The Lenovo Y480 is what I feel a great portable gaming notebook with some really troubled component choice. Packing a Core i7 3610QM and Nvidia GT650M in a 14 inch chassis is really a great gaming combo but a notebook doesn’t consist of just the processor and graphic card. Read on to find out more about the problem with this notebook.
Specs from Lenovo site:
I bought this at Indonesia for IDR 10,150,000 or US$ 1,068 using the rate of US$1 = IDR 9,500.
I think the design will appeal to most guys. Black with a touch of orange on the side of the lid, fan exhaust area and keyboard, this is meant to make your notebook scream “THIS IS A GAMER’S NOTEBOOK”. The spec reads as “Real Metal Shell” which is true but it should write as Thin Metal Shell. The lid does flex quite a bit unlike my 2 year old HP Envy 14 and makes it feel kinda plastic. Opening the lid reveals the usual 1366×768 14 inch glossy LCD which is bad like most of the notebook. To make things worst the border of the lcd is also glossy and the reflection is uneven making the border feels like its bent or something. After 2 weeks of normal use, there is 2 mysterious scratches that appear out of nowhere even though I handled the Lenovo with kid gloves (the HP Envy 14 also has glossy border which is very even and after 2 years of use and bringing it all over the world there is not even a single scratch in the border). The hinge is quite smooth but just typing in it makes the screen wobble a bit and thanks to the glossy border it is easy to see the wobbling. The “brushed aluminium” palm area also flexes a little but it is better than most laptop I have used.
Keyboard and touchpad
Thankfully the keyboard is great and looks beautiful to look at. There is enough travel and the “smile” shaped button makes it easy and a pleasure to type on. There is also a back light (on and off only via fn + spacebar) for the keyboard and compared to the HP Envy 14, it is a lot brighter and is noticeable even in bright light although it would be even nicer if it has multiple colors like Alienware. Touchpad is the usual affair, usable and a bit better than HP Envy 14. One thing I liked is that compared to the Hp Envy 14 of 2010, the palm rejection seems to work better and since it is recessed there is less chance of accidentally touching it.
Display and Speaker
The Lenovo Y480 comes with the standard 14 inch 1366 x 768 pixel glossy screen and as usual the viewing angle is limited and I find myself having to adjust from time to time. I doubt you will complain if you migrated from a notebook with the same LCD but if you are moving from HP Radiance display, IPS panel or HD LCD, the difference is very noticeable. Text looks blurry than IPS panel and if tilted a bit off than a few degrees of optimal angle looks washed out. The glossy display also adds to the pain and the maximum brightness is noticeably lower than the HP Envy 14. The JBL speaker is switched off as usual as it is horrible like most other notebook that I used. I am not going to review it much but if you have a mid end speaker, you will not be able to stand the tiny sounding sound it makes.
I am not doing too much of benchmark here as other site does a more detail and precise benchmark but the Lenovo Y480 seems to get slightly lower marks than others probably due to the slow hard drive and 4GB of ram.
3DMark11 – P2051
3DMark06 – 14471
PCMark7 – 2558
At High Perfomance setting with brightness set to 80%, Wifi on the Lenovo Y480 would last 2hour 10 minutes before hitting 8% mark. This is tested by booting up through hibernation from 100% and then doing some office work and browsing.
Problems that you should know
1) Network Adapter
Before I bought something, I will usually do the usual checklist of checking the physical condition of the laptop, dead pixel, system configuration and other stuff. There is one thing that I did not check and that is the Wireless Network Adapter and I totally regret not doing that. I am not sure if my unit has a defective Atheros AR9285 Wireless Network Adapter but it is horrible… it is the most horrible, horrible adapter that I have ever used. My room has a 5cm concrete wall and the wireless router is at my living room which is probably just 5 meters away, in that condition my old HP Envy 14 has constant full bar and my Galaxy Nexus has o-2 bar (it dropped sometimes). Guess what… my Lenovo Y480 get – 1 -3 bar. That means that my notebook is marginally better than a smartphone. To make things worst, the internet would completely disconnect when it hit 1 bar. I tried everything from driver update to changing the settings and nothing work. Plugging in a US$10 USB wireless adapter from TP-Link, I get a constant 4 bar with no disconnect and to get constant 4 bar in the Lenovo Y480 I have to put my laptop right in front of the Wireless router.
2) Stuttering Issue
For normal use, I found that the Lenovo Y480 sometime stutters. I felt that this is mainly due to the slow RPM of the hard disk and the limited 4GB Ram. Using the Ready Boost on a Sandisk 16GB SD Card seems to make quite a difference.
3) Port Placement
One thing that I am annoyed with the Y480 is the port placement on the right side of the notebook. Thanks to the “L” shaped power connector, one of the USB 3.0 port is blocked if the wire is running towards you. This isn’t a major issue but its an annoyance since at the office I can only use 3 USB 3.0 port.
4) Heat issue
Although there is a large ventilation to the left and a nice clearance on the bottom thanks to the slightly taller rubber feet, the Y480 can still get quite hot on the center of the keyboard if you used it for gaming so don’t be fooled by that large ventilation. The heat issue is totally gone after placing a Coolermaster Notepal U Stand Mini.
5) Power Brick
I can’t really complain about this since the combination of the i7 and GT650m is really power hungry but it is very big and heavy. Even though the notebook weighs slightly lighter than the Envy, the power brick makes the overall package heavier.
Overall I felt that the ideapad branding is an irony. The Y480 is really a great idea that could become a great product but they never think about what to cram in before releasing it. For a US$1,000 product it isn’t Alienware territory but it’s still not cheap. The guys over at Lenovo should put more effort on its product just like HP did with its Envy 14 which I bought for US$900 2 years ago. Even until now, the Envy 14 aged well and didn’t show much problem in daily office task and some gaming. Only when playing modern games like Guild Wars 2, Max Payne 3 etc does the Envy 14 shows its age. I really wish that I can just rip off the graphic card and processor and cram it to the Envy 14. Everything else the Envy does it better and classier…