Lenovo's going for the trifecta with the Lenovo Y70 Touch (starting at $1,399, $1,499 as tested): a 17-inch gaming laptop that offers power and portability at an affordable price. The 1-inch thick notebook delivers the full HD display and balanced sound performance gamers crave. As long as you're willing to hang with a last-gen GPU, the Y70 Touch is a solid pick for the price
Lenovo consistently proves that you don't need a bunch of flashing lights to make a beautiful laptop. The Y70's black aluminum chassis, complete with subtle crosshatching, is simply fetching. I love the dark gray chrome Lenovo logo in the top right corner of the lid. It lets you know what brand of notebook it is without being too ostentatious.
The majority of the laptop's interior sports a supple black, soft-touch finish. The very top of the deck is made of black metal and holds a pair of red-accented speakers and buttons for power and One Key Recovery. A red-rimmed keyboard occupies the middle of the deck with metal-lined touchpad centered below the G and H keys.
Measuring 7.6 pounds, 16.6 x 11.4 x 1.0 inches, the Y70 is slim, but not as slim as the Aorus X7 (7.2 pounds, 16.8 x 12.0 x 0.9 inches). Both the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro (6 pounds, 16.5 x 11.3 x 0.85 inches) and the Maingear Pulse (6.2 pounds, 16.5 x 11.3 x 0.85 inches) are even thinner and lighter.
The Y70 has succeeded where other laptops in the series had failed by delivering a fairly bright display with solid color reproduction and accuracy. The LED multitouch panel has a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels.
As I watched the 1080p trailer for Dear White People, I found myself captivated by a scene where one of the actresses switches from a brunette wig to a blond. The golden locks cascaded into place, flowing gently over warm brown skin. There was enough detail to make out the shimmering wine-colored sequins on her blouse.
The colors really popped as I played through Middle-Earth: Shadow of Mordor. Rock faces seamlessly transitioned from gray to rust red, signaling different rock sediment. The game looked its best when the scalded mountains gave way to the vibrant green pastures.. I couldn't help but marvel at the Blue Milk fungus, with its cerulean caps that puckered boldly in the center as they sat on their stout white stalks.
The Y70 Touch skated past the 275-nit desktop replacement average for brightness, scoring 277 nits. That was enough to top the Aorus' 264 nits, but not the GS70 (281 nits) or the Pulse 17 (300 nits).
The 70 Touch got a perfect 100 percent on the sRGB Gamut, which means it can display a wide variety of shades. The Maingear and the MSI fell somewhat short of that mark, at 90 and 89 percent. The Aorus hit 102 percent.
The Y70 Touch registered 2.5 on the Delta-E color accuracy test (0 is best). Once again, the Lenovo beat out the Stealth Pro and the Pulse 17, which notched 8.4 and 9.4. However, the Aorus came out on top with a score of 1.
The JBL speakers look good, but sound even better. By themselves, the red-tinged speakers filled my small room with loud and balanced audio. However, once I enabled the Dolby Digital Plus Software, the overall soundscape widened and the low-end got an extra boost.
I listened to Jill Scott's "He Loves Me (Lyzel in E Flat)" and found myself awash in gloriously swelling violins, a punchy organ and sharp snares. It was the perfect melodic bedding for the artist's alto, gently rising and falling like an aural tide as the song progressed.
It was all sword strikes and battle cries when I switched to Shadow of Mordor. As I traveled the countryside, I enjoyed the persistent traveling music, whose strings became harsh and frenzied when I encountered an enemy. It was the perfect backdrop for the arrows and axes whizzing past my head as I worked to dispatch hordes of screaming Uruk-hai.
During the Audio Test, the Y70 Touch hit 82 decibels, matching the Aorus, but missing the 87 dB average. The Pulse 17 and Stealth Pro both obtained 94 dB.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Despite its full-size layout, complete with number pad, the Y70's Touch's island-style keyboard looks small in its massive soft-touch deck. That doesn't diminish the keyboard's good looks, especially with the glowing red backlighting. Thankfully, the keyboard feels as good as it looks.
The keys registered 1.7mm of key travel (1.5-2mm is considered good) with 60 grams of actuation. That translated into a comfortable typing experience with strong tactile feedback. I hit my usual 55 words per minute on the Ten Thumbs Typing Test.
I especially enjoyed running my fingers across the silky surface of the 4.2 x 2.8-inch Synaptics touchpad. The touchpad nimbly performed Windows 8.1 gestures along with two-finger rotations and three-finger swipes.
The Y70 Touch's touchpad measured 79 degrees Fahrenheit after 15 minutes of streaming a full-screen Hulu video. The space between the G and H keys and undercarriage were considerably warmer at 93 and 98 percent. We consider anything above 95 degrees uncomfortable.
After 15 minutes of fighting my way around Mordor, the touchpad measured 81 degrees. The space between the G and H keys registered 99 degrees. The bottom of the laptop was slightly cooler at 93 degrees.
If you're looking for a webcam that can produce accurate color and detail, look elsewhere. Test images I took with the Y70 Touch's 720p webcam were often blown out with fuzzy detail. The dark blue stripes in my shirt took on a purple tinge, while the bright blue wall I was leaning against took on various shades of blue, depending on where the light hit.
The finer points of the picture, such as the small pockmarks in the wall or the flyaway strands of hair, were lost.
You'll find a USB 2.0 port on the right of the Y70 Touch along with a 2-in-1 card reader, a combination microphone and audio jack, S/PDIF and a secure lock slot. There's a pair of red-colored USB 3.0 ports, HDMI, Ethernet and a proprietary power port on the left.
