This post is a comprehensive evaluation of the Lenovo Ideapad 720s-15 by Kretschmer, a forum user. It features images, suggestions, and comparisons.
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I’m doing a brief review of the Lenovo Ideapad 720S-15 today. This laptop has largely escaped notice—there hasn’t been a Lenovo Yoga-style marketing push, an abundance of tech site reviews, etc.—but it might be a good candidate for your next notebook buy.
My last several lapwarmers had an impact on my choosing criterion. I wanted a laptop that was somewhere in between my Skylake XPS 13 and the MSI GS60 gaming laptop I had used before. The XPS 13 was professional-grade enough to bring to any client site or lecture, rock-solid in build quality (but lacking in component lifetime), and able to run for a marathon session on a single charge. The MSI laptop, on the other hand, featured a sizable, vivid screen and sufficient gaming power to provide a space sim diversion during a work trip or a shoot-em-up weekend when visiting friends. So I was seeking for a combination of the two: a GPU that could game on the move, professional looks, and strong battery life.
Design and Build Quality
This notepad makes a good impression right away. Its exterior is made of a dark silver metal, and the lid’s upper right corner bears a subtle “Lenovo” etching. The unit’s bottom is identical in terms of colour and texture and is free of unattractive stickers other than the required Microsoft badge. Instead of the thick metal plate of the XPS line, the top surface is protected by a thin layer of metal, and it is susceptible to little bending when forces are applied to the screen’s right and left corners.
Overall, I would classify this build quality as “Tier 1.5”: better than many computers but not as tough or beautiful as the Surface Book 2 or an XPS 13. I felt at ease carrying my XPS 13 around in a bag filled with textbooks, whereas a reader of novels might feel safer with the Lenovo 720S.
The Lenovo Ideapad 720s-15’s form factor
This laptop is easier to handle or move with one hand and lighter than Dell’s XPS 15 range at 0.70 (17.95mm) and 4.18 lbs. The camera is where it should be, above the LCD, and the bezels are thin. With a discrete fingerprint reader, logging in is a breeze.
Connectors and Ports
A laptop’s utility depends on how many ways you can connect it to the outside world. Given that the 720S 15’s ports are restricted to 1xTB3 (2 lanes), 3.5mm headset, 1xUSB C, 1xUSB A, and SD Card, there is one area where a trade-off is necessary. Any more USB A peripherals, as well as any form of video out, require a trip to dongletown if you’re like me and use a Logitech mouse adaptor. For people who use common spaces for work, there is no lock hole. The AC adapter is located in the odd square port.
Speakers and a screen
Even in battery conservation mode and at 40% brightness, this laptop’s screen is extremely beautiful (my default settings on the go). Excellent viewing angles produce bright colours. There have been complaints about the FHD model’s significant backlight bleed, but my laptop is OK in that regard (see below). Without any visible ghosting concerns, this monitor operates at 60 Hz. The laptop’s bottom front has speakers that are acceptable, but they will be muffled if it is placed on a quilt or another soft surface.
Lenovo was ruthlessly stingy with the amount of bloatware it installed. In general, this was a cleaner setup than is common on consumer hardware, even after I eliminated the default antivirus trial and the Windows 10 games.
The Lenovo Ideapad 720s-15’s battery life
Its 79 watt-hour battery with legs is one of the things that sets this laptop apart from others with comparable features. I haven’t completely depleted the battery yet, but after 2 hours and 45 minutes of browsing, blogging, and streaming, I’m currently at 72%. Battery life of 8.5 to 10 hours would seem to be a realistic estimate for the amount of time available after one charge. (This is in battery-saving mode at 40% screen brightness with -150mV undervolting applied.)
Heat Transfer and Fan Noise
Fan noise is not very loud. Although the fan seems to be running always, it is quieter when I’m playing games than other discrete graphics laptops I’ve used. The MaxQ design or the 15.6″ form factor may be at blame for this.
Under load, this laptop throttles with the default settings. The GPU ultimately throttles when Doom 2016 is run at high settings with the stock voltage curve, as you can see here. It throttles frustratingly from 1,680MHz to 1,150MHz and maintains that frequency rather than dynamically deciding on a neutral frequency. Only when the GPU is being used continually at close to full capacity (such as while playing Doom at high settings) does this behaviour become obvious; other games or graphics settings have no effect.
This laptop transforms into a whole different gaming machine with -150mV CPU and -100mV GPU undervolting applied, supporting a GPU clock of 1,772MHz! In Intel XTU, you can see that the CPU is still thermally throttling, but the amount of this throttling is relatively mild and still maintains a four-core frequency of 3.3-3.4GHz. In order to ensure that I could game for hours without interruption, I need to conduct more testing under continuous loads. I may reduce the maximum clock to something like 1,700Mhz.
The 1050Ti Max-Q sets the Lenovo 720S 15 apart from insert generic elegant laptop here>. I have successfully used this form factor to play DOTA 2, Fortnite, Overwatch, Killing Floor 2, and Doom 2016* at medium or high settings at 60 frames per second thanks to the new Max-Q designs. GPU temps with undervolted settings peak at 71C while under load. When using the Intel 620 IGP for productivity tasks, the CPU operates quite well under load. With undervolting, the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark scores 2,307 (2,165 Graphics and 3,672 CPU).
The Lenovo Ideapad 720s-15 (FHD/8GB/512GB) that I bought competes with the XPS 15 line when priced at $1,500. However, Lenovo has been aggressively discounting the 720S 15 line, and my SKU was reduced to $1,200 the week I purchased it. Both the UHD/16GB/1TB SKU and the i5/8GB/256GB SKU are excellent values at $999 and $1,600, respectively (why, oh why, wasn’t this offered in 1080P?!). This laptop is uncomfortably close to the outstanding 14″ Gigabyte Aero 14W and cheap Razer Blade 14 even with reductions. With some compromises, both of those models have a better GPU and more RAM. If gaming is your first priority, you can upgrade to a GTX 1060 MaxQ for less money with a laptop like the Dell Inspiron 7000 Gaming.
The complete wave of new 8th-generation i7s laptops, especially the Kaby Lake G models with integrated Vega graphics, should be delayed until May 2018. These could result in significant reductions on i7-7700HQ variants and potentially offer goodies like additional cores or greater battery life.
Concluding Remarks the positive, negative, and ugly
For those of us who prefer to work and play on the same computer without breaking the bank, the Lenovo Ideapad 720S-15 is a wonderful all-arounder laptop. You get the gaming prowess of yesterday’s desktop replacements along with the professional appearance and battery life of today’s thin and light laptops. Though you’ll want to buy this laptop during a sale or with a coupon, it stands out in a sea of subpar options because to its long battery life and good thermals (post-undervolting). This is a fantastic hybrid-purpose laptop for the geek who is ready to fiddle with a few voltages, in the end.
-Excellent battery life -“Tier 1.5” build quality
-1050Ti Max Q handles today’s AAA games well
-Large and vibrant screen
-Relatively cool and quiet under gaming loads
-Great results from undervolting
-No need for a reinstall to purge bloatware
-Full-sized keyboard with numpad
-Fingerprint reader and strategically placed camera
-Only one USB A port; no direct video output; “Tier 1.5” construction
-A Lenovo sale or discount is necessary to obtain the best price for the intermediate SKU.
-Jack of all trades: at this price point, specialised units are faster.