Points ∼99% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
7175 Points ∼99%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
GeForce MX250, 8265U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
6654 Points ∼92% -7%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 3750H, Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
6518 Points ∼90% -9%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1407 - 8020, n=103)
6191 Points ∼85% -14%
Essentials
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (8709 - 9067, n=3)
8852 Points ∼100% +2%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-512G
8781 Points ∼99% +1%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
8709 Points ∼98%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 9300H, WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
8575 Points ∼97% -2%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 3750H, Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
8355 Points ∼94% -4%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
GeForce MX250, 8265U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
8264 Points ∼93% -5%
Average of class Multimedia
  (2891 - 9829, n=103)
7549 Points ∼85% -13%
Score
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 9300H, WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
4873 Points ∼100% +1%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-512G
4851 Points ∼100% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
4847 Points ∼99%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (4828 - 4851, n=3)
4842 Points ∼99% 0%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 3750H, Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
4732 Points ∼97% -2%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
GeForce MX250, 8265U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4192 Points ∼86% -14%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1144 - 5500, n=104)
3992 Points ∼82% -18%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
5145 Points ∼100%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (5132 - 5145, n=2)
5139 Points ∼100% 0%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 9300H, WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
5107 Points ∼99% -1%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
GeForce MX250, 8265U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4965 Points ∼97% -3%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 3750H, Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
4701 Points ∼91% -9%
Average of class Multimedia
  (2213 - 5651, n=286)
4309 Points ∼84% -16%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
GeForce MX250, 8265U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4220 Points ∼100% +12%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 3750H, Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
3917 Points ∼93% +4%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (3758 - 3764, n=2)
3761 Points ∼89% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
3758 Points ∼89%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 9300H, WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
3691 Points ∼87% -2%
Average of class Multimedia
  (1371 - 4900, n=307)
3389 Points ∼80% -10%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3758 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
5145 points
Help

Storage Solution

As storage solution, Lenovo uses a Samsung PM981 with 1 TB of storage space. In our best-of list, this NVMe SSD ranges at the very top and is one of the fastest SSDs in general. Correspondingly, the S540 is able to score in the benchmarks. Particularly in the AS SSD, it is able to best the competitors.

AS SSD
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark 3
CrystalDiskMark 3
CrystalDiskMark 5
CrystalDiskMark 5
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-512G
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
Average Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
 
CrystalDiskMark 5.2 / 6
-14%
-22%
7%
1%
Write 4K
173.02
139.8
-19%
137.5
-21%
112.1
-35%
148 (132 - 173, n=4)
-14%
Read 4K
51.88
46.24
-11%
56.96
10%
42.01
-19%
48.7 (46.7 - 51.9, n=4)
-6%
Write Seq
1066.91
1346
26%
983.8
-8%
1964
84%
1234 (1067 - 1402, n=3)
16%
Read Seq
1023.91
1446
41%
1564
53%
2065
102%
1167 (973 - 1503, n=3)
14%
Write 4K Q32T1
462.04
346.8
-25%
237.4
-49%
318.2
-31%
445 (268 - 576, n=4)
-4%
Read 4K Q32T1
548.72
451.2
-18%
340.7
-38%
406.7
-26%
536 (360 - 655, n=4)
-2%
Write Seq Q32T1
3010.8
1456
-52%
958.8
-68%
2534
-16%
2998 (2936 - 3033, n=4)
0%
Read Seq Q32T1
3520.3
1748
-50%
1732
-51%
3438
-2%
3525 (3481 - 3561, n=4)
0%
AS SSD
-43%
-60%
-25%
-3%
Copy Game MB/s
866.7
907.05
691
Copy Program MB/s
444.49
392.55
267
Copy ISO MB/s
942.16
1417.66
1131
Score Total
5123
3370
-34%
1717
-66%
4323
-16%
5297 (5087 - 5810, n=4)
3%
Score Write
2161
1492
-31%
992
-54%
1901
-12%
2174 (1986 - 2291, n=4)
1%
Score Read
1947
1240
-36%
472
-76%
1619
-17%
2062 (1851 - 2333, n=4)
6%
Access Time Write *
0.027
0.022
19%
0.047
-74%
0.032
-19%
0.0315 (0.027 - 0.041, n=4)
-17%
Access Time Read *
0.032
0.112
-250%
0.065
-103%
0.084
-163%
0.0413 (0.032 - 0.054, n=4)
-29%
4K-64 Write
1781.54
1182.37
-34%
787.44
-56%
1538.26
-14%
1805 (1650 - 1907, n=4)
1%
4K-64 Read
1671.3
1041.99
-38%
321.49
-81%
1282.6
-23%
1771 (1599 - 2009, n=4)
6%
4K Write
138.24
172.47
25%
115.48
-16%
118.58
-14%
127 (105 - 138, n=4)
-8%
4K Read
58.5
48
-18%
48.22
-18%
40.56
-31%
55 (45.5 - 59.1, n=4)
-6%
Seq Write
2411
1371.86
-43%
888.5
-63%
2439.74
1%
2416 (2314 - 2484, n=4)
0%
Seq Read
2170
1502.19
-31%
1019.04
-53%
2955.46
36%
2360 (1954 - 2661, n=4)
9%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-29% / -30%
-41% / -44%
-9% / -11%
-1% / -2%

