The issue of pre-built vs a custom-built PC will always be at the forefront of minds for gamers, both entering the market for the first time and even for veterans. It’s certainly a rite of passage to buy the components and laboriously put it together yourself, which can provide a learning opportunity and a rather great feeling of accomplishment when you’re done. But there seems to be several very good reasons to go for that pre-built gaming machine, mostly because it doesn’t limit you from upgrading and you get something more than just the base components. It’s more than that, it’s the whole experience and the very valuable after-sale service should something go terribly wrong. That extra support can sometimes be worth more than you actually pay.
Lenovo has partnered with Razer to better appeal to a wider range of gamers. Lenovo is typically associated with quality and even their consumer line has a certain level of engineering that’s put into designing their machines to make them both comfortable and logical to use. They have a bespoke quality and a great reputation for good machines. Razer is a heavily marketed gaming brand that’s been focusing on fixing the perception of poor quality that came about in their early stages. They’re a renewed company, you just may not know it yet if you still have those older pre-conceived notions. Their partnership, used to create this IdeaCentre Y900 Razer Edition and the Y27g Razer Edition curved monitor, are the fruits of what might be a successful relationship. One that gives you a semi-flashy pre-built gaming machine that has the service, support and actual physical components by Lenovo with the lighting and general character of Razer into a pretty interesting package. But is this package worth the cost of entry?
Y900 Razer Edition gets a lot right, but not everything
Sure, Lenovo does offer their own line of gaming machines that are less expensive and look nearly the same (the lighting is not RGB Chroma-enabled) though the marketing of the two brands gets to appeal to a much broader customer base, and that’s exactly what they wanted. To show the world that they too can make a good gaming machine. Everything inside the massive cardboard box is precisely what you’d think a Lenovo desktop ought to be. It’s efficient in design by not taking up a tremendous amount of physical space and by using components sourced entirely from their own partners. That means quality control is much higher all around. The PSU, motherboard and the pretty lighting controller comes from their own OEM partners. Everything is tightly controlled as it is with all their machines, so at the very least you’ll have a nice PC that’ll last longer than you’ll probably need it to. That’s worth something. The warranty process can be a pain, so why even risk it? And even if something does fail, as with some other system builders, they take away a lot of the headaches that come with inevitable failures. It happens. I’ve had three motherboards fail in a row, and it was a pain the neck to get things finally solved. And I was without a PC for longer than I ever wanted.
For this marriage of ideas they’re not necessarily changing or adding much. The branding is taking on the Razer sheen and Lenovo is including Razer’s peripherals inside the box. Open it up and you’ll see the already subtly attractive machine that’s very much the same as the non-Razer Edition version but you’ll have a Blackwidow Chroma with Razer Green switches and a Mamba Tournament edition. Not inexpensive accoutrements to be included. Keyboard and mouse choice is a personal preference, though, and not everyone will enjoy these peripherals. And most likely solely because of the Razer name. The green switches are very responsive with a shorter actuation point, much better durability and, crucially, better quality control. The Mamba is an interesting thing that has a mostly ambidextrous, ergonomic design. It’s even forward thinking enough with an adjustable click tension mechanism.
Review Unit Specifications
The unit we have here to review is specced precisely like that, with a single GTX 1080 running graphics duties. The retail price is $2499.99.
The chassis is quite the nice specimen, subtly unique and not overly ostentatious. They don’t go completely overboard with the “gaming” livery. The common Lenovo gaming machine logo is front and center in the carbon fiber along the front and it has small deviations from the typical rectangle, though it doesn’t really jump out at you as being a gaming machine. It’s an otherwise all steel affair with plastic bits. The top vent is both visual and has real functionality, acting as a top exhaust that uses the natural physical properties of heat. Fans have easily accessible filters, too, that can be cleaned when cat fur and dust reduce the effectiveness. What might come as a surprise, and a good one, is that the only lighting comes from the symbol on the front, the power button and the rear fan. Other than that it’s subdued. A nice change, really.
Inside it’s a mixed affair. The layout is a traditional one with the power supply on the bottom and the motherboard resting on the right side, when looking at it. The small internal volume makes things somewhat cramped, but not overly so. The HDD cage is easy to access but limited in the amount of actual expansion you have. Though really, in a pure gaming machine, how many terabytes do you actually expect to be able shove into it? The full inside is upgradable, too, letting you swap out literally everything for your components of choice. It is a bit boring inside, even if it is perfectly usable and actually fairly easy to swap things out.
One thing that we generally enjoy with a pre-built PC is the level of care taken to organize cables. They have the time and patience to make it look good back there, something not everyone tends to do for lack of inspiration or just sheer frustration that comes with organizing and making things so pretty. The Y900 Razer Edition isn’t so clean, unfortunately, with cables that are protruding when they could be more artfully tucked. I’m going to put this down to being a review unit and it having been messed with a few times by others. In terms of air-flow, it’s not in the way, but it could be a bit neater. Then, if you look inside my current case you won’t find anything close to cable management… And look at the cooler. Seriously, look at it. It’s tiny.
Connectivity is rather broad though missing USB 3.1 Type-C, something that can be added via an expansion card if you’re really miffed that it’s not included. Around back are two Razer green USB 3.0 ports, four USB 2.0 ports, Gigabit LAN provided by Killer, an HDMI DVI and VGA for the iGPU (of which the HDMI can also be used as an HDMI in as well). The Y900 Razer Edition has a Killer DoubleShot Pro that controls both the GbE port, an E2200, and the wireless portion. The wireless portion is the Killer Wireless-AC 1525 with a 2×2 configuration and a maximum throughput of 867Mbps. Killer uses proprietary means of prioritizing traffic so that it’s more efficient, and thus faster for you. You can combine both the wireless AC connection and the GbE connection for an even faster experience. They claim that the maximum increases to around 1.867Gbps of usable throughput.
On the front they’ve conveniently located four USB 3.0 ports within easy reach for all your peripherals. There’s also a 7-in-1 card reader and the requisite microphone/headphone combo jack. It’s a very clean setup and actually well designed, thoughtful even.
On the motherboard itself it has all the options you’d expect, or want. An m.2 slot that’s already populated with a Samsung PCIe-based NVMe drive, four RAM slots and a spot for three more HDD’s should you so choose. And there’s a bonus area for 5.25-inch expansion, perfect for plopping in even more HDD’s for more storage. Like maybe a wee software RAID through Storage Spaces. Or any number of accessories. So, the Y900 Razer Edition is well equipped machine on the inside and out. Not a copious amount of USB 3.0 ports on the back, but certainly enough expansion for the average user.
Lenovo tends to keep this rather light. They have their own slew of programs for managing Lenovo systems, but otherwise it’s bereft of anything too terrible. You have a trial of McAfee anti-virus, which will hound you to upgrade your license, and the ReachIT personal cloud app, which is now actually discontinued. And odd choice to include it. Other then that there’s Razer’s Synapse to control both the system’s lighting as well as the particulars of the included peripherals. They’ve also included their own easy OC utility, which is actually quite handy.
The Nerve Center is a one stop shop for looking at your system, and even connecting and controlling the connected (review coming soon) Lenovo Y27g monitor. Overclocking, too, is as easy as hitting the appropriate button. And it works. It doesn’t give the fine-grained control of Intel’s own utility, but this does make it more accessible, and safe, for the beginner. It runs well and doesn’t seem to be an issue with the system. There’s very little software bloat on Lenovo’s part. It’s satisfying to see the Y900 Razer Edition be stripped of the mostly useless software packages that used to be a massive problem in the past.