Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 Review

The Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 is a 14-inch screen Intel Ivy Bridge powered laptop designed to offer both power and portability.  The Y480 replaces the previously popular Lenovo Y470 by adding a few design updates and of course internal component overhaul.  The Y series has become popular with the student crowd thanks to its size advantage of easily fitting on a desk, relatively light weight for carrying around campus and still having enough performance for just about any task you can throw at it.  The Y480 we’re reviewing comes with a new Intel Core i7-3610QM 2.30GHz processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE graphics and 8GB of RAM, here’s a full run down of the specs:

  • Screen: 14″ LED backlit display, glossy finish, 1366 x 768 resolution, 220-nits brightness, 500:1 contrast ratio
  • Processor: Intel Core i7-3610QM 2.3GHz Quad-Core processor (3rd generation, Intel Ivy Bridge)
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE with 1GB of GDDR5 memory
  • OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
  • Memory: 8GB of DDR3 memory @ 1600MHz
  • Storage: 750GB Hard Drive with 5400RPM rotational speed
  • Ports: Two USB 2.0, Two USB 3.0 ports, 6-in-1 media card reader, Ethernet port, headphone out, microphone in, monitor out VGA port, HDMI port
  • Optical Drive: DVD Super Multi-Burner
  • Wireless: 802.11b/g/n Wireless Networking, Bluetooth 4.0, Wi-Di
  • Weight: 4.85lbs
  • Dimensions: 13.6” x 9.4” x 0.8” – 1.3” (Width x Depth x Height)
  • Battery: Lithium Ion 6-cell, 48Wh
  • Features: Backlit keyboard, integrated web cam
  • Warranty: 1-year

The price of the Y480 is a bit of a question still at the time of this writing.  The Y480 as purchased was priced at $999 on TigerDirect.com, the Y480 will be available at Lenovo.com sometime in May 2012, so as of this writing we don’t know what Lenovo is going to charge as a starting price for the Y480.   If you want to see the unboxing photos for this laptop, just check out the Y480 first thoughts article we posted.

Design and Build

IdeaPad Y480

The Y480 will come with a couple of different design options, you can opt for either a black color case with patterned lid or a brush metal grey finish.   The model being covered in this review has the grey brush metal finish.  It’s a little more traditional and conservative than the black finish.  The grey design has the same brush metal finish all over, while the black design has some orange accents and a funky pattern on the lid.  The Y480 image above shows our model and for the sake of comparison we have pictured below a Lenovo media image of the black and orange colored finish.

Y480 with black pattern

In addition to the new color options, there are a couple of other design features changed compared to the previous Y470.   Lenovo removed some of the touch sensitive media keys at the top of the keyboard, the Y480 has just a mute button and screen color adjustment button while the Y470 had volume up/down buttons in addition to those.

Y480 with reduced number of media keys

I like the fact the media buttons are now physical push buttons, but miss having the volume up and down controls you used to get there.   At the top of the keyboard on the left are two more buttons, one for power and the other a Lenovo Recovery button, one push and you can restore your PC to original factory image.

One design touch I could do without is the glossy bezel around the screen, it tends to pickup fingerprints and show them, an annoying trait when you consider the fact you have to grab the screen to close the lid.  On the plus side, the rest of the case is fairly resistant to fingerprints, though the lid did show some of my paw marks after a few opening and closings.  Another thing to mention is that the top edges of the keyboard area are slightly sharp, you’re not going to cut yourself on the edge but it would have been nice to see the edges rounded off a bit.

IMG_0344

We mentioned the brush metal finish on the Y480, and there is indeed a thin metal layer added on the lid and keyboard area to give the metallic look.  However, the majority of the case is constructed of a rigid plastic material, not metal.  Nonetheless, the overall laptop feels solid and durable.  The build quality is very good and I’d feel comfortable throwing the Y480 in a backpack and carrying it along with a bunch of heavy books.  The only area of noticeable flex is on the bottom of the laptop beneath the optical drive, but that’s typical of many laptops as it’s hard to reinforce the hollow space in the optical drive area.  The one disappointment I have in regards to build is that the screen hinges on the Y480 are not as rigid as they could be.  If you push on the screen it wobbles a bit, this is in contrast to the ThinkPad X220 I own that resists any wobble no matter how hard you flick or push the screen.

Screen

The Y480 has a 14.0” display with a glossy finish. The glossy finish helps to make colors pop, but on the downside it creates unwanted reflections from the screen when you have a strong lighting source from behind or above. The display on the Y480 is made by AUO. It offers nice and deep colors, blacks and whites appear both true and color accuracy is good when viewing straight on at a perpendicular angle to the eyes. Since the screen does not use IPS technology, like that used in the Apple iPad, the colors distort as the viewing angles widen. The view of the screen from different angles can be seen below:

IMG_0420 IMG_0423
IMG_0422 IMG_0421

You can see that when tilted back the screen colors distort greatly. This isn’t a big deal, most people view the screen straight on anyway.

