With the G580, Lenovo is targeting those shopping for a quality Windows 8 machine on a tight budget. This notebook offers a Core i5 processor and quality audio for just $469, along with a DVD drive and 500GB of storage. Is this sub-$500 machine as good a bargain as it seems?
The G580 sports a smooth, glossy plastic lid that Lenovo calls Dark Brown, but the color is so dark, it appears black. The keyboard deck is also encased in the same color plastic, while the bottom has a matte black finish. A spacious island style keyboard takes up most of the deck, and a shiny silver power button sits just under the display. While we like the Lenovo G580's shimmering look, the body was quick to catch fingerprint smudges.
Simplistic and minimal, the Lenovo G580's sharp angular corners make it stand out from competitors such as HP's Pavilion Sleekbook line, which come with rounded edges. We also love the way its touchpad blends into the keyboard deck, leaving just the left and right click buttons raised.
Measuring 14.8 x 9.6 x 0.68 inches and weighing 5.2 pounds, the G580 is slightly smaller than the Acer Aspire V3-551-8458, which measures 15.6 x 9.96 x 0.99 inches and weighs 5.4 pounds. It's also about the same size as the 14.8 x 9.6 x 1.2-inch HP Pavilion G6z-2200, which also weighs 5.2 pounds.
Keyboard and touchpad
Lenovo packs a sturdy keyboard into its G580 notebook, but the numeric keypad and Shift key on the right side are a bit undersized. The keyboard felt generally comfortable and offered a smooth typing experience, but we only notched 60 words per minute during the Ten Thumbs Typing Test and made one typo. When using our desktop computer, we typically average 70 words per minute with no errors.
The G580's 3.9 x 1.9-inch Elan touchpad was a nuisance during our testing. We liked its small raised dots, but on numerous occasions, the touchpad would misinterpret our cursor movements, either rearranging tiles on the Start screen or launching an app over which we were hovering. However, disabling Tap-to-select in the control panel fixed this issue.
Video came through crisply and clearly on the Lenovo G580's 15.6-inch 1366 x 768 LED backlit glossy display. Colors were vibrant and full during the trailer for "The Great Gatsby," and we saw every detail of Leonardo DiCaprio's facial expressions in close-up scenes. We experienced some glare when viewing the trailer from wide angles, but the movie clip still looked sharp and defined.
The Lenovo G580's brightness registered 211 lux during our light meter reading, coming just short of the 227 category average for mainstream notebooks. Still, the G580 outshines the HP Pavilion g6z-2200 (159 lux) and Acer Aspire V3-551-8458 (172 lux) by a fair margin.
The notebook's HD Realtek stereo speakers offered boisterous sound for a system in this price range. When listening to "Some Nights" by Fun, the singer's vocals and the deep resonating piano melody sounded clear and full. The bottom-mounted speakers were loud enough to easily fill our testing room at half volume. However, when compared with the HP G6z, the Lenovo G580 sounded more hollow.
Audiophiles can optimize the G580's sound for movies, music or games through the Dolby Advanced Audio Editor, which comes with equalizer tools for volume and graphics and a surround virtualizer.
The Lenovo G580 managed to stay relatively cool during our testing. After streaming a video at full screen for 15 minutes, the touchpad registered 81 degrees Fahrenheit, while the area between the G and H keys reached 84 degrees and the laptop's underside hit 77 degrees. We consider anything above 95 degrees to be uncomfortable, and the G580 didn't come close to that threshold.
On the left side of the Lenovo G580, you'll find two USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, an Ethernet port and a VGA connector. The right-hand side houses a USB 2.0 port, the power jack, a 3.5mm headphone jack and a DVD drive.
In a well-lit environment with a mix of natural and fluorescent light, the Lenovo G580's 720p camera captured sharply defined colors. We didn't notice much noise in our images, and colors weren't washed-out or yellowish like we've seen with some other mainstream notebooks, such as the HP Pavilion Touchsmart Sleekbook.
The Lenovo YouCam app lets you capture or edit images and add your own effects. Lenovo's Photos software lets you create gifts such as calendars, mugs and greeting cards with images on your computer. You can also choose to print a photo as a poster or canvas through the software.
The Lenovo G580 is powered by a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-3210M processor with 4GB of RAM and a 500GB 5400-rpm hard drive, which allowed for a generally smooth experience. We didn't experience any noticeable lag when performing basic tasks such as launching apps, browsing the Web and streaming video via Hulu. We streamed "How I Met Your Mother" on Hulu while running eight tabs in Internet Explorer. Applications on the Windows 8 desktop launched instantly while streaming video as well.
