Review LG P420-N.AE21G Notebook
Not much has been heard from the South Korean manufacturer for quite a long time. LG is now attempting a comeback on the notebook market. One of the first devices that LG is launching is the P420-N.AE21G. At first glance, the laptop looks like an Apple product because it is - like a majority of others, too - mostly made of white plastic. LG installs a 14 inch screen into this notebook. That wouldn't be anything special on its own. But the lid is about 40 percent thinner than in other comparable laptops. Consequently, the P420's "thickest" place is only 25.9 mm thin. Moreover, the 14 inch screen is almost stretched up to the narrow frame's limits. LG has managed to build a bigger screen into a case with a width of only 33.3 cm with this "trick".
The notebook looks as if it is a device from the 13 inch category.
A Core i5-2410M works inside the P420-N.AE21G. It's a dual core CPU from the latest Sandy Bridge generation and has a system clock of 2.3 GHz. In addition to the embedded Intel HD Graphics 3000, it has a dedicated entry-level graphics card, Nvidia's GeForce GT 520M, for taking care of the video output. LG gives the P420 laptop a 4 GB DDR3 module and a 2.5 inch hard disk with a (gross) memory of 500 GBs.
Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit is used as the operating system in this notebook. LG has built in WLAN, Bluetooth and Gigabit LAN for communication matters. A UMTS/3G module isn't installed. LG recommends a retail price of about 800 euros.
LG has paid a lot of attention to looks and stability. The manufacturer relies on the colors black and white for its P420-N.AE21G, whereby white is the main color. The matt surface is very resistant against fingerprints and dust. They hardly leave any visible traces.
The almost 2000 gram light laptop is well manufactured and also very stable. The slim plastic lid doesn't yield even under pressure and can only be warped with a lot of force. The new notebook can only be opened with both hands. The two small hinges (still) have a firm hold and the base unit would otherwise also lift without counterforce.
The LG P420 is very handy with its dimensions of 333x221x25.9 mm (rear up to 31.5 mm height).
There's nothing unusual about the P420's connectivity. Three USB ports are distributed on the notebook's left and right. However, they only support USB 2.0. The device has both a HDMI and VGA socket for connecting additional monitors. A DVD burner is also installed on the side.
The jacks for a headset (1 input and 1 output) and a RJ45 socket for wired networking are located on the right. LG has hidden the card reader for SD and MMC memory cards on the front behind a cover. The P420-N.AE21G's rear doesn't have any ports or sockets whatsoever.
The number of ports in the front area could prove to be uncomfortable for left-handed users when they are extensively used. Right-handed users will have an easier time with the P420.
The P420-N.AE21G has a built-in WLAN 802.11 b/g/n modem in addition to the conventional and wired Gigabit LAN socket for online or network access. The notebook additionally supports Bluetooth 2.1. There is no UMTS module installed into the notebook. USB dongle solutions would have to be fallen back on for this.
The P420-N.AE21G doesn't have much to bid in terms of security. Merely the laptop's BIOS can be password protected. The data on the hard disk aren't encrypted and thus accessible for everyone in case of loss or theft. Norton Antivirus 2011 is installed as virus protection software. However, this trial version is only valid for 90 days. It has to be purchased afterwards (about 20 euros).
In the scope of delivery, you'll only a few brochures are found besides the notebook and charging adapter. The operating system, Windows 7 Professional 64 bit, is used and can be found on a hidden recovery partition. LG also installs Microsoft Office Starter 2010, CyberLink DVD Suite and LG Smart as well as LG Media FUNtasia on the P420 laptop.
There is a 24 month warranty on the laptop and a short six months on the battery.
Only a keyboard without a separate number pad comes in question for the P420 due to its compact design. Our isolation keyboard's key arrangement corresponds to the QWERTZ layout, whereby many keys have a double or even four-fold assignment. There are no hotkeys, such as a multimedia button, on the notebook.
The user can freely map two FN key combinations with functions or programs. Wireless and Bluetooth connections can be enabled or disabled directly with the FN and F6 keys. It's only too bad that both wireless connections are always disabled at the same time.
The four arrow keys, located on the keyboard's right as usual, are extremely small. The left shift key and the CRTL key could also be a bit bigger.
The single keys are easy to press and the key drop is agreeably short. Typing during the test period was very pleasant and no disagreeable typing noises were heard.
