Performance and Benchmarks
System performance with the Intel SU2700 CULV processor is less than stellar. Most programs take noticeably longer to load or access information compared to faster CULV options. Even with 4GB of memory, the system feels as sluggish as most Intel Atom-based netbooks. That said, basic tasks such as web browsing, listening to iTunes, typing documents, or watching the occasional SD video are no problem for the IdeaPad U350. When we moved up to watching HD video while still multitasking, the system lagged considerably. If this system included the faster SU4100 or SU7300 dual-core processors this would not be a problem in the slightest. Most of the configurations with the better processors don’t even cost that much more than this model, so there is little reason not to choose a faster one.
Wprime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
Heat and Noise
System temperatures stayed within normal ranges with the low-end single core processor. The hard drive cavity was noticeable warm on the left side of the palmrest and on the bottom of the notebook, but the temperature wasn’t uncomfortable. Noise levels were about average for a computer of this size, but the fan might get on your nerves if you are used to a completely silent notebook. The U350 tends to keep its fan running all the time, either to keep case temperatures low or to keep the processor under a certain temperature range. Fan noise was only a little louder than the noise level of a hard drive, but if you have really good hearing you will notice it.
Battery life with the 4-cell battery and the SU2700 is less than we had hoped for. In our test with the screen brightness set to 70%, Vista on the “balanced” power profile, and wireless active the system stayed on for 3 hours and 35 minutes before going into standby mode. Power consumption during this test floated between 9 and 10 watts. Lenovo does offer an 8-cell battery with higher-priced models for users looking for better battery life, and the 8-cell battery should provide more than 7 hours of runtime.
The Lenovo IdeaPad U350 is a great thin-and-light notebook … as long as you don’t pick the model with the slower Intel SU2700 processor. The U350 offers a unique design with a textured surface, great build quality, and excellent upgrade options. What can make or break this system though is the configuration, which could span from speedy to painfully slow under most tasks. Battery life is below average with the 4-cell battery, but an 8-cell battery comes standard on higher-priced models. The IdeaPad U350 offers an overall excellent value as long as you pick the right configuration.
- Excellent build quality
- Design looks and feels good
- Pre-wired for WWAN
- Slow SU2700 processor
- Touchpad buttons require deep press