Lenovo Legion Y720 laptop review (GTX 1060 6GB, I7-7700HQ)

Very good performance/price ratio for a $1000-$1100 gaming laptop, along with good feature-set (connection ports selection, ok speakers and keyboard)

Very good performance/price ratio, with GTX 1060 + I7 combination for $1000-$1050
High contrast IPS display (but dull colors and low maximal brightness)
Speakers can produce pleasant sound after sound balancing, especially strong mids and highs
Good connection selection: mDP, HDMI 2.0, Thunderbolt 3
Good, simple looks with metallic finish

Lower quality IPS (dull colors) and disappointing thermal handling.

Lower quality IPS display, low color coverage, low maximal brightness (but relatively high contrast)
M.2 is an "M" key NVMe only slot (or, maybe, has a model whitelisting)
Thermals handling isn't great. High CPU temps under high load, plus throttling (at least at Prime95 + Furmark). Keyboard surface gets rather warm
Basic, cheaper version comes only with a 5400RPM HDD
Removing the bottom cover isn't easy
Wifi problem under high CPU load
No GSync
No Card Reader (external needed)
Battery performance is sufficient for around 4-4.5 hours of normal browsing use
Keyboard isn't bad, but could have better feedback and resistance
Relatively high load at ~3.1kg
Good sound overall, but a bit boxy and has some unclear echo effect.

Introduction

Lenovo Y720

The Lenovo Legion Y720 is Lenovos’ latest midrange gaming laptop equipped with a GTX 1060 6GB, right below the Y920 (GTX 1070) and above the Y520 (GTX 1050/Ti). This model is interesting mostly because of the pricing of the basic I7 version (8GB RAM, 1TB 5400RPM HDD). At ~$1000 (pre Tax), the Y720 is relatively cheap, as other GTX 1060 laptops usually sell for $150-$200 more (not all though). It’s worth noting that the cheaper version comes with a 1TB 5400RPM HDD and 8GB RAM only, no SSD, and you’ll probably want to upgrade both. However, I guess we’ll see this machine discounted from time to time.

The Y720 belongs to a series of new lower price, high performance gaming laptops, which are relatively dull in features (like having a lower quality IPS, and lack of connection ports), along the Acer Predator Helios 300 and the Clevo N850HP6.

The Y720 has one notable feature others for the same price doesn’t have – a Thunderbolt 3 port. It also has a mDP and HDMI 2.0 ports. Along with the lower price, the Y720 is an interesting option, even compared to the Acer Predator Helios 300. The bulk and weight hint its good thermal performance, but is it really so? let’s see!

ComponentDescription
Model NamesLenovo Legion Y720
PriceBasic version: $990 (I5), $1030 (I7)
As Configured: $1030 (before tax)
CPUIntel Kaby lake I5-7700HQ, 2.8-3.8GHZ, 4c/8t, 8MB cache, 45W Max TDP
MotherboardLENOVO Provence-75I / Intel HM175 (Skylake PCH-H)
4xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x4, 1xPCI Express x16
GPUNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 6GB (GP106, Rev A1) GDDR5, 1280 shaders core@1405-1671MHZ, GDDR5@2GHZ (8.0GHZ effective), 128bit bus
RAMAs tested: 2 x 8GB 2133MHZ DDR4 (original: 1x8GB 2400MHZ)
2 slots total, 32GB max ram
StorageHDD : 1TB WDC WD10SPCX-24HWST1 5400RPM
SSD : none
M.2 : 1xM.2 NVMe PCIe x4
2.5": 1xSATA III

