Lenovo Y40 Review

What happened to the 3D performance??

++ Main reason to consider:

Good package of extra features for a small gaming laptop under $800 (build quality, speakers, good keyboard, battery performance, noise levels and more).

— Main reason to avoid:

Currently, the 3D performance is lacking for an unknown reason. The display quality is also average at best, but it can be replaced (~$70-$80)

Availability

Amazon,
eBay (mainly refurbished),
Lenovo B&N ($770) or without B&N ($800)

Pro:
+ Good build quality (except the display cover which is average)
+ Good keyboard (better than the Y50 one) and good touchpad (but small)
+ Cool & quiet
+ Good battery running times (5-7 hours under light use)
+ Good speakers (but not great)
+ Good case build quality

Con:
– 3D performance is unexpectedly lacking (but it might get fixed in the near future)
– Display quality is average at best (but the display can be replaced)
– Keyboard is not backlit
– Only 3 USB port (1 of them is a USB 2.0).
– Not as lightweight as other 14.0″ gaming laptops.

 

Introduction

ComponentDescription
PriceBasic version: ~$800-$850
Test unit with 256GB SSD: $950
CPUI7-4500U (1.8GHZ-3.0GHZ, 15W)
GPURadeon R9 M275X 2GB GDDR5, core@950MHZ, GDDR5@1.0GHZ
RAMHyundai electronics 1x8GB DDR3@800MHZ
HDDLITEONIT LCS-256M6S 256GB SSD
LCD PanelIn review: AUO B140HTN01.4
Weight / Dimensions~2.2kg / 4.85 lbs
348mm x 25mm x 24.9mm
13.7" x 9.8" x 0.9"
(w x d x h)
Keyboardstandard, no backlit
Connection Portsright side: kensington lock, 1xUSB 2.0, S/PDIF, microphone/headphones, , , card reader
left side: power connection, Ethernet, HDMI 1.4a, 2xUSB 3.0
Front, Rear: nothing
Camera720p Camera
WiFi / EthernetWiFi: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160 HMC WiFi Adapter
Ethernet: RealTek Semiconductor RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet NIC
Speakers2.0 speakers above the keyboard surface
Battery4 cell, 49Wh

Lenovo Y40 ReviewSo, the new Lenovo Y40 is out for blood. It’s Lenovos’ latest 14.0″ gaming laptop, fueled with a ULV I7-4500U/4510U CPU (15W), Radeon M275X and slick looks.

The previous generation Y410P had a non-ULV I7-4700MQ and a GT 750M / 755M with an optional additional GPU which was barely seen (if at all). It was a bit bulky and weighted around 2.5kg which is around 0.3kg more than the Y40.

The new Y40 aims to be more lightweight and compact, but does it offer more hardware for the gamer or 3D professional? And how does the 1080p screen fares? we’ll see!

 

In the box

The Lenovo Y40 with a 90W power adapter

Build quality, Case, design and looks

The Lenovo Y40 case itself is pretty firm an you won’t be able to make it flex easily, even the keyboard surface is pretty firm. Hinges are ok too. The screen cover is not as firm, but is at least as firm as the standard laptop out there. I’d say the build quality is above average.

 

The Lenovo Y40 looks more or less like the Lenovo Y50 with its stylish black-red gaming looks. The bottom and upper plates are covered with some nice pattern you can see in the images (sorry for the quality!)

Connection ports Only 2 USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0. HDMI is there but that’s all. Again in the Y40 too, a displayPort would be more adequate and many lower price laptops have them.

Maintenance and inner parts Removing the bottom cover reveals it all. You’ll see there is no mSata connection port, at least on this side of the motherboard.

Two fans are cooling the Lenovo Y40 GPU and CPU and in this case they are doing a good job. They are small and also very quiet under light load. The hot air is thrown from the rear of the Lenovo Y40 and is taken from the bottom. It means that you better have something to lift the laptop bottom from the surface it’s placed on, especially under medium/high load.

You can see the 256GB HDD and Intel 3160 WiFi card.Lenovo Y40 Review : inner components

 

Keyboard and trackpad

The Keyboard. The Lenovo Y40 keyboard is good and obviously better than the Y50 one. However, it is not great – the feedback could be better and it would have been nicer to the fingers and ofcourse, it is not backlit which adds to the ease of use. But generally, you can say it is good for a rather rapid typing, though maybe professionals would want something better. A note: I feel it is better than the Acer V7-482PG keyboard too (older version at least). The Gigabyte P34Gv2 keyboard was better too.

