by Kevin O’Brien
Lenovo offers three lines of notebooks; the ThinkPad, IdeaPad, and the not-so-frequently-mentioned Value line series. The Value line currently only includes the G530, a 15.4 notebook offering either an Intel Pentium dual-core or Core 2 Duo processor and Intel integrated graphics. With a starting price of $429, is the Lenovo G530value notebook worth considering? Read our full review to find out.
Lenovo Value line G530Specifications:
- Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3400 (2.16GHz, 1MB L2 cache, 667MHz FSB)
- Microsoft Genuine Windows Vista Home Premium (w/ SP1)
- 15.4-inch glossy 16:10 display (1280×800)
- Intel Graphics Media Accelerator 4500MHD
- 3GB DDR2 667MHz RAM
- 250GB 5400RPM HDD
- SuperMulti DVD+/-RW Optical Drive
- Broadcom WiFi (802.11b/g), 10/100 Ethernet, Modem
- 6-Cell 11.1V 53WHr Battery
- Limited 1-year standard parts and labor warranty
- Dimensions: 14.1 x 10.1 x 1.45
- Weight: 5lbs 13.9oz
- Price as configured: $499
Build and Design
The design of the Lenovo G530 is simple yet stylish, having a black MacBook-ish appearance when the notebook is closed. The edges are rounded off and the lid has a matte black finish that is smooth to the touch. The interior of the notebook shares the same color as the lid, but is textured with a rougher matte finish similar to what you would find on unpainted sections of a ThinkPad. Lenovo took the back-to-basics route with the color scheme on this notebook, making it entirely black inside and out.
The chassis is constructed entirely of plastic, but where most budget notebooks might feel flexible or flimsy, the G530 feels like a solid block of sturdy material. When talking about the palm rest on most notebooks, including ThinkPads, notebooks with good support still show some flex under a very strong grip. Somehow squeezing the palm rests on the G530 feels like you are trying to squeeze a rock. Other areas of the notebook share the same toughness, including the keyboard and surrounding trim.
To upgrade components the G530 has easy access panels to the memory and CPU, wireless card, and hard drive on the bottom of the notebook. No components, including the processor, had warranty void if removed stickers, making it very easy to handle upgrades or repairs in the future.
The 15.4 LCD is above average compared to most 15.4-16 notebooks, with bright and vibrant colors and decent viewing angles. The panel used is an older 16:10 1280×800 panel, instead of the newer 16:9 1366×768 versions we see in most notebooks today. The screen offers a glossy surface, which helps improve colors and contrast at the cost of added reflections and glare. Compared to frameless displays the reflections were tolerable as long as you were not outside under direct sunlight. Screen brightness was adequate for viewing in bright office conditions, but might not cut it outside unless it is an overcast day. Vertical viewing angles were adequate with a broad viewing sweet spot measuring 30 degrees forward or back before colors started to wash out or invert. Horizontal view angles were much better, showing no color distortion at steep angles.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The keyboard is easy to type on, sharing the same comfortable and durable feel as my ThinkPad T60 keyboard and only differing in layout. Individual key action is smooth with no audible click when pressed. The keys are textured with a smooth matte finish, giving decent traction for typing … unlike the glossy keyboards we are seeing on a greater number of notebooks these days. Keyboard support is excellent, with no hint of flex under strong typing pressure. Media-related keys are limited to touch-sensitive mute and volume up/down buttons located above the keyboard.
The G530 uses a Synaptics touchpad that has good sensitivity and no discernable lag during use. The surface texture is a smooth matte finish that is easy to slide a finger across even when moist. The touchpad buttons are large and positioned directly under the touchpad. I found them easy to trigger, needing only light pressure to activate. Feedback from the buttons was minimal, giving off only a sharp click when pressed. If you prefer to disable the touchpad, the keyboard has a function key that will disable it and light a blue LED in-between the touchpad buttons.
Ports and Features
Port selection is limited compared to other full-size notebooks, offering only four USB ports, VGA-out, and audio jacks. eSATA and HDMI would have been greatly appreciated, but we understand that sometimes in order to cut costs some things have to be sacrificed.
Front: Wireless on/off, audio jacks
Rear: Screen hinge
Left: Kensington lock slot, LAN, VGA, 2 USB, ExpressCard/54
Right: Modem, 2 USB, optical drive, AC power
Speakers and Audio
The onboard speakers are fine for occasionally playing music or watching video, but they were fairly unimpressive as far as notebook speakers go. Bass and midrange were lacking, but given the low-cost nature of this notebook it was expected. Peak volume levels were fine for a small room, but for the best possible audio quality a pair of headphones connected through the audio jack is the best option.