Graphics and Gaming
The Lenovo Y70 Touch is equipped with Nvidia's last-generation GeForce GTX 860M GPU with 4GB of RAM. That means that the laptop can play most of today's hottest games -- just at lower frame rates than the latest Maxwell GPUs.
When I played through Shadow of Mordor with the settings on very high, I saw an average frame rate of 30.1 fps. That's playable, but it wasn't the prettiest presentation. I noticed texture tears as I traversed throughout the world. The worst offenders were the orcs, as I noticed that some had holes in their faces where the rendering failed. I also noticed quite a bit of lag when I was engaged in battle, particularly if I was fighting more than two Uruk-hai at a time.
On the BioShock Infinite benchmark, the Y70 Touch obtained 98 fps on low at 1080p. That's below the 139 fps average, but well above the Laptop Mag 30 fps playability threshold. The Aorus scored 98 fps, while the Pulse 17 and Stealth Pro were evenly matched with 121 fps and 124 fps, respectively.
None of the laptops cleared the 62 fps average on high. The Y70 hit 42 fps while the Aorus notched 35 fps. The Pulse 17 and Stealth Pro posted 52 and 53 fps, respectively.
During the Metro: Last Light test, the Y70 achieved 68 fps at 1080p, matching the Aorus, but missing the 75 fps mark. The Stealth Pro and Pulse 17 were tied at 70 fps. The Y70 Touch's frame rate plummeted to an unplayable 16 fps on maximum settings, which is below the 24 fps average. However, neither the Pulse 17 nor Stealth Pro were that far ahead with 14 and 17 fps. The Aorus was only two frames short of the average, at 22 fps.
When I took a break from gaming to watch a video or write this review, the laptop switched over to its Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU. This is designed to save battery life.
The Lenovo Y70 Touch's 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor with 16GB of RAM gave a rather ho-hum performance. Despite streaming an episode of The Awesomes on Hulu while running a full system scan with 11 open tabs in Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome, the Lenovo Y70 didn't knock it out of the park on synthetic tests.
For example, on Geekbench 3, which measures overall performance, the Y70 Touch scored 9,837. The MSI GS70 Stealth Pro, which has the same processor, delivered 13.034 on the same test. However, that much pricier $2,009 system also benefits from a beefier Nvidia 880 GPU and dual SSDs.
The $2,299 Maingear Pulse 17 (2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4700HQ CPU and dual SSDs) obtained 12,741, while the $2,299 Aorus X7's 2.4-GHz Intel Core i7-4860HQ and triple SSDs scored a 14,019.
The Y70 Touch's 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive and 8GB SSD took 2 minutes and 55 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files, which is a transfer rate of 29 MBps. That's much slower than the 317.3 MBps desktop replacement average. The Pulse 17 delivered a blood-pumping 391 MBps, but the Aorus and Stealth Pro were even faster at 565 MBps and 566 MBps, respectively.
On the OpenOffice Spreadsheet Macro test, the Y70 Touch matched 20,000 names and addresses in 3 minutes and 54 seconds, beating the 4:43 average. The Stealth Pro was just a hair faster, clocking 3:53, but the Aorus was the hands-down winner with 3:47. The Maingear took 3:59.
After continuous Web surfing over Wi-Fi at 100 nits of brightness, the Lenovo Y70 Touch's battery lasted 3 hours and 38 minutes. That's short of the 4:06 desktop replacement average. Still, that's better than the Aorus X7, which notched 2:41. The Maingear Pulse 17 lasted 5:15 and the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro clocked 5:01.
Software and Warranty
Lenovo bundles the Y70 Touch with a robust suite of utilities and apps that are a little out of place on a gaming notebook, but just right for the multimedia crowd.
Company branded software includes Companion, Support, Settings, Photos, Energy Manager, Motion Control and One Key Recovery -- just in case you run into an inadvertent blue screen of death.
Some newcomers to the Lenovo suite are PhotoMaster, which enables you to edit photos, employing blemish-removing beautifying effects or Instagram-reminiscent filters. You can also add a voice memo to add an audio component to the still.
Lenovo Reach, the company's beta cloud service, acts like a virtual desktop. It allows access to documents, music and photos across devices, including PC, Mac, Android and iOS. Reach also enables users to launch apps like Hulu or Netfilx without installing them on their device. Instead, these services stream from a Lenovo server.
Third-party apps include Evernote Touch, Kindle, Zinio, eBay, the Weather Channel and McAFee Central.
The Lenovo Y70 Touch comes with a 1-year limited warranty.
The configuration of the Lenovo Y70 Touch I reviewed costs $1,499 and has a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive with a 8GB SSHD, an Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M GPU with 4GB of VRAM.
The $1,399 base model features a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 1TB 5,400-rpm hard drive with a 8GB SSHD, an Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M GPU with 2GB of VRAM.
Lenovo also offers a $1,749 version that has a 2.5-GHz Intel Core i7-4710HQ processor with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, an Intel HD Graphics 4600 GPU and a Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M GPU with 4GB of VRAM. We highly recommend the SSD config for gamers.
Overall, the Lenovo Y70 touch is a good choice for consumers looking for a 17-inch gaming and multimedia laptop in a design that's fairly portable. For $1,499, you get a nice-looking laptop with a reasonably bright, accurate display and an impressive sound system, but not quite blazing performance, and underwhelming endurance.
Those searching for more power will want to save up for either the MSI GS70 Stealth Pro ($2,009) or the Maingear Pulse 17 ($2,299), which deliver better performance and battery life. But if you want to play the latest titles and you're on a tighter budget, the Y70 will satisfy your fragging urges.