Lenovo Ideapad V110 review – the new Apollo Lake processors make all the difference

A few months back we reviewed the Lenovo Ideapad 110 and prior to that, the Ideapad 100. Both laptops are part of the ultra-low budget lineup from Lenovo offering very basic features and usability. Now, we have the Ideapad V110’s review ready, which is basically the same notebook with identical aesthetics, input devices, upgrade options etc. But there’s one thing that promises big changes – the new Apollo Lake chip. The unit we are reviewing sports the brand new Intel Pentium N4200, which we had the chance to test a few months before the official release but it was a pre-production sample so the results were inconclusive.

Anyway, there are configurations with more powerful processors from Intel’s Core family as well as even more affordable Celeron alternatives. The notebook itself has its strong points, mostly relying on the new processor sporting totally new architecture and as usual, there are some considerable weak points. It’s still hard to get picky, though, considering the absurdly low price tag of the notebook. If it’s available in your region, you can find it for as low as €200-250, just like its predecessors the Ideapad 110 and Ideapad 100.

You can find some of the available models here: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Contents


Retail package

The modest package comes with the AC cord, power adapter, user manuals and the notebook itself.

Design and construction

As we already pointed out, the chassis is almost identical to the Ideapad 110 with some changes made to the sides since the Pentium N4200 requires a standard cooling solution that includes a fan and a heat sink, while the previously reviewed model with Pentium N3710 relied on a passive cooling design.

The lid retains the smooth, smudge magnet, yet grippy, surface but the plastic plate feels slightly more rigid than before. Bending the middle still causes ripples to appear on the LCD screen but twisting it isn’t very easy. Once again, the lid’s hinge is overly tightened and cannot be lifted with one hand and even with a tightly pulled hinge, we noticed some inconsistency in small movements, a slack. And as for the bottom piece, it uses the same finish and offers two big vent openings for extra airflow for the hardware.

The sides of the machine remain mostly unchanged from the Ideapad 110, but some of the ports have been moved. For instance, the left side accommodates a few connectors less – one LAN port, HDMI, USB 3.0 and USB 2.0. There’s also the big grill for cooling and right next to it you will find the DC charging connector. No more awkward placing. And as for the right side, you will find the optical drive and the 3.5 mm audio jack. The SD card reader is positioned up front near the left edge. All ports are crammed up in a fairly thin design – 24 mm, which is a slight increase compared to the older Ideapad 110 (22.9 mm). Barely noticeable, though.


Probably the most familiar aspect of the laptop is the interior. We are happy to see the same AccuType keyboard with fairly short key travel compensating with clicky and responsive feedback. It’s generally a good keyboard and will fit most users. The touchpad is also meant for the non-pretentious users as it’s gliding surface is a bit rough and small while mouse clicks are slightly stiff. It’s responsive and accurate, nonetheless. What’s missing here is a bit more stability in the center of the keyboard tray. Even if lightly pressed, the surface sinks in quite a lot.

Since this is an entry-level machine, some of the cons can be ignored, like the short key travel, small touchpad or the suspicious hinge movements. However, the spongy keyboard area might get in the way of some users and consider the build quality poor. Still, the laptop compensates with fairly small dimensions and low weight (1.9 kg) making it a decent low-budget portable solution.


Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options

Quite expectedly, the notebook doesn’t offer a dedicated service cover so you need to take off the bottom plate in order to access the internals. Make sure you’ve removed the optical drive before proceeding.


Storage upgrade options – 2.5-inch HDD

Of course, the notebook doesn’t offer an M.2 SSD slot and relies only on the 2.5-inch HDD. If you wish to expand your storage, the only way of doing so is to replace the optical drive with a caddy so you can stick a 2.5-inch HDD inside.

Slot Unit Upgrade price
2.5-inch HDD/SSD Western Digital 1TB HDD @5400 rpm Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

RAM

The motherboard holds only one RAM slot, which is taken by a 4GB DDR3L-1600 SK Hynix chip in our reviewed sample.

Slot Unit Upgrade price
Slot 1 SK Hynix 4GB DDRL-1600 Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Other components

The Wi-Fi module is placed right next to the RAM chip slot.

The battery is located right between the screen hinges and requires some unscrewing before it can be takne off. It’s rated, like before, at 24Wh

Cooling system

The cooling design is simple yet effective considering the undemanding Pentium N4200 CPU.


