We are always happy to get our hands on an exciting device that combines two key features that in other cases are considered to be an oxymoron, like portability and power. Well, the new Ideapad 720s from Lenovo offers it all but at a cost. And we don’t mean the pricing. In fact, the price for the base model is surprisingly low because you get a crisp IPS Full HD panel, a Core i5-7200U CPU, NVIDIA GeForce 940MX GPU with 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM and top things, the device ships with a Samsung PCIe NVMe drive as a default. With specs like these and a price hovering around €1 000, it puts in the same category as the ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ. However, Lenovo’s solution has a few tricks up its sleeve that set it apart from the competition.
Lenovo has managed to cram up all this hardware into a tiny and slim 13.3-inch form factor aluminum chassis. So where’s the catch? Well, with the limited airflow and the design limitations of the cooling design, you can’t really expect top-notch performance from both chips – the CPU and GPU. According to our tests, the CPU’s performance is crippled, which might not be a big deal for consumers who are going to use the notebook only for multimedia and office work, but will be a deal-breaker for the more pretentious users wanting the best possible performance from the given hardware. Find out more about the device’s ups and downs in our review.
You can find the available configurations here: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
- Retail package
- Design and construction
- Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
- Display quality
- PWM (Screen flickering)
- Buy our display profiles
- Specs sheet
- Lenovo Ideapad 720s configurations
- CPU – Intel Core i7-7500U
- GPU – NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)
- Gaming tests
The notebook comes in an extremely small box that looks a hell of a fresh – white with orange accent. The package itself contains the AC charging adapter, user manuals and the laptop itself.
Design and construction
The notebook’s build quality and design match some higher-end models easily with anodized aluminum semi-unibody construction, thin, light, rigid and with premium feel. It makes us wonder how Lenovo managed to stick all that hardware inside and still make it look sexy.
Let’s start with the lid. It’s made of aluminum that withstands bending and torsion quite well. Whereas the single-hinge design provides the much-needed stiffness, which is a common miss with lightweight laptops these days but this time the hinge is too tightly pulled. Opening the machine with just one hand is impossible. On the other side of the lid you will find the 14-inch display exceptionally thin side and upper bezels. Fortunately, the camera is well-positioned and its usefulness isn’t sacrificed like in the XPS 13. The chin, though, appears to be normal in size. The bottom cover is made from the same material – anodized aluminum providing stiffness and some grills for extra airflow and for the loudspeakers.
The sides’ design differs from the previous generation, the Ideapad 710s, and now has flat edges with more connections than we expected – USB 3.0 on the left with the 3.5 mm audio jack and the DC charging port while the right side accommodates another USB 3.0 connector, full-sized HDMI, an SD card reader and a USB-C 3.1 (Gen 2) with Thunderbolt support. The latter is a nice finishing touch and not a common occurrence in this price range. That’s actually one of the features that sets it apart from the ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ and other similarly-priced 14-inch solutions – the Acer’s Swift 5 included.
Opening the laptop reveals the flashy and stylish interior, which looks a lot like the Yoga 910. We’ve got anodized aluminum with smooth finish and feels pretty stable because it’s not susceptible to flexing. The keyboard feels clicky and buttons aren’t mushy at all and despite the short key travel, the overall typing experience is great – the tactile clicky feedback compensates for that. The touchpad is another big step forward compared to its predecessor – it’s big, the gliding surface is buttery-smooth, it’s responsive, accurate and mouse clicks are satisfyingly clicky and light.
Apparently, Lenovo took some notes from the previous generation Ideapad 710S and all of its shortcomings are taken care of in this model. The build quality is excellent, the case feels sturdy, elegant, light and thin. Also, the input devices are good and will provide the needed comfortable working experience on the go.
Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
Of course, the ultrabook offers hassle-free access to the internals, although no service lids can be found at the bottom. Anyway, the plate can be lifted up quite easily after all the screws are removed.
Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD
This one is a bit obvious but the laptop comes only with an M.2 SSD slot – without a standard 2.5-inch bay due to the form factor of the device. The M.2 SSD slot needs a 2280 drive and our unit came with one Samsung PM961 PCIe NVMe SSD with 256GB capacity.
|M.2 slot||256GB Samsung PM961 PCIe NVMe SSD SSD (2280)||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
The motherboard doesn’t have soledred memory and relies on a single RAM chip slot supporting up to 16GB of DDR4-2400. The unit we’ve tested has a Samsung 8GB DDR4-2400 RAM. But be aware that the RAM slot is placed under a small metallic shield. First, you have to loosen up the pins that hold it and then lift it up.
|Slot 1||Samsung 8GB DDR4-2400||Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)|
The Wi-Fi adapter is placed next to one of the cooling fans and it’s Intel 3165NGW.
The battery appears to be quite generous and it’s rated at 55Wh placed under the wrist rest area.
