Laptop Mag Verdict
The IdeaPad 720S is 14-inch notebook that offers premium looks for less money.
Bright, colorful display
Average battery life
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Much like a fantastic flat-screen TV on Black Friday, the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S wants to be a premium laptop at a price (starting and tested at $909) you can live with. Its luxe metal design and bright, vivid screen combine with its solid audio and a comfy keyboard to give you a laptop that's great for both work and play. You'll have to live with lesser battery life than more-expensive competitors offer. However, those looking for an attractive lightweight laptop for under $1,000 will find a lot to love with this 14-inch notebook.
With its silver, anodized-aluminum design; sparkling, bevelled edge; and reflective frame, the Lenovo IdeaPad 720S is one slick machine. I like how the front and back edges both tilt in the same direction, which gives the laptop the shape of a thin rhombus when viewed from the side profile.
The 14-inch IdeaPad 720S weighs 3.3 pounds and measures 0.6 inches thick, which is thinner and lighter than the 15-inch Asus VivoBook S510 (3.6 pounds, 0.7 inches). The 13-inch Samsung Notebook 9 (1.8 pounds, 0.6 inches) and 13-inch Dell XPS 13 (2.7 pounds, 0.6 inches) are predictably lighter.
While it may be thin and light, the IdeaPad doesn't skimp on ports. Its dual USB 3.0 connectors are split between its sides; its HDMI-out, SD memory reader and Thunderbolt 3 port are on its right, and its headphone jack is on the left.
The IdeaPad 720S' bright, colorful, 14-inch screen is one shade shy of perfect. Watching a Thor: Ragnarok trailer on it, I noted the vibrant tones in Thor's red war paint, Hulk's green skin and a wave of orange fire. This 1920 x 1080-pixel panel so crisp that I noticed each fleck of color in Bruce Banner's speckle-print suit. My one gripe, though, is that whiter tones, including Google Docs backgrounds and certain YouTubers, tended to render with a yellow tint.
According to our colorimeter, the IdeaPad 720S produces 105 percent of the sRGB spectrum. That's above the 101 percent thin-and-light notebook average, the 94-percent rating from the XPS 13 with 1080p screen and the 82-percent measurement from the VivoBook S510. The Notebook 9 (118 percent) offers even more hues.
Despite that yellow hue I saw, the IdeaPad 720S is relatively accurate, scoring 0.3 on the Delta-E accuracy test (0 is perfect). That's similar to the 0.2 from the Notebook 9 and better than the 2.9 category average, the XPS 13's 1.3 and the VivoBook S510's 6.6.
The IdeaPad 720S' panel is also rather bright, emitting up to 305 nits. That's similar to the 302-nit screen in the XPS 13, and better than 261-nit category average and the 238-nit rating from the display in the VivoBook S510. The 330-nit Notebook 9 is even brighter. In my testing, I saw the IdeaPad 720S provide decent viewing angles, with colors staying strong at 45 degrees to the left and right, though the reflection interfered with visibility at far angles in well-lit rooms.
The IdeaPad 720's island-style keyboard enables lots of comfortable typing. Testing this keyboard out on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I hit a rate of 75 words per minute, just shy of my 80-wpm average. While the 1.4 millimeters of key travel is a hair shallow (we want at least 1.5mm), this is remedied by the 71 grams of required actuation force (you shouldn't find less than 60g).
The notebook's 4.1 x 2.6-inch touchpad provided accurate input tracking as I navigated the desktop. It also speedily responded to Windows 10's navigation gestures and two-finger scrolling swipes.
The JBL-tuned speakers in the IdeaPad 720S filled our medium-sized conference room with a solid reproduction of Tyler, The Creator's "Who Dat Boy." Vocals from both Tyler and A$AP Rocky sounded clear, while the song's high-pitched synths were strong and accurate and the track's drums hit crisply.
The Lenovo Settings app includes Dolby Audio settings, which can come in handy. The default Music preset produced the most well-rounded audio, though I found that the Voice option helped clarify the audio of a poor-sounding interview. Forget about using Movies, Gaming and Dynamic, as those only seem to distort the bass or vocals.
We tested the IdeaPad 720S' Intel Core i5-7200U processor and 8GB of RAM, a configuration that enables decent multitasking. I saw no lag after I split my screen between a streaming 1080p YouTube video and a dozen Chrome tabs (including Slack, TweetDeck and Google Docs). In fact, those web pages remained responsive.
The laptop earned a subpar 7,106 on the GeekBench 4 general performance test, falling below the 9,357 category average. That score is on a par with the 7,287 from the similarly powered XPS 13 (Core i5-7200U, 8GB of RAM) but lower than the 7,593 from the VivoBook S510 (Intel Core i7-7500U. 8GB of RAM) and the 8,410 from the Samsung Notebook 9 (Core i7-7500U, 16GB of RAM).
