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Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 0633 review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 0633

Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 0633

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Dan Ackerman
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Dan Ackerman

Editorial Director / Computers and Gaming

Dan Ackerman leads CNET's coverage of computers and gaming hardware. A New York native and former radio DJ, he's also a semi-regular TV talking head and the author of "The Tetris Effect" (Hachette/PublicAffairs), a non-fiction gaming and business history book that has earned rave reviews from the New York Times, Fortune, LA Review of Books, and many other publications. "Upends the standard Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs/Mark Zuckerberg technology-creation myth... the story shines." -- The New York Times

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6 min read

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Lenovo's IdeaPad line of consumer-targeted laptops is a far cry from the traditional dry ThinkPad business systems the company is known for. We'd go so far as to call the IdeaPad brand highly underrated, as the designs are among the snappier we've seen from any major PC maker, even if they tend be a bit on the pricey side.

OVR
7.7

Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 0633

The Good

Excellent CPU/GPU combo; slick design.

The Bad

Unimpressive battery life; gimmicky touch controls; pricey.

The Bottom Line

Lenovo's 14-inch IdeaPad Y460 is a well-designed gaming/multimedia laptop--but in this price range, the competition is also bringing its A game.

The 14-inch Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 is a typically sharp-looking multimedia laptop, with a powerful Intel Core i5 processor and discrete graphics. At $1,049 (you can get it with a Core i3 CPU and basic integrated graphics for $899), it crosses that deadly thousand-dollar mark, where comparisons to the 13-inch MacBook Pro, 14-inch HP Envy 14, or others are inevitable.

The IdeaPad Y460 offers very good gaming performance, but lacks high-end features such as Blu-ray, and some of the included creative extras, such as a touch-control strip that literally zippers across the screen, are more flash than useful.

The system is also hurt by weak battery life, which is a shame, as it's fairly portable for a slick 14-inch multimedia rig, and one of the cooler nondesktop-replacement gaming machines we've seen in a while. If you plan on leaving it plugged in most of the time, and don't mind breaking the $1K psychological barrier, it's an impressive overall package.

Lenovo continues to crank out very nice-looking laptops with its IdeaPad line. The Y460 isn't as svelte as some 14-inch systems we've seen, but it combines hints of color and patterns with a basic black design that still doesn't break the Lenovo suitable-for-the-office look and feel.

The matte-black back cover has a subtle geometric pattern stenciled on top of it in glossy black, and there's a copper accent strip around the outer edge of the lid. The interior is a mix of not-too-glossy black plastic and matte-black keys. The most interesting visual notes on the interior are a set of backlit touch-sensitive buttons above the keyboard and a small backlit IdeaPad logo on the lower right side of the wrist rest.

Those backlit touch-sensitive control buttons are the most unique feature of the Lenovo Y460; unfortunately, they're also annoying frustrating to use. Basic volume, battery, and Wi-Fi buttons work fine; they're very responsively, actually, but the lighted control strip is something else entirely.

A long strip of tiny touch-sensitive buttons light up as you run your finger across them. Stop at one of several specific points along the way, and you can launch a preselected app, like a typical quick-launch button. But, run your finger quickly from left to right across the whole strip, and an animation flies across the screen of a zipper literally zipping across. In this mode, the keyboard and touch pad are deactivated, but we're not sure when you'd use this (maybe when playing music in a party mode). Running your finger from right to left unzips the screen, and running your finger from right to left in a slightly different way actually changes the desktop background image.

The problem is that none of these gesture controls works reliably, and we had a hard time replicating them with any consistency. We'd try to zip up the screen and accidentally launch an app. Or we'd try to change the desktop background and end up running our finger across the control strip over and over again with no result.

It's a bit of overly clever design that should have stayed as a cocktail napkin sketch; it's surprising because the regular single-function touch control buttons work so well, they might be the best we've ever used. The keyboard and touch pad are similarly excellent, even though the Y460 uses a tapered-key keyboard (more like the traditional ThinkPad design), rather than the flat-topped island-style one seen on most other IdeaPad models.

The 14-inch wide-screen display offers a 1,366x768-pixel native resolution, which is standard for a 16:9 midsize laptop screen. It's great for 720p HD video content, but can't display 1080p content at full resolution. That said, images are bright and clear, with deep contrast and excellent color. The overly glossy screen, however, is prone to glare and reflections.

For such a multimedia-friendly machine, it's disappointing that there's no Blu-ray option for the Y460, especially as our configuration topped $1,000. In fact, aside from three preconfigured builds (the main differences being Core i3 and Core i5 processors and discrete graphics), there are no other customization options.

The 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 M520 CPU in our IdeaPad Y460 performed on par with the recent mainstream Core i5 systems we've seen, which is to say it's satisfyingly fast. We ran into no lag or stuttering, even when running multiple apps or games. Apple's current 13-inch MacBook Pro, which has an older Intel Core 2 Duo chip, was slightly faster at multitasking, but the Lenovo (along with similarly configured systems from Sony and Dell) was a bit faster when running individual apps.

Equally impressive is the 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650 GPU. We ran Unreal Tournament III at 1,366x768 pixels and got 73.6 frames per second. More-recent games, such as Just Cause 2, also played smoothly. The Lenovo Y460 isn't pitched as a hard-core gaming machine, but it performed well nonetheless.

Juice box
Lenovo Y460 Average watts per hour
Off (60%) 0.28
Sleep (10%) 0.87
Idle (25%) 15.39
Load (05%) 57.62
Raw kWh Number 61.18
Annual power consumption cost $6.94

The Y460 ran for 2 hours and 12 minutes on our video playback battery drain test, which is disappointing considering it has a six-cell battery. That previously mentioned MacBook Pro ran for nearly 4 more hours on the same test, and even a basic 15-inch Dell Inspiron 1564 ran an hour more. For a semiportable 14-inch laptop, barely breaking the 2-hour mark is unacceptable.

Lenovo includes an industry-standard one-year parts and labor warranty with the system. Upgrading to a three-year plan will cost an extra $107, or $149 if you include onsite service. Support is accessible through a 24-7 toll-free phone line, an online knowledge base, and driver downloads.

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo Ideapad Y460
695 

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo Ideapad Y460
107 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo Ideapad Y460
140 

Video playback battery drain test (in minutes)
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo Ideapad Y460
132 

Find out more about how we test laptops.

System configurations:

Lenovo Ideapad Y460
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 M520; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1,066MHz; 1GB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5650; 500GB Seagate 5,400rpm

Sony Vaio VPC-Z116GX/S
Windows 7 Professional (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 M520; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 1GB Nvidia GeForce GT 330M; 256GB Intel SSD

Dell Inspiron 1564
Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit); 2.4GHz Intel Core i5 M520; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4330; 320GB Western Digital 5,400rpm

Apple MacBook Pro - Core 2 Duo 13.3-inch - 2.4GHz
OS X 10.6.3 Snow Leopard; Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz; 4096MB DDR3 SDRAM 1066MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce GT 320M; 250GB Seagate 5,400rpm

OVR
7.7

Lenovo IdeaPad Y460 0633

Score Breakdown

Design 9Features 8Performance 8Battery 5Support 7