The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is an affordable gaming notebook that offers all around utility and performance.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is an affordable gaming notebook. The term may seem like an oxymoron, and to a degree it is. Priced roughly at $1,250 (at the time the unit was reviewed) the notebook hardly describes what many consumers would call affordable. Still, in the gaming world the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is about as cost-conscious as it gets.
For the lower price-point users will certainly have to make a few concessions. The most notable being the machine's mid-tier NVidia GT 650 M graphics card and the lack of solid state drive (SSD) storage.
Still the notebook is able to play most games on the market with solid performance; and with its sleek design, comfortable keyboard, and eye-catching display, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 manages to offer a number of perks that extend beyond the world of gaming.
Build and Design
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 sports black brushed metal casing that extends around the majority of the chassis. The metal casing employs a horizontal texture that serves to accentuate the slants and curves of the chassis' design. The dark protective metal contrasts beautifully against the bright red-backlit keyboard. The fierce and vibrant design is a staple of the gaming notebook, and Lenovo manages to capture that appeal with its cost-friendly Lenovo IdeaPad Y500.
Measuring in at 15.2" x 10.2" x 1.4" and weighting just over 6 pounds the Lenovo Y500 is actually surprising slim for a gaming machine, especially for a device that incorporates Scalable Link Interface (SLI). It's not light, but users will have a hard time finding many gaming notebooks that are more portable than the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500.
The metallic frame also offers a solid level of durability. The chassis proved to be extremity resistant completely withstanding applied pressure. The display case also tested well only giving slightly to pressure with no noticeable rippling occurring on screen. The Lenovo IdeaPad boasts impressive portability with the durability to take the wear and tear that travel incurs.
Ports and Features
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 offers a wide array of ports. The left side offers a VGA port, Ethernet port, an HDMI port, and two USB 3.0 ports. The right side offers separate mic and headphone jacks, and an always on USB 2.0 port.
The only serious issue with the ports is the placing of the two USB ports on the left-hand side of the machine. The two ports are congested making it difficult to access both ports simultaneously. Other than that everything is spaced adequately and easy to reach.
One of the key features of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is its ultrabay, which is located on the right hand side of the chassis. The ultrabay allows users to customize the notebook by adding a number of different Lenovo components to the machine. The notebook that we tested came with a second (SLI-enabled) NVidia GT 650M GPU, but users could also include a HDD tray, cooling fan, or an optical DVD burner.
It's important to understand that only these Lenovo accessories are compatible with the ultrabay; other GPU cards or components will not work. While that makes the versatility of the bay rather limited, the ease of adding and removing components through the ultrabay is a welcomed addition. Changing the ultrabay component is relatively simple as well. Users simply need to shut down the device, remove the battery, unlock the bay, and then replace their ultrabay component. It's still not incredibly easy, but it's a great alternative to manually installing and removing components.
Display and Speakers
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 houses a 15.6" TFT color Vibrant View display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. The display offers an incredibly clear image with a 500:1 color contrast. Both text and media reads great on the machine, and the games we tested looked beautiful on the glossy display. The one missing feature of the display is touch-capability, which would have been nice for Windows 8 functionality; but ultimately it's not a huge deal considering this is a gaming focused machine.
The display also offers extremely generous viewing angles. On the horizontal axis the display holds up well past 100 degrees with no noticeable distortion. The display fares just as well on the vertical axis with images remaining clear and crisp even at extreme angles. The only issue with the display is that the glossy surface sometimes causes background images to reflect on the display. Reflections are fairly limited though and only an issue in direct light.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 houses a pair of RealTek HD speakers above the keyboard on the right and left side of the chassis. The speakers offer solid sound quality and robust amplification that can easily fill an entire room with audio. The boisterous speakers paired well with the games we tested, as the bass filled reverberations added another layer to the experience. While certainly powerful, the RealTek speakers struggle to capture the nuances of more subtle recordings. While playing an orchestral piece on the device, several distortions could be heard throughout. The faint hum wasn't too much of a deterrent, but it was certainly noticeable. Users who plan on playing games where ambient noise is important or want a high quality experience will want to use an external device.
Keyboard and TouchPad
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 offers a Chiclet style keyboard complete with number pad. The bright red back-lit keyboard clearly provides the aesthetic expected of a gaming device, but it also delivers the quality as well. The squared keys are braised on the top with an inward curved design providing additional friction and grip. Each key has solid compression with crisp tactile feedback allowing users to be secure in each stroke, making the keyboard perfect for typing. The lightning quick response and consistent performance ensure that the keyboard meets the lofty needs of gamers as well. Users looking for optimal performance may want to opt for a high-end external mechanical keyboard, though the built in keyboard offers more than sufficient quality.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 offers a generously sized touchpad located directly below the spacebar of the keyboard. The touchpad is equipped with Synaptic drivers and devoid of buttons. Instead the pad designates the bottom left and right portion of the pad to act as mouse buttons, as denoted by a small graphic and slight downward slant of the pad. While the lack of buttons can be confusing, the slant of the pad along with the graphic allows users to know where the left and right click portions of the pad are located.
In terms of performance the pad is serviceable reading most clicks and swipes easily. Multi-gestures read well, though there were a few instances where the touchpad failed to read input. There is a bit of friction on the pad that can make detailed functions (such as selecting a portion of text) a bit difficult; but as a gaming focused notebook, users will likely use an external mouse anyways.
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