Lenovo has always been a leader in chassis design and keyboard quality. Those factors have made the prospect of a high-end gaming notebook a very promising idea. Well, Lenovo has finally done it. That idea is now an Ideapad with the Lenovo Ideapad Y900.
The company has revamped the chassis from its Ideapad Y700, adding in a few welcomed additions, such as the padded wrist rest, along with beefed up specs. The only problem is that Lenovo is arriving a bit late to the party. Armed with a Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M, Lenovo has fallen behind the curve. Competitors are releasing devices equipped with Nvidia’s new line of Pascal VR-ready GPUs, which simply outperform the Y900 on every front.
There’s still a lot to like about the Lenovo Ideapad Y900, but is it enough to overcome last generation’s tech? Read the full review to find out.
Build and Design
Normally when I talk about a laptop the first thing I jump into is the aesthetic, but with the Y900 I feel compelled to first talk about the feel. Everything from the aluminum lid to the soft-touch deck and rubberized pad feels sturdy, durable, and most importantly comfortable. The wrist rest is heaven simply put. Note to Lenovo, incorporate this design feature in all of your future 17.3-inch desktop replacements.
While the feel of the Lenovo Ideapad is soft and relaxing the aesthetic is anything but. The Y-series has done away with it’s more understated look in favor of a more aggressive traditional gaming design. The lid features a black aluminum cross stitch pattern complete with two glossy black plastic ridges running towards the outer edges of the display. The same glossy finish is found on Lenovo lettering sitting at the top left corner, while a red plastic backlit draws your eye to the center of the lid. It’s technically the same general chassis design as the Y700, but these small changes create a more angular and sporty look.
Measuring 16.7 x 12.4 x 1.4-inches and weighing 9.8 pounds the Lenovo Y900 runs on the heavy side even for a desktop replacement. The MSI GT73VR Titan Pro and the Gigabyte P37X are lighter at 8.6 and 6.7 pounds respectively. However, considering that the Lenovo Y900 is housing a full-fledged mechanical keyboard, it’s not surprising that the desktop-replacement runs a bit on the husky side.
The Lenovo Ideapad Y900 offers an expansive array of ports that should meet most of your connectivity needs. The left side features a power connector, a DisplayPort, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet, a USB Type-C port, and two USB 3.0 ports. The right side of the device houses a Kensington lock-slot, two USB 2.0 ports, headphone and microphone jacks, and a 6-in-1 card reader. The Lenovo Y900 also ships with an external DVD burner that connects to the laptop via micro to USB dongle that also comes with the notebook.
Display and Speakers
The Lenovo Y900 features a 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) resolution anti-glare IPS display. The panel offers a solid brightness of 306 units and a clear crisp image. However, when playing Overwatch colors appeared to not be quite as distinctive as they normally are. Most colors appear a shade or two off with everything skewing a bit darker. The color shift didn’t really bother NBR, but it’s worth noting this is not the best panel if you’re looking for accurate color representation.
The display boasts flexible viewing angles with images holding up well past 90 degrees. Similar to the Asus ROG Strix, the display also utilizes Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, which utilizes proprietary software to sync the display’s refresh rate with the graphic card. Basically this all servers to create a technical frame cap that matches the panel’s refresh limit, to ensure that viewers get a clear consistent picture with minimal tearing and smooth playback.
The Lenovo Ideapad Y900’s JBL speakers offer some serious oomph. NBR was impressed as the laptop was able to fill a modest sized room easily with audio. While powerful, the speakers can easily become overwhelmed. While listening to the jousting acoustic guitar and violin in the orchestral track Histoire du Tango – Nightclub 1960 by Duos Sonidos, the Y900 struggled to accurately depict the sharper notes creating noticeable distortion at max volume.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Lenovo is typically known for having excellent keyboards, but the Y900 takes the cake. The backlit mechanical keyboard utilizes it’s own proprietary switches, but they felt somewhat similar to Cherry MX Blue switches, with a tactile clicky feedback. There’s a really nice audible pop when compressing the keys. NBR loves the sensation as it makes it really easy to get into groove once you get comfortable. The only thing that give users pause is the exceptionally deep key travel. At 3.1mm the Y900 is nearly a full millimeter deeper than most mechanical keyboards, add in the somewhat forceful 71 grams activation and you have a keyboard that can take a bit to get used to. However, it only took me a few days before I found myself quickly plugging away with speed, comfort, and accuracy. The switch over to a mechanical keyboard is a welcomed one and I hope Lenovo looks to expand this design feature into other models.
