What if an entry level Celeron notebook is not powerful enough for you? In that case, you have to shell out more money and get a power laptop. An example would be Lenovo Z50 (59436279), a Core i7 powered rig with a Full HD screen and a terabyte storage drive. Very impressive specifications, I must say, but are they worth your dollars? That’s what will be answered below.
Intel Core i7-4510U is the heart of Lenovo Z50 (59436279). It’s a dual-core processor with 2.0GHz clock speed and solid 3.1GHz when turbo boost is activated. In the popular CPU Mark benchmark it receives around 4000 points, with cheaper Celerons getting only one quarter of that. An excellent performance is indeed this Core i7’s primary feature, and it should not lag on heavier software use or multitasking.
A thing to consider, most users will rarely ever push this CPU to its limits, leaving much of the capacity unused. Thus, it could be an overkill for lightweight use. On the other hand, due to the very fact it’s so powerful, the processor (and this laptop) is a good investment. You don’t have to get new anytime soon because it will run future programs with no problems.
The Lenovo has 8GB memory installed which is in line with the high-end processor. Eight gigabytes is the maximum that most people will need today. The maximum supported memory is 16GB, although it looks like both slots on the mainboard are already occupied by 4GB chips. You can add more memory, but only by after removing the old modules.
Storage is offered by a large 1TB hard drive, often seen in these pricier laptops. It is good if you’re using your notebook as a file storage (like images or videos), but otherwise you will never fill the drive up. Many users would indeed benefit from a solid-state drive which is much faster (and smaller in storage) than the current 5400RPM one. If you think that’s you, it’s always possible to remove the hard drive and install an SSD.
Display and graphics
Display is one of the better things of Lenovo Z50 (59436279). It’s 15.6″, a default size, but what makes it stand out from the crowd is the resolution. It’s a Full HD screen, so you’ll get much more space to work with than you would on a basic 1366×768 display. Also HD movies and videos will run nicely on their native resolution. Bear in mind that it’s a non-touch model but this shouldn’t be too big of an issue. You might ponder whether the pre-installed Windows 8.1 (64-bit) works without one, and at least in my experience it makes no difference if Windows 8 is used with a touch screen or not.
There seems to be some confusion about the graphics card of this notebook. Some say it’s Intel HD 5000, but according to Intel’s official website the Core i7-4510U processor has Intel HD 4400 instead. It is indeed a bit slower than the newer HD 5000, but still sufficient especially for the older titles. Steam-based games, Minecraft, League of Legends and many MMOs will run with excellent frame rates, although later adventure games or first person shooters like Battlefield 4 will get decent ~30 FPS only on lower settings.
Lenovo Z50 (59436279) has three USB ports, but unfortunately only one of those is USB 3.0. HDMI and VGA outs are also provided, so plugging an external monitor or HDTV in works. Network can be accessed with a Gigabit Ethernet port or a dual-band WiFi + Bluetooth 4.0 card.
Leaving out DVD drive is gaining popularity with many programs moving to Internet-based downloads or subscriptions. However, this laptop has a DVD burner installed. SD card slot is there too, and it can be used – among other things – to transfer images from digital cameras.
A basic webcam is fixed on top of the screen, so this notebook is good for video conferencing.
Other things to keep in mind?
Lenovo Z50 (59436279) weighs 5.5 pounds, about the same than its 15.6″ competitors. The manufacturer promises a battery life up to 5 hours, which is probably attainable if you surf the web with a dim screen. This makes it better than cheaper models that often get only 3-4 hours with a single charge.
Lenovo laptops are accused of having a lot of bloatware installed. Some users also commented about this, expressing their concerns about the crapware having bad effect on performance. This can indeed happen, but there’s a simple DIY solution for this: go to Control Panel and remove these programs individually.
The keyboard is a non-backlit model, however featuring a numeric keypad on the right side.
Usually, Lenovos are excellent products and I can’t think otherwise with this laptop either. It seems to offer excellent performance for casual and power users alike, with the Core i7 processor and Intel HD 4400 offering something for the gaming folk as well if you dare to play with lower details. The full HD screen is an obvious plus; same can be said about the dual-band WiFi. No backlit keyboard might be a small disadvantage, though. All in all I feel Lenovo Z50 (59436279) is something you should consider if cheaper starter laptops don’t fulfill your power hungry needs.