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Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK review

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Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK
  • Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK
  • Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK
  • Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK
  • Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK
  • Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK
  • Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK
  • Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK

Summary

Our Score:

9

Pros

  • Elegant design and great build quality
  • Superb screen
  • Excellent performance

Cons

  • Battery life could be a slightly better
  • Average touchpad
  • MacBooks are still better built

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Key Features

  • Intel Core i7-6560U
  • Intel Iris Graphics 540
  • 13.3-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS display
  • 256GB PCIe SSD
  • 8-hour battery life
  • 1.1kg
  • 13.9mm thick
  • Model reviewed: 13ISK
  • Manufacturer: Lenovo
  • Review Price: £799.00

What is the Lenovo Ideapad 710S?

The Lenovo 710S is a premium laptop in everything but price. Starting at under £700, and with this higher-end model costing just £799, it offers all the metal build, super-slim frame, quality screen, long battery life and great performance you'd expect from machines costing closer to £1,000.

The unit I have on test is the 710S 80SW0027UK but there are only two variants available and they only differ in terms of the CPU used, so any comments on build, screen and keyboard quality apply across the range.

Video: Trusted explains laptops vs tablets

Lenovo Ideapad 710S – Design and Features

This is a great-looking machine. Clad throughout with aluminium or magnesium alloy, it looks and feels every bit a high-end ultrabook. It can’t quite match the feel of being hewn from solid metal that the MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13 manages – because it isn’t – but it’s still a clear step up from largely plastic designs.

It’s incredibly thin and light too. Weighing 1.1kg, it’s a touch heavier than the latest MacBook (0.9kg), but then it does house a larger 13.3-inch screen and nearly matches the MacBook for slenderness, coming in at 13.9mm. It also comfortably out does the MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13, both of which weigh around 1.3kg.

Related: Best laptops for students

Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK

Thanks to the use of a very thin bezel around the screen, the rest of the machine is impressively small too, with dimensions of 307 x 214 x 13.9mm.

You miss out on little in the way of key features, too. There are just a couple of USB 3.0 ports, plus an SD card reader, a headphone jack and a micro HDMI output.

Inside you’ve got an Intel Core i7-6560U processor, which is a dual-core chip with Hyper-Threading so that it can process four threads at once. More importantly, though, it includes Intel’s Iris Graphics 540, which is a surprisingly powerful integrated graphics solution, making this tiny machine capable of playing some games. This is backed up by 8GB of RAM and a fast 256GB PCIe SSD.

There’s been no obvious cost cutting when it comes to the keyboard, either. It’s nicely backlit in white and has two brightness levels, as well as the option to turn it off. The overall layout of the keyboard is also excellent, with no squashed-up or oddly placed keys. Even the key action is reasonably well defined, if somewhat shallow, so it’s easy to tell when you’ve pressed a key properly – good for touch-typing at a decent pace.

Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK

Sadly the trackpad isn’t quite so impressive. It’s nice and large, with a convenient click-anywhere, single-button surface. However, I found the pad had a slight tendency to stick to my fingers in a way that the very best – which often use etched glass rather than the metal here – don’t suffer from. This is one area where the Dell XPS 13 absolutely floors the Lenovo - it has arguably the best trackpad on the market.

Lenovo Ideapad 710S – Screen and Audio

The screen on the 710S can hardly be faulted. The IPS panel produces accurate, punchy colours, with satisfyingly deep blacks. Add in great viewing angles and minimal reflections on the matte finish, and it’s a great viewing experience.

Testing it with a colorimeter it and it continued to impress, delivering a near perfect colour temperature of 6636K, contrast of 1046:1 and decent sRGB colour coverage of 83.7%. With a maximum brightness of 353nits you should have no issues seeing what's going on in bright conditions either.

The choice of a 1,920 x 1,080 resolution on only a 13.3-inch panel means you have to use Windows scaling tool to make everything look a bit bigger – and that can still be a bit temperamental.

What’s the point of having a higher resolution if you end up making everything bigger to see it? Well, it means programs such as Photoshop and video players like YouTube can still take advantage of the extra resolution to display fantastic images, but when you’re word processing or browsing the web most content still looks a sensible size.

Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK

The speakers sound fantastic. The two small speakers firing down from the front of the machine's underside produce a surprisingly meaty sound, with a solid mid-range presence that powers things along. There’s no true bass to speak of, but it’s far less of a thin and tinny mess than you’d expect from such a small machine.

Comparing to the Dell XPS 13, it's a close run thing but I'd just give the nod to the Lenovo, and it absolutely blows away plenty of far larger laptops. What's more, it actually has vaguely useful sound processing in the shape of Dolby Audio, which lets you turn on things like virtual surround and EQ optimised for Music or Movies.

Lenovo Ideapad 710S – Performance

The CPU at the heart of this laptop is a real surprise package. Its single-core performance is mighty impressive, beating out just about any other thin laptop CPU you can get with a score of 3,456 in our Geekbench 3 test. With only two cores it isn’t so impressive in multi-threaded scenarios, but its score of 7,019 is still indicative of it being entirely adequate for day-to-day duties.

