Lenovo Ideapad 320 (Core i5-7200U, GeForce 940MX) review – good ultra-budget solution but don’t expect more

The Ideapad series has come a long way since the previous generation and the Ideapad 320 is here to prove it. Even though it’s the entry-level model, the Ideapad 320 still has a lot to offer for despite its low price. The update over the Ideapad 310 is significant but is it enough to convince us into buying this instead of the slightly pricier Ideapad 320s, which is equipped better.

Okay, what’s new in the updated version? The Ideapad 320 features a brand new design, a wide choice of color options, obviously new hardware going up to Intel’s Kaby Lake Core i7 family, although the latter will bring up the price quite a bit. Also, the touchpad and the keyboard receive a major overhaul and the display has been changed. Unfortunately, though, no IPS options this time around either. We just hope the price difference between the Ideapad 320 and 520 is bigger now because last year, we thought the Ideapad 510 is a much better choice than the Ideapad 310 in every possible way even considering the price. We will see if this still stands true this time around.


Retail package

The laptop came in a standard box containing all the usual user manuals along with the AC adapter and power cord – nothing out of the ordinary.

Design and construction

The chassis of the Ideapad 320 is largely the same as the one of the Ideapad 520 but with a few key differences. For instance, the Ideapad 320 relies mostly on plastic while the Ideapad 520 uses aluminum for the lid. It’s needless to say that this was expected due to the significantly lower price tag of the Ideapad 320. We are happy to report that the weight of the machine has gone down by around 200 grams as of now, the machine weighs a little over 2 kg but the thickness is still the same – 23 mm.

Let’s start with the lid. It’s made of plastic with smooth finish and doesn’t attract fingerprints and smudges. The material, unfortunately, isn’t very resistant to force and torsion – the deformation is visible and ripples appear on the LCD screen when pressed in the center. Moreover, the hinge doesn’t hold the lid very firmly on an unstable surface and you can feel a slight creaking when opening up the laptop. However, it’s not as tightly pulled as we expected because opening up the lid with one hand is possible. All of this is usually expected for an ultra-budget laptop but we think that Lenovo could have done a slightly better job here. The bottom piece, at least, is very stable, rigid and provides a few vent openings for extra airflow.

The sides are almost identical to the ones of the Ideapad 520. There are no connectors on the right – only the optical drive – while the left side accommodates all of the ports. We’ve got the RJ-45 LAN port, HDMI, two USB 2.0, a 3.5 mm audio jack and the SD card reader. It’s funny, though, that the unit we got has only two full-sized USBs and none of them is a 3.0. We really hope that the final units will have at least one high-speed USB connector.

When you open the laptop, you will immediately notice the smooth and pleasant to touch surface of the interior, which is still plastic, though. It feels nice but it’s not as rigid as we would like. Pressing almost every spot around the keyboard and the wrist rest area results in bending and you can hear the base creaking at times. Again, considering the price point of the product these inconsistencies are expected but we still expected a bit more. The keyboard, on the other hand, is nice. There’s no LED backlight but has good tactile feedback, clicky feel and decent travel distance. It’s surely one of the best we’ve tried at this price range. And as for the touchpad, at first it’s really similar to the one of the Ideapad 520 but the surface is a bit wobbly and precision is missing at times. It’s still decent enough to get the work done while on the go. To be honest, we liked the previous design with the dedicated mouse buttons better since it avoids the possibility of a wobbly surface.

The Ideapad 320 definitely has an identity with cool looking new color themes and an excellent keyboard. However, even for this affordable price tag, we would have appreciated a better choice of materials or at least a more stable base.

Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options

We didn’t have the chance to snap some photos of the internals but since the chassis is almost identical to the Ideapad 520’s along with the inner construction, you can easily use the guide from Ideapad 520 for disassembly, upgrade and maintenance.

Keep in mind, though, that there’s a significant difference between the two – the Ideapad 320 lacks an M.2 SSD slot but you can find it in the Ideapad 520.

Display quality

The configuration we’ve tested featured a familiar Full HD (1920×1080) TN panel from BOE with model number NT156FHM-N41. This particular panel was used in the very first Acer Aspire VX 15 units that shipped with TN displays. So we still get 142 ppi and 0.18 x 0.18 mm pixel pitch. It can be considered as “Retina” at least from 60 cm.

As to be expected from a TN panel, viewing angles are limited.

