The IdeaPad Y50’s goal of providing gaming-grade performance with a budget-friendly price tag is mostly a success. It manages to unseat the Y500 in every meaningful benchmark and it provides respectable performance with medium to high settings in most games. It is, in fact, one of the least expensive options to include a GTX 860M at the time of this writing.
It also implements a number of improvements over the Y500’s design, starting with some basic case revisions (such as the removal of the sharp front edge of the palm rest we complained about and the reduced reliance on plastic). Many of the remaining enhancements are the result of chipset and efficiency updates—such as the trading of two GT 650M video adapters (in the Y500) for one GTX 860M—thereby also restoring the Optimus functionality which is absent in SLI configurations. Of course, such improvements have direct effects on a machine’s battery life, which we found to be vastly improved over that of the Y500, if not still a little disappointing.
But as we always seem to repeat throughout our conclusions here at PC Perspective, notebook design and selection is perpetually a matter of compromises and priorities. By choosing to focus on affordability, the Y50 inherently submits to a necessary swath of compromises which—fortunately—don’t seem too debilitating if budget gaming is mostly what you’re after. But they’re still there, and they will quickly become notable should you decide to call yourself an owner of the Y50 Touch.
Cosmetically, we’ve still got that cheap plastic on the Y50 Touch, though it’s limited this time to the strip between the speakers above the keyboard. In terms of component selection and general system performance, a lowly 5400 RPM hard drive does the notebook no favors. Despite its large capacity, it’s a slow performer with REPLACE WITH SSD written all over it. Unfortunately, thanks to the lack of an mSATA or M.2 slot, there are no options in the Y50 Touch for secondary storage, so the user will need to pick a drive and live with it. We’d recommend a large-capacity SSD, of course, but if budget is enough of a concern, we realize that may not be in the cards (yet).
Seeing as it’s thin and packing high-end TDP values, the Y50 Touch generates a lot of heat, too. A lot. And the thermal design—while arguably preferable in comparison to the Y500’s approach, which spewed hot air directly out the right side of the notebook onto your mouse hand—doesn’t keep things all that comfortable during lengthy gaming sessions. The top of the unit heats up fairly dramatically (especially across the left side of the keyboard), so the solution isn’t as straightforward as our usual “don’t play games on your lap” advice. A cooling pad might very well make sense in this case, though your mileage may vary.
Finally, although the 1080p screen suffices in terms of resolution, its other attributes leave a lot to be desired. Color intensity and contrast carry a dull look, and the glossy finish due to the touch panel means reflections and fingerprints are an ongoing battle. Potential buyers really need to be sure they’re aware of the limitations imposed by a touch panel before committing to a purchase, as there are plenty of great units available (including every other Y50 out there) without touch that feature matte screens and even lower price tags.
Does the Y50 Touch make sense for you? If you absolutely must have touch, it’s a reasonable choice, provided you’re okay with the bothersome surface temperatures, you don’t mind the weak LCD performance, and you plan to replace the storage drive at some point. Otherwise, we’d recommend looking at the regular Y50 instead, or perhaps saving up a bit more dough and plunking it down on a full-blown high-end gaming machine.