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Buying a light-weight gaming laptop by May (Lenovo Y480?)

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April 10, 2012 6:40:01 PM

Hello,

My current machine (Dell Vostro 1500) has served me dutifully for five years and I would like to get a new one that could at least attempt to do the same. Price is a consideration but at this point I just want to know what I need for "the future" of laptop computing.

After some searching, I've settled on the Lenovo Ideapad Y480. Is there a comporable machine I'm missing? Leaning away from the 580 because of size/weight.

I'm not looking to spend more than $1k (substantially less if possible) and I want a few things:

Power (GPU/RAM/CPU) for games. It doesn't have to be top of the line. But 1gig GPU, 2.4ghz+ (ideally IB processor), and 4+gigs RAM are a must. I want to run Diablo 3 and Skyrim smooth and look good. Also, I have a stand alone monitor setup, so the GPU needs to go to a higher res screen well.

Size doesn't matter to me - smaller is better but I plan to have a dock/monitor output whenever I'm at home so a 14"-15" is probably best.

Weight matters - I want to keep it low. My current beast is a backbreaking 6.5lbs and it's gotten to be a pain to lug around. I'd love to cut that down - the machine I found was ~4.5, already a marked improvement.

No Macs.

As for Lenovo 470/570 owners - I want to hear from you!

I want to know what you think of the box itself.
I'm not interested in the hardware, I want to know things like weight, battery life, heat, keyboard comfort, trackpad, speakers, build, glare, screen, etc.

Give me the details of how you like the machine's day to day functioning - is it a good buy?

Thanks!
a c 571 D Laptop
April 10, 2012 9:17:05 PM

Lenovo Ideapad Y480 is 4.9lbs, according to the Lenovo website.
The U300s Ultrabook is 2.9 lbs. So you're paying in more than one way to get a notebook that runs games.
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April 10, 2012 9:22:47 PM

If you want to game, and you don't need an insane processor, get an AMD A8 based laptop. They are not the fastest on the block, but they are very balanced. Good gaming performance, good battery life, good processor power, and all A8 are true quad core chips. Just add a SSD and you are ready to scream.

An advantage of the Ideapad Y series is that they appear to have mSATA slots, so you can have a micro SATA SSD for a boot drive, and also have a nice big hard drive for storage.
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April 10, 2012 10:03:24 PM

WR2 said:
Lenovo Ideapad Y480 is 4.9lbs, according to the Lenovo website.
The U300s Ultrabook is 2.9 lbs. So you're paying in more than one way to get a notebook that runs games.


Ultrabook is 1200 and no discrete GPU. Gaming is important. I said lightweight gaming, not just lightweight.
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a c 439 D Laptop
April 10, 2012 11:07:49 PM

videsupra said:
Hello,


As for Lenovo 470/570 owners - I want to hear from you!



I have the Lenovo Y470. While doing "normal things" like surfing the web, encoding video, watching movie the laptop is fine.

However, when running games the laptop heats up a lot; more specifically the CPU heats up a lot. The i5-2410m generally heats up to 92c to 99c depending on which game I was testing. GTA 4 made the CPU hit 99c and the CPU started to throttle down making the game stutter. The nvidia GT 550M graphics card runs cool enough at around 56c, if I remember correctly. I don't really use it the Y470 to play games, but when I do I disable Turbo Boost and lower the clockspeed to around 2.0GHz or 2.1GHz to bring heat under control.

According to Lenovo's tech support the operating temps are within the Y470's design specifications. That basically tells me the laptop was poorly designed from the thermal point of view. Unfortunately, there were no reviews of the Y470 when I bought it which is why I decided to write one.

You can read my review here:
http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/70694-35-lenovo-ideap...


The Y570 does not have such issues with the CPU overheating based on the reviews I have read. I believe the maximum temps on the CPU when playing games was around 75c which is acceptable for me when playing games.

I didn't strictly buy the Y470 to play games (that's what my desktop is for). I bought it so surf and encode video from time to time. Therefore, the main drawback of the Y470 is the low resolution. I find the 1366x768 resolution rather restrictive for productivity purposes, therefore if I decide to buy a new laptop next year i would go for one that supports 1600x900 resolution. 1920x1080 would be nice, but not on a small 14" screen, a 15.6" screen would be better for that resolution.
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a c 439 D Laptop
April 10, 2012 11:16:19 PM

My recommendation is to either consider the larger and heavier Lenono IdeaPad Y580 for the potentially better cooling, or look at a different 14" laptop from another brand.
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April 10, 2012 11:21:13 PM

jaguarskx said:
My recommendation is to either consider the larger and heavier Lenono IdeaPad Y580 for the potentially better cooling, or look at a different 14" laptop from another brand.


