Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 Review: Performance

May 15, 2013 by Michael Wall Reads (151,217)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Software & Support
    • 7
    • Upgrade Capabilities
    • 9
    • Usability
    • 9
    • Design
    • 9
    • Performance
    • 7
    • Features
    • 8
    • Price/Value Rating
    • 8
    • Total Score:
    • 8.14
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Performance and Benchmarks

For an affordable gaming device the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 offers a suitable level of performance. With a 2.4 GHz Intel i7-3630QM processor and 16GB of RAM, the notebook tackles basic word processing and web functions with extreme ease. More demanding Office tasks such as complicated excel tables also prove to be no problem for the device. The ample RAM allows the machine to multi-task numerous programs with no noticeable slowdown or performance drop. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 was even able to run multiple programs in background while running high-end games.

Equipped with an NVidia GT 650M the Lenovo IdeaPad can perform graphically intensive functions such as play games or 1080p video editing with consistent performance. The NVidia GT 650M should prove more than adequate for most current games on the market, though users may not be able to run some demanding games at high detail settings.

Our review unit included a second SLI-enabled NVidia GT 650M GPU. Having multiple GPUs connected through SLI does help to increase performance, but the performance gains are regulated to how well the software (or program) is coded to take advantage of the second GPU. While there was a noticeable boost in performance with games that were coded to take advantage of SLI, it’s important to understand that a vast majority of games (and programs) are not designed to take advantage of this feature.

The 1TB HDD with 16GB mSATA SSD cache will ensure that users have all the space needed to store a vast array of games and media, but they may have to concede on performance. While it’s nice that the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 at least offers a hybrid drive so that the OS can be stored on a SSD cache, the slow data retrievals on the 5400 RPM HDD is one of the more notable bottlenecks for the machine’s performance. Users will notice the slower data retrieval, especially in-game with things like longer load times as a result. As an affordable gaming notebook the lack of an SSD is understandable, but its absence is noticed.

Our Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 review unit includes the following configuration:

  • Windows 8 (64-bit)
  • 15.6-inch LED-backlit TFT Color, Vibrant View Full HD Display (1920 x 1080)
  • 2.4GHz i7-3630QM processor
  • Dual NVidia GT 650M graphics (2GB GDDR5 for each)
  • 16GB DDR3 RAM
  • 1TB HHD (5400 RPM) + 16GB mSATA SSD
  • Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230, 2×2 Wi-Fi + Bluetooth
  • Dimensions: 15.2″ x 10.2 “x 1.4” (dimensions vary depending on configuration)
  • Weight: Starting at 5.95-lbs (weight varying depending on configuration)
  • 6-cell Lithium-Ion battery (72Wh)
  • Price: $1,250 (at time review was written)

wPrime processor comparisons (lower score means better performance): 

PCMark 7 is a newer benchmark and measures overall systems performance (higher scores mean better performance):

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

Crystal DiskMark storage drive performance test: 

Real-world Game Performance

Far Cry 3 was tested at 1920 x 1080 resolution with a 110 field of view (FOV) and medium detail settings. The game ran smooth with an average frames per second (FPS) of 24.4. There was little to no stuttering and performance was consistent throughout, even with the larger more chaotic conflicts that the game is known to produce. Some gamers might be distraught that they can’t run Far Cry 3 at max settings (which is no easy task), but the game still looks fantastic on medium settings. Additionally, users can easily increase performance by micro-managing the settings, reducing the lofty 110 FOV for example will help increase overall performance.

Dishonored which is a SLI-enabled game, really shows off the vast difference that software can make with SLI-enabled systems. We tested Dishonored at a 1920 x 1080 resolution with a 110 FOV, FXAA anti-analyzing and max settings. The game ran perfectly well exceeding 60 FPS to rest at an impressive 106.6 FPS average. Needless to say the gameplay experience was smooth with no noticeable hiccups. Additionally, users who wish to enable v-sync can be assured that the game will comfortably rest at 60 FPS without disruption.

While it’s fair to note that Dishonored is not as visually tasking as Far Cry 3, the dramatic shift in performance far outweighs the increased graphics demands of Far Cry 3. Instead the drastic difference is likely a result of Dishonored being SLI-enabled, while Far Cry 3 is not. NVidia offers a full list of the game’s that are SLI-enabled.

Heat and Noise

The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is equipped with a fan, which is located on the left side of the chassis. Like a lot of other gaming devices, the Lenovo Y500 isn’t quite. Booting up a game or pushing the machine to capacity will quickly cause the fan to rev up producing a noticeable hum. The noise isn’t overpowering, but it’s easily audible in the backdrop. When the machine is being pushed to capacity it also emanates a fair bit of heat as well. While playing games or running complicated tasks the Lenovo easily becomes hot enough that users would find using it as a laptop uncomfortable.

Battery Life

To test battery life, we used our new 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 our previous test, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate real life use. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than our previous benchmark.

In our test the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 ran for 2 hours and 33 minutes before shutting down after reaching the 5 percent battery reserve. Running shy of three hours typically isn’t great, but short battery life is fairly common for gaming rigs. With the Lenovo’s slimmer frame I was hoping the machine would offer a bit more battery life to boost its portability, but the notebook is fairly mediocre in that regard.

Users who plan on using the device for extended period of time will need to have the power jack on hand. With the power jack being extremely heavy and bulky, the added weight certainly diminishes the device’s impressive portability.



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