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Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE Subnotebook Review

Sebastian Jentsch (translated by Vinay Pradhan), 07/08/2016

200 Euros (~$221). How much Windows do you get for this price? This 11-inch device proudly runs Windows 10 Home 64-bit. However, there are certain drawbacks, such as, a bad keyboard and a weak chassis.

For the original German review, see here.

We used to call them Netbooks, but now they have returned to being subnotebooks: the smallest, yet cheapest, 11.6-inch Windows computers cost around 200 to 300 Euros (~$221 to $331). Lenovo gives customers a special deal on the S21e-20: full Windows 10 running on a Pentium N3540 and limited flash storage for 190 Euros (~$210). 

The predecessor, Lenovo S20-30 of 2014, is no longer available, but there is still plenty of competition in this section. We are currently testing the Medion Akoya S2218 with an Intel Atom Z3735F (but 64 GB flash storage). The 11.6-inch model sports an FHD IPS panel (1,920x1,080 pixels) and is available for 230 Euros (~$254) - an impressive combination. 

A Cloudbook, which uses a weaker processor and offers smaller storage, is another alternative. The Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QM is a candidate that fits this description and is priced at 240 Euros (~$265). The 14-inch model has a processor similar to that of the Lenovo S21e-20.

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Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE (S21 Series)
Memory
2048 MB 
Display
11.6 inch 16:9, 1366 x 768 pixel 135 PPI, BOE NT116WHM-N11, TN, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Bay Trail Host Bridge
Storage
32 GB eMMC Flash, 32 GB 
, , 9 GB free
Soundcard
HD Audio
Connections
1 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: Line-Out Mic Kombi, Card Reader: Micro SD 6in1
Networking
Broadcom BCM43142 (b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4), Bluetooth 4.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 20.9 x 299 x 207 ( = 0.82 x 11.77 x 8.15 in)
Battery
23 Wh Lithium-Ion
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Home 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 0.9 MP
Additional features
Speakers: Stereo, Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.141 kg ( = 40.25 oz / 2.52 pounds), Power Supply: 288 g ( = 10.16 oz / 0.63 pounds)
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Size Comparison

339.4 mm / 13.4 inch 234.9 mm / 9.25 inch 17.9 mm / 0.705 inch 1.6 kg3.53 lbs300 mm / 11.8 inch 201 mm / 7.91 inch 20.8 mm / 0.819 inch 1.2 kg2.71 lbs299 mm / 11.8 inch 207 mm / 8.15 inch 20.9 mm / 0.823 inch 1.1 kg2.52 lbs

Display

219
cd/m²
222
cd/m²
222
cd/m²
224
cd/m²
240
cd/m²
227
cd/m²
215
cd/m²
233
cd/m²
220
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
BOE NT116WHM-N11
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 240 cd/m² Average: 224.7 cd/m² Minimum: 2.3 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 90 %
Center on Battery: 196 cd/m²
Contrast: 393:1 (Black: 0.61 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 11.23 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6
ΔE Greyscale 12.33 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
61% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 39% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.5
Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3540, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Medion Akoya S2218
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Z3735F, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Acer Aspire ES1-331-C5KL
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3150, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
HP Stream 13-c102ng
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QM
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Screen
47%
6%
8%
10%
Brightness middle
240
417
74%
289
20%
190
-21%
231
-4%
Brightness
225
394
75%
266
18%
179
-20%
213
-5%
Brightness Distribution
90
88
-2%
87
-3%
85
-6%
87
-3%
Black Level *
0.61
0.43
30%
0.68
-11%
0.33
46%
0.47
23%
Contrast
393
970
147%
425
8%
576
47%
491
25%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
11.23
6.7
40%
10.9
3%
9.84
12%
9.1
19%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
19.44
15.07
22%
14.88
23%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
12.33
6.25
49%
12.65
-3%
10.32
16%
9.55
23%
Gamma
2.5 88%
2.48 89%
2.11 104%
2.48 89%
2.47 89%
CCT
14130 46%
5954 109%
14520 45%
11884 55%
11384 57%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
39
46
18%
42
8%
38
-3%
38.84
0%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
61
69
13%
67.9
11%
60
-2%
60.59
-1%

* ... smaller is better

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
25 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 7 ms rise
↘ 18 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. » 42 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (24.8 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
40 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 20 ms rise
↘ 20 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. » 46 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is similar to the average of all tested devices (39.4 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 198 Hz ≤ 90 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 198 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 90 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 198 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9338 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

CalMAN Grey Levels
CalMAN Grey Levels
CalMAN Saturation
CalMAN Saturation
CalMAN Colors
CalMAN Colors
Subpixel Capture
Subpixel Capture
sRGB Coverage
sRGB Coverage
AdobeRGB1998 Coverage
AdobeRGB1998 Coverage

