Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

The IdeaPad Y580 is Lenovo’s flagship multimedia notebook featuring a 15.6″ display, 2GB Nvidia GTX 660M graphics card, and the latest Intel quad-core processor. At just south of $1,000 this unit delivers a great value save for one thing – the anemic 1366×768 resolution display. Fortunately Lenovo offers a full HD upgrade (1920×1080) which offers twice the viewing area and depending on the configuration, costs almost the same as our review unit.

Build and Design

Lenovo has thankfully moved away from glossy plastic on its higher-end IdeaPads (for the most part); it only exists now around the screen bezel. Most of the Y580′s visible surfaces are brushed aluminum; it serves an aesthetic function and does a pretty good job of it. It lends some strength to the chassis but it still flexes a bit when twisted by the corners. The lid twists a bit but no ripples appear on the display surface when pushing in from the back; that’s definitely a good thing.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Design-wise the Y580 is on par with HP’s Pavilion notebooks (the Y580 is a prime competitor to theHP dv6-7000 we reviewed). Small things I like include the classy speaker grilles above the keyboard and the beveled aluminum edge of the touchpad. The backlit keyboard adds a nice visual (and useful) touch in the dark.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Input and Output Ports

The Intel ‘Ivy Bridge’ chipset natively supports USB 3.0 and the Y580 includes two of them. It also has HDMI, VGA, and a built-in optical drive. Overall there’s not much missing: ExpressCard and eSATA but there’s a limited need for those on a consumer notebook.

Left: Kensington lock slot, cooling exhaust vent, VGA, Ethernet, HDMI, 2x USB 3.0

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Right: Headphone and microphone jacks, USB 2.0, tray-load optical drive, USB 2.0, AC power

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Front: Status lights, media card reader

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Back: Nothing here!

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Keyboard and Touchpad

The Y580 has a full-size keyboard with separate numeric keypad. This is a ‘Chiclet’ style keyboard where there is extra spacing between the keys. I like the feel of this keyboard a lot; it has relatively short keystrokes and makes a pleasant clicking sound when pressed. It takes minimal effort to press the keys but they’re not soft to the point where you can’t rest fingers on them. There is no noticeable flex. The layout is normal with no missing or misplaced keys. The numeric keypad keys are slightly smaller than the main keyboard keys so it takes a little time to get used to. I like the white backlighting; it looks great and is useful in the dark. The backlighting can be turned off by pressing [Fn] and [Space].

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

The touchpad is actually a clickpad; press down anywhere with your finger to produce a click. The clicks take a bit more pressure than I’d prefer but it is fairly accurate; not quite as good as Apple’s implementation but respectable. At the end of the day I prefer separate physical buttons though.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Screen and Speakers

This particular Y580 has a generic glossy display with a low resolution of 1366×768. It’s a bargain basement display; the glossy surface causes reflections and is annoying in well-lit environments. The low screen resolution means it’s tough to use two windows side-by-side and a lot of scrolling is required in documents and web pages. Brightness is just average and viewing angles are narrow. Lastly, color reproduction is mediocre; the whole display has a bluish cast and saturation could use a serious boost.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

There is an option to upgrade to a 1920 x 1080 screen display, it costs between $100 – $200 more depending on current promotions, for those that are more picky with displays it seems based on opinions from owners of the higher resolution display it has better overall quality.  However, even the 1920 x 1080 display is still glossy and will reflect  a lot, there’s no avoiding that with the Y580.

The Y580 has two JBL-branded stereo speakers above the keyboard which are loud and clear. I usually carry a Logitech notebook speaker bar with my notebook but with the Y580, there’s no need. It lacks a dedicated subwoofer but there is still noticeable bass.

Performance and Benchmarks

The Y580 as configured had no trouble ripping through our suite of benchmarks plus several of the latest games ( Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Mass Effect 3 ). The Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core is one of the most powerful processors available in a notebook and is up for any task, especially something like Photoshop or video and audio editing. Having 8GB of fast memory is helpful for multitasking; it’s hard to even use a fraction of it. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M has a whopping 2GB of its own video memory and as we’ll see in the game benchmarks, eats modern games for breakfast. Last but not least there’s the storage drive; the 1TB model in our review unit certainly has a lot of capacity but is somewhat sluggish (it runs at just 5400RPM). Opt for a 7200RPM hard drive or an SSD for the best overall performance.

Our Y580 review unit has the following specifications:

  • 15.6-inch glossy 720p display (1366×768 resolution)
  • Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-3610QM quad-core processor (2.3GHz, up to 3.3GHz Turbo Boost, 6MB cache, 45W TDP)
  • Nvidia GeForce GTX 660M graphics card w/ 2GB memory
  • 8GB DDR3-1600 RAM (2x 4GB; max. supported)
  • 1TB 5400RPM hard drive (Seagate Spinpoint M8)
  • Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2200
  • Integrated Bluetooth wireless
  • Integrated HD webcam
  • Internal tray-load DVD burner
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • 6-cell li-ion battery (10.8V, 72Wh, 6700mAh)
  • Weight: 6.17 lbs.
  • Dimensions: 15.15 x 10 x 1.4 inches
  • Price as configured:$936

Gaming Performance

The graphics card is the most important component for 3D gaming and the Nvidia GTX 660M 2GB on the Y580 doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of the faster graphics card available in a notebook. We ran two modern games: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Mass Effect 3 . Both games were run at the Y580′s native screen resolution of 1366×768 and at maximum settings (with 4X AA in Call of Duty ). We’re looking for a minimum frames per second (FPS) above 30 at all times.  Below are some charts of frame rates in each game to give you an idea of what the GTX 660m can do:

Game Average FPS Min FPS Max FPS
Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 99.011 66 149
Mass Effect 3 59.811 52 64

The GTX 660M is if anything overpowered for the 1366×768 screen resolution; that’s another reason to upgrade to the 1920×1080. A higher resolution will provide a more detailed gaming experience.