* ... smaller is better

Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
Sequential Read: 1055.2 MB/s
Sequential Write: 1081.2 MB/s
512K Read: 591.17 MB/s
512K Write: 1361.33 MB/s
4K Read: 69.62 MB/s
4K Write: 173.56 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 537.6 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 456.63 MB/s

Graphics Card

In the S540, Nvidia Optimus switches between the integrated UHD Graphics 620 and the dedicated Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q as needed. The latter is the current successor to the GTX 1050 (Ti) and quasi represents the power-saving entry-level of the current Nvidia generation. In return, you have to live without high-end performance and features such as ray-tracing.

In our synthetic 3DMark tests, the values are on the expected level for a GTX 1650 Max-Q. It is about 10% slower than the standard model. The MSI also uses the Max-Q version and ranges about 5% behind the S540.

Away from the power outlet, the Lenovo laptop loses about 22% of its performance in the 3DMark 11.

3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Cloud Gate
3DMark Cloud Gate
3DMark 11
3DMark 11
3DMark 11 battery
3DMark 11 battery
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance GPU
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
13575 Points ∼100% +15%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), Intel Core i5-9300H
13447 Points ∼99% +14%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8565U
11764 Points ∼87%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (10422 - 11764, n=7)
11095 Points ∼82% -6%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8565U
11046 Points ∼81% -6%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
NVIDIA GeForce MX250, Intel Core i5-8265U
4942 Points ∼36% -58%
Average of class Multimedia
  (352 - 20837, n=640)
3024 Points ∼22% -74%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), Intel Core i5-9300H
9536 Points ∼100% +17%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
9428 Points ∼99% +16%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8565U
8128 Points ∼85%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8565U
7740 Points ∼81% -5%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (6985 - 8128, n=5)
7644 Points ∼80% -6%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
NVIDIA GeForce MX250, Intel Core i5-8265U
3720 Points ∼39% -54%
Average of class Multimedia
  (337 - 16100, n=414)
2913 Points ∼31% -64%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), Intel Core i5-9300H
57365 Points ∼100% +17%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8565U
49016 Points ∼85%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, Intel Core i7-8565U
48312 Points ∼84% -1%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), AMD Ryzen 7 3750H
40948 Points ∼71% -16%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (22113 - 49016, n=5)
38775 Points ∼68% -21%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
NVIDIA GeForce MX250, Intel Core i5-8265U
23643 Points ∼41% -52%
Average of class Multimedia
  (2468 - 77755, n=419)
17096 Points ∼30% -65%
3DMark 11 Performance
10679 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
20219 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
7107 points
Help

