You can kick Lenovo’s Ideapad Y900 into high gear with the touch of a button

Lenovo hasn’t historically catered to PC gamers. Its systems are typically all work and no play, and the hardware needed for high-end gaming is extraneous at best for business users. But Lenovo is working on a reputation change, and if the Ideapad Y900 Gaming isn’t evidence of that, I don’t know what is.

It’s fitted with the most powerful kit money can buy, like a GTX 980M and Core i7 – and that’s at the base level. It’s a totally different look for Lenovo, and is even a departure from a lot of the gaming laptops we’ve seen come through the Digital Trends office as of late. But all of that power doesn’t come cheap, and the Y900 starts at a hefty $2,000. Is that a price that will give Lenovo faithful sticker shock?

More to love

The coolest feature of the Y900 by far is the turbo button.

The new Ideapad Y900’s most striking feature is its layout. The trackpad sits dead center, in an island of textured, tough plastic. It’s all lit up, with several individually colored zones across the keyboard, trackpad, and speakers. Lenovo’s Nerve Center software handles the lighting, which includes the same effects that you’d find on most gaming keyboards – strobe, breathing, color cycling. It’s a mechanical keyboard, with big travel and quick actuation.

As you might expect, the hefty chassis and components in the Y900 also gives it a serious 10 pounds of weight. Like most gaming laptops, it’s not portable enough for everyday use, and moving it will generally be reserved for LAN parties and vacation gaming. The Y900 is heavy even compared to competitors, which may annoy users looking for an everyday machine that can also game.

It’s lit

Bells and whistles aside, the Ideapad Y900 packs a serious punch, thanks to some high-end hardware. The processor is a quad-core Skylake Core i7, but instead of opting for typical HQ-series quad-core, Lenovo has chosen a K-series chip. These chips are overclockable, boosting performance at the cost of heat and power. It’s a promise that extends to the Nvidia GTX 980M, which is equipped with 4GB or 8GB of VRAM.

Which leads us to the coolest feature of the Y900 — the turbo button! We’ve seen these on third-party gaming controllers forever, but they typically don’t do anything meaningful. Lenovo’s turbo button is a sliding toggle to prevent accidental presses, and sliding it up turns overclocking on or off. It only works when the machine is plugged in.

There’s more under the hood than just the overclockable GPU and CPU. There’s room for two drives, one PCIe and one SATA, with available options for factory RAID 0. It’s also equipped with four DDR4 RAM slots, allowing for up to 64GB of memory. Visuals are provided by a 17-inch 1080p display. It would’ve been nice to see a slightly higher resolution display, but 1080p is a good match for the GTX 980M, and will let users turn up detail settings in even the newest games.

In good company

Sure, the Ideapad Y900 is spendy, but no more so than other gaming notebooks, especially considering the specs on the base model. With a Skylake i7 and 4GB of VRAM on a GTX 980M, Lenovo’s massive gaming behemoth throws down the gauntlet to every gaming laptop around.

Lenovo’s massive gaming behemoth throws down the gauntlet at every gaming laptop around.

In fact, the only other gaming laptop we’ve seen GPU and CPU overclocking in so far is Asus ROG’s GX700. It’s a beastly system that’s only overclocked while plugged in and liquid cooled. No word on release details yet, but it’s a safe bet the Asus option, with its complicated docking mechanism, will be quite a bit pricier.

Lenovo’s latest foray into gaming hardware is unique. The brand could have offered a slim gaming machine, or an updated version of one of its Y series gaming laptops. The issue is that hardware would’ve once again been lost in the shuffle. Instead, the Ideapad Y900 is a new thought on the conversation the 15-inch Y700 started, in a position to take on some of our favorite gaming laptops.

Highs

  • Beefy hardware
  • Mechanical keyboard
  • Working turbo button

Lows

  • Extremely heavy
  • 1080p display is only option
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