- Build quality, Case and design and looks
- Keyboard and Trackpad
- Sound and Speakers
- General subjective performance experience
- Gaming Performance
- Thermals, Throttling & Noise handling
- Screen / Screen quality
- Competing gaming laptops / alternatives
++ Main reason to consider:
Overall a good laptop with some nice features and qualities compared to competition for such a price (build quality, best speakers in price range, by far) and future DX12/Vulkan performance may be much higher in this AMD based laptop.
-- Main reason to avoid:
3D/gaming performance isn’t on par with current GTX 960M competitors, by far (but it may get changed with DX12/Vulkan optimized games)
+ Temperatures under high loads are relatively low
+ Noise levels are low
+ Very good speakers, dusting the competition
+ AMD hardware should prove very efficient and good performer with DX12/Vulkan games/software
+ TPM 2.0
+ High contrast and high brightness IPS display
+ M.2 "M" slot, allowing PCIe SSDs.
+ Solid stylish looks
+ External DVDRW
- The 1080p IPS colors aren't great and possibly there is PWM mechanism/flickering (according to other's tests)
- No Thunderbolt 3, USB Type-C, USB 3.1 gen 2 or DisplayPort
- Default storage is a rather slow 5400RPM HDD and the difference is felt
- High memory usage + pre-occupied 1GB of RAM for iGPU
- Battery performance could be better at around only 5-5.5 hours of light use (56Whr)
- Two RAM slots occupied
- Weight could be considered higher than competition at 2.6-2.7kg
- Touchpad sensitivity isn't good enough - hard to use with gloves, for example
- Seems like memory is not using dual channel mode (even though there are 2 sticks)
So, the new Lenovo Y700 15 – Lenovos’ Y50 successor – has been available for some time now and I have the AMD version here with me. The Y700 15 brings a new design to the table, perhaps a better default IPS screen and in this case, an AMD FX-8800P Carrizo APU and a Radeon M385X GPU.
Why did I go with the AMD version? well, because the capacities of the Intel + NV hardware are well known. There won’t be any surprises really in the performance department. So why not trying something different, especially because they both very similar in price (the AMD version is playing around the $800-$850 zone). The Radeon M385X could be a powerful GPU for DX12/Vulkan, and a very good GPU given some $700 deal will pop up. Although the new AMD Polaris architecture should start reveal itself in around half a year, it’s still an interesting hardware to test.
Let’s see how well does the Lenovo Y700 fares in this review.
|Model||Lenovo Ideapad Y700 AMD version (LENOVO Lenovo ideapad Y700-15ACZ)|
|Price||As tested, $840|
|CPU||AMD Carrizo FX-8800P, 2C/4T, 2.1-3.3GHZ, 6MB cache, CZ-A1
|GPU||AMD Radeon M385X (GCN 1.2), 896 shaders, core@900-1100MHZ, GDDR5@1252MHZ, 128-bit bus|
|Motherboard / Chipset||LENOVO Allsparks 5B / AMD CZ FCH
3xPCI Express x1, 1xPCI Express x2, 1xPCI Express x4, 1xPCI Express x8
|RAM||Ramaxel 2x4GB DDR3L@1600MHZ HRMT3170MN68F9F1600|
|Storage||HDD : WDC WD10SPCX-24HWST1 1TB
M.2 : M.2 SATA/PCIe/NVMe 2280
|LCD Panel||In review: LG LP156WF6-SPK1 IPS 1080p eDP|
|Weight / Dimensions||2.59kg (~5.72 Lbs.)
387 x 277 x 25.9 mm
15.24" x 10.91" x 1.02"
(w x d x h)
|Keyboard||Red backlit (3 levels including off)|
|Connection Ports||Right side: 1xKensington key, HDMI, 2xUSB 3.0
Left: AC power, USB 2.0, SD Card Slot, headset jack
Rear, front: None
|WiFi / Ethernet||WiFi: RealTek RTL8821AE Wireless LAN 802.11ac PCI-E
Ethernet: RealTek RTL8168/8111 PCI-E Gigabit Ethernet
|Speakers / Audio||2.0 2W speakers + 3W subwoofer
|Battery||60Wh, 4 cells|
|Bios / EC version (test unit)||CECN43WW / 1.43|
The new Lenovo Y700 chassis build quality is noticeably better than the Y50’s and even the VN7-592G and MSI PE60 (I’d guess that it’s better than the GE62’s too). The chassis is rigid. The screen’s outer lid is also relatively rigid which is not a common quality and it’s important. The bezel is not rigid, but that’s not that important really. The Y700 feels good in the hands. Hinges also feel stronger (but it doesn’t necessarily means they are better).
Finish looks relatively high quality. The keyboard surface is smooth and the screen’s outer lid has a metal brush finish.
