Lenovo IdeaPad S540 Challenges Dell XPS 13 with Nvidia Graphics

The Dell XPS 13's long reign as the best laptop could soon come to an end at the hands of Lenovo. Lenovo unveiled today the IdeaPad S540, a sleek ultraportable laptop with 10th Gen CPUs, discrete Nvidia graphics and some interesting AI features. 

The IdeaPad S540 will start at $999 and is expected to be available this October. 

Lenovo IdeaPad S540 Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Lenovo IdeaPad S540
Starting Price$999
Display13.3-inch, 2560 x 1600 resolution
CPUUp to Core i7 (10th Gen Comet Lake)
GraphicsNvidia GeForce MX250
Storage256GB, 512GB, 1TB
Ports2 USB-C, USB 3.1 Type-A, headphone
Size12.1 x 8.3 x 0.6 inches
Weight2.6 pounds

While we haven't gotten our hands on one, the IdeaPad S540 seems like a smart middle ground between ultraslim laptops that compromise on performance and superfast but chunky machines. At 0.6 inches thick and 2.6 pounds, the IdeaPad S540 certainly leans toward that thin and lightweight category.

While it may not be as durable as Lenovo's ThinkPads, the IdeaPad 540 is made entirely of aluminum so it should feel premium and be able to take a knock as well. 

We can't comment on the IdeaPad S540's design until we get in a review unit, but we're excited about the unique Ice Blue and Frost White color options Lenovo offers alongside the more traditional silver.

Powering the IdeaPad S540 are Intel's new 10th Gen Comet Lake Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7 U-series processors or AMD Ryzen chips. Comet Lake chips are said to provide a 16% increase in overall performance and be 40% faster at exporting compared to the 8th Gen CPUs found in most Ultrabooks released in the past year. As always, performance will also depend on RAM and storage, which top out at 16GB and 1TB, respectively. 

On top of the 10th Gen speed boost is Lenovo's Q-Control, a program that uses machine learning to monitor tasks running in the background and change the laptop's thermals to match its workload. By keeping the laptop cool, Q-Control should be able to optimize the IdeaPad's performance and battery life while reducing fan noise. 

The downside of Lenovo choosing Comet Lake over Ice Lake processors is that the included integrated UHD graphics lag far behind. Fortunately, that's not a problem for the IdeaPad S540, which can be configured with an Nvidia GeForce MX250 GPU. Discrete GPUs are pretty rare in laptops this size, so this alone should give the IdeaPad S540 a leg up on the competition.

Lenovo tells us that the IdeaPad S540 will come with a 13.3-inch, 2560-1600-pixel display with 300 nits of peak brightness. That unique resolution is a step up from the popular 1080p panel and should give the S540 a sharp image.  

Despite the extra pixels, Lenovo rated the IdeaPad S540's battery life at 16 hours. We don't expect to get close to that mark in real-world usage but we'll give the S540 a fair shake once we get in a review unit. 

The IdeaPad S540 will be available in just a few months so be on the lookout for a full review as we get closer to its October launch.

Phillip Tracy

Phillip Tracy is the assistant managing editor at Laptop Mag where he reviews laptops, phones and other gadgets while covering the latest industry news. After graduating with a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin, Phillip became a tech reporter at the Daily Dot. There, he wrote reviews for a range of gadgets and covered everything from social media trends to cybersecurity. Prior to that, he wrote for RCR Wireless News covering 5G and IoT. When he's not tinkering with devices, you can find Phillip playing video games, reading, traveling or watching soccer.