Gaming Performance

Using the Extreme settings of "The Witcher 3," the S540 is able to achieve 30 FPS on average in Full-HD. However, while the S540 scrapes along the 30-fps limit, the competitors in form of the Acer Nitro (35 FPS), HP Omen (37 FPS), and the Asus TUF (36 FPS) achieve slightly better frame rates. Only the MSI is about as slow, which is due to the more frugal Max-Q version of the GPU.

low med. high ultra
The Witcher 3 (2015) 147 92 50 30.4 fps
Dota 2 Reborn (2015) 120 105 94 88 fps
X-Plane 11.11 (2018) 69 62 52.1 fps
Shadow of the Tomb Raider (2018) 151 53 34 33 fps

On the other hand, the good news is that you can almost play any game smoothly with the IdeaPad S540, as long as it does not always have to be extreme details. The all-rounder can display older or less demanding games at maximum detail level anyways. However, in the future you might need to reduce the settings with newer games.

The Witcher 3
1920x1080 Ultra Graphics & Postprocessing (HBAO+)
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
Intel Core i5-9300H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
37 fps ∼100% +22%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
36.2 fps ∼98% +19%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
30.4 (min: 29, max: 33, 99th percentile: 29) fps ∼82%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (27.5 - 30.8, n=6)
29.7 fps ∼80% -2%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
28.8 (min: 23) fps ∼78% -5%
Average of class Multimedia
  (2.9 - 80.8, n=100)
19.9 fps ∼54% -35%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U, NVIDIA GeForce MX250
12 fps ∼32% -61%
1920x1080 High Graphics & Postprocessing (Nvidia HairWorks Off)
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
62.7 fps ∼100% +25%
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
Intel Core i5-9300H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
62.2 fps ∼99% +24%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (46.3 - 55.4, n=6)
51.5 fps ∼82% +3%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
50 fps ∼80%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
48.1 (min: 39) fps ∼77% -4%
Average of class Multimedia
  (3.8 - 117, n=111)
30.2 fps ∼48% -40%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U, NVIDIA GeForce MX250
19.8 fps ∼32% -60%
1366x768 Medium Graphics & Postprocessing
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
Intel Core i5-9300H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
109.6 fps ∼100% +19%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (84.9 - 103, n=5)
93.4 fps ∼85% +2%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
92 fps ∼84%
Average of class Multimedia
  (5.2 - 206, n=107)
46 fps ∼42% -50%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U, NVIDIA GeForce MX250
34.5 fps ∼31% -62%
1024x768 Low Graphics & Postprocessing
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
Intel Core i5-9300H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
157.1 fps ∼100% +7%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (138 - 160, n=5)
151 fps ∼96% +3%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
147 fps ∼94%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
146.4 fps ∼93% 0%
Average of class Multimedia
  (8.9 - 296, n=113)
66.9 fps ∼43% -54%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
Intel Core i5-8265U, NVIDIA GeForce MX250
47.4 fps ∼30% -68%
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
1920x1080 Highest Preset AA:T
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
41 fps ∼100% +24%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
38 (min: 12) fps ∼93% +15%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (33 - 38, n=4)
35 fps ∼85% +6%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
33 fps ∼80%
Average of class Multimedia
  (6 - 58, n=17)
27.1 fps ∼66% -18%
1920x1080 High Preset AA:SM
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
45 fps ∼100% +32%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
43 (min: 18) fps ∼96% +26%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (34 - 43, n=4)
39.5 fps ∼88% +16%
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
34 fps ∼76%
Average of class Multimedia
  (6 - 62, n=20)
28.4 fps ∼63% -16%
1920x1080 Medium Preset
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
53 fps ∼100%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
52 fps ∼98% -2%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (47 - 53, n=4)
49.8 fps ∼94% -6%
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
47 (min: 26) fps ∼89% -11%
Average of class Multimedia
  (6 - 65, n=23)
30.5 fps ∼58% -42%
1280x720 Lowest Preset
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
Intel Core i7-8565U, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
151 fps ∼100%
Average NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q
  (92 - 151, n=3)
119 fps ∼79% -21%
Average of class Multimedia
  (13 - 151, n=24)
64.5 fps ∼43% -57%
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
AMD Ryzen 7 3750H, NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop)
62 fps ∼41% -59%

