Review Lenovo G780 Notebook
Wasted potential. Lenovo releases a multimedia laptop for just under 770 Euros (~$982) dubbed IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE). The case is the same as in the prior G770 range. Theoretically, the G780 sports strong components but practically, the potent hardware has been cropped ex-factory.
17-inch laptops are always welcome in the multimedia sector. Because of their big screens they are also often used as desktop replacements, providing that a strong CPU/GPU combo is available. Thus, the Chinese computer manufacturer, Lenovo, enriches its range in the popular entry-level sector with an adequate device for under 1000 Euros (~$1276).
In this review, we send Lenovo's IdeaPad G780 (M843MGE) through our test range. The test device sports Nvidia's dedicated GeForce GT 630M graphics card, Intel's Core i5 processor including the integrated HD Graphics 4000, a lot of memory capacity and a large working memory for roughly 770 Euros (~$982). A Blu-Ray drive is to ensure high-definition movie entertainment on a HD+ screen.
Our review shows how well the on paper strong components work together in our test laptop.
The casing is a mixture of charcoal black and dark brown and has been fully adopted from the prior IdeaPad G770 range. The display lid features a brushed aluminum look and is gently curved at the edges. It still lacks torsional stiffness and can easily be depressed from the back. The surface is susceptible for grime and fingerprints. The display lid cannot be opened with one hand without lifting the base unit.
Upon opening the lid, we see a glare-type 17-inch screen, a high-gloss painted display bezel and an equally finished plastic trimming in the area of the hinges and keyboard. Consequently, annoying reflections will not only be a matter of course in light. The display lid rocks intensely despite the tightly pulled hinges, which will also be an issue when the laptop is used on the go.
The wrist rest is comprised of brushed aluminum and is very solid even over the optical drive at the right edge. The cleanly inserted chiclet keyboard is embedded in a matte-black plastic tray and sports a dedicated number pad.
The IdeaPad G780's resistant, matte-black plastic bottom harbors a large maintenance cover besides the replaceable 48 Wh battery. The former conceals the Wi-Fi module, hard drive and both occupied RAM slots. The fan is also accessible and can be cleaned.
Material processing makes a solid impression. Regrettably, the test laptop's chassis is not completely even. The right front foot hovers approximately one millimeter over the surface. Consequently, Lenovo's IdeaPad G780 is a bit wobbly. This also results in a noticeable lowering of the laptop when the right hand is placed on the wrist rest.
There are not many interfaces on Lenovo's IdeaPad G780 considering its size. The ports are distributed on both sides of the casing, whereby the majority is found on the left.
A total of four USB ports, two of which support the swift USB 3.0 standard, are installed in the device. External monitors or projectors can be connected via the HDMI or VGA ports.
A somewhat outdated Fast Ethernet socket can be used for connecting to other devices or a network. Beyond that, a Kensington lock and two 3.5 mm audio jacks for a microphone and headphones as well as an optical Blu-Ray drive called HL-DT-ST BDDVDRW CT40N are available. A card reader on the casings front accepts SD and MMC cards.
The left-sided interfaces are positioned toward the front edge. This easily results in a cable mess and left-handed users could have difficulties using a mouse in tight space conditions. Another drawback: the USB ports are very close. Bigger USB plugs or USB flash drives cannot be used adjacently.
A 0.3 megapixel webcam (720p HD) is positioned in the display bezel's upper center. In addition to snapshots or video calls, it can also be used for face detection via VeriFace.
A Broadcom 802.11n Wi-Fi module connects to the internet or other networks. Bluetooth version 4.0 is supported and enables using wireless input devices, such as a wireless mouse. Atheros AR8162/8166/8168 PCI-E Fast Ethernet socket is available for cabled connections. Like the counterpart in the prior G770, it is only 10/100 compatible. Gigabit Ethernet is reserved for other series.
In addition to a Kensington lock for attaching the laptop to a compatible security lock, Lenovo's IdeaPad G780 features preinstalled face detection software dubbed VeriFace 4.0. It eliminates the annoying password input at login because the software scans the face using the webcam and allows accessing the laptop. The OneKey Rescue System backs up or restores data quickly and easily via the small button beside the power key. A backup DVD can also be created this way.
Accessories and Software
Lenovo's IdeaPad G780 includes a quick start guide in addition to the PSU. The included software is preinstalled and there are no driver or software data carriers. The user has to create a backup copy of Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit version (SP1); a recovery partition is set up on the hard drive.