Touchpad. A standard touchpad, but works well. The surface itself is a button too and you can click it (except tapping it). It is too small to my taste.

The buttons, like in many other laptops, are connected. While it looks better, it’s not the convenient when a need to use both buttons rises up – however, it’s barely the case.

 

Sound & Speakers

The Lenovo Y40 speakers are located on the upper laptop panel, just above the keyboard surface in the right and left edges. Sound quality is better than many other laptops with good low and midtones. Bass is a bit lacking as there is no subwoofer.

I could hear some artifacts in the sound while pressuring the volume too high, but I’m not sure it was the speakers’ fault. You could say that the speakers quality is above average. It is better than the Acer V7 and Gigabyte P34Gv2 I tested, for example, but still sounds a bit like a sound of speakers in a box.

The Y40 speakers are not that powerful, but they can fill a small room.

 

Software

There are a lot of Lenovo software and crapware. Two useful ones are the Lenovo settings panel and the Lenovo motion control.

The Lenovo settings panel is good for controlling some basic features of the laptop, like Camera (brightness and stuff), WiFi, Microphone, Bluetooth and so on. I could get motion control to work, though, only with some Windows applications for reading and photo viewing – it works well as far as I tested (and I didn’t test a lot).

The Dolby interface is nothing to brag about, as it doesn’t really add much to the sound quality, but it gives you control over an equalizer.

 

General subjective performance experience

I was using Windows 8.1 fully updated with all drivers in place. The 256GB SSD ensures responsiveness of the machine. Booting is very quick and working with a lot of stuff open is no problem.

One problem is that when I set the power mode on “power saver” or “high performance”, closing and opening chrome tabs might results in a split second stuttering. Not sure what is the cause

 

Gaming Performance

The test includes the 3DMark synthetic benchmarks and a small amount of games and the point is to give a reference benchmarks compared to other machines. For more numbers are available over the web in sites like Notebookcheck.com. I had no real problems and stuff. Generally everything run as expected.

CPU-Z and GPU-Z stuff:

You can see that the M275X is not recognized correctly really. The memory used in the M275X should be a GDDR5, but GPU-Z shows DDR3. If it’s true (and it’s probably not), then it may be the explanation to the low 3D performance.

UDPATE: Yes, indeed, we are talking a DDR3 M275X version, probably. Check this Asrock mini-pc machine with M275X (core@770MHZ with GDDR5 VRAM) – link

 

Test Methods & Drivers

Using the latest AMD Radeon 14.7 RC drivers, Windows 8.1 fully updated as I write these lines. HWInfo was used to measure temperatures. The settings I used in each game differ from one to another and the reason is that I tried to find the highest settings which still let you play smoothly. All games are tested with 1080p resolution.

I’ve removed unwanted results, like scene loading times.

 

Synthetic 3D benchmarks

link to the 3DMark results

Lenovo Y40 3DMark

 

The 3DMark results are obviously were tempered by some issues. These result are considerably lower than the 8850M results in the Dell 3540 review, which is slower. It seems like these are the HD4400 results and not the M275X results.

 

Summarized gaming performance

I’ve executed a more humble test suite for this one, as the Y40 has a problem with 3D performance while under load. The ULV I7-4500U becomes heavily throttled, probably in order to keep it under 15W of power consumption, though there is no thermal problem really and CPU/GPU temperatures were good.

Lenovo Y40 Review : gaming performance (Radeon M275X)

These performance numbers make no sense, as the Dell 3540 had higher results with a slower Radeon 8850M (same chip, lower clocks), 4GB DDR3 and a slower I5-4200U which also throttles.

 

World of Tanks (WoT)

I’ve tested world of tanks using the highest settings only as I feel it suitable in this case. World of tanks usually doesn’t need a lot of FPS and the gaming experience is quite good on highest settings.

WoT felt totally smooth even on highest settings and over several maps.

Lenovo Y40 Review : Crysis 3 performance (Radeon M275X)

 

LoL (League of Legends)

highest settings@1080p

 

 

Lenovo Y40 Review : League of Legends performance (Radeon M275X) 2

Somehow, with LoL, the Y40 system plays well, running LoL on highest settings@1080p.

