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Hands on with the Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70 gaming laptop

lenovo laptop y50It’s tricky to get a decent amount of time with a laptop at IFA but, as I’m a new fan of Lenovo (I’m actually tapping this out on my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro), I thought I’d give the IdeaPad Y50 the once over as I found the base model on an e-tailer’s stand .

During my brief encounter with the Lenovo IdeaPad Y50 I was initially drawn to it by the red and black (the gamer’s colour-set du jour) colourway with the red keyboard lighting and red highlights in the speaker grilles.

Then, I noticed the NVIDIA sticker proudly boasting that this laptop was packing the GXT860 graphics card. This all looked promising indeed.

Design

Having a quick tour around the case it looked more gamey than business – it certainly doesn’t look like I would picture in my mind if someone told me to imagine a Lenovo IdeaPad. Dare I say that it has a touch of the Alienware 14 about it?

lenovo y50 backThe Lenovo Y50 weighs in at 5.29 pounds and only measures 0.94-inches thin so this is a far cry from my old 2008 Novatec gaming laptop.

Both the laptop lid and underside are fitted with brushed aluminium panels which are picked out with a cross-hatched pattern. I’m digging this neat little touch as it certainly makes the Y50 stand out from every other machine out there decked out with the horizontally brushed look.

lenovo y50 speakers ifa2014Flip open the lid and you’re faced with glossy black plastic around the screen bezel and the small space above the keyboard which houses those red, flaring JBL speakers. The accompanying woofer is on the underside of the Lenny lappy.

As mentioned before, red also features in the backlight of the AccuType, island-style keyboard – which, like the one on this Yoga 2 Pro, is mighty fine. The Y50 also shares the rubber finish on the keyboard deck and wrist pads with the Yoga, so you get a soft touch surface that’s easy on your wrists during extended typing and gaming sessions.

Specifications

The Y50 comes loaded with an Intel Core i7 – 4700HQ 2.4Hz processor. This quad core chip is mated with 16GB of RAM and that NVIDIA GeForce GTX860M 4GB graphics processing unit (GPU).

Storage is taken care of by a 1TB spinner which is helped along by an 8GB SSD (Solid State Drive) cache. The 15.6-inch LED screen pushes out a Full HD resolution of 1920 x 1080. More about the screen later.

There is a 4K version of the Y50 which chucks out 3840 x 2160 from its Ultra HD panel. It also gets a boost of a 512GB SSD. Other than that, the spec remains the same.

The Y50’s spec list is far from embarrassing but not bleeding edge either. The previous iteration of this laptop was equipped with an Ultrabay (a swappable drive bay) and now that’s gone there’s plenty of room for a big and beefy GPU – the thing is, the GTX860M is the only one on offer with this portable puter. If you fancied tinkering I’m sure you might be able slip in another one and run them in SLI, or just shove in a more potent single GPU.

As it stands, most games should be playable as long as you’re not expecting to delve in to the realms of gaming in ultra settings. There may well be issues playing the latest and more demanding titles but, as I’ve not had the opportunity to test it out, I can’t say for sure which games will stress the Y50 to the point of being unplayable.

On the multitasking side of things, the 16GB RAM, Core i7 chip and the 4GB GPU should be able to cope with photo editing whilst streaming tunes and checking your socials at the same time with no problem.

Screen test

This is where I was slightly disappointed. My Yoga 2 Pro is fitted with a Quad HD screen (3200 x 1800) which is darn fine. The Y50, on the other hand, is palmed off with the 1920 x 1080 display which fails to excite. The colours are subdued and lack depth.

lenovo ideapad y50 ifa2014Even though it will undoubtedly handle photo editing, I would be careful about retouching pictures as the colour reproduction seemed to be a bit off. This could have all been down to the bright lights of the IFA hall but my Yoga seemed not to be as affected if this was the case.

Conclusion

I will start be restating that I did not have this laptop for any meaningful length of time and the conditions were a little… unrealistic. I am unable to comment about how it performs with games, but I can give a guesstimate using the hardware knowledge I have.

Also, as far as battery life goes – we will just have to take Lenovo’s word for it that it can last for 5 hours when web browsing using WiFi.

The spec is reasonable for the £999 asking price, if it wasn’t for that lack-luster panel. Another £100 will get you the UHD IPS LED display (this version is showing as being sold out currently) or, if you can stump up £1,399 for those improved (I’m guessing) visuals and a 512GB SSD then it might be worthwhile.

But, then you’ll be in Gigabyte, MSI and even Alienware 17 territory.

I would love to get the chance to properly test and review this, or the higher end, model in order to do it proper justice.

Have you tested one or the other of these Lenovos? What did you think of them?

Lenovo IdeaPad Y50 specs at a glance:
 CPU: 2.4GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ (quad-core, 6MB cache, up to 3.4GHz with Turbo Boost)
 Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M (4GB GDDR5 RAM); Intel HD Graphics 4600
 RAM: 16GB DDR3L (2x 8GB, 1,600MHz)
 Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 FHD, LED anti-glare backlight
 Storage: 1TB HDD (5,400 rpm with an 8GB SSD cache)
 Ports: 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, combination mic/headphone jack, HDMI, 4-in-1 card reader, Ethernet, SPDIF
 Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160, Bluetooth 4.0
 Camera: 720p HD webcam
 Weight: 5.29 pounds
 Size: 15.23 x 10.37 x 0.9 inches (W x D x H)

Hands on with the Lenovo IdeaPad Y50-70 gaming laptop

by Jay Garrett time to read: 4 min
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