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 Y700 (15″) holds up as a mid-level gaming laptop.
Lenovo Ideapad Y700 – Unboxing
Lenovo Ideapad Y700 – Aesthetic
Pulling the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 out of the box felt almost like finding a piece of alien machinery. While it’s certainly not one of Dell’s Alienware PCs, it doesn’t feel like a too-distant relative, especially given its main purpose.
The combination of black as a base color and red accents all around (odd given that it’s powered by NVIDIA hardware, which is decidedly green) gives it a clear gaming look. The speakers at the back of the computer look like they may well be jet thrusters, and the aerodynamic design at the front gives the impression that this laptop is ready to fly.
Red back-lighting for the keyboard is handy for dark environments and keeps the color scheme extremely consistent. It almost comes as a surprise that the screen displays colors other than red and black. For any purpose other than gaming, the Ideapad Y700 might come across as a bit gaudy. And one downside to the appearance is how much of the display portion is bezel — this is easy to see past after a few minutes of using the laptop though. A second downside results from all the black surfaces on the computer, which visibly show grease after use.
Lenovo Ideapad Y700 – Build
When the laptop is closed, the construction feels solid. The monitor didn’t feel like an empty shell, and nothing felt flimsy. Getting a grip on the lid to open the Ideapad was a bit tricky, as the hinge held pretty tight and the lip of the display wasn’t easy to grab. Fortunately, the weight of the base held it down so that trying to open the screen didn’t just flip the whole computer over. Once the display is open, it has a bit of wiggle to it, which will be noticeable if you’re using it on an unstable surface like your lap or a wobbly table. It will also have a bit of recoil if you use the touchscreen on a touchscreen version.
The keyboard wasn’t the greatest. The area below the keyboard is on the large size, making it a bit of a reach to use they keyboard, so it can get a bit painful on the wrist. The keys themselves also have a bit of wiggle to them. The left control key in particular became a problem when it would feel depressed but not actually be — I didn’t experience this issue on any other larger or smaller keys, so this may be a one-off problem. That said, it wasn’t a bad keyboard. It didn’t feel cramped, so it was ready for longer gaming sessions.
The trackpad was large and felt solid, though it’s nothing to write home about. For work and browsing, it gets the job done. And for gaming, you’ll want to be using a proper mouse.
Two high-speed USB ports, a third USB 2.0 port, an HDMI port, and a headphone jack meet the standard expectations of a modern laptop. Appealing to gamers, the laptop also includes an ethernet port for the fast and stable connection required in online games. An SD card slot is also available for people who might take advantage of the machine’s power for photo or video editing. Since the laptop can be pricey, the inclusion of a lock slot is very welcome.
Since the Ideapad Y700 has a lot of meat in it, it’s not surprisingly heavy. You’re going to feel it in a backpack or messenger bag, and you’re going to feel the power brick as well.
Lenovo Ideapad Y700 – Performance
The model I reviewed was about as specced out as the Ideapad Y700 can come, with a speedy quad-core, 16GB of RAM, and both an SSD and HDD. Booting Windows was a breeze, as was running apps off the SSD. The size of the SSD wasn’t enough to store a whole game library though, leaving the 1TB HDD as the likely place to install games, and at 5400RPM, it’s not the fastest option for loading games.
In any case, the Ideapad Y700 did an admirable job gaming (and didn’t get too hot while doing it). It’s no beast, but if you just want to get in the action, it will likely get the job done. I tested it out in Overwatch, Battlefield 4, and Rainbow Six Siege to see how it handled the competitive shooter environment, and ran it at various quality settings. For Overwatch and Battlefield 4, I was able to run the games at high frame rates without having to sacrifice much on the quality front (high settings and 40-60fps, usually on the higher side). However, Overwatch is playable even on some non-gaming computers, and Battlefield 4 is a bit long in the tooth. To play Rainbow Six Siege with the high frame rates needed to be competitive, visual quality came down a ways, showing the limits of the NVIDIA GTX 960m graphics processor. For the latest AAA games, don’t expect to run at the highest settings and still see 60fps. (See the below videos for a detailed look at gaming performance.)
When you are gaming, plan on being near a power outlet. With the computer set to High Performance mode, a dozen Chrome tabs open, the screen at 70% brightness, and the battery fully charged, I was able to play Overwatch online for 25 minutes before the battery was drained down to 34%. You won’t be getting in long play sessions on the battery. On the flip side, non-gaming activities show more promise. Running the computer on Balanced mode, with a dozen tabs open in Chrome, and the screen at 100% brightness, I was able to stream video for three hours straight and leave with 23% battery still remaining.
The Ideapad Y700 does a pretty great job for media consumption as well. The built-in speakers pack a punch — even the bass. I’ve run into plenty of laptops with speakers that I couldn’t hear over the sound of myself thinking, but the Y700’s speakers are almost ready to contend with a roommate running a vacuum cleaner.
All in all, there’s little to be dissatisfied with on the performance front. But we’re still left with one important question.
Lenovo Ideapad Y700 – Worth it?
The model of Ideapad Y700 that I reviewed cost just around $999 at the time of writing. It’s no small price to pay for a laptop, though you are getting a lot for the money. For a casual gamer that’s not too concerned with always having the highest settings and much more than 30fps, this might be the right computer. A slightly lower-end model can be had for around $800. Anyone just looking for a media consumption and light workload laptop can probably find something that does the same job in a smaller, lighter, and cheaper box. For the serious and die-hard gamers out there, this probably isn’t going to be the machine for you.
With the next generation of NVIDIA graphics processors hitting the market and finding their way into laptops without the significant downgrade they’d usually get, we’re going to be seeing a lot of powerful gaming laptops available soon. In other words, now is not the time to invest heavily in a gaming laptop running older hardware. If you want a serious gaming laptop, hold your horses for a few months and then see what the market has to offer. At that point, you may be able to get the Ideapad Y700 at a lower price, or perhaps Lenovo will have a new model featuring NVIDIA’s 10-series GPUs.
Full Lenovo Ideapad Y700 product specifications as reviewed:
- Intel Core i7-6700HQ @2.6GHz (Intel HD Graphics 530) –
- NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB
- 16GB DDR4 2133MHz RAM –
- 1TB 5400RPM HDD, 128GB SSD +–
- 15.6″ IPS 1920×1080 touch input
- 1 Megapixel front-facing camera
- 802.11ac Wireless and Bluetooth 4.0 –
- 4 Cell 60 Watt Hour Li-Polymer
- Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- No disk drive +
(“–” indicates that lower-end components are available in other configurations. “+” indicates that higher-end components are available in other configurations.)