The Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 is a 14-inch screen laptop that’s got a lot of performance punch, don’t underestimate this laptop based on its size. If you’re looking for a laptop that’s portable but still has the power to tackle intensive 3D rendering applications and offers great gaming performance then the Y470 should interest you. Add to that the great speakers and screen and you also have a laptop that can double as a capable mini media center. The following is a review of the Ideapad Y470 I recently purchased, the specs of the laptop under review are as follows:
Processor: Intel Core i7-2630qm Quad Core, 2.0GHz (overclocks to 2.90GHz)
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 550M 1GB
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Optical Drive: DVD-RW
Storage: 500GB 7200RPM HDD at purchase, 80 GB Intel 310 mSATA SSD Installed after market
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium
Wireless: Intel 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth Version 2.1 + EDR
Integrated 2.0MP Camera
Ports: 1 USB 2.0, 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB eSATA Combo, 6-in-1 card reader (SD/SD-pro/MMC/MS/MS-pro/XD), headphone port, microphone port, VGA, HDMI, Ethernet RJ-45, 2 Mini-PCl ports
Total Price: $924 pretax (including $50 for 2 year warranty upgrade, doesn’t include mSATA SSD price)
At the time of this writing I have had the IdeaPad Y470 for about two weeks giving me ample time to use and test it. However, before starting the review, I want to point out a couple of things regarding the Y470 under review:
First, the price of $924 is not the standard pricing on the Lenovo Canada websitewhere this Y470 was purchased, I used a 20% off coupon code in conjunction with a sale taking place on the Lenovo Canada website at the time of purchase. The Y470 laptop normally retails for $1,399, although 20% coupons appear to pop up fairly frequently, so check what’s available before you buy.
Second, I had issues getting the laptop shipped. Shipping and final delivery of the Y470 ended up taking about one month as it was lost in transit on the first attempt. I was unhappy with the way that was handled by Lenovo customer support which left a bad taste in my mouth regarding Lenovo support in general. First impressions are lasting so it will be hard to get over that.
Now on to the review! The IdeaPad Y470 is a 14.1 inch laptop and the best analogy I can think of to describe it is being equivalent to a mini-Austrian body builder. It may not be as big and powerful as other laptops, but for its size the Y470 has a surprising amount of strength under the hood and stands out among other 14-inch laptops as being more powerful. I researched other 14-inch laptops at the time of purchase and the only other option I could find that came close in terms of specs was the Alienware m14x from Dell. It is true the Alienware m14x boasts a more powerful Nvidia 555M graphics card inside, but because of this the m14x is bulkier and less portable. The Lenovo Y470 has a lot of pros, and a few cons and I will cover each of these aspects in the review.
Lenovo Y470 Build and Design
As you can see from the pictures included in this review, the Y470 just looks classy. The grey/brown/taupe color is subdued and pleasing and makes for a much more interesting look than a solid single color laptop. The chassis that supports and protects the laptop internal components is solid and sturdy, there is no creaking or flex when you pickup the laptop. The palm rest area of the keyboard has a plastic feel on the surface but the rigidity of the palm rests would lead you to believe it is metal as there is zero flex. Overall the build quality of the Y470 is quite high, but there are a few notable exceptions I will mention. The biggest complaint I have is with the the bezel surrounding the screen, it is at least an inch on all sides and glossy, which to me looks cheap looking even if the designers thought it might be classy. My previous LG R500 laptop screen, by comparison, has a much thinner bezel around the screen and is matte, which reduces annoying reflections and avoids attracting fingerprints. My other minor complaint with the Y470 build is that on the right hand side of the screen frame bezel it seems a little loose, I assume this is due to fact the antenna wire for the wireless card runs underneath it, though I am unsure.
Lenovo Y470 Keyboard
The Lenovo Y470 has a chiclet style keyboard and is a pleasure to type on. The keys are firm, well spaced, and allow for an accurate, relatively high typing speed. With that said, I do have a few gripes to air. My previous LG R500 laptop keyboard provided a more comfortable typing experience for a number of reasons. First off, the Enter key on the LG R500 is horizontal, whereas on the Y470 it is long vertically, this makes no sense ergonomically when you are moving your pinky finger laterally to hit the key. Secondly, the built-in number pad on the LG R500 is incredibly useful and I really miss having it. I understand that with a 15.6 inch laptop there is more room in the keyboard area to fit a number pad, however, the Y470 is very wide for a 14-inch laptop (as evidenced by the wide screen bezel) and it seems to me a number pad could have been integrated. If not at the very least it should include a nice and horizontally wide Enter key.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 TouchPad
The Y470 touchpad is textured, which I happen to like. The Touchpad is responsive and highly usable. I’m not as in love with the Y470’s mouse buttons though, I prefer the feel of my old LG R500 mouse buttons. The Y470 does not have separate left and right mouse buttons but rather employs a single long button, from a usability perspective this is inferior to having two buttons, though maybe it looks more sleek.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 Screen
The Y470 has a 14-inch screen with a resolution of 1366×768, this resolution is to be expected for a laptop of this size. I would have liked to see a higher resolution 1600×900 option, but for me a standard resolution will suffice. The vertical viewing angles are not optimal, but they are passable. The screen presents colors that are nice and vibrant, and this is helped by Lenovo’s included OneKey Theatre software. The OneKey Theatre software is pretty neat, if you are watching a movie or viewing pictures the screen will automatically adjust to become more vivid. The program is reasonably good at auto-detecting, although certain movie formats require you to touch the button manually. The OneKey Theatre button is conveniently placed above the keyboard next to the volume controls.