In terms of software, Lenovo installs the following programs: McAfee Internet Security (30 day trial version), Microsoft Office 2010 (60 day trial version), Cyberlink Power2Go, Cyberlink PowerDVD 10 and Cyberlink YouCam.
The manufacturer also installs proprietary programs such as Lenovo Energy Management software or Lenovo Solution Center, which provides efficient troubleshooting solutions. The ReadyComm 5.1 software helps managing internet connections via an intuitive user interface.
Lenovo's EE Boot Optimizer is also installed. The software noticeably optimizes booting and shutting down the Windows 7 operating system. Boot Optimizer saved approximately 20 seconds in the test. The G780 awoke from standby in just 3 to 5 seconds. The laptop required almost twice as long before that.
Lenovo includes a 24 month bring-in warranty for the IdeaPad G780. A warranty upgrade to on-site service or a total warranty period of three years is available on Lenovo's website. The latter costs around 150 Euros (~$191).
The keyboard Lenovo dubs AccuType features lightly rounded keys and a dedicated number pad. It has a very compact layout, which leaves enough room between the keys for accurate typing. The key drop is medium long and the key field exhibits a palpable pressure point which always ensures a good feedback. The typing noise is tolerable.
The arrow keys are not separated from the key field and makes intuitive inputting difficult. The orange-colored lettering on the FN keys does not seem well-considered. The key assignments and the brightness as well as volume control are only difficult to see in the dark. A backlight for the keyboard would remedy this, but it is not available in the G780 range.
The 102 x 55 mm touchpad is embedded meticulously into the wrist rest and is surrounded by a chrome-colored rim. The dotted surface features a matte finish and allows the fingers to glide over it easily. A scroll bar is implemented in the right edge. Inputs are precise and various multi-touch gestures, such as two-finger scrolling or pinch-to-zoom, are detected reliably. The pad can be disabled via FN + F6 combination; there is no LED indicator.
A 17.3-inch (43.9 cm) Samsung TFT screen (SEC4256) with LED light renders images on Lenovo's G780. The 16:9 screen has a HD+ resolution of 1600x900 pixels. The screen's glare-type surface reflects strongly in light and is only suitable for outdoor use or work in direct light to an extent.
The Eye One Display 2 meter recorded an average brightness of 229 cd/m2 in maximum brightness. The brightest spot of 232 cd/m2 was measured in the screen's center and is a good rate. The luminosity decreases by up to 20 cd/m2 in the screen's corners. The black value of 1.2 cd/m2 is not as compelling and results in an average contrast of 190:1. However, a look at the competition, e.g. HP's Pavilion DV7-7000sg for 750 Euros (~$956), shows that the brightness is decent for the demanded price. HP's laptop reaches 232 cd/m2 with its glare-type AUO screen. The equally priced HP Pavilion G7-2007sg is even clearly below that with merely 173 cd/m2. It first improves significantly for 130 Euros (~$165) more: Medion's Akoya P7815-MD98063 or MSI's GE70-i547W7H have matte Full HD screens with 278 and 251 cd/m2 respectively for around 900 Euros (~$1148).
Text and screen content look clear and focused on the glare-type screen in Lenovo's IdeaPad G780, but details are blurred and black sooner looks grayish especially in dark picture sections.
The color space reproduced by Lenovo's IdeaPad G780 only roughly covers 60% of sRGB, which is a normal rate for a TFT screen of this price range. Samsung's screen in the G780 does even worse in the Adobe RGB color spectrum comparison. While "normal" users will not notice these shortcomings in routine use, professional users will exclude the G780 since they need an accurate color reproduction.
The screen in the prior IdeaPad G770 covered a larger color space than the G780 counterpart. In return, the test device's brightness increased by an average of a whole 42 cd/m2. Conclusively, this is a clear improvement to last year's model.
This allows recognizing content on the screen Lenovo's IdeaPad G780 even outdoors, even if using it in direct light is not the preferred field of use. In addition to the screen, the display's high-gloss bezel reflects the surroundings and light annoyingly.
The typically poor viewing angle stability of TFT screens is noticed when the seating position in front of the G780 is altered even slightly. The content is focused and exhibits brilliant colors in the ideal viewing position.
The brightness deteriorates intensely and colors invert clearly when the screen is tilted by only a few degrees. The screen is more stable horizontally. The brightness decreases at a deviation of approximately +/- 45 degrees and inverting turns up late.
