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Lenovo B50 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £200
inc VAT

A ridiculously cheap 15.6in laptop but the Lenovo B50 is very slow and build quality's not great

It’s not often you see a 15.6in laptop for only £200, for that reason alone the Lenovo B50 immediately had our interest. However, it’s obvious that corners had to be cut, and concessions made, to hit this ludicrously low price. This is immediately apparent from the build of the chassis. It’s all plastic and the area around the keyboard and touchpad in particular feels very cheap and has a hollowness that doesn’t feel reassuring.

There’s a thick, black bezel around the screen that is also surrounded by six rubber feet to stop the screen touching the keyboard when the laptop is closed. These aren’t attractive to look at and break up what would otherwise be a clean, if not boring, design. Its exterior is a bit more pleasant to the touch at least, using a glossy matt plastic that looks reasonably smart.

The keyboard has a keyboard with a full-size numeric keypad and thankfully we had no issues with the size of the keys or encountered any strange placements. There was some flex to the chassis in the centre of the keyboard, but it wasn’t a major problem as it can be for a laptop at this price. However, there’s not much travel to the keys, meaning you don’t get as much tactile feedback as we would have liked, which is a real shame as the keyboard had the potential to be decent otherwise.

The touchpad is wide but not very tall, meaning you don’t have much vertical surface area for scrolling gestures. Happily, we didn’t have any problems with swipes and gestures being recognised at least. The dedicated mouse buttons were difficult to use, however. They are very spongy and we often found that our left-clicks failed to register unless we pressed down very hard. We found ourselves having to resort to using tap-to-click on the touchpad instead.             

Above the keyboard you’ll find a pair of stereo speakers. This is our preferred placement compared to other laptops that place the speakers on the base, which can dampen the sound. The speakers have Dolby Advanced Audio certification and sounded surprisingly decent. Sound had a wider soundstage than most laptops and it got to a good volume. Bass was lacking as is normally the case but the higher frequencies didn’t sound tinny or harsh.

The Lenovo B50 uses the older dual-core Intel Celeron N2815 rather than the N2830 we’ve seen in other budget laptops. Its base clock speed is 1.86GHz while the N2830 is faster at 2.16GHz. The N2815 does at least support Intel Turbo Boost to 2.13GHz when temperatures allow. The Lenovo B50 also comes with 4GB of RAM and there is a 320GB hard disk for storage, which should be adequate enough for your applications and media.

We didn’t expect staggering performance considering the price and specifications of the Lenovo B50, but even then we were left majorly disappointed by our application benchmark results. The Lenovo B50 managed just 4 overall, which is considerably lower than even a tablet running Windows 8.1 and by far one of the lowest scores we’ve ever seen from a laptop. Its performance meant that even basic tasks like opening up a browser and loading web pages became a chore and Windows’ bootup speed left a lot to be desired. The Lenovo B50 handled even basic tasks at a snail’s pace, so you’ll need a lot of patience to get anything done.

We were left unsurprised that gaming performance was also extremely lacklustre. In our Dirt Showdown test the B50 managed 13.9fps with the game running at 1,280×720 resolution, 4x anti-aliasing and High graphics. Even Trine 2 at 1,280×720 resolution, no anti-aliasing and Very High produced just 10fps and dropping it to Very Low quality still only gave us 15fps. Any form of gaming on the Lenovo B50 will be a massive ask and likely out of reach of the low-powered system.

There’s at least a decent array of connections with one USB3 and two USB2 ports. There’s also a Gigabit Ethernet port for a wired network connection and both VGA and HDMI for hooking up an external display. Surprisingly, especially considering the price, a DVD writer drive is also included, which will be useful if you still have software on optical discs or want to watch DVDs. On the front of the system there’s also a multi-card reader for SDXC memory cards.

The battery lasted 4h 25m, which we would have hoped would be slightly higher due to the basic specifications. The Lenovo B50’s display was also poor, with measured black levels at 0.70cd/m2 and a low contrast ratio of 312:1. Images in our subjective tests lacked any pop and colours were muted and washed out. There was also some uneven backlighting and viewing angles were mediocre. At 59.4 per cent coverage of the sRGB colour gamut, this was at least reasonable.

The Lenovo B50 looked interesting on paper but the reality is it’s a cheap laptop for a reason. Its build quality is poor and its performance even worse. If you’re looking for a basic laptop for browsing the internet and other basic tasks, you are better off looking at a Chromebook, such as the HP Chromebook 14, or if you are sticking to a similar budget then the smaller Asus X200MA is superior.

Core specs
ProcessorDual-core 1.86GHz Intel Celeron N2815
Memory slots (free)2 (1)
Max memory8GB
SoundRealtek HD Audio (3.5mm headset port)
Pointing deviceTouchpad
Screen size15.6in
Screen resolution1,366×768
Graphics adaptorIntel HD Graphics
Graphics outputsHDMI
Graphics memoryIntegrated
Total storage320GB hard disk
Optical drive typeDVD writer
Ports and expansion
USB ports1x USB3, 2 x USB2
NetworkingGigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi
Memory card readerSD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC
Other portsNone
Operating systemWindows 8.1
Operating system restore optionRestore partition
Buying information
Parts and labour warrantyOne-year RTB
Price inc VAT£200
Part numberMCA28UK

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