The Lenovo Y480 is a great example of why I have a job. On paper, it looks amazing. An Ivy Bridge quad-core, Nvidia discrete graphics and 8GB of RAM in a 14-inch laptop for $900 (or a bit less, if you wait for Lenovo’s frequent sales)…?! Sign me up!
That was my first impression. As I used the Y480, however, its shortcomings started to make themselves known. I noticed that Diablo III’s beautiful art was sapped of color and life by the display. I felt the plastic on the underside of the chassis buckle every time I picked the laptop up by grabbing the side contained the optical drive. I became frustrated with the finicky, texture-less touchpad and the uninspired keyboard layout.
It’s a shame that Lenovo has made so many mistakes with this laptop because they also made the right call in many other areas. The hardware is excellent given the laptop’s price and size. Sound quality is among the best you’ll find on a modern laptop. Key feel is above par for the consumer segment. And the design of the laptop is elegant, if not unique.
If you want a reasonably portable laptop that also has a lot of power at a low price you should still give the Y480 consideration. With that said, the larger Lenovo Y580 offers an even better performance value (it has similar hardware but packs the GTX 660M for about $50 more) and the ThinkPad T430s is more functional and portable. The Y480 will only be the best choice if you have very specific needs.