Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p Review


The Ideapad Y470p is Lenovo’s latest offering in the sub-15” gaming laptop market. Though not shown at CES 2012 along with the rest of Lenovo’s new laptop lineup, the Y470p is in fact a new release for 2012.   The Y470p is aimed at users who want a powerful, yet portable laptop. There are few models to compete against the Y470p as it is one of the few small laptops available that has the performance to stand up to the demands of heavy gamers. On top of that, it is relatively inexpensive for a gaming laptop, starting at $799 on Lenovo’s website.

The Y470p under review comes with the following specs:

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2450M (2.50GHz, 3MB cache)
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon 7690M 1GB
  • Memory: 6GB RAM
  • Display: 14.0” 1366 x 768 resolution, glossy finish
  • OS: Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Storage: 500GB HD 5400RPM
  • Optical Drive: DVD Burner
  • Battery: 6-cell Li-Ion
  • Wireless: Intel 1000 BGN 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 2.1
  • Ports: HDMI,  VGA out, two USB 3.0 ports, one USB 2.0 port, one USB 2.0 / eSATA combo Ethernet (RJ-45),
  • Dimensions: (WxDxH): 13.6″ x 9.4″ x 0.8″ to 1.3
  • Weight: 4.85lbs
  • Warranty: 1-year

Build and Design

Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p laptop

Unlike the famous Thinkpad lineup of business laptops that Lenovo is known for, the Ideapad lineup is more mindful of having a contemporary styling. The Y470p is an attractive laptop to look at, with one feature immediately obvious being the orange trim around the lip of the laptop. Looking closely at the outer skin, users will notice that there is a subtle pattern etched into the lid of the Y470p; multiple dotted lines crisscross the lid, making many ninety degree turns over the entire area. Moving on from the modern styling of the laptop’s exterior, the interior falls back to a minimalistic approach, with only the keyboard, power button, and a recovery button to the right of the power button. Toward the bottom of the keyboard is a large trackpad with a (subtle) bumpy surface. The indicator lights are located at the edge of the laptop, near the trackpad; Lenovo made them dim enough not to bother most people in a dark room (as some laptops do). When the laptop is powered on, five additional buttons appear near the right speaker, indicated by dimples on the smooth metal surface; from left to right, they are: mute, volume up, volume down, a movie button, and a thermal management button. The movie button cycles between three display settings (where default is “Normal”, “Movie” [which saturates the colors on the display], and “Intelligent” [which will switch between the previous two depending on the user’s current activity]), while the thermal management button will switch between four: Standard, Super Silent, Efficient Thermal Dissipation, and Dedusting. While testing, there wasn’t any noticeable difference between the first three settings (though the Super Silent was a little bit quieter); the laptop hasn’t been used long enough to collect any measurable amount of dust to test the Dedusting function.

5 buttons on Y470p near speaker

In contrast to the plastic construction that makes up the majority of the laptop’s body, the area around the keyboard is a metal skin with a slight purple tint, close to lavender. This might be hard to see with a camera, but in person the purple is easy to see. The keyboard is recessed into the laptop (making the keys level with the surface), the touchpad is flush with the metal finish as well. Overall, the Y470 has a clean, simple layout that appeals to those trying to avoid the clutter that some laptops have, especially near the keyboard.

Lenovo Y470p power button

One concern about the design is that the hinges that connect the lid to the main body seem to be somewhat loose. That is, it is very easy to move the lid back and forward, even if unwanted. Thankfully, the laptop will stay closed and won’t open accidently, but once open the hinges are at the mercy of bumps and rapid movements (say, if a user bumps their knee on the laptop). As for stress points, the only noticeable one is the part of the bezel between the hinges, a weak spot found in most notebooks and not just the Y470. Overall, the Ideapad is a stylish, well-built notebook computer.

Keyboard and Touchpad

Like most laptops sold today, the Y470p comes with an island-style keyboard, a type of keyboard that is now commonplace. The keys are well spaced, leaving little chance for a user to accidently mistype a letter while using the computer. Curved to fit your fingers as you type as well as having a decent keyboard throw (the distance a key travels between rest and being fully pressed by a finger) make this Ideapad a comfortable laptop to type on for extended time periods.