Our configuration of the Lenovo G580 scored 2,565 on PCMark 7, which failed to hit the 2,723 category average for mainstream notebooks, but wiped the floor with similarly priced competitors. The Acer Aspire V3-551-8458, which has a 1.9GHz AMD quad-core A8-5400 APU with 6GB of RAM, scored 1,788 while the HP Pavilion Sleekbook g6z-2200 (2.7GHz AMD dual-core A6-4400 processor and 4GB of RAM) only notched 1,731.
On Geekbench, the Lenovo G580's score of 6,560 was just a smidge under the 6,580 category average. The Acer Aspire V3-551-848 and HP Pavilion g6z-2200 didn't even come close to that number, with respective scores of 3,713 and 3,332.
It only took the G580 23 seconds to boot Windows 8, which is about the same as the Acer Aspire V3-551-8458 (0:24) and the HP Pavilion Sleekbook (0:21).
The Lenovo G580 took 3 minutes and 2 seconds to transfer 5GB of mixed media files, equaling a rate of 28 MBps. This falls far below the 40 MBps category average for mainstream notebooks, and is on a par with the Acer Aspire V3-551-8458 (26 MBps) and slightly slower than the HP Pavilion G6z-2200 (34 MBps).
During the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Test, the Lenovo G580 took 4 minutes and 47 seconds to match 20,000 names to their corresponding addresses. This is much speedier than the Aspire V3, which took 10:09, and the Pavilion Sleekbook g6z-2200, which completed the task in 7:35. The G580 even breezed past the mainstream category average of 5:55.
The Lenovo G580's Intel HD Graphics 4000 GPU proved sufficient for displaying HD video, but didn't shine in our benchmarks or gaming tests. The system scored 597 on 3DMark11, which measures a laptop's overall graphics performance. This showing is way lower than the 1,143 category average for mainstream notebooks and falls below the Acer Aspire V3-551-8458's score of 982 and the HP Pavilion Sleekbook g6z-2200's score of 642. (The Aspire V3-551-8458 comes with an AMD Radeon HD 7640G graphics card, while the Pavilion Sleekbook g6z-2200 features an AMD Radeon HD 7000 GPU.)
When we played "World of Warcraft" on auto detect settings, the Lenovo G580 mustered a barely playable 27.1 frames per second. This is significantly lower than the Aspire V3-551-8458 (46 fps), but is slightly better than the Pavilion Sleekbook g6z-2200 (21.6 fps). After bumping the settings up to Ultra, the G580's frame rate dropped to 15.1 fps.
Don't expect this budget laptop to last very long without its charger. During the LAPTOP Battery Test, the G580 ran for 4 hours and 8 minutes. The Acer Aspire V3-551-8458 (4:24) and HP Pavilion Sleekbook G6z-2200 (4:27) offered slightly better battery life.
Software and warranty
The Lenovo G580 comes with all the apps you'll find in other Windows 8 notebooks, along with Lenovo's own software suite. OneKey Recovery lets you either back up or recover your system in just one click. Lenovo also packs its DVD- and CD-burning software Power2Go and its PowerDVD media player/editor.
Buyers will get a one-year warranty on major electronic components within the device, including its 6-cell Lithium ion battery. Parts such as the keyboard, hinges, power cord, AC adapter, and plastics are covered by a 90-day mail-in warranty.
Lenovo offers six different configurations of the G580 on its site. The least expensive model costs $329 and comes with a 1.8-GHz Intel Celeron B830 processor, Intel HD Graphics 3000, 4GB of RAM and a 500GB 5400 rpm hard drive. The most expensive configuration (59371416) sells for $623 and features a 2.6-GHz Intel Core i5-3230M processor, an Intel HD Graphics 4000 card, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive.
The $479 version that we reviewed is available through Amazon, and features a 2.5-GHz dual-core Intel Core i5-3210M CPU, 4GB of RAM, Intel HD Graphics 4000, and a 500GB, 5,400-rpm hard drive.
For $469, the Lenovo G580 delivers speedier performance and a brighter, sharper display than similarly priced competitors. However, this notebook's inconsistent touchpad proved frustrating, and its battery life could be better. Although it's not as fast, the $454 HP Pavilion Sleekbook g6z boasts even more robust sound and a more reliable touchpad. But for a notebook that costs less than $500, the Lenovo G580 is a pretty strong value.