The Lenovo Y-series notebooks have earned an impressive reputation in recent years for delivering a near-perfect blend of performance, build quality, and affordability among gaming laptops. The newly announced Ideapad Y700 gaming notebook appears to bolster that reputation thanks to a stylish design, a wide range of high-performance processor options, and a new line of Y Series gaming accessories.
Although the new Ideapad Y700 isn’t yet available for testing and a full review, our team got some hands-on time with Lenovo’s latest gaming notebook to give our readers a closer look at what they can look forward to next month.
Build and Design
The latest member of the Y Series family of gaming laptops is in fact two different notebooks with one name; the Ideapad Y700 will be available with both a 15-inch or a 17-inch display. The port layout and most of the available hardware options will be the same for both the 15-inch and 17-inch models of the Y700, so gamers just have to decide whether improved mobility or a larger screen size is more important to them.
The build quality of the chassis in the pre-production Y700 that Lenovo provided is strong and solid with minimal flex even under heavy pressure. The rubberized matte black paint is reminiscent of the look and feel of Alienware gaming notebooks. The screen lid likewise feels durable thanks to a brushed aluminum top plate that provides basic impact protection. We didn’t see any obvious distortions on the screen itself when we pressed firmly on the back of the display.
Lenovo will offer the Y700 with multiple CPU options, including the latest Intel (Skylake) or AMD multi-core processors (up to the Carrizo A10 APU). Hardcore gamers may take issue with the fact that at the time of this writing Lenovo plans to offer only one discrete graphics option for both the 15-inch and 17-inch Ideapad Y700 models. The Y700 models with Intel processors will have the Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 as the only graphics option and the Y700 models with AMD processors will feature AMD’s Radeon R9 M300 series of mobile graphics with 4GB of GDDR5.
Although Nvidia’s GeForce GTX 960M graphics are enough to handle even the latest games at 1080p resolution with modest detail settings, it’s safe to say that some customers would have liked the option to upgrade to a higher-performance GPU for the best possible frame rates at the highest possible detail settings.
Ports and Features
As previously mentioned, both sizes of the Y700 feature identical port layouts despite the fact that the 17-inch model clearly has more room for extra ports. On the left side of the notebook you’ll find the AC power adapter jack, a single USB 2.0 port with sleep-and-charge functionality, a full-size SD card reader, and a combo audio jack (headset/headphones/microphone). The right side of the Y700 includes two USB 3.0 ports, a full-size HDMI port, Ethernet jack and a Kensington security lock slot.
One notable difference between the available features on the Ideapad Y700 is that the Intel RealSense 3D camera is only available on the 15-inch version of the Y700. This is something to keep in mind if you are interested in taking advantage of gesture-enabled controls in future Windows 10 apps without the need for an external 3D webcam.
All models of the Y700 feature Gigabit LAN, 2 x 2 a/c Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0 for both wired and wireless networking.
Screen and Speakers
The base configurations of both the 15-inch and the 17-inch Ideapad Y700 feature wide-view IPS displays with FHD (1080p) resolution and anti-glare surface but an optional 10-point multitouch 1080p glossy screen is available for both models as well. Those gamers looking for greater than HD resolution will need to stick with the 15-inch Y700 since only a 15.6-inch Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) is available from Lenovo at this time.
The 1080p glossy touchscreen model that we had access to was prone to reflections thanks to the glossy surface of the display. We should also mention that Lenovo currently plans to only offer the Ultra HD screen option with Intel-based versions of the Y700.
As far as the built-in audio is concerned, Lenovo packed the Ideapad Y700 with impressively powerful JBL speakers; two 2W speakers next to the screen hinges and a 3W subwoofer located on the bottom side of the notebook’s chassis. We didn’t have an opportunity to run our standard audio tests, but the sound output seemed impressive during our brief time with the pre-production model.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Y700’s keyboard is a joy to use and most gamers will appreciate the full-size, chiclet-style keys and the ample spacing between each key. Each of the keys has a generous amount of travel and the feedback is both consistent and adequate for a chiclet-style keyboard but isn’t as forceful as the mechanical keyboards many gamers use. We doubt we would have any problems using this keyboard for normal activities or casual gaming, but we might hesitate for a moment during enthusiast gaming sessions if the feedback isn’t strong enough for our fingertips to feel. We’ll have to test the keyboard on a production model of the Y700 for our final opinion.
The touchpad won’t be nearly as impressive to serious gamers because the Y700 uses a Clickpad with integrated buttons rather than a traditional touchpad with separate left and right mouse buttons. The Clickpad easily registered the various multitouch gestures we used, but it still had trouble distinguishing between a left click and a right click if we didn’t press on the extreme corners of the Clickpad surface. Dedicated buttons are always the way to go with gaming notebooks … that, or Lenovo should include a free USB gaming mouse with the Y700 rather than sell the gaming mouse as an optional extra.
While we’re on the topic of the user interface we should mention that Lenovo is also offering an impressive range of gaming accessories for the new Y Series gaming PCs. The Lenovo Y Gaming Surround Sound Headset features foldable and adjustable ear cups and includes 7.1 virtual surround sound, in-line volume adjustment control box with mute button and a detachable passive, noise-cancelling microphone. The Lenovo Y Gaming Precision Mouse is an ergonomically designed USB mouse that features four levels of adjustable DPI for precise movement and speed, eight programmable buttons, five levels of adjustable weight. You’ll also be able to pick up the Lenovo Y Gaming Mouse Mat if you’re looking for a waterproof mousepad with a more consistent surface for added precision.
The Lenovo Y Gaming Mechanical Switch Keyboard is an LED-backlit keyboard with anti-ghosting mechanical switches beneath each key, six customizable macro keys, five adjustable levels of brightness, a detachable palm rest and a custom button for controlling the Lenovo Y Gaming Surround Sound Headset. Last and certainly not least, you can carry Ideapad Y700 and all the other gaming accessories inside the Lenovo Y Gaming Backpack; which fits up to a 17.3-inch laptop protected inside a hard shell compartment and includes padded pockets and a chest strap for added support.
Be sure to return soon for our full review of the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 gaming notebook to see how this new offering stacks up against the competition.