Lenovo Y470 keyboard

Odd location for PgUp keysThere are two major flaws in the Y470’s keyboard that can potentially annoy a user enough to dislike the laptop, however. The first flaw I had noticed was that even though this 14” laptop features a full-sized keyboard, the Y470 has a half-sized right Shift key, which will throw off touch typists using the laptop for the first time. Why does this system have that? Because of the Y470’s second flaw: Lenovo decided to relocate some of the specialty keys normally located at the upper-right (such as Delete, PgUp/PgDn, etc.) to the right edge of the keyboard, yet another problem for touch typists. A redeeming feature of the keyboard however is that it seems resistant to skin oils; during the evaluation period, there was no noticeable shininess from the keys after prolonged use.

The touchpad is a larger size than most (30mm by 11mm) and is a joy to use. Its surface is covered by tiny raised dimples so that the finger can feel when it’s within the touchpad’s boundaries without having the user look down to check. Unlike some other laptops, the left- and right-click buttons for the Y470p share a single “rocker” button as opposed to two separate, physical keys. Whether or not this is a pro or con is mainly a subjective judgment call for each individual. While the buttons stay firm after repeated use, some people might consider two separate buttons to be better than a “rocker” button.

Display

While the resolution on the Y470 could be higher (Lenovo only offers a 1366*768 option), it has a good display for its $760 price point. The 14” display appears slightly sharper than mainstream 15.6 laptops (110ppi vs 100ppi) even though the display resolution is the same. Colors pop out dramatically thanks in part to the glossy coating used by Lenovo. Along with the truly black blacks, users will experience a great movie-watching or gaming experience, even in a lit room.

Front View Tilted Back
Tilted Forward Left Side View of screen

The one major flaw of this display is that the viewing angles are limited mostly towards directly in front of the display, and slightly to the sides. Tilting the display back as far as it will go (150 degrees), colors drastically invert and the display appears darker overall; tilting towards the user brings about the exact opposite problem, making most of the display appear white. Viewing from either side will wash out the colors some, but displayed images and video are still viewable.

Input and Output Ports

The Y470p has an above average selection of ports for a 14-inch laptop, including the latest Super Speed 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:

IdeaPad Y470 left side

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:

IdeaPad Y470 right side

No ports are located on the back

IdeaPad Y470 back view

On the front right side you get the media card reader slot

IdeaPad Y470 front view

Sound

A gaming laptop needs to come with great sound in order to heighten the user experience, and Lenovo delivers by packing the Y470p with a powerful set of JBL speakers, ran by Realtek High Definition Audio drivers. Unlike many laptops, the Y470p has a full range of sound, ranging from clear, non-tinny highs to deep, booming lows. Another benefit of these JBL speakers is that they’re loud enough not to require a separate set of speakers in order to fill a room with sound, so a user can easily have a group of friends gathered around to watch a funny Youtube clip, action movie, or whatever suits them. Nothing about these speakers is sub-par; Y470p owners will be satisfied using their laptop for audio applications.

Y470p Speaker

Software

Lenovo, like other OEMs, installs additional software onto their computer systems in part to subsidize the cost of the system. However, the Y470p comes with surprisingly little bloatware compared to other consumer-level laptops. Additional pieces of software found on the notebook were ooVoo (a chat program similar to Skype), EasyBits (a “family-oriented” chat program), and the Lenovo Games Console (complete with the standard array of casual games we all know and love). On top of that, Lenovo has bundled an OS recovery system, OneKey Recovery 7.0, that is launched either from the Start menu or the dedicated button located next to the power button. Lenovo kindly offers an electronic version of the Y470p user guide on the hard drive.

Exploring the Start menu, I found some interesting Lenovo-branded software that has subjective qualities to them. The first is Lenovo’s EE Boot Optimizer, which uses their Enhanced Experience 2.0 suite to boost Windows boot performance. Since Lenovo doesn’t release the detail on what exactly EE2.0 does, it’s hard to tell if it noticeably decreases boot time on the Y470’s mechanical hard drive (as opposed to doing a clean install of Windows). R.I.C (Robust Intelligent Companion) is the next piece of software in the Lenovo Start menu folder; aside from the About page, it includes the following: a Doctor tab that has two tests (Vision test, which asks you to point at an arrow that describes the direction “E” is pointed at, and a Color Vision test, which asks you to key in which number you see in a series of pictures), an Assistant tab that allows the user to use the microphone to control music controls (tap twice to play/pause an thrice to skip to the next track), and a Guard tab that plays an annoying, generic alarm noise when the lid is closed “accidently”. To quote Lenovo, “When your notebook lid is closed accidently, the system starts beeping. In public places, you can enable this function for theftproof. [sic]” Thankfully, the Guard feature can be disabled.

