Our review unit is the base configuration for the IdeaPad Z40; on paper it affords good performance per dollar with a fast Intel Core i5 dual-core processor, 6GB of RAM for multitasking and a slow but amply-sized 500GB hard drive. At the time of review, a model sporting 8GB of RAM was only $10 more. Higher-priced IdeaPad Z40 configurations are available with up to a 1TB hard drive and a faster Core i7-4500U processor; we think the larger hard drive is a good investment if you plan to store a lot of data but the performance difference between the i5-4200U and the i7-4500U is likely to go unnoticed by most users.
The Nvidia GT 820M graphics card is a curious inclusion; it’s more powerful than the integrated Intel graphics found on most notebooks in this price range by a factor of two but not nearly powerful enough to play newer 3D games like Battlefield 4. We’re tempted to say it’s almost pointless.
Our review unit of the Lenovo IdeaPad Z40 features the following technical specs:
- 14.0-inch display (1366×768 resolution, TN panel, glossy surface, non-touch)
- Windows 8.1 64-bit
- Intel Core i5-4200U dual-core processor (1.6GHz, up to 2.6GHz Turbo Boost, 3MB cache, 15W TDP)
- Nvidia GeForce GT 820M w/ 2GB memory
- 6GB DDR3L-1600 RAM (1x 4GB, 1x 2GB; 8GB max. supported – 2x 4GB)
- 500GB 5400RPM hybrid hard drive (Seagate ST500LM000-SSHD-8GB)
- 8X DVD-RAM optical drive
- Qualcomm Atheros AR956x wireless network adapter
- Integrated Bluetooth 4.0
- 4-cell li-ion battery (41Wh, 2800mAh)
- 1-year limited warranty
- Dimensions: 13.74″ x 9.6″ x 0.97″
- Weight: 4.62 lbs.
- Starting Price: $589
- Price as Configured: $589
wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark 7 measures overall system performance in Windows 7 (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Heat and Noise
The IdeaPad Z40 is actively cooled via a single fan which exhausts out the left side of the chassis. We found it odd that the fan stayed on the majority of the time regardless of what we were doing, even when the notebook was sitting idle. The fan fortunately produces little noise at its lowest speed; it’s still relatively quiet while operating at higher RPMs but has a whine that’s easy to pick out in a quiet room. We doubt the fan noise will be noticed by most users but it’s worth pointing out.
Heat-wise we noticed no issues; the whole chassis remains cool for normal usage and only gets to lukewarm levels on the left side around the fan while doing something more intense such as watching HD video.
Our Powermark benchmark run in “Balanced” mode simulates fairly intensive user activity including web browsing, word processing, gaming, and video playback workloads. This test is significantly more strenuous than a standard battery rundown test.
Powermark “Balanced” battery life test results (listed in minutes – higher scores mean better battery life):
The IdeaPad Z40 managed three hours, 32 minutes which is what we expect to see from an entry-level 14-inch notebook but not more. Higher-end 14-inch notebooks like the Dell Inspiron 14 7000 series achieve over an hour and a half better in this test. The IdeaPad Z40’s battery time translates to approximately six hours of normal usage.