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Lenovo IdeaPad U310

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What's hot: Unique design with excellent materials, good keyboard and trackpad.

What's not: Average display, no full SSD option.


Reviewed August 12, 2012 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

And here's the 2012 sequel: the Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is the company's second generation Ultrabook (third if you count the pre-Ultrabook IdeaPad U260) refreshed with Intel Ivy Bridge CPUs. The 13.3" U310 follows the attractive and more expensive 2011 IdeaPad U300s. The IdeaPad U310 features Lenovo's book or journal design with a lid and bottom that look like a journal's covers, while the sides are finished in contrasting white to look like a book's pages. The unibody casing is aluminum and it's available in a pale blue, pale pink (called Cherry Blossom) and gray. Despite the cliche gender oriented color options, we'd pick the blue or pink over the gray because they're more interesting and striking. Don't worry: the colors are subtle.

Lenovo IdeaPad U310


The laptop has a 1366 x 768 glossy display, Intel HD 4000 graphics and an Intel Core i5-3317U 1.7GHz CPU, a staple of the Ultrabook world. The U310 is also available with a Core i3 for less money, but we recommend the Core i5 for its better performance and Turbo Boost. The Lenovo has 4 gigs of DDR3 1600MHz RAM, and a 500 gig 5400 RPM hard drive with a 32 gig SSD drive for caching. The notebook has single band Intel WiFi 2200BGN with WiDi and a 10/100 Ethernet jack but no Bluetooth (c'mon Lenovo!). A webcam, 3 USB ports (2 USB 3.0), full size HDMI, 3.5mm audio and an SD card slot round up the feature list.

Lenovo IdeaPad U310

Design and Ergonomics

The Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is a unique, attractive and solid machine with excellent build quality. All parts fit together well with no gaps or creaks and it feels robust. The U310 has a white interior that's attractive and it sets off both the display and black Chiclet keyboard keys nicely. The wrist rest area is deep enough for medium size hands and the edges are soft enough to avoid wrist pinch. The roomy Synaptics glass trackpad performs very well for single and multi-touch actions. The trackpad has good palm rejection and supports up to 5 finger gestures (if you can remember all those gestures!). Lenovo says it's enhanced to support Windows 8's new gestures.

Lenovo IdeaPad U310

The Lenovo's stereo speakers are decently loud though not wildly full. Dolby Home Theater v4 handles EQ and stereo effects. Sound through the headphone jack is moderately loud and much more full and rich than the speakers' audio.

As Ultrabooks go, the IdeaPad U310's AccuType keyboard is better than the average keyboard, but it has travel is less than you'd find on Lenovo's thicker and larger notebooks. The sculpted keys are roomy and tactile enough for a good typing experience, but we wish for backlighting. The shift, enter and backspace keys are oversized (not by much on the right side) and dedicated page navigation keys line the right side.

The laptop has a single USB 2.0 port, an SD card slot and a 3.5mm combo audio jack on the right as well and two USB 3.0 ports, a full size HDMI port and a 10/100 Ethernet jack on the left. We applaud the Ethernet jack! There's no need to take up a USB port with a USB Ethernet adapter. The barrel style charging port is on the right and the OneKey Recovery 7.0 button is on the left. The Lenovo has a long row of air vents in the hinge area and a single row across the center of the notebook's bottom.

The 720p webcam delivers bright video and it works with Lenovo's included VeriFace 4.0 facial recognition software for biometric security. At 3.75 pounds, the U310 is one of the heaviest 13.3" Ultrabooks on the market, but it's still significantly lighter than standard size notebooks.


Deals and Shopping:


Lenovo IdeaPad U310 Video Review


The 1366 x 768 TN LED backlit display is standard fare for Ultrabooks. It doesn't compare with the 1600 x 900 display on the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon or the 1080p IPS Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A display or the Toshiba Satellite U845W's high resolution display for viewing angles and resolution. That said, it holds its own against the Dell XPS 13 and Toshiba Portege Z835/Z935. Since this is a TN display, viewing angles aren't the best, and you'll have the move the display panel back and forward to find the sweet spot, though side viewing angles are good. This is a glossy panel (or as Lenovo calls it "HD Glare") and that means reflections can get in the way of your viewing experience. Color saturation is good and black levels (once you've angled the display suitably) are decent.