Performance and Benchmarks
System performance of the G530 was good considering it was equipped with an Intel Pentium T3400 dual-core processor instead of a Core 2 Duo like most of the budget models we review. Graphics are limited to integrated only, with the Intel X4500 chipset used in this notebook. While it can’t handle the latest games, it easily copes with standard applications such as Microsoft Word, Firefox, iTunes, and other media applications. It can also handle playing HD movies, but with only VGA out, external video connections are limited. Overall for basic small business or student use this notebook would work just fine.
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
Notebook / CPUwPrime 32MtimeLenovo T500 (Intel Core 2 Duo T9600 @ 2.8GHz) 27.471s HP EliteBook 8530w (Intel Core 2 Duo T9400 @ 2.53GHz)30.919sLenovo ThinkPad SL500 (Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 @ 2.4GHz)32.275sHP ProBook 4510s (Intel Core 2 Duo T6570 @2.1GHz)36.583sLenovo G530 (Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3400 @ 2.16GHz)38.470sDell Vostro 1510 (Intel Core 2 Duo T5670 @ 1.8GHz) 51.875s
PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
NotebookPCMark05ScoreLenovo T500 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3650 256MB GDDR3) 7,050 PCMarks HP EliteBook 8530w (2.53GHz Intel T9400, Nvidia Quadro FX 770M 512MB)6,287 PCMarksLenovo T500 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, Intel X4500) 5,689 PCMarks Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, Nvidia 9300M GS 256MB)5,390 PCMarksHP ProBook 4510s (2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6570, Intel 4500MHD)4,192 PCMarksLenovo G530 (2.16GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3400, Intel Intel 4500MHD)4,110 PCMarksDell Vostro 1510 (1.8GHz Intel T5670, Intel X3100)3,568 PCMarks
3DMark06 measures overall graphics performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
Notebook3DMark06ScoreHP EliteBook 8530w (2.53GHz Intel T9400, Nvidia Quadro FX 770M 512MB)5,230 3DMarksLenovo ThinkPad T500 (2.80GHz Intel T9600, ATI Radeon 3650 256MB GDDR3) 4,371 3DMarks Lenovo ThinkPad SL500 (2.4GHz Intel P8600, Nvidia 9300M GS 256MB)2,242 3DMarksLenovo ThinkPad T500 (2.80GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T9600, Intel X4500) 809 3DMarks HP ProBook 4510s (2.1GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6570, Intel 4500MHD)748 3DMarksLenovo G530 (2.16GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core T3400, Intel Intel 4500MHD)730 3DMarksDell Vostro 1510 (1.8GHz Intel T5670, Intel X3100)519 3DMarks
HDTune storage drive performance test:
Heat and Noise
Thermal performance of the G530 is very good thanks to the large chassis, slower processor, and integrated graphics. Under stress the system controlled temperatures very well, and under normal loads the bottom of the notebook and palmrests stayed cool to the touch. Fan noise was minimal, with it staying off under light system loads, and going just above a whisper under intensive use. The one hotspot that stood out on the G530 was the panel beneath the hard drive that warmed up considerably if you were stressing the disk.
The Lenovo G530 uses a moderately sized 6-cell battery that gives modest performance when not plugged into the wall. In our tests with screen brightness at 70%, wireless active, and Vista set to the balanced profile the system stayed on for 3 hours and 29 minutes. Average power consumption during the test was between 14 and 15 watts. A better processor with enhanced low-power modes might give increased battery time, possibly extending battery life beyond 4 hours.
Lenovo really made a great budget notebook with the G530. It feels solid and well built, something that isn’t usually the case when it comes to low-cost notebooks. Styling is very basic, similar to the Dell Vostro or HP ProBook line, and just like the ThinkPad comes in an all-black color scheme. System performance was fine for normal use, and could even handle HD content. Gaming is out of the question, but given its intended market that is hardly a concern. Compared to a Vostro or ProBook I think the G530 feels sturdier and given the price and configuration, the G530 is a better deal. Overall I think Lenovo should be pushing this notebook to small and medium businesses instead of the ThinkPad SL500, since the G530 feels like a much better machine.
- Excellent build quality
- Good configuration for the price
- Comfortable keyboard
- Simple, let good looking design
- No HDMI or eSATA
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