On first impressions, the z50-75 laptop looks pretty smart.
Packed into a rather sombre and unassuming plastic case, it gives off the vibe of that one kid in your class who you never really spoke to, but always seemed kind of interesting.
Lenovo’s z50-75 series consists of numerous black and white models all sharing the same case, but with multiple combinations of CPUs, memory drives, storage drives and graphics cards. We’ve managed to get our hands on a model kitted out with AMD’s FX-7500 processor, and set out to discover whether it is worth the pennies in your pocket.
Vet the screens?
Shall we start with the good news or the bad news? Bad? Okay. Although it may appear slick at first glance, the z50-75’s screen possesses a fair few problems. While the glossy, 15.6in Full HD display is a good size, it suffers heavily when used in direct sunlight, with glare turning it into something more akin to an annoying mirror. Long Internet browsing sessions get briefly interrupted every so often by the realisation in your reflection that you’ve been sat for hours, mouth wide open so as to catch flies for nutrition.
Any slight variations in the angle of the screen lead to large changes in contrast, making using it as a medium for movie night pretty difficult. Certain combinations of fonts and backgrounds would make even those with 20/20 vision struggle to read it, but probably the worst of all, (and the Lenovo forums seem to be absolutely littered with it) is the z50-75’s ‘reduced colour depth’, making any form of gradient look like separate little strips of colour as opposed to one smooth transition.
Whip me out
While it isn't on par with the svelte Ultrabook set, the Z50-75 is, still incredibly portable. Weighing in at a mere 2.5kg, and only 25mm thick, it slots into a backpack as easily as a textbook. For classroom use, or for vegging out in front of the TV the Z50-75 is great, and can easily be accommodated on your lap.
The good news is, if you’re a casual gamer looking for a midrange laptop, you could find the Z50-75 is for you. Running Counter Strike: Global Offensive on high settings proved to be surprisingly playable, sitting around an average of 45-50fps despite a few minor stutters. Dropped to medium settings, CS:GO averaged out at around 55fps, more than enough to go for those AK headshots.
Saying that, Dota 2 running on relatively high settings pushed out a measly maximum of 20fps, and around 30-40fps with the sliders turned down, rendering the MOBA game playable, but definitely not ideal for last click lovers.
Our final test came from trusty ol’ Borderlands 2, which on its lowest settings offered up 25fps. Clearly this isn’t close to the likes of the Alienware 17’s standard but, if need be, you could join your friends in the fray and ponce around Pandora.
The Z50-75 also packs a pair of Dolby-powered stereo speakers, which go a good way to making both games and other media sound a little more full-bodied. Sure, they won’t replace a surround sound setup or even a good pair of headphones, but they’ll do you in a pinch.
For things such as browsing the internet, streaming videos and just general day to day use, the z50-75 worked just fine. Its AMD FX-7500 guts seemed to cope well with daily tasks such as email and word processing, and we encountered little stutters, lag or loading delays from performing any standard tasks.
Free of charge
With light gaming, the z50-75 finally conked out after around 2h 30 mins. For general browsing use, the z50-75 lasted approximately 3h 30 mins. For an ultrabook, this just isn’t enough. Compared to other ultrabooks in the market who boast battery lives of up to and above 10 hours, the z50-75 seemed to throw in the towel way earlier than it should have done.
Perhaps with the brightness turned down it'd be possible to squeeze a out a bit more juice, but considering the long list of screen problems, running it with the brightness on minimum is far from desirable.
The z50-75 has potential. The AMD FX-7500 is a fine processor for midrange laptops, offering up great casual gaming capabilities without requiring you to fork out fat stacks of cash on a serious gaming goliath.
However, it was all let down by the surrounding hardware. The problems with the screen are something Lenovo should’ve known-vo, and it seems little has been done in way of solution on the Lenovo forums. The poor battery life is another problem that is yet to be improved upon, and we feel there are other similarly priced laptops with less issues and better battery runtimes for potential buyers to explore.
In all honesty though, if you were to gift the z50-75 to say your mum, or Uncle Jim, they probably wouldn’t notice too much wrong with the screen, the battery, the keyboard for their general use. Although, we still feel that for the proposed price tag, there are better deals to be discovered on similarly specced PCs.