Lenovo provides a screen color optimization feature and button called OneKey Theatre, you push the button located on the top right side and an on screen display allows you to toggle between Normal Mode, Movie Mode and Intelligent Mode. Movie mode presents the richest and brightest colors while normal mode screen colors made it easier for reading documents.  If you switch to “Intelligent” mode the Y480 will actually detect when you’re playing a movie and switch to the movie mode colors, a pretty neat feature.

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Y480 keyboard has not changed from the Y470 other than one important factor – it now has a backlight!  The keyboard backlight feature is a real luxury, it makes seeing keys in dimly lit rooms so much easier, increasing the usability factor.  Even if you’re a touch typist, you’ll sometimes need to look at the keyboard to find those out of reach keys or cursor movement shortcut keys, and if it’s dark then finding those is hard to do without a backlight.

Y480 backlit keyboard

In terms of usability, the Y480 keyboard is great.  The keys are well spaced and have a good amount of travel and tactile feedback.  It’s the same feel as the keyboard found on ThinkPads and not quite the same quality, but for a consumer notebook it is certainly above average.  A chiclet style design is used, this offers both a modern look and increases key spacing thereby reducing mistyping.  Lenovo calls the chiclet design AccuType.

y480 keyboard

The only quirk I don’t like about the Y480 keyboard is the fact it has the PgUp, PgDn, Home and End keys aligned on the far right side of the keyboard.  This is an unnatural location and different to most other keyboards, and even worse is the fact Lenovo shrunk the right Shift key to fit these keys in.

The Y480 touchpad has received an update, it’s just one giant touchpad with integrated buttons, commonly referred to as a clickpad and something people are used to seeing in the MacBook lineup. There is a small vertical line at the bottom of the touchpad to indicate the border between the left and right mouse buttons. In practice the touchpad works well, you can register a left-click by pushing down anywhere on the touchpad. I do miss the dimpled surface the Y470 had, the Y480 surface is smooth and not as textured.

IMG_0345

Lenovo Y480 Performance

This is the part people care the most about, buyers of the Y480 are looking for a portable laptop that has serious performance credentials.  The Y480 sports Intel’s technology in the form of a Core i7-3610QM processor and Intel HD 4000 graphics.  Also included is an Nvidia GeForce GT 640M LE dedicated graphics card.  This GPU is not using the new Nvidia Kepler architecture, but rather the old Fermi.  The 640M in the Lenovo Y480 will therefore disappoint some users as it’s about on par with last years graphics card releases, such as the AMD 7690M and Nvidia GT 555M that came in the Y470.  Later on in the year Lenovo should have configurations of the Y480 available with the faster Nvidia 650M or 660M graphics cards, but at this time those are not an option.

Our Y480 came with a generous capacity 750GB hard drive, but it’s a slow spinning 5400RPM.  That’s a bit of a downer as the hard drive really is the performance bottleneck.  We ran most benchmarks using the stock configuration hard drive, but also couldn’t resist putting in the new budget friendly Intel SSD 330 120GB that costs only $150 but offers a big performance boost relative to a 5400RPM HDD.  For a full review and background on the Intel 330 SSD check out the review on StorageReview.com.

With all that said, let’s dig into some benchmarks we ran on the Y480 and analyze the performance.

PCMark 7 – Measures overall system performance

Laptop PCMark 7 Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 2,502 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, Intel 330 SSD) 5,251 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dm4t Beats – Intel Core i5-2430M, Intel HD3000, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD 2,382 PCMarks
Sony VAIO SA (Intel Core i5-2430M 2.50GHz, AMD Radeon 6630M, 4GB RAM) 2,022 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


PCMark Vantage – Measures overall system performance

Laptop PCMark Vantage Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 8,634 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, Intel 330 SSD) 18,170 PCMarks
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

PerformanceTest 7.0

Performance Test 7 is a benchmarking tool form PassMark software. Below is a screenshot of the scores the Y480 achieved and a comparison to two other notebooks:

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM) HP EliteBook 8470p (Intel Core i7, Intel HD 4000, 8GB RAM) ThinkPad X220 (Intel Core i5-2410m, Intel HD 3000, 4GB RAM)
Overall Computer Score 1,721.6 1,869.5 1,074.5
CPU Mark 8857.4 7,209.9 3,528.1
2D Graphics Mark 419.2 389.6 326
3D Graphics Mark 655.7 412.5 236.9
Memory Mark 1535.0 1,725.6 1,040.0
Disk Mark 560.6 1,704.5 561.6

Super Pi calculated to 1M

Yes, we know how faulty the Super Pi benchmark is (it’s not multithreaded), but people still like to know the score! The Intel Core i7-3610QM calculated Pi to one million digits of accuracy in 11 seconds. Not bad! The Intel Core i5-2410m powered processor in my X220 takes 15 seconds for that calculation, so you’re looking at 25% processor speed improvement in single threaded mode, for a program that can utilize multiple cores the speed improvements are even great.

