Written by Soon Kai Hong
We’re back with another laptop review! This time, we take a look at a much more budget-friendly gaming laptop, the Lenovo L340 Gaming, that could be a great option especially if you’re a student.
The first thing that may or may not stand out to you, is the design. Even though it has “Gaming” in its name, the design is pretty minimalistic. The lid features a faux aluminium brushed surface, that is also present on the keyboard deck, with the rest of the laptop mostly making use of solid, hard plastic. It looks very much like any other business or everyday laptop, and you wouldn’t look out of place if you pull this out during a meeting, which I like.
For the display, it’s running a 15.6” 1080p IPS display, with a refresh rate of 60Hz. The display is all right, with good viewing angles and a matte finish, which is very welcome, in my opinion, but the color gamut is a little lacking.
The IPS display covers just 70% of sRGB, and just 50% of AdobeRGB. If you’re looking at this laptop for creative work, I would say look elsewhere as the colors will definitely throw you off, especially for video or photo edits. For gaming and general usage however, this display is good enough, and I’m pretty sure you will be happy with it.
Oh, and one thing to note is that the display can actually be pushed back all the way down to almost 180 degrees. We’re not quite sure why, but it can do so. On top, you get a 720p webcam, that comes with a built-in privacy filter, which is a nice touch.
Now, we move on to the keyboard. For a 15.6” laptop, you actually get a full sized keyboard, complete with the numpad, which is actually getting rarer these days. The typing experience is really nice. If you’re someone who likes the ThinkPad series, you will feel right at home here. Strokes are quick and accurate, and you also get a blue backlight. It is a joy to type on.
The trackpad however, is a different story.
For starters, this runs Synaptics drivers out of the box. It does get the job done, but the accuracy and the movement just didn’t make it a great experience, not to mention that the clicks are mushy.
So, we took it upon ourselves and installed Windows Precision drivers. With that installed, the trackpad becomes much, much better. Accuracy is far higher, I can actually use my thumb to navigate while leaving the rest of my fingers on the keyboard to type, and you get support for multiple gestures.
I’ll say that the trackpad is not too bad, if you install Windows Precision drivers.
For I/O, you actually get a healthy amount. All the ports are located on the left side of the laptop. Left to right, you get the power jack, RJ45 Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, two USB 3.1, a headphone/mic combo, and a USB-C port, though it doesn’t support Thunderbolt 3.
The Lenovo L340 Gaming is available in a variety of configurations, but our model right here is equipped with an Intel Core i7-9750H, an Nvidia GTX 1650, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB NVMe SSD.
Now, synthetic benchmarks are just synthetic benchmarks, they don’t really reflect real-world performance, so we’ll get straight to the point and talk about gaming performance.
For eSports titles like CS:GO, you can comfortably play at 1080p Max settings, with frame rates well over a hundred.
In PUBG, 1080P Ultra will net you around 52 frames per second, while dropping down to the High setting will provide a more solid 63 frames per second.
Triple A titles like Final Fantasy XV at 1080p High setting will get you 45 frames per second, or playing at the Average setting will bring that up to 53 frames per second.
Unfortunately, I do not have Shadow of the Tomb Raider, yet, but here’s Rise of the Tomb Raider. At 1080P High setting, you get 60 frames per second, or drop that down to the Medium setting and you’ll get 71 frames per second.
Now we move on to Battlefield V, where at 1080p Ultra, you can get 48 frames per second, or 1080p High, where you’ll get 52 frames per second, and 1080p Medium ,where you’ll get 58 frames per second.
At 1080p Ultra however, the game does encounter frequent stutters and dropped frames, due to the lack of VRAM on the GTX 1650. So, I highly suggest playing at Medium setting instead.
A new addition to the library is Ace Combat 7, where at 1080p High setting, you’ll get over 90 frames per second.
Lastly, we have The Witcher 3, which is a little bit of an older title, but definitely still looks amazing. At 1080P Ultra, you get 48 frames per second, while at 1080P High, you get 65 frames per second.
So that’s gaming at a glance, but what about the temperatures?