Lenovo Y470 Speakers
The Lenovo Y470 speakers are, simply put, incredible. I considered the speakers in my old LG R500 to be above average, but the speakers in the Y470 are still better as they are more crisp, clear, and powerful. The laptop comes with JBL branded speakers and include SRS Premium Sound software to back them up. The OneKey Theatre can detect when you are watching a movie and enable the simulated surround sound. I have had no need to increase the volume past 50% and tend to keep it around the 30% level for just about everything. These small speakers also produce reasonably rich bass, which is surprising. Overall the Y470 speakers are much better than what you get in the average laptop.
IdeaPad Y470 Heat, Cooling and Fan Noise
Now to cover one of the best features of this laptop: the cooling system. While researching new laptops before my purchase I found a lot of systems using the new Intel chips combined with a discrete GPU ran very hot under a heavy work load. Some system owners reported their laptops got so hot that the processor actually started throttling back to reduce power consumption and heat. I have put the Y470 under heavy load for hours and it manages to stay relatively very cool. The padded feet under the laptop keep it about 1.5 cm off the table, which provides plenty of clearance on the underside for the fan there to draw in air. To help things further the exhaust grill is massive, taking up almost half the length of the left side of the laptop. The exhaust grill also contains a huge copper heatsink to aid in cooling. The cooling fan itself is silent under normal load, and still not overly loud even when the processor is being run at full power. Fantastic cooling capabilities!
Lenovo Y470 Storage and Optical Drive
Moving to the drives, the DVD drive is a standard tray loading drive, a slot loader would have been a sexy feature to have, but as the DVD drive will see next to no use it bothers me little. As a matter of fact, I would love to see these optical drives removed entirely and the extra space be devoted to either cooling or a decrease in overall laptop size.
A size comparison of the mSATA SSD
The Y470 was originally configured with a 500GB 7200RPM spinning hard drive which, if I recall correctly, was Western Digital manufactured and performed as you would expect. The real gem here is the aftermarket mSATA that I installed. For the uninitiated, mSATA stands for Mini-SATA and is a new format for ultra-small Solid-State Disks (SSDs). Very few laptops support this new technology but the Y470 happens to be a laptop that does. This was actually a big factor in my decision to buy a Lenovo laptop. The SSD drive I installed using the mSATA connection is TINY, it’s about the size of a small potato chip. The small size is great, but more importantly the 80 GB Intel 310 mSATA SSD I installed as my primary drive is faster than Mila Kunis is hot, we’re talking SATA 2 speeds. Having three drives in a 14 inch laptop is a real treat. The mSATA runs the operating system and all the programs so I can take advantage of its speeds, meanwhile the HDD stores all my media and other files.
Lenovo Y470 Performance
As you might expect, with an Intel Core i7-2630qm Quad Core 2.0GHz processor, an NVIDIA GeForce GT 550M 1GB dedicated graphics card and a speedy SSD mSATA drive the Y470 veritably screams with performance. Add to that the fact the Intel Core i7-2630qm can overclock to 2.90GHz using the Intel TurboBoost on board and you can literally charge through just about application you throw at it and gaming can be a joy. If you’re a fan of fast boot times, then how does 12 seconds sound? That’s the kind of fast boot up performance you get thanks to the use of an mSATA SSD.
Comparing the Y470 performance to other 14-inch laptops is almost unfair, but we’ll do it anyway just for fun, below is a screenshot of the amazing score of 12,160 PCMarks that the Y470 got when running the PCMark Vantage system benchmark:
And here’s how that score compares to other recently reviewed 14-inch laptops featured on this site:
Yes, that’s right, the Y470 was twice as fast as the next closest ThinkPad E420 laptop with a Core i5 processor. Now do you believe me this thing is fast?
IdeaPad Y470 Ports
The Y470 has a good selection of ports for a 14-inch laptop, including the new USB 3.0 technology and all important HDMI port. Here’s a rundown of what you get in terms of ports on each side along with a picture:
On the left you get a monitor out port, HDMI port, Ethernet LAN port, 2 USB 3.0 ports
On the right side you get a USB 2.0 / eSATA port combo, optical drive, standard USB 2.0 port and the power jack port
No ports are located on the back
On the front right side you get the media card reader slot
There are two switches on the front, one of which turns the WiFi on and off, while the other switch turns the discrete GPU on or off. Some people have complained about the Nvidia Optimus graphics not detecting the switch properly, I have yet to see a problem with such a thing.
IdeaPad Y470 Battery Life
Battery life is an important factor for many, especially if you plan to be away from a power outlet for long periods of time as is typical with a student usage pattern. The battery life on the Y470 is excellent, I was able to achieve just over 6 hours under light to moderate usage and with the screen dimmed.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 Conclusion
The Y470 laptop, aside from a couple of build and design issues, is nearly perfect and fits my needs well. It packs some serious hardware, has the cooling system to handle it, looks great, and has the sound and video capabilities to make you feel like your getting blown away like the guy in that old Maxell commercial. If you are willing to sink more money into the Y470 after purchase, installing the mSATA SSD, which retails for around $199 from NewEgg.com, really helps the machine fly. If fast boot times get you excited you’ll be impressed by the 12-second boot time I get with the Y470 with the mSATA SSD installed. I highly recommend the IdeaPad Y470 as a laptop choice, especially if you are able to catch it on sale and find a coupon to sweeten the deal. Where to Buy the IdeaPad Y470