There’s something slightly majestic about having a massive gaming laptop to call your own, something you can use not just for powering through the latest games, but damn near any task you happen to wish. It’s a workstation at heart that’s put together and built by the same engineers that design their other tanks err, machines. It’s solid, it’s sturdy and there’s plenty of power underneath. But there’s something that sets it apart from the other choices, of which there are many, that at least helps to persuade you to glance in the direction of the Y900.
Lenovo’s Y900 is like a targeted strike
First, the aesthetics are actually quite nice, not as startling or eye-catching at first glance as some gaming machines tend towards being, but the lid and grills do add a bit of flair to it without being obnoxious. I hate obnoxious machines, they’re harsh looking and generally ugly. Not to mention the flair tends to not have much purpose. The light on the lid and the substance they covered the Y900 with is actually quite nice. The shape too, isn’t overly objectionable either. That slightly textured feel is useful when gripping and resists fingerprints. It’s sturdy enough to touch roughly, if that’s your thing.
The keyboard is no ordinary butterfly or membrane, nor the rather pleasing design that Lenovo has on their other laptops. They’ve stepped it up with a nice surprise this time. They’ve managed to put in a fully mechanical keyboard that’s both better than the traditional Lenovo keyboard (which is magical in its quality and feel) and near any other laptop keyboard in existence. It’s clicky with a clear actuation and reset point and they’ve included different colored keycaps for the true gamer in all of us. Typing on it is something that’s akin to a heavenly experience with 2mm of travel, which is more than enough. This has to be personally experienced to really appreciate the difference. I type a lot of errors and appreciate the easy flow between keys and the sure click that tells me when a key is pressed, and thus a character appears on my screen. Surprisingly, it’s helped to cut down on errors and it’s going to be well missed when it’s gone.
More than just the keyboard, the trackpad, one of the primary means of connection with your wayward semi-intelligent machine, is actually nearly the best I’ve ever glided my fingers across. Anyone who’s used a Mac may agree that at the very least (not everyone likes the OS of course) the trackpads that Apple makes are nearly flawless and so natural to use. Yeah, it’s not for gaming but it makes getting around the desktop while doing other menial tasks quite a bit more enjoyable. It’s made by Elan and it’s smooth. It responds well to your fingers and this translates into an actual usable experience. I’ve been so frustrated with how quite a few trackapds are on some laptops. It’s generally quite disappointing and very exasperating to navigate. This one on the Y900 is different, though not entirely without its own issues. But movement on it is still much easier than some. Some multi-touch gestures don’t quite register right away and it can be finicky, but damn if you can finally accurately point at what you want without having to pull out a mouse on the side. Kudos to Lenovo for helping to fix one of the most baffling parts of laptop designs. Touchscreens are better than most trackpads.
It’s difficult with a market full of gaming laptops of all types, but standing out with the little things is what makes the Y900 catch my eye. Aesthetics may appeal to different crowds, but the laptop itself is a relative joy to use in the day-to-day activities, such as writing this piece. As a desktop replacement, it’s fast and fine and quite responsive. Some may deride the fact that it lacks a higher resolution screen, though I rarely see the importance of anything higher when using a mobile GPU. 4K is nice, but you won’t be playing at that resolution on a laptop, at least not this one or those like it. It also makes for scaling issues for those applications that haven’t quite been updated, so it’s really a non-issue. What laptops need instead, are good screens. Which initial inspection seems to concur that everything looks fantastic on this 1080P screen. At 17” you’ll be hard pressed to see any of the individual pixels, unless you pull out a magnifying glass. It’s sufficient, more than sufficient, for a laptop of this design. It’s bright, contrasty (numbers coming soon) and colors seem accurate to my eye.
So in essence it seems to be the perfect desktop replacement/gaming wonder machine. And it does fit most of the bill, checking a lot of the boxes that you wouldn’t expect to be checked. That mechanical keyboard alone is worth its weight in gold. Almost. Through the next weeks we’ll have a report of performance, though with an Intel i7-6820HK and a 980M, you’ll likely already know how it performs, so the most important report is how it deals with heat. If it can be comfortable whilst gaming and doodling about, then it checks even more boxes. It’s quite sad it only has a 980M in an age of Pascal mobile parts but we expect Lenovo to update the Y900 with the appropriate NVIDIA 1080M in the near future as availability of those parts increases. Even the 1070M would be a great MXM card to have in here. Regardless, I think we’ll be in for a wild, and quite fun ride with this laptop. But we’ll see…