A HUGE thank you to Lenovo for sending us this laptop to review.
For those that don’t like reading, here’s a quick rundown of the PROS and CONS:
- Sleek, Solid Design.
- Bright, Colourful Screen with Wide Viewing Angles.
- Loud JBL Speakers.
- Powerful Insides with i7 Processor and NVIDIA 960m graphics.
- SSD Make Things Very Swift.
- Great Value.
- Very Good Typing Experience.
- Above Average Battery Life.
- Speakers sound a tad “Hollow” and aren’t as “Crisp.”
- HEAVY at almost 8lbs.
- Touchpad is Quite Underwhelming.
- Fingerprint Magnet.
- No 970m or 980m Options for Further Graphical Power.
- A Good Amount of Bloatware.
A Bit About The Reviewer
Before I start this review, I felt that you the reader should know the type of user I am. Many reviewers tend to review a product and bash certain aspects of the product from their personal experience as a very specific user; who’s certain thoughts may not reflect the thoughts on the vast majority of users reading/watching the review. For example a professional photographer complaining about the laptop screens’ colour accuracy may not affect many users. It doesn’t for me. Heck I doubt I even know more than 27 colours in total. Before yesterday, I thought fuchsia was the name of some exotic fruit in Indonesia. But anyway, let’s get on with the question, what type of a user am I? And why you should/should not consider purchasing the Lenovo Y700.
Most of you clicking this article already know what the Lenovo Y700 is, and those of you can skip this and scroll down to all the juicy specs and performance jargon you came here for. But for those that don’t know much about this laptop and want to know if this may be the laptop for you for college or otherwise, stick around to see if your needs match mine and if this laptop would be a good fit.
I’m a gamer, a writer, and an overall consumptionist (Word is telling me that that’s not a word, but screw it, it is now). Meaning that I love watching videos on YouTube/Netflix, updating social media, reading articles, having a bunch of tabs open on Chrome with an array of media heavy websites, and so on. I’m also an actor and an amateur filmmaker; and so will use PhotoShop and Premier every few months or so for a project. But let’s step back for a second and go back to my first point – being a gamer. My entire life has been gaming on consoles. I have all the admiration towards PC gaming, but never got around to it because of the lack of knowledge, and more importantly, the steep entry fee. However, the idea of having a portable gaming machine is something that has always intrigued me. For the better part of a year I had been looking for an “all in one” machine. A machine that could be my companion in all my needs; both “casual” and “hardcore.” I wanted to look into gaming laptops, but found that many of them were far too bulky, ugly, and weighed more than your average American. And the ones I found that were sleek and sexy, yet didn’t cut corners on performance, would vanquish my savings account. So being the greedy consumer I am, I wanted something that would give me everything from power, to portability, to value. So when Lenovo agreed to send me their latest Y700 17 Inch Gaming Laptop to test it out for the past month, I was eager to get my hands on it, as I thought that this product would be the one to tick all my boxes (that sounds dirtier than it should). A sleek, sexy, 17 inch gaming laptop that’s under $1,400? Sounds too good to be true.
THE FUN STUFF (Performance/Gaming/Video Editing/Writing/Everything Else)
Here’s a quick rundown of the specs for the unit I was given:
– Intel Core i7 6700HQ (2.60GHz – 1600MHz 6MB)
– 17.3” FHD (1920×1080) IPS AntiGlare Screen
– NVIDIA GeForce GTX 960M 4GB
– 16GB PC4 DDR4 RAM
– 1TB (5400 RPM) + 128 SSD
o $1,399.99 USD
Clearly this laptop packs a pretty big punch for the price point. I would have liked to see a 970m, or even a 965m for an even higher graphical boost (Lenovo doesn’t offer an upgraded graphics card on even the highest end model); but with that price for a 17” I really am not going to complain. But specs are one thing, how does it actually perform? Well, pretty damn flawlessly to be honest. With Windows and other core applications being installed on that 128 GB SSD, the laptop springs open at start-up, and there was no real lag to be noticed while opening multiple applications like Word, Chrome, Edge, and so on at once. Switching between applications, split view, and all other basic functions work perfectly fine. Watching two YouTube videos, plugging them into the two top corners of the screen while I have Word and Chrome with multiple tabs open on the bottom two, still was not enough to even kick start the fan and deemed a cakewalk for the Y700. Clearly this is the stuff that you know will work, especially given that SSD, which in all honesty, is like a Godsend on any PC. And of course, the plethora of RAM shoved into this machine doesn’t hurt either. So let’s get into the real test: Gaming
So I wanted to do gaming tests with 3 different types of games. Intensive, Semi-Intensive, and Casual. So for the Casual game, I chose to download and play developer Psyonix’ hit multiplayer game, Rocket League. Now I chose this game because even though it’s considered a “Casual” game, it’s not the most graphically casual. But regardless, the 960m combined with that i7 Skylake processor busted out the highest frames, in Ultra settings. Playing at full 1080p with all the bells and whistles turned on, I was able to achieve a consistent 50-60fps with not problems whatsoever. Moving on, my Semi-Intensive game I chose to play was Mass Effect 3. Yes, yes, I know that this game is older than Rocket League, but again, graphically speaking, it does require more power. I went ahead and put everything on 1080p with all the textures, shadows, etc. On Ultra Settings. ME3 starts off with a pretty big bang, with explosions and enemies flooding the screen. But the Y700 didn’t seem to have any problems running the game at a buttery smooth framerate. However, there were a couple times where when things got exceptionally intense during battle, with gunshots, explosions, particles, and smoke really taking over was there a slight dip in frames. But even so, I didn’t notice it go below 40, maybe at lowest 35 frames; and that was only for a fraction of a second.
