A big performance boost for Lenovo's Y900 gaming laptop

The new Ideapad Y900 bumps up its graphics options and adds overclocking.

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 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
Expertise I've been testing and reviewing computer and gaming hardware for over 20 years, covering every console launch since the Dreamcast and every MacBook...ever. Credentials
  • Author of the award-winning, NY Times-reviewed nonfiction book The Tetris Effect; Longtime consumer technology expert for CBS Mornings
Dan Ackerman
2 min read

Lenovo's gaming line of laptops has been one of the best-kept secrets in PC gaming for years. While most other PC makers were cranking out oversized, overpriced machines that looked like they belonged in a dorm room, the Y series laptops had a (relatively) subtle look, were reasonably thin for gaming hardware and gave gamers mainstream performance at a mainstream price. The Y50, one of my favorite gaming laptops, even offered a touchscreen and 4K display at a time when both were almost unheard of in gaming laptops.

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The new Ideapad Y900 isn't a major reimagining of the line, but does address one of its only major weak spots. Like many mainstream gaming systems (including the HP Omen), the graphics cards, the most important part of the component chain, topped out at the midrange. First that was Nvidia's GeForce 860M GPU, later the 960M -- both fine for even the newest games at 1,920x1,080 resolution and medium detail settings, but not great for serious PC gamers who wanted to take advantage of higher detail levels and higher resolutions.

The Y900 now includes the latest Nvidia high-end mobile GPU, the GeForce 980M, as well as a new sixth-generation Intel Core i7 processor. That's not more than other gaming laptops offer, but it at least brings the Lenovo line up to speed with the more powerful gaming laptops offered by Asus and others. Lenovo also includes some software-based overclocking, with a CPU and RAM speed boost at the touch of a "turbo" button.

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The look is very similar to the past few generations, but slightly streamlined, with deeper cutouts along the angular back cover. The familiar red backlit keyboard is still there, but now the light colors can be customized. This is also a mechanical keyboard, which means there's a discrete physical switch under each individual key, which is an important feature for PC gamers. Finally, the wrist rest now has a rubberized surface that feels good to the touch, but I'd have to test it over several hours to see if it's comfortable in the long term.

Lenovo IdeaPad Y900 (pictures)

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With newer, faster hardware and an improved design, the new Lenovo Ideapad Y900 gaming laptop is more expensive than the previous versions, but still in line with other Nvidia 980M systems. It'll start at $1,999 in the US when it's available in June.

See our complete CES 2016 coverage here.