LCD PanelIn review: 1080p 15.6", BOE CQ NV156FHM-N42, IPS, 60HZ, 30-pin eDP, 45% NTSC rating
Weight / Dimensions~3.2kg / 7.05 lbs, PSU ~0.7kg
380 x 277 x 29 mm
14.96" x 10.9" x 1.14"
(w x d x h)
KeyboardMulticolor backlit, settings by block (no individual key colors), on/off. Could be unlocked maybe?
Connection Portsright side: reset hole, HDMI 2.0, 2 x USB 3.0, mDP, Thunderbolt 3, line-in
Left: Kensington Lock, power in, RJ-45, USB 3.0, headphones/mic jack
*No card reader*
Camera720p@30FPS camera
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Intel 8265 Tri-Band WiFi (Oak Peak) Network Adapter
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Speakers2.0 speakers + subwoofer
Battery4 cell, 60Wh
Bios / EC version (test unit)V1.25 4GCN25WW /
Extra featuresEmbedded TPM 2.0
more details

Build quality, Case, design and looks

The build quality of the Y720 left mixed impressions on me. Both the bottom and upper plates are relatively firm and can protect against direct pressure. I think the screen is relatively protected against accidental direct pressure. The keyboard surface doesn’t yield easily, which is good. It also seems like the Y720 has a nice finish to it and nice metallic looks. However, the base unit as well as the display unit cases can be easily twisted. The hinges too. That’s a common issue (in my opinion) with almost all the gaming laptops I’ve tested, including more expensive laptops

Looks

The Y720 got nice solid looks with some darker red colors for the rear ventilation and speakers grills. The screen’s outer lid has a metallic finish with some gentle stripes pattern, which looks stylish but simple. The “Legion” logo doesn’t leave any room for mistakes – you’re going crusading with the gaming laptop.

Maintenance and inner parts

Opening the Y720 bottom cover wasn’t that easy. After removing the screws, you might find it hard to remove the bottom plate, feeling that it’s a bit tangled inside there. When I opened it – and I tried to be gentle – I heard some crack sounds. You’ll see the m.2 NVMe slot besides the 2.5″ bay. I couldn’t make any non-NVMe SSD work with it. I’m not sure if it’s a white/blacklisting of models or that the slot is compatible only with PCIe SSDs, but I think it’s not whitelisting. If you’ll look closer, you’ll see that the M.2 slot is an “M” key only which is not compatible with SATA. The Intel 600p worked, the Samsung 850 EVO didn’t, so be aware that if you want to use some SATA M.2 SSD, it won’t work probably.

The connection ports selection is pretty good, including a Thunderbolt 3 port (USB Type-C form), mDP, HDMI 2.0, 3xUSB 3.0. The thunderbolt 3 can be used as a hub for many other connection, if needed.

Lenovo Legion Y720 motherboard
The soldered CPU and GPU share one heatpipe and two fans. The CPU dedicated heatpipe is rather small. Cool air is sipped from the bottom and thrown out through the rear.

Keyboard and touchpad

Keyboard. The keyboard is generally comfortable, but it’s a high quality keyboard. Good: key spacing, stroke response, good enough travel depth, even feeling across the keys and form keyboard surface. Also, configurable color blocks. Bad: Feedback and resistance could be higher to give a better sense of typing and allow faster and more precise typing (= less finger pains). Important to say, again, that it’s not that different from many other keyboard in gaming laptops. Anyway, the keyboard felt rather good and I enjoyed using it.

Touchpad. The touchpad was relatively responsive and large enough. That’s an average touchpad implemented well. The two buttons are integrated under the surface.

Sound & Speakers

A little disappointed, but can be fixed and still good. The Y720 is a successor in a long line of Ys. From the Lenovo Y560 and up until recent models, the Y 15.6″ midrange gaming laptops offered a relatively good experience with their JBL speakers. The Y720 adds to a bottom subwoofer to the 2x2W JBL speakers which are located above the keyboard, facing upwards.

When I first listened to some music, I was a little surprised. There was distortion, and “scratches” and obviously the sound was balanced either. One cause was the Dolby software which in many cases craps the sound (Dolby “Amos” in this case). Turning it off improved the experience considerably and you should do that right away, but it wasn’t enough. Using “personalize” tab on the software, balancing the sound was needed and especially reducing the low levels by a lot – screenshot attached.  I think that the subwoofer quality is another issue, and it can’t be separated easily from the 2 satellites and I feel it’s not as good as them, but with help of the equalizer, it sounded better. Also, seems like after using the speakers for some time, they got a little better, but I’m not sure.

