A reader seeking a reliable combination of performance and battery life recently asked us to help choose between the $649 Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E430, $648 Lenovo IdeaPad U310 and $699 HP Pavilion M6, which are all solid budget notebooks. However, the Edge E430 and IdeaPad U310 are outdated models that are quite hard to find, so we'll be breaking down the Thinkpad Edge E431 and IdeaPad U310 Touch alongside the Pavilion M6 to see which notebook is worth his hard-earned cash.
The $649 configuration of the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 packs a 2.6-GHz Core i5-3230M processor with 4GB of RAM, though it can be upgraded to include Core i7 and up to 16GB of RAM. The IdeaPad U310 Touch sports a 1.8-GHz Core i5 processor and 4GB of RAM for $549 and can be configured with a 2-GHz Core i7 with the same amount of RAM. The base $868 model of the HP Pavilion M6 sports a 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 processor with 6GB of RAM, with the option to upgrade the built-in Intel HD Graphics to an AMD Radeon HD 7670M GPU with 2GB of VRAM. Each notebook has plenty to offer on paper, but which one suits our reader best?
Reader Indranil Halder had only a few requirements in mind, to help us narrow his choices.
1. Long battery life of at least 4 to 5 hours.
2. Good performance, without needing gaming level performance
3. Strong build quality for regular use.
On our LAPTOP Battery Test (Web surfing over Wi-Fi), the ThinkPad Edge E431 only lasted 5 hours and 27 minutes with a 48-watt-hour batter, though this improved to 6 hours and 17 minutes when we added a 62-watt-hour battery for $10 more. The U310 Touch only lasted 4 hours and 58 minutes, while our configuration of the HP Pavilion M6 endured for an impressive 7 hours and 4 seconds. The HP Pavilion M6 is the clear winner here, though the ThinkPad Edge is a solid second.
Lenovo lets you configure your laptop with a choice of CPUs, RAM and storage. On our review models, the ThinkPad Edge E431 packed a 2.6-GHz Core i5-3230M processor with 4GB of RAM, the IdeaPad U310 Touch had a 1.8-GHz Intel Core i5-3337U CPU with 4GM of RAM, and the HP Pavilion M6 contained a 2.5-GHz Core i5-3210M chip with 6GB of RAM.
We put all three notebooks through several benchmarks that test overall performance and speed. On our PCMark 7 performance test, the Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 scored a 2,430 and the IdeaPad U310 Touch netted a 2,744. However, the Pavilion M6 shined with an impressive score of 4,313, which is far above the notebook’s category average of 3,189.
On our OpenOffice Spreadsheet test, the ThinkPad Edge E431was able to perform a complex VLOOKUP operation in 4 minutes and 33 seconds, while the Pavilion M6 and IdeaPad were slower at 5:30 and 5:45, respectively. Finally, we put all three notebooks through our LAPTOP File Transfer Test, which tests how quickly a laptop can duplicate a 4.97GB folder of multimedia. The three devices all performed impressively, as the ThinkPad Edge E431 transferred files at 41 MBps while the U310 Touch and Pavilion M6 did so at 30 MBps.
While the Pavilion M6 performed better during synthetic benchmarks, the Thinkpad Edge E341 was more reliable in real-world testing situations.
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The 14-inch ThinkPad Edge E431 weighs 4.4 pounds, and is one of the few notebooks to pack an optical drive. The IdeaPad U310 Touch is much lighter at 3.8 pounds, sporting a 14-inch screen and no optical drive. The IdeaPad is a silver notebook that is sold with a variety of brightly-colored shells, while the ThinkPad has a more standard all-black build.
HP’s Pavilion M6 is the biggest of the three, as the 15-inch laptop weighs in at 5.2 pounds. The laptop has an all-silver design with black keys. The device includes a full number pad, integrated Beats Audio technology and an optical drive.
While we enjoyed the island-style keys on the IdeaPad and Pavilion M6, we recommend the ThinkPad’s spill-resistant keyboard and rubberized pointing stick for those looking for a work notebook.
The ThinkPad Edge E431 starts at $539.10 with an i3 Core CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB hard drive and can be purchased at Lenovo's official website. The same goes for the U310 Touch, which currently starts at $799 with i7 Core, 4GB of RAM, and 500GB of storage.
The $699 model of the HP Pavilion M6 is exclusive to Best Buy retail stores, though various refurbished models are available online for as low as $399.
If you're an online shopper looking for a brand-new product, we recommend opting for one of the Lenovo notebooks.
Overall, we have to give the edge to, well, the Edge. The Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E431 scored four out of five stars in our review, and its solid keyboard, battery life and performance deliver just what our reader is looking for.