The Lenovo IdeaPad U300s comes in two different flavors of processors. Our test unit is packing a speedy Core i7-2677M (the other flavor is a Core i5-2457M). For reference, we took performance scores from the latest MacBook Air, and the first Ultrabook to reach our labs, the Acer Aspire S3. We need to have you note that the specs are not entirely on equal terms, because while the U300s has a similar processor (though slightly faster) to the Acer Aspire S3 test unit, it has an SSD which the S3 test unit didn’t. The MacBook Air does come with a similar capacity SSD, but it doesn’t have an equivalent processor.
|Specifications / Notebook||Lenovo IdeaPad U300s||Acer Aspire S3||Apple MacBook Air (2011)|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-2677M (1.8GHz)||Intel Core i7-2637M (1.7GHz)||Intel Core i5-2557M (1.7GHz)|
|Chipset||Intel UM67 Express||Intel UM67 Express||Intel QS67|
|Memory||4GB DDR3||4GB DDR3||4GB DDR3|
|HDD||256GB SSD||320GB HDD||256GB SSD|
|Video||Intel HD 3000||Intel HD 3000||Intel HD 3000|
|Battery||54 Whr||65 Whr||50 Whr|
|Dimensions||324 x 216 x 14.9mm||323 x 219 x 13-17.5mm||325 x 227 x 3 - 17mm|
PC Mark Vantage is a benchmark that tests all aspects of machine, be it from how the machine handles certain tasks, like retrieving data for example. Results here would indicate which machine is better at doing what, and components like SSDs would contribute significantly to the final scores, as they increase read-write speeds by multiple folds.
The scores in which the U300s has achieved here are pretty disappointing, especially when you consider that it has a faster CPU than the MacBook Air (MBA). It also has a similar SSD capacity which technically should have given it much higher I/O output. However we found that the meticulous customisation (controllers and drivers) of the MacBook Air contribute heavily to its efficiency - hence performance - allowing it to get better scores than its component list would suggest. Besides the MBA, even when compared to other thin and light machines we've reviewed previously like the Samsung Series 9 and Lenovo's Thinkpad X1, the Lenovo U300s isn't quite as shining as it should be.
And if you pay attention to the HDD scores, you can see that the SSD that Apple uses on their MBAs are of better quality, thus much faster than what the U300s is using. However the faster or bigger capacity your SSD is, the more expensive your machine is. Of course if you look purely at numbers, the MBA is in the lead. But we’d advise against that because when doing regular tasks, the differences are not noticeable to the untrained eye, and you’d be missing out on a good machine like the U300s if you let minor things like numbers get in your way.
All of the machines here are using Sandy Bridge processors, as well as Intel’s very capable integrated HD 3000 graphics engine. These machines however have differing processor clock speeds, with the Lenovo IdeaPad U300s having the fastest one with a Core i7. 3DMark06 scores are traditionally affected by CPU clock speeds, but similar to the reasons stated above regarding PC Mark Vantage performance, the MBA is simply much better tweaked. Hence it beats the other two Ultrabooks by quite a margin. However we wouldn’t worry about this gap in performance, because in real-life usage, it really wouldn’t make that much of a difference. What users should take note however is that graphic processors of this caliber are barely enough to do professional editing work, but would be more than sufficient for normal daily usage.
The only way to truly gauge the gaming capabilities of a notebook, is to bench it using a game of course. And in this case, we have our trusty Far Cry 2 benchmarks. Here, the Core i7 Lenovo IdeaPad U300s doesn’t really stand out very much. In fact is is lagging behind both other machines, but just by a little. The MacBook Air again performs slightly better, just as we pointed in earlier tests. The Acer Aspire S3 also performs slightly better, but this could be because it's optimized in such a way that it gives you better raw performance, rather than battery life, which you will see later. In light of the scores you see here, we’d advise against using Ultrabooks to play anything other than Facebook games (or other casual games), and some light media editing work.