What really sets it apart, though, is the Iris 540 GPU. In the 3DMark Ice Storm graphics benchmark it actually soundly beat the Nvidia GTX 950M-equipped HP Gaming 15-ak008na with a score of 78,366 to 63,000.

Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK

In truth, that’s something of a misleading result, as the CPU here is so fast that it’s pulling up the overall score. More indicative of likely gaming performance is the much more challenging 3DMark Fire Strike test where the Lenovo scores 1,319 compared to the HP’s 2,779.

Nonetheless, you’ll still be able to play 3D games on this thing if you’re happy to reduce the resolution and detail settings.

What’s more, the SSD in this thing is mighty fast, so tasks like booting up, opening programs, moving files and loading games all happen lightning-fast. We tested its performance with AS SSD and it managed 1,290MB/s read and 301MB/s write speeds. That’s 2.5x faster than a typical SATA SSD for read speed and a pretty solid write speed, too.

Combined with that CPU you get a fast system overall, which is reflected in the PCMark 8 benchmark score of 2,865. It beats the aforementioned HP (2,825) and Dell Inspiron 13 (2,732), for instance.

Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK

As for battery life, the 710S actually surpassed Lenovo’s claims, managing 8 hours 37 minutes in our Powermark benchmark. The test consists of a loop of 10 minutes of web browsing and 5 minutes of watching video, with the screen set to 40% brightness.

Obviously that figure will drop the more intensively you use this machine, but you should still comfortably get most of a working day out of one charge. All that said, there are some ultrabooks that do offer more, with the likes of the MacBook Air and Dell XPS 13 offering closer to 10 hours.

Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK

Should I buy the Lenovo Ideapad 710S?

This is a fantastic laptop for the money. It has all the premium qualities you’d hope for from a top-end lightweight laptop, and sneaks in at under £800.

With surprisingly strong performance, a quality screen, good battery life, a decent keyboard and surprisingly impressive audio, there's nothing major letting this machine down. The only slight slip-up is the touchpad, which isn’t the greatest but is also hardly a deal breaker.

Given the pricing, the most obvious comparison here is the Apple MacBook Air, and while that machine does have a slightly nicer design, touchpad and keyboard, the Lenovo soundly beats it for performance and screen quality, and still comes in £50 cheaper. Meanwhile the latest Dell XPS 13 looks poor value in comparison, as the equivalent spec for that machine costs £1,049. Of course, with that machine, you're paying for something very special in the design and build department.

You can get cheaper ultrabooks but only if you're willing to drop to a markedly slower Core M processor, as in the Asus UX305CA.

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Verdict

A fantastic machine at a fantastic price. This is a great option for those seeking a top-notch lightweight laptop without breaking the bank.

Overall Score

9

Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 8
  • Build Quality 9
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Heat & Noise 8
  • Keyboard 8
  • Performance 9
  • Screen Quality 9
  • Touchpad 7
  • Value 10

Best Deals for Lenovo Ideapad 710S 13ISK

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jimmy

August 3, 2016, 7:59 am

again with the pricing accuracy. £699 is for the core i5 variant. the i7 is £799.
You need to specify the correct prices for the variants to avoid giving a misleading review.
or if you have found somewhere that has given you a miraculously good offer then please share so we can all buy one!

Andrew

August 3, 2016, 8:24 am

Agree with Jimmy, the price in the article is very misleading.

Also, why the obsession with comparing to a Mac that doesn't even run the same OS.? I'd have much preferred to see parallels drawn with the Dell XPS 13 which seems to be a direct competitor.

Speaking of the Dell. When TR / others review the XPS 13 full HD is thought to be fine without windows scaling (only recommended with the 4k panel), but here it's required ?

Seems like this is potentially a bargain though, even at £800.

Michael Passingham

August 3, 2016, 9:29 am

Hi jimmy and Andrew. I've now rectified the price, apologies for the error and thank you for spotting.

I'm also going to add a note about the existence of the i5 model that'll be an excellent alternative for many people.

Even with the higher price this is still an excellent value machine, undercutting the MacBook Air (sorry, but people like to know) and the Dell XPS 13.

jimmy

August 3, 2016, 9:58 am

People don't want to know, because if people are looking at this machine it's because they want a windows based PC. If they are already invested in an apple ecosystem then they will choose a MacBook anyway and not look at PC's
If I'm looking at getting a windows ultrabook, then I want to know how the top few models compare to each other to make a choice. I don't care how they fair against a MacBook air because I don't want an apple!
I really think you guys need to go back to your roots and concentrate on solid detailed accurate reviews of actual available products, with a few news updates on forthcoming announced products. All this click bait crap on rumoured devices 12 months away that have no actual details at all, and silly articles about mobile game tips that are generally useless and add nothing new to anyone who has played these games for more than 5 minutes are just devaluing your brand. The quality of articles has really declined over the past couple of years. A simple proof read of some before publishing would be a start.
I increasingly find myself looking at other sites these days to get details on products I'm interested in.