Temperatures while gaming are actually really good. Both CPU and GPU rarely goes above 76 degrees celsius, hardly ever reaching 80. You also won’t really feel the heat either. Now you might be wondering how’s that possible, especially for the CPU?
The reason is quite simple. Instead of thermal throttling, Lenovo has opted to go for power throttling. Most of the time while running games, you’ll find that your CPU runs at either the base clock of 2.6GHz, or even below that, hovering around 2.2GHz.
At first glance, it might seem weird, but I personally felt it was quite the smart move on Lenovo’s part. Games benefit more from a boost on the GPU instead of the CPU. So although the CPU may be power throttling, the GPU was not, and was reaching boost clocks of 1700MHz, or even higher depending on the game, past the official boost clock specs from Nvidia. But of course, if you prefer RTS games, you will find yourself wanting more out of the CPU.
Now, if you want to open up the laptop, it’s actually really simple. Just remove a total of 11 standard Phillips head screws, and you’re in.
Inside, you’ll be greeted with a 45 watt hour battery, which will last you roughly four hours of general usage, or just an hour if you’re gaming. It’s honestly not bad, but definitely not as expected.
There are others out there who’ve experienced better battery life, up to nine hours as Lenovo claims, but for me, four hours was roughly the most I got.
You do however, get rapid charge with the L340, so you can top up from empty to around 80% battery in just an hour. So that’s pretty neat.
Up top, you’ll see two heat pipes, connecting both the CPU and GPU, with the heat dissipated via two fans on one side. You’ll also notice the space for a 2.5” drive, a single M.2 slot for your NVMe SSD, the WiFi card right below that, and only one slot for RAM on the right.
Here, you can also see the side-firing speakers, which are actually pretty decent, but I’ll still suggest a good pair of headphones, especially if you’re gaming.
So far, it’s been quite great, and honestly, it’s been quite an enjoyable experience. But here is where I have some qualms about the L340, and the first thing would be the RAM. You only get a single slot, which means, you can only run on Single Channel. If Lenovo really wants to stick to a single slot, I would rather, they at least follow what others have done, and soldered on 8GB or 16GB of RAM, and give an empty slot to allow Dual Channel support. Of course, the ideal scenario is to have two slots, but at the very least, half of it soldered, would be great.
The other thing would be the empty 2.5” drive bay. If you were to configure this laptop with just the NVMe SSD,the 2.5” drive bay would be empty, but Lenovo did not provide the cables required to connect a drive to the system. Now this may vary from region to region, but here in Singapore, that’s how it is. I’m still trying to find out how to get the cable, and if I do, I’ll update this article with it.
Next, we go back to the display. Yes, it’s IPS and it’s 1080p, which is great for a 15.6” device. The color gamut though is slightly disappointing. I would’ve at least liked to see a 100% sRGB panel, and that would’ve made this device slightly more viable for creative or professional work. It is also a little weird, considering that the 17.3” version of this device, has almost the exact same display, but is 100% sRGB.
An option for high refresh rate would also be nice, but I understand why it’s not included.
Other than that, perhaps Lenovo could tweak the settings for both the CPU and GPU just a little, at least to have the CPU run at the base clock of 2.6GHz during games since there is headroom to play with in terms of thermals. A little more performance would not hurt.
But that’s pretty much it, these are the only gripes for me about the L340 Gaming. I will still say it’s a pretty great laptop, and the reason for that is because of the price.
At the time of this review, our configuration comes in at S$1,639, and I believe that’s pretty affordable for most people out there. In fact, if you want to save a little more, and you’re just strictly gaming, you can even drop to an Intel Core i5-9300H, and get the L340 Gaming at S$1,489.
So who’s this laptop for?
If you’re a hardcore gamer, and you want the best possible experience, this is not the laptop for you. If you’re a creative, this isn’t a solid option either. But if you’re say, a student, or the occasional and light gamer, or if you just want a good and solid everyday laptop, the Lenovo L340 Gaming, will do you just fine.
More information about the laptop can be found on Lenovo’s website, along with purchasing options.