Now, the sound quality after fixing what I could (as a basic level user), the sound wasn’t bad at all,especially the mids and highs, produced by the satellites, with the subwoofer providing some subtle lows. I felt that no matter what I did, there was some kind of low echo invading the music – I wish the satellites could be clearer. Also, the satellites sound was also a little boxy. Anyway, the satellites felt good, with sound depth and richness, and good response to changes, also producing gentler, low volume sounds.

The maximal volume is rather low, I found myself setting volume to 100% often.

Bottom line, the sound can be tweaked to be pleasant, but lows are a problem. Good satellite speakers, but produce some inclarity (maybe because of the housing), subwoofer that needs to be tamed, bad Dolby Atmos software and unbalanced sound that can be fixed via equalizer of your choice.

General subjective performance experience

The 5400RPM HDD is pretty basic HDD, but my personal experience was that it’s not as bad as others. Anyway, I would invest some more money at some point for a nice SSD.

 

Gaming Performance

Test Methods & Drivers

OS: Windows 10, version 1703

Drivers: 382.53

Synthetic 3D benchmarks

Games performance

The Division

DirectX 11, AVG

Dragon Age: Inquisition

1920x1080, DirectX 11

Total War : Warhammer

DirectX 11, AVG

Rise Of The Tomb Raider

DirectX 12, AVG

Gears Of War 4

DirectX 12, AVG

Shadow Of Mordor

DirectX 11, AVG

Battlefield 1

DirectX 11, AVG

Battlefield 4

DirectX 11, AVG

Ashes of Singularity

DirectX 12, AVG

Metro : Last Light

DirectX 11, AVG

Thief

DirectX 11, AVG

Bioshock Infinite

DirectX 11, AVG

Prey (2017)

prey, DirectX 11, AVG

Mass Effect : Andromeda

mea, DirectX 11, AVG
114

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

Cool air sucked from the bottom of the machine (hence, it’s important to keep its bottom above the sitting surface) and is thrown from the rear.

Four tests:

1. Idle, power saver mode

2. Gaming : Mass Effect : Andromeda, Highest@1080p settings, “High performance” power mode. Four consecutive runs.

3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.

4. Prime95 + Furmark on 900p test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.

Temperature of the CPU is relatively high. Lenovo should have made some effort to make more efficiency really. Maybe a little bigger or better fan and better, and perhaps better heatpipes from the CPU to the fan.

The hope of trading bulk and weight for a cooler machine with lower CPU temperatures has gone kaput.

Heat

The Y720 upper part (keyboard surface) gets pretty warm.

39 50 47
44 51 46
40 48 42

Throttling

The cooling strategy implemented in Y720 is simply downclocking to the base clocks (2.8GHZ for the I7-7700HQ), both under Prime95 + Furmark and gaming loads (Mass Effect : Andromeda), even though the CPU temperatures weren’t that high while playing ME:A (around 80-85C) and there was room for a little more CPU juice.

It’s worth noticing that under prolonged periods of Prime95 + Furmark, the I7-7700HQ clocks will throttle even lower than base clocks. I got an average of 2.7GHZ.

Generally, the extra clocks won’t help significantly or at all with a GPU like a GTX 1060, in modern games, so that’s not that bad.

Noise

The main source of nose under normal load levels of normal work is the HDD which produces constant hamming which isn’t too high, but it is noticeable. Under highest load (Prime95 + Furmark), fans aren’t that noisy, even though they are noticeable.

Screen & Screen quality

The Lenovo Legion Y720 is equipped with the BOE CQ NV156FHM-N42 1080p panel. This is a basic IPS panel with 45% NTSC color coverage – that’s well below the usual 60-72% NTSC coverage (usually means lower sRGB and adobeRGB coverage). It also has no advantage in typical response times. So, Lenovo really just used a cheaper IPS display for this Y720 gaming laptop. Disappointing.