Lenovo installs Intel's Core i5-3210M processor with a clock rate of 2.5 GHz into its IdeaPad G780. The chip is built in a 22 nanometer process and is the second strongest option to power the G780 in the lineup. More information and extensive benchmark tests about the i5-3210M can be found here.
The processor installed in our test device is supported by an 8 GB DDR3 working memory that is divided over two 1600 MHz memory bars. It can be upgraded to a maximum of 16 GB since the G780 only sports two SODIMM slots.
Oddly, Lenovo crops the strong CPU ex-factory and prevents the Turbo Boost maximum of 3.1 GHz, which Intel's Core i5-3210M could actually provide. No matter if we ran a gaming benchmark or only let the CPU process rendering tasks in Cinebench R10, the processor never exceeded its default clock rate of 2.5 GHz. This phenomenon was also noticed in the demanding Cinebench R11.5. However, it is positive that the CPU maintained the default clock and did not throttle even after a longer period of stress testing. We cannot explain why Lenovo purposely disabled overclocking in the G780.
This intentional limitation is clearly noticed in most benchmarks. Compared with other laptops using the same processor, such as Lenovo's IdeaPad Z580-M81EAGE, Lenovo's G780 shows a poorer performance of averagely 10 to 20%.
We use PCMark 7 and PCMark Vantage to assess the overall system performance of Lenovo's IdeaPad G780. Low 1933 and 6715 points speak for themselves since the system remains below the expected level. Contenders like HP's Pavilion DV7-7000sg (2450M, GT 630M) with 2059 and 7161 points or MSI's GE70-i547W7H (3210M, GT 650M) with 2023 and 7038 points show the possibilities.
|PCMark Vantage Result||6715 points|
|PCMark 7 Score||1933 points|
Lenovo offers 320 GB HDDs with up to 1 TB in the G780 range. Seagate's Momentus ST750LM022 HN-M750MB is installed in the test device. It has a large memory capacity for multimedia data with 750 GB and spins agreeably fast with 5400 rpm. The HDTune benchmark tool recorded a transfer rate of 79.4 MB/s and an access time of 18.2 ms, which are average rates for a conventional hard drive. The burst rate of 178.9 MB/s is within a good range. The hard drive was always very audible and palpable during the benchmark tests, which is a drawback of conventional spinning drives.
An array comprised of Intel's HD Graphics 4000 CPU-integrated GPU and Nvidia's dedicated GeForce GT 630M graphics card featuring Nvidia's energy-saving Optimus technology take care of graphical tasks.
Nvidia's GeForce GT 630M is a lower midrange graphics card that has 2 GB of DDR3 VRAM. The dedicated graphics card consistently achieved its core clock of 475 MHz and memory clock of 900 MHz and did not throttle even during full load in the synthetic benchmarks.
1074 points in 3DMark 11 is only slightly below the GT 630M's ascertained average of 1162 points.
|3DMark Vantage P Result||4171 points|
|3DMark 11 Performance||1074 points|
Lenovo's G780 is not a downright gaming machine in view of the installed components. Nevertheless, Nvidia's GeForce GT 630M is suitable for the odd, occasional game. We played our FIFA 13 and Anno 2070 benchmarks, representative of gaming. FIFA 13 ran smoothly and achieved at least 70 fps even in ultra-settings. The somewhat more hardware-hungry Anno 2070 first displayed smooth 32 fps in medium settings. Thus, up-to-date games are playable when the settings are modified accordingly.
The laptop was only noticed to some extent with an average of 32 dB(A) in idle, although the fan ran permanently. The measured noise climbed to 35.6 dB(A) when playing a Blu-Ray disc and the laptop was clearly audible in quiet movie scenes.
The noise level increased to a maximum of 38.1 dB(A) when we loaded the G780. However, the fan was never noticed adversely because of its low-pitched characteristic.
31.4 / 32 / 32.4 dB(A)
||35.6 / dB(A)|
||36.9 / 38.1 dB(A)|
min: , med: , max: Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)
The surface temperatures of Lenovo's G780 stayed within limits subjectively. The vital areas, such as the wrist rest and touchpad, did not heat up excessively even during full load; the temperatures ranged between 28 and 37 °C. A maximum of 45 °C was reached in the area above the air outlet.
The casing clearly remained below this maximum rate in routine use so that use on the lap should always be possible. The top reached a maximum of 33.8 °C and the bottom's peak was 34.7 °C in idle. We ascertained an average of approximately 30 °C on the surfaces.
