The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is a cost-competitive gaming enthusiast’s dream-machine. At its bare necessities, pricing begins around the $850 mark, sporting a 3rd gen Intel Core i7 3630QM Processor clocked at 2.40GHz, a 15.6” 1080p resolution screen, HD camera, GeForce GT750M graphics card, 8 Gigabytes of memory, and 1 TB of hard drive space with the newest models. Models from earlier in the year came with a GT650M graphics card, and are relatively easy to find online through websites such as slickdeals.net, often offering crazy good deals for it. As cost increases the options to upgrade to 16GB Ram with an optional 16GB SSD, and a second SLI graphics card, become available – eventually costing up to $1,250 and more.
For features, the usual suspects are present – nothing too fancy here. Headphone and microphone jacks, an always-on USB 2.0 right-side port, with two other 3.0 USB ports on the left. Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI and VGA ports are also present, along with a multiple-format card-reader located on the front. Also included is a very good Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230 adapter handling both WiFi and Bluetooth.
But what is it that makes this machine so special?
The Pros of Lenovo Y500
Primarily what comes to mind is the swappable ultrabay – somewhat unique to notebooks of this generation. As better graphics cards becomes available, the Y500 will have the option to easily remove and upgrade to newer versions. Or, if SLI isn’t your thing, you can keep the DVD tray installed – although who knows when you might need it?
The Lenovo Ideapad Y500 developers have also seemed to forsake the race for the ‘thinnest, fastest’ laptop, and instead have favored higher performance – however it does not subtract from the looks. While it weighs in at 6 pounds, it doesn’t feel very heavy at all. The red, backlit keyboard is very cool, with the options to adjust brightness using an easy keyboard shortcut. The spacing of the keys feels very natural indeed, even being able to fit in a numeric keypad on the right. The black plastic, brushed metal surface does feel great, and still feels solid – honestly, I really don’t mind them forsaking some material worth in order to deliver higher performance at competitive costs.
Games like Diablo 3, and League of Legends, run perfectly on my single-GPU system – usually staying at above 60 fps at high settings. As a casual gamer, I couldn’t be happier with the performance – multitasking between plenty of google chrome tabs, League of Legends, listening to music, saving a project on Sony Vegas 10, all while flipping through the various windows 8 menus are all handled simultaneously with ease – here I have no complaints. Windows 8 doesn’t take a whole lot of time to learn how to navigate, and with keyboard shortcuts it has even become… dare I say it… somewhat fun. The speakers also sound great.
The Cons of Lenovo Y500
Trackpad, trackpad, trackpad… I mean, what were they thinking! It’s almost as if it has a mind of its own. However, casual and hardcore gamers who use a mouse (hopefully) shouldn’t find this too much of an issue. Fingerprints also stick to the laptop like magnets – always have a soft microfiber cloth at hand, and you should be good to go. The laptop only comes in black, so if you want a fancier color you may want to set aside that decision if you are going for this laptop.
The first time you turn it on, and stroke the laptop’s surface, you may notice a vibration feel – this is a NOT the hard drive, it is in fact a small static charge. It does not mean anything is inherently wrong with your laptop, however you may want to make sure you plug it directly into the outlet and not through an extension cable, as this is what is creating the charge. It isn’t harmful, according to online threads, however you shouldn’t get too comfortable with the charge as there is always the possibility of hardware issues arising in the future as a result.
Another annoying pet peeve of mine is the keyboard volume control – it requires the use of both hands, which can be somewhat annoying as the keys are spaced too far apart for just one hand (the fn button on the left and the left/right arrow keys on the right), however this can be changed later. The laptop DOES NOT support touchscreen, however depending on your point of view, this can be either a pro or a con. Lastly, purchasing this laptop is generally overkill if you plan on using it for casual, school-related purposes – however for the casual gamer, I would highly recommend this system.
The Y500 is a solid system, and while I have pointed out many smaller flaws in it, the pros definitely outweigh the cons for me as none of the issues have to do with performance. For the price, it is smooth, fast, and affordable – it simply feels good to own.