Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 RE review: Hitting the virtual-reality sweet spot

There's no liquid cooling, a feature usually only found on specialized machines from boutique PC builders, and the chassis also lacks a top-mounted or opposite-side fan, but there is a top vent, however. Despite this, even in heavy use it never felt especially hot, as there's a lot of empty space inside the large interior compartment to mitigate heat buildup.

lenovo-ideacentre-y900-13.jpg
Sarah Tew/CNET

A handful of USB and audio ports are on the front panel, while everything else is around the back, including the HDMI port required for hooking up a virtual-reality headset. Of the VR-ready PCs we've tested so far, only the Velocity Micro Raptor installs a front-facing VR connection panel. A DVD drive is included, which seems a bit pointless these days, especially as it's not even a Blu-ray drive.

Bundled with the system is a surprisingly excellent keyboard-and-mouse combo. The heavy duty mechanical keyboard looks and feels like the expensive gamer-centric versions sold by companies like Logitech or Razer. It shares the same red backlit effect as the tower and has a handful of macro keys and ports built in. The mouse is Lenovo's standard gaming mouse, also with red accents and an angular gamer-centric design. Both are wired, as preferred by twitch gamers, but I found myself using a wireless Microsoft Xbox One controller more often in games.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

Ready for games, virtual and otherwise

We're at the very start of the VR era, so tools for effectively testing how a machine will work with VR games and apps are rare. Oculus offers a VR-ready app, which checks system specs against a list of supported components. Not surprisingly, this system passed with a green check mark. Valve offers a more in-depth test, playing a short demo game clip in a simulated stereoscopic VR view. In that test, the Y900 also passed, with a score of 8.1 out of 11. Anything over 7 in this test is considered a very good score.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

In standard game and application benchmarks, the system also performed well, as one would expect from this set of high-end parts. It was closest to the Acer Predator G6, which we tested in a configuration with similar components at a similar price. To get a real performance boost for VR, you'd have to jump to an Nvidia 980ti card, found only in a few higher-end systems.

Conclusion

By packing in the exact set of gaming components we'd suggest for an optimal VR experience at a decent price, and in a less-ugly-than-some tower, Lenovo makes a good case for being a go-to midrange virtual reality starter kit. If you shop around (or built it yourself from scratch), the same CPU/GPU combo can be found for a few hundred less, but the included accessories here add some real value, and the spacious, easy-to-access case makes upgrading less of a hassle than it could be.

Multimedia multitasking test 3.0

Falcon Northwest Tiki
120
Origin PC Chronos
123
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
125
Acer Predator G6
143
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
143
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
151
Dell XPS 8900
257

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Geekbench 3 (Multi-core)

Falcon Northwest Tiki
24,461
Origin PC Chronos
19,398
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
19,162
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
18,083
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
16,753
Acer Predator G6
15,678
Dell XPS 8900
11,025

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

SteamVR performance test

Falcon Northwest Tiki
11
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
10.5
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
8.5
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
8.1
Acer Predator G6
7.6
Origin PC Chronos
7
Dell XPS 8900
6.5

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Falcon Northwest Tiki
4,421
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55
4,011
Origin PC Eon17-SLX
3,374
Acer Predator G6
3,193
Origin PC Chronos
2,867
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900
2,812
Dell XPS 8900
2,502

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Acer Predator G6 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD
Origin PC Chronos Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); OC 4.7GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 250GB SSD + 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 2TB 7,200rpm HDD
Dell XPS 8900 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Core i5-6400; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 970; 1TB 7,200rpm HDD
Origin PC Eon17-SLX Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4.5GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 8GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980; 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD
Velocity Micro Raptor Z55 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 980 Ti; (2) 256GB SSD RAID 0 + 2TB HDD
Falcon Northwest Tiki Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 3GHz Intel Core i7-5960X; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHZ; 8GB Nvida GeForce GTX 980 Ti; 512GB SSD + 6TB HDD 5,700rpm

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