3DMark Vantage – Measures 3D graphics performance

image

Laptop 3DMark Vantage
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 5,587
HP Envy 17-3000, Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 6,970
Dell XPS 17 (Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, Nvidia 550m, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM) 4,747
HP Pavilion dv6t Select Edition – Intel Core i5-2410m, Intel HD 3000 Graphics, 6GB RAM 1,845

3DMark 11 – Measures 3D graphics performance

image

Laptop 3DMark 11
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 1,333
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

These results demonstrate that the Intel Core i7-3610QM is a screamer in terms of performance, the 8,634 PCMark Vantage score for the Y480 was nearly 2,000 points more than the Y470p with a Core i5 Sandy Bridge class processor.  Then if you add an SSD such as the Intel 330 the score absolutely rockets to 18,170, this demonstrates the weak spot of the Y480 is the hard drive and if you upgrade to an SSD you have a serious performance machine.   Also note that the CPU Mark score of 8,857.4 achieved by the Ivy Bridge Core i7-3610QM in the PerformanceTest 7.0 benchmark also more than doubles the 3,528.1 score the Intel Core i5 scored.

While the Ivy Bridge processor is undoubtedly impressive, the NVIDIA GT 640M LE turns out to be a middle range graphics card, unable to outdo the last generation Nvidia 555m graphics or AMD 7690M graphics. Indeed, the 1,333 3DMark 11 score is almost exactly the same as the Y470p scored with its AMD 7690M, but we have to consider the fact the processor actually helped bump this score a bit so in effect the AMD 7690M graphics are likely better than the NVIDIA GT 640M LE.

Input and Output Ports

The Y480 has a generous selection of ports for a 14-inch laptop.  Let’s take a tour around each side to see what port you get and where.

On the left side of the Y480 is a VGA monitor out port, Ethernet RJ-45 LAN port, HDMI, and 2 USB 3.0 ports:

IMG_0426

On the right side you get a headphone jack, microphone jack, and 2 USB 2.0 ports:

IMG_0424

On the front side is located the the 6-in-1 media card reader for SD cards and the likes:

Y480 sd slot

Battery Life

Lenovo claims 4 hours of battery life for the Y480 equipped with a 6-cell 48Wh battery.  Usually manufacturers over quote the battery life, but in our testing we actually achieved better than the 4 hours under a light usage scenario.  With the screen dimmed to 1/3 brightness, Windows power set to “power saver”, wireless on and the laptop idling the Y480 was able to achieve 5 hours of battery life.  Now, that’s a very optimistic usage scenario.  Under more normal conditions of having the screen brighter, streaming video and doing a lot of web surfing you can expect closer to the 4 hour battery mark.  However, if you really want to stretch the battery out then dimming the screen, using the power saver mode and switching to integrated graphics can extend the life.

Speakers

The speakers on the Y480 are certainly above par for a 14-inch laptop. The sound from these JBL branded speakers can fill a room, the audio offers booming lows and clear highs. There’s no annoying tinny noise that is present in many laptop speakers.  If you push the OneKey Theatre button and switch to movie mode the surround sound feature is enabled.

Also included is Dolby Home Theatre v4 audio which helps to give more of a surround sound effect, since the built-in speakers obviously cannot be positioned behind you the claims of 5.1 surround sound are somewhat misleading, but all the same it’s a nice added feature and does allow you to power a 5.1 surround sound home theatre if you plugin via HDMI to a receiver.

Heat and Noise

One important aspect of laptops that is often overlooked is how well they do in regards to staying cool and minimizing fan noise.  This is especially a concern with smaller laptops that have powerful components packed inside, the worry is that the laptop will overheat due to its small size and inability to dissipate heat well.  We’re happy to report that the Y480 does not suffer from any type of overheating or annoying fan noise symptoms.  In fact, the Y480 should be commended for its ability to stay cool and keep fans running to a minimum amount.  The Y480 has a very large cooling system, and bigger vents and heat syncs is definitely better when it comes to cooling.  The warmest the Y480 got was 96F around the heat vent area and (somewhat unfortunately) in the middle of the keyboard.  However, 96F is not bad as that’s still below human body temperature.   It took running demanding 3D benchmarks for extended periods of time to warm the Y480 up and force the fan to spin up to a higher level, something you won’t be doing all the time.  Under normal usage the fan will be all but inaudible and temperatures will stay well below that 96F peak we reached.  The palm rests stayed cool under every usage scenario we threw at the Y480, and since your hands sit on the palm rests much of the time you’ll be free of sweaty palms.

