User Interface, A/V Quality, Thermal Design, Battery Life
The Y50 Touch also (mostly) continues the trend of great input devices which we formerly praised the Y500 for. That starts with the keyboard, which is all-round great. Though key travel is somewhat shorter than that of the Y500 and feedback is a bit on the lighter side, keystrokes still feel decisive enough, and it’s quiet and tightly-tuned. Spacing is also identical (that is to say, nearly perfect), and layout could only be improved by separating the number pad from the rest of the keys and perhaps extending the width of the Backspace, Enter, and Shift keys on the right side of the keyboard. It isn’t Lenovo’s best keyboard to date (that honor may well belong to the ThinkPad Yoga, for which we actually just completed a review), but it’s definitely in the upper echelon of consumer-grade notebooks.
The touchpad isn’t quite as good. As so many are these days, it’s a clickpad, though fortunately it’s one which features physical separation between the clickable regions as opposed to adopting a full depression approach (such as that of the latest ThinkPads which we so despise). These range from terrible to acceptable in our judgment, and the Y50 Touch’s belongs someplace in between. The most prevalent issue we encountered was that of pointer jumpiness upon clicking, which is always a frustrating obstacle.
Finally, though there are other Y50 models available which feature matte screens, ours also features 10-point multitouch recognition. Though the finish is a bit grippier than that of the smoothest glass touchscreens, it’s still comfortable, and naturally, input is accurate, even with all ten fingers at once. There is a display wobble (as is often the case) when the screen is tapped—especially near the top—but it’s basically par for the course for larger, nonconvertible machines.
Two different screen resolution options exist on the Y50 Touch: 1080p (1920×1080) and UHD (3840×2160). Ours features the former, lower-resolution option, and it’s honestly sharp enough as far as we’re concerned. The non-touch models gain the benefit of a matte finish, which we always prefer, but our touch unit is covered with edge-to-edge glass. Reflections are certainly an issue in outdoor and brighter environments, due also in part to a weaker-than-average brightness and contrast performance. Color fidelity also appears dull and somewhat washed-out. Some adjustments within the graphics driver software does help the subjective appearance somewhat (i.e., Gamma 0.8, Saturation 7 in the Intel HD Graphics Control Panel), but there is no real remedy for a low-quality TN panel.
The audio configuration consists of two speakers above the keyboard by JBL, and it seems above average with good volume. We have to admit, however, that the post-processing software by Dolby (which we normally tease)—Dolby Digital Advanced V2—actually seems to make a positive difference with the quality of the overall sound. Plus, it’s easy to configure with lots of presets (though you can also manually adjust the equalizer if you’re so inclined), and one-click volume leveling to boot. In the end, with a couple quick clicks, we felt that music sounded pretty good, with a full-bodied sound that lacks only somewhat on the very low and very high end of the spectrum.
The Y50 Touch certainly heats up under load, though internal temperatures are nothing worth worrying about. We measured a maximum of 83°C during a full system stress test (CPU and GPU max load) using FurMark. Temperatures were lower during the CPU and GPU stress tests, with max values hovering below the 70°C mark.
A major improvement was made to casing as well in the way of vent location. On the Y500, we complained that our manly hands were constantly barraged by an onslaught of hot air spewing from the exhaust vent located on the right-hand side of the machine. Partially this was due to the dual-GPU design, as both GPUs featured cooling systems unique to themselves, exhausting in different directions. However, on the Y50 Touch, Lenovo managed to relocate the vent to the rear of the unit in the space between the central hinge and the display lid, similar to how many Ultrabooks are designed.
There seems to be few negatives to this approach with just one exception: surface temperatures on the top of the base unit are much higher than we’d normally consider to be comfortable. Mostly this is noticeable on the left-hand side of the keyboard; most of the heat is concentrated beneath the 1/2/3/4 number keys and the surrounding regions. However, while playing games, you’re sure to feel the heat after resting your hands on the keyboard for some time.
At 5.7 lbs, the Y50 Touch is hardly a lightweight machine, but it’s also a far cry from the burden of some of its competitors. The Y500 was almost 6½ pounds, whereas the MSI GT60 was over 7½ pounds (7.66 to exact). Of course, this is no Razer Blade (4.47 lbs!), but then again, it’s also not $2,400.
What about battery life? In light of the i7-4700HQ’s 47W TDP—especially when coupled with the roughly 60W GTX 860M—we should expect no miracles. The Y500 (whose power consumption is likely quite a bit higher) only managed 3 hours, 49 minutes runtime in the Reader’s Test (Wi-Fi on, 70% brightness, minimal load), and the Classic Test (same settings, maximal load) did it in after just 1:32. Likewise with the MSI GT60, where we recorded 4:41 under the Reader’s Test and 1:19 in the Classic Test.
Let’s see how the Y50 Touch shapes up:
For all tests, brightness was configured to as close to 200 cd/m² as possible and Wi-Fi remained ON.
Battery Eater Pro Classic Test (max load)
That’s only slightly longer than both of the other selected candidates, but then again, it’s not often you’ll be gaming unplugged.
Battery Eater Pro Reader’s Test (minimal load)
At 5:44, the Y50 Touch is still nearly three hours behind the MSI GE40, but at least it beats the GT70 by over and hour and the Y500 by two.
Web Surfing Simulation (web page refresh at regular intervals in Google Chrome)
That’s an almost identical result to that of the much larger GT60, and better than that of many other gaming notebooks. We don’t have test data for the Y500 for web surfing as we weren’t performing that test then, but we can predict that it should be somewhat lower.
Battery Life Comparison
Overall, it’s not a bad showing for a gaming notebook.