When most people think of budget-class systems, they invariably (and rightfully) think about compromises in looks or performance. The Lenovo G580 does a good job of subverting these preconceived notions, serving up a Windows 8-equipped laptop that merges good performance and an admirable feature set in an affordable package. For these reasons, it’s our new Editors’ Choice for budget laptops.
Design and Features
Measuring 1.35 by 14.8 by 9.65 inches (HWD), the G580 is slightly bulky, though its 5.09 pound frame is lighter than the Dell Inspiron 17-3721 (5.9 pounds). Like the HP Pavilion Sleekbook 15z-b000, its all-plastic chassis is decked out in a glossy black finish with a subtle glittery effect. As was the case with the HP 15z-b000, though, the Lenovo G580′s frame has the unfortunate tendency of attracting a noticeable amount of fingerprints and smudging within a few minutes of use.
The tiled keyboard boasts comfortably rounded keys with the right amount of travel in each keystroke. This excellent typing experience more than adequately compensates for the keyboard’s absence of backlight, especially since that’s a typical omission at this price point. Ditto for the Lenovo G580′s responsive touchpad, whose textured finish allows users to pinch and swipe through Windows 8 with a pleasant blend of comfort and accuracy.
The G580′s 15.6-inch display has a maximum resolution of 1,366 by 768, making it capable of supporting 720P content. This feature can easily be taken advantage of thanks to the system’s integrated tray-loading DVD burner. With its vibrant colors and crisp text, the display is just as easy on the eyes on the Windows 8 Start screen as it is in video playback. The Lenovo G580′s speakers produce clear sounds when maxed out, which is generally loud enough to fill a small room.
I/O port selection on the G580 is on par with others in its class. There’s a card reader in the front of the system, and the right side houses a headphone jack, USB 2.0 port, and DVD burner. The left side, meanwhile, sports an Ethernet port, VGA and HDMI outputs, and a pair of USB 3.0 ports, effectively yielding twice as much USB 3.0 connectivity as the Toshiba Satellite C875-S7340.
The G580′s 500GB 5,400rpm hard drive offers a good amount of storage space for most casual users. There is, however, a chunk of preloaded software that ranges in usefulness. As is often the case, the software ranges from useful (Microsoft Office Starter 2010, Cyberlink PowerDVD burning suite) to extraneous bloatware (links to Evernote, AccuWeather, and Skype, FreeRide games, an Amazon.com browser app). Additionally, users will also find a bevy of proprietary software (Lenovo Energy Management, Companion, YouCam, and so on) and some trial software (30 days of McAfee Internet Security and Nitro PDF). The G580 is covered by a one-year limited warranty on parts and labor.
Armed with a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M processor and 4GB RAM, the G580 yielded solid performance in our benchmark tests. Its PCMark 7 score of 2,615 points led the pack, leaving the Satellite C875-S7340 (2,503 points) and Inspiron 17-3721 (2,233 points) scrambling to catch up. Its processing agility was further apparent on Cinebench R11.5, where its score of 2.74 points trumped the competition, including the Acer Aspire V5-571-6891 (1.80 points).
The LG580′s performance extended to multimedia tests. It completed our Handbrake video-encoding test in a brisk 1 minute 18 seconds, leaving the Satellite C875-S7340 (1:28) nipping at its heels while others like the Inspiron 17-3721 (1:59) languished in the dust. Likewise, it breezed through our Photoshop CS6 test’s dozen or so filters in a brisk 5 minutes 32 seconds, giving it a comfortable lead over slower systems like the Acer V5-571-6891 (8:43) and, to a greater extent, the HP 15z-b000 (10:59).
The G580 didn’t rout the competition as resoundingly in our 3DMark11 tests, though (1,119 points in Entry-level settings; 205 points in Extreme settings), where it fell short of the HP 15z-b000 (1,134 and 213 points, respectively). At any rate, the G580′s capacity for moderate media creation belies its affordable price, in turn allowing users to experiment with Photoshop and movie-editing without having to shell out too much cash. Conversely, the Lenovo G580 conformed to its status as a budget laptop in failing to produce playable frame rates in either Heaven or Aliens vs. Predator. Dabbling with photos and videos is one thing, but don’t expect to play any high-end games on it anytime soon.
The G580′s removable 48Whr battery lasted for 4 hours 3 minutes on our battery rundown test, finishing only minutes short of the class-leading Aspire V5-571-6891 (4:07). While this won’t get you through an entire day on a single charge, it’s nonetheless good for budget laptops, especially considering how poorly other systems like the Satellite C875-S7340 (2:39) and Sleekbook 15z-b000 (3:20) fared.
With its solid performance, terrific keyboard, and affordable price tag, the Lenovo G580 offers budget-conscious users a great opportunity to enter the Windows 8 fray without having to shell out more than $500 or settle for a ho-hum system. For these reasons, it unseats the Dell Inspiron 17-3721 as our Editors’ Choice for budget laptops.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS:
Check out the test scores for the Lenovo G580
|Processor Name||Intel Core i5-3210M|
|Operating System||Microsoft Windows 8|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 4000|
|Processor Speed||2.5 GHz|
|Primary Optical Drive||DVD+/-RW (Plus Minus)|
|Screen Size||15.6 inches|
|Storage Capacity (as Tested)||500 GB|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc