It’s quite heavy, at 2.65kg, and it pushes our £500 budget to the limit at £499, but Lenovo’s Z580 provides as much power as you’re likely to get from a laptop in this price range. See Laptop Advisor.
That weight means that it’s no Ultrabook, and it also measures a full 33mm thick, so the Lenovo Z580 is a bit of a handful even for a 15-inch budget laptop with a built-in DVD drive. If portability is your main priority then there are certainly lighter alternatives available – although they’re unlikely to match the performance of the Z580. Also see: Group test - what's the best budget laptop?
And, weight aside, the Lenovo Z580is still quite well built and attractively designed. Our review unit was clad in a pristine ‘enamel white’ plastic casing with black trim, but it’s also available in a variety of other colours, including a rather striking cherry red.
The Lenovo Z580 is solidly built too, and can certainly cope with life on the move. The keyboard has Lenovo’s trademark moulded keys, which are very comfortable when typing for long periods of time, and the large trackpad is roomy enough for multi-finger gestures such as pinch-to-zoom when you’re viewing photos.
The speakers have a little bit of a metallic edge on higher frequencies, but they produce a decent volume, and they’re fine for simply watching streaming video on YouTube or the BBC iPlayer. The only minor disappointment here is that the Lenovo Z580’s 15.6-inch screen isn’t as bright as we might have liked. The viewing angle is relatively limited, so you may need to nudge the screen round a bit from time to time when you’re playing games or watching full-screen video. This isn’t a major weakness, though, and the Z580 certainly works well for viewing photos or streaming video.
We can’t fault the performance of this cheap laptop, either, Prices start at around £400 for a model with an i3 processor, but our review unit was priced at £499 with an Ivy Bridge i5 running at a healthy 2.6GHz (3.2GHz with Turboboost), along with 8GB of memory and a full 1TB hard disk. And, as well the integrated HD4000 graphics, this Lenovo Z580 also includes a separate nVidia GeForce GT 635M graphics processor.
That combination produced a solid score of 2765 when running PCMark 7, which is good going for a cheap laptop with only a 5400rpm hard drive, and the Lenovo Z580will be more than adequate for basic web browsing and running Microsoft Office, as well as more demanding tasks such as photo-or video-editing.
The Lenovo Z580 budget laptop can even handle some decent gaming action too, with the GeForce graphics hitting a smooth 55.5fps when running Stalker at 1280x720 resolution with medium graphics settings. Alternatively, you can switch to the integrated graphics when you’re on the move and get close to five hours (285 mins) of battery life.