 

 

Crysis 3

“high” settings show 27FPS as the lowest FPS I got, it’s usually around 33 and felt very smooth. Frankly, even on “very high” settings it felt quite well, so simply try both. Anyway, Crysis 3 lovers will enjoy this machine. The Y50 didn’t felt as good, maybe because the I5 (and slightly lower FPSs)

 

Lenovo Y40 Review : Crysis 3 performance (Radeon M275X)

 

Bioshock Infinite

I have used bioshock built-in benchmark to test it. This is another example of the underperformaning I was talking about. You get about third of the Radeon R9 M290X performance, while having half of the hardware – something is wrong. Also, the results are lower than my Dell 3540 results with slower Radeon 8850M an an I5-4200U, 4GB DDR3. Makes no sense.

Highest@1080:

Average FPS Min FPS Max FPS Scene Name
13.64 7.20 45.85 Welcome Center
14.10 7.46 29.95 Scene Change: Disregard Performance In This Section
14.42 6.78 32.11 Town Center
13.93 7.89 18.48 Raffle
17.16 11.40 21.12 Monument Island
17.89 15.84 19.81 Benchmark Finished: Disregard Performance In This Section
14.50 6.78 45.85 Overall

 

Very High@1080p

Average FPS Min FPS Max FPS Scene Name
21.66 11.05 105.41 Welcome Center
22.12 10.81 64.71 Scene Change: Disregard Performance In This Section
23.94 11.92 66.96 Town Center
22.82 12.03 34.10 Raffle
29.92 17.68 38.97 Monument Island
31.09 22.95 48.88 Benchmark Finished: Disregard Performance In This Section
23.73 10.81 105.41 Overall

 

Thief

I have used Thief built-in benchmark to test it. Again, third of the R9 M290X performance under very high settings, part of it is for sure the CPU throttling problem.

Lenovo Y40 Review : Thief performance (Radeon M275X)

Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling

Tests settings:

1. Prime95: Torture test, In-Place large FFTs.

2. Prime95 + FurMark 1280×720 burn-in test

3. Idle, “Power Saver” power mode.

4. Windows power mode on “high performance”

 

Lenovo Y40 Review : temperatures

You can see that the thermals are pretty good, not reaching high temps even under full load. But again, the CPU is throttled, so without the throttle it could get higher. Anyway, the temps are good.

This is how it looks while running the Thief benchmark on “very high” settings:

Lenovo Y40 Review : cpu usage and temps under gaming Lenovo Y40 Review : max core frequency under gaming

The big lows are the in-between the two benchmarks I run. You can see that the max CPU frequency jumps up and down. I don’t know what it’s like that, but it’s there. It’s the same case with Crysis 3.

The throttling issue or some related issue obviously have impact on the 3D performance. The Y40 should be at least as fast as GT 750M GDDR5 equipped laptops and ofcourse, faster than 8850M equipped laptops as the 8850M has the same core, only with signifcantly lower clocks : 950MHZ vs 575MHZ-725MHZ. However, the 3D performance is lower than the 8850M and the 750M too, even compared to the 750M DDR3 results of the Acer V7-482PG (here).

We’ll have more information when the new AMD drivers and/or GPU-Z will show up. I’ll keep you posted

 

Heat.

The case itself doesn’t get too hot mostly, except the left and left-upper parts of the upper panel mainly, with some of the left-upper of the keyboard too. Palm rests are kept cool enough and most of the keyboard too. I didn’t have any problem using it.

Under heavy load for long periods, the Y40 surface will get hot, though, especially around the left part.

Noise.

Under light load, the Lenovo Y40 fans are hardly noticeable and under full load they spin fast, but they are not too noisy.

 

Screen & Screen quality

The Y40 default 1080p display is a rather ok horizontal viewing angles, but otherwise it’s not great. Vertical viewing angles are not good and colors are lacking. Brightness and contrast are also not that high, like in the Y50 1080p case. And like in the Y50 1080p display case, you can easily replace it.

 

Color coverage is not very good with only around 60% of the sRGB covered

The Y40 display can get contrast of around 1:360 more or less (in actual, it depends on the brightness of the screen and the surroundings). It’s not much and you can fill it. If you got one, I would suggest replacing the display.

