- Portable chassis design
- Excellent performance
- Solid battery life
- Keys lack feedback
- Subpar display
- Slow HDD
The Lenovo Y50’s strong performance and slimmer chassis design make it one of the better affordable gaming laptops on the market, but the device’s subpar display is easily outclassed by competitors.
Over the past few years the Lenovo Y series has remained best options when it comes to affordable gaming solutions. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 and Y510p offered strong performance capable of running the latest games, durable chassis designs, and price tags that wouldn’t leave your wallet empty.
In their wake comes the Lenovo Y50, sporting a slimmer design and potent upgrades including NVidia’s new line of GeForce GTX 800M GPUs. With better performance and a more compact package it would seem like the Y50 should be an instant success, but the 15.6” gaming laptop market has become more competitive. Lenovo is now facing off against attractive offers such as the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro 3k, Gigabyte P35Wv2, and the impossibly thin Razer Blade, all of which are situated well under $2,000.
Is Lenovo still the king of gaming on a budget? Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
The Lenovo Y50’s black compact chassis is an attractive sight complete with sharp cutting angles and smooth rounded corners. The Lenovo Y50’s brushed aluminum lid slants outward along its edges and remains flat in the center. Breaking away from the traditional vertical striation design seen on most Lenovo laptops, the Y50’s lid features a crisscross pattern. It’s a subtle change, but it does add a bit of flair to the gaming rig. To top it all off the Y50’s metallic “lenovo” lettering sits along the top left-hand corner of the display lid.
The top portion of the deck is outlined in a shiny black plastic, which serves to accentuate the red speaker grills located along top corners of the device. The rest of the deck is outfitted in a black plastic that’s soft to the touch, while the bottom portion of the chassis opts for a more traditional hard-coated black plastic.
Measuring in at 15.23” x 10.37” x 0.9” and weighing in at 5.4 pounds the Lenovo Y50 has considerably trimmed down compared to last year’s Y510p which weighed in at 6.4 pounds and measured 1.4” thick. However, in relation to competing devices like the 5.07 pound Gigabyte P35Wv2 (0.83”) and 4.2 pound MSI GS60 Ghost (0.78”), the Y50 is still somewhat cumbersome.
Unfortunately in favor of the slimmer design of the Y50 Lenovo has decided to ditch its VGA connector and the innovative swappable Ultrabay design. The Ultrabay offered a great deal of utility to users with ability to customize their machine adding an optical drive, a second HDD, an additional fan, or even a paired SLI-enabled GPU for more VRAM; significantly boosting the device’s performance.
While the Y50 may not be loaded with those extras, the device still manages to offer all the essentials. The left side of the laptop features an Ethernet connector, an HDMI connector, and two USB 3.0 ports. The right side of the offers a lock slot, a USB 2.0 port, a 4-in-1 card reader an audio/microphone combo jack, and an S/PDIF.
Screen and Speakers
The Lenovo Y50 features a 15.6” FHD (1920 x 1080) LED-backlit display. At roughly 210 nits, the screen is dimmer than most 15.6” screens on the market, and is severely outclassed by competing devices such as the MSI GS60 Ghost Pro; which offers an attractive 3k display at nearly 300 nits brightness.
The limited brightness also makes the viewing angles somewhat shallow. The Y50 fares best on the horizontal axis with images holding up past 90 degrees with minimal distortion. However, tilting the display forwards or backwards quickly causes a glossy sheen to cover the viewing surface and colors appear washed out. The same effect takes hold when the display is in direct or heavy lighting.
The Lenovo Y50 suffers similar issues in terms of color reproduction and accuracy. The notebook is sufficient for general use, but the display falls short compared to other gaming laptops. The screen’s shortcomings become more pronounced when playing games such as Borderlands 2, as the display is not capable of detailing the title’s vibrant color palette.
In truth, not much has changed compared to the visual experience on the Lenovo IdeaPad Y510p, but that’s the problem. Where other devices have drastically improved, implementing higher resolutions and contrast ratios, Lenovo has remained stagnant, making the Y50 feel (and look) behind the curve.
It’s worth noting that Lenovo does offer an Ultra HD (3840 x 2160) display variant, which only cost around $50 more than the standard configuration. We highly recommend users consider this variant as it offers sharper image quality with only a small increase in the overall cost.
The Lenovo Y50’s visuals may disappoint, but the device’s JBL speakers deliver. The laptop is capable of easily filling a modest size room with audio. More importantly, the sound quality is crisp and clean. We were particularly impressed by the device’s ability to accurately depict an orchestral piece’s high notes with pristine clarity. The Y50 also offers excellent sound immersion in-game, thanks to the laptop’s subwoofer, which provides solid steady bass augmenting every explosion and gunshot.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Lenovo Y50 houses an Island-style Chiclet keyboard complete with number pad. Similar to previous Y series laptops the keyboard features rounded edges and a thick-red LED Backlight at their base. The keys are smooth to the touch and slightly indented on the top, cupping to grip the user’s fingertips.
Key travel is generous enough, but the device’s feedback feels weak, especially when hitting keys in quick succession. The lack feedback can make the keyboard somewhat uncomfortable to use (especially while playing games), but it didn’t create any accuracy issues. Even while firing away at the keyboard while fending off the forces of evil in Diablo 3: Reapers of Souls, the device managed to accurately read each input without a misstep.
The generously sized touchpad sits below the spacebar and features a soft rubberized surface that allows for easy travel and provides ample grip. There are no mouse buttons so the bottom portions of the pad act as right and left mouse button commands respectively. The pad performs well accurately reading swipes, clicks, and multi-finger gestures with minimal delay.