We were pretty surprised by the cooling system. A setup like this is usually found in gaming laptops but for obvious reasons, this one is quite simpler. Anyway, the cooling design consists of two separated fans connected to both heat sinks via a single thick heat pipe.
The Ideapad 720s comes with a 14-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS panel manufactured by AU Optronics with model number B140HAN03.5. This means that the pixel density is 157 ppi while the pixel pitch is 0.161 x 0.161 mm. The screen can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 56 cm.
The screen offers excellent viewing angles from a 45-degree incline.
We were able to measure a maximum of 329 cd/m2 luminance in the center of the panel and 302 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 12% deviation. The color temperature on white screen with brightness cranked up to maximum is 7140K – a little bit colder than the standard 6500K. As we go along the grayscale, the average color temperature drops to around 7000K. You can see how the results change at 140 cd/m2 luminance (81% brightness) in the picture below.
The maximum dE2000 color deviation compared to the center of the screen is 2.7, which is totally fine since values above 4.0 are unwanted, especially when color-sensitive work is involved. The contrast ratio is pretty high – 1200:1.
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
The display covers 92% of the sRGB color gamut making it perfect not only for general browsing and office work, but for multimedia as well.
Below you will see practically the same image but with the color circles representing the reference colors and the white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut pre and post calibration.
The “Design and Gaming” profile is created at 140 cd/m2 brightness, D65 (6500K) white point and optimal gamma in sRGB mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 25 ms.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
Our equipment didn’t detect any pulsations no matter the brightness level so this makes the panel safe to use for extended periods of time in this regard.
Blue light emissions
Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.
The display offers excellent image quality, especially given the price point of the device. It offers high maximum brightness evne suitable for outdoor use, high contrast ratio, wide sRGB coverage and no PWM across all brightness levels. All of this makes the notebook suitable for work, general browsing and multimedia for extended periods of time.
Buy our display profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for Lenovo Ideapad 720s configurations with 14.0″ AUO B140HAN03.5 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
The sound quality isn’t perfect since there are some small distortions at all frequencies – low, mid and high but the maximum volume is impressive.
The current specs sheet refers to this particular model – configurations may differ depending on your region.
|Processor||Intel Core i7-7500U (2-core, 2.70 – 3.50 GHz, 4MB cache)|
|RAM||8GB (1x 8192MB) – DDR4, 2400MHz|
|Graphics card||NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)|
|HDD/SSD||256GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD|
|Display||14-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS, glossy|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1|
|Thickness||16.3 mm (0.64″)|
|Weight||1.58 kg (3.48 lbs)|
Lenovo Ideapad 720s configurations
We used the already installed Windows 10 Pro (64-bit) for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from Lenovo’s official support page.
The battery life of the Lenovo Ideapad 720s isn’t amazing but left us with a pretty good impression. For instance, the video playback time was way more than we expected – exceeding the one of web browsing. We found that pretty interesting since most of the time, web browsing consumes less power than video playback. Anyway, the score the Ideapad 720s reached was a bit lower than the one of its direct competitor, the ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ, and considerably lower than the Acer Swift 5. Still, we can call it decent and good enough for the asking price. These scores are achieved by a rather big 55Wh battery.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
Pretty good web browsing score – 443 minutes (7 hours and 23 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Surprisingly a bit higher result on the video playback test – 523 minutes (8 hours and 43 minutes).
We recently started using F1 2015’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.
Of course, the laptop isn’t made for gaming but it’s good to know that it can handle a little over three hours under heavy workload – 196 minutes (3 hours and 16 minutes).
CPU – Intel Core i7-7500U
The Core i7-7500U is part of the latest Intel Kaby Lake generation of CPUs built upon 14nm manufacturing process – or 14nm+ as the company markets – and should offer marginal performance gains over the Skylake generation while improving overall power efficiency. It’s a direct successor to the Core i7-6500U (Skylake) and Core i7-5500 (Broadwell) but opposed to previous architecture refreshes, the Kaby Lake Core i7-7500U is bringing much higher clock rates. Now the chip is clocked at 2.7 – 3.5 GHz (compared to the 2.5 – 3.1 GHz on the Skylake Core i7-6500U) and still adopting the 2/4 core/thread count using the HyperThreading technology with a maximum 4MB cache.
However, the Core i7-7500U’s TDP is still rated at 15W including the iGPU and dual-channel memory controller that supports DDR4-2133, LPDDR3-1866 and DDR3L-1600. And as far as the iGPU is concerned, it integrates a slightly improved Intel HD Graphics 620 clocked at 300 – 1050 MHz, which is slightly higher than the iGPU on the Core i5-7200U (300 – 1000 MHz).
