This updated version of Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y580 wasn’t available in time for our recent round-up of gaming laptops. The Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 is actually designed as an all-round multimedia and entertainment system rather than as a dedicated gaming machine – but it’s still a good option for gamers who don’t want to pay £1500 or more for the fastest mobile gaming rig.
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The Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 is more neatly designed than some of the gaming laptops we’ve seen. Rather than being festooned with glowing lights and buttons, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 just has a business-like dark-grey – almost black – brushed metal finish, and a gentle backlight for the keyboard.
It’s slimmer and lighter than most gaming laptops too – the 15.6in models in our recent group test all weighed around 3.3kg, where the Y580 here loses half a kilo at a more manageable 2.8kg. It’s still quite a slab though, measuring about 36mm thick. So, no Ultrabook, but you can more easily carry it around in a backpack or should bag when required.
The 15.6in screen has a 1920x1080 resolution, and produces a bright, attractive image with a good, wide viewing angle. This Windows 8 laptop is not touch-controlled but we’re not convinced that touch-controls are particularly useful on a laptop, especially for gamers who will probably just want to plug a mouse in anyway.
The keyboard and trackpad are both large and comfortable to use, and the JBL stereo speakers produce a more pleasant and detailed sound than most of the laptop speakers we’ve heard recently – although a little more bass wouldn’t go amiss.
The Y580 has both VGA and HDMI video ports for connecting to a larger TV or monitor, as well as Intel’s WiDi (wireless display) technology. A Blu-ray writer means it’s got the multimedia side of life well covered.
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580: Performance
Our review unit cost £999.99 with a quad-core Intel Core i7 running at 2.4GHz (3.4GHz Turbo), 8GB RAM, 1TB hard disk and an nVidia GeForce GTX 660M with 2GB of video memory.
That’s a pretty strong combination, with the one weak link being the 5400rpm hard drive. That held the Y580 back a bit when scored by the PCMark 7 benchmark, producing a relatively modest score of 2938 points. Even so, the Y580 will still handle demanding multimedia work such as video-editing or audio recording with ease.
It’s not a flat-out gaming machine, but still provides strong all-round performance. The GTX 660M doesn’t quite have the horsepower required to run the latest Windows games at their highest settings. Batman: Arkham City and Hard Reset both struggled at 22 frames per second when running at 1920x1080 resolution with High settings for graphics and anti-aliasing.
However, dropping down to 1280x720 with Medium graphics settings allowed us to hit 40fps on Batman and 59fps for Hard Reset, which should satisfy most home users.
Battery life with the GeForce graphics was only about 2.5 hours, looping streamed video over Wi-Fi from iPlayer, but you can switch to the i7’s integrated HD 4000 graphics on the fly, and that should give longer runtime for routine tasks such as browsing the web or playing music and video.
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