Technical measurements: The Spyder5Elite shows around 1:830 minimal contrast ratio (at highest brightness levels), which is very good. Maximal brightness level is 235cd/m^2 (100% brightness). Black point is rather low (good) even at 100% brightness level. These are good contrast values, but the maximal brightness is rather low and you might find yourself cranking it up often. Usage outdoors when it’s shining will be a problem.

Colors measurement show poor color coverage with only around 66% sRGB color coverage. That’s the trend we’ve seen in the last generation or two of gaming laptops at $800-$1000. Subjectively, colors look dull, especially the red, which fits the sRGB readings.

Viewing angles are pretty good horizontally, but vertically you’ll notice lighting differences at certain angles. That’s pretty usual with the current panels in use.

PWM: high frequency. Using the camera PWM test, I couldn’t detect a significantly PWM. NBC tests show that the Y720 does use PWM, but at a very high frequency.

Bottom line, that’s an basic ok IPS display with good contrast ratio (even compared to the panels in more expensive models), but not suitable for photoediting and perhaps you’d like a higher color coverage anyway.

ContrastBrightnessBlack levels
830 235 0.28
sRGBadobeRGBNTSC
66 49 47

Battery Performance

According to my tests, this Y720 60Wh battery is enough for around 6 hours on very low load levels and around 4 hours under general everyday load, browsing, facebook and such.

However, there is a new phnomenon obviously going on here. You’ll notice that video playback via Chrome (version 59 in this case), just became a lot more power efficient, even for 4K playback. I’m not sure if it’s some kind of bug with 4K videos (not really playing at 4K?). If it’s not, then it seems that the latest Windows OS updates changed something (accompanied with the right browser and all). 4K video playback requires only a bit more than the usual 1080p@30FPS and around 10-15W less than just what I got a 3-4 weeks ago (with the VX5-591G).

I could not replicate the low power consumption on the VX5-591G, but its drivers are less updated (and are not updateable just like that).

Issues

  • Loading the laptop resulted in problems with WiFi, outside the gaming. Meaning, BF1 run well while on multiplayer, but otherwise, I couldn’t download stuff.
  • The maintenance bottom cover was problematic to open and I one plastic screw holder was broken, even though I did it slowly and gently

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

    1. Acer Predator Helios 300 (Acer G3-571G)- Same as the Y720 in terms of specs, no TB3 and no mDP. Can be found for $1050 (before tax) with 16GB RAM and 256GB m.2 SSD (no HDD). Was selling for $900 for few hours.
    2. Clevo N850HP6 – Clevo comparable gaming laptop, same price range and specs. No Thunderbolt 3
    3. Others, with GTX 1060 3GB GPU, that are specified in the gaming laptops under $1000 recommendation list

    Also consider higher priced gaming laptops, like the Clevo P650HP6-G, MSI GT62VR or GE62VR, Asus GL502VM. All of them have GSync version. The Clevo, GTs also have much better cooling solution.

Conclusion

Well, the Y720 gives some and then takes some. The low price, looks, connection ports are its plus and perhaps also the keyboard and speakers. On the other hand, you get lower quality IPS display with dull colors (but high contrast), no GSync and thermal handling that results in high CPU temperatures. The IPS quality means it won’t be suitable for some uses and also won’t look as nice for some people. The low price (bought for $1090 including tax) is rather good, but includes only 8GB RAM and 1TB 5400RPM HDD.

For its price, and considering the competitors that don’t have GSync either, and have a low quality IPS display (at least the Helios 300), the Y720 has some advantage in looks and connection ports, but I see no decisive victor here. That’s true to the Y720 competitors too. For around $100-$200 you can find laptop with GSync (which isn’t critical, but still) and sometimes better thermals. I’m thinking MSI GTs here and Clevo P650HP6-G. As I write these lines, prices are rather high, but the GT62VR could be found for $1100-$1300 not long ago, with better specs and much better thermals. Previous generation can still be found on eBay for low price.

Saying that, given that there are some laptops with GTX 1050 Ti and an I7 for $1000, the Y720 is a better choice. It’s a lot faster and has Thunderbolt 3. So, as always, it’s a matter of defining the requirements and price.