The frame rates of the "The Witcher 3" remain fairly constant in the Ultra settings. There are no outliers above or below worth mentioning, and the average frames per second are about 30.

0510152025303540Tooltip
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR: Ø30.4 (29-33)

Emissions - Cool and quiet, but still annoying

Noise Emissions

In terms of the noise development, there is a clear dissonance between our measurements and the subjective impression of the tester. On one hand, the laptop remains very quiet across all scenarios, and particularly under load, none of the other competitors remain similarly quiet. Especially the Asus with its Ryzen processor runs significantly louder. On the other hand, the fan noise has a very high frequency, which can become very annoying and unpleasant. In addition, the active cooling system can turn itself on even during idle operation without any noticeable changes in the load.

Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-512G
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 3750H, Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 9300H, WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
GeForce MX250, 8265U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Noise
-17%
-13%
-4%
0%
off / environment *
28.8
30
-4%
28.2
2%
28.8
-0%
29.3
-2%
Idle Minimum *
28.9
32
-11%
28.2
2%
28.8
-0%
29.3
-1%
Idle Average *
28.9
33
-14%
28.2
2%
29.5
-2%
29.3
-1%
Idle Maximum *
30.1
34
-13%
31.4
-4%
31.1
-3%
29.3
3%
Load Average *
34.6
44
-27%
39.8
-15%
35.2
-2%
34.4
1%
Witcher 3 ultra *
34.6
41
-18%
47
-36%
35.2
-2%
34.4
1%
Load Maximum *
34.6
45
-30%
50.2
-45%
41
-18%
34.9
-1%

* ... smaller is better

Noise Level

Idle
28.9 / 28.9 / 30.1 dB(A)
Load
34.6 / 34.6 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.8 dB(A)
dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2026.330.427.530.62525.72625.926.1312724.525.328.94027.425.526.227.85026.222.621.926.96323.423.422.323.48023.923.221.924.210025.123.922.825.512523.723.52224.216022.52321.423.420023.223.220.522.825022.923.723.223.531521.12320.922.640021.423.619.223.650021.12419.523.963021.122.818.523.580020.521.718.12210002021.917.821.512502023.317.222.816002022.716.522.5200019.323.616.422.6250019.22315.622.5315020.523.815.323.1400022.724.515.123.950001821.815.123.2630016.318.815.217.9800015.917.51516.51000015.416.214.815.5125001515.214.715.11600014.715.614.614.7SPL31.934.628.834.3N1.62.11.22.1median 20.5median 23median 17.2median 22.8Delta21.62.81.526.526.629.830.829.732.231.225.82628.12525.523.525.324.725.824.527.624.725.631.726.823.826.92823.825.230.723.323.325.123.322.724.323.923.122.924.822.22422.822.423.721.823.121.722.721.323.4222323.921.62321.523.922.32323.721.722.421.622.222.322.223.322.422.222.321.223.123.222.721.220.721.421.223.423.422.621.422.321.32223.222.621.920.720.720.520.525.422.922.620.6202020.428.425.624.120.720.819.520.927.326.624.520.519.618.919.628.826.423.920.319.318.419.430.32825.620.518.917.92030.828.925.920.418.217.21831.729.826.320.117.316.417.332.828.524.519.216.71616.630.927.423.717.916.215.91625.822.419.616.115.715.415.628.324.621.717.615.815.415.626.723.220.316.215.41515.325.321.818.815.515.21515.121.918.516.715.115.114.915.119.216.71614.814.914.914.91615.315.414.614.714.714.814.914.715.414.614.514.414.74138.235.230.729.528.829.53.52.72.21.41.31.21.3median 25.4median 23.2median 22.7median 20.3median 18.2median 17.2median 183.22.62.12.22.72.62.7hearing rangehide median Fan NoiseLenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GEHP Omen 15-dc1020ng