The display does not fit professional use and frankly, even for the common use it’s not that great, as you might find it a bit stressing to the eyes in some cases. Moreover, other laptops for a much lower price have better displays.

 

Battery Performance

The battery running times are quite good actually:

1. Light use : youtube playing some video, opening tabs, WiFi on, brightness on 90%

2. Idle – “green mode”, WiFi off, brightness on 60% doing nothing more or less.

Lenovo Y40 Review : Battery running times

Under light load, you could squeeze around 5-5.5 hours of battery, which is very nice and that’s including youtube and other stuff running – only reading and browsing light webpages will mean more hours. For example, as I’m writing these lines, the power consumption stands around 6.5W which calculates into around 7 hours of battery.

Idling will result in more than 11 hours of battery, which is very good, because it means that you don’t have to watch your laptop constantly and make sure it’s asleep just in order to save another half an hour for your class or something.

Problems

 

  • Mainly the 3D performance / throttling. The 3D performance is considerably lower than what you’d expect in most cases, even compared to laptops with slower hardware.
  • The 1080p display quality is average at best (but can be replaced)

 

Competing gaming laptops / Alternatives

For around the same price or a bit more, with display sizes smaller than 15.6″:

  • 13.3″ : Clevo W230SS with a very good 1080p IPS display and GTX 860M. Bad speakers, heat and no OS for $1000, might be drawbacks. Also, it looks rather bulky. However, around trice the 3D performance and a very good 1080p IPS display.
  • 14.0″ : MSI GE40, but it remains to be seen how’s the not-initial price. With 1080p IPS display and GTX 850M GDDR5, this is a very good option. (Read the MSI GE40 barebone review). The gaming performance is way higher around x2.5-x3.
  • The new HP Envy 14 with an I7-4510U and a GTX 850M (probably DDR3), 1080p display, 8GB for $800 (with coupons)
  • The older Acer V7-482PG-6629 for around $800 currently has a much better default 1080p AHVA display, around the same 3D performance (at least until the issues will get fixed), good battery performance and lower weight.
  • The new upcoming Acer V7-482PG with GTX 850M will be interesting too when it becomes available and should offer a significant power advantage over the Y40 for around the same price or only a bit more.

And in general, all the machines under $1000.

 

Conclusion

The Y40 keeps me frustrated too, as the Y410p. Lenovo struggles to make something wrong.

Before we go into conclusions, I want to say that you can get the Y40 from B&N gold discount deals (you can see it here) which is cheaper. You can get it for $770 with the same specs except you get a 500GB SSHD instead of the 256GB SSD I have which was just what I could, get. I would definitelly suggest getting the 500GB SSHD version over the 256GB SSD one as you can buy an aftermarket 250GB SSD for like $100-$120 and then you’ll have both. So that will be my suggestion.

Now, let’s talk about the $770 version. It’s a nice compact gaming laptop for $770. It looks good, battery running times are good too, it doesn’t get too hot and under light load it’s definitelly keeps cool even in this hot weather, speakers are rather good for a laptop, keyboard is good and build quality is good too mostly. A good package for $750-$800.

BUT. At least currently, the 3D performance is more or less terrible. Even if we put aside the display quality, the 3D performance is simply too low for a $800 gaming laptop. There Y40 has a throttling issue of the CPU under load is one major factor, but it alone cannot explain the low performance. The Radeon M275X should have been at least as fast as the GT 750M GDDR5 of old days and it should have been faster than its slower brother the Radeon 8850M which is inside the Dell 3540 with its I5-4200U (throttled too) and it’s selling for a lower price (though with lower specs, RAM and HDD).

So what’s the deal? It might be a matter of drivers and the M275X not getting correctly recognized by the GPU-Z freeware might be the clue. We’ll keep you updated about that when new drivers and/or GPU-Z software comes up.

Now, about the screen. It’s indeed of low quality which is very annoying. The contrast itself makes reading a little bit harder than many other high end laptops. It shouldn’t be like that. However, unlike in the Y410p case and like the Y50 case, the Y40 display uses an eDP panel which can be easily replaced. I’ve already ordered a new B140HAN01.1 AHVA 1080p panel to test it.

