Lenovo IdeaPad Y450 review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y450

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MSRP: $729.99

The Good Great design; good speakers; generous selection of ports.

The Bad Weak graphics; no Bluetooth; thick chassis.

The Bottom Line Reasonably priced, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y450 is a style-savvy, media-friendly laptop that unfortunately lacks gaming graphics.

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7.8 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 7
  • Battery 7
  • Support 7

Formerly known for the iconic, if boxy, ThinkPads (which the company still does well: see our review of the T400s), Lenovo has also begun branching into more stylish consumer products, loosening up its slightly uptight design aesthetics along the way. The recent IdeaPad line reflects the change most starkly: we looked at the 16-inch IdeaPad Y650 a while ago, and were impressed by the thin, sturdy feel and bolder touches, including texture-patterned lids and glossy materials used in the interior.

While the IdeaPads retain Lenovo's comfortable keyboard and some of the same custom software, the prices are also more reasonable, making them, by some measures, budget-friendly notebooks bearing better-than-average design.

The $799 Y450 is a smaller-screened relative of the Y650, with an extremely similar design on the inside and out. While the 14-incher is also thicker than its 16-inch big brother, the overall feel and performance of the Y450 make it a worthwhile alternative for those who want a bit more portability.

Price as reviewed / Starting price $799/$679
Processor 2.0GHz Intel Core 2 Duo T6400
Memory 3GB DDR2 RAM 800 MHz
Hard drive 250GB, 5400 rpm
Chipset Mobile Intel GM45 Express
Graphics Intel GMA 4500MHD
Operating System Windows Vista Home Premium SP1
Dimensions (WD) 13.4x9.1 inches
Height 0.8-1.4 inches
Screen size (diagonal) 14 inches
System weight / Weight with AC adapter 4.98/5.78 pounds
Category Mainstream

The Y450, on the outside, comes patterned with an attractive hex design on its black lid, which feels like plastic to the touch as opposed to the Y650's slightly silicone finish. Copper highlights line the edges, and inside, the same white glossy palm rest and white keyboard as the Y650 lie below the black plastic-framed glossy 16x9 screen. We liked the design then, and we still like it now.

However, from the front view the Y450 looks thinner than it is. Turning it on its side, a more considerable bulk is revealed. Still, the system carries comfortably in a backpack, and whether we used it at a local cafe or on our laps, it felt really well proportioned.

Above the keyboard, twin JBL stereo speakers sit on either side of a small lineup of controls: power and a OneKey recovery button for instant backup and data restore, an LED-backlit touch-strip for launching Lenovo's small suite of tools including VeriFace facial recognition software, and touch controls for volume and Dolby Home Theater settings.

The Y450's keyboard has a good classic combination of travel and click, and the textured multitouch touch pad feels more accurate than glossy pads, although that is more of a tactile psychological effect. The twin buttons below were a little mushy for us, but worked fine.

The 14-inch wide-screen LED-backlit display offers a 1,366x768 native resolution, which is standard for a screen this size that has a 16x9 aspect ratio. The colors were sharp, and text and icons were crisp and readable. The glossy screen is inset from the lid, which helps with glare, but viewing the screen from off-angles produced a slightly washed-out look on our model.

The JBL stereo speakers, similar to the ones in the IdeaPad Y650, are great-sounding and pack better-than-average punch for movie viewing and headphone-free music listening. They're one of the features we like the most about Lenovo's midrange IdeaPad lineup. In simulated surround mode, the Y450 provides a satisfying lap-based mini home theater for the budget-minded.

  Lenovo Ideapad Y450 Average for category [mainstream]
Video VGA-out, HDMI VGA-out, HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks Stereo speakers, headphone/microphone jacks
Data 3 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, eSATA/USB combo, SD card reader 4 USB 2.0, mini-FireWire, SD card reader
Expansion ExpressCard/34 ExpressCard/54
Networking Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, optional WWAN
Optical drive DVD burner DVD burner

One area where the IdeaPad Y450 mostly shines is ports. From first glance, nearly every connectivity consideration is covered, especially for the student or home consumer. HDMI, eSATA, ExpressCard, FireWire, and three USB ports on top of that are studded all around the sides--so many ports, in fact, that the headphone/mic jacks have been relegated to the front of the laptop, because that's the only place they'd fit. On the other hand, there's no Bluetooth in most configurations. Bluetooth can be added on the highest-end model, which costs $999, but it would have been a reasonable inclusion here.

On the other hand, an area the IdeaPad Y450 is lacking in is discrete graphics. The included integrated Intel GPU is capable of playing video, but for video editing, mainstream games, or any more dedicated graphics work, the Y450 isn't your system of choice. Customization options include choosing a Core 2 Duo T4200 or T6400 processor, or upgrading the Intel graphics accelerator to a slightly more graphically robust NVIDIA GeForce G 105M. Hard drives can be customized up to 320GB, and RAM to 4GB.