As mentioned, the Core i3 CPU beating at the heart of this Lenovo IdeaPad U260 is actually a previous generation chip. This means it isn’t as fast or efficient as the newer ‘Sandy Bridge’ CPUs, but it should still pack sufficient punch for daily tasks. Specifically, the model used here is the i3-380UM, a low-voltage dual-core variant that runs at 1.33GHz and can’t ‘turbo clock’ higher.
The upshot is that you will notice how slow this processor is if you tend to tax your machine with ‘heavy’ workloads, but the SSD does compensate and for normal daily use (including smooth HD video playback) it’s mostly sufficient. Of course, you can always opt for a U260 model with a Core i7-680UM for a bit more muscle under the hood.
It’s backed by 4GB of RAM, and a generous (for the money) 128GB solid state drive. So far then, so reasonable. But while the CPU will be adequate for most, Intel’s previous-generation integrated graphics remind us of why we used to dislike them so. Even the oldest, most undemanding games will struggle to run, with a very discouraging 17.5 frames per second (fps) in our TrackMania Nations Forever test (this is run at a lowly Medium detail and at a sub-native 720p (1,280 x 720) resolution). Ouch!
With a low-voltage CPU, integrated graphics and an SSD, we were cautiously optimistic about the U260’s battery life. However, it’s not a particular strong point, managing only four hours and 45 minutes in our non-intensive battery test with wireless radios disabled and screen brightness set to 40 percent. Still, considering how thin and light this ultraportable is, that’s not too bad – as a comparison, the new 11in Air with its more efficient CPU actually got 20 minutes less.
Value is another strong point for this Lenovo. Especially considering its premium design and large SSD, around £780 doesn’t seem like too much to pay. However, like the Air it’s certainly not for everyone; even Lenovo itself offers a great alternative in the X220 non-tablet 12.5in, which gives you a rugged business exterior, Sandy Bridge CPU and graphics, longer battery life and boatloads of connectivity, for around the same outlay. However, it’s not as thin and you don’t get an SSD. And those, along with its design, are what you’re paying for with the U260. If these factors aren’t particularly important, there are plenty of alternatives from as little as £500.
With its unique ‘folio’ design and soft-touch finish, Lenovo’s thin and light IdeaPad U260 is one of the most attractive 12.5in laptops going. However, despite nice ergonomics and a good matt screen, its last-generation CPU and GPU hold it back, connectivity is a bit disappointing, and battery life is nothing special. However, considering you get a 128GB SSD for its sub-£800 asking price, if you won’t be subjecting it to heavy workloads it’s still a decent buy.
Score in detail
Battery Life 7