Lenovo IdeaPad S340-15IWL review: Peppy quad-core performance, but a cheap display

This bargain-priced laptop puts up impressive performance numbers, but make sure to get one with an IPS display rather than the iffy TN variety.

Credit: Ben Patterson/IDG

Performance

With its quad-core Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and integrated graphics, the S340 has all the hallmarks of a productivity workhorse—in other words, a machine that’ll cruise through Office chores and occasionally put the pedal to the metal when multi-core power is required. As you’ll see in our benchmarks, the S340 doesn’t disappoint, and we were pleasantly surprised by a couple of its chart-topping results.

PCMark 8 Work 2.0 Conventional

Given that most users of the Lenovo S340 will be using it as an Office and general productivity machine, our first benchmark results bear good tidings.

PCMark 8 is designed to simulate such daily computing activities as composing word documents, tinkering with spreadsheets, online shopping, and video chat. A PCMark 8 score of 2,000 or higher generally means a system can run Office without breaking a sweat.

lenovo ideapad s340 15iwl pcmark8 Ben Patterson/IDG

The Lenovo IdeaPad S340-15IWL put up impressive numbers in our PCMark 8 Work 2.0 Conventional benchmark.

As we can see, the Lenovo S340 leads a pack that’s bunched relatively close together, with every laptop in the chart breaking the 3,000 mark. In other words, all the systems in our comparison will handle Office with ease, including that Lenovo ThinkPad at the very bottom. Indeed, the Office performance of a laptop with a 3,500 score on PCMark 8 won’t feel significantly better than one with a 3,150 result; instead, they’ll purr more or less equally while you’re web browsing, dealing with Excel, or performing most other daily PC tasks.

HandBrake

A somewhat more demanding test than PCMark 8, our HandBrake benchmark measures how quickly a laptop can encode a 30GB MKV file into a format suitable for an Android tablet. It’s a CPU-intensive test that reliably spins up a laptop’s cooling fans, and it favors systems with the most processor cores.

lenovo ideapad s340 15iwl handbrake Ben Patterson/IDG

The Lenovo IdeaPad S340 scored well with HandBrake thanks to its quad-core Intel i5 CPU.

Again, the quad-core Lenovo S340 acquits itself well, managing to reach our HandBrake finish line in less than 4,000 seconds (or slightly over an hour). That’s a score that earns the S340 an impressive bronze in our comparison, besting some pricier laptops in the process. Of course, the S340 is somewhat larger than some of the competitors in our chart, and thus easier to cool.

It’s worth noting that while the S340 runs on a Whiskey Lake CPU rather than the older Kaby Lake Refresh chip that powers most of the other laptops on our chart, general performance tests have shown that Whiskey Lake processors enjoy (on average) only a tiny speed boost over Kaby Lake Refresh systems (both are 8th-generation Intel CPUs, by the way), so it’s not like the S340’s Core i5-8265 chip is an unfair advantage.

Lagging far behind at the bottom of the chart is a dual-core Acer Aspire 5 model, which goes to show what a difference a quad-core processor makes when it comes to video processing and other CPU-intensive chores. That said, if you’re not planning on crunching massive video files on a regular basis, you might consider saving some cash with a dual-core laptop.

Cinebench

Another benchmark that’s designed to push a CPU to its limits, the Cinebench test involves rendering a 3D image in realtime. Just as with HandBrake, laptops with the most cores generally snag the best Cinebench scores.

lenovo ideapad s340 15iwl cinebench Ben Patterson/IDG

Not only did the Lenovo IdeaPad S340 top our chart with its multi-threaded Cinebench performance, its single-thread score snagged first place, too.

And yes, it’s another nice showing from the S340, topping its quad-core competitors with room to spare. In addition to putting up a nice multi-threaded Cinebench score, the Lenovo S340 also posts the best single-thread result on our chart, demonstrating the efficiency of the S340’s individual CPU cores.

3DMark Sky Diver 1.0

With its integrated Intel UHD graphics core, the Lenovo S340 isn’t much of a gaming machine. While the S340 locks up third place in our 3DMark Sky Diver benchmark, that’s not going to help it cross the 60-fps mark (or even approach it) when it comes to Fortnite.

lenovo ideapad s340 15iwl 3dmark Ben Patterson/IDG

The Lenovo IdeaPad S340's 3DMark 8 score isn't bad for a laptop with integrated graphics, but if you want to see what a discrete graphics card can do, check out that top score.

What our Sky Diver chart illustrates is the gulf in graphics performance between a laptop with a discrete graphics card and one with integrated graphics. That big blue line at the top represents an Acer Aspire E 15 with a discrete GeForce MX150 graphics card (and that's just an entry-level GeForce card, mind you). Way behind are the rest, which are mostly saddled with integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 cores.

The sole exception is last year’s Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 6 14 with a discrete GeForce MX130 graphics card, which should have put up far better numbers than it ultimately did. We’re still scratching our heads over that one.

All that said, not everyone needs a laptop with discrete graphics. Unless you're a gamer or you're planning on doing video work, integrated graphics are probably just fine, not to mention cheaper.

Battery life

We test battery life by looping a 4K video using the stock Windows 10 Movies & TV video player, with screen brightness at about 250 nits (because the S340’s display can’t get that bright, we simply cranked its brightness setting all the way up) and volume set to 50 percent, with headphones plugged in.

lenovo ideapad s340 15iwl battery life Ben Patterson/IDG

The Lenovo IdeaPad S340's battery-life score is fine, but we were expecting better.

The S340’s average result (we ran the test three times) of 503 minutes, or a shade under 8.4 hours, is a bit of a disappointment given how its competitors fared. Indeed, with its 52 watt-hour battery, the S340 fared considerably worse than other laptops in our chart with smaller 48 watt-hour batteries.

Now, this could simply be a factor of Lenovo's tuning the S340 to favor performance over energy efficiency (although we should note that our benchmarks were performed on AC power), and in any case, eight hours of battery life is nothing to sniff at. Still, we were hoping the S340 would snag better numbers given the size of its battery.

Bottom line

The Lenovo IdeaPad S340 isn’t the first solid laptop line to come with lower-end TN-equipped models, and as such, we wouldn’t condemn it on the basis of the particular configuration we tested. Indeed, criticizing a TN panel for its poor viewing angles is like dinging a turtle for being slow; that’s just the way they are, take ‘em or leave ‘em. Swap in an IPS display for the TN panel (which you can do fairly cheaply, if you pick the next step-up model), and you’re most likely looking at an impressive value.

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Ben Patterson

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Skywatcher Dobsonian 8″ Collapsible Telescope

Learn more >

Family Friendly

Whodunnit™ Duo-Scope MFL-007 Microscope Kit

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Logitech Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2 Bluetooth Speaker

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?