Out of all the non-Windows programs installed on the Y470p, I would consider only keeping two: the AMD Catalyst Control Center (which allows the user to tinker with GPU and display settings) and the Intel WiDi software.

Battery Life

The 5200mAh battery provided in the Lenovo Ideapad Y470p under light usage (Internet browsing, document processing) will last for seven and a half hours while using the provided Energy Star power settings and turning the display down to half brightness. This rivals many laptops based on integrated graphics, let alone dedicated gaming laptops.

Performance

For the majority of customers, the i5-2450M (Cinebench R10 score: 8,461) processor provides plenty of computing power for most of their computing tasks, slotting in between the Core 2 Quad Q9000 (8059.4) and the i5-2520M (8515.8), though for more demanding users Lenovo offers an upgrade to the i7-2670QM quad core processor. The AMD Radeon 7690M is the default GPU offered for the Y470p, though Lenovo does offer the 550M for nVidia fans. Just like nearly all other retail laptops, the only bottleneck a user will actually notice (ignoring benchmarks) is the 5400RPM hard drive. However, even with the slower hard drive, the Y470 manages an impressive 50 seconds from a cold boot to a useable desktop. And while a user games, this Ideapad stays cool and (relatively) quiet; the fans are barely noticeable at ambient noise levels, and the air blown out of this laptop’s beefy cooling system hovers at around ambient room temperature.

One cool thing about the Y470p is that the graphics are switchable between integrated Intel HD 3000 graphics and the dedicated AMD 7690M.  You can manually switch graphics by right clicking on the desktop and going into the AMD Catalyst Control Center, you can even select which applications use dedicated versus integrated graphics:

image

The performance from the AMD 7690M graphics will be enough to play just about any modern game, you may need to tweak the graphics settings a bit in a game such as Skyrim to get the frame rates in the 30 range, but you won’t have to sacrifice too much detail to get there.  We ran some benchmarks to demonstrate the synthetic performance you can get using PCMark Vantage, PCMark 7 and 3DMark 11:

PCMark Vantage Results

Laptop PCMark Vantage Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p (Intel Core i5-2450m, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 6,727 PCMarks
HP Pavilion g6z (AMD Fusion A4-3305M 1.90GHz, 4GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 3,322 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X130e (AMD E-300 1.30GHz, AMD 6130, 4GB RAM, 5400 RPM HD) 1,981 PCMarks
HP Folio 13 (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 9,026 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 1440 Review (Intel Core i3-370M, Intel HD, 6GB RAM) 4,931 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 6,056 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 3450 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 4GB RAM 5,901 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron N411z – Intel Core i3-2330m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 5,285 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM 3,204 PCMarks

 

PCMark 7 Results

Laptop PCMark 7 Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p (Intel Core i5-2450m, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 2,046 PCMarks
HP ENVY 14 Spectre (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 3,231 PCMarks
Dell XPS 13 (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60Hz, Intel HD 3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 3,539 PCMarks
HP Folio 13 (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 3,168 PCMarks
HP dv7t Quad (Intel Core i7 2670QM 2.20GHz, 2GB Radeon HD 6770M, 8GB RAM, Crucial M4) 4,308 PCMarks
Sony VAIO SA (Intel Core i5-2430M 2.50GHz, AMD Radeon 6630M, 4GB RAM) 2,022 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad W520 – Intel Core i7 2720QM, 4GB RAM, Nvidia Quadro 2000, Intel 320 SSD 4,299 PCMarks
HP Envy 17 3D – Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 6850M 1GB, 8GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 2,592 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad U400 – Intel Core i5-2430M, AMD Radeon 6470M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD 2,287 PCMarks
Dell XPS 15z – Intel Core i7-2620M, Nvidia GT 525M, 8GB RAM, SSD 3,604 PCMarks