The IdeaPad U310 is most commonly available with the Intel Core i5-3317U 1.7GHz dual core, four thread CPU with Turbo Boost to 2.6GHz. That's the same CPU used on most Core i5 Ivy Bridge Ultrabooks but it benchmarks a bit slower because it uses a conventional 5400 RPM spinning hard drive with a 32 gig non- user accessible SSD cache drive rather than a full SSD drive. This brings down performance numbers a bit but the laptop still feels fast and you get the benefit of 500 gigs of storage vs. 128 of 256 gigs with SSD drives. Since SSD drives cost considerably more than standard hard drives, it allows for a lower price. The caching SSD and Lenovo's boot optimizations make for under 30 second boot times.

The laptop has 4 gigs of DDR3 RAM (1 SODIMM) and like most Ultrabooks, it has Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. Intel's latest graphics chipset is actually a solid performer that handles video playback, Adobe Photoshop and light video editing well. The Lenovo benchmarks a bit lower than the top HD 4000 Ultrabooks on 3DMark Vantage, and we get the feeling that graphics performance optimization and gaming weren't a high priority.


1.7GHz Core i5-3317U, 4 gigs RAM, 500 gig HDD with 32 gig SSD

PCMark Vantage

PCMarks: 8029
Memories: 4873
TV and Movies: 3923
Gaming: 7481
Music: 8887
Communications: 9800
Productivity: 9307
HDD: 16,208

3DMark Vantage: 2231
(1798 GPU, 8031 CPU)

Windows Experience Index

Processor: 6.9
RAM: 5.9
Graphics (Aero): 4.9
Gaming Graphics: 6.0
HDD: 5.9

Benchmark Comparison Table

  PCMark Vantage 3DMark Vantage
Lenovo IdeaPad U310 8029 2321
Asus Zenbook Prime UX31A (Core i5) 12,272 2801
Sony Vaio T (Core i7 ULV Ivy Bridge Ultrabook) 12,120 3078
Lenovo ThinkPad X230 (Core i5 Ivy Bridge) 8152 3209
Toshiba Satellite U845W (Core i5 Ivy Bridge 14.4" widescreen) 6837 3245
Dell XPS 13 (Core i5 Sandy Bridge) 9850 N/A

Battery Life

The IdeaPad U310 has a 3 cell, 46Wh Lithium Ion battery that's sealed inside. Lenovo claims up to 7 hours of productivity usage, and in our tests the laptop managed 5.4 hours of mixed use (web, email, MS Office and some YouTube streaming). That's not wildly impressive for a lower power machine, but it's not that far below the 6 hour average.


The Lenovo IdeaPad U310 is a well made Ultrabook with a premium casing and a unique, stylish design (no echoes of the MacBook Air here). It has a better than average keyboard, a very usable trackpad, good support tools and an attractive price. If you're not entranced by SSD drives and their bump-immune robustness, the 500 gig conventional hard drive lets you carry lots of videos and other large files on the go. We particularly like the better than average selection of ports for an Ultrabook, including 3 USB ports, Ethernet and a full size HDMI port. The just average display and lack of Bluetooth are the weak links in an otherwise strong machine.

Price: $799 as tested.



Lenovo IdeaPad U310


Lenovo IdeaPad U310


Lenovo IdeaPad U310


Lenovo IdeaPad U310


Lenovo IdeaPad U310

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Display: 13.3", 1366 x 768 LED backlit display. Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. HDMI port.

Battery: 3 cell, 46Wh Lithium Ion rechargeable.

Performance: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-3317U ULV Ivy Bridge CPU. 4 gigs DDR3 1600MHz RAM, 500 gig 5400 RPM HDD with 32 gig SSD cache drive.

Size: 13.1 x 8.0 x 0.70 inches. Weight: 3.75 pounds.

Camera: 720p webcam with Lenovo VeriFace 4.0 facial recognition software.

Audio: Built in stereo speakers, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo audio combo jack. Dolby Home Theater v4.

Networking: Integrated Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2200 WiFi 802.11b/g/n with Intel WiDi wireless display. 10/100 Ethernet.

Software: Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit.

Expansion and Ports: 1 SD card slot, one USB 2.0 port, two USB 3.0 ports, full size HDMI, 3.5mm audio and Ethernet RJ45.



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