Lenovo IdeaPad L340 budget gaming notebook review

CPU
Intel Core i5-9300H @ 2.4GHz
GPU
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650
RAM
8GB DDR4
STORAGE
2TB HDD
DISPLAY
15.6-inch IPS (1920 x 1080)
PORTS
1 x USB 3.0 (Type-C), 2 x USB 3.1 (Gen.1), 1 x HDMI 2.0, 1 x RJ45 ethernet, 1 x 3.5mm audio combo jack
PRICE
R15,000
SUPPLIER
Lenovo

Buying a gaming notebook is an exciting and nerve-wracking venture. On the one hand, you’re immediately dazzled by the high-end specs of the expensive models, but in reality, your budget often dictate we should look at something a little more conservative. While budget gaming means you won’t get that model with the high-end NVIDIA RTX 2080 graphics card, you’ll be glad to know that you can still get a good gaming notebook that’s also affordable.

From the moment you unbox the Lenovo IdeaPad L340, there’s a sense of clean and minimalist design on every angle of this entry-level gaming notebook. It has a dark brushed aluminium finish called “Granite Black” and it looks great – although it does attract some fingerprints so keep your microfibre cloth handy.

Opening the lid, you’ll feel the centre hinge moves and stays in place without much effort. I was really surprised to see that the screen can fold 180-degrees so you can lay this notebook flat on a desk. While there’s a noticeable bezel around the 15.6-inch display, you’ll be glad to see that this is an IPS panel offering better viewing angles and colour ranges than the cheaper TN panel version. The brightness of the screen is not bad at all considering its price range, and it offered a great gaming experience on all the major titles I demoed on this machine. But more on this later.

Sitting centre above the screen is a 720p webcam which offers decent call functionality, but isn’t really ideal for game streaming unless you have adequate lighting. Interestingly, Lenovo also built in an inconspicuous privacy slider, allowing you to manually close the webcam lens for added security.

Lenovo decided to go with a beautiful aqua-blue colour scheme that accents the fan grills and screencaps. With the backlit keys, there’s no RGB version on this notebook but I’ll gladly settle for the B only. It’s a really nice colour that works well with the brushed finish. Considering Lenovo’s corporate heritage, it’s no surprise that they didn’t go for any fancy design elements on this gaming notebook. The Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IRH will look as good in an office meeting as it does on your gaming desk.

The full keyboard offers low travel keys and was comfortable to type with unless you are one of those gamers who demand mechanical keys, you should not have any issues with the keys on this notebook. One gripe is the small size of the arrow keys, and I often the up or down arrow by mistake. I was also not impressed by the trackpad on this notebook. Even though you won’t use it for gaming, it just feels a little flimsy.

All the ports are situated on the left side of the notebook, with are no ports on the back, and just a single Kensington Lock port on the right-hand side. This makes for a much neater cable structure and right-handed gamers won’t have a problem with cables or dongles that get in the way.

The two built-in speakers are placed near the front of the chassis and offer a decent sound volume although it lacks a bit of bass. It’ll be fine to use for videos but when it comes to gaming you’ll definitely want to plug-in your headphones.

Looking at its performance, I was impressed by what this machine had to offer considering its nearly a third of the cost of my own gaming notebook. It has an Intel Core i5-9300H running at 2.4GHz with 8GB of DDR4 RAM and there a 2TB HDD for storage. Unfortunately, the RAM slot is single channel only, so a second stick of 8GB cannot be added. In terms of graphics performance, the Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IRH features the new Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650, mobile graphics chipset. Based on the new Turing architecture that is used on the new line of RTX graphics card, the GTX range offers slower performance and does not include support for advanced features like ray-tracing.

While I’d rather opt for a version with 16GB of RAM, this notebook performed surprisingly well in day-to-day tasks. Although processor-intensive tasks like video editing large files ran a little slower than what I’m used to, apps like Photoshop and Illustrator offered a better overall experience.

For gaming, this notebook managed fine with most of today’s popular titles, albeit running at low to medium settings to get enjoyable frame rates. With some tweaking, you can squeeze out a few more frames on some game titles but Medium is about as far as I’d push it on fast-paced first-person shooters. For games like Fortnite, Minecraft, PUBG and Apex Legends this machine runs great on medium settings at a resolution of 1920 x 1080.

As with all gaming notebooks, you should not rely on the battery to provide you with hours of playtime when the power goes out. The Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IRH will run for just under an hour when you play games but doing work, checking emails and watching YouTube will give your around four hours of battery life. This, of course, depends on what software is running and the brightness of your screen.

Lenovo IdeaPad L340 budget gaming notebook
BOTTOM LINE
If you are looking for an entry-level notebook with the capability to play games and get your work done, then the Lenovo IdeaPad L340-15IRH is worth looking at. It offers good gaming performance for gamers on a budget or office users who want something more than just another boring office machine.
PROS
Neat minimalist design
IPS display panel
Decent gaming performance
CONS
Touchpad
80
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