There is a fairly small touchpad in front of our QWERTZ keyboard. It hardly looks any different than the wrist rest. The touchpad surface is only delimited by a small, higher bezel. There is no palpable difference between the wrist rest's and touchpad's surface. The surface doesn't have its own texture and neither differs in color nor in feel from the rest of the laptop. We didn't notice a negative impact on accuracy or responsiveness, though. The inputs, respectively gestures are executed / implemented right away.
You first realize that you've left the touchpad field when the cursor no longer responds to finger inputs. There is a field for 2-way scrolling on the touchpad's right and works very well within documents and long websites. The input device can be disabled or enabled via "FN" + "F5".
There is a - at least the way it looks - big mouse bar in front of the touchpad. However, the bar is only responsive at two points, namely its outer right and left.
You will look around on the display bezel for a long time for the webcam. It's not located, as it's usual, in the center above the display. Instead, it is in the lower left, beside the hinge. You have to get used to this "from below" perspective.
The 14 inch screen, equivalent to a screen size of 35.5 centimeters, has a resolution of 1366x768 pixels, so a 16:9 format. Additional monitors can be used with the laptop via the VGA and / or HDMI sockets. The maximum external resolution is 2560x1600 pixels for HDMI. It's only a maximum of 2048x1536 pixels via the VGA socket. It's possible to use the internal screen with an external monitor at the same time.
The LED backlit screen's surface is glossy. Consequently, a big part of the surroundings is reflected on the screen. The reflections aren't perceived quite as intensely in dimmed rooms.
We could measure a black value of 1.34 cd/m2 on the screen, which results in a poor contrast of 143:1. Dark pictures or dark video sequences already prove to have a light gray hue. The ICC color profile's comparison pictures with various reference color spectrums show that the P420's color space does not even come close to being covered. Thus, the screen isn't suitable for graphic design or image editing.
The LED background illumination assessment resulted in a maximum brightness of 206 cd/m2 at a brightness distribution of 85 percent. The screen's brightness slightly decreases from the left to the right and can also be seen with the eye under certain display conditions.
While brilliant colors can still be reproduced in the office, they quickly lose their intensity when the laptop is used outdoors. Bright sunlight doesn't even have to hit the display directly. The displayed content can hardly be recognized even in the shade - you can only see the video player faintly in our picture.
We could see more of the garden than of the actual video, which was played during the photo shooting, on the notebook's screen.
The LG P420 laptop's high gloss display also has other shortcomings. The viewing angle stability is unsatisfactory. The screen's contrast and color quality are very impressive when sitting in front of the notebook. The display content doesn't suffer major losses when looked at from the left or right.
However, when the screen is tilted back or forth, the otherwise good image massively deteriorates. The picture inverts or fades quickly when the viewing angle deviates vertically. This effect worsens even more when the displayed content is viewed from the side.
An Intel dual core CPU is installed in the LG 420-N.AE21G. The Core i5-2410M has a basic clock of 2.3 GHz and can fall back on a 3MB L3 cache. The memory controller and a HD graphics are also incorporated in the CPU. The Intel Core i5-2410M is a member of the so-called "second generation", also known as Sandy Bridge.
The processor works on two CPU cores and can process up to four threads at the same time due to Hyper Threading. The processor's base clock can be dynamically increased up to 2.9 GHz with Intel's own Turbo Boost technology - providing that the CPU is sufficiently cooled.
The Intel chip is manufactured in a 32 nm process and has a maximum power loss of 35 watts. The Core i5-2410M's main application field is, as in this case, in notebooks with 14 inch screens for use in the office or multimedia sector.
We check for possible latency problems, which could evolve due to synchronization errors with external hardware at the interfaces, with the program, DPC Latency Checker. All assessments were in the green zone, as can be seen on the screenshot. Thus, restrictions particularly in the audio or video field shouldn't be expected.
We looked at the Core i5-2410M's performance with the rendering programs, Cinebench R10 and R11.5 from Maxon. A score of 3713 (32bit) was recorded respectively 4580 points (64bit) in single core rendering. These results are slightly above the average rates of notebooks that we have tested with the same processor. For example, Toshiba's Tecra R850-11P (32bit: 3673, 64bit: 4521) or MSI's CX640 (32bit: 3570, 64bit: 4502).
The LG laptop didn't set up any new records with 2.31 points in Cinebench R11.5, but the score was on the expected level. The LG P420 achieved 6296 points in the PCMark Vantage 64 benchmark and is thus in the midfield.