The 256GB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD in the IdeaPad 720S duplicated a DVD's worth (4.97GB) of multimedia files in 20 seconds, for a speed of 254 megabytes per second. That rate is faster than the 218-MBps category average, the 212 MBps from the 256GB SSD in the Notebook 9 and the VivoBook S510's (256GB M.2 SSD) 96 MBps. The 256GB SSD in the XPS 13 performed this test at a faster 339.31 MBps.
The IdeaPad 720S completed our OpenOffice macro test (matching 20,000 names to addresses) in a decent 4 minutes and 4 seconds. That's faster than the 4:17 thin-and-light average, but slower than the times from the Notebook 9 (3:35), XPS 13 (3:44) and VivoBook S510 (3:43).
The Nvidia GeForce 940MX cards (with 2GB of VRAM) in the IdeaPad 720S enabled its score of 92,457 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test. That trumps the 77,391 category average, the 65,938 from the VivoBook S510 (Intel HD 620), the 77,846 from the Samsung Notebook 9 (Intel HD 620) and the 72,507 from the XPS 13 (Intel HD 5500).
You won't be traversing the wild in Rise of The Tomb Raider on the IdeaPad 720S. This machine is better at running light, modest titles such as Dirt 3 (set to medium graphics, 1080p display), which it ran at 54 frames per second. That's similar to the 51-fps rate from the Notebook 9 and smoother than the 44-fps category average, as well as showings from the XPS 13 and VivoBook S510, which notched 28 fps and the 46 fps, respectively.
The IdeaPad 720's battery life is serviceable. The laptop lasted 8 hours on the Laptop Mag Battery Test (web surfing at 100 nits), which is close to the 8:16 thin-and-light laptop average and is longer than the 5:11 and 5:04 posted by the Samsung Notebook 9 and VivoBook S510. The XPS 13 (13:49) offers more than 5 hours of additional life.
The 0.9-megapixel webcam produces slightly fuzzy, but still-serviceable images. While I'm clearly recognizable in the selfies I shot in our office, the the red wall behind me looks washed out and the image bears a pixelated texture.
The anodized aluminum IdeaPad 720 disperses heat well, staying cool to the touch. After we streamed 15 minutes of HD video on the notebook, our heat gun registered temperatures on the laptop's touchpad (82 degrees Fahrenheit), G&H keys (86 degrees) and underside (90 degrees) that fell below our 95-degree comfort standard.
Lenovo preloaded the IdeaPad 720S with a fairly standard set of apps, some of which you'll actually use. Lenovo Settings is the most useful, containing audio presets, battery management options and other preference menus. Lenovo Companion, another winner, helps you find system info as well as contact information for customer support.
If you love editing images on your computer, the Phototastic Collage image editor may be worth the $4.99 to unlock all of its filters, frames and backgrounds. You're probably better off importing your photos to your phone and using Instagram instead.
As Lenovo does with most of its laptops, it also includes the free version of the Keeper password manager. Delete it without prejudice, as Tom's Guide, our sister site, rated it a 7 out of 10 (instead go for LastPass, which got a 9/10), and this is the same version of Keeper that anyone can download for free online.
We tested the entry-level IdeaPad 720S, which costs $909 on Amazon and includes a Core i5-7200U CPU, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB NVMe M.2 PCIe SSD. For an extra $160, you can bump that CPU up to a Core i7-7500U with the $1,069 model sold by Lenovo.
Carrying around the $909 IdeaPad 720S, I've come to appreciate its understated style; bright, colorful display; solid sound; and comfortable keyboard. If its 8-hour battery life were just slightly longer, this laptop would be even better.
A similarly configured XPS 13 offers more than 5 hours of extra endurance, but you'll spend $190 more for a similarly-configured system. Still, if you want a premium laptop for under a thousand dollars, the IdeaPad 720S is a fantastic option.
Credit: Shaun Lucas/ Laptop Mag
Lenovo IdeaPad 720S Specs
|CPU||Intel Core i5-7200U|
|Card Slots||SD memory reader|
|Graphics Card||NVIDIA GeForce 940MX, Intel HD 620|
|Hard Drive Size||256GB|
|Hard Drive Type||NVMe M.2 PCI-e SSD|
|Highest Available Resolution||1920 x 1080|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Ports (excluding USB)||HDMI, Headphone, Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.0|
|Size||12.6 x 8.8 x 0.6 inches|
|Touchpad Size||4.1 x 2.6 inches|
|Wi-Fi Model||Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265|