There are countless trends competing for attention in the gaming notebook and laptop space but not all of them are either useful or benefit the core gaming experience.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y710-200
- Good application and multitasking performance, high-definition screen, HDMI output, notebook screen can be used as a second monitor for your existing PC or notebook
- 'Game Zone' isn't located to the left of the keyboard, no optical audio output, screen looks grainy, no Gigabit networking, no digital TV tuner, no remote
Lenovo thrills us with many useful features on this IdeaPad Y710-200, but it fumbles the ball a little in its implementation of the 'Game Zone'. It's also let down by a lack of Gigabit networking and a digital TV tuner.
Price$ 3,499.00 (AUD)
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y710-200 is a desktop replacement notebook aimed at gamers and home theatre users. It's big, well-equipped and reasonably powerful, but ultimately falls a little short of what it's trying to accomplish.
Lenovo's design team has done a good job packing the IdeaPad with features and easy-to-use switches and buttons, but the 'Game Zone' is a little perplexing. This is an area on the right side of the keyboard that contains arrow keys, shortcut keys and a CPU speed control. We'd prefer it if the Game Zone was on the left side of the keyboard, as it's uncomfortable to use on the right. The speed switch is useful for when you want to use the computer at night or any other time you need peace and quiet — and it has a noticeable effect on system performance.
The switch has three settings: turbo, mid and silent. The turbo setting is the fastest, with the CPU running at 2.5GHz; the silent setting runs the CPU at 1.2GHz. This dramatic slow-down was shown in our WorldBench 6 benchmark, with the notebook scoring a miserable 42 in silent mode, but a very respectable 94 in turbo mode. In 'silent' mode the notebook was actually very quiet, while in turbo mode the fans were clearly audible. The mid setting didn't slow down the notebook's performance too much, but did noticeably reduce noise; the IdeaPad recorded a WorldBench score of 92 at this setting.
The IdeaPad Y710-200 will run productivity applications swiftly, as well as photo-editing software, and it can even be used for a little video rendering. Of course, it's great for multitasking, and its 17in widescreen display, with a native resolution of 1920x1200, provides plenty of space for lining up windows side by side. It's not all that hot for gaming. You'll still be able to run the latest DirectX 10-based games, but only at low resolutions and without any eye candy enabled; it will do a better job with older games. It costs a lot to play the latest games smoothly on a notebook, as you can see from Alienware's Area-51 m15x-R1.
Two gigabytes of RAM are installed, as are two 5400rpm hard drives. The drives are both 250GB in size (232GB formatted capacity), but Lenovo has made the system partition on the first drive only 30GB in size. This could pose problems unless you remember to install applications on the second partition.
Physically, the notebook has a glossy, yet elegant lid, but it's spoiled somewhat by blue LEDs on each side, which are no doubt there to appease gamers' lust for all things flashy. The screen is glossy, so it's susceptible to reflections. It also looks a little grainy, which can get annoying. One excellent feature of the notebook is the switch next to the D-Sub port, which allows the 17in screen to be used as a monitor for a PC.
There's a touch-panel above the keyboard that has shortcuts to pre-set equaliser settings, and there's even a switch on the front of the notebook for the subwoofer. Audio playback wasn't very loud, but it was relatively clear and it benefited greatly from the bottom-mounted subwoofer. Blu-ray movies were played back very well by the system — they looked great on the screen — and speech was handled just as well as explosions and environmental sounds. Unfortunately, the IdeaPad lacks an optical audio output.
However, it does have HDMI, so you can plug the notebook into a receiver to transport its video and audio signals to your existing home theatre set-up. The ATI graphics card is well-suited to home theatre, as you'll be able to connect it to any HDTV using HDMI and scale it appropriately if it doesn't fit your screen on the first go.
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