Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK Review

Power, angry aesthetics and enough built-in storage to hold an entire media library. Add in a decent display and great sound too. Those are the general building blocks of any gaming notebook. Users require enough power to play tomorrow’s must-have game because notebooks can’t be upgraded on a whim. They need as much storage as they can because games are getting bigger all the time. They don’t necessarily need the angry design, but it looks cool to bystanders and friends in a coffee shop. The Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK attempts to hit all of those marks.

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It’s clear that Lenovo’s designers built the Ideapad Y700 15ISK to hit all the right marks for gamers. Its large and angular body can hold an NVIDIA GTX 960M dedicated graphics card with 4GB of dedicated RAM. It uses one of the most powerful Intel Skylake Processors around, an Intel Core i7 with four different processing cores. It has a massive 15-inch display, with touch for navigating Microsoft’s Windows 10 Home operating system if users prefer to not navigate with its large trackpad.

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Certainly, the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK is one of the most powerful gaming PCs Lenovo has ever made. That power and some smartly integrated extras make it a competitor for any best gaming notebook crown — provided you’re ok with one or two compromises.

Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK Review – Design & Internals

Though the internals in the Ideapad Y700 15ISK are new, the overall design of the Ideapad Y700 15ISK isn’t. Over the last few years Lenovo has worked to refine rather than expand on the Y Gaming design. Strategically, there’s nothing wrong with that, but this does mean that we’ve seen everything here before.

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The outer shell of the Ideapad Y700 15ISK is covered in the same black metal that all the Lenovo Y Gaming machines are. On the spine of the notebook are two huge speakers designed by audio power-house JBL. The inside of these speakers are red to match the notebook’s other accents. The mesh grill is painted black to match the notebook’s frame and outside. Lenovo uses a reflective and not very finger-print resistant plastic to sit between the speakers and atop of the keyboard deck. A nice soft-touch plastic adorns an expanded keyboard deck that has the numerical keypad and backlighting that gamers absolutely require.

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The soft-touch plastic is a nice addition to the line this year. The material feels good underneath the palms. This is great for those long sessions when you’re sweating and don’t have on long sleeves to act as a barrier between you and the keyboard deck itself. I’m not entirely happy that Lenovo has decided to keep the reflective plastic of the upper-keyboard deck and the screen’s lower-bezel around. They’re always the first to collect dust.

With the spine holding the premium — and absolutely great sounding — JBL speakers, Lenovo has kept the extensive roster of ports positioned on the Ideapad Y700 15ISK’s left and right edges. A USB media card reader, USB 2.0 port and headphone jack sit on the left edge. On the right edge are two USB 3.0 ports and a lock slot. Lenovo was wise to build in an Ethernet port and full-size HDMI port. Both are smart moves because there are only a few things worse than digging out your gaming notebook and then having to attach extra dongles to get essential connectivity. On gaming PCs, Lenovo seems to agree with my opinion that dongles shouldn’t be required. Look for real ports like the Ideapad Y700 15ISK’s ports. Accept no substitutes.

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That accept no substitutes or extras philosophy applies to the device’s internals. Other gaming notebooks are dropping extra features and even offloading graphics cards into extra add-ons to keep weight and thickness down. Lenovo opted to keep heft around in return for the best internals you can really get in a mobile PC.

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Joining the Quad-Core Intel Core I7 Processor and NVIDIA GTX 960M dedicated graphics card is 16GB of RAM. The 1TB physical hard drive built into the device is backed up by a 128GB SSD so that buyers can get faster boot times and carry around every piece of media they own. No uninstalling games here, the company has seen to it. Dual storage types pays off for the Ideapad Y700 15ISK. It starts up quickly and performs as well as any modern SSD equipped laptop. Install games on the SSD and you’re looking at almost non-existent loading times. Games installed on the hard drive take more time to start, but it’s not as awful as I’ve heard some describe it.

It’s the extras in the Ideapad Y700 15ISK that I appreciate most. You don’t need to connect any external speakers to the machine as the JBL speakers pump out enough sound on their own. What’s more, a round subwoofer on the bottom of the notebook adds some dimension that owners of thinner notebooks, with their basic speaker setups, could only dream of. You can easily fill a room with these speakers set at just a quarter of their volume. You feel the base of the music in your games with your hands on the keyboard deck. You hear the footsteps of other players behind you as you play multiplayer games through Steam.