Finally, for my final test, I decided to go and play a game that I never played before, Far Cry 4. Now again, I realize that this game is almost 2 years old. But anybody who’s even tried to run this game on their desktop, would know that once you set it to 1080p, and Ultra settings, the game will put your hardware through its paces. And so finally, I was able to see some decent chugging when everything was set to Ultra. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re like me and don’t care for high framerates, and don’t mind slight dips here and there, just as long as the game is playable, you’ll be fine. The game hovers around the 30fps mark once set to Ultra, and may dip slightly below that once things start getting heavy. I eventually turned the bells and whistles to “High” and some to even “Medium” while retaining the 1080p resolution, to keep a much more stable 30fps; which for me, is perfectly fine, because it still looked damn pretty on the Y700’s IPS screen.
So gaming performance is definitely impressive. Sure you may not be able to play something like Quantum Break or upcoming games at 1080p, or even 900p moving forward. But the 960m should serve your gaming needs for the years to come, as long as you’re willing to turn down the settings to match your desired FPS, which if you’re not too demanding about, you will find much more longevity in your gaming experience.
Lastly, I had to film and edit a couple short films for my girlfriend’s acting reels, and so needed to do some decently intense Video Editing on Premier. Again, I wasn’t doing anything crazy like 4K, or using After Effects and so on. Just basic video and audio cuts, transitions, minor colour correction, etc. And again, the Y700 had no issues while processing and rendering.
THE LOOKS (Build Quality/Size)
Moving on, this laptop is one helluva looker. Though it still sports that classic “gamer” heavy black and red colour tones, the overall build is much less aggressive and streamlined, resulting in a very attractive design. The most notable element to the design of this laptop is its thickness, which comes in at just over an inch; which is something you don’t see in gaming laptops, especially 17” variants. The hood and bottom are made of a brushed aluminum texture, which looks great, but are magnets to fingerprints. When opening it up, you’ll notice that the hand rest has a matte-like texture, which provides a solid grip for your palms while typing. Another thing you’ll notice is that there’s a gap between the screen and keyboard on both sides of the screen. It’s quite a distinct design choice that looks nice, but does result in the bottom edges of the screen being quite sharp to the touch. Now, being a sleek laptop does result in a couple things. For one, there’s no optical drive (and honestly, you really shouldn’t be using an optical drive in 2016 anyway). And two, a lighter weight. Which, you would expect from such a thin laptop, even though it’s a 17” laptop. However, you’ll be surprised to hear that this thing is H-E-A-V-Y. Coming in at almost 8 pounds, expect your shoulder to fall off after carrying this overweight beast after an entire day.
Moving on, when opening up the laptop you’ll also notice those distinct red JBL speakers that take over both the face and back of the laptop. The speakers on the back are also joined by the generously large fan of the Y700, which has a “grill” like design, accenting the subtle aggressive look of this machine. Flipping this beast over and you’ll see a distinct red circle, which is actually the subwoofer that joins the main speakers. The subwoofers add a decent amount of bass, but it’s really nothing all that special.
THE MAIN STUFF (Screen, Keyboard, Touchpad)
The Y700 sports a FHD IPS display coming in at a – as the name suggests – 1920×1080 resolution. It’s a bright, colourful display with pretty decent viewing angles. I’ve even taken this big boy outside in the park and tried testing it out under some bright sunlight, and was pleasantly surprised. The screen did a good job in tuning out glare, and moreover, was bright enough for me to work.
