Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E500 review

Lenovo still has an enviable reputation for dependable business laptops, even after its consumer division was caught installing Superfish advertising malware on new laptops this year to turn a quick buck. Lenovo’s spokesman assured us that no such malware features in its business laptop loan stock.

The ThinkPad Edge E500 is a budget business machine, bottom of the range for buyers looking to minimise investment. "Business" is of course a slightly meaningless classification these days - this laptop is no different from some entry-level gaming laptop in terms of specifications. There’s but one size for the whole range, a relatively solid-feeling 15-incher with a fifth-generation Intel Core processor and traditional hard disk for storage. Options run from low-resolution display and Core i5 to Full HD TN screen with dual-core 2.4 GHz Core i7 – we tested the latter.

ThinkPad Edge E500 review: build and design

The matt-black casework is plain but serviceable, weighing over 2.4kg on the scales and more than 33mm thick thanks to a fat 48Wh battery. This is removable, letting you carry a spare to augment the circa-seven hours runtime (7 hr 11 min measured in our wireless streaming test).

Projectors or second displays can be connected to VGA or HDMI, and of three USB ports, two are of the modern v3.0 persuasion. There’s a tray-load DVD drive, which is removable, while the top deck follows the Lenovo template of IBM trackpoint and three real buttons, supplementing a buttonless trackpad.

The keyboard has tightly sprung ‘shield’ tiles, not as delicious as Lenovo’s usual but still a treat to type upon compared to many Windows laptops. The power inlet is Lenovo’s reversible USB-style port. We found a fault that meant even with charger attached the battery was not always charging. Beware this can sap performance further as the machine goes into battery-saving mode.

ThinkPad Edge E500 review: Performance

There’s no escaping the E500’s primary flaw – this laptop is glacially slow in normal use. Forget the benchmark numbers which only give guide to program processing speeds. Daily tasks like launching a program, saving a document, booting and rebooting, took geological time to complete.

We counted around 10 seconds to launch many programs – more than 20 seconds to open WordPad – and boot times counted in minutes rather than seconds; even after AVG was removed.

Geekbench 3 results of 2892 and 5899 points give no clue to the subjectively slow performance. PCMark Home returned a reasonable score of 2807 points, responding well to GPU acceleration (3599 points).

The cheapest model has Intel graphics while our sample added AMD Radeon R7 M265 Series. When we tested gameplay, it could manage Full HD Batman: Arkham City with High detail (39fps) but Tomb Raider only averaged 29fps with Normal detail.

Lenovo has scrimped on the display, fitting a budget TN panel with poor accuracy (Delta E 10.0), low contrast (80:1) and limited colour (60 percent sRGB). It has a matt finish to reduce reflections although that won’t help its restricted off-axis visibility.

Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E500: Specs

  • 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) 141 ppi TN matt anti-glare display
  • Windows 7 Professional (option for 8.1)
  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7-5500U (3.0 GHz Turbo) 2C, 4T
  • AMD Radeon R7 M265 Series with 2 GB DDR3 + Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM
  • 1 TB 5400 rpm SATA HDD
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11ac, 1x1 MIMO (Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • DVD±RW, tray-load, removable
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • HDMI, VGA
  • Kensington Security Slot, fingerprint sensor
  • SDXC card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 0.9 Mp webcam and built-in mic
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • UK shaped tile keyboard with numberpad
  • buttonless trackpad, 100 x 57 mm, with trackpoint and three buttons
  • 48 Wh lithium-ion battery, removable
  • 45 W mains charger with IEC C5 inlet
  • 376 x 253 x 28.3–33.2 mm
  • 2415 g
  • 15.6-inch (1920 x 1080) 141 ppi TN matt anti-glare display
  • Windows 7 Professional (option for 8.1)
  • 2.4 GHz Intel Core i7-5500U (3.0 GHz Turbo) 2C, 4T
  • AMD Radeon R7 M265 Series with 2 GB DDR3 + Intel HD Graphics 5500
  • 8 GB 1600 MHz DDR3L RAM
  • 1 TB 5400 rpm SATA HDD
  • gigabit ethernet
  • 802.11ac, 1x1 MIMO (Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160)
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • DVD±RW, tray-load, removable
  • 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 2.0
  • HDMI, VGA
  • Kensington Security Slot, fingerprint sensor
  • SDXC card slot
  • stereo speakers
  • 0.9 Mp webcam and built-in mic
  • 3.5 mm headset jack
  • UK shaped tile keyboard with numberpad
  • buttonless trackpad, 100 x 57 mm, with trackpoint and three buttons
  • 48 Wh lithium-ion battery, removable
  • 45 W mains charger with IEC C5 inlet
  • 376 x 253 x 28.3–33.2 mm
  • 2415 g

OUR VERDICT

The E550's build quality is fine, its battery life not terrible, and the Intel chip looks fast and frugal. But the screen is below par and - ultimately - this finger-drummingly slow laptop cannot be recommended for anyone that needs to get work done in a hurry.

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