Temperature

The temperatures of the IdeaPad remain within limits, and thanks to the Max-Q design, the notebook is one of the cooler representatives among the competitors. Only the Omen maintains similarly low temperatures, the Asus and the MSI become hotter. 

Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 8565U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-512G
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 3750H, Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 9300H, WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
GeForce MX250, 8265U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Heat
-28%
-22%
-4%
-4%
Maximum Upper Side *
42.5
56
-32%
41.2
3%
40.3
5%
41.8
2%
Maximum Bottom *
45
60
-33%
40
11%
48.5
-8%
43.3
4%
Idle Upper Side *
22.7
29
-28%
34.6
-52%
23.9
-5%
25.1
-11%
Idle Bottom *
23
27
-17%
34.4
-50%
24.6
-7%
25.4
-10%

* ... smaller is better

It is also positive that the palm rests represent the coolest areas, and the heat concentrates mainly in the areas towards the display, where the fan vents are also located.

Max. Load
 40.9 °C
106 F
42.5 °C
109 F
40.6 °C
105 F
 
 38.1 °C
101 F
38.8 °C
102 F
30.1 °C
86 F
 
 29.8 °C
86 F
26.7 °C
80 F
25.7 °C
78 F
 
Maximum: 42.5 °C = 109 F
Average: 34.8 °C = 95 F
36.5 °C
98 F
45 °C
113 F
43.1 °C
110 F
28.5 °C
83 F
38.5 °C
101 F
38.2 °C
101 F
26.7 °C
80 F
30.6 °C
87 F
31.8 °C
89 F
Maximum: 45 °C = 113 F
Average: 35.4 °C = 96 F
Power Supply (max.)  45.2 °C = 113 F | Room Temperature 21.3 °C = 70 F | Voltcraft IR-900
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 34.8 °C / 95 F, compared to the average of 31 °C / 88 F for the devices in the class Multimedia.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 42.5 °C / 109 F, compared to the average of 36.5 °C / 98 F, ranging from 21.1 to 71 °C for the class Multimedia.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 45 °C / 113 F, compared to the average of 38.8 °C / 102 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 22.3 °C / 72 F, compared to the device average of 31 °C / 88 F.
(±) Playing The Witcher 3, the average temperature for the upper side is 35.3 °C / 96 F, compared to the device average of 31 °C / 88 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 29.8 °C / 85.6 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(±) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 29.1 °C / 84.4 F (-0.7 °C / -1.2 F).
Stress test heat map - top
Stress test heat map - top
Stress test heat map - bottom
Stress test heat map - bottom
The Witcher 3 heat map - top
The Witcher 3 heat map - top
The Witcher 3 heat map - bottom
The Witcher 3 heat map - bottom

In the extreme test, the clock speed drops below the basic clock speed of 1.8 GHz already after 10 minutes. As the test continues, it only drops minimally from these values of 1.4 - 1.5 GHz, but then remains constant. The core temperatures level out at about 66 °C (151 °F) and still show a significant potential towards the top. 

In contrast, the clock speed of the graphics card only drops by a total of 100 MHz during the stress test, and ends up at 1.6 GHz after one hour. The GPU temperature is at about 65 °C (149 °F).

Beginning of the stress test
Beginning of the stress test
After 10 min
After 10 min
After 1 hour
After 1 hour

Right after the stress test, we repeat the 3DMark 11 to evaluate the performance changes compared to a cold start. The IdeaPad loses about 13% of the performance here.

