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Lenovo IdeaPad Y530 Notebook
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Date: Jan 30, 2009
Section:Mobile
Author: HH Editor
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Introduction and Specifications


Lenovo's IdeaPad series of notebooks is quite different than the company's popular line up of ThinkPads. Ideapads are currently available in three series of products. The "U" series designates an ultraportable style with 11.1" or 13.3" widescreen displays and Intel Core 2 Duo processors. The "Y" series is for family entertainment and is available with up to a 17" screen and Intel 2.8GHz Core 2 duo processors. And finally, there is the super mobile "S" series netbook with its Intel Atom 1.6GHz processor and 10.2" display. Within the "U" and "Y" series there are a lot of models to choose from.

 



The Lenovo IdeaPad lines differ quite a bit from the Thinkpads we have reviewed in the past, such as the Lenovo Thinkpad W700 Mobile Workstation or the Lenovo ThinkPad X200 Ultraportable Notebook as you'll see in the pages ahead.

In this article, we'll be showcasing the Ideapad Y530 specifically, which offers a competitive array of features at a reasonable price point. With multimedia capabilities being a focus these days, we thought this model would more than cover the bases with its generous yet rather portable 15.4" display and Intel Core 2 Duo processor packed inside.



Lenovo Y530 Notebook
Hardware Specifications - As Reviewed

  • Windows Vista Home Premium (SP1) 32-bit
  • Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 2.0GHz Processor
  • 1066 MHz FSB, 3 MB L@ Cache
  • 2 GB of 667 MHz Memory
  • Mobile Intel PM45 Express Chipset
  • Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS / 256 MB VRAM
  • 15.4 Inch Glossy WXGA Display (1280x800)
  • VGA, HDMI, Output Ports
  • Hitachi 5400 RPM - 250 GB
  • 8x Slim Sony Optiarc DVD RW Dual Layer
  • 802.11 A/B/G Intel WiFi Link 5100 w/Draft N
  • Fast Ethernet (10/100). 56k Modem, Bluetooth 2.0
  • Dolby Home Theater Sound w/ 4 Speakers and Subwoofer
  • 1.3 MP Camera
  • Integrated Array Microphone
  • 6 in 1 Multimedia Card Reader
  • ExpressCard 54 Slot
  • 3 x USB 2.0 Ports 1 x Mini 1394
  • 14.2" x 10.3" x 1.4" (W x D x H)
  • 6.7 Pounds Weight
  • 6-Cell  5200mAh 57Wh Battery
  • Retail Price: $999.00
  • 1 Year Warranty


The model we received for testing is geared towards multimedia related tasks and perhaps some light duty gaming .  It comes equipped with an Intel Core 2 Duo P7350 2.0GHz processor, 2GB of DDR2-667 memory, a 250GB Hitachi 5400 RPM drive and a wide screen, 1280x800 resolution LCD. Add to that a 256MB NVIDIA GeForce 9300M GS graphics processor with HDMI output and a five speaker Dolby Home Theater Sound system and you have quite a little entertainment package. Our Y530 shipped with Windows Vista Home Premium.

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Design and Build Quality


The Lenovo Y530, with its dimensions of 14.2" (w) x 10.3" (d) x 1.4" thick and a weight of 6.7 pounds (with battery) is a relatively handy and portable package. This can make the Y530 quite appealing to those seeking a full featured notebook for daily use, or while traveling. The outer case is black and textured with a weave pattern that not only enhances its looks, but provides a better grip, while eliminating the very noticeable fingerprints that smooth or glossy cases are prone to.  It has a minimalist design overall, that we feel is appealing to the eye. Flip the case open and you reveal the 15.4 inch glossy WXGA display with a native resolution of 1280x800, that equates to a 16:10 ratio if you're keeping track. The display is a "frameless" design which means the screen is flush to the surrounding bezel. We like the angled lid hinges that position the screen back from the laptop's base when opened. The Lenovo Y530 has a glossy black bezel that surrounds the monitor and matches the panel just in front of it that contains the touch sensitive multimedia keys. A 1.3 MP camera is mounted just above the monitor.



When you first lift the top of the Lenovo Y530 you notice the fingerprint resistant brownish-grey brushed metal surface surrounding the keyboard. There is ample space in front of the keyboard to rest your palms on while typing. On either side of the keyboard, the brushed metal plate has perforations for the speakers mounted underneath.