The Lenovo Y900 comes preloaded with two software packages that allow you to customize your keyboard, Lenovo Nerve Center, and Magic Y key. The former serves an all-purpose software package, allowing users to tune Lenovo’s Turbo Mode and change the RGB backlight key colors. Unfortunately, users can’t designate the individual color of every key, but there are designated zones that can be customized, with a number of preset options. Magic Y Key is your typical key customization software, allowing users to create macros and save them to profiles. While it’s great to have this functionality, NBR wishes that Lenovo packed Magic Y Key into nerve center. It would be easier for the user to be able to adjust RGB lighting and key inputs simultaneously.
Located to the bottom right of the space bar is a moderately sized buttonless touchpad. The rubber pad is outlined with a LED light strip. The soft smooth material allows for easy frictionless travel, affording a great deal of control and accuracy. Equipped with Synaptics drivers the touchpad reads swipes, clicks, and multi-finger gestures accurately with minimal delay.
The Lenovo Ideapad not be the most powerful notebook on the market, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking firepower. Equipped with a 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK, with 16GB of DDR4, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M GPU (with 8GB of GDDR5), two 256GB PCIe SSDs and a 1TB HDD the Y900 is still a powerful gaming PC. The only issue is that the device costs as much as a market-leading notebook at $2,500, but it’s missing market-leading graphics.
The lack of a Pascal GPU is the major downfall for this device. Nvidia’s newest line of graphics cards offers a huge jump in performance in addition to virtual reality compatibility. The Lenovo Y900 still performs well in the graphics department. Overwatchran great on the machine averaging 82fps on Ultra settings. The laptop did, however, struggle more with the Witcher 3: Wild Huntdropping as down to 37 fps.
Other than the older GPU, the Y900 is incredibly powerful. It can easily stand up to it’s peers when it comes to raw processing power or raw data speeds, as evident by the laptop’s strong benchmark scores.
Our Lenovo Idepad Y900 review unit had the following specifications:
- Windows 10 Home
- 17.3-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS display with G-Sync
- 2.7GHz Intel Core i7-6820HK
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M (8GB of GDDR5)
- 16GB of DDR4
- x2 256GB PCIe SSD
- 1TB HDD
- 802.11 n/a/ac
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dimensions: 16.7 x 12.4 x 1.4-inches
- Weight: 9.8 pounds
- Price: $2,500
wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performancein Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark Fire Strike is a newer benchmark measuring overall graphics card performancefor visually demanding games (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 measures the overall gaming performanceof the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performancetest (C left, D middle, E right):
Heat and Noise
The Lenovo Y900 is rather quiet during idle times, but when the notebook is taxed the fan quick ramps up creating a loud persistent hum. The loud dual fan cooling system does help to keep the machine cool though. Even after playing Overwatchfor 45 minutes the top of the deck was still relatively cool to the touch.
To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s 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 typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.
PowerMark Balanced battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better life):
For a sizable desktop replacement, the Lenovo Ideapad Y900 offers mediocre battery life. In our tests, the Y900 lasted for 2 hours and 56 minutes before shutting down. With our tests being a bit more strenuous than standard use you can likely expect upwards of 4 hours of battery life.
If Lenovo released the Ideapad Y900 last year, it would be an instant recommendation and most likely one our editorial choice’s. Unfortunately, the company was a bit late to the party, and it’s hard to recommend a laptop that costs a premium price without the latest tech.
Still, there’s a lot we love here. The Ideapad Y900 offers a great durable chassis complete with an angular stylish aesthetic. The mechanical keyboard is a great addition and g-sync monitor helps insure a steady quality picture while playing games.
However, at $2,500 you’re simply losing out on too much performance, with pascal GPUs on the market. Hopefully, Lenovo will continue to implement these design elements into other series because we absolutely loved most of what this device had to offer. While the Lenovo Ideapad Y900 is a bit too expensive right now. It be worth keeping your eye on this device in the future. The Y900 would certainly be worth considering if Lenovo issues a spec upgrade or if the price point drops below $2,000.
- Beautiful Design
- Mechanical Keyboard
- Loud Speakers
- G-Sync Display
- Lack of a Pascal GPU
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