Performance

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3540, 32 GB eMMC Flash
42 Points ∼19%
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QM
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
34 Points ∼16% -19%
HP Stream 13-c102ng
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
33 Points ∼15% -21%
Acer Aspire ES1-331-C5KL
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3150, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
32 Points ∼15% -24%
Lenovo G70-35 80Q5000BGE
Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L), E1-6010, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024
25 Points ∼11% -40%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3540, 32 GB eMMC Flash
155 Points ∼4%
Acer Aspire ES1-331-C5KL
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3150, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
118 Points ∼3% -24%
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QM
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
63 Points ∼1% -59%
HP Stream 13-c102ng
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
62 Points ∼1% -60%
Lenovo G70-35 80Q5000BGE
Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L), E1-6010, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024
49 Points ∼1% -68%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
42 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
155 Points
Help

System Performance

PCMark 8 - Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3540, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1468 Points ∼24%
PCMark 8 - Home Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo G70-35 80Q5000BGE
Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L), E1-6010, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024
1765 Points ∼29% +20%
Acer Aspire ES1-331-C5KL
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3150, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
1640 Points ∼27% +12%
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QM
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1630 Points ∼27% +11%
HP Stream 13-c102ng
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1568 Points ∼26% +7%
Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3540, 32 GB eMMC Flash
1468 Points ∼24%
Medion Akoya S2218
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Z3735F, 64 GB eMMC Flash
1027 Points ∼17% -30%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
1468 points
Help

Storage Device

Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3540, 32 GB eMMC Flash
Medion Akoya S2218
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), Z3735F, 64 GB eMMC Flash
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QM
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
CrystalDiskMark 3.0
-19%
-10%
Write 4k QD32
10.96
8.734
-20%
8.656
-21%
Read 4k QD32
51.99
37.24
-28%
25.73
-51%
Write 4k
11.12
9.817
-12%
8.583
-23%
Read 4k
19.35
15.25
-21%
15.88
-18%
Write 512
50.09
58.71
17%
64.05
28%
Read 512
166.6
98.4
-41%
154.8
-7%
Write Seq
69.05
52.67
-24%
77.88
13%
Read Seq
175.5
140.2
-20%
173.5
-1%
32 GB eMMC Flash
Sequential Read: 175.5 MB/s
Sequential Write: 69.05 MB/s
512K Read: 166.6 MB/s
512K Write: 50.09 MB/s
4K Read: 19.35 MB/s
4K Write: 11.12 MB/s
4K QD32 Read: 51.99 MB/s
4K QD32 Write: 10.96 MB/s

Graphics Card

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3540, 32 GB eMMC Flash
269 Points ∼1%
3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance
Acer Aspire ES1-331-C5KL
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3150, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT012-1DG142
462 Points ∼1% +72%
Acer Aspire One Cloudbook 14 AO1-431-C6QM
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
433 Points ∼1% +61%
Lenovo G70-35 80Q5000BGE
Radeon R2 (Mullins/Beema/Carrizo-L), E1-6010, Seagate Momentus SpinPoint M8 ST1000LM024
431 Points ∼1% +60%
HP Stream 13-c102ng
HD Graphics (Braswell), N3050, 32 GB eMMC Flash
310 Points ∼1% +15%
Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE
HD Graphics (Bay Trail), N3540, 32 GB eMMC Flash
269 Points ∼1%
3DMark 11 Performance
269 points
Help

Emissions & Energy

System Noise

Noise Level

Idle
33.5 / 33.5 / 33.5 dB(A)
Load
33 / 33.5 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: 31.2 dB(A)
Emissions: an invisible fan!
Emissions: an invisible fan!

Temperatures

Max. Load
 40.1 °C
104 F
44.1 °C
111 F
28.1 °C
83 F
 
 39.6 °C
103 F
40.1 °C
104 F
28.2 °C
83 F
 
 30.9 °C
88 F
27.9 °C
82 F
26.5 °C
80 F
 
Maximum: 44.1 °C = 111 F
Average: 33.9 °C = 93 F
26.6 °C
80 F
41.5 °C
107 F
41.8 °C
107 F
27 °C
81 F
39 °C
102 F
41 °C
106 F
26.6 °C
80 F
29.6 °C
85 F
29 °C
84 F
Maximum: 41.8 °C = 107 F
Average: 33.6 °C = 92 F
Power Supply (max.)  35.4 °C = 96 F | Room Temperature 22.1 °C = 72 F | FIRT 550-Pocket
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 33.9 °C / 93 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Subnotebook.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 44.1 °C / 111 F, compared to the average of 35.8 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22 to 57 °C for the class Subnotebook.
(±) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 41.8 °C / 107 F, compared to the average of 40 °C / 104 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 28.1 °C / 83 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are cooler than skin temperature with a maximum of 30.9 °C / 87.6 F and are therefore cool to the touch.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.6 °C / 83.5 F (-2.3 °C / -4.1 F).
Temperature Emissions Idle - Top Side
Temperature Emissions Idle - Top Side
Temperature Emissions Idle - Bottom Side
Temperature Emissions Idle - Bottom Side
Temperature Emissions Full Load - Top Side
Temperature Emissions Full Load - Top Side
Temperature Emissions Full Load - Bottom Side
Temperature Emissions Full Load - Bottom Side