The 4.1 Dolby Home Theater Sound system consists of five speakers total, two placed on each side of the keyboard, two just ahead of and under the monitor in the rear most part of the base, and a subwoofer located to the rear left in the bottom cover.



The keyboard is of adequate size for this class notebook and feels responsive without any "sponginess". The function keys are an orange color that makes them easily visible even in dim light. The touch pad is both large and responsive. Scrolling mode is enabled when you touch the right or lower edge. Mouse keys at the bottom of the touch pad are also large and responsive requiring just enough downward travel to prevent accidental engagement while using the touch pad.



At the rear left part of the laptop base, you have an orange, back-lit power switch and just behind it is the "OneKey Recovery" button. This button is (by design) rather small and requires moderate pressure to feel (and hear) the switch-like click sound when positively activated. To the right of the power switch is the multimedia panel with touch sensitive buttons. On the left side, you have a mute button, a programmable button to open applications, and a Dolby setup button. To the right of the panel in the metal cover plate you have a rocker switch which controls volume. To the immediate left of it is a button that switches the right side touch sensitive buttons between equalizer and multimedia modes. In equalizer mode you have jazz, pop, dance, classical, and normal selections.  In multimedia mode the touch sensitive button selections are changed to "play / pause", "stop", "previous track", and "next track" controls.

On the front of the Lenovo Y530, you have a built in array microphone (one on either side), system status indicator, the wireless switch and a 6 in 1 multimedia reader slot that accommodates SD, MM, Memory Stick/Pro, and XD memory cards.

   


The left side of the laptop has the AC power jack, LAN port, VGA port, HDMI connector, ExpressCard / 54 slot, and two USB ports. The right side has a headphone jack, USB 2.0 port, Mini 1394 connector, Optical drive, and modem jack.

The Lenovo Y530 is very ergonomic and easy to use with intuitive controls for multimedia and other functions.
 
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Software and Accessories


The Lenovo Y530 comes with  a Setup Poster, User Guide, and a OneKey Rescue System 6.0 manual. The Setup Poster is actually a tri-fold that gives basic instructions for setup, such as installing the battery and how to use the touch pad. The flip side gives you a large illustration of the laptop with labels indicating what various buttons and the function keys do. The User Guide gives more detailed explanations on how to use the computer and external devices plus some basic troubleshooting tips. The OneKey Rescue System 6.0 manual gives you instructions on how to create recovery disks, backups, and restore the system using the recovery partition.



Pre-installed software includes several applications and utilities from Lenovo. Lenovo Easy Capture, VeriFace Recognition III, Energy Management , ReadyComm 4.0, and OneKey Recovery. Additional applications include WinDVD 8, Dolby Control Center, Carbonite Online Backup,
and CyberLink Power2Go


 


On initial boot, after a few software installers run, the desktop has icons for Adobe Reader 8, Carbonite Online Backup, CyberLink Power2Go , Lenovo EasyCapture, Lenovo ReadyComm, Microsoft Office Activation Assistant, Norton Internet Security, WildGames Play Games, and OneKey Recovery.
 

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User Experience



Portability

For several weeks we put the Lenovo Y530 though day to day usage scenarios, hauling it to the coffee shop, to the dog park, office, etc.

The laptop was very easy to carry and since it is winter all we had to do was stuff the power supply in a jacket pocket and carry the laptop under an arm if we wanted.  We don't recommend carrying a laptop like this for the average user--using a carrying case is always a good idea--but we wanted to experience carrying the Y530 in a worst case scenario.

Video 

The WXGA display proved to be quite consistent, without noticeable artifacts on the edges. It does appear to dim somewhat when not viewed perpendicular to the center due to is viewing angle, but that is the true of most mobile LCD monitors. The 1280x 800 resolution is perfect for 2-up reading modes of Word and Adobe Acrobat.

The HDMI port was a welcome feature. Just plug an HDMI cable from the laptop into an HD TV and you're basically ready to go.  One Cable hookup simplifies it all.


Hard Drive Performance

One of the strongest points revealed during our testing is the Hitachi HTS542525K9SA00 HD.  This drive offers low power consumption, and relatively strong performance in the benchmarks.


Productivity

During daily work we usually have 10-14 browser windows open, several Acrobat documents, and multiple Word and Excel instances going. The Y530 did not even hiccup and switching  between applications was easy and fast.

