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Lenovo ThinkPad E520 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £502
inc VAT

The E520's relatively low weight and long battery life make it ideal for travellers

Business laptops don’t usually fall into the budget end of the price spectrum, but the Lenovo ThinkPad E520 costs just over £500 and has a fairly decent set of components, including an Intel Core i3 processor, a 500GB hard disk and Windows 7 Professional. It’s also the only laptop this month that has an ExpressCard slot, which is ideal for adding extra ports, storage or a card reader. Plus, its battery lasted almost eight hours.

Lenovo ThinkPad E520

It’s one of the larger laptops in this month’s group, but, surprisingly, it’s also the lightest laptop too, weighing just 2.1kg. That, combined with its excellent battery life, makes it well suited to travelling. If you’re in the cheap seats when travelling, you’ll be glad to know that the lid tilts back more than 180 degrees so you can always get a good view of the screen, even if you’re struggling for legroom.

You’ll need the best angle possible because the E520’s screen has very tight vertical viewing angles. The matt finish reduces glare from reflected overhead lights, but it dulls colours. The backlight isn’t very bright either, and its contrast is fairly poor, but colours are fairly accurate, with only a mild red cast adding a bit of warmth to images.

Lenovo ThinkPad E520

Intel’s Core i3-2350M CPU is energy efficient, but it is of average speed. The E520 scored a respectable 46 overall, which means it should be capable of handling most applications. The integrated graphics chip can decode HD video content, but it’s not up to playing games. It only scored 17fps in our Dirt3 test, so you’ll have to lower graphical settings to achieve playable frame rates, even in the least demanding of games.

Business laptops often have a few tricks up their sleeves that consumer models lack. Windows 7 Professional supports old Windows XP apps and it also lets you join domains, which is useful if you need to connect to a network in a large organisation. It also lets you back up to a network storage device, which is very handy if you own a NAS or a media streamer with local storage.

Lenovo ThinkPad E520

As well as the versatile ExpressCard slot, the E520 has four USB ports, one of which also doubles as an eSATA port. Sadly, we didn’t like the fact that the USB ports are placed towards the front of the case where they might get in the way of an attached mouse. It also has an SDHC card slot and a single 3.5mm jack that supports headsets, replacing separate headphone and microphone ports.

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Basic Specifications

ProcessorIntel Core i3-2310M
Processor clock speed2.1GHz
Memory slots2
Memory slots free1
Maximum memory8GB
SoundConexant 20671 SmartAudio HD
Pointing devicetouchpad and touchstick


Viewable size15.6 in
Native resolution1,366×768
Graphics ProcessorIntel HD Graphics 3000
Graphics/video portsVGA, HDMI
Graphics Memory64MB


Total storage capacity500GB
Optical drive typeDVD+/-RW +/-DL

Ports and Expansion

USB ports4
Wired network ports1x 10/100/1000
Wireless networking support802.11n
PC Card slots1x ExpressCard/34
Supported memory cardsSDHC
Other portseSATA (shared with USB socket), minijack headset input


Carrying caseNo
Operating systemWindows 7 Professional 64-bit
Operating system restore optionrestore partition
Software includedCorel DVD MovieFactory 7, Corel WinDVD 10, Microsoft Office 2010 Starter

Buying Information

Warrantyone year RTB

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