Lenovo V330-15IKB best buy

Lenovo V330-15IKB

Dying the death of a thousand cost cuts…

Lenovo’s V Series are laptops for those of us who want the latest technology, but can’t stretch to an ultrabook or 2-in-1 equivalent design. The low cost and high spec approach has been highly popular before, can it be so again? Here we’re taking a look at the Core i5-powered Lenovo V330.

Price & availability

The V series (or Value Series) is available in most regions, but not all. And, the exact mix of models and specs also varies regionally.

For example, in the US the design is branded as the Lenovo Ideapad 330, with no V Series mentioned.

Design

The Lenovo V330 looks swish, finished in Iron Grey high gloss plastic with a brushed metal-skinned lid. It also comes in a lighter Mineral Grey.

The 15-inch form factor allows plenty of space for the keyboard, touchpad and the side-placed ports, and optical drive, avoiding the cramped nature of smaller devices. At 2.05kg it isn’t the lightest machine to carry around.

The V330 has an excellent selection, of ports, too: HDMI, VGA, two USB 3.0 ports, Ethernet, an SD Card slot and an audio combo jack. It also has two USB Type-C ports, one of which offers Thunderbolt, DisplayPort and PowerDelivery.

Opening the lid reveals a keyboard with decent-sized keys and good spacing between them. The membrane key action is a little light, but a reasonable speed of entry is easily within grasp.

Below the keyboard on the right side is a fingerprint reader, which isn’t on par with the same tech on most phones, but it’s an option.

What is likely to cause more problems is the touchpad, which has no visible buttons. You can gesture left or right mouse clicks, but the front edge has switches under it that perform the same function if you press hard enough.

One head-scratcher is that the hinge connecting the display allows the screen to fold entirely flat. As this isn’t a touch panel display, and it is virtually impossible to use it when in that position, why do this?

Specifications

Budget machines often use previous generation silicon to reduce production costs, but the V330 uses the very latest Intel parts.

To offset that, Lenovo has taken an axe to other components, making for an oddly unbalanced design – with an eighth-generation Core i5 processor at on the one end, and a 5,400rpm hard drive at the other.

Performance

Sadly, there is a sluggishness to this PC that’s the direct result of it using a hard drive rather than an SSD.

This one component slows boot and app launches, and slows the speed of Windows 10 updates so much they take hours to complete.

“Despite some shortcomings, there are features of this machine that redeem it – to a degree”

Without that one part, this machine would perform better than the majority of budget laptops, considering how effective the Intel Core i5-8250U quad-core 1.6GHz CPU can be.

Benchmarks

The speed of this machine is in the same ballpark as others built using this chipset and processor option, possibly the most prevalent choice for laptop designers currently.

However, where it suffers most in the benchmarks is any place that requires the storage system to contribute. Having a conventional hard drive in this context is like throwing an anchor out of the back of a finely tuned sports car- the Western Digital 500GB Blue in our review unit just isn’t quick enough for a PC with this processor and memory to perform optimally.

If you don’t pay the extra you’ll need to spend on a model with a 256GB SSD, there’s little point in getting a Core i5 or i7 either, since their abilities are masked by the slow storage speed.

The V330 also disappoints when it comes to battery life. Lenovo quotes a six-hour running time, but we didn’t get near that level in our tests. Using PCMark Work test in Battery mode returned a running time of just three hours and 14 minutes, almost half that quoted.

You might be able to stretch this over four hours if you’re careful, but we doubt that five hours is possible even with the lightest of tasks and the dimmest screen settings.

Lenovo has a battery add-on that could get you through a whole working day, but you’ll have to sacrifice the DVD-RW drive to use it.

Build quality

It pains us to say this, but there are build quality issues with the V330. Top of the list of parts that should have been different is the screen.

It’s a TN technology panel that has obvious backlight shadowing issues, a limited colour gamut and dire viewing angles. The screen is easily the worst aspect, since it’s something you can’t easily ignore.

As for the engineering, it’s inconsistent – some parts are well made and designed; others aren’t. One of these was the touchpad that failed to register a right click if we pressed the bottom right of the pad. Given the limited number of hands the review model has been through before coming to us, the fact that it already has a problem is disappointing – it just doesn’t seem substantial enough to handle even moderate abuse.

Despite some shortcomings, there are features of this machine that redeem it – to a degree. To get access to these, though, you’ll need to be handy with a screwdriver, and be prepared for invalidate your warranty. For inside the V330, you’ll discover not only an untapped SO-DIMM slot, which enables you to add an extra 16GB of RAM alongside the 4GB of soldered-in memory; but you’ll also be able to swap out the hard drive in the SATA slot for an SSD. Better still, you’ll also discover an unused PCIe interface slot, where you could fit an NVMe SSD for the ultimate in storage performance.

Summary

There is a fine PC lurking inside the V330, but it’s been stymied by a poor display and 500GB of spinning rust. With a better panel, touchpad, and an SSD, this could have been a highly serviceable laptop.

The Lenovo V330 is attractive on paper, less so on close-up. With minor tweaks it could be great.

6 Total Score
Lenovo V330-15IKB best buy

The Lenovo V330 is attractive on paper, less so on close-up. With minor tweaks it could be great.

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KEY FEATURES

Lenovo V330-15IKB

Supplier www3.lenovo.com/ Processor 1.6GHz quad-core Intel Core i5-8250U Graphics Intel HD Graphics 620 Memory 4GB DDR4 RAM (2133MHz) Display 15-Inch Full HD (1,920×1,080) Storage 500GB hard drive (5400rpm) Connectivity 802.11ac Wi-Fi; Bluetooth 4.1; 1x USB Type-C + DisplayPort + PowerDelivery; 1x USB-C Gen1; 2x USB 3.0; 1x HDMI; 1x VGA; 1x Ethernet port; microSD card slot; audio combo jack Camera 720p Weight 2.05kg

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