Review Index:

Lenovo IdeaPad U410 Review: Trying To Keep Up

Author: Matt Smith
Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Performance - Processor, Application, Hard Drive


Our Lenovo IdeaPad U410 review unit came equipped with a Core Intel Core i5-3317U processor, eight gigabytes of RAM and an NVIDIA GT 610M discrete GPU. That last specification is the most interesting because it’s unusual – most laptops in the ultrabook don’t come with discrete graphics. In addition, the GT 610M is not a powerful part. It’s the bare minimum offered by NVIDIA for this latest generation of products. I’m eager to see how much of an advantage it really provides over Intel HD 4000.

For competition we’re rounding up the ASUS Zenbook Prime UX31A and the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. Both are a bit more expensive but, from a performance perspective, don’t significantly outrun the U410 on paper. If the U310 can handle these laptops it should be able to handle anything else powered by a low-voltage Intel Core processor.

Performance – Processor

We start our performance review with SiSoft Sandra’s Processor Arithmetic and Multimedia benchmarks. It provides a gauge of overall performance relative to the competitors and usually matches the story found in our other benchmarks better than any other single test.

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We can really see the difference between the products in this benchmark. Both the Prime and the Carbon have Core i7 low-voltage processors, and they clearly outrun the Core i5 in the U410. They don’t dominate it, but there performance gap is easy to see with a quick glance.
Is this replicated in 7-Zip and Peacekeeper? Let’s find out.

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This pair of benchmarks is, if anything, even harsher on the U410. The Peacekeeper benchmark is particularly telling. It shows that there’s a notable gap between the Core i5 and i7 parts, a gap that might have real-world implications during heavy web browsing or while playing browser-based games.

Performance – Application

We temper our processor performance results by timing two real-world applications. First among these is Windows Live Movie Maker. We use this software to save/encode a standardized video clip to a 1080p .WMV file

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This application shows the real world results of the Core i5 processor in a demanding scenario. Verdict: it doesn’t seem to make much difference. The gap is most similar to the one found in SiSoft’s Processor Multimedia test – noticeable, but not so large as to make a significant difference.

Does Sunlit Green Batch Blitz agree with this conclusion? This freeware app doesn’t make great use of multiple threads, so it tends to rely on pure processor clock speed. Let’s see if that has an impact.

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That’s a different story, isn’t it? Here we see there’s a large gap between the Core i7 ultrabooks and the Core i5 powered U410, large enough that it would be easy for the user to notice in real-world applications.

Overall, it would appear that there is good reason to upgrade to the Core i7 if performance is of even moderate concern. Lenovo will let you grab a Core i7-3517U for just $50 more than the Core i5 variant. This almost seems like a no-brainer in favor of the Core i7 unless speed is of little concern or budget is a serious constraint.

Performance – Hard Drive

The U410 is an affordable ultrabook. Like most competitors in the category, it manages to meet a low price point by offering a mechanical drive paired with a solid state cache drive. A single, larger solid state drive does not appear to be available even as an option.

Laptops with cache drives usually are left behind by brethren with the full enchilada, so let’s see if the U410 can struggle along.

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These results are typical for a cache drive. Reads are actually quite good, and the U410 even beats the X1 Carbon when doing 4MB writes. However, write speeds are far less impressive. Let’s see if HD Tune agrees.

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The HD Tune test we run simply averages transfer read speeds, so it does not pick up on the write speed weakness. As a result, the U410 actually beats the field. It also provides excellent access times. I think the HD Tune results are more representative of how the drive feels in everyday use. Response delay is at solid state drive levels and reads are quick, resulting in fast load speeds for large programs (like games).

September 19, 2012 | 04:54 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How about Running the Joe Blow benchmark on this laptop!
the Joe Blow is an easy benchmark, just:

1) do a Windows system image backup, and list the total time it takes using the fastest USB port on the computer attatched to both a usb 3.0(if computer has one) and then a USB 2.0 external hard drive (this will test the computer and the computers ability(time it takes) to perform a complete backup! This will also test how well the computers USB 3.0 port, If it has one, performs when attatched to the previous generation external hard drive (You would be suprised how poorly some USB 3.0 ports perform when attatched to a USB 2.0 external hard drive, mostly beacause of The computer's OEM's poor job writing drivers)

2) Once the image backup is complete, turn around and copy the system Image backup to the computers C drive from the external drive, while it is copying under windows, note the best average copy speed that windows says the file is being copied at, but also keep tabs on the total time it takes to perform the copy! do this test for USB 3.0 and 2.0 External drives (if the computer has USB 3.0)

3) take the system Image backup and copy it, once again, to a 64 gig thumb drive (do this for a USB 2.0 and USB 3.0 thumb drive, if the computer has USB 3.0). be sure to get the thumb drives that are on sale for the least price, but make sure they are at least 64 Gigabites. Record average transfer speeds, and total time it takes for each transfer.
64 gigs is usually big enough for most system images on a new laptop including bloatware!

4)Publish The results in a neat table of your own design!

September 25, 2012 | 10:37 PM - Posted by gregzeng (not verified)

On the 'Joe Blow' benchmark, I'd be interested in the performance in Ununtu 12.04, in both NTFS-WIN7 & Linux's EXT file systems.

Probably the only CPU-compatible benchtest might be 7Z compression & decompression. This varies for the compressiblity of the files, so we perhaps might standardize on the Windows folder on C-drive?

I found the USB-port speeds vary on which of the ports are chosen; one of mine has ESATA available on it as well.
Retired Chief Information Officer (1984), Australian Capital Territory

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October 13, 2012 | 04:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

does this model have any Wifi problems like the U310?

March 25, 2013 | 04:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

ya it does

November 4, 2012 | 08:03 AM - Posted by Nickel City (not verified)

I just purchased the i-7, 1 TB (no SSD), version for 699 USD directly from Lenovo's website using a 'weekly deal'. So, maybe they have a surplus of the higher end model. At that price, this seems like a steal to me. BTW, they report a 4+ weeks ship time on the website and talking to customer service, but once purchased the ship time is two days.

August 11, 2013 | 07:33 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)


the i7 version of the U410 with 4GB ram and 500gb hdd, 24gb ssd is available hear cheaper as a factory seconds refurbrished. I want to buy it as a cheap light weight alternative to hauling my work laptop around town. Are there any issues in the basic system I should be looking out for?

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