Benchmark Performance

To give an idea of how the Y580 performs relative to other laptops we’ve reviewed we ran a few of the popular Futuremark benchmark applications.  First up is PCMark Vantage, an older benchmark that measures overall system performance by taking into account the processor, memory, storage and graphics components.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Laptop PCMark Vantage Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, Nvidia GTX 660M, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 9,256 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y570 (Intel Core i7-2670QM, Nvidia 555M 1GB, 8GB RAM,5400RPM HD) 8,771 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 8,634 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p (Intel Core i5-2450m, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 6,727 PCMarks

Not much surprise there in the PCMark Vantage results, the Y580 handily beats both the previous IdeaPad Y570 and the smaller Y480.  Next up is the more recent PCMark 7 that again measures overall system performance.   The Y580 scored 2,622 on this benchmark

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Laptop PCMark 7 Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, Nvidia GTX 660M, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 2,622 PCMarks
HP dv6t-7000 Quad Edition, Intel Core i7-3610QM, Nvidia GT650M, 7200RPM HD 2,877 PCMarks
HP Envy 17-3000, Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 2,703 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y570 – Intel Core i7-2670QM, Nvidia 555M 1GB, 8GB RAM,5400RPM HD 2,573 PCMarks
Dell XPS 17 (Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, Nvidia 550m, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM) 1,995 PCMarks
Sony VAIO SA (Intel Core i5-2430M 2.50GHz, AMD Radeon 6630M, 4GB RAM) 2,002 PCMarks

You may be surprised to see the old 2011 ENVY 17 and dv6t-7000 with a weaker graphics card beat out the Y580 in the overall system score, but those configurations both had a faster 7200RPM hard drive and this PCMark 7 benchmark puts a big weighting on hard drive speed.  If you upgrade to a 7200RPM drive or, better yet, SSD in the Y580 it’ll smoke those laptops with its score.

Where the Y580 is able to really stand out from the crowd is 3D performance thanks to its Nvidia GTX 660M card.  The Y580 scored higher than any recent gaming notebook we’ve reviewed, it just outscored the dv6t-7000 but once again the storage may have hampered the Y580 score a bit.  In reality, the GTX 660M is quite a bit more powerful than the GT 650M.

3DMark Vantage – Measures 3D graphics performance

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

Laptop 3DMark Vantage
Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, Nvidia GTX 660M, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 10,153
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 5,587
HP dv6t-7000 Quad Edition, Intel Core i7-3610QM, Nvidia GT650M, 7200RPM HD 10,108
HP Envy 17-3000, Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 6,970

Heat and Noise

The Y580 puts off and exhausts quite a bit of heat under full gaming load but the keyword here is “exhausts” – the chassis warms up a bit but fortunately not hot, most of the heat is blown out of the large vent on the left side. At idle the Y580 is silent for all intents and purposes. Under full load the fan is audible but it’s not so much the fan that sounds like something; rather, the rush of air coming out.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review

You can see a big, beautiful copper heatsink looking in the fan exhaust port on the left side of the notebook. This means the heatsink is as efficient as it can be. Copper is expensive and used only in higher quality heatsinks. Based on the amount of power in the Y580, it needs it.

Battery Life

I measuredfour hours, 35 minutesof battery life surfing the Internet with half screen brightness. I turned the keyboard backlighting off to save power. This is a respectable time for a consumer desktop replacement notebook – especially one as powerful as the Y580.

Conclusion

The Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 is a great value for many reasons. The only major item I disliked about our test unit was the generic 1366×768 resolution display which simply doesn’t belong on a notebook of this caliber. Fortunately Lenovo offers a 1920×1080 (full HD) upgrade for not much more; the Y580 needs to have that in order to get our full recommendation.

Otherwise there is more than enough to like. Let’s start with the little things: four USB 3.0 “Superspeed” ports, great-sounding JBL speakers, and a classy aluminum-clad design. Then there’s the 4.5+ hour battery life, great full-size backlit keyboard and phenomenal performance thanks to the third-gen Intel quad-core processor and Nvidia GTX 660M graphics card.

At just around $1,000 the Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 is easy to recommend to gamers and multimedia enthusiasts alike; just make sure you get that 1920×1080 screen upgrade.

Pros:

  • Excellent overall performance
  • Good backlit keyboard
  • Nice speakers
  • Good value

Cons:

  • Low-rent 1366×768 display; make sure you get the 1080p version
  • So-so clickpad; we prefer regular touchpads

Where to Buy

Buy the IdeaPad Y580 Direct from Lenovo.com

Source: www.laptopreviews.com




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One Comment to “Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 Review”

  1. jack 28 July 2012 at 2:42 pm #

    Hi,

    thanks for the review. Could you please test if Y580 when HDMI out is used, is capable of displaying 3D games and movies on an external 3D capable TV

    I have read in the internet contrarian infos about that due to Optimus/IGP output issues.

    Would be great to hear back from you on that.
    Thanks

    J


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