Lenovo IdeaPad 720S review: A solid 14-inch laptop with discrete graphics and a great keyboard

ideapad-720s-header.jpg
  • Editors' rating
    8.0 Excellent
  • $969.99

Pros

  • Discrete Nvidia GPU
  • Excellent keyboard
  • Solid build
  • Fingerprint sensor
  • Good connectivity options

Cons

  • Screen lacks brightness
  • Relatively heavy

Lenovo's IdeaPad 720S is an all-metal thin-and-light laptop that comes in both 13-inch and 14-inch variants. It offers useful features such as Thunderbolt 3, a fingerprint sensor and up to 14 hours of battery life. However, you may need to go up few notches from the £849 (inc. VAT) starting price to get the features and performance you need.

My review model had a silver chassis, although one of the four-off-the-shelf versions of this laptop has a gold chassis (see below). The aluminium outer chassis has a matte, brushed finish that's appealing if somewhat staid. Rubber feet on the underside stop the laptop from sliding around on a desk.

ideapad-720s-main.jpg

Lenovo's 14-inch IdeaPad 720S starts at £849.99 (inc. VAT), rising to £1,199.99 for a Core i7 model with 512GB of SSD storage. It weighs 1.55kg.

Images: Lenovo

The IdeaPad 720S's size and weight betray its non-premium status. Granted, there are shallow screen bezels that keep the desktop footprint relatively small for a 14-inch laptop, at 320.7mm by 222.8mm. On the other hand, it's relatively thick at 15.9mm and weighs 1.55kg. This is no 1kg featherlight, although it should still fit into a small backpack with ease.

There's a small amount of flex in the lid, but not enough to cause real concern. The wrist rest is also on the flexible, but the keyboard is solid enough.

ideapad-720s-keyboard.jpg

The (non-touch) IPS screen has full HD resolution, while the keyboard has two levels of backlighting. There's a fingerprint reader on the right side of the wrist rest.

Image: Lenovo

The keys themselves are just about perfect for my light-touch typing style, although I'd have liked a little more 'click'. Still, the key action -- light, with a springy return -- makes this laptop a pleasure to work with. There are two levels of backlight, toggled via the Fn key and space bar.

The touchpad is responsive and I have no complaints about its usability. It's also good to see a fingerprint reader sitting on the upper right of the wrist rest.

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The screen is not quite so pleasurable to use as the keyboard. Lenovo has really squished it in, with minimal left and right bezels -- just 4mm -- that are more often seen on premium laptops. The top bezel is pretty shallow too, although at 8mm it's deep enough to accommodate the webcam. There is no touchscreen option for this laptop, and the screen itself only delivers full HD (1,920 x 1,080) resolution. Still, at 100 percent scaling you can still work on two documents side by side at the same time.

While the IPS display is clear and sharp, and viewing angles are good, I had to run the screen at full brightness for it to be usable. Any lower and the lack of illumination and reflectivity were a real problem. Even at 100 percent I could always see so much reflection that I was constantly distracted -- and not in a good way. One for the narcissists, perhaps.

Colour intensity is acceptable, while the speakers, while lacking somewhat in bass tones, deliver plenty of volume. They're located on the underside, to the far left and right, with their grilles on the upward-curving part of the base.

This isn't a fully convertible, 360-degree laptop. The screen rotates far enough to lay flat on a desk or table and there it stops. Lenovo fans wanting full rotation should look to Lenovo's Yoga range -- the more expensive Yoga 720 which comes in 13-inch and 15-inch versions, for example.

The IdeaPad 720S has a starting price of £849.99 (inc. VAT), and all four of the pre-configured models have discrete graphics, which will please anyone who wants their laptop to double up as a gaming system (providing they can cope with the screen, of course). I was sent the Core i5, 256GB silver model to review, which retails at £899.99 (inc. VAT).

When comparing models, note that only the most expensive system offers a Core i7, SSD storage increases with the price, and all share 8GB of RAM, the Nvidia GPU and Windows 10 Home.