We’ve recorded a peak brightness of just 189 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 184 cd/m2 as average across the surface with 7% maximum deviation. The correlated color temperature at maximum brightness is just a tad colder than it should be – 6740K and shoots up to 11000K when you go along the grayscale. You can see how these values change at 140 cd/m2 (92% brightness) in the image below.

The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen should be no more than 4.0 and if you are planning to do color-sensitive work, it should be lower than 2.0. And in this case, since the laptop is going to be used mostly for office work and general browsing, a deviation of 1.4 in the lower left corner is an excellent result. The contrast ratio is extremely low – 317:1 before calibration and 300:1 after calibration.

Color reproduction

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The display covers merely 49% of the sRGB color gamut, which means that less than half of the colors used on the web won’t be reproduced.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 11 ms.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Unfortunately, the display uses PWM for regulating screen brightness from 0 to 99% and pulsates at relatively low frequency (6.8 kHz). Users with sensitive eyes will surely feel the effects of the screen flickering.

Blue light emissions

Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.


A notebook priced under $500 is bound to have some considerable drawbacks and in most cases, the screen suffers the most. We can’t say the display quality is good but this is the industry’s standard. Rarely can you find a notebook with an IPS screen in the same ballpark. Still, you will need to consider the facts – low maximum brightness, limited sRGB coverage, extremely low contrast ratio and uses PWM for regulating screen brightness from 0 to 99%. The latter can be fixed by our Health-Guard profile while the Design and Gaming profile will fix some of the issues related to color inaccuracy and color temperature.

Buy our display profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for Lenovo Ideapda 520 configurations with 15.6″ BOE NT156FHM-N41 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com (#CommissionsEarned)

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected].

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.


Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount


The sound quality is decent but there’s a small distortion in the low-frequency range.

Specs sheet

The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region

Lenovo Ideapad 320 technical specifications table

Not available
15.6”, Full HD (1920 x 1080), TN
1TB HDD, 5400 rpm
4GB DDR4-2400
378 x 260 x 22.9 mm (14.88" x 10.24" x 0.90")
2.20 kg (4.9 lbs)
Body material
Plastic / Polycarbonate (All-plastic construction)
Ports and connectivity
  • 2x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • HDMI 1.4b
  • VGA
  • DVI
  • Card reader MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Ethernet lan
  • Wi-Fi 802.11ac (1x1)
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Audio jack combo audio / microphone jack
  • Fingerprint reader
  • Web camera HD 720p (1.0MP), fixed focus
  • Backlit keyboard
  • Microphone monaural microphone
  • Speakers 2x 1.5W
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot

Lenovo Ideapad 320 configurations


We used the pre-installed Windows 10 for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from Lenovo’s official support page.


We can overlook the poor battery life on the entry-level configurations but as the price and the hardware get higher, the 30Wh just doesn’t do justice to the notebook. Even the TN panel and the energy-efficient Core i5-7200U are not enough when the battery capacity is insufficient and as a result, the Ideapad 320 offers subpar endurance.

All tests were performed with the usual settings – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature turned on.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.

We use F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.

CPU – Intel Core i5-7200U

download-4Intel’s Core i7-6200U is part of the 7th Generation Kaby Lake CPUs and it’s the direct successor of the Core i5-5200U (Broadwell) and Core i5-6200U (Skylake). It’s also based on the same architecture as the aforementioned chips with little differences that should bring a small performance increase and a bump in power consumption. However, the new CPU is clocked at 2.5 GHz and its Turbo Boost frequency is 3.1 GHz opposed to the 2.3 – 2.8 GHz clocks on the previous Core i5-6200U.

Anyway, we still have the 2/4 core/thread count, 3MB last level cache, and a TDP of 15W, which includes the iGPU and the dual-channel DDR4 memory controller. Speaking of the former, the chip integrates the newer generation Intel HD Graphics 620 graphics chip clocked at 300 – 1000 MHz.

You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i5-7200u/

Lenovo ideapad 320 (15") CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Lenovo ideapad 320 (15") models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo ideapad 320 (15") model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different CPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / CPU.


Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i5-7200U scored 6.350 million moves per second. In comparison, one of the most powerful chess computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.

GPU – NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)

geforce-940m-3qtrThe NVIDIA GeForce 940MX is a refreshed version of the older 940M mobile chip but paired with a faster GDDR5 memory and slightly higher clock speeds, which result in noticeably better performance compared to the standard 940M. However, some OEMs will still choose to use the cheaper DDR3 version of the GPU.