User Upgradability

IMG_0360

The Y480 is similar to the Y470 in that it offers easy access to components for upgrades.  If you’d like to put in an mSATA SSD, all you have to do is remove the bottom panel to get access to the mSATA port.  You also get access to the hard drive, wireless card and RAM slots by removing this panel.  All it takes is the removal of a couple of screws to gain access.

Y480 bottom panel removed

Lenovo also makes it easy to find teardown guides for the Y480 so you know exactly what’s inside your laptop and make repairs on your own if you wish.

Conclusion

IMG_0410

The IdeaPad Y480 is a worthy successor to the acclaimed Y70 and Y470p.   For the most part Lenovo has stuck to the winning formula of the Y470 – that being producing a mobile 14” laptop that has all the performance of larger 15 – 17” laptops while keeping the price under $1,000.  The new Intel Core i7 Ivy Bridge processor is a nice improvement, offering around a 20% performance boost of similar previous generation Intel processors.  The Nvidia 640M LE graphics card is similar in performance to the AMD 7690M, but once Lenovo starts rolling about more configurations of the Y480 there should be more powerful options available, such as the Nvidia 650M.   Even with all that power packed into a small 14” chassis the heat and noise were a non-issue, Lenovo engineers should be commended for developing a cooling system that works well.

As with anything, not everything is perfect about the Y480.  Some people will be disappointed not to see a higher resolution screen option, for now Lenovo is sticking to just a 1366 x 768 screen option.  The glossy screen and bezel will deter some more conservative buyers.  The Y480’s battery life has actually decreased relative to the Y470 that was able to achieve six hours, not what we expected with Intel touting the power saving abilities of Ivy Bridge.

For the most part though, the Y480 is an improvement.  The backlit keyboard alone is enough to make this reviewer choose the Y480 over the Y470 given the choice.  The Y480 should especially appeal to students who want something both powerful and mobile.  Ultrabooks are all the rage now, but they can’t touch the power and performance you get with the Y480 for the same price.

Buy the Lenovo Y480 from Lenovo.com

Pros

  • Powerful performance for a 14” laptop, add an SSD and you’re off to the races
  • Easy to upgrade internal components or battery
  • Great audio from speakers
  • Backlit keyboard!
  • Stays cool and minimal fan noise

Cons

  • Odd position for Home, End, PgUp and PgDn keys
  • Glossy bezel around screen picks up fingerprints
  • Max resolution for screen is 1366 x 768

Related Reviews

Interested in Purchasing this Lenovo IdeaPad Laptop?

Here are the country specific links to Lenovo.com with current deals!



,

53 Responses to Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 Review

  1. Matt April 25, 2012 at 5:03 am #

    Thanks Andrew, that was a wonderful review and answered all my questions! Now unfortunately I have to wait a week or two to see how Lenovo lists the Y480. :(

  2. Ali April 25, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Thank you Andrew for your great work

  3. Andrew Baxter April 25, 2012 at 11:31 am #

    Thanks for the positive feedback guys. I too can’t wait to see what Lenovo lists in terms of price and specs on their site.

  4. Matt April 25, 2012 at 12:05 pm #

    A feature I would have liked to see on the Y480 is the physical switch on the front that toggles between graphics modes (I think on the Y470p it switches between “integrated” and “both”). Just curious if there is anything besides Optimus on the Y480 that makes that task easier. I also don’t know if you’ll have a chance to look, but I’m dying to know what the BIOS options (if any) are for graphics — again, I understand there’s a BIOS switch for using either the integrated card or both on the Y470/Y470p. It wouldn’t surprise me if the Y480 BIOS is pretty much the same.

    • Andrew Baxter April 26, 2012 at 3:48 pm #

      Matt, just checked out the BIOS options, you can choose between “Switchable Graphics” or “UMA Graphics” in the Configuration > Graphic Device options area. So basically you can force it to always use Intel integrated, or leave it alone as switchable.

    • Matt April 27, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

      Geez, sorry Andrew. I just asked you the same question over at the Lenovo forum. :P Well, thanks for answering twice!

  5. Dennis April 25, 2012 at 6:54 pm #

    Lenovo and tiger-direct both say “2nd generation intel core”. but people keep talking about ivy bridge in these. Are they not in the y480’s yet?

    I chatted with lenovo and they did confirm it is the sandy bridge in them not ivy for their orders.