The PSU's temperature of 32.3 °C stayed within an uncritical range in idle. However, it reached 52.6 °C during load so that air circulation should be ensured.
The CPU's core temperature reached a maximum of 91 °C and the GPU heated up to reasonable 84 °C in the stress test. Overall, these are not unusual temperatures that would explain why Lenovo omits the CPU's Turbo Boost.
(-) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 45.1 °C / 113 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 41.2 °C / 106 F, compared to the average of 38.8 °C / 102 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 29.5 °C / 85 F, compared to the device average of 30.9 °C / 88 F.
(±) The palmrests and touchpad can get very hot to the touch with a maximum of 37.7 °C / 99.9 F.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 29.1 °C / 84.4 F (-8.6 °C / -15.5 F).
Both 1.5 W speakers in Lenovo's G780 are on the laptop's bottom and are certified as "Dolby Advanced Audio v2". Nevertheless, the little transducers produce a treble-heavy sound. Mids fade into the background and there is barely any bass. The very high-pitched sounding speakers tend to overdrive quickly in higher volumes. The performance is still acceptable for quiet, background music, but external solutions should be used for playing multimedia content, music or games.
Lenovo's IdeaPad G780 consumed an average of 0.5 watts in standby. It is only 0.1 watts when the laptop is turned off. The laptop required between 8.8 and 13.6 watts in idle. The PSU drained a maximum of 62.9 watts from the outlet during full load.
|Off / Standby||0.1 / 0.5 Watt|
|Idle|| 8.8 / 13.4 / 13.6 Watt|
55.7 / 62.9 Watt|
Key: min: , med: , max: Voltcraft VC 940
The 6-cell, 48 Wh lithium ion battery has a capacity of 4400 mAh and weighs just below 300 grams. Lenovo specifies a maximum runtime of 5 hours. BatteryEater's synthetic Reader's test excelled this. The laptop was first drained after 5 hours and 49 minutes using maximum energy-saving settings, disabled Wi-Fi modules and minimum brightness. Lenovo's G780 still lasted for 94 minutes in BatteryEater's Classic test with enabled Wi-Fi and maximum brightness.
Our practical internet runtime test, which simulates browsing through different websites in medium brightness and with enabled Wi-Fi, forced the laptop back to an external power source after nearly 3.5 hours. Lenovo's G780 allowed 150 minutes of movie entertainment from a Blu-Ray disc in balanced energy-saving settings and the Wi-Fi module off.
The 90 watt PSU needs around 2 hours for recharging a fully drained battery.
Lenovo bundles an appealing total package with the installed components comprising of Intel's Core i5 3210M and its integrated HD Graphics 4000, Nvidia's GeForce GT 630M, 8 GB of working memory and a generous 750 GB hard disk. Routine Office tasks, internet browsing, multimedia enjoyment and the occasional game are no problem for the hardware. However, the artificial clock rate limitation of the otherwise very strong CPU is a drawback.
Good battery runtimes are possible owing to Nvidia's energy-efficient Optimus technology. The G780 exhibits a discreet remodeling as the prior model's case has been adopted; there are no great modifications. The input devices are reliable and precise so that typing longer texts and navigating via the touchpad are easy.
The glare-type 17.3-inch screen is not as compelling. It offers a mediocre brightness and can score with subjectively crisp colors from a central viewing position. The glossy surface quickly produces annoying reflections that strongly limit use in direct light. Lenovo regrettably does not offer a Full HD resolution even for its top model. Thus, the 3 kg multimedia laptop will preferably be used as a desktop replacement.
The laptop is currently available in seven configurations in a price range between 579 Euros and 999 Euros (~$739 and $1275). There is only one device featuring an i7-3612QM quad-core processor over our i5-3210M G780 (M843MGE) test device in the G780 portfolio. Additionally, an Ivy Bridge i3 CPU is also available. Finally, alternatives using Sandy Bridge i3 CPUs comprise the least expensive option for the G780.
Equally priced competitors, such as HP's Pavilion DV7-7000sg or HP's Pavilion G7-2007sg, basically do not offer better equipment. Customers who are willing to invest approximately 130 Euros (~$165) more should look at alternatives like Medion's Akoya P7815-MD98063 or MSI's GE70-i547W7H. Both multimedia laptops offer strong equipment and can even serve with matte Full HD screens.