Announced back in the first quarter of 2016, the chip is almost identical to the standard 940M (Maxwell) but with clock speeds increased up to 1242 MHz and base 1122 MHz. Again, the memory uses a 64-bit bus and has 2GB of GDDR5 VRAM. It still supports the DirectX 12 API and Shader 5.0 feature along with the usual NVIDIA technologies – CUDA, GPU Boost 2.0, Optimus, GeForce Experience, PhysX. The whole GPU is rated at around 15 to 30 Watts depending on the clock speeds and memory used in the specific notebook.

You can browse our GPU ranking to see where the graphics chip stands: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

For more information about the GPU, follow this link: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-940mx-2gb-gddr5/

Lenovo ideapad 320 (15") GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Lenovo ideapad 320 (15") models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo ideapad 320 (15") model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.

Gaming tests


Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5) HD, Low (Check settings) HD, Medium (Check settings) HD, Very High (Check settings)
Average FPS 74 fps 31 fps 18 fps


CS:GO HD 768p, Low (Check settings) HD 768p, Medium (Check settings) HD 768p, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS 86 fps 77 fps 68 fps


The CPU and GPU torture tests are used to assess the overall stability and effectiveness of the cooling system in the long run rather than represent real-life usage. This gives us a good estimate on how the system utilizes the hardware.

As we’ve already expected given the CPU benchmark results, the laptop’s Core i5-7200U wasn’t able to reach its maximum potential and ran at its base frequency of 2.5 GHz during the one hour long CPU stress test. And it wasn’t running very cool either – around 70 °C.

Turning on the GPU stress test didn’t result in lowered CPU performance but the former didn’t reach its maximum frequency and floated around 900 MHz. Moreover, both chips got extremely hot, especially the GeForce 940MX – around 90 °C. We haven’t even seen gaming notebooks with considerably more powerful GPUs reach such high temperatures.

And due to the positioning of the chips and the heat pipes, you can feel the heat coming from inside near the left side and center of the keyboard as well as around the touchpad. That’s, of course, during heavy workload but since the CPU and GPU aren’t that powerful, such high temperatures don’t look good on the Ideapad 320.



While the price can be used to justify most of the notebook’s drawbacks, there are some apparent issues that still need to be addressed in the next version. Yes, sure, the Ideapad 320 is a big improvement over the previous version but there’s still a long way to go.

The build quality issues and utterly bad display quality can be overlooked in the absolute entry-level configurations but if you are planning on purchasing the configurations with Intel Core i5, i7 and discrete graphics, you should seriously consider spending just a tad more for the Ideapad 520 or for the Acer Aspire 5. Most of the Ideapad 520 and Aspire 5 configurations feature IPS panels (the latter’s is excellent) and offer considerably better build quality and input devices. But even if you can get past the low maximum brightness, narrow sRGB coverage and extremely low contrast ratio, be aware of the PWM that the screen uses for regulating brightness. It can be avoided by using our Health-Guard profile.

In addition, the battery life isn’t impressive by any means due to the rather small 30Wh battery while so even the TN panel can’t save enough power. The most interesting thing about this laptop, however, is its cooling capabilities. Even the undemanding Core i5-7200U and NVIDIA GeForce 940MX run really hot during heavy workload while the heat disperses across the whole interior, yet can’t utilize the full performance of the CPU as you can see from the benchmarks and stress test. Of course, this won’t happen during normal use but it is still a sign of poor cooling design.

With all being said, it really feels like Lenovo has designed the Ideapad 320 for the ultra-budget hardware configurations with Pentium, Celeron and AMD’s low-end APUs. The chassis, the battery life and the display quality are all inherent to the ultra-budget market segment and once you go up for the more mainstream Core i3 to Core i7 processors and discrete GPU variants, you will be left disappointed. Compared to the recently reviewed Dell Inspiron 5570, however, the Ideapad 320 is still a slightly better choice only because it costs slightly less but in any case, we encourage you to consider the same alternatives as we already recommended – Acer Aspire 5, Ideapad 520 and Ideapad 320s. All three variants cost a little bit more but they are definitely worth the upgrade over the Ideapad 320.


  • Relatively cheaper than its competitors
  • Good keyboard


  • Unsatisfactory build quality (for the Core i3 configurations and above)
  • Poor display quality (for the Core i3 configurations and above)
  • Unreliable cooling system
  • Short battery life
  • Can’t utilize the full performance of the processor

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