    • Andrew Baxter April 25, 2012 at 8:22 pm #

      The Intel Core i7-3610QM is definitely 3rd Generation Ivy Bridge. Anything with -3XXX is Ivy Bridge. It’s on Intel’s site and you can see it’s actually marked as launching 4/29/2012: http://ark.intel.com/products/64899/Intel-Core-i7-3610QM-Processor-(6M-Cache-up-to-3_30-GHz)

      Retailer descriptions and company reps aren’t always the most informed sources of information unfortunately, even though you’d think they should be.

    • Matt April 26, 2012 at 12:07 am #

      Hey guys, turns out you may both be right — Lenovo has updated the Y480 listings with models and prices:

      http://shop.lenovo.com/SEUILibrary/controller/e/web/LenovoPortal/en_US/catalog.workflow:category.details?current-catalog-id=12F0696583E04D86B9B79B0FEC01C087&current-category-id=C7563337D3E07CC4B84607F2E57AE7FD

      The low-end 20934QU has the 2nd gen Core i3, while the others have the (I’m guessing) 3rd gen Core i7. I agree with Andrew that it’s probably a typo and misinformation on Lenovo’s part — if it is in fact the 3610QM, then it’s Ivy Bridge.

      Andrew, I’m disappointed to note that besides all the units listed as shipping in over a month, the more unfortunate fact is ALL OF THEM show the NVIDIA 640m — which may be the 640m LE like the unit you reviewed. How frustrating. (Daniel, I might also note that on one of Lenovo’s spec sheets, they say the Y480 comes with the 650m/660m, which it may someday. But for now it’s more hype and misinformation.) Other things that seem to be missing: 7200RPM drives, a Bluray option, larger capacity battery, etc.).

    • Andrew Baxter April 26, 2012 at 1:21 am #

      Weird, $749 for a Core i3 Sandy Bridge version Y480, I don’t know why anyone would go for that over the Y470P that’s the same price. I hope it’s just a component shortage issue and that these aren’t the final configuration options, it’d be disappointing not to see the Nvidia 650 and definitely a faster hard drive. The 5400RPM HD is a bottleneck on such a performance oriented system.

  6. Steve April 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    I’m looking at the Y480 on Tiger Direct with the Y470P as an alternative (now $749 on the Lenovo website with an i7-2670QM and 8GB RAM). Do you think the performance in the Y480 is worth the extra $250?

    • Andrew Baxter April 26, 2012 at 1:18 am #

      hey Steve, $250 is a pretty big difference, 25%. Frankly, I’d buy the Y470p and then put an SSD in it, the Intel 330 is $144.99 for the 120GB model. Or you could put in an mSATA SSD such as the Intel 310, put the OS on it, and keep the Hard Drive in for large file storage. Of course, if budget is no concern and you don’t care about the extra cost of the Y480, go for it!

    • Matt April 26, 2012 at 3:38 am #

      Steve, I’m in the same boat as you — I’ve been looking at the Y470p since mid-March, and then decided to wait and see how the Y480 reviewed and priced. Here is what I tell myself: despite all the bells and whistles, the Y480 is designed to replace the Y470/Y470p. So after the dust settles, we should see decently-equipped units (Ivy Bridge Core i7, 8GB RAM, 500GB) around $800 (with Lenovo’s weekly promotions/discounts). If I can get one with a true NVIDIA 640m (not the lesser LE), I’m willing to wait until June. On the other hand, if it starts to look grim, I’ll change plans and hopefully jump on a “clearance” Y470p.

  7. Dennis April 26, 2012 at 4:48 am #

    Looking at the Lenovo site it says the 640m is 2gb. If that’s right, it is not the LE version.

    • Matt April 26, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      Dennis, I think your hunch is correct. Unfortunately, I couldn’t confirm it on either NVIDIA’s spec page, or notebookcheck.net. However, check out:

      http://www.lenovo.com/shop/americas/content/pdf/system_data/y480_tech_specs.pdf

      Of course Lenovo’s specs are always questionable, but for the Y480 (so far only the low-end model is listed) it says:

      “NVIDIA GeForce® GT 640M LE Graphics, PCI Express® x16, 1GB or 2GB GDDR5
      memory”

    • Matt April 26, 2012 at 12:45 pm #

      Oops, check that. I just read the fine print at http://www.notebookcheck.net/NVIDIA-GeForce-GT-640M-LE.72199.0.html and it lists maximum memory of the 640m LE at 2048MB. My gut still tells me the 2GB models on the Y480 have the standard 640m card, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see if it’s true.

  8. Matt April 27, 2012 at 11:49 am #

    Well that’s cool — the first price-drop happened today:

    http://shop.lenovo.com/us/laptops/ideapad/y-series/y480

    In particular, $950 for the “high-end” 209386U with dual HD-SSD, and Lenovo has also updated their descriptions of the Core i7 to “3rd generation”. Now if we can get a fix on that 640m, there might be a new laptop in my near future. :)

    NOTE: the PDF spec sheet still only mentions the Core i3 model.