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Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK Review – Specifications

  • Processors: Up to 6th Generation Intel Quad-Core i7 Processor
  • Operating System: Windows 10 Home
  • Memory: Up to 16GB of DDR4 RAM, 1TB Hard Drive & 128GB SSD for Storage
  • Graphics: Up to NVIDIA GTX 960M with 4GB of GDDR5 Memory
  • Add-ons: Dual JBL Speakers with Subwoofer Underneath & Dolby Sound
  • Battery Life: 4 Cell Battery
  • Ports & Connectivity: Kensington Lock Slot, 1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, Audio Jack, Full-size HDMI port, Media Card Reader, Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 4.0
  • Dimensions: Weight 5.7 pounds, 1.02-inches Thick

Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK Review – Experience

That terrific sound quality helps keep your attention off some of the Ideapad Y700 15ISK’s biggest flaws.

With all of that power, the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK needs something to keep it cool and that something comes in the form of a fan on its bottom and spine that you can hear clearly. When playing a game, that’s to be expected. I heard that fan audibly when starting up Windows, opening the Windows Store or sometimes loading websites in Chrome, which shouldn’t happen. The fan isn’t at full throttle all the time, thankfully.

Lenovo sells the Ideapad Y700 15ISK with two different types of screens. One is a frameless 1080p 15.6-inch panel that barely has any frame. The second is an Ultra HD panel with anti-glare technology and a resolution of 3840 x 2160. My review unit came with the latter panel and I have to say that I wasn’t completely impressed. The display itself looks great and offers some great angles without distortion, but its color temperature seemed a bit too cold to me by default. Despite the anti-glare technology, my own reflection in the highly polished bezel kept distracting me from my games and writing this review.

Cities Skylines Screenshots (3)

Maximum graphics in Cities Skylines.

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Compliments to the team at Lenovo that continues to keep the company’s input devices great. They’ve done a great job with the embedded glowing red keys and rectangular trackpad in the Ideapad Y700 15ISK. Every key press and click feels solid. The overall design of the Ideapad Y700 15ISK does let them down just a bit. The tapered edge that Lenovo uses to thin out the front of the notebook when closed felt a little too sharp on my wrist and forearms.

In spite of all of that, the Ideapad Y700 15ISK is a gaming beast. There wasn’t a game that I found and couldn’t completely max out its visuals. The fans on the notebook aren’t quiet, but do a terrific job of expelling hot air from the notebook. Five hour gaming sessions didn’t include any throttling and frame rate drops. I only noticed some warming on the keyboard deck around the backspace key, which is great. Gaming battery life isn’t too great, but that’s what you’d expect from a machine with this much power. I averaged two hours with brightness turned moderately up.

Cities Skylines Screenshots (1)

Maximum graphics in Cities Skylines.

What’s very clearly a driver issue from Intel did cause the notebook to periodically lock up. It’d recover soon after, though. I’m not holding it against Lenovo because we’ve seen the same issues in other devices built around Intel’s latest processors. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 only recently recovered from these issues. This shouldn’t keep you from buying the PC, but wait until Intel has put in the work to fix what’s going wrong here.

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Lenovo is also to be commended for keeping the software pack-ins to a minimum with the Ideapad Y700 15ISK. I still found some things I wasn’t pleased with like a OneGaming offer. ShareIt and PhotoMaster don’t seem like essential add-ons either. On the other hand, there were some decent software utilities on-board that most people will appreciate. Lenovo Companion provides a great on-high look at the PCs health. There’s an extensive set of panels and options for tuning graphics performance too.

Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK Review – Should You Buy

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Sharp keyboard deck edges, a large and distracting bezel, heft and a loud fan aren’t enough to ruin the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 15ISK. Arguably, the keyboard deck isn’t a terrific issue to have, but the other issues are the byproduct of a powerful mobile gaming PC.

The Ideapad Y700 15ISK starts at $1,163 and well worth the price if you’re serious about taking your favorite games away from your desktop PC.