March 22, 2013
- Good value
- Comfortable, red backlit keyboard
- Beautiful 1080p HD display
- Excellent all-around performance
- Runs hot
- Below average battery life
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is a powerhouse 15-inch laptop with a 1080p display, a comfortable backlit keyboard and an affordable price. It does suffer from below average-battery life and it does get quite hot, but overall it's a fantastic laptop for the money.
This isn't your typical Windows 8 laptop. The Y500 from Lenovo offers a powerful Intel Core i7 CPU and dual Nvidia GeForce GT 650M GPUs. Because of this, we strongly recommend this for people wanting both a portable computer as well as a multimedia or gaming machine.
The design of the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is rather bland with a brushed aluminum lid and a chrome Lenovo logo in the corner. The lid does show fingerprints easily, so that's a downside. The Y500 measures 15. 2 x 10.2 x 1.4-inches (wdh) and weighs 6.4-pounds, so it isn't the thinnest and lightest notebook out there.
Despite the bland exterior, the keyboard stands out on its own thanks to the red backlighting. The keys are well-spaced and provided solid feedback to make an overall comfortable typing experience. The touch pad is nicely sized and has a frictionless surface that easily allowed us to perform the Windows 8 multi touch gestures. The bottom two corners act as the right and left click buttons and they worked well too.
One of Lenovo's selling points for the Y500 is the 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel full HD display. While the display was glossy (so there's a lot of reflections), the quality of the display was fantastic. Colors looked vibrant and text was easily readable even at small sizes. The display's brightness was also comparatively brighter than other similar 15-inch Windows 8 laptops.
For ports, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 provides two USB 3.0 ports, one powered USB 2.0 port, HDMI-out, VGA-out, Ethernet, the usual audio jacks, an S-PDIF+ audio output and a 6-in-1 memory card reader. There is also a removable bay called an Ultrabay that can be used to hold an extra hard drive, an optical drive or another graphics system (which our review unit had).
Our Y500 included a quad-core Intel Core i7-3630QM (2.4GHz) CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB 5400RPM hard drive, a 16GB solid-state drive (SSD) and dual Nvidia GeForce GT 650M GPUs with 2GB of dedicated video memory. It isn't often that you see specifications like this in a laptop and if you do, it usually isn't as affordable as Lenovo has made it with the Y500.
A PCMark 7 benchmark returned a score of 3,220, which is about 600 points higher than the category average. Real-world use also returned pleasing results, especially in heavy multitasking and watching streaming HD video. Windows 8 boot-up time averaged out at about 20-seconds, which is speedier than many other Windows 8 laptops that we've tested.
Graphics performance with the dual-Nvidia setup we were provided was outstanding for a laptop. We had dual Nvidia GeForce GT 650M graphics with a total of 2GB of video memory. This configuration is definitely enough to play today's 3D games at native resolution. If you're a gamer looking for a portable gaming PC, this is definitely one to look at.
We did notice that during times of extreme use, the laptop got quite hot to the touch, especially on the touch pad and keyboard. The underside, surprisingly, didn't get too hot but perhaps the internal components are unusually close to the keyboard instead of the laptop's bottom.
Battery life with the Y500 clocked in at around 4-hours, which is a little more than an hour less than the category average.
For more Windows 8 laptop reviews, visit our Notebook & Ultrabook Reviews page.