We'd also like to note, that during the review period of this IdeaPad, Windows 7 Beta 1 came out, and we decided to use this laptop as our test machine. This proved an excellent choice as the installation went smoothly and the Lenovo Y530 ran like a top, and still is to this day. Read more about The Lenovo Y530 in Window 7 Up Close and personal.

 


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Test Setup and 3DMark06 CPU


 
  
HotHardware's Mobile/Desktop Test Systems
Covering the bases
Lenovo Y530

Intel Core 2 Duo T7350
(2.0GHz)

2GB DDR2-667

256MB NVIDIA
GeForce 9300M GS

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio

1x250GB Hard drive            
5,400 RPM SATA

Windows Vista Home
Premium SP1

15.4" WXGA Display
(native 1280x800)

Toshiba Satellite X205-SLi4

Intel Core 2 Duo T8100
(2.1GHz)

3GB DDR2-667

Dual 256MB NVIDIA
GeForce 8600M GT

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio

2x160GB Hard drives (non-RAID)
7,200 RPM SATA

Windows Vista Ultimate

17" WSXGA+ Display
(native 1680x1050)

Toshiba Satellite A305-S6845
Intel Core 2 Duo T8100
(2.1GHz)

3GB DDR2-667

512MB ATI
Mobility Radeon HD 3650

On-Board Ethernet
On-Board Audio

2x200GB Hard drives (non-RAID)
5,400 RPM / 4,200 RPM SATA

Windows Vista Home
Premium SP1

15.4" WXGA Display
(native 1280x800)



 Performance Comparisons with 3DMark06 v1.0.2
 Details: http://www.futuremark.com/products/3dmark06/

The Futuremark 3DMark06 benchmark consists of tests that use the CPU to render 3D scenes, rather than the GPU. It runs several threads simultaneously and is designed to utilize multiple processor cores.


The Intel 7350 Core 2 Duo 2.0 GHz processor in the Y530 performs within expectations when compared to the 2.1 GHz processors used in the reference systems.


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Futuremark PCMark Vantage


Continuing our testing we use Futuremarks PCMark Vantage benchmarking suite

 Futuremark PCMark Vantage
'Memories', HDD, Gaming and Communications

Futuremark PCMark Vantage 'Memories' Test Description:
Memories 1 - Two simultaneous tasks. CPU image manipulation and HDD – importing pictures to Windows Photo Gallery
Memories 2 - Two simultaneous tasks. GPU image manipulation and HDD – video editing using Windows Movie Maker
Memories 3 - Video transcoding – DV to WMV9 - Transcoding from DV (720x480p 35.38Mbps) to a portable player (SD WMV9 320x240p 1.0 Mbps). Uses two cores if available.
Memories 4 - Video transcoding – VC-1 to WMV9 -Transcoding from media server archive (HD VC-1 1280x720p 11 Mbps) to a portable player (SD WMV9 320x240p 1.0 Mbps)
In this test the Y530 fall well behind the others. This is most likely due to the higher performance video cards and faster processors in the Toshiba laptops we used for reference.



Futuremark PCMark Vantage 'Hard Disk Drive' Test Description:
HDD 1 - Windows Defender

HDD 2
- Gaming

HDD 3
- Importing pictures to Windows Photo Gallery

HDD 4
- Windows start up

HDD 5
- Video editing using Windows Movie Maker

HDD 6
- Windows Media Center

HDD 7
- Adding music to Windows Media Player

HDD 8
- Application loading

In the Hard Disk Drive test the Lenovo Y530 put up some impressive results. The Hitachi 5,400 RPM drive in the Lenovo Y530 just barely misses the mark set by the 7,200 RPM drive in the Toshiba X205.



Futuremark PCMark Vantage 'Gaming' Test Description:
Gaming 1 - GPU gaming - Performing basic GPU (graphics processing unit) tasks utilizing PS (pixel shader) 2.0 and VS (vertex shader) 2.0 operations found in most 3D games using DX (DirectX) 9. This test utilizes SM(shader model) 3.0 (if available) performance optimizations which do affect visual quality.

Gaming 2
- HDD gaming

Gaming 3
- Two simultaneous tasks. Data decompression - Loading compressed level from hard drive and decompressing it into system memory. CPU gaming -Executing heavy AI path finding algorithms. Uses all available cores up to 16 cores.