Last point – competitors. A new Acer V7-482PG with GTX 850M for ~$900 would seal the deal more or less, for most people interested in this kind of gaming laptop. Also, the already available MSI GE40 and Clevo W230SS are much more powerful than the Y40 while offerning off the butt IPS display (the W230SS one is a very good one)

Final words. Hmm. What can I say. I’d say what I almost always say – wait. The new Acer V7-482PG should be interesting, but more than that, we need to see what’s going on with the drivers and 3D performance. Let’s say that it is fixed and we’ll get the wanted ~GT 750M GDDR5 performance level. Then for many people looking to spend less money and are interested in midrange gaming performance, for the right price of around $750, if no competitors are around, the Y40 can be interesting as it is a good package of extra features (see above or summary).

And about display quality thing – it can be forgiven if you’ll be able to replace it for like $70 to a good one.

  • Samyak Bothra

    hi i wanted to know which motherboard is the lenovo y40-80 using

  • Randall Stricklin

    Just to give the anyone visiting this page an update, I purchased this laptop about 6 or 7 months ago, and it was the updated version (newer Broadwell processor). The big update here is that the laptop was $600 after a coupon code. At $750, this laptop is a little underpowered, but at $600, this machine hits a sweet spot that is hard to find for extremely budget-minded consumer interested in pc gaming. It’ll play most recent titles at medium or low settings (haven’t tried the very recent, as I’m mostly a console gamer, but things like Borderlands 2 and the like run fine even at high settings).

  • daaw

    3d performance is even lower than hd 8750m

  • Taekwondeal

    Can the CPU throttling be avoided? I am interested in this laptop, but the idea of the CPU being artificially throttled doesn’t make me happy.

    • this is the case in many laptops, sometimes more related to the temperature (and not the TDP). I couldn’t stop the throttling. I don’t know if it’s possible through Windows in this case.
      What are you looking for?

  • Sage

    I just ordered this from Lenovo’s website the beginning of this month. With the price and its capabilities I could not pass it up, plus I needed a laptop very soon for school. I ended up getting it for $749($790 with tax). I am glad that the only problems you had really arent permanent. Ill look into getting a new display once it comes in. Im not extremely tech savvy, is there anywhere I might be able to find a step by step process showing how to correctly install?

    • maybe youtube, but it’s very easy:

      1. Make sure the machine it turned off.

      2. pull the front of the panel cover – it’s just a plastic that you have to pull. use something thin but not pointy (like a credit card) or even your nails to pull it towards outside. It should come easily.

      3. Then you’ll see the panel itself. You have to unscrew some screws that hold it to its place. Make sure it doesn’t fall suddenly

      4. After you finish unscrewing, look at the back of the panel, there you’ll see the eDP cable. You have to disconnect it. It is fastened with some small sellotape, remove the sellotape gently.

      5. Disconnect the cable. and place the panel somewhere safe

      6. connect the cable to the new panel gently and reapply the sellotape.

      7. Place it carefully in its place and use the same screws you pulled out before

      8. Return the plastic cover you pulled out before (2)

      • Sage

        Awesome thanks man! Sounds easy enough. Very thorough steps =D

        • Nish

          I just ordered this laptop like Sage did, as well as ordering a new screen. I was just wondering if, like the screen, it was possible to replace the keyboard as well? I was thinking of getting a backlit keyboard from a y410p and just installing it into the y40, and I was just curious if that would work…

          • it is possible, like in other laptops, but I don’t know if there are alternatives to the built in keyboard or their quality

            • Nish

              awesome, thank you 🙂

              • no problem!

                • Nish

                  one more thing, is the AUO panel you replaced glossy or matte?

  • Jon

    So I’m going off to college, wanted an $800 or less laptop that can run a good amount of programs and still play a good number of modern PC games smoothly. I looked at the Y40 and it seemed as if it had all the stuff I need, but would you suggest anything else? If possible within the price range, I would like 750 GB of HDD or up, but I don’t know what other products would be reliable enough to last at least the 4 years…

    • Hi Jon!

      Well, I don’t know what will last 4 years, but many laptops will if you’ll handle them well (mainly, no big hits and no dust)
      Can you please open a thread over the forum?

  • Steven

    How did you like the new display?? Was it worth the extra money?