    • Andrew Baxter April 27, 2012 at 11:54 am #

      Much better price! I paid $999 for a lesser configuration on TigerDirect.com, I’d in fact say that’s a good deal. Just remember to use coupon code 1TBSALE at checkout to actually get that price. I wonder if they put the OS on the SSD, hmm.

    • Matt April 27, 2012 at 3:28 pm #

      Yeah, you might even say (fyi, I got this idea from you!) that the base is closer to $800, plus another $150 for an upgrade to the 1TB hard drive and the 32GB SSD. Based on that logic, I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll see a unit like the one above with a 500GB drive (plus all the other goodies like 8GB RAM and Core i7) for $750-$800 on sale. Of course, for that to happen, something pretty big has to happen to the Y470p prices first, and *that* I can’t predict…

      I know Lenovo has already sold combo-drive units, so I’d hazard a guess that the OS is on the SDD. Maybe an owner can chime in on that question.

    • Steve April 27, 2012 at 5:48 pm #

      Matt, thanks for the heads up on the price drop. For $200 more than the Y470p, it also includes a 32GB SSD. I think I know what I am buying.

  9. Matt April 27, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    Ah Steve if you get it you HAVE to give us the details on the graphics card and whether the OS is on the SSD! I’m so jealous, um, I mean, excited for you!

    • Steve April 27, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

      Hold your jealousy/excitement – I ordered a Y470p on Wednesday, and I got an e-mail this morning stating the order was delayed – then I saw your post about the $950 Y480 with the SSD.
      I put in a cancel order request, but there is still a chance that it will be built prior to the cancel going through. If it gets cancelled in time, I’ll order the Y480 and report the boot times and performance, if not…well, the Y470p still has a great graphics card, a decent processor, and over 7 hours of battery life at a good value.

      I’m a glass half full guy.

    • Matt April 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm #

      My glass is half full too. :) You’d think/hope they’ll work it out for you, to earn those additional few bucks!

  10. Dennis April 27, 2012 at 8:34 pm #

    The 2gb 640m is Kepler! talked to two different chat associates to confirm. I did not ask about 1gb one in the lowest model. Not as good as the 650m, but at least its a step in the right direction!

    • Matt April 27, 2012 at 9:06 pm #

      Thanks Dennis, that’s awesome. As soon as the price on the mid-level 20934YU drops, I’m on it. Seems like the promotions shuffle from unit to unit each week, so it may not take long. (Oh, and I had reasoned above that Y470p prices need to come down, to make room for the Y480’s — but I noticed today that the Y460’s and Y470’s in the outlet are just as expensive. Maybe they’ll put the Y480s on sale and leave the Y470p’s where they are?)

      Something we hadn’t touched on yet: I notice only gray units are available so far. I wonder if they plan to make black ones (with the etched lid) or if that’s out the window now.

  11. Gary April 27, 2012 at 10:03 pm #

    Any advice on getting one of these for college?

    quad core ivy bridge for < $1000 is really tempting, but I really want a machine that will keep running for at least 4 years, hopefully even longer.

    • jradetsk April 28, 2012 at 2:14 am #

      with the facts on how things are going. like the fact the ivy bridge never reached 8 cores, games have graphically not had any big jump in graphics or demands, windows 8 will require less resources then even windows 7 unlike many other years i think it will be hard for you find a computer that wont reach 4 years of useful life. this may be the first time in computers history where we hit a bottleneck at the point where mores law wont matter any more. for once we may actually have a little lag in seeing a big hardware jump for a while but fortunately software and programming is making huge jumps and catching up for all the time its been behind and this will fortunately show us how efficient we can make things run that have not been efficient. i am not saying games will not improve graphically i am saying software has been so behind and hardware has exploded i think hardware has hit a wall and software is going to make a catch up. in the meanwhile this is good news. most computers now will satisfactorily last longer before they feel slow compared to what comes out. microsoft is realizing this. thats why there making there os more efficient and tablet capable because there not seeing room to push anymore when it comes to cool powerful things in the computer world. they have pushed that wall pretty far.

    • Matt April 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm #

      Gary, I’m looking forward to picking up my first Lenovo (maybe Y480?), so I can’t really comment on build quality and longevity. I *will* note that there are dozens of miserable owners, both on the Lenovo forum and notebookreview.com. The two main gripes seem to be (a) shipping delays and build problems, and (b) nightmare repair experiences. However, given the millions of machines that Lenovo sells, I’m willing to guess that the vocal minority who complain on the forums are a tiny fraction of Lenovo owners — and how many blissful owners do you see taking the time to share their happy experience? So overall, I feel confident that I’ll get a good machine, or I’ll go into “mercenary” mode and make sure that I get what I paid for!