Gaming 4 - Three simultaneous tasks. GPU gaming- Performing basic GPU (graphics processing unit) tasks utilizing PS(pixel shader) 2.0 and VS (vertex shader) 2.0 operations found in most3D games using DX (DirectX) 9. This test utilizes SM (shader model) 3.0(if available) performance optimizations which do affect visual quality. CPU gaming - Executing heavy AI path finding algorithms. Uses all available cores up to 16 cores and HDD – gaming
Although the Y530's Nvidia 9300M GS is not really a gaming GPU it still turns in respectable numbers in the Gaming Test.



Futuremark PCMark Vantage 'Communications' Test Description:
Communications 1 - Three simultaneous tasks. Data encryption – CNG AES CBC. Data compression. Web page rendering – pictures - Opens a web page with many large pictures.

Communications 2
- Three simultaneous tasks. Web page rendering – favorites group parallel - Opens various news pages from IE Favorites in separate tabs and closes them one by one. Data decryption – CNG AES CBC. HDD – Windows Defender

Communications 3
- Windows Mail – searching - Searches mails for words in the message body, subject and sender.

Communications 4
- Two simultaneous tasks. Data encryption – CNG AES CBC. Audio transcoding – WMA to WMA - Measures audio transcoding performance in VOIP usage.


In the communications test the Y530 once again bested the Toshiba X205 by a decent margin and fell short of the of the A305 by just 173 points. All in all, a very impressive showing



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Futuremark PCMark Vantage (cont'd)


 Futuremark PCMark Vantage
Productivity, Music, TV and Movies, and Overall

Futuremark PCMark Vantage 'Productivity' Test Description:
Productivity Test 1 - Two simultaneous tasks. 1. Text editing 2. HDD – application loading
Productivity Test 2 - Two simultaneous tasks. 1. Windows Contacts – searching - search 2. HDD – Windows Defender
Productivity Test 3 - HDD – Windows Vista start up
Productivity Test 4 - 1. Windows Contacts – searching - Searches contacts. 2. Windows Mail – copying - Runs Message Rules. 3. Web page rendering – favorites group parallel - Opens various news pages from IE 7 Favorites in separate tabs and closes them one by one.

 

In the Productivity Test the Lenovo Y530 still holds its own scoring between the two more powerful and more expensive Toshiba laptops.



Futuremark PCMark Vantage 'Music' Test Description:
Music 1 - Three simultaneous tasks.Web page rendering – music shop - Opens music shop kind of content.Audio transcoding – WAV to WMA lossless. HDD – adding music to Windows Media Player
Music 2 - Audio transcoding – WAV to WMA lossless
Music 3
- Audio transcoding – MP3 to WMA

Music 4 - Two simultaneous tasks. Audio transcoding – WMA to WMA. HDD – adding music to Windows Media Player
The Music test relies heavily on HDD, Memory, and CPU resources as used in encoding and decoding. Once again the Y530 turns in respectable numbers, besting the X205 slightly.
 


Futuremark PCMark Vantage 'TV and Movies' Test Description:
TV and Movies Test 1 - Two simultaneous tasks. 1. Video transcoding – VC-1 to VC-1 - Transcoding from HD DVD (HD VC-1 1920x1080p 28 Mbps) to the media server archive (HD VC-1 1280x720p 11 Mbps). Uses two cores if available. 2. Video playback – VC-1 HD DVD with HD content - Playing HD DVD (VC-1 1920x1080p 28 Mbps) with HD (VC-1 1280x720p 7 Mbps) content.
TV and Movies Test 2 - Two simultaneous tasks. 1. Video transcoding – VC-1 to VC-1 - Transcoding from HD DVD (HD VC-1 1920x1080p 28 Mbps) to the media server archive (HD VC-1 1280x720p 11 Mbps). Uses two cores if available. 2. Video playback – MPEG-2 HDTV - Playing terrestrial HDTV (HD MPEG-2 1920x1080i 19.39 Mbps).
TV and Movies Test 3 - HDD – Windows Media Center
TV and Movies Test 4 - Two simultaneous tasks. 1. Video transcoding – VC-1 to WMV9 - Transcoding from the media server archive (HD VC-1 1280x720p 11 Mbps) to a portable player (SD WMV9 320x240p 1.0 Mbps). Uses two cores if available. 2. Video playback – MPEG-2 Blu-ray - Playing Blu-ray (HD MPEG-2 1920x1080p 48 Mbps).

 
The Y530 is designed to be a multimedia machine, and here it shows it capabilities in that category.