Speakers

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2044.95045.841.144.92538.642.543.636.538.63137.540.444.635.737.54035.941.943.333.135.95037.441.643.935.437.46337.843.847.23537.88037.541.444.430.837.510037.143.346.331.637.112537.942.747.428.537.916039.745.849.228.239.720043.349.251.627.843.32504853.156.925.64831554.359.363.525.854.340055.760.965.323.855.750055.16164.723.255.163053.759.163.922.753.780054.56064.321.954.5100056.861.966.221.356.812506065.369.720.960160063.76972.920.363.720005964.468.62059250056.862.266.619.556.8315054.359.864.419.854.3400054.860.564.719.754.850005458.963.219.754630050.5566019.550.5800052.458.66419.452.41000057.463.267.319.257.4125005661.265.419561600051.556.76119.151.5SPL69.574.979.13369.5N24.934.945.2224.9median 54.3median 59.8median 64.3median 20.9median 54.3Delta43.23.42.5435.335.132.931.831.83236.535.132.428.93328.936.328.848.32761.52752.924.860.92462.822.763.32269.521.267.82174.82075.919.472.718.97117.770.117.86917.671.817.668.117.671.417.673.717.670.417.571.617.671.617.669.617.459.717.583.630.662.51.5median 69.6median 17.84.62.4hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseLenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGEApple MacBook 12 (Early 2016) 1.1 GHz

Frequency diagram in comparison (Checkboxes above can be selected!)
Value 1: Pink Noise 100% Vol.; Value 2: Audio off

Power Consumption

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.25 / 0.31 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 4.4 / 6.2 / 7.1 Watt
Load midlight 14 / 17.3 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Battery Runtime
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
4h 22min

Pros

+ Low weight.
+ Quiet but not silent.
+ Decent performance.

Cons

- Weak chassis.
- Keys have poor feedback.
- Bad webcam.
- Limited battery life.
- Small storage space.

Verdict

In review: Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE. Test model provided by Cyberport.de
In review: Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE. Test model provided by Cyberport.de

Higher-priced convertibles are very much in demand, but there are still customers wanting a simple and cheap Windows subnotebook in a clamshell format. The Lenovo S21e-20 is available at a low price, but it is not the best choice in all categories. 

The screen has a strong blue tinge and although it is not very bright, it is matte. Medion offers a better solution in their Akoya S2218 model. The panel is almost twice as bright as our test model. It also offers high contrast and Full HD resolution. The 40 Euros (~$44) higher price tag may be worth the investment, as it includes the 64 GB flash storage. 

The Akoya S2218 is only equipped with an Intel Atom Z, which, despite its four cores, is quite slow in processing tasks. The system performance of that model is about 30% lower than our test model (PCMark 8 Home). However, when in doubt, we recommend the weaker processor with greater flash storage space. The 9 GBs available on our test model are very limited. On the other hand, the eMMC storage is up to 10 - 20% faster than similar storage devices. 

The Lenovo S21e-20 is very quiet, but there is an audible fan in the case. We were really disappointed by the weak keyboard, which deformed easily. The base unit was also quite flexible, but one could come to terms with it. The typing feedback is very short and the impact is spongy. 

The run time of 4:22 hours is well behind our expectations. However, for the price and the 22 Wh battery, it seems like an acceptable figure. We can recommend this model to anyone who is not an intensive typist, yet requires a small and cheap Windows subnotebook. If you want to have a decent display for a little more money, consider the Akoya S2218 , which offers a glossy IPS panel.

Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE - 07/05/2016 v5.1(old)
Sebastian Jentsch

Chassis
51 /  98 → 52%
Keyboard
54%
Pointing Device
67%
Connectivity
34 / 80 → 42%
Weight
73 / 35-78 → 88%
Battery
77%
Display
70%
Games Performance
25 / 68 → 36%
Application Performance
47 / 87 → 54%
Temperature
91 / 91 → 100%
Noise
95%
Audio
59 / 91 → 65%
Camera
31 / 85 → 37%
Average
59%
71%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

Pricecompare

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo S21e-20 80M4004MGE Subnotebook Review
Sebastian Jentsch, 2016-07- 8 (Update: 2016-07-16)