Lenovo IdeaPad L340 Gaming Laptop Review – Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 plus Core i5-9300H at below P50k
So, you want a good-enough PC gaming experience on a laptop that’s affordable (for what it offers). That means some compromises, just to pull the price down. You know that, right? But will the compromises result in a bad gaming and work experience? (Gaming laptops are often good work laptops, too). That’s what we “asked” the Lenovo L340 Gaming laptop.
Here’s our full review. (You in a hurry? Scroll down to the short list of pros, cons, and final verdict at the bottom.)
Disclosure: this is not a deeply technical write up (with benchmarks and framerates and screenshots and tables and such), but instead it leans more on user experience.
Lenovo L340 Full Specs
15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080), IPS, antiglare, 250 nits, 45% color gamut
Windows 10 Home
Intel Core i5-9300H 2.40Ghz processor
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
8GB RAM DDR4 2400 | 1TB HDD
HD 720p webcam with dual array mic and physical shutter
1 x 1 WiFi 802.11 ac
2 x 2 WiFi 802.11 ac4 + Bluetooth 4.2
2 x USB 3.1
1 x USB-C
3.5mm headphone/mic combo
TrueBlock Privacy Shutter (slide cover for webcam)
2x 1.5W speakers with Dolby Audio
Backlit keyboard (blue lighting) with number pad
Up to 9 hours of battery life, with Rapid Charge
No Optical Drive
363mm x 254.6mm x 23.9mm
Starts at 2.2kg
Granite Black with Blue accents
Php 47,495 at Villman.com
The Overall Look and Feel
Except for the blue accents – the Lenovo brand on the lid’s side, the outline of the individual keys, and the blue backlighting – the design is bare: a polished aluminum lid, plastic (but sturdy-feeling) body, a slight thickness of the chassis, and some bezels on the screen. “Traditionally”, for easy identification, gaming laptops had that gaming motif: red accents plus angry red or RGB keyboard lighting. None of that is on the L340, thank goodness. I don’t find it comfy to type on a gaming-red laptop for hours on end. So, the blue, and the absence of distracting gaming markers, are all good.
Keyboard and Touchpad
While some entry-level gaming laptops (we have two Acer Nitro 5 units at home, the previous and the succeedng model) have “hard-bounce” keys presumably to withstand gaming abuse, the Lenovo L340 Gaming laptop has surprisingly good key travel, spacing, and tactility. Touch-typists will have no problem keeping their words-per-minute rate, as no keys are awkwardly placed, sized, or deformed. But that only applies to the main keyboard, not the numberpad, which is slightly cramped and its keys somewhat narrow. (Come to think of it, it’s rare for the numpad of a laptop to have standard sized keys and spacing.)
I’d prefer the main keyboard to be at the center (as with the Dell XPS 15), with no numpad at all, and for the freed up space (on both sides of the keyboard) be allocated for speakers (more on the L340’s speakers late). But that’s just me.
The backlighting (2 levels as per testing) is decent – you can type in the dark, and is somewhat relaxing (as opposed to the light being angry-red).
The touchpad is very responsive and decently-sized but I expected it to be larger (assuming I won’t use a mouse) but the click-through is too deep. There’s no satisfying “bite” when you click on the touchpad. It feels throughly plastic.
Display and Audio (binge-watching potential)
The screen renders colors nicely (leaning on natural colors, not overly saturated) but is not too bright (at 250 nits). Still, I like it since I’m a fan of matte displays, and the L340 has an anti-glare one. This means less eye fatigue for long hours of gaming and work. It also means more contrast during outdoors sunny scenes, or indoors when there’s a strong light source. Viewing angles are also good.
While this is fine for entry-level, if you’re looking for higher contrast, brighter output, denser pixels per inch (ppi), more color accuracy, and higher refresh rates, the L340 is not designed for that.
The underbelly-placed speakers are only loud enough in a small room, and, as expected of this price point, doesn’t deliver good bass. You’re better off with a headset when gaming and watching movies.
Everyday work on the L340, and most of the ports you need
Boot time is around 3 minutes (yeah, that long), because the Lenovo L340 Gaming has a 1TB HDD, and not on, say, an adequately-big and noticeably faster 256GB SSD. That means wake up from sleep is also sluggish. If you’re used to SSD laptops, you’ll bemoan this (as I did), but once the laptop is up and running (after boot or wake up from sleep), you’ll rarely notice that it doesn’t run on an SSD. The 8GB RAM helps with the speedy operation.
During my two weeks of use, the L340 was a reliable daily work device for document work (writing, coding, blog work, spreadsheets, image editing, etc.), browsing (with 2 browsers and multiple tabs), and video binging. And it’s sufficiently light enough to be portable – meaning, you’re back won’t complain much when you lug the laptop around in a backpack.
All the ports (save for one) are all on the left side. A common complaint from right-hand mouse users is that when the ports are on the right side, plugged in cables eat up right-side desk space, so that mouse handling is not as comfy. Nothing like that on the L340. Everything’s on the left. However, that solo Kensington lock on the right side looks lonely.
Two things are missing though. While the chassis clearly seems big enough to accommodate them, there’s neither a full-sized SD Card slot (for photographers and videographers) nor an Optical Disk Drive (because files still get burned on disks these days and handed over).
Preloaded software include Lenovo Vantage, which I ignored, and McAfee Live Safe, which I really wanted to uninstall since (1) I couldn’t stand the pop up notifications and (2) Windows Defender (from experience) is enough.
“Standard” Webcam, Secure Privacy Shutter
“Standard” meaning HD 720p, just wide enough to frame your dishelved desk and mismatching curtains behind you, but gets so grainy in medium to low light. Not very flattering during video calls when you’re area is dimly lit. Anyway, 720p is what affordable laptops usually come with.
But the good thing is, there’s a privacy shutter – you can slide to cover the webcam to prevent unwanted use.
Finally, what you came here for. The goal, we think, of getting an entry-level gaming laptop is to get a smooth-enough gaming experience without the expensive price tag. The usual compromise done to pull the price down are the reduced framerates (fps) and the “only” standard display refresh rate, and both are present here.
Of the games I’ve played so far (including The Division), the frames per second (FPS) is below 60, but the experience is passable, since the fps is above 30. You’ll do fine with medium to low settings since that’s enough for smooth game play.
I recommend you head over to Yugatech’s and Hungry Geeks’ review of the L340 for in-depth tables on the framerates of popular titles (since I don’t cover them here).
After gaming for 2 hours, the L340 still had around 30% of battery left – that’s with the brightness at 50% and volume at 50% (I wore a headset since the speaker audio can get drowned by surrounding noise). So, it’s not a laptop that can go for long games away from the wall socket (as expected from an entry-level gaming laptop). Under the same brightness and volume settings, moderate work (browsing, document work, one movie) got me to about 5 hours of non-stop use.