Design and Features
The IdeaPad Y700-17$1,199.99 at Amazon is large and unwieldy, due to its width, though, it is surprisingly thin. Its slim form factor is noteworthy, given its heavy-hitting components, but as a gaming machine, you’re probably not going to do as much traveling with the IdeaPad as you would with a smaller laptop. It measures 1.1 by 16.66 by 12 inches (HWD) and weighs 7.9 pounds, which isn’t overly heavy, but it’s so big and flat that it’s cumbersome to carry around. Its dimensions compare favorably with other 17-inch systems like the Asus ROG G752VT-DH72 (1.5 by 16.4 by 12.7 inches and 8.8 pounds) and the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro G-1438 (1.89 by 17 by 11.75 inches, 8.5 pounds). The Dell Inspiron 15 7559 is a smaller 15-inch system and is consequently a good deal slimmer and lighter, at 0.98 by 15 by 10.4 inches and 5.88 pounds.
The 17.3-inch, 1,920-by-1,080-resolution display is sharp and bright, with anti-reflective technology that helps keep away distracting reflections. The 1080p resolution is typical for entry-level gaming systems, as going up to 3K or 4K would significantly increase the overall price. The Dell Inspiron 15 7559 features the same-resolution display and anti-reflective coating, while the screen on the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro (VN7-591G-75S2)$1,099.00 at Amazon, which is closer in price to the IdeaPad Y700-17, also features the same resolution.
The exterior of the laptop is made of aluminum, while the area around the keyboard and the screen hinge is plastic. Given all the real estate on this deep and wide system, the keyboard is disproportionately small. The space between where your wrists naturally rest and the keyboard is taller than the keyboard itself, which is in a recess all the way at the back of the deck. The setup is awkward, and the keys feel small and far away from your fingers. The keyboard is backlit, with red lighting that can be adjusted to two different levels of brightness or turned off entirely.
The sound system is loud and clear, with plenty of bass, featuring two JBL speakers and a 3-watt subwoofer on the bottom of the chassis. The speaker design is bold, with each speaker located on each of the laptop’s top corners, with red coloring and an angular shape. The sound quality is fantastic, among the best I’ve heard on a laptop, with particularly good bass, thanks to the subwoofer. The rich sound doesn’t get distorted at maximum volume, and the booming audio filled the room during testing.
For storage, the laptop includes both a 1TB, 5,400rpm hard drive and a 128GB SSD that serves as the boot drive for faster startup and loading. The Acer V 15 Nitro has a similar setup, while the Dell Inspiron 15 7559 and the MSI PE70 2QD-062US$1,099.00 at Amazoninclude just a 1TB hard drive.
Connectivity options are good. The system includes a USB 2.0 port, a 4-in-1 card reader, a Novo recovery port, and an audio jack on its left side. If you push in the Novo recovery port slot with a tool or paperclip, the computer prompts you with an option to create a system backup image or to launch system recovery. The right side holds two USB 3.0 ports, an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, and a Kensington lock slot. For wireless connectivity, the system has dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0. The laptop is covered by a one-year warranty.
The IdeaPad Y700-17 is equipped with a sixth-generation 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor, 16GB of memory, and a 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M graphics card, all speedy components for the price. In the PCMark 8 Work Conventional test, the laptop scored 3,384 points, which is similar to the Acer Aspire V 15 Nitro (3,160 points) and the MSI PE70 2QD-062US (3,169 points), while the Dell Inspiron 15 7559 was further behind (2,833 points). This means the IdeaPad Y700-17 is quick, perfectly capable of handling projects and daily computing tasks, and won’t struggle with multitasking.
Its 3D graphics performance is solid for an entry-level gaming system. The IdeaPad Y700-17 scored 17,492 on 3DMark Cloud Gate and 2,006 on 3DMark Fire Strike Extreme. The Acer V 15 Nitro, the MSI PE70, and the Dell Inspiron 15 7559 all lagged behind on Cloud Gate. The pricier Alienware 15 couldn’t stack up on Cloud Gate, scoring 12,382, but did perform better on Fire Strike Extreme (3,128). The IdeaPad Y700-17’s Fire Strike Extreme score was not too far ahead of the less expensive Dell Inspiron 15 7559’s 1,992 points, either, which is more relevant to high-end gaming. Still, the system is better equipped than its competition to handle high-end 3D graphics, and offers strong 3D performance at a reasonable price.
The IdeaPad Y700-17 also performed well in the Heaven and Valley gaming tests. It scored 79fps and 84fps on Heaven and Valley, respectively, at Medium-quality settings. At Ultra quality, the laptop scored 23fps and 26fps, which is slightly under what’s considered smooth (30fps). That means you’ll have to lower a few settings or dial down some effects from Ultra when playing demanding games, but it’s capable of playing most modern titles on high settings. The results also beat the Acer V 15 Nitro, the MSI PE70, and the Dell Inspiron 15 7559 by at least a few frames on every test. The Dell Inspiron 15 wasn’t that far behind, posting 74fps on both Heaven and Valley tests at Medium-quality settings, and 24fps and 19fps, respectively, at Ultra-quality settings, and it costs $365 less.
The struggle for the IdeaPad Y700-17 to hit 30fps on the highest settings was confirmed in real-world testing. When I played The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt on the system, it exhibited some lag when set to Ultra quality with all the extra effects turned on, but the action smoothed out after I turned down a few taxing settings, like Nvidia HairWorks and the shadow quality. You’ll have to tweak some options in games like this to find the right balance of performance and appearance, but the laptop is generally capable of a mix of moderate and high settings.
Multimedia tasks should be fairly quick to do on the IdeaPad Y700-17. It finished the Handbrake video-encoding test in 1 minute 10 seconds, the Photoshop test in 4:11, and it scored 672 on Cinebench, just behind the Acer V 15 Nitro. The Dell Inspiron 15 7559 was slower (1:35 on Handbrake; 4:31 on Photoshop; 464 on Cinebench), but not dramatically so, particularly given the price difference. The MSI PE70 edged the IdeaPad Y700-17 on Photoshop (3:21), but the IdeaPad Y700-17 was the quickest system among its peers overall.
Gaming systems don’t generally tend to stay off their chargers too long, but sometimes it’s needed, and the IdeaPad Y700-17 did admirably in terms of battery life. Especially given its size, its score of 7 hours 5 minutes on our rundown test was good, slightly behind the Dell Inspiron 15’s 7:28. Both the Alienware 15 and the Acer V 15 Nitro lasted just 5:29, and the MSI PE70 turned in an unimpressive 2:27.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y700-17 is a well-performing gaming system, offering a smooth experience in high-end games at an affordable price. The large display looks good, and the sound system is a standout, though the keyboard sizing and location is irksome. Design quibbles aside, the laptop provides strong performance where it counts for a gaming system, and isn’t lacking in storage or port options. This system won’t disappoint if you’re looking to play demanding games without breaking the bank. That said, the Dell Inspiron 15 700 Series (7559) is even more affordable at $799.99, and it features strong performance that sticks close to that of the IdeaPad Y700-17. As such, it remains our Editors’ Choice for entry-level systems, but if you have about $350 more to spend and are looking for a larger screen, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y700-17 is an attractive alternative.