Before buying a laptop or desktop, make sure you know the fundamentals of computer shopping and the numerous common mistakes people can make. Now, let’s see how the Lenovo Ideapad Y900 (17″) holds up as a high-end gaming laptop.
Lenovo Ideapad Y900 – Aesthetic
If the Ideapad Y700 looked like an alien spaceship, then the Ideapad Y900 looks like the alien mother ship. With a metallic shell, a glowing “Y” on the back, hard angles, some really wild lighting, and speakers and ventilation that look like they’d be at home on the tail end of a fighter jet, the Ideapad Y900 is very clearly targeting the gaming rig aesthetic.
For those who want a subtle style with power under the hood, this is the wrong place to be looking. The screen looks great, and the keyboard can be customized to fit anyone’s preference, but there’s no hiding what this computer is all about. There’s also no hiding this computer, as it’s huge.
The multi-color keyboard is one of the more dazzling aesthetic features, as users can easily set up a number of profiles with varying effects. Different zones can have different colors — some specific key groups (like WASD) can have their own colors so they’re easy to find, and the speakers and trackpad even have lighting.
One aesthetic drawback (unless looking like a gaming computer is a drawback), is the huge space between the front edge of the base and the start of the keyboard. It’s a huge stretch of empty space that looks bigger than it needs to, even though it’s surely housing a lot of vital hardware underneath.
Lenovo Ideapad Y900 – Build
The Ideapad Y900 has a lot of nice things going on in its construction. The base feels solid, as does the back casing with its metallic finish. The mechanical keyboard is satisfyingly clicky, if a bit noisy, but still has relatively short travel, so typing is quick and easy.
The touchpad isn’t solidly seated in its position and has a bit of downward travel anywhere you press. This gives it an unusual feel for a touchpad, and it was hard to get used to over the course of this review. The whole empty area around the touchpad presented another problem, as it made for a long reach to use the keyboard, making it hard to avoid resting my wrists/forearms on the front edge of the Ideapad.
Given its weight, the heat piping out of it when used for gaming, and the aforementioned wrist-resting issue, it’s hard to comfortably use this computer as an actual laptop. Even with a cooling pad, the Ideapad Y900 is a heavy machine to have on your lap for long stretches. It’s much easier to think of this computer as a gaming desktop that sacrifices customization for portability. As a laptop, it’s uncomfortable and actually difficult to travel with (my 35L backpack was ready to burst a seam when I tried fitting the Ideapad in, which was only possible in one arrangement). Adding to the bulk was the power brick, which was just a little smaller than an old VHS, but a good deal heavier.
The rubberized palm area is a nice touch and will be handy for anyone who gets sweaty hands while gaming. Lenovo cleverly added a nub like those typically found on the F and J keys of a keyboard onto the W key so gamers can quickly get their left hand into position. A dedicated game recording button, four customizable hotkeys, and conspicuous TURBO switch were a few other nice features to make things simpler for gamers.
Overall, it’s a quality build with some nice features and some comfort drawbacks stemming from its weight and size.
Lenovo Ideapad Y900 – Performance
At a high price and boasting the specs that the Ideapad Y900 does, it should be no surprise that this thing hauls. Starting up and waking up the device was always snappy — the SSD helped with that. The 16GB of zippy DDR4 memory and a powerful Core i7 processor kept most tasks from feeling slow in any way. Icing on the cake is the incredibly loud speaker system.
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M graphics chip is the centerpiece of the Ideapad Y900’s internals. While the 980M is indeed a generation old and there are gaming laptops with the GTX 10-series chips showing up on the market, for a 1080p gaming experience, the GTX 980M gets the job done.
I tested it out on Overwatch set to Epic and with all settings maxed out (V-Sync and Triple Buffering off, and Render Scale set to 100%). Interestingly, the game was only getting around 30-40 frames per second until I tried toggling TURBO. That almost instantly kicked the game up to a consistent 80-90FPS. Strangely, the TURBO switch doesn’t seem to toggle off, as sliding it again didn’t result in any performance drop.
Since the Ideapad Y900 had no trouble there, I bumped up the stress test by raising the Render Scale to 150%. This brought the frame rate down to between 40 and 50FPS. This suggests that using the Ideapad Y900 to output to an external 1440p screen would be a viable option with relatively smooth gameplay. For anyone hoping for a good 4K experience in the latest games, that’s where things sour. At a Render Scale of 200%, effectively running the game at 4K, Overwatch dropped to around 20FPS.
Lenovo Ideapad Y900 – Worth it?
At $2499, the Ideapad Y900 doesn’t start cheap. This isn’t the computer for just anyone. For one, its size doesn’t not make it a very good portable option. Packing it and schlepping it around are no easy tasks. Being a laptop, it also doesn’t make for a very good customizable option. So, who’s it good for? Someone who travels a bit and wants to have one device that’s ready for work and play wherever they go, but doesn’t plan to do that work or play out at cafes. There are other computers on the market that are comparable to the Ideapad Y900 that are cheaper, so this may be more for fans of Lenovo, its design, and its quality standards. For most people, this won’t be a great purchase, though it is an impressively built computer.
Full Lenovo Ideapad Y900 product specifications as reviewed:
- Intel Core i7-6820HK @2.7GHz
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 980M 8GB
- 16GB DDR4 2133MHz RAM
- 1TB 5400RPM HDD, 256GB NVMe SSD
- 17.3″ LED IPS AntiGlare 1920×1080 display
- Front-facing camera
- Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1535 Wireless Network Adapter, Ethernet
- Bluetooth 4.1
- 6 Cell 90 Watt Hour Li-Polymer
- Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- USB disc drive
- HDMI and DisplayPort output
- Multi-color backlit Razer mechanical keyboard
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