The Y700 has the simple gamer looks: combination of mostly black and a bit darker red with angles finish, but nothing too flashy and stuff like that. I like that for gaming.
Maintenance and inner parts
Opening the Y700 is not hard and includes something like 8 screws. In this version, you’ll see the HDD, 60Whr battery, M.2 slot. The M.2 slot is an “M” key slot and can house a PCIe x4 SSD.
The GPU and CPU share two heatpipes (big and small) and two fans that take cooler air from below and throw it to the rear. CPU and GPU and soldered and cannot be changed.
Keyboard. Definitely improved over the last generation keyboard. Although not perfect, it has some strong points, or at least, the bottom line experience is good enough. Let’s start with the bad news – the keys lack resistance mostly, and it’s a little hard for me to click it without hitting it too hard which could result in some inconvenience in the fingers. Also, keys surface could be more pleasant. However, the keyboard itself is rigid and won’t yield easily, the keys are have clear pressure point, good feedback and they are well spaced. haven’t had almost no missed clicks, either. The keyboard is better in my opinion compared to the previous generation Y50. It’s not great or perfect, but it is way more useful and typing experience is better.
Touchpad. The touchpad is average – it’s big as usual, but the surface texture isn’t as pleasant or easy to use as you’d want. Touchpad sensitivity isn’t good enough – hard to use with gloves, for example
Leading the pack. The Lenovo ideapad 15.6″ gaming laptop series (Y560, Y570, Y580, Y500, Y510p, Y50 and not the Y700) has been for years the leading in speakers quality. The Y700 is equipped with a 2x2W JBL speakers + 3.0W subwoofer, according to the manufactured. The Y700 sound system produces pleasant, rich, sound. The strong points are probably the lows and mids which sound warm and rich, the highs are relatively less pronounced, but with a small equalizer configuration it can be fixed (you can use the bundled Dolby software for that). The sound has a clear advantage in clarity, balance, responsiveness (the speakers can keep their pace and won’t falter with fast, changing music type).
Although I’ve somewhat liked the VN7-592G speakers and maybe even more the Alienware 15 R2’s sound system, they do not match the Y700’s. It might be that the Y700’s speakers aren’t as good in tests (not that I know of such), but subjectively, I didn’t have to struggle to convince myself they sound good (no software “enhancements” used).
Bottom line, this is a strong point of this laptop. I really don’t understand why it’s so hard to the others to do the same.
The 1TB 5400RPM HDD is a bit of an issue here, at least this model, but after removing some of the bloatware and real crap that is running up when you start Windows, the Y700 runs better. However, a small test with a really low cost 120GB SSD shows a huge difference in experience. The M.2 slot can house a nice PCIe SSD. I’d wait to some PCIe SSD for a reasonable price (don’t get the current Samsung 951 Pro).
There was a problem with memory usage – often I’ve faced a very high memory usage even without running nothing by myself and with not special application running, that I know of. It might be something with the AMD drivers/software that runs the show and some of the crapware that Lenovos’ installing (which I tried to remove), but also, the iGPU has 1GB dedicated to it from the 8GB DDR3 system ram, so for gaming you really left with 7GB RAM.
Added CPU-Z and GPU-Z screenshots.
3DMark performance – link to source:
The 3D/gaming performance numbers of this system are problematic ones. The 3D performance is hampered by the slow and throttled CPU, the DX11 API inefficiencies with AMD’s GCN architecture and the AMD’s own API overhead which already know is huge (link). In DX11, this system can really compete with GTX 950M DDR3 based system which is actually pretty nice.
I couldn’t run Ashes of Singularity DX12 mode, because for some reason it ran only on the iGPU automatically. None of the involving parties (AMD, Steam, Oxide) provided real help, clue or responded really after 3 weeks via support or forums.
You can see that the Radeon M385X + AMD FX-8800P system can easily match Intel + GTX 950M DDR3 systems which is actually pretty nice. I look forward for the ability to test DX12/Vulkan to see how well such a system can compete.
Thief sees some advantage using Mantle API over the DX11. Heavily Vulkan/DX12 optimized games/game engines should see much higher improvements.
The new iteration of Total War : Rome II, Attila is a much more demanding game and FPSs are much lower.
As described before, the GPU and CPU has two heatpipes which are connected to two fans. 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 ventilation hole.
1. Idle, power saver mode
2. Gaming : Crysis 3 gameplay. “very high” settings with SMAAx2 For Crysis 3, “High performance” power mode.
3. Prime95 torture test. “High performance” power mode.
4. Prime95 + Furmark on 1366×768 test, AAx2. “High performance” power mode.
Strangely, the highest temps were during Crysis 3 and I’m not sure what was the reason, but anyway, the temps were usually around 80 degrees for gaming, often less than that. GPU temps were pretty good.
You can see that idling or very low work load result in very low temps as well.
