When you’re looking for a laptop for everyday use, you’re usually looking for a no-nonsense device that’s powerful enough for your needs while getting out of your way when you don’t need it. That’s exactly what the IdeaPad S540 is.
It is, in fact, a very boring laptop, but in the best possible way.
First, there’s the display. It’s a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920x1080) panel that’s bright enough for normal use, colour-accurate, and has a good contrast ratio.
Second, there’s the config. You get a sensible Intel Core i5-8265U CPU that’s paired with 8 GB RAM, a 128 GB SSD and a 1 TB HDD. Coupled with this is an Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU.
The CPU is sensible because it manages to tread that fine line between power delivery and consumption. An i7 would be a waste and an i3 would be a minor bottleneck. 8 GB of RAM is enough for most of the work you’ll be doing on this machine, and the MX250 GPU will provide enough graphical oomph that you won’t complain when performing day-to-day tasks. It’s also capable of very mild gaming, including PUBG LIte and CS: GO.
Adding to this is the 128 GB SSD and 1 TB of storage. This combo is great for the average user because Windows and essential apps can be installed on the SSD, taking advantage of its fast response, and those who need storage also have a full terabyte of capacity available.
There’s also a fingerprint scanner for logging in and a privacy shutter for the webcam.
The design, like the specs, is also simple and sensible. You get a silvery grey finish, an unobtrusive Lenovo logo on the lid and a hinge that goes back 180 degrees.
Port selection is decent as well: 2x USB 3.0 ports, 1x USB 3.1 Type-C port, 1x HDMI, an SD card reader, and a 3.5 mm combo jack.
I used the laptop as a daily driver for a week or so and I had not one complaint in all the time I used it. As a journalist, my work involves a tonne of typing, incessant browsing and image editing. At any given time, I’d have 20-30 open Chrome tabs, Photoshop and Word running, and not once did the laptop stutter. This could also be because my essential apps fit on the SSD, and you will notice a dip in performance if you opt to install programs on the HDD.
You do hear the fan on occasion, but only when pushing the system rather hard.
The one little niggle here is battery life, which fell a little short of expectations. On average, I managed to eke out about 2-3 hrs of use from the machine, which is fine given that Photoshop and Chrome are battery hogs, but other laptops have performed a bit better in similar situations.
Overall, I really liked the Lenovo IdeaPad S540. At around Rs 65,000, it’s very reasonably priced, and it’s sanely and sensibly specced. If it’s an unpretentious workhorse that you’re on the lookout for, I really can’t think of a better option in this price range.
Personally, I’d recommend the slightly more expensive 512 GB SSD storage option if you’re not particular about the 1 TB of storage.
For something smaller, look at the Vivobook 14 from ASUS or Lenovo's IdeaPad 330s.