Is there anything comparable/announced that is using 3rd gen intel cores? Or is the difference between 2nd and 3rd gen irrelevant? The powerhouse GPU is a big draw. Won't all 14" that run that kind of hardware run hot?
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a c 439 D Laptop
April 10, 2012 11:37:00 PM

It depends on how the chassis is designed to dissipate heat. The Y470 was poorly designed. As I stated, it was the CPU that was overheating, not the GT 550M which ran relatively cool at around 56c from what I recall when playing games.

In terms of performance, Ivy Bridge CPUs will likely perform a little better than a Sandy Bridge CPU; probably around 6% at the same clockspeeds.

However, it is speculated that Ivy Bridge CPUs will run hotter than Sandy Bridge CPUs. Ironically, this is due to the die shrink. Sandy Bridge uses a 32nm die process to manufacture the CPU. Ivy Bridge shrinks that down to 22nm. This allows Ivy Bridge to become more power efficient (i.e. use less power). But there is a potential problem...

As most people know CPUs use heatsinks to dissipate heat away from the CPU. But there is a direct correlation between heat transfer and surface area. As the surface area becomes smaller, heat transfer efficiency also decreases. The die shrink results in the surface area of the Ivy Bridge CPU to be smaller than that of Sandy Bridge CPUs. While IB CPUs uses less electricity and can potentially generate less heat, the amount of heat that from the surface of the IB CPU to the heatsink is also less. This translates into the potential of IB CPUs retaining more heat, thus leading to higher operating temperatures than SB CPUs.
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a c 439 D Laptop
April 10, 2012 11:40:14 PM

Pre-production engineering sample Ivy Bridge CPUs do in fact run hotter than Sandy Bridge CPUs. But the finalized version may possible run at temps similar to SB CPUs or possibly a little cooler.
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a b D Laptop
April 10, 2012 11:54:25 PM

Sony Vaio S series, the 6630m is an amazing mobile GPU and the laptops weigh ~4lbs. 13.3 and 15.5". You should be able to get one for under $1000. 1920x1080 display too, it looks quite good.

http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/ite... $1099 from TigerDirect but I didn't look further than that (or on Sony's actual shopping site). 15.5",
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April 11, 2012 12:19:29 AM

jaguarskx said:
It depends on how the chassis is designed to dissipate heat. The Y470 was poorly designed. As I stated, it was the CPU that was overheating, not the GT 550M which ran relatively cool at around 56c from what I recall when playing games.

In terms of performance, Ivy Bridge CPUs will likely perform a little better than a Sandy Bridge CPU; probably around 6% at the same clockspeeds.

However, it is speculated that Ivy Bridge CPUs will run hotter than Sandy Bridge CPUs. Ironically, this is due to the die shrink. Sandy Bridge uses a 32nm die process to manufacture the CPU. Ivy Bridge shrinks that down to 22nm. This allows Ivy Bridge to become more power efficient (i.e. use less power). But there is a potential problem...

As most people know CPUs use heatsinks to dissipate heat away from the CPU. But there is a direct correlation between heat transfer and surface area. As the surface area becomes smaller, heat transfer efficiency also decreases. The die shrink results in the surface area of the Ivy Bridge CPU to be smaller than that of Sandy Bridge CPUs. While IB CPUs uses less electricity and can potentially generate less heat, the amount of heat that from the surface of the IB CPU to the heatsink is also less. This translates into the potential of IB CPUs retaining more heat, thus leading to higher operating temperatures than SB CPUs.



Hmm a 6% difference doesn't seem to be worth the potentially large price difference. That and heat concerns me. However, I assume any laptop running games that small in size is going to run into similar heat problems - how much can design really make a difference in something the small? Am I just naive?

Are there any other 3rd Gen gaming ultrabooks launching this month that I'm not aware of?
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a c 439 D Laptop
April 11, 2012 12:40:16 AM

There are a few professionally written review of the Y470; it'll probably take you a couple minutes to find them. While those reviews have noted similar CPU temps as I have, 92c, they were a bit more cavalier about the high temps than I was. They basically stated sometime like, "while the CPU temps may be a little high, we had no issues with the laptop when playing games, the laptop remained stable and the CPU did not throttle down."

Apparently, they did not bother testing GTA 4 which was the only game that got my CPU to 99c. Perhaps I am the one who is being paranoid since none of the professional review made a big deal about the heat. But overheating damage occurs over time. Sure for the 1st year the laptop may be fine with a CPU running at 92c, but what about the 2nd or the 3rd year? I really doubt my Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 will out live my IBM ThinkPad T40 which I bought back in 2003. I bet when my Y470 dies, my T40 will still be functional.

The design of a laptop chassis is a big deal, it can mean the difference between adequate airflow and deficient airlow.

