Lenovo markets its IdeaPad line of consumer notebooks as ‘fun’. This top-of-the-range Y570 model features a 15.6″ screen and multimedia goodies including JBL-branded speakers, a stylish design with classy aluminum accents, Nvidia graphics and a powerful Intel Core i7 quad-core processor. The Y570 starts at $799 on Lenovo.com. Our tear-down includes a price/performance value analysis.
[button link=”http://shop.lenovo.com/us/laptops/ideapad/y-series/y570″ size=”large” color=”red” window=”yes”]Buy the Lenovo Y570 for $749 at Lenovo.com[/button]
Our Ideapad Y570 is the base model with these specifications:
The site states the price is down from $1,449 (you save $650), but I think $799 is a realistic price for these specifications. Higher-end configurations include better storage options including 7200RPM drives and Solid State Drives (SSDs).
Design and Build
IdeaPads have historically been solid notebooks and for the most part that’s true of the Y570. The notebook feels sturdy to the touch and the materials used (mostly plastic) are of the quality expected at this price point. The palm rest and the lid are covered in a thin layer of brushed aluminum; it looks great but doesn’t necessarily add strength since it is simply stamped on.
There is visible flex in the chassis when flexing it by the corners; additionally the lid is a bit too wobbly for my liking. Fortunately the lid has good protection; no ripples show up on the screen when pushed in on from behind.
The Y570’s design is airy and modern – I like it. The one aspect I don’t like is the glossy plastic around the lid (and the glossy screen surface itself for that matter) – it collects dust and fingerprints too easily.
This notebook falls in the desktop replacement category in terms of power and has the weight (5.95 lbs) and thickness (0.9~1.4 in) to prove it. It’s not the best choice for an everyday traveling companion though is certainly movable with a good backpack or shoulder bag.
I have complained about the screen in nearly all my IdeaPad reviews and I’m going to play my own broken record here – the Y570’s screen is subpar. This is a rank-and-file 15.6″ display that would be at home in a bargain basement notebook – not in one that is twice the price. The display has a cold default hue and looks washed out. The glossy surface adds a lot of reflections. The worst part about the display is the awful 1366×768 resolution; HP’s competing notebook, the Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition, offers a much better 1920×1080 screen for about the same price. It has twice the screen real estate space of the Y570’s and therefore is much more practical for getting work done. Imagine being able to use two windows side-by-side with no resizing and not having to scroll as much in web pages, that’s what a higher 1920 x 1080 resolution gives you. It sure would be nice if Lenovo gave us this higher resolution screen option.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Lenovo dubs its island- or ‘Chiclet’-style keyboard “AccuType”. The keyboard itself is actually quite accurate and fun to type on. Unlike many of these newer-style keyboards, the keys on this one have more than enough travel and good feedback. I didn’t miss a stroke while typing this review. The only thing the keyboard is missing is backlighting.
There is a separate numeric keypad on the right; the keys are slightly smaller but it is more than usable.
The touchpad is a mixed bag; while the dimpled surface makes it easy to track on, the buttons are too stiff and loud. This is a consistent flaw I see with consumer notebooks. Touchpad clicks should be quiet.
Performance and Benchmarks
What is performance? Practically speaking it’s how well the computer responds to your input. When you click something, something should happen. The Y570 is certainly not lacking for power; the Intel Core i7 quad-core processor chews up intensive tasks such as Adobe Photoshop CS5 and the Nvidia GeForce GT 555M is powerful enough to play the latest games at high settings. Additionally the Y570 comes standard with a generous 8GB of RAM which is great for multitasking. Unfortunately Lenovo hamstringed the overall performance by using a slow 5400RPM hard drive – and one with only 500GB of capacity. What that means is that it will take a little longer to start up and launch programs than if Lenovo had included a faster 7200RPM drive (or an SSD). It’s pretty easy to change the drive yourself; unscrew a few panels on the bottom and have at it. The Y570 accepts standard 2.5″, 9.5mm height drives including SSDs.
To get an idea for synthetic performance of the Y570 compared to other laptops we ran some benchmarks using the popular Futuremark PCMark Vantage and PCMark 7.
HP Envy 17 Core i7-2670QM 2.20GHz, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM)
Sony VAIO SA (Intel Core i5-2430M 2.50GHz, AMD Radeon 6630M, 4GB RAM)
The Y570 scored well in the overall system performance department, but as stated earlier the scores would be much higher if a faster 7200RPM hard drive or, better yet, SSD storage were used instead.
The Y570 has a standard array of ports for a consumer notebook plus two extras: a pair of USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports on the right side.
The left side has VGA and HDMI ports for connecting to external monitors/projectors/TVs. An Ethernet jack, a single USB 2.0 port, a USB 2.0/eSATA combo port, and headphone and microphone jacks are located towards the front. The cooling exhaust vent sits right in the middle.
The front of the notebook has status lights, the media card reader, and a wireless on/off switch.
The right side of the notebook has the pair of USB 3.0 ports at the front, the tray-load DVD burner, and a Kensington lock slot at the rear.
I don’t like the placement of USB ports towards the front of the notebook; I have this setup on my personal notebook and it’s annoying to have a mouse or other USB device plugged in – the cord gets in the way of my external mouse.
The JBL-branded speakers above the keyboard are loud and clear though tend to distort when bass notes are played. The audiophile in me suspects with just one speaker cone each, the speakers have a tough time producing both bass and mid/high ranges at the same time and get bogged down. Lenovo has the right idea with name-brand speakers but needs to follow through properly.
Heat & Noise
The Y570 has a well-designed cooling system. The fan is all but inaudible while performing menial tasks such as surfing the web. The fan spools up while playing games however does not have a whine and can be dismissed as background noise. No part of the notebook gets ‘hot’, per se; the bottom gets warm but won’t burn your lap. Overall I don’t have any complaints.
I measured 3 hours, 55 minutes with the screen brightness near minimum and surfing the web. It’s on the low side of what’s acceptable; the Y570’s 6-cell battery is not a high-capacity version and no larger battery is offered. Nonetheless Lenovo is pretty accurate stating 4 hours of battery life.
The Y570 is in a tight spot; it has great performance at its $799 price point but is severely let down by its screen. I like the rest of the notebook – it has a good-looking design, solid keyboard, quiet and effective cooling system, decent (if quirky) speakers, and a respectable array of ports. The lifeless 1366×768 screen is not acceptable on a notebook above $500. The other notable downside is the hefty thickness (0.9~1.4″) and barely acceptable battery life (3 hours, 55 min).
Overall we find it tough to recommend this notebook unless you can snag it for less. We like the HP Pavilion dv6t Quad Edition as an alternative – it has a better screen, speakers, and battery life.
Unique and pleasing design
Performance fit for gaming and demanding software
Keyboard is pleasant to use and comfortable
Stays cool and fan is not too loud
Sub par quality screen, no high resolution option
Some chassis flex, build quality could be better
Audio quality of JBL branded speakers don’t live up to branding