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Lenovo IdeaPad 100 review: This big laptop's got a tiny little processor, but it's cheap

Hayden Dingman | Aug. 18, 2015
This Lenovo laptop is poised to take on Chromebooks, so at best expect Chromebook-style performance.

At least it has physical mouse buttons, though.

The sound quality is predictably terrible--almost all treble, and I managed to get it to crackle and distort just by turning the volume up to 100 percent on a YouTube video. I can say in all honesty that I get better audio quality out of the speaker on my Nexus 5 phone, which isn't saying much.

The specs

Simply put: The IdeaPad 100 does not hold a candle to the competition  laptops here, performance-wise. It's not the worst in its class, but it's closer to the Atom-powered Acer Aspire 10 than it is to the Core i5 5200U powered Acer Aspire E-15 (to say nothing of our performance king, the Toshiba C55-C).

But that doesn't necessarily matter, provided you can find the IdeaPad 100 for cheap. As a $300 laptop, the IdeaPad 100 isn't a bad choice. I wouldn't buy it for more than that, though.

Our IdeaPad 100 unit was powered by an Intel Celeron N2940 clocked at 1.83GHz with integrated Intel HD Graphics, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB 5,400 RPM hard drive.

In PCMark 8 those specs translated to a Home Conventional (i.e. web browsing, video chat, word processing, et cetera) score of 1,339. That's a precipitous drop from the Toshiba C55-C's score of 2,527--which is itself a drop from your average gaming laptop's score of around 3,500.

Things are even worse when you need real performance, though. With a Creative Conventional score of 1,083 and a Work Conventional score of 1,631, the IdeaPad 100 barely edges out the scores of 801 and 1,382 posted by the Atom-powered Acer Aspire 10. And it doesn't even come close to the 2,198 and 2,771 posted by the C55-C.

And if you want a more real-world measure of performance, just check out our Handbrake test. We feed the laptop a 30GB MKV file and see how long Handbrake takes to transcode it. With the IdeaPad 100, it was a staggering four hours and nine minutes (compared to two hours and twenty-nine minutes for the C55-C).

One last note: Lenovo's done something weird with the hard drive: Aside from the usual handful of partitions created by Windows 8.1, there's also a 25GB D: drive partition titled "LENOVO." I assume this is to facilitate its OneKey Recovery, but I felt like it was worth pointing out you lose another hefty chunk of drive space in the process.

The bloat

Considering Lenovo was the key player in the recent SuperFish controversy, it's definitely worth taking a look at what third-party software is installed on this el-cheapo laptop--and see whether Lenovo has learned its lesson.

My initial impression? Maybe. With the exception of my least favorite antivirus software McAfee, most everything preinstalled on the IdeaPad 100 is either made by Lenovo or is Lenovo-branded. That includes file transfer software SHAREit, OneKey Optimizer, Lenovo EasyCamera, Lenovo Experience Improvement, Lenovo Reach, Lenovo OneKey Recovery, and more.


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