Michael Passingham

August 3, 2016, 10:01 am

The comparison is still relevant; they are both laptops after all. All the same, I do agree with you that some extra information about the Dell XPS 13 here would have been useful. I will add this to the review.

jimmy

August 3, 2016, 10:03 am

exactly Andrew. comparisons to similar ultrabooks, Dell XPS 13, Asus Zenbook etc.
maybe a simple comparison table of specs would be nice.

Evan

August 3, 2016, 10:05 am

We also see that some of our most popular articles are comparisons between Macbooks and Windows machines. There clearly is an appetite from readers for this informations but you are quite correct that relevant Windows machines should be referred to also.

In terms of your other comment about the site it's one of the dangers when expanding the breadth of content. We're producing more high quality reviews than ever before in more content areas. I believe that quality of reviews has improved, certainly over the past year, when compared to previous years.

We do try to create informed articles about forthcoming products because some people are really interested in what might come next and want to know all the rumours in one place.

There will be content that won't be for everyone, that's what happens when a lot more content is being written. Pokemon Go should go away soon. Unfortunately there's so much interest at the moment that we'd be remiss as a business if we ignored it.

Ed

August 3, 2016, 10:18 am

My bad. Unfortunately these things happen sometimes. With something like this, once the mistake is made it's so easy to miss it when re-reading as of course there is a version that costs £699.

Overall my enthusiasm for this laptop - in either variant - isn't diminished, at least in terms of what else is available right now. Obviously last year we had the original Dell XPS 13 at the same price, and a merely updated version of that at the same price might've won out simply because of the slightly nicer design.

As it is, though, the latest Dell is overpriced and the 710S is a fantastic buy for the money - you're essentially getting the £1049 version of the Dell for £799.

Ed

August 3, 2016, 10:27 am

Regards the mac comparisons, because the XPS 13 is way more expensive now, it didn't really make for much of a comparison. The Air is the closest thing for the money and is still a well known benchmark for many users (I know plenty of people that have bought Airs and installed Windows simply because for the longest time it was simply the best ultrabook).

Also, as an owner of the XPS 13 I can categorically tell you that Full HD on 13in is not usable for extended periods. For a while it's okay but unless you're eyesight is next level then I'd always recommend bumping it to 125%.

PGrGr

August 3, 2016, 2:05 pm

I think the idea of comparing with a Mac is perfectly valid. Jimmy is correct in that people who are heavily invested in one ecosystem or the other may have brand loyalty, but many, like myself, are equally happy in either environment.

For work, I use Microsoft Office (pretty much the same on each platform) and bunch of web based software (browser based, so cross compatible). Outside of work, nearly everything I do is browser based or based on Creative Cloud, which, again, is identical on both systems.

In the days of Windows XP, I developed a preference for Macs. Windows 7 improved reliability in the Windows environment, and now, I prefer Windows 10, but that's probably more down to familiarity. My office PC is Windows, so I spend more time in Windows and find I know my way around it better than Mac OS X Mavericks, but it's just familiarity.

mode11

August 3, 2016, 6:21 pm

Because it's tapered, silver-and-black design is so obviously based on the MacBook Air, the machine which defined the whole Ultrabook category the Ideapad belongs to? And it's a similar price.

Andrew

August 4, 2016, 1:00 pm

Thanks guys. Adding a comparison to the Dell XPS 13 is very useful and the comment above "As it is, though, the latest Dell is overpriced and the 710S is a fantastic buy for the money - you're essentially getting the £1049 version of the Dell for £799" is exactly what I wanted to know. The only thing missing is a little more detail on the design differences.

I agree with Jimmy regarding the MacBook Air. I know people love reading Apple Vs Anything reviews of course, but when you are going out to buy a laptop / ultrabook most already know which ecosystem they want to invest in.

I myself looked recently at the exact Dell XPS 13 the £799 model reviewed compares to and so this is particularly interesting.

marco

October 11, 2016, 8:54 pm

Typing on this machine keyboard is a nightmare due to the small and unusual place of the right shif...

Anne

October 16, 2016, 11:01 am

Good morning all, and yes as a consumer and a windows user, I do like the comparison with Macbook - I am still unsure whether to buy the Levono or ASUS though for business use......

skp

October 21, 2016, 12:29 am

Hi,
I want to know whether can we upgrade RAM and Hard Disk Drive? If yes, then which model Hard disk and RAM is suitable?

Its a great laptop but poor keyboard. Can't really type fast.

toboev

October 24, 2016, 7:18 am

The headline STILL says "Price as reviewed £699", alongside the 9/10 star rating. [now fixed, thanks]

toboev

November 6, 2016, 8:56 am

Is it possible to get a laptop with this kind of performance but without the cost of the swanky chassis? I'm not bothered if it is built out of decent plastic and is a bit fatter, in fact I like not having the worry of scratching or denting such a work of art. If that saved me £100 ish I'd consider it a bonus.

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