      Here are a few thoughts, from a daily-use perspective (I teach at a state university, btw, so I have a pretty good sense of what college life is like). First, think about power outlets and battery life. If I were starting out with a new machine, I’d look for a minimum of 6 hours between charges. Kind of an arbitrary number, but my preference is to leave the “brick” home and try to make it through the day on battery. In that case, the Y-line (Y470p, Y480, and Y570) doesn’t quite make the cut.

      Second, what about weight? I currently own an Asus UL30A-X5, which weighs about 3.6 pounds. For me, going up to 4.7lbs on the Y480 is a big step (yeah, yeah, I know….1 pound…I’m a big baby). But this is a machine I will carry A LOT. Every day of the week. And like you, there will be books and other stuff in my backpack. We have a 16″ HP that sits on a counter, and never moves. The next machine I buy will spend most of its time on my shoulder! In that case, I pretty much refuse to buy anything over 5lbs, and the Y480 just sneaks under the wire.

      Finally, the reason I’m outgrowing the Asus is it’s a dual-core ULV and though I can easily multitask on it (I’m one of those “30 tabs open in Firefox” kinda guys), I also do a lot of mathematical computing. So the thought of a Core i7 and 8GB of RAM makes my knees wobble. I’m definitely looking forward to more muscle, and again the Y480 fits the bill nicely.

      Not sure if any of this helps. My overall feeling is most notebooks are built to last 2 years, and with a good owner, will easily make it to 4. So I don’t doubt the Y480 can do it. The bigger issues are weight, battery life, CPU. And there are subjective issues too, like “How will you feel in 10 months, when the Y480 looks scuffed and outdated, but you have to spend another 3 years with it?” :) I get that feeling with each cell phone I buy! LOL

    • Bro May 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

      Thank God, for the bottleneck. I’m tired of having to catch up with the latest technology. I’m perfectly contented with the quality of things at the moment.

  12. Matt April 28, 2012 at 1:55 am #

    Made an interesting find:

    http://consumerdl.lenovo.com.cn/UserFiles/UserGuide/en/User%27s%20guides%20and%20manuals/Y480Y580/Lenovo%20Y480&Y580%20Hardware%20Maintenance%20Manual%20V1.0.pdf

    It seems that Lenovo includes a guide written for technicians, “This manual is intended only for trained servicers who are familiar with Lenovo products. Use this manual to troubleshoot problems effectively. Before servicing a Lenovo product, make sure to read all the information under “Safety information” on page 1 and “Important service information” on page 16.”

    It has a pretty detailed teardown of the Y480, including pretty much all the internal parts and a comprehensive part list. I was really impressed. Another thing I found informative — and it had the feel of truthiness to it — was a full spec list beginning on p. 27 for both the Y480 and Y580. Of note: the Y580 supposedly includes both a 1366×768 and a 1920×1020 version (but maybe we already knew that?). There is also some interesting information on graphics cards, hard drives, batteries, and other components.

    -Matt

    • Andrew Baxter April 28, 2012 at 2:48 am #

      Lenovo provides “tear down” manuals for every laptop they release, basically because their Enterprise customers from the ThinkPad side demand it. It’s a great thing for consumers too of course. Lenovo had said the Y580 would have the higher resolution screen at CES this year. Now let’s hope they follow through on it.

    • Matt April 28, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      Oh gee Andrew I just reread your review and spotted the link to the teardown guide. I guess I’m noticing all the details one by one! :P

  13. Ken April 28, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    I own the lenovo y560 last year. i used for 1 year already and i design to sell it and get the y470p. now i found out y480 but on the web site of lenovo they said y480 come with 640M and the Spec is 640MLE what is the point ? because 640M and 640M LE are big different…….what is happen on lenovo web site or they misinformation on y480P ???

  14. Ken April 28, 2012 at 7:04 pm #

    does anyone know about the Ram ? is that 1600 or 1333 come with y480p ????

  15. Matt April 30, 2012 at 12:31 pm #

    Amazon has the Y480 (20934FU) relisted…looks like the same specs as the Tigerdirect model and how nice, they explicitly list the graphics card as NVIDIA GT640M-LE:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007CL3AZC/

    Supposedly 10 in stock. For $999, I would wait and see what other options Lenovo has this week or next!

  16. Sam April 30, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    Hello,

    Great review. On the model with 1T and 32GB SSD, is the OS installed on the 32 SSD? If I were to upgrade to a 120GB SSD, is it just an easy swap out or more it then that, if the OS is on the original 32 GB SSD?

