Lenovo has been rather consistent with its gaming laptops, at least in terms of design, and that continues with the Y70 Touch. Like some of its predecessors, including this year’s smaller 15.6in Y50, the Y70 combines a nearly all-black chassis with flourishes of red adorning the keyboard and speakers, including gamer-friendly red LED backlighting.
The lid has a brushed metal design that isn’t completely flat; instead it has a slight angularity to it, alongside Lenovo branding. Open up the lid and you’ll find the palm rest and areas surrounding the keyboard have a soft-touch rubber coating, which should help create grip without turning your palms sweaty. The palm rest is comfortably large, too, so you won’t necessarily have to plug in an external keyboard for serious gaming.
The full-size keyboard has a chiclet design, with each of the keys backlit at two different brightness levels – or turned off altogether if you prefer. The red glow attractively illuminates the edge of each key, making it possible to type (or play) in total darkness, but the keyboard layout admittedly felt rather cramped. This isn’t a major problem if you’re only using the WASD keys, but it could take a while to get used to typing on it.
I found the numeric keypad packed far too closely to the main keyboard area, which also meant the often-used backspace and enter keys were easy to miss and also a little small for my tastes. A more thoughtful keyboard layout would have alleviated these issues, especially as there isn’t exactly a lack of space on the 17.3in chassis. Key travel was at least decent, so once I hit my stride typing became more fluid.
The touchpad is at least a decent size, and I found it refreshingly responsive after a bit of customisation, too. It handled multi-finger gestures without any hitches and it has a pleasant surface to swipe upon, meaning using it wasn’t a constant source of frustration like other laptop touchpads. There are integrated left and right clicking buttons at the bottom and a clear distinction between the two, something that can be irritatingly missing on other laptops. You also have the option to prod away at the 17.3in touchscreen, but it’s not something many will really want to do. While Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 make for a more enjoyable touch-based experience, the laptop’s hinge simply isn’t rigid enough, meaning the gigantic screen wobbles back and forth with every touch input. It’s not helped that the hinge itself is small relative to the display, meaning there’s even less stability.
As for the screen itself, aside from being large it’s also of respectable quality, and certainly at parity with other gaming laptops we’ve tested. Black levels of 0.34cd/m2 and brightness of 319.4cd/m2 are around what we expected, as was the contrast of 930:1. Coverage of 87.5% of the sRGB gamut is par for the course, with most colours served pretty well. The 1,920×1,080 resolution is also an ideal match for the laptop’s graphics capabilities; any more pixels and game frame rates would suffer.
The screen is perfectly serviceable for entertainment purposes, especially for gaming, and colours were punchy and vibrant. I was happy not to witness much colour shift when viewing the screen on horizontal or vertical planes, too. If you’re planning on playing dark and atmospheric games on this machine, the reflections caused by the glossy touchscreen coating will reduce your enjoyment a little, unless you play in a completely darkened room.
The Y70 Touch still ships with Windows 8.1 installed, but a free upgrade to Windows 10 is just a download away. I tested the laptop with Windows 10 installed and didn’t encounter any driver issues after the upgrade, although I did have to install the latest Nvidia drivers manually to get proper graphical performance.
A quad-core Intel Core i7-4710HQ supplies the power. It’s clocked at 2.5GHz, with the ability to boost to 3.5GHz when thermal conditions allow. This is supported by 16GB of RAM. Running the standard Expert Reviews application benchmarks, the Y70 Touch managed an overall score of 81, which is decent but unsurprisingly not a patch on more expensive gaming laptops such as the Gigabyte P37W or theAsus G751JT that use faster processors and managed scores over 100. The Y70 will still ably handle most tasks you throw at it as a desktop replacement, though. You get a 256GB SSD, which is a decent size and should be enough to hold your most frequently used programs and games.
Gaming performance is provided by an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M mobile graphics card with 4GB of memory. It’s a decent enough performer, but this is my main sticking point with this laptop: the 860M is from early 2014 and we’re now in late 2015, where the current-generation GeForce GTX 960M is now the de facto standard for mid-range laptops and, according to our benchmarks on the similarly-specified Scan 3XS Graphite LG157 is roughly 10% faster. Even worse, despite the old hardware, the Lenovo is more expensive. Yes, you get a decent looking laptop with a quality screen, but you’re paying a premium. It’s simply not good value.
With a spacious 17.3in display and a full-size keyboard, the Lenovo Y70 is certainly not a laptop you’ll want to carry around day-to-day. The system weighs a considerable 3.4kg that will make it unwieldy to carry. Impressive battery life and decent build aside, this laptop isn’t particularly good value unless you absolutely must have a touchscreen. The 15.6in MSI GE62 Apache is more powerful and much better value overall.