The PC gaming market has been pretty strong market over the last couple of years, and recent developments have pushed the boundaries again. With the impending launches of virtual reality headsets, we’ve seen even notebook manufacturers getting prepared to drive these new devices, but it takes a lot of compute to do it. Manufacturers going after sales of gaming notebooks are going to be able to eke out better margins too, so it’s an area many of them focus on. But the typical gaming notebook is going to be quite expensive. A powerful mobile GPU, nice display, and good processor, are all going to add to the bill of materials. For those that want to get into the market for a gaming notebook, sometimes you don’t want to break the bank.

When you try to define what makes up a gaming notebook, it’s not always cut and dry. You are certainly going to expect a discrete graphics card in the mix, along with enough processing power and storage to keep some of the latest games, which are now often times 50 GB or more. Proper gaming notebooks are going to have sufficient cooling to keep everything working at peak capacity for extended sessions of high use.

Lenovo markets their gaming lineup under the Y branding, and they offer both notebooks and desktops targeted towards this market. To round out the collection, they also offer gaming keyboards, 7.1 headphones, and even a backpack to haul the equipment around in. Today we are going to take a look at the IdeaPad Y700 gaming notebook, which was launched with Skylake processors at IFA 2015. Lenovo offers a very impressive entry level price on the Y700, with it starting at just $899 for the 15.6-inch model. This is not the only Y700 they have on offer, and Ian was able to test out a pre-production model with AMD’s Carrizo APU and R9 M380 graphics. The model Lenovo sent for review though is the Intel Core i7-6700HQ version with NVIDA GTX 960M graphics and touch display. The touch version starts at $1099 with 8 GB of memory, and the model we have is the $1149 version with 16 GB of memory.

Lenovo Ideapad Y700
As Tested: Core i7-6700HQ, 16GB RAM, 128GB+1TB, 1920x1080 Touch
  Non Touch 15 Touch 15
CPU Intel Core i5-6300HQ (45W)
2.3-3.2 GHz Quad-Core 6MB Cache

Intel Core i7-6700HQ (45W)
2.6-3.5 GHz Quad-Core with Hyperthreading 6MB Cache
Intel Core i7-6700HQ (45W)
2.6-3.5 GHz Quad-Core with Hyperthreading 6MB Cache
GPU Integrated: Intel HD 530
Discrete: NVIDIA GTX 960M
(640 CUDA Cores, 2 or 4 GB GDDR5 depending on model)
Optimus Enabled
Memory 8GB or 16GB DDR4 RAM (SODIMMs)
Display 15.6" IPS 1920x1080 resolution
non-touch with matte finish
15.6" IPS 1920x1080 resolution
touch with gloss finish

Optional: 3840x2160 IPS panel
Storage HDD: 500GB or 1TB HDD
Optional SSD: 128 GB or 512 GB SATA SSD
Networking Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3165
802.11ac 1x1:1

Optional: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260
802.11ac 2x2:2

Gigabit Ethernet (Realtek)
I/O USB 3.0 x 2
USB 2.0 always on x 1
SD Card reader
HDMI 1.4
Headset Jack
Dimensions (mm) : 387 x 277 x 25.95
(inches) : 15.23 x 10.90 x 1.02
Weight 2.6 kg / 5.7 lbs
Camera Windows Hello (Front) optional
720p standard
Price $899+ $1099+ (As tested: $1149)

There is quite a bit of value here with the internals. The Core i7-6700HQ is a 45-Watt quad-core processor with hyperthreading, 16 GB of DDR4 memory should be plenty for any gaming scenario, and you even get a SSD for the boot drive. The PM871 Samsung drive is a SATA SSD based on TLC V-NAND, so write performance likely won’t be great, but regardless it’s going to be a lot nicer than using the 1 TB hard disk drive for the OS drive. The 15.-6-inch display is an IPS panel as well, and it’s great to even see low cost gaming notebooks ditching the TN option.

We also get our first sighting of the latest Intel wireless card, which is the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260. The baseline option appears to be just the Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3265 which is a single stream solution, so the 8260 with 2x2:2 is the way to go. We’ll see later in the review how it fares.

Component wise, Lenovo has crafted a strong looking laptop for this price range. The GTX 960M is a decent pairing for 1080p gaming, and with options of either an i5 or i7 quad-core chip, there should be enough CPU power to keep everything running at maximum.

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  • neo_1221 - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    Brett, you mention a couple times that the 960M can come equipped with either 2GB of 4GB of VRAM, but you never say how much your review model has.
  • extide - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    I believe he mentions it is the 4GB one in some of the gaming results.
  • neo_1221 - Tuesday, February 16, 2016 - link

    You are correct, it's under the Dragon Age results - "even with the 4GB GTX 960M option, it pushes this card to its limits". Though it really should be listed in the spec table on the first page.
  • jahu78 - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    Bought one, to my wife for christmas, managed to configure windows etc. left it running overnight...boom next day doesn't turn on, keyboard flashes red once and screen is blank....returned it. Got a brand new one after 3 weeks. Enjoyed it for 2 weeks, left it on the table lid opened overnight, boom another bites the dust. Doesn't turn on... So either I am extremely unlucky...or their is something going on with that HW. Now I'm waiting for the 3rd replacement. My specs i5 6300hq, 15'', 8GB DDR4. Also as stated in review bleeding from the screen is just awful. So be warned...
  • Redstorm - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    I brougth one of these last year with a 1TB HDD, stuck a Samsung 950 Pro in it even though is not listed is being compatable. works fine. Boots native nvme and makes this laptop fly.
  • Samus - Thursday, February 11, 2016 - link

    It's a shame they got so much right in a well balanced package only to use what amounts to be a run of the mill $50 LCD panel. I'm sure the QHD screen is better (because even the cheaper AU optronics screens are relatively good) but the point is well taken the 960m isn't adequate for that gaming resolution. Even the 980m would struggle in QHD FPS's.

    I wonder if the non touch matte panel is better. I think a matte screen is more appropriate for a gaming laptop anyway.
  • Shadowmaster625 - Friday, February 12, 2016 - link

    That is way too much cpu for that gpu. The quad core i5 plus a 970M would seem a better combination for what should be roughly the same price.
  • JusSn - Friday, February 12, 2016 - link

    Au contraire, streaming with an 8 thread i7 is much smoother than with an i5. I get CPU encode bottlenecks on my 4690K/980 Ti when streaming 1080p/60 but this machine has no problems with it.

    I used to agree with you too but now I have to be able to stream at LANs. The games I run are low-spec but it's the streaming itself that most laptops can't handle, so this combination is perfect for my use case.
  • jjunos - Friday, February 12, 2016 - link

    Any chance you guys could snag one of the new P50/P70's? Would love to see if the xeon mobile cpus are worth their weight!!
  • vision33r - Friday, February 12, 2016 - link

    I have the Y50 which is a 15.6" version and it's a good gaming laptop for work and play. The only issue I have is the touchpad is very tricky and not big enough.

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