Lenovo Ideapad 700 (15-inch) Review: Return of the (Budget) King

by Reads (123,262)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 5
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 6
      • Usability
      • 8
      • Design
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 8
      • Features
      • 7
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 8
      • Total Score:
      • 7.14
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Solid performance
    • Vibrant display  
    • Excellent Speakers

     

  • Cons

    • Weak feedback on keyboard
    • Awkward touchpad placement
    • Limited build options

Quick Take

The Lenovo Ideapad Y700 is noticeable improvement for the Y gaming series, with an improved display and beefier spec options, making it an excellent choice for users that want to game on the go without breaking the bank. 


Lenovo’s gaming Y series has long been a steadfast option for consumers that want to play the latest games without spending a fortune. But last year’s Lenovo Y50 was a bit of a disappointment, with a subpar display and slow HDD. Lenovo seems to have taken those criticisms to heart with the completely rebranded Y700 series.

The 15-inch Ideapad Y700 holds many of the same cornerstones that the Y series was known for; dependable understated design, sturdy build quality, and affordable performance. Add in the improved display with added brightness and an SSD option and you have a compelling mid-range gaming notebook.

Build and Design

Lenovo Y700 front 2Lenovo has always favored an understated look when it comes to its gaming/entertainment laptops and the Lenovo Yoga Ideapad Y700 proves to be no different. Despite the rebranding, the Y700 series shares a lot of commonalities with last year’s Lenovo Y50, including the same black compact chassis with sharp angular display lid and smooth rounded corners. The Y700’s lid slants outward along the edges edges, with “Lenovo” lettering along the top right hand corner of the display lid. The brushed aluminum lid sports a cross weave design that looks excellent when catching the light. The only issues — as was pointed out in our review of the 17-inch variant — is that the device is prone to fingerprint smudges. Even when trying to handle the device with extreme care, noticeable fingerprint marks would appear along the lid.

A black rubberized plastic covers the face of the deck. Attention is immediately drawn to the loud red JBL speaker grills, which help bolster the aggressive gaming aesthetic. Shiny black hard plastic encompasses the power button and runs along the top edge of the deck towards the display hinge.  

Measuring 15.2 x 10.9 x 1 -inches the 15-inch Y700 doesn’t offer the same portability as a conventional laptop, but it does compare well against other gaming devices. The 5.7 pound gaming rig is a bit heavier than the sleek 5.2-pound Dell Inspiron 15, but it’s also considerably lighter than the 6.6-pound Alienware 15. Being par for the course isn’t so bad, considering the Ideapad Y700 is a budget device (relative to other gaming laptops) with a considerable level of performance.

Ports

As with most gaming devices, the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 offers a wide selection of ports. The left side features a power connector, a USB 2.0 port, a 4-in-1 card reader, a combination headphone/mic jack and a Lenovo DC adapter port. The right side houses two USB 3.0 ports, a HDMI connector, a Gigabit Ethernet connector, and a secure lock slot.

Lenovo Y700 ports leftLenovo Y700 ports right

Display and Speakers

One area where the Ideapad Y700 makes considerable strides over it’s predecessor is the display. The Y700’s 15-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS touch panel features a 263 nits brightness, as compared the the display with 210 nits brightness seen on the Lenovo Y50. As expected the brighter display boasts more flexible viewing angles and improved readability.Images hold up well past 90 degrees without an noticeable distortion to the image. In heavy and direct lighting the panel does become reflective, with background images appearing on screen.

Lenovo Y700 screen frontLenovo Y700 screen forward

Lenovo Y700 screen sideLenovo Y700 screen back

NBR was impressed by the vibrant color and contrast. In Metal Gear Solid V the bright blue skies contrasted beautifully against the sprawling brown deserts in Afghanistan. Some consumers may find the the FHD resolution a bit disappointing, although Lenovo offers an Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) option if you’re willing to pay extra. The higher resolution display isn’t always the best option though. While the Ideapad Y700 does offer decent performance, it’s not industry leading, meaning the Y700 will struggle to run modern games at higher resolutions than 1920 x 1080 at high or ultra settings. The higher resolution display will also be more taxing on the battery.

In addition to an improved display the Ideapad Y700 features a pair of JBL speakers, along with a subwoofer. The sound quality is immaculate, boasting one of the best audio experience we’ve seen from a budget gaming rig. Audio quality is pristine, with crisp clear sound and powerful tangible bass that is perfect for both games, music and video.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Lenovo Y700 keyboardThe Lenovo Ideapad Y700 features a full Chiclet style red backlit keyboard complete with number pad. The black plastic keys are rounded at the corners and slightly curved inwards making the keys easy to grip. Key spacing is adequate, with ample room to hit each key. The only key that has been resized is the is the right shift key, which is hardly ever used when playing games, and isn’t small enough to impede typing. Key travel is excellent, but the feedback feels flat.Feedback wasn’t a big enough issue to cause issues with performance, but when playing twitch games such as League of Legends or Diablo 3: Reaper of Souls the lack of forceful feedback can be uncomfortable, especially when hitting keys in rapid succession.