    • Dean May 24, 2012 at 12:48 am #

      Based on what I’ve read so far. The SSD will contain the OS so it’s gonna boot fast. I wish it was bigger but I’ll just install games and other big stuff on the HDD

  17. Bob May 1, 2012 at 2:20 am #

    I have a question that others may have…I have a 4 year old HP laptop that is dying quickly (previous problems include screen not working, wifi going out, usb ports dying, and currently no soundbar recognition). I had been looking at the Y470 for a while, got unhappy when they switched to the Y470p without Bluray, but then found the Y480 coming out. I became very excited when I saw the specs behind it. But a few things are kind of holding me back. First, the graphics card being lower. I talked to a Lenovo rep and he said the unofficial timeline for updated specs was early fall…my pc will be primarily for school, but I am always on the internet, and I want to get the newest Microsoft Flight. Will the 640 hold me back very much? Or should I go ahead and get it? I want to get one as soon as possible, and don’t particularly like the idea of waiting until the fall, but if it must be, it must be, right? If the card is really that bad, however, would it be possible to buy it now, and purchase the newer card later, and switch them out? Or would it be too close to impossible?

    • Ken May 1, 2012 at 5:27 am #

      I bought my y470p 2 month ago. perfectly great machine. if you like the y480 you should wait for the answer from lenovo abt the graphic card. because the Gt 640M LE is more weak than the Radeon 7690M.

      Just wait for the y480 is better come with more future than the y470p like Keyboard and Touchpad.

  18. Bro May 1, 2012 at 5:48 am #

    I too have a question regarding the new lenovo y480. I found out about the y480 nearly a month ago, and I initially thought that they were going to use the GT 650M. Recently, I have come across terrible information about the gpu, saying that they are actually using a GT 640M LE with 96 pipelines. (they couldn’t even just give us the regular 640M geez). I compared the GT 640M LE 96 with the GT 555M from the lenovo y470, and it showed that the GT 640M LE 96 is 1% lower than the GT 555M. I do not want to have buyer’s remorse after I buy things that is why i rigorously research about my purchases. So, do you guys think that I should go ahead and buy the y480 or get the older y570 or even find another model/brand..

    note: I asked a local dealer about their incoming y480’s specs, and they said that it will have a NVIDIA GT640M 2gb gpu. I do not know a lot about specs so I did not understand what they meant.

  19. jameel May 5, 2012 at 5:05 am #

    But would the overall performance of the LE…(g CARD) be intertwined with the INTEL 4000? Thus giving you better performance than the Radeon 7690M

  20. jameel May 5, 2012 at 5:07 am #

    But would the overall performance of the LE…(g CARD) be intertwined with the INTEL 4000? Thus giving you better performance than the Radeon 7690M-

  21. Juan May 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm #

    What happens to your windows license / copy if you install an SSD??

    Can the recovery disks install in a fresh HD? or will I need to get another copy of windows?

    • Andrew Baxter May 15, 2012 at 12:04 am #

      You just clone the drive image using software such as Acronis TrueImage to copy over all of your info to an SSD, you don’t need a new copy of Windows. And if you use the recovery disks on a new HD it’s the same, you just keep using the Windows copy registered to that machine.

  22. nygen May 29, 2012 at 12:49 am #

    http://www.wired.com/reviews/2012/05/lenovo-y480/
    which review to believe? absolute awesomeness vs absolute crap

    • Andrew Baxter May 29, 2012 at 12:57 am #

      It seems like that reviewer had an agenda. Where are the benchmarks? Of course the performance slow down he speaks of was due to the 5400RPM drive. And the battery test of using a DVD is of course the best way to drain a battery, but what screen brightness did he use? It’s a poor review which lacks on details. I could lambaste any laptop if I focused on just the negatives and not the big picture. He didn’t even mention the dedicated graphics option, a compelling feature of the Y480. And how does he back up the island style keyboard being less usable and less accurate? That’s a sweeping generalization with no evidence to back it up.

  23. nygen June 1, 2012 at 5:21 am #

    One quick question, what was the max temperature that the lenovo y480 get to? My last laptop died from heating issues and the y470 apparently had poor heating, just curious if they made improvements on this model

    • Andrew Baxter June 3, 2012 at 1:10 am #

      They did increase the size of the cooling system, I had no issues with heat when using the Y480.

  24. daesuk kim September 11, 2012 at 1:49 pm #

    One quick question

    what kind of SATA interface had y480?

    i want to use SATA 3.. HDD.. so..

    do u know..?

    • Andrew Baxter September 11, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      Yes, it uses SATA III (3) for the HDD interface.

    • daesuk kim September 11, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

      thank ^_^

  25. daesuk kim September 24, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    hi Good morning

    One quick question

    my lottop is y480

    can i use 16GB Memory?

    “CORSAIR 16GB (2 x 8G) 204-Pin DDR3 SO-DIMM DDR3 1333 Laptop Memory Model CMSO16GX3M2A1333C9 “

Leave a Reply