One of the leaders in business computing, Lenovo, have gone to the other side. That’s right, Lenovo released a series of Gaming Laptops. The IdeaPad Y400 and Y500 is their new line of gaming laptops. I had the chance to review a supped up version of the Y500 that would retail for $1,179, though base line begins at just $800.
The Y500 is not your average slim laptop weighing about 6 lbs, but build quality is very sturdy due to an aluminum body. It also features a backlit keyboard with red accents which personally looks cool but I would prefer a lighter color as the red was a bit dark. On the left side you have your power port, VGA port, ethernet port, HDMI-out, and 2 usb 3.0 ports. The right side is very minimal to just a headphone and microphone jack, a always on usb 2.0 port and Lenovo’s UltraBay (which included a second GPU in our model). Of course this model is sporting a 15.6 inch HD display (1920×1080), a 720p HD webcam and audio powered by JBL, which sound fantastic.
Internally is where this beast shines. 16 GB of DDR3 ram, Intel Core i7-3630 quad core at 2.40GHz, dual NVIDIA GeForce GT 650 graphic cards with 2gb of GDDR5 on each. One 650 gpu is running through NVIDIA’s SLI via Lenovo’s UltraBay (models now are shipping with newer NVIDIA cards instead of 650’s). Capping things off is a 1TB HDD and 16gb SSD via the PCI-e Mini Card Slot.
Lenovo’s UltraBay can also be used to install a DVD drive, second hard drive, or a cooling fan (though Lenovo provides plenty of bottom and side panel ventilation, a second fan would benefit long gaming sessions).
Lenovo decided to go with a raised chicklet style keyboard which feels great and isn’t too loud when typing fast. You have the ability of choosing between 2 preset backlight options which I found to be pretty useful. This is a full keyboard since this is a 15 inch model so it includes a full number pad on the right hand side. I really only had two main gripes with this keyboard, the location of arrow keys and the horrible trackpad.
The trackpad is big and that’s a plus, but it isn’t responsive. I would end up triggering Windows 8 gestures or other tasks when all I wanted was to scroll up or down. Now I do understand that this is a gaming laptop and most people would use a separate mouse, I just wish Lenovo would have put more thought and effort on the trackpad. Windows 8 gestures can also be turned off via the settings.
So the Y500 sounds great on paper and even on price, but does it deliver. Performance was great and handled most popular game titles with ease. Marvel Heroes and League of Legends ran flawlessly. Bigger titles such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, Batman Arkham City, Spec Ops: The Line, and Bioshock Infinite all ran with very minimal to no hiccup at all. Most games were able to run on high settings and looked great on the HD display.
The Y500 also picked up the Xbox controller with ease so that was also used for gaming. If you aren’t using a secondary keyboard I will mention the keyboard on board the laptop isn’t bad but isn’t the best positioned keyboard.
The IdeaPad Y500 is for sure a hefty laptop, but it delivers on all initial intent. Hardware could use some redesign and adjusting, but starting at just $800, the possibilities of upgrading this laptop to fit your needs are endless, especially with Lenovo’s UltraBay drive. This has been one of my favorite laptops to use for gaming, browsing and even editing.