    • still waiting for it, but it will be probably pretty good

      • Steven

        Can you give a short review of the new display when you receive it?

  • Jason

    I’m probably not going to replace the screen right now, but just for future reference, what kind of screen would work?

    • Jason

      Or rather where can I reliably buy a screen that would work?

      • ebay / laptopscreen / amazon

        There are some options and one good and available display is the B140HAN01.2 or 01.1

  • Ken

    Hi, can you tell me what the monitor refresh rate for this is? I heard it’s 48.. which is pretty silly for a supposed gaming laptop. Thanks.

  • kukl

    you forgot to put the LoL bargraph

    • thanks

      you seem to be the only one the actually read through (-:

  • RegisteredMeh

    Hmm maybe it has something like optimus but for radeon? Probably just a driver issue, very strange.

    • yes, it does – AMD Enduro it’s called
      We’ll see what happens later. Part of the throttling is the 15W limitation of the CPU and since the bios is locked, it is hard to change

  • sukhyung

    i was looking at all of these too, the one that i am leaning towards now is the asus ux303ln. How much worse is the 840m compared to an 850m?

    • the difference is pretty big. What exactly are you looking for?

      • sukhyung

        hi junky,

        i’m looking for portability/battery life (for coding) with some gaming capability. i don’t really play anything too complicated anymore. I’ve tried using a 15″ laptop (y50), but found that it’s much to big for my taste (also the battery life isn’t very good). I’d like something w/o a number pad (so 14 or smaller).
        the acer v7 482pg sounds great, but the 850m versions don’t seem to be coming; i noticed they refreshed the 750m ones for less money.

        My previous laptop (alienware m11x r2) is dead so i can’t really keep waiting for new stuff to come out.

        • Well, the 750M is enough for light gaming mostly, so you might consider it. I think you can find it for like $800:
          http://www.gaminglaptopsjunky.com/acer-v7-482pg-66296662-review-a-complete-cheaper-ultraportable-gaming-laptop/

          How about the W230SS, used W230ST or the new HP Envy 14T? The battery 14T running times are unknown for now, but still.
          The Acer V7 is indeed a good option and you might give it another month or so, somehow. And you can simply go with the older version

          • sukhyung

            I have never seen a clevo based machine in person, so i’d like to take a look at one first. I saw your post about the HP today and i’ve been looking into it, i’d like to take a look at that one too, hopefully they’ll have it at best buy.

            so is the 750m from last year better than the 840m from this year?

            • at best, the 840m equals the 750M DDR3 (not the GDDR5, which is much faster) and it’s only on some specific cases. Usually the 840M will be slower noticeably

  • Chris

    You can get it for $750 rather than $770 if you use the code Y40EMAILDEAL on the Lenovo website until July 27

    • Thanks Chris! missed that one

  • Shaz

    I was just looking at this and here you are with the review! Any update on how the Y40 perfromed post driver updates?

    • not now, but see Bill comment’s link – other people who used the default drivers got 3DMark to work properly

  • BIll

    http://forum.notebookreview.com/ideapad-essential/751518-y40-thread-6.html

    Love the site. Was looking into this laptop a couple of months ago and ran across this thread while i was looking into it. Looks like they got it working for the benchmarks after going to an older driver than you were using(?). But still it looks like the benchmarks aren’t that much better than the v7 which is what I ended up purchasing due to battery life, backlit keyboard (i’m a sucker for bright glowy things), cheaper price (about 25% cheaper than the y40 at the time) and better screen.

    I knew the screen of the y40 wasn’t that great but it was surprising to read how really lacking it was.

    • yes, I think they probably used the one that comes from Lenovo. I had intention to try, but still the performance is lacking as you said.
      The V7 is a good laptop – the only thing that really bugged me was the keyboard. How do you feel about the keyboard?

      • Bill

        It actually took me a couple of days to get used to the keyboard. Your review pretty much nailed it. I didn’t suffer from some keystrokes not registering like you did but otherwise I wasn’t too happy with the keyboard until after a bit of use and now, just like your review, I’m pretty satisfied with the keyboard. Feedback is good, spacing is great, keys have a good have a pleasant tactile feel. For a laptop keyboard I’d say definitely above average.

        • thanks (-:
          yes, it takes few days, especially if you’re coming from a larger laptop