Coming from a Macbook, the two areas I was wary of were the Keyboard and Touchpad. The former on the Y700 really took be aback as I was surprised as to how good the keyboard was. I was more than happy typing on the Lenovo Y700’s keyboard. The surface had very little flex, the keys were quite “springy”, and each key had a very smooth, yet curved surface, which made typing a breeze. In some ways, it was an even better experience than my Macbook, which is seriously saying a lot. A couple of drawbacks are that the keyboard only has a couple of backlight brightness options (which is in the traditional red colouring as we are used to in gaming laptops). And the biggest drawback, and borderline annoyance, is that there are no function keys on this keyboard. Seriously?! You give me a 17 inch laptop and give no function keys? So if you wanted to increase the volume, you’d have to press and hold the Function key, then press the left arrow key. WHY? But aside from that, the keyboard is pretty damn great.
The touchpad, however, does not get the same praise. The surface felt too slippery, many times I felt my touches were simply not registering, and the overall build quality in no way felt like it belonged to a premium device. All I can say is that I’m so glad I had a wireless mouse hanging around.
THE OTHER STUFF (Ports, Battery Life)
The Y700 comes with a decent number of ports. More specifically:
– 2x USB 3.0
– 1x USB 2.0
– Kensington Lock
– SD Card Reader
– Combo Headphone/Microphone Jack
The laptops charger is also one that’s quite interesting. At first glance, you’ll think it’s a standard USB, but then realize it’s a reversible charger. Reversible meaning that there’s no specific way to put it in the slot, you can insert it any way you want (*wink). Speaking of charging, let’s talk about battery life. This is another aspect of this laptop I felt I knew what I was going to get, but was wrong about. I was expecting ~3-4 hours of battery life during your average word processing and web surfing, with some occasional YouTube. To my surprise I went from 100% to 2% in a very admirable 6 hours and 02 minutes. And that was at 40% brightness and power saver turned on after %20, with word processing, web surfing, and a good amount of YouTube on Microsoft’s Edge browser. It may still be considered average by many consumers, but for a 17” gaming laptop such as this, I was expecting much less. Gaming while on battery, however, is a completely different story. While playing Far Cry 4, I only got about 51 minutes before I had to run to an outlet. Of course if you’re playing something much less intensive, you may be able to double that time, but still, I wouldn’t suggest playing anything while on battery on this thing.
The Lenovo Y700 is a great laptop. The build quality is sleek, solid, and sexy. The screen is beautiful, and the keyboard is surprisingly very nice to type on. The model we received packs a solid punch, though it would have been nice to have options for a better graphics card. You’ll be able to play a good number of games on it, but don’t expect to be playing current and future games at even 900p, let alone 1080p. And the base models cut the RAM in half, which is fine, but also take away that much needed 128GB of SSD. Battery life is solid with everyday tasks, and the much advertised speakers are very loud, which is something you miss from a laptop; though the overall quality of sound may be questionable, as personally I did not find it to be very “crisp.” The touchpad leaves much to be desired, though with a laptop like this, I’m sure many will be ending up using a mouse anyway. The biggest drawback for me is the weight. Don’t get me wrong, I know that with a 17 inch laptop I can’t expect to have it be something that I lug around everywhere. But still, with such a streamlined design, I was expecting it to be even just a pound lighter. Furthermore, Lenovo packs in a decent amount of bloatware that is a bit of an annoyance to go through and clean up. And overall, Windows 10 still has some performance quirks and hitches that still need to be ironed out, alongside a much needed security upgrade; but those aren’t Lenovo’s fault. Lastly, I’ll say this: If you’re a student or even just someone looking to get a new laptop, and want both a 17 inch screen, and a good amount of performance to boot, at an affordable price; I really doubt you’ll be able to find anything better than this Y700. But if you don’t care for a 17 inch screen and don’t mind going smaller, then there is a 15” variant of the Y700, which offers similar specs and starts at just under $1,000. However, in that instance you may want to keep doing your research as other companies may offer better deals on their 15” gaming laptops. That’s not to say that the 15” is any less worth it than it’s bigger 17” brother, but because there is a bigger market for 15” gaming laptops, there are simply much more out there that may offer similar, if not better, specs for the same, if not less price. The weight and touchpad are the two main elements that are keeping me from dishing out my credit card to take the plunge and buying this 17” beauty. For now, I think I’ll stick to less intensive games, and emulators with my current companion, The Surface Pro 4.