Good gaming features, but graphics performance lacking

Build quality of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y900 is solid, with its chassis showing no sign of creaking under pressure.
Build quality of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y900 is solid, with its chassis showing no sign of creaking under pressure.PHOTO: LENOVO

Chinese PC maker Lenovo is not known for its gaming computers. But with the gaming market growing steadily in contrast to the overall decline in the PC sector, Lenovo, too, has launched gaming PCs in recent years.

The Lenovo Ideapad Y900 is your typical gaming laptop. This 17.3-inch notebook is bulky and heavy. Its lid is adorned with a red backlit Y-shaped logo while the rear of the laptop houses large air vents.

Build quality is solid, with the Y900's chassis showing no sign of creaking under pressure.

Its most unusual feature is the mechanical keyboard. This chiclet- style keyboard feels tactile and has very good key travel.

It is even slightly noisy, like a mechanical keyboard. However, the keys feel loose when pressed, unlike the precise clicks you'd expect from a proper mechanical keyboard.

Overall, the Y900's mechanical keyboard is not as good as the mechanical keyboard on the MSI GT83VR, though the Y900's is probably better than most keyboards on gaming laptops.

  • TECH SPECS

    PRICE: $3,999

    PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-6820HK (2.7GHz)

    GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 980M 4GB GDDR5

    RAM: 24GB

    SCREEN SIZE: 17.3 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels

    CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 2 x USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet port, SD card slot, audio jacks

    BATTERY: 90 watt-hour

    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 2/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 1/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

Below the keyboard is a rubberised anti-slip palm rest. At the left edge are four customisable shortcut keys that users can assign specific commands and functions using the preloaded Magic Y Key app.

In fact, this app lets you reassign all the keys on the laptop, as well as create your own custom macros.

The other proprietary gaming app is the Lenovo Nerve Center, which lets you control the keyboard backlighting scheme, adjust the audio settings and prioritise network traffic for your games. There is even a shortcut button to start recording footage of your game.

This app also has a Turbo Boost feature that automatically overclocks the CPU. Turbo Boost can also be toggled via a slider at the top left corner of the keyboard. However, the app lacks fan controls, which seems like an oversight for a gaming machine.

Adding to its gaming credentials is the Y900's 17.3-inch screen. This IPS display has very good viewing angles, though it is a bit reflective. More importantly for gamers, this screen supports Nvidia G-Sync technology for a stutter-free gaming experience.

Where the Y900 stumbles is in performance. While many gaming laptops have refreshed their graphics chip to the latest Nvidia 10-Series models, the Y900 is using a last-generation GTX 980M chip.

As a result, the Y900 was much slower in our gaming benchmarks. For instance, it scored 51 frames per second (fps) in Crysis 3 at 1,920 x 1,080 pixels and at Very High setting. This is lower than the 61fps managed by the Aftershock S-15 ($2,308), which has a mid-range, but new GTX 1060 graphics chip.

To make matters worse, Lenovo is asking $3,999 for the Y900, which is a hefty sum for a gaming laptop that is not quite state- of-the-art.

Vincent Chang

•Verdict: Its mechanical keyboard does not quite replicate the feel of a proper mechanical keyboard. But the Y900's biggest issue is its GTX 980M graphics chip, which lags behind the faster and cheaper graphics options available now.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 16, 2016, with the headline 'Good gaming features, but graphics performance lacking'. Print Edition | Subscribe