3rd gen ultrabooks? The 2nd gen ultrabooks have not even been released yet. Just in case you are confused, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 is not considered an ultrabook. Some of the 2nd gen ultrabooks will be shipped with discrete graphic cards. Just Google the phrase, "640m ultrabooks" to get some results.

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a c 439 D Laptop
April 11, 2012 12:44:38 AM

AMD also plans to enter the ultrabook arena whenever they get around to releasing their Trinity APU. That will bring in some competition which may help bring down the price a little bit.

The word "Ultrabook" is trademarked by Intel so I don't know what AMD will call their "ultrabook laptops". Perhaps they will simply license the word from Intel; doubtful.
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April 11, 2012 12:46:03 AM

jaguarskx said:
There are a few professionally written review of the Y470; it'll probably take you a couple minutes to find them. While those reviews have noted similar CPU temps as I have, 92c, they were a bit more cavalier about the high temps than I was. They basically stated sometime like, "while the CPU temps may be a little high, we had no issues with the laptop when playing games, the laptop remained stable and the CPU did not throttle down."

Apparently, they did not bother testing GTA 4 which was the only game that got my CPU to 99c. Perhaps I am the one who is being paranoid since none of the professional review made a big deal about the heat. But overheating damage occurs over time. Sure for the 1st year the laptop may be fine with a CPU running at 92c, but what about the 2nd or the 3rd year? I really doubt my Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 will out live my IBM ThinkPad T40 which I bought back in 2003. I bet when my Y470 dies, my T40 will still be functional.

The design of a laptop chassis is a big deal, it can mean the difference between adequate airflow and deficient airlow.

3rd gen ultrabooks? The 2nd gen ultrabooks have not even been released yet. Just in case you are confused, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y470 is not considered an ultrabook. Some of the 2nd gen ultrabooks will be shipped with discrete graphic cards. Just Google the phrase, "640m ultrabooks" to get some results.



Wonderful thank you! I thought that the ultrabooks followed the iX cores generations. I guess they follow the bridge generations? Either way, thanks!

Looking through 14" ultrabooks w/ discrete GPUs now!
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April 11, 2012 1:57:24 PM

jaguarskx said:
AMD also plans to enter the ultrabook arena whenever they get around to releasing their Trinity APU. That will bring in some competition which may help bring down the price a little bit.

The word "Ultrabook" is trademarked by Intel so I don't know what AMD will call their "ultrabook laptops". Perhaps they will simply license the word from Intel; doubtful.



AMD will call them Ultrathin. Way to coattail on Intel's marketing AMD :-)

What is your timetable to buy this laptop, videsupra?
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April 11, 2012 2:12:47 PM

jacobdrj said:
AMD will call them Ultrathin. Way to coattail on Intel's marketing AMD :-)

What is your timetable to buy this laptop, videsupra?


Needs to be in my hands by May 20. That is potentially flexible should the right deal come up but that is currently the hard deadline.

So far, nothing is beating the Y480 for price/power at that size/weight. Everything smaller is running crap GPUs compared to the 6XXM series or is $1500+.

I'd love a 13.3" ultrabook running a 6XXM series GPU with ivy bridge, but I haven't found one announced yet - all the Kepler based GPUs seem to be in 15"+ sizes only.
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April 11, 2012 2:59:59 PM

videsupra said:
Needs to be in my hands by May 20. That is potentially flexible should the right deal come up but that is currently the hard deadline.

So far, nothing is beating the Y480 for price/power at that size/weight. Everything smaller is running crap GPUs compared to the 6XXM series or is $1500+.

I'd love a 13.3" ultrabook running a 6XXM series GPU with ivy bridge, but I haven't found one announced yet - all the Kepler based GPUs seem to be in 15"+ sizes only.




Yeah, that is probably cutting it a bit too close to the release of Trinity on May 15th...

Why not go ASUS?

http://usa.asus.com/Notebooks/Gaming_Powerhouse/G74SX/#...

G74SX has very good reviews, weighs 4.28 lbs (lighter than the Lenovo) is running a GTX 560M at 17.3". They have great warranties too.

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April 11, 2012 3:08:36 PM

jacobdrj said:
Yeah, that is probably cutting it a bit too close to the release of Trinity on May 15th...

Why not go ASUS?

http://usa.asus.com/Notebooks/Gaming_Powerhouse/G74SX/#...

G74SX has very good reviews, weighs 4.28 lbs (lighter than the Lenovo) is running a GTX 560M at 17.3". They have great warranties too.



17.3" is way too bulky for me and the 5XX series are a generation behind. Why would I pay more when I can get newer tech for less?
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April 11, 2012 3:14:13 PM

videsupra said:
17.3" is way too bulky for me and the 5XX series are a generation behind. Why would I pay more when I can get newer tech for less?