3DMark 11
3DMark 11
3DMark 11 after the stress test
3DMark 11 after the stress test

Speakers

Lenovo uses stereo speakers whose power of 2 watts each probably will not inspire any excitement in audio purists, and neither did they inspire us. The sound remains a bit too quiet, naturally offers only little bass, and even the mids and highs were unable to convince. There is a single audio port to connect speakers or other external speakers. 

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2027.531.62525.929.83125.330.64026.230.65021.924.16322.323.68021.923.110022.824.11252226.816021.441.220020.553.125023.258.931520.960.140019.26250019.562.363018.565.380018.165.5100017.864.6125017.263.8160016.557.5200016.455.8250015.656.7315015.353.6400015.147.4500015.150.8630015.248.480001551.21000014.853.31250014.748.81600014.650SPL28.871.9N1.228.4median 17.2median 53.6Delta2.85.635.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6median 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseLenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GEApple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE audio analysis

(-) | not very loud speakers (71.9 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 13.5% lower than median
(-) | bass is not linear (17% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 8.5% higher than median
(+) | mids are linear (5.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2.9% away from median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (8.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (21.2% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 68% of all tested devices in this class were better, 8% similar, 24% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 19%, worst was 41%
Compared to all devices tested
» 50% of all tested devices were better, 8% similar, 42% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Apple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz audio analysis

(+) | speakers can play relatively loud (83.6 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 11.3% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (14.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 2.4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 2% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (9.3% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 1% of all tested devices in this class were better, 1% similar, 97% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 20%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 1% of all tested devices were better, 1% similar, 98% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Power Management - An efficient Lenovo laptop

Power Consumption

The S540 presents itself as frugal in terms of its power consumption, and even the MSI in the Max-Q design uses about 10% more. The rest of the 15-inch competitors consume even more, particularly the Asus (+29%). The "Idle Max" value was measured with the keyboard illumination activated, and the consumption drops to 8.7 watts without the illumination.

The 92.7-watt value represents brief load spikes that quickly drop again and then level out at a maximum of 81 watts. With this, the 90-watt power supply should be sufficient.

The 90-watt power supply
The 90-watt power supply
Size comparison with the laptop
Size comparison with the laptop
Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.39 / 0.62 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.2 / 7.8 / 10.2 Watt
Load midlight 73.6 / 92.7 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
8565U, GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, Samsung PM981a MZVLB1T0HBLR, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
8565U, GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-512G, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
3750H, GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), Intel SSD 660p SSDPEKNW512G8, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
9300H, GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), WDC PC SN720 SDAQNTW-512G, IPS, 1920x1080, 15.6
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-14IWL
8265U, GeForce MX250, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
Power Consumption
-10%
-29%
-15%
26%
Idle Minimum *
4.2
6
-43%
7
-67%
4.04
4%
2.74
35%
Idle Average *
7.8
8
-3%
9.9
-27%
7.2
8%
5.64
28%
Idle Maximum *
10.2
12
-18%
12
-18%
11.4
-12%
8.4
18%
Load Average *
73.6
76
-3%
68.4
7%
80.8
-10%
61.3
17%
Load Maximum *
92.7
102
-10%
130.9
-41%
144.5
-56%
69.4
25%
Witcher 3 ultra *
75
60
20%
94.9
-27%
93.6
-25%
49.2
34%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

In the Classic test of BatteryEater under heavy load, the S540 lasts for almost 2 hours, which represents a fairly good value. If the load is further increased ("The Witcher 3" Ultra settings), it only lasts for about 1 hour. 

We run our WLAN test twice, and of course it lasts less long at maximum brightness (7 h 10 min) than at reduced brightness (150 nits: 8 h 46 min).

Those who love movies should be pleased by about 14.5 hours of video pleasures at reduced brightness.