PCMark 7 recorded a result of 1745 points which is however slightly below average. The ASUS U30SD reaches 1772 points. The small 13.3 inch laptop, Lenovo Lenovo IdeaPad Z370-M5657GE even managed a score or 2189 in this benchmark.
We opened various tools to really stress the notebook (CPU and GPU) and thus find out if the Core i5-2410M in the LG P420 tends to throttle.
The simulated stress test usually results in an audible increase of system noise, as well as the discharged air getting noticeably warmer than in idle mode. When the CPU gets too hot, some models, for example Sony's Vaio VPC-EH1M1E/W.G4, simply reduce the CPU's clock to under the base clock. This is the so-called CPU throttling.
We didn't observe throttling in the stress test in the LG P420-N.AE21G. The chip remained constant at its base clock of 2.3 GHz, even during maximum stress over a longer period of time.
|PCMark Vantage Result||6286 points|
|PCMark 7 Score||1745 points|
You can choose between the embedded HD Graphics 3000 and the dedicated Nvidia graphics for video output. Switching either happens automatically (Nvidia Optimus) or via the user interface. We selected the GeForce GT 520M for our tests. It runs on a core clock of 740 MHz.
The GeForce GT 520M's performance level is considerably higher than that of the incorporated Intel Graphics. However, it also needs more power, respectively valuable battery life. Moreover, the dedicated graphics supports DirectX 11.
The 3DMark series' (03: 12.233, 05: 9.259, 06: 5.284, 11: 567) benchmark results are mostly above average for this GPU. Merely 3DMark 03 is a bit below it with not quite 300 points.
The LG notebook could maintain the expected level in the newest benchmark from Futuremark, 3DMark 11, and achieved 567 points. In comparison: The ASUS U30SD managed a score of 570 points.
The reason we rely on the GeForce GT 520M in the GPU benchmarks becomes apparent when its rates are compared to the processor embedded HD Graphics 3000. It achieves the following scores in the single benchmarks: 3DMark03: 8900 (-27% than the GeForce 520M); 3DMark05: 6715.4 (-27%); 3DMark06: 3584.2 (-32%); 3DMark 11: the CPU embedded graphics isn't DirectX 11 compatible and thus this benchmark can't be run on this GPU.
|3DMark 03 Standard||12233 points|
|3DMark 05 Standard||9259 points|
|3DMark 06 Score Unknown Setting||5284 points|
|3DMark 11 Performance||567 points|
A 2.5 inch Toshiba hard disk with a memory capacity of 500 GBs is built into the LG P420. The Toshiba MK5059GSXP rotates with 5400 revolutions per minute and has an 8192 KB cache. The average transfer rate, assessed with HDTune Pro, was 64.4 MB/s (max. 81.5 MB/s) in the test. The burst rate was recorded as 81.5 MB/s at a CPU load of 1.7 percent. CrystalDiskMark confirmed these rates. Replacing the 2.5 inch hard disk for a model with 7200 rpm would result in better rates. A SSD memory module wouldn't only increase the write/read performance considerably, but also the price. We noticed that the Toshiba disk was never audible during the test.
We tried out the gaming capabilities of the dedicated graphics (GeForce GT 520M) with three up-to-date games. The soccer game, Fifa 11, ran very smoothly. We could ascertain an average of 72 frames per second (fps) with the utility, Fraps, in a resolution of 1360x768 (high). The frame rate climbed to 96 fps in the medium resolution (1024x768). 162 frames per second were measured in the low resolution (800x600).
The accomplished frames of the different resolutions are a bit below the average of those in our database. However, the rates are significantly higher than with the HD Graphics 3000 3000 (L: 94; M: 54; H: 31).
You'll have to reckon with occasional light stutters in Dirt 3 when played in a resolution of 1360x768. The lower the resolution and selected detail level, the higher the graphics card refresh rate. We could still draw acceptable frame rates out of the game in the lowest settings: 45.22. The higher the resolution / detail level setting was, the fewer fps were recorded: med: 42.44; high: 31.12. More details can be disabled in the games options. That also leads to even more frames per second, but the difference in quality is noticed clearly.
You have to count with stutters in every resolution in Mafia 2. We can only tickle 28.4 fps out of the game even in the low resolution of 800x600. The refresh rates drop to 21.5 fps in the resolution 1024x768. We could record mere 20.5 fps in the 1300 resolution.