Lenovo Y700 touchpadLocated below the space bar is a moderately sized Synaptic touchpad. The pad sits to the off center left, which can be problematic as it’s possible for your left hand to drag across the surface when using WASD controls, which are used in a wide variety of modern games. This issue can be circumvented by disabling the touchpad when playing games, but it’s still an annoyance. Besides the strange location, the pad itself functions wonderfully. The smooth rubber surface allows for easy, frictionless travel. The pad corresponds to swipes, clicks and gestures accurately without delay.

Performance

The Lenovo Ideapad Y700NBR tested was outfitted with a 2.6GHz sixth-generation Intel Core i7 6700HQ processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M GPU with 4GB of GDDR5, 16GB of DDR4 memory, a 1TB HDD and a 128GB SSD. This is one of Lenovo’s more expensive skews, currently listed at $1,100.

Users looking for a budget friendly option could opt for the starting skew which comes equipped with a 2.3 GHz sixth-generation Intel Core i5-6300HQ processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 950M GPU with 4GB of GDDR5, 8GB of DDR4 memory and a 500GB HDD. This unit is considerably cheaper at $850, but it also doesn’t offer the same level of performance. The most notable difference will be the lack of an SSD, which will slow boot up speeds, load times and overall performance. However, even the cheaper variant comes equipped with a solid array of gaming guts. It may not be able to run every game at the highest settings, but it will run current modern games and applications with solid performance.

While the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 isn’t quite capable of taking on the most powerful gaming rigs in the market, it’s an excellent mid-range device, that performs well in nearly every category. The device makes short work of day to day applications. While testing the device we were able to run 15 Google Chrome tabs, while watching and HD video stream and listening to Spotify in the background without any noticeable drop in performance. Armed with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M, the Y700 boasts impressive graphical performance capable of handling 3D video editing, or playing the most demanding games. The Y700 was able to run Metal Gear Solid V (MGS V) at high settings with a solid 53 fps. With MGS V being one of the more demanding titles currently on the market, it’s suffice to say the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 will be capable of running most titles at medium to high settings with solid performance.

The Lenovo Ideapad Y700 review unit NBR tested had the following configuration:

  • Lenovo Y700 backMicrosoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit)  
  • 15.6-inch Frameless FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS display
  • Intel Core i7-6700HQ CPU 2.6GHz
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M 4GB GDDR5
  • 16GB of DDR4
  • 1TB (5400 RPM) + 128GB SSD
  • 802.11 a/c
  • Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weight: 5.7 pounds
  • Dimensions: 15.233 x 10.9 x 1 -inches
  • Price: $1,100

Benchmarks

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):

wprime 

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):

pcmark 8 h

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):

pcmark 8 w 

3DMark 11 is a benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):

3dmark 11 

3DMark Fire Strike is a newer benchmark measuring overall graphics card performance for visually demanding games (higher scores mean better performance):

3dmark fire 

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance tests (HDD left, SSD right):

CDM HDDcdm ssd 

Heat and Noise

The Lenovo Ideapad Y700 sports two vents along the side of the chassis. The notebook runs relatively quiet for a gaming rig. Under heavy load a light hum could be heard as the fan kicked into high gear to keep the device cool, but it’s near silent by gaming laptop standards. After playing MGS V for an hour the bottom of the device ran hot along with the top of the keyboard. The device never reached the point where it would threaten to impact performance, but it would be uncomfortable to attempt to use as a laptop.

Battery Life

To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.

Powermark battery life benchmark test results listed in minutes (higher scores indicate longer battery life):
 powermark

In our tests the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 ran for 3 hours and 42 minutes. That’s an excellent score for a gaming device, as most gaming rigs struggle to break the 2 hour mark. Considering that these tests are more strenuous than standard use, the laptop can likely lasts upwards of 4 and half to 5 hours on a single charge. Be warned though playing games will quickly take its toll on the battery, so make sure to have the power cord on hand when doing so.

Conclusion

The Lenovo Y700 is a return to form for Lenovo’s budget-friendly gaming series. The Y700 improves upon the faults of the somewhat disappointing Y50, with an improved display and beefier specs. Equipped with a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU, and mid range NVidia GPU the Y700 is a great option for consumers that want a mobile solution the latest games without buying a high-end laptop. Best of all $1,100 the Lenovo Y700 provides some serious bang for your buck.

Pros:

  • Lenovo Y700 frontSolid performance
  • Vibrant display  
  • Excellent Speakers

Cons:

  • Weak feedback on keyboard
  • Awkward touchpad placement
  • Limited build options


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