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Lenovo IdeaPad U300s - Performance, Value and Verdict

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



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Ultrabooks are birds of a feather when it comes to performance, since they all share very similar specifications. The average user can buy an Ultrabook confident in the knowledge it will run most of what they might want, barring demanding games. As already mentioned Lenovo’s IdeaPad U300s is available in several different configurations: the M6844uk model with a Core i7 CPU, 4GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, which will set you back around £1,200, or our M6845uk review model with a Core i5, 4GB of RAM and a 128GB SSD at just under £900.

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

To be honest, Intel’s dual-core ‘Sandy Bridge’ Core i5-2467M should be plenty powerful for most. It runs at 1.6GHz by default but can Turbo Clock to 2.3GHz with support for up to four virtual cores. Likewise a 128GB SSD is standard for the Ultrabook crowd and can always be supplemented by cheap external storage.

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

As ever, graphics is a weak point of the Ultrabook, which explains the U300s’ poor result of 13.8fps in Stalker: Call of Pripyat, despite running at a low 1,280 x 720 resolution and Medium Detail. In other words, if you’re into your gaming, this is not the machine for you, but the casual crowd should find performance here just about adequate.

It’s worth noting that the U300s stayed cool and quiet throughout our testing, which certainly can’t be said of all Ultrabooks.

Lenovo IdeaPad U300s

When it comes to time away from a socket, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Ultrabook also puts on a strong show. In our low-intensity battery test it lasted seven hours and 18 minutes, just two minutes short of the reigning champion, Toshiba’s Satellite Z830. As this difference is within testing margins of error, we’re calling it a draw and declaring the U300s one of the longest-lasting first-gen Ultrabooks.

So how does the U300s hold up against the competition? In its reviewed configuration at £899, it’s one of the cheaper Ultrabooks available. Acer’s Aspire S3 starts at £680, but that’s for a Core i3 model with hybrid SSD/HDD storage and no USB 3.0.

So Lenovo’s closest competitor here is the Z830, which costs around the same. Both of these laptops are comparable in terms of battery life and performance. The Z830 offers far better connectivity, lighter weight, a matt screen finish and a backlit keyboard, while the U300s gives you a more stylish and rugged chassis, better ergonomics and a superior quality (albeit glossy) screen.

To be honest, if its lack of keyboard backlighting and SD card reader aren’t huge issues for you (both laptops have screens with poor viewing angles) we would probably choose the Lenovo, and if you’re after an Ultrabook on a budget it’s our top choice right now. However, none of the first-generation Ultrabooks have convinced us enough to choose them over the likes of the Samsung Series 9 900X3A if you can afford the extra outlay.


Once again we have another excellent 13in Ultrabook entrant with just a few too many flaws to fully recommend it. Nonetheless, Lenovo’s stylish and ergonomic IdeaPad U300s is a strong contender, and at under £900 in its Core i5 guise it’s our favourite budget choice – if you can live with its screen’s poor viewing angles, lack of keyboard backlighting and absent memory card reader.

Overall Score


Scores In Detail

  • Battery Life 9
  • Design 8
  • Features 7
  • Performance 8
  • Screen Quality 7
  • Value 8

Brian ONeill

September 5, 2011, 8:16 pm

I wonder is it basically the case that no one can complete with apple when it comes to tablets and ultra portables?

A tablet needs to be under £300 or users will just buy the ipad.

I was one of the lucky few that grabbed a hp touchpad for £89. I must admit had I spent more than £200 on it I would have felt robbed, it is a pale imitation of an ipad.

Also while I am a pc power user who has windows 7 on all my computers if I was buying a new laptop I would be extremely tempted by the macbook air. A pc alternative would need to be several hundred pounds cheaper to compete.

Apple do divide opinion but there stuff is extremely well made.


February 13, 2012, 9:12 pm

I waited ages for a decent Ultrabook and non arrived. They all have their problems. I ended up having to buy a MacBook Air and plan to put windows 8 on it.


February 14, 2012, 9:44 am

@Brian O'Neill: You might want to have a look at this notebooks stablemate, the X220 Thinkpad. It can more than compete with Apple's offerings.


February 14, 2012, 7:31 pm

was looking at this and the series 5 samsung ultrabook - the display on the sammy won it for me - non glossy and much better view angles and cheaper to boot. I can't understand why Lenovo put such a rubbish screen in a premium chassis.


February 14, 2012, 8:24 pm

@Brian O'Niell:
There's definitely some strong competition on both fronts, you just have to look for it :)

On the Tablet front, an example of a tablet that exceeds the iPad 2 in hardware at least is the Asus Transformer Prime [http://www.trustedreviews.com/...].
It's thinner, lighter, more powerful, has more storage, better connectivity, better cameras, offers a keyboard attachment, etc. Another example of a tablet that offers more functionality and flexibility is the Lenovo ThinkPad Tablet [http://www.trustedreviews.com/...]

On the laptop front, meanwhile, there's the likes of the [http://www.trustedreviews.com/...] and, if you don't mind a bit of bulk, the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 (as @ffrankmccaffery metions) - to name but two.

Apple products are beautifully made and far more up to date than they used to be, but you still pay a premium and there are great alternatives.

True none of them quite manage it, though there are good ultraportables (which don't carry the Ultrabook moniker) like the aforementioned Series 9. Hopefully the next generation of Ultrabooks will give us the kind of quality laptops we're all craving.

It's actually one of the better Ultrabook screens if you get past the viewing angles, but I agree: it is baffling how all the Ultrabooks seem to share poor or average screens in such otherwise premium machines.

Roll on the Lenovo Yoga convertible Ultrabook, with a high-resolution IPS screen!


February 15, 2012, 4:55 am

Another great laptop from Lenovo ruined by the lack of a decent screen. Maybe the Yoga will get it right, or the successor of the X1...

While I wouldn't get an Apple, it seems to be the only company that manages to combine a decent screen, keyboard and touchpad.


February 15, 2012, 5:46 am

Another issue is the glossy finish on many of the screens, particularly combined with LED backlighting. My girlfriends MacBook Pro is unbearable after an hour or so on it.

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