Display quality

The Ideapad V110 offers an HD (1366×768) TN display manufactured by BOE with model number NT156WHM-N42 making up for 100 ppi and 0.253 x 0.253 mm pixel pitch. It can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 86 cm.

Viewing angles are bad, as expected, due to the TN panel.

However, we were pretty surprised by the high maximum brightness that the panel offers. Usually, laptops offering low-end TN panels don’t go higher than 190-200 cd/m2 but this one scored 247 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 240 cd/m2 as average across the surface with only 8% deviation in the lower right corner. We did notice something wrong with the color temperature, though. At maximum brightness level, the color temperature is a bit warmer than usual – 5900K but as we go along the grayscale, the color temperature gets a lot colder with CCT (correlated color temperature) even reaching 8500K at 75% RGB. Our profiles fix this. We’ve also recorded a contrast ratio of just 300:1.

The color deviation dE2000 to the center of the screen reaches only 1.8, which is an excellent result because values above 4.0 are unwanted.

Color reproduction

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 yellow dotted triangle in the graph below represents the display’s sRGB color gamut coverage, which is just 49%.

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.

We’ve created a profile with 140 cd/m2 luminance, D65(6500K) white point and 2.2 gamma.

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 Office Work & Web Design 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 & Movie Nights 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.

Response time

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 = 12.5 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.

Unfortunately, the display uses PWM and the low frequency (220 Hz) of the emitted light can be considered as “aggressive”.

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 (SDP) graph.

Conclusion

We really can’t get too picky when it comes to low-end laptops with TN displays but some of the drawbacks are apparent – narrow sRGB coverage, low contrast, poor viewing angles and aggressive PWM. But to be honest, that’s what the industry offers at this price range. We can’t miss mentioning, though, the higher than usual maximum brightness that can come in handy to some users.

Some of the issues with color accuracy, suboptimal color temperature and PWM can be easily fixed by installing one of our profiles.

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 V110 configurations with 15.6″ NT156WHM-N42 (HD, 1366 x 768) TN screen, which 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.

[edd_item edd_id_1=’78164′ edd_id_2=’78167′ edd_id_3=’78170′ edd_id_4=’78173′]

Sound

There are noticeable distortions in low and high frequencies while the maximum volume is kind of low.


Specs sheet

The specs sheet provided below is for this model only and may vary depending on your region or configuration.

CPU Intel Pentium N4200 (4-core, 1.10-2.50 GHz, 2MB cache)
RAM 4GB (1x 4096MB) – DDR4, 2133MHz
GPU Intel HD Graphics 505
HDD/SSD 1TB HDD (5400 rpm)
Display 15.6-inch HD (1366×768) TN, matte
Optical Drive Yes
Connectivity LAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Other features
  • 1x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB 2.0
  • HDMI
  • RJ-45
  • SD card reader
  • 3.5 mm combo audio jack
Battery 24Wh
Thickness 24 mm (0.94″)
Weight 1.9 kg (4.19 lbs)


Software

We used a fresh install of Windows 10 (64-bit) for the writing of this review. If you wish to do the same, we suggest downloading the latest drivers from Lenovo’s official website.

Battery

With the new Goldmont architecture used for the making of modern Apollo Lake processors, Intel promised a significant improvement in performance and power efficiency. Well, they delivered. The old Ideapad 110 notebook, which had a passive cooling solution for the Pentium N3710, offered fairly low battery runtime while the new Pentium N4200 processor runs on standard fan-based cooling design and beats its predecessor in terms of efficiency by 30-33% as both systems use the same battery rated at 24Wh. This is definitely a win in our books.

Of course, all tests were performed using the same configuration as always – Wi-Fi turned on, Windows battery saving feature switched on and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.

Web browsing

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

net

As we already said, the notebook scored pretty well in our web browsing battery test – 251 minutes (4 hours and 11 minutes).

Video playback

For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.

movie

Surprisingly, the notebook scored better in the video playback test – 261 minutes (4 hours and 21 minutes).

Gaming

For accurate simulation, we used the Metro Last Light benchmark running on loop with graphic settings set to minimum.

game

This test got the most of the battery since it’s the most demanding one – 113 (1 hour and 53 minutes).

CPU – Intel Pentium N4200

The Pentium N4200 is a low-end quad-core CPU manufactured in 14nm process part of the so-called Goldmont architecture but its part of the Apollo Lake generation of entry-level chips. The Goldmont architecture is the first totally revamped platform in a few years that promises significant performance and efficiency gains.