3DMark 11 Results

Laptop 3DMark 11
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p (Intel Core i5-2450m, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 1,339
Dell XPS 17 (Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, Nvidia 550m, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM) 1,041

The one bottleneck in the Y470p is the slow 5400RPM hard drive.  That can be remedied by inserting an mSATA SSD in the mini PCIe slot that’s open which you can read more about in the upgradability section…

User Upgradability

Internals with labels

After preparing the laptop to open it up (unplug from the wall, remove battery, and hold power button for ten seconds), all a user needs to do is open up a single, large panel at the bottom of the laptop in order access the major parts. One of the first things noticed when the panel was removed was that Lenovo has equipped the Y470 with the Intel Wireless-N 1000 WiFi card as standard, something that is usually reserved as a paid upgrade option for other laptops (which normally use either Broadcom or Realtek). The drive provided is a Seagate 5000C5004A 500GB 5400RPM mechanical hard drive. The most notable feature of the Y470’s internals is located in a smaller panel to the side of the WiFi card. Take out a single screw, lift up the cover, and the user is presented a port that allows the installation of mSATA solid state drives, such as the Intel 310 Soda Creek. That’s right, this Ideapad has the option to support two drives inside, using the mSATA as a boot drive, and the mechanical hard drive (or an aftermarket 2.5” SSD) as the bulk storage device.

Conclusion

The Lenovo Ideapad Y470p is a good laptop for those wanting to game on the go. The brand-new AMD Radeon 7690M is no slouch, the cooling system is bigger than in other 14” laptops (though bigger is better!), and the included mSATA port reflects great decisions made by the engineers, designers and higher-ups working at Lenovo. Combined with the subtle-yet-fashionable design and long battery life the Y470p makes out to be an amazing value for a gamer who wants to avoid larger laptops; even its larger 15” screen brother, the IdeaPad Y570, is lighter and a bit smaller than the competition. The only two issues I’ve had with the laptop were the slightly lower-than-average quality display (1366 x 768 and narrow viewing angles) and the keyboard layout.  It would have been perfect if Lenovo offered at least a 1600 x 900 resolution display option, even for a little extra. As for the keyboard, Lenovo seems to have traded usability with aesthetics when they decided to move the special-function keys to the right-hand side instead of the top-right like other laptops. It may seem that I’m just ranting on and on about the keyboard, but for someone who types long documents fairly often (like this review!), it gets annoying when your finger hits the Up Arrow key or PgDn key instead of the Shift key. Otherwise, the Y470p is a good gaming laptop, containing a lot of punch in a small package for an affordable price.

Pros

  • Brand-new Radeon GPU
  • USB 3.0 + eSATA for fast transfers
  • Seven and a half hours of battery life
  • Better-than-average JBL speakers
  • Easy for end user to upgrade

Cons

  • Narrow viewing angles
  • Odd keyboard layout
  • No option for 1600*900 resolution
  • Loose hinges

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Where to Buy

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10 Responses to Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p Review

  1. William March 24, 2012 at 12:46 am #

    Good review. Just got mine in and i do indeed like it. I do find myself sort of cringing at the thought of plastic but for 800+ (including a 2-year warranty) and the specs it’s pretty reasonable. Though i just noticed on lenovo’s site they’ve announced the Y480, in which the entire frame is aluminum brushed, not that it does much but i would really prefer it. Also with it comes IB, Blu ray player, backlit keyboard this time around etc. Basically continuing the trend. I saw a lot of complaints on the screen when it came to this laptop but i must say i’m not disappointed. I own a MBP 13″ which has run through many problems and while the screen isn’t quite up to it’s contrast IMO it’s still very close. Haven’t tested the battery yet. FWIW i think everyone would be hard pressed to find better hardware, in the same form factor, around the same price. Again well written review, looking forward to the Y480 when it comes.

  2. Exiliron March 27, 2012 at 3:32 am #

    So you didn’t keep the OneKey Recovery? It sounds important since you mentioned that it’s the OS recovery system. How does it work?

  3. Coreion March 27, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    How did you remove easybits from your Y470P laptop? I can’t seem to find it in the Control Panel to uninstall.

    Did your y470p came with this YouCam and Power2Go software? Did you remove those from your machine as well?