You might be setting your sights too high. you are loking at getting high end mobile video card and future gen CPU for under a grand in a mini package. Those things don't really add up.

Your pocket book might be more suited to current gen and the performacne perfectly acceptable as well. Have you looked at benchmarks for your games on the 5xx series GPUs? many of the 6xx GPUs are just rebranded 5xx architecture. Be careful that you aren't spending mroe than you need and getting less than you want. Look at the performance info, not just the label on the package.
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April 11, 2012 3:25:02 PM

po1nted said:
You might be setting your sights too high. you are loking at getting high end mobile video card and future gen CPU for under a grand in a mini package. Those things don't really add up.

Your pocket book might be more suited to current gen and the performacne perfectly acceptable as well. Have you looked at benchmarks for your games on the 5xx series GPUs? many of the 6xx GPUs are just rebranded 5xx architecture. Be careful that you aren't spending mroe than you need and getting less than you want. Look at the performance info, not just the label on the package.



I understand that I'm asking a lot, so I'm looking for middle-grounds. The Y480 seems to be the best option so far.

I do check the benchmarks and tests via:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benc...

and

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Computer-Games-on-Laptop-G...

and there seems to be a fair difference between the 5 and 6 series of nVidia cards. Not to mention the 6's are cheaper in the Ivy Bridge machines, at the moment.
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April 11, 2012 3:40:39 PM

videsupra said:
I understand that I'm asking a lot, so I'm looking for middle-grounds. The Y480 seems to be the best option so far.

I do check the benchmarks and tests via:

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Mobile-Graphics-Cards-Benc...

and

http://www.notebookcheck.net/Computer-Games-on-Laptop-G...

and there seems to be a fair difference between the 5 and 6 series of nVidia cards. Not to mention the 6's are cheaper in the Ivy Bridge machines, at the moment.


I haven't found a price for the y480. Does it fall in the budget range ou are looking at given the new gen GPU and CPU?

The GPUs that are performing better (than their previous flagship 5xx) series probably won't be the price point you are trying to hit, I would bet. They are the flagship products. You might find a higher performing last gen CPU and GPU at a better price point once Ivy Bridge hits the street. More power, less money.

IE, given your purchase criteria you may be better off going with a current gen (last gen, from your standpoint) GPU/CPU combo and getting more playability per dollar out of it.
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April 11, 2012 3:44:25 PM

The way I was reading your post, you didn't mind bulky, so long is it was light.

Ok, so something between 13" and 15"... Under 5 lb, battery life doesn't matter, that can game, but only with one of the current video cards, under $1000 before May 20th...

I still think you would be quite surprised and happy with a current offering from an AMD APU based setup. They game quite nicely, and with the money you save ($500) you can buy a much better laptop next year.
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April 11, 2012 3:48:32 PM

jacobdrj said:
I still think you would be quite surprised and happy with a current offering from an AMD APU based setup. They game quite nicely, and with the money you save ($500) you can buy a much better laptop next year.



This is where I am going with my posts. Trying to push the technology envelope on a budget in a laptop platform is sort of like losing the race before you begin. Don't look at the shiny new model numbers assume that it is what you need, you will be throwing money out the window that could be better spent on integral parts of an older model that will perform better. For your gaming needs I would recommend something along the lines of:

proc: i7/i5 Sandy Bridge (or AMD equivalent)
Storage: SSD
Mem: 6-8gb
Vid: 6970m or greater

That would get you pointed in the right direction and provide happy framerates and you might be able to get closer to your pricepoint in a lighter package.
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April 11, 2012 5:17:59 PM

po1nted said:
I haven't found a price for the y480. Does it fall in the budget range ou are looking at given the new gen GPU and CPU?

The GPUs that are performing better (than their previous flagship 5xx) series probably won't be the price point you are trying to hit, I would bet. They are the flagship products. You might find a higher performing last gen CPU and GPU at a better price point once Ivy Bridge hits the street. More power, less money.

IE, given your purchase criteria you may be better off going with a current gen (last gen, from your standpoint) GPU/CPU combo and getting more playability per dollar out of it.



Y480 price I've seen is $899-$999 though nothing official yet (pre-order pricing). I'm assuming ~$999-$1100 range.
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April 18, 2012 6:45:32 AM

jacobdrj said:
Why not go ASUS?

http://usa.asus.com/Notebooks/Gaming_Powerhouse/G74SX/#...

G74SX has very good reviews, weighs 4.28 lbs (lighter than the Lenovo) is running a GTX 560M at 17.3". They have great warranties too.


It's 4.28 kg, or 9.4 lbs, so almost twice the weight of the Y480. However ASUS does have some machines that are closer, like the N53 and N55 models. Current gen though. I personally imagine the keyboards on them to be annoying (no gaps between key tops), but I've never used one.
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