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-7500u/
Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
Results are from our Photoshop benchmark test (the lower the score, the better)
Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-7500U scored 5.555 million moves per second. In comparison, one of the most powerful chess computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
GPU – NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)
The NVIDIA GeForce 940MX is a refreshed version of the older 940M mobile chip but paired with a faster GDDR5 memory and slightly higher clock speeds, which result in noticeably better performance compared to the standard 940M. However, some OEMs will still choose to use the cheaper DDR3 version of the GPU.
Announced back in the first quarter of 2016, the chip is almost identical to the standard 940M (Maxwell) but with clock speeds increased up to 1242 MHz and base 1122 MHz. Again, the memory uses a 64-bit bus and has 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM. It still supports the DirectX 12 API and Shader 5.0 feature along with the usual NVIDIA technologies – CUDA, GPU Boost 2.0, Optimus, GeForce Experience, PhysX. The whole GPU is rated at around 15 to 30 Watts depending on the clock speeds and memory used in the specific notebook.
You can browse through our GPU ranking to see where the Intel HD Graphics (Broadwell) stands: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
For more information about the GPU, follow this link: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-940mx-2gb-gddr5/
Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
|CS:GO||HD 768p, Low (Check settings)||HD 768p, Medium (Check settings)||HD 768p, MAX (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||111 fps||87 fps||70 fps|
|Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)||HD, Low (Check settings)||HD, Medium (Check settings)||HD, Very High (Check settings)|
|Average FPS||82 fps||38 fps||22 fps|
The extreme stress tests that we perform cannot be taken as a representation of real-life use especially on an ultrabook like this one because the general user won’t be able to reach 100% CPU and 100% GPU usage at the same time for such long periods of time. However, this remains as the most effective way to assess the cooling capabilities and the overall stability of the cooling system in the long run.
We started off with 100% CPU load for about an hour. We noticed that the Core i7-7500U reached its maximum frequency of 3.5 GHz for the first few seconds and then immediately dropped down to 2.7 GHz, which is the base operating frequency. It seems that the system isn’t able to fully utilize the performance of the processor for some reason.
Fortunately, though, after turning on the GPU stress test as well, we didn’t notice any thermal throttling of the CPU or GPU. The GeForce 940MX ran at its maximum frequency for a while and dropped around its base clock speeds for the rest of the test. The CPU ran at relatively low temperatures, considering the nature of the test and the device’s class, of course. Whereas the GPU, it ran a little bit too hot to our liking hitting 75 degrees Celsius.
In any case, temperatures on the surface didn’t go above normal (given the form factor and the purpose of the laptop) so it’s safe to say that you won’t experience any overheating during normal use or even during light gaming.
The Ideapad 720s turned out to be a great all-rounder and a rare occurrence in this price range. The only real direct competitor that we can think of is the ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ. There are some things that Lenovo’s solution does better and in some cases, the ZenBook is a better choice. However, in terms of design, build quality and display – they appear to be pretty similar.
Anyway, back to the Ideapad 720s. It boasts an excellently-built chassis with fairly compact dimensions, low weight and good input devices that can get the work done in on the go. We are also pleased with the number of connectivity options like full-sized HDMI, plenty of USBs – including a USB-C Thunderbolt (something you can’t really take for granted in this price range and the ZenBook UX410UQ doesn’t offer) and an SD card reader.
But as always, attempts of cramming up a powerful hardware inside a tiny chassis end up with crippled performance or overheating. In this case, it’s the first one. The CPU wasn’t able to reach its full potential, although to be fair, we’ve tested a pre-production sample so this might not be an issue for the end units. Anyway, you will notice very loud (high-pitch) cooling performance under load but if you limit the usage to general work and web browsing, you shouldn’t worry about that. With the ZenBook UX410UQ’s case, the cooling fan didn’t stop spinning even when idle, so there’s always a trade-off. It depends on what you are willing to sacrifice for the portable chassis.
Finally, we want to address the display and battery life – both are great, there’s no doubt about that. The IPS panel provides excellent viewing experience (negligibly close to the ZenBook UX410UQ’s one) and doesn’t use PWM from 0 to 99% brightness. And with a little help from our “Design and Gaming” profile, the color accuracy is vastly improved. As far as battery performance is concerned, it falls a little bit short to the ZenBook UX410UQ and the Swift 5 but it’s great, nonetheless.
So if you are willing to overlook some of the flaws, this powerful 14-inch fellow can easily be your compact daily driver capable of almost anything. Still, if you need the extra storage, slightly better battery life and you absolutely want the best-in-class display, the ASUS ZenBook UX410 might be the one for you.
You can find the available configurations here: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)
- Premium and solid build
- Compact and portable with thin screen bezels (14-inch machine inside a 13-inch chassis)
- Excellent IPS display
- No PWM across all brightness levels
- Powerful hardware given the asking price and the form factor
- Plenty of I/O including Thunderbolt 3
- Good battery life
- Warm and noisy under load
- The system can’t utilize the full performance of the CPU
- Glossy but non-touch screen