  4. Robert March 28, 2012 at 6:01 am #

    When I test machines, I don’t uninstall the software that ships with them. However, an easy way to remove said software is to use Revo Uninstaller, which I use often on my personal laptop whenever I want to uninstall programs completely (including files and registry edits).

    I did not notice YouCam or Power2Go in the Start menu, so I can’t say for sure if Lenovo ships the Y470p with said software.

    OneKey Recovery operates identically to the default Windows Backup program. To create recovery discs, for example, it takes you through four steps: select type of backup (create discs from factory backup, create new discs, or create factory default discs), select the source (C:/), select destination (DVD drive), and go. It’s a pretty piece of software, sure, but it’s basically a dressed-up Windows Backup and I think the HDD space is better suited for other uses.

    • Wiliam March 29, 2012 at 7:42 pm #

      Robert, i saw on youtube that you tested skyrim with no problems. According to notebook check the 7690m should handle BF3 med-low settings. When i run BF3 on the Y470p low or med, i’m getting around 10-15fps? Any ideas why?

  5. jameel March 29, 2012 at 6:00 pm #

    Hey! Well done, great review.I am a prospect buyer and I must say that I am pleased to know that this could be my first laptop. QUESTION…Does anyone know when the y480 will be out and what will be the price compared to the y470p. Thanks :) The best laptop I have seen after looking for 4 years…..lol….seriously….. If there is anything I should know about the laptop before buying it please let me know……..

    • Robert March 29, 2012 at 11:39 pm #

      As I described in the review, the keyboard has an extra column of keys to the right (which are normally on the top-right), so if you’re a touch-typist you’ll have to be careful for the first few days since the right Shift is half-length.

      If you plan on carrying it around, I’d be careful about what else you place in the bag; e.g. the lid will bend under the pressure of a textbook pressed against it. I’d use some kind of separate messenger bag just for the laptop and accessories (like I did) or a good laptop sleeve/case to protect it.

  6. Hussain April 2, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

    Hi Robert,

    An excellent review I must say! Could you please clarify regarding the Graphics Switching is possible only via AMD Catalyst Control or does it have the “actual switch” in the front like the Y470 does?

    Also is the 7.5Hrs battery life really achievable on this laptop? If yes, then I believe I will definitely be going for this one!

  7. Smittah April 3, 2012 at 7:13 pm #

    I just wanted to respond as an actual owner/user of the Y470P. I wanted to see if I could answer a few questions that I have seen come up.

    The preinstalled software is slightly bulky, I believe the process count was over 72. How ever after reinstalling windows and the drivers, this did not go down by much.

    Battery life…. I managed to get actual use, Youtube, Facebook, etc… 3hrs+ and the battery had 42% life left.

    Graphics: Here is the deal… you can only get the drivers from Lenovo, these drivers are a Intel+AMD graphics driver. According to AMD the developer for the controller is a company in Asia called Compal. You can setup the graphics switching to either application preference or have it set when you plug in the power. I chose to have the Radeon activated when the AC was plugged in. If you multi task, the graphics switching can have a bad effect on applications. Flashplayer for example will crash.
    Side note, the driver that Lenovo has provided is an older driver. I don’t know their plans for releasing better/newer ones. AMD/ATI has no 7000m series drivers available and I believe the drivers have to come from Lenovo only.

    ** From what I understand the HD 7690m is a scaled version of the HD 6770m. Passmark scores rate 1370, where this card really gets around 900. I believe Lenovo has this card underclocked due to the cooling and size of the system.

    MSata port… yes I did upgrade it, I used the Kingston 64GB 100 msata. It wasn’t the fastest one, but I trust the name and Kingston has good reviews on their SSD. Also note that the port is SATA-II not SATA-III. It took a week for the Lenovo Rapiddrive software to settle out the files and it is currently running well with the upgrade. Passmark read speed is 184MBps and write is 114MBps.

    This laptop is probably one of the best ones I have had the pleasure of using. It can get hot after long periods of gaming, I am planning on getting a cooling pad. All my games scream with this laptop, it is light weight, and fast…only con I can give is probably the hinges. I don’t think the keyboard is a con, it is a 14in and the keys are spaced. But if you want a nice system, this is it!

    • Luke April 15, 2012 at 12:22 am #

      Can you describe more in detail just how loose the screen hinges actually are?

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