Under high load of Prime95 + Furmark, the upper parts of the keyboard get a hotter, but not reaching annoying levels. Same goes for the bottom of the laptop. Palm rests remain relatively low on temperatures.
Under Prime95 “torture” load, the FX-8800P could keep 3.1-3.2GHZ which is great. With Furmark thrown into the mix, the FX-8800P did throttle a bit here and there and the GPU core went down to around 780MZH. However, the behavior in Crysis 3 gaming and other software was a roller coaster for the CPU and a little better for the GPU which could keep around 850-900MHZ core clocks.
This CPU behavior is not unique to AMD CPUs and we’ve seen it with many high performance Intel based laptops like the MSI GT72 and GT72S, Acer VN7-592G and others. Usually in the Intel case, I would recommend using the ThorttleStop software in order to negate the downclocking and it really works. However, in the AMD Enduro laptop case, I know of no good software tools that can do it – AMD’s Overdrive throws some error message about unsupported hardware (while it’s all AMD’s). I guess that with the right tool, a much better performance in gaming can be achieved in some applications/games, or at least, a more constant gaming experience.
- Under light load / browsing load and ‘balanced’ or ‘high performance’ power mode, the fans were really quite. I barely heard the HDD too.
- With ‘high performance’ power mode and very high load (like Crysis 3 or Furmark + Prime95), the fans were audible, but not too noisy. I don’t have objective measurements, but I wasn’t really noticing it while using the laptop, so that shows.
The Y700 uses the LG Display LP156WF6-SPK1 IPS 1080p display. It did looked good to me in terms of contrast and brightness (a feeling that was confirmed by the measurements), but the colors weren’t as good. Viewing angles were average for an LG IPS display.
The Y700 seems to have at least two screen models – the one above and the Samsung LTN156HL09-401 (the one in the LM review). Both seems to have relatively low rate of sRGB coverage. According to the Lenovo Y700 Hardware Manual (google it), these are the options, in Lenovos’ language:
- LCD Module L Y700-15ACZ 5D10K255682
- LCD Module L Y700-15ISK UHD 5D10K29634
- LCD Module L Y700-17ISK AG+FHD 5D10K37624
- LCD Module L 80NV AG+FHD For 3D 5D10K81625
Measurements from NBC and Laptopmedia (check additional reviews links) shows flickers occurs in lower brightness levels of around 50-60% in their tests. It is considered to be unhealthy for the eyes for some or at least having the potential of making headaches and eyes fatigue. However, in my low tech camera flickering test, I didn’t see the pattern that matches PWM mechanism and certainly not in 60HZ as in these tests – it might be a different mechanism in the AMD model, and it may be that my low tech test is not good enough.f
Bottom line, the screen is much better than the previous generation Y50’s (at least the non-IPS display), but it lacks nonetheless.
- Not sure, but the WiFi seems to have high ping rates problems from time to time and also the maximal throughput isn’t very high.
In the same price range, the usual suspects are the Acer VN7-592G, MSI GE62/PE60, Dell 7559 and XPS 9550, Alienware 15 R2 with GTX 965M (only deals or refurbished) and Clevos’ N150/N155 laptop. In terms of gaming performance, the Lenovo Y700 AMD version can’t match any of them laptops with GTX 960M, but if the price will go low enough (around $650-$700) with some deal, it could be a nice laptop compared even to the faster Dell 7559, mostly because of the speakers, build quality and keyboard.
Well, the Y700 AMD version can’t match current competition in terms of DX11 gaming performance. The GTX 960M + Intel CPU combination is way more powerful for DX11 than this AMD system. The laptop itself is relatively convincing with good build quality and outer lid (better than the VN7-592G and 7559), very good speakers outperforming the competition by far, good looks, high contrast and brightness IPS display, low temps and low noise, relatively – again, better than the VN7-592G. Keyboard isn’t great, but it’s a big improvement over the Y50’s keyboard and it’s nice, bottom line. However, the IPS display colors aren’t great, the Y700 uses PWM and it has no TB3/USB 3.2/DisplayPort.
The usual price is $800 if you watch Bestbuy for a week or two, which is relatively a low price, but you can still get the Dell 7559 for such a price, which will be much faster for gaming (although lacking other in other areas).
As for the Y700 Intel+NV version, I would consider it a good competitor for around $800-$850 mostly, because of its build quality advantages over the VN7-592G and the better speakers, but remember that the display and connections ports are not as good.
I hope that an update from AMD/Steam/someone will allow running Ashes of Singularity on DX12 mode on this laptop and I’ll be able to post results.
Till then, for current price of $800, it’s really hard to recommend this laptop for those who are looking for the higher performer, but for $700-$750 it could be a reasonable buy for many who can do with GT 950M DDR3 performance and appreciate the better qualities of this laptop.