The chip integrates four cores clocked at 1.1 GHz but can go up to 2.5 GHz using Intel’s Burst technology. However, the latter strongly depends on the cooling performance, so if implemented right, the chip can maintain the speeds for relatively long periods of time.

Along with the four CPU cores, the chip integrates a reworked Intel HD Graphics 505 (Apollo Lake) GPU based on Intel’s Gen9 architecture supporting DirectX 12. Intel’s Gen9 architecture can be found in the last two generations Skylake and Kaby Lake Intel processors. The TDP of the chip is 6W including the iGPU and the memory controller, which supports dual-channel DDR3L/LPDDR3/LPDDR4 running at 1866 or 2400 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-pentium-n4200/

Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Pentium N4200 managed to get 3.675 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful PCs, 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 – Intel HD Graphics 505 (Apollo Lake)

Intel’s HD Graphics 505 is found in the low-end Apollo Lake chips and it’s based on the company’s Gen9 architecture, which is also found in Skylake and Kaby Lake processors. The GPU offers 18 EUs (Execution Units) clocked at up to 750 MHz, although the base frequency is 300 MHz. Since the GPU doesn’t rely on dedicated memory, it uses the available one installed on the system using a dual-channel 64-bit controller – DDR3L/LPDDR3-1866/LPDDR4-2400. Other notable features include the support for DirectX 12 API.

The low power consumption (6W TDP) of the whole SoC, for example, the Pentium N4200, makes it a good fit for low-end systems with thin and light design. The TDP can be altered and reduced to 4W, which will also affect performance.

You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook with this GPU that we’ve tested: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-505-apollo-lake/


Temperatures

The two-staged stress test doesn’t represent real-life use since the general user won’t be able to maintain such heavy workload for long periods of time but it’s still a good way to assess the overall stability of the system in the long run.

We started with 100% CPU load for an hour and it seems that the conventional cooling design assures good temperatures under load and allows the CPU to stretch its “legs” to the full extent by utilizing the 2.5 GHz clock speeds for a while before going down to 1.6-1.7 GHz.

Interestingly, after we switched on the GPU stress test, the CPU’s frequency didn’t go below 1.1 GHz while still giving enough headroom for the iGPU to perform. There wasn’t even noticeable change in temperatures.

Of course, the Pentium N4200 isn’t powerful enough to generate so much heat as you can see on the heat map below.


Verdict

Some of the issues from the last generation Ideapad 110 have not be resolved but the new Pentium N4200 makes the working experience on the Ideapad V110 much better than before. The performance increase isn’t marginal as we are used to seeing while the battery life has been largely improved and again, all thanks to the new Apollo Lake chip.

As we mentioned above, some of the drawbacks like spongy keyboard, slightly unstable hinge and stiff mouse buttons are still present with the V110. Still, the input devices offer good usability overall. And as far as the display is concerned, it carries the usual drawbacks that low-end TN panels have but we do have to give credit to the higher than usual maximum brightness. Luckily, the aggressive PWM, imbalanced white point and color accuracy can be fixed by installing our profiles.

In the end, the Ideapad V110 can still be considered as one of the most reliable and affordable everyday solutions on the market. The new Pentium N4200 definitely makes it worthwhile but don’t expect anything more than just browsing, working and general multitasking on the machine.

You can find some of the available models here: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

Pros

  • Compact and lightweight
  • Considerably better processor that increases performance and battery life
  • Decent input devices
  • The TN panel is surpisingly bright


Cons

  • The screen uses aggressive PWM from 0 to 99% brightness (the Health-Guard profile eliminates it)
  • Spongy keyboard

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tafa
tafa
5 years ago

Hi, this is a very good review! thank you very much! and what about latest lenovo ip 320 with N4200 cpu? is it better or…? And a special question: What about fan noise? i hate fan noise! So can the fan of this models be disabled from bios or anywhere else? And if disabled will be any big problem like burning in the case or cpu? thanks

Thobani Maluleka
Thobani Maluleka
4 years ago

My Lenovo V110 makes a lot of noise, how do i fix this?

Lewis
Lewis
2 years ago

Speakers are awful and silly to be placed on the base of the laptop. Whoever thought puttign the shift key right next to the UP arrow and of the same size is rather moronic. Also this laptop has split in half on me due to how thin and poor the plastic build is.

Overall it performed tasks well for the price but literally started to fall apart.