Introduction and Design

Lenovo’s Y500 successor makes a lot of sense on paper. But in practice?

A little over a year ago, we posted our review of the Lenovo Y500, which was a gaming notebook that leveraged not one, but two discrete video adapters (2 x NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M in SLI, to be exact) to achieve respectable gaming performance at a reasonable price point (around $1,200 at the time of the review).

Well—take away nearly a pound of weight (to 5.7 lbs), slim the case down to around an inch thick, update the chipset, and remove one video card, and you’ve got the Lenovo Y50 Touch, which ought to be able to improve upon the Y500 in nearly every area if the specifications add up to typical results. Here’s the full list of what our review unit includes:

While the GTX 860M (2 GB) is a far cry from, say, the GTX 880M (8 GB) we had the pleasure of testing in MSI’s GT70 2PE, it’s still a very capable card that should provide satisfactory results without breaking the bank (or the back). The rest of the spec sheet is conventional fare for a budget gaming notebook, with the only other surprise being the inclusion of a touchscreen—an option which replaces the traditional matte LCD panel in the standard Y50.

The configuration we received has already been slightly updated to include a CPU that’s a nudge better than the i7-4700HQ: the i7-4710HQ (which gains it 100 MHz in Turbo Boost clock rate). Otherwise, the specs are identical, and the street price is very close to that of the Y500 we originally reviewed: $1,139. Currently, an extra 10 bucks will also score you an external DVD+/-RW drive, and just 90 bucks more will boost your GTX 860M’s VRAM to 4 GB (from 2 GB) and your system RAM to 16 GB from 8 GB. That’s really not a bad deal at all.

Design and Portability

The case design has seen a lot of improvements since the Y500, with an overall more professional-looking body sporting fewer seams and far less cheap-looking plastic. The display lid remains brushed aluminum (though of a smoother, nicer variety), while the aluminum palm rest has been replaced by a sturdy, soft-touch black material that feels higher-end and does a better job of resisting fingerprints. The aluminum lid, on the other hand, while attractive, easily attracts smudges and is difficult to clean. One of our complaints about the Y500’s design was the sharp plastic edge at the front of the palm rest (where the aluminum ends and the plastic begins); this seam has been completely removed in the Y50 Touch’s design and replaced with a smooth corner of continuous material that is far more comfortable and looks much nicer.

The device also features more pronounced angles, such as those on the lid, which somewhat resemble the look of ASUS’ G750 (and its stealth fighter-inspired design). The keyboard retains the unique red edges which stylishly match the two speakers flanking it. The one area, if any, which looks particularly chintzy is the strip of shiny plastic between the two speakers, which continues up across the central hinge cover leading up to the edge-to-edge glossy touchscreen. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, glossy plastic is something we would always prefer to live without.

The case remains incredibly sturdy in spite of the revisions and the thinned profile. There’s very little flex anywhere on the base, and the system rests stably on a table. This is partially thanks to the absence of any open-space cavities beneath the base cover—such as an optical drive bay—but also it’s just generally good engineering. A large rubber strip along the back of the unit provides extra stability in conjunction with the two smaller rubber feet on either side of the front of the base.

As far as ports are concerned, there are a few differences. The organization isn’t any better than it was before; that is, the two USB 3.0, HDMI, and Ethernet ports lining the left side of the unit are just as close together as those of the Y500, which can get a bit crowded if you happen to be using most or all of them simultaneously. The VGA port has been dropped altogether, but the rest of the situation remains identical, with the third USB port located along the right side alongside two audio ports (headset and S/PDIF).

Finally, on the subject of maintenance, the Y50 Touch is as accessible as we’d hope. Nearly every replaceable component, including the RAM, wireless adapter, hard drive/SSD, battery, and heatsink/fan assembly, is accessible directly beneath the bottom cover, which is secured by ten (10) Phillips-head screws. The Y50 Touch carries a 1-year depot warranty standard.

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