  • Intel Core i5-7200U, Nvidia GeForce 940MX with 2GB GDDR5, 8GB RAM, Windows 10 Home, 14.0-inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch screen, 128GB SSD, silver chassis
    £849.99 (inc. VAT)
  • Intel Core i5-7200U, Nvidia GeForce 940MX with 2GB GDDR5, 8GB RAM, Windows 10 Home, 14.0-inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch screen, 256GB SSD, silver chassi
    £899.99 (inc. VAT)
  • Intel Core i5-7200U, Nvidia GeForce 940MX with 2GB GDDR5, 8GB RAM, Windows 10 Home, 14.0-inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch screen, 256GB SSD, gold chassis
    £899.99 (inc. VAT)
  • Intel Core i7-7500U, Nvidia GeForce 940MX with 2GB GDDR5, 8GB RAM, Windows 10 Home, 14.0-inch 1,920 x 1,080 non-touch screen, 512GB SSD, silver chassis
    £1,199.99 (inc VAT)

Lenovo has not stinted on connectivity. There's a Thunderbolt 3 port, a USB 3.0 port and a full-size HDMI port alongside an SD card reader on the right edge. The left edge has a second USB 3.0 port, a 3.5mm headset jack and the power input. The Thunderbolt port isn't used for charging, so it remains free for other uses.

Lenovo says the battery (size not specified) will keep the IdeaPad 720S going for 14 hours. This might be a stretch, but it should get you through an average working day. For example, during testing I used the laptop for six hours with a mix of writing, web browsing, and some streaming, and the battery depleted to 57 percent. I had the screen at 100 percent throughout.

Conclusions

A tough chassis and excellent keyboard are real selling points for Lenovo's IdeaPad 720S, which although not exactly lightweight has plenty of connectivity options. However, the key feature is discrete graphics, which makes this is a laptop suitable for both work and play.

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Specifications

General
Packaged Quantity 1
Operating System Windows 10 Signature Edition
Processor / Chipset
CPU Intel Core i5 (7th Gen) 7200U / 2.5 GHz
Max Turbo Speed 3.1 GHz
Number of Cores Dual-Core
Cache 3 MB
64-bit Computing Yes
Features integrated memory controller
Cache Memory
Installed Size 3 MB
RAM
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Installed Size 8 GB
Memory
Technology DDR4 SDRAM
Storage
Interface PCIe
Display
LCD Backlight Technology LED backlight
Widescreen Display Yes
Type LED
TFT Technology IPS
Diagonal Size (metric) 35.6 cm
Display Resolution Abbreviation Full HD
Audio & Video
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
Sound Stereo speakers, dual array microphone
Features JBL
Hard Drive
Type SSD
Capacity 256 GB
Input
Type keyboard, touchpad
Communications
Wireless Protocol 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, Bluetooth 4.1
Processor
Type Core i5
Processor Number i5-7200U
Generation 7
Manufacturer Intel
Clock Speed 2.5 GHz
Card Reader
Type 4 in 1 card reader
Battery
Technology lithium polymer
Run Time (Up To) 8 sec
AC Adapter
Input AC 120/230 V (50/60 Hz)
Connections & Expansion
Interfaces USB-C/Thunderbolt 3/DisplayPort
2 x USB 3.0
HDMI
Headphone/microphone combo jack
Memory Card Reader 4 in 1
Header
Brand Lenovo
Product Line Lenovo 720S-14IKB
Model 80XC
Localization English
Packaged Quantity 1
Miscellaneous
Color platinum silver
Security Fingerprint reader
Localization English
Included Accessories power adapter
Networking
Data Link Protocol Bluetooth 4.1, IEEE 802.11a, IEEE 802.11ac, IEEE 802.11b, IEEE 802.11g, IEEE 802.11n
Monitor
Diagonal Size 14 in
System
Notebook Type notebook
Platform Windows
Hard Drive Capacity 256 GB
Security Devices fingerprint reader
Dimensions & Weight
Width 12.6 in
Depth 8.8 in
Height 0.6 in
Audio Output
Compliant Standards Dolby Audio
Physical Characteristics
Weight 3.53 lbs
Operating System / Software
OS Provided: Type Windows 10 Signature Edition
Type Microsoft Office 365 (30 days trial)
Video Output
Discrete Graphics Processor Yes
Graphics Processor NVIDIA GeForce 940MX
Graphics Processor Series NVIDIA Geforce
Input Device
Backlight Yes

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Where To Buy

Ideapad 720s (14”)

Part Number: 80XC0004US
Price
$969.99

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