We've tested which games run well on the embedded graphics, as well as the GT 520M with many up-to-date games. The results can be found in our comprehensive database "Computer games on notebook graphic cards".
The power loss of the interior hardware is discharged out of the case over the lateral openings. We measured a noise development between 31.9 and 32.1 dB (A) in idle and office mode. The laptop's fan works permanently in this case. However, it's very slow and thus also quiet if not nearly silent. The system was stressed more during DVD playback and the fan had to cope with a bit more heat. The operating noise increased up to 35.6 dB (A). A maximum rate of 44.4 db (A) was assessed in the simulated stress test, where the fan increased its speed considerably.
31.9 / 31.9 / 32.1 dB(A)
||35.6 / dB(A)|
||39.3 / 44.4 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
The LG P420 was pleasantly cool in its idle state. An "increased" temperature of 33 degrees Celsius was only measured on the side where the power loss is discharged. The other top and bottom parts stayed at an average level of 29.8 (top) and 33 degrees Celsius (bottom). We could measure cool 27.4 degrees Celsius in the touchpad's area.
It looked different for the measurements during load. While the top only heated up to 35.7 degrees Celsius, we measured up to 52.3 degrees Celsius on the bottom - again in the cooling system's air outlet areas.
While we only measured 29.5 degrees on the power adapter during low load, it heated up to an incredible 58.8 degrees in full capacity.
(+) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 35.7 °C / 96 F, compared to the average of 36.8 °C / 98 F, ranging from 21.1 to 71 °C for the class Multimedia.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 52.3 °C / 126 F, compared to the average of 39.1 °C / 102 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 26.4 °C / 80 F, compared to the device average of 31.1 °C / 88 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (35.7 °C / 96.3 F) and are therefore not hot.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.9 °C / 84 F (-6.8 °C / -12.3 F).
The LG laptop's sound is emitted via two little speakers located underneath the front side. The sound came across well in the tested games and during DVD playback. The midgets were even impressive in loud scenes. The speakers only muffled the basses and they consequently weren't very audible.
The notebook consumes between 12.6 and 14.6 watts depending on the screen's brightness setting in idle mode, respectively very light load. The rates increased to 46.4 watts, respectively 68.8 watts during load. The adapter only consumes 0.1 watts when turned off and is just as modest 0.6 watts in standby.
|Off / Standby||0.1 / 0.6 Watt|
|Idle|| 12.6 / 13.3 / 14.6 Watt|
46.4 / 68.8 Watt|
The LG P420-N.AE21G's battery life wasn't convincing. The battery was already drained after a very short time in Classic test and had to be plugged into the outlet after 49 minutes. The battery didn't last for a whole movie either in the DVD playback test. It only lasted for 63 minutes.
The LG laptop had to be reconnected to its power cable after 1 hour and 55 minutes in "surfing via WLAN" at pleasant display brightness. The longest runtime (Reader's Test, WLAN off, lowest brightness) was two hours and 35 minutes.
The drained battery needs almost 2 hours for a 100 percent recharge.
The LG P420-N.AE21G is definitely an eye-catcher and makes a pleasantly fresh impression. The handy little laptop that looks like it would have a 13 inch display surprises you with a 14 inch screen. LG accomplishes that by using a next to frameless screen. The black and white case is very well manufactured and LG proves to have a good eye for design. The choice of materials fit very well into this line of lifestyle products.
The LG P420-N.AE21G has to be classified as a midrange notebook in view of installed hardware: Core i5-2410M and GT 520M. The Intel processor with a base clock of 2.3 GHz works quite fast and even has a few power reserves thanks to the Turbo Boost technology. The Nvidia GeForce graphics is suitable for both office tasks as well as multimedia applications.
LG's all-round laptop also has a 4 GB DDR3 memory, a 500 GB hard disk and a DL DVD burner.
In terms of looks, LG has done a good job on the P420-N.AE21G. However, the battery life, display and interface variety could be better - there is no USB 3.0.
At the time of the review, the street price still almost equaled the recommended retail price. The LG P420-N.AE21G can be found for 50 euros less in price search engines.
Fancy a white notebook? Here two other alternatives: Sony Vaio VPC-EH1M1E/W.G4, Apple MacBook Air 13 Mid 2011.