Futuremark PCMark Vantage Overall Score Test Description:
The PCMark Suite is a collection of various single- and multi-threaded CPU, Graphics and HDD tests with the focus on Windows Vista application tests. Tests have been selected to represent a subset of the individual Windows Consumer Scenarios. The PCMark Suite includes a subset of Consumer Suite tests.

 

In the overall PCMark Vantage test, the Lenovo Y530 falls exactly where you would expect it to in comparison to the reference systems, which are equipped with slightly faster processors. No surprises here


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Gaming Performance

 Performance with Half-Life 2 Episode 2 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars
Gaming Performance


To touch on gaming performance, we chose two games that draw moderately on system resources, Half-Life 2 Episode 2 and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars. We then ran a pre-recorded demo of each at the Lenovo Y530s default resolution of 1280x800 pixels and also at a lower resolution of 800x600 pixels. The resulting performance achieved is indicated in frames per second in the graph below.





Before running the benchmarks we played the games at both resolutions. To play at the native resolution of 1280x800 we had to switch the layout to 16:10 so the 1280x800 resolution would show as an option in both games. On both games this resolution yielded somewhat choppy framerates with very apparent slowdowns.

However, there was a noticeable improvement playing at 800x600. Drop the resolution and image quality settings a bit further, and game performance obviously would improve even more.
 
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Battery Performance



Battery Info & Performance
Testing with MobileMark 2007

Rounding out our battery of tests, we ran MonileMark 2007 to assess the notebook's overall battery life while running a series of applications through a testing script.

We are using the standard benchmark settings from Bapco, along with a few other minor system tweaks. The screensaver was disabled and the volume was set at approximately 20%.

MobileMark 2007 utilizes the following applications

* Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0

* Adobe Illustrator CS2

* Adobe Photoshop CS2

* Apple QuickTime 7.1    

* Intervideo WinDVD 8

* Macromedia Flash 8

* Microsoft Office 2003 Pro

* Microsoft Project 2003

* Winzip 10.0


 

The Lenovo Y530's 6 cell battery provided a respectable score of 152 minutes, or 2 hours and 32 Minutes, which should be more than enough to handle any web surfing or video viewing you might do while on battery power.

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Summary and Conclusion

Performance Summary:  In Futuremark's PCMark Vantage test suite, the Lenovo Y530 performed quite well in comparison to the more powerful reference systems. In the CPU tests, with its 2.0GHz CPU, the Y530 fell in line just below the slightly faster 2.1GHz processors. The Y530 had its poorest showings in the memories and gaming tests.  However, it held its own by shadowing the front runners in the Hard Disk Drive Test, Communications Test, Music Test, and TV and Movies Test. The Hitachi drive in the Lenovo Y530 proved to be a powerful addition for a 5,400 RPM drive and was surely a factor in the strong test results.



The Y530's 15.4" screen, with its native resolution of 1280x800, was bright, and sharp, with good color reproduction and a quick response time. It woke from sleep mode fairly quick and achieved full brightness within seconds.  We also like the chassis, and textured case and the keyboard was very responsive.  The oversized touch pad was another huge plus. The multimedia buttons, however, did not seem consistent in their activation. Sometimes when one was pushed it would take a few seconds for its light to go brighter, indicating it was activated. Also, it was very hard to get used to the function key being on the outside of the keypad where the control key should be. This may create confusion in customers who have never experienced a non-standard key layout and had to overcome this little quirk.

All little nuisances aside, we found the Lenovo Y530 to be a solid notebook with great performance that competes favorably with other products in its class. It was very quiet at all times and there was never any excessive heat felt when using it in a laptop position.  We should also note that Lenovo has recently lowered the retail price on this particular machine from $999 to $849. At that price, we believe the Y530 is a great deal.

We put the Lenovo Y530 though it paces with a number of benchmarks and in real world situations. Never once did we receive any errors or experience any instability. This speaks volumes to the solid package that Lenovo has created.  The Lenovo IdeaPad Y530 was a pleasure to use both in the office or at home on the couch. We even went so far as to use this laptop as a base for installing Windows 7 Beta 1 and still it performed flawlessly.  If you're in the market for a new notebook, and the Y530's form factor and base specifications are appealing to you, we recommend checking it out.



  • Hitachi 5,400 RPM Drive
  • HDMI Output
  • Build Quality
  • Excellent Value
  • Great Battery Life
  • Built-in WebCam
  • Tons of Features

  • Gaming Performance




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