Overall, the battery life corresponds to the battery capacity (70 Wh). The MSI lasts about 10% longer with its 82 Wh, and the Acer, HP, and Asus have smaller batteries, so they last correspondingly less time. The S540 supports Fast Charge, and the battery is recharged to 50% after about 30 to 40 minutes.

Battery Runtime
Battery Runtime The Witcher 3 ultra
1h 03min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
8h 46min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3 max Brightness
7h 10min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
14h 36min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 57min
Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE
8565U, GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 70 Wh
Acer Aspire Nitro 5 AN515-54-53Z2
9300H, GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 57 Wh
HP Omen 15-dc1020ng
9300H, GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 52.5 Wh
MSI PS63 Modern 8SC
8565U, GeForce GTX 1650 Max-Q, 82 Wh
Asus TUF FX505DT-EB73
3750H, GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 48 Wh
Dell XPS 15 7590 9980HK GTX 1650
9980HK, GeForce GTX 1650 (Laptop), 97 Wh
Average of class Multimedia
 
Battery Runtime
-17%
-29%
10%
-36%
30%
-25%
Reader / Idle
1044
951
724
466
910
409 (73 - 2085, n=892)
H.264
876
482
-45%
365 (114 - 1053, n=108)
-58%
WiFi v1.3
526
486
-8%
385
-27%
542
3%
285
-46%
467
-11%
363 (96 - 942, n=254)
-31%
Witcher 3 ultra
63
59
-6%
72.7 (54 - 94, n=11)
15%
Load
117
88
-25%
71
-39%
137
17%
87
-26%
199
70%
85.6 (32 - 238, n=895)
-27%

Pros

+ bright, high-contrast display
+ fast SSD
+ elegant design
+ aluminum body
+ relatively slim and light
+ full-size SD card reader
+ remains cool
+ webcam with a shutter
+ easy maintenance
+ keyboard illumination

Cons

- quiet, but annoying fans
- performance slightly throttled
- only 1 RAM slot
- no LAN
- no charging via USB-C
- no Kensington Lock
- bottom right touchpad corner rattles

Verdict - A good all-rounder with one significant weakness

The Lenovo S540-15IWL, test unit provided by campuspoint
The Lenovo S540-15IWL, test unit provided by campuspoint

Lenovo offers a coherent overall package, which is as it should be for a real all-rounder, but is only rarely achieved by the competitors: A great display, a very fast SSD, efficient components, an elegant design, and easy maintenance (if you have a Torx screwdriver) are only some of the advantages worth mentioning.

Of course, the IdeaPad also has some weaknesses, but most of those are only minimal, such as the lack of a LAN connection, slight performance drops (due to the cooling), and the lack of a second RAM slot. However, we do need to point out one significant weakness: While Lenovo uses one of the quietest cooling systems in comparison, this measurable positive effect is undone by a subjectively very unpleasant high-frequency fan noise. This should be remedied by the manufacturer! On the other hand, students and others who are not very sensitive might want to grab it for about 1100 Euros (~$1203).

Those whose ears are less sensitive to the high-pitched fan noise will get a balanced all-rounder laptop with the 15-inch IdeaPad S540, which offers great components and good workmanship.

Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL 81SW0015GE - 09/30/2019 v7
Christian Hintze

Chassis
85 / 98 → 87%
Keyboard
84%
Pointing Device
85%
Connectivity
50 / 80 → 62%
Weight
65 / 20-72 → 86%
Battery
87 / 95 → 91%
Display
86%
Games Performance
83 / 90 → 92%
Application Performance
86 / 90 → 95%
Temperature
90%
Noise
90 / 95 → 95%
Audio
61%
Camera
38 / 85 → 45%
Average
76%
85%
Multimedia - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo IdeaPad S540-15IWL Review: A great all-rounder with only one real weakness
Christian Hintze, 2019-10- 3 (Update: 2019-10- 5)