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Lenovo Legion Y730 (15-inch) review: Good gaming extras without the budget-busting price

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Lenovo's 2018 Legion Y530 and Y730 gaming laptops are like mash-ups between its last-gen Legion systems, which had more typical "gamer" styling, and one of the PC maker's ThinkPad workstation notebooks. 

Lenovo Legion
8.0

Lenovo Legion Y730 (15-inch)

Pricing Not Available

The Good

The Lenovo Legion Y730 is a notch above other entry-level gaming laptops with its programmable per-key RGB lighting for the keyboard, custom macro keys and nice-looking full HD display. Despite the gaming extras, it wouldn't look out of place at the office and it's relatively thin and light.

The Bad

Graphics options tap out with an upper entry-level Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti. Shifted keyboard layout takes some adjustment. Webcam is below the display. Battery life is short against competing models.

The Bottom Line

Lenovo steps up the build quality and game-oriented features for the Legion Y730 while keeping its price reasonable for an entry-level gaming laptop. If graphics performance is your priority, though, you'll want to keep looking.

There are no big stylized fan vents or angular edges with color highlights. They're just black and gray and even the Legion logo on the lid is reasonably discreet. The most striking thing about the design is that the display hinge on both is shifted forward, which allows for better cooling with rear and side air vents. It also gave Lenovo space to move power and a majority of its ports to the back, so you don't have a tangle of cords coming from the sides. 

However, while the Y530 and Y730 look alike at first glance, there are some meaningful differences. The Y530 is mostly plastic and has white lights for the keyboard backlight. The higher-end Y730 has an all-aluminum chassis and is fitted with RGB lighting for the keyboard, fan vents, side ports and lid emblem. The lighting is all programmable, too, right down to individual key colors with included software from gaming hardware and peripheral company Corsair. The Y730 also adds an extra row of keys on the left side of the keyboard for custom macros. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

While the Y730 also has slightly better memory and storage options as well as a better display than the Y530 we reviewed, the system processor and graphics options are the same: An eighth-gen Intel Core i7-8750H or i5-8300H and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or GTX 1050 Ti. 

Pricing for the Legion Y730 starts at $907.49 and £1,200 in the UK. It currently isn't available in Australia, but the Y530 is and it's available with a GTX 1060 card starting at AU$1,511.10. As reviewed here, the price is $1,549, but after discounts it's $1,162.49. It's also currently listed as sold out on Lenovo's site. You'll have to keep checking with Lenovo for this configuration, go with this $1,100 configuration (it just has less storage than my review system) or pick one up from a retailer like Best Buy.   

If having good gaming performance now and well into the future is crucial, you'll want to get a laptop with at least a GTX 1060 graphics card. That's not offered on the Y730, but is on the Y530. If you don't mind dialing back your video settings to save some money however, the Legion Y730 is an excellent choice for the money.   

Lenovo Legion Y730-15ICH

Geekbox Lenovo Legion Y730-15ICH
Price as reviewed $1,549
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
CPU 2.2GHz Intel Core i7-8750H
Memory 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Storage 2TB HDD + 256GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Window 10 Home (64-bit)

The keyboard is key

The aluminum body is nice, but the higher-end keyboard and lights are the better upgrades from the Y530. Having 16 million customizable color combinations at your fingertips is a lot of fun and pretty useful. 

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Sarah Tew/CNET

The included Corsair iCue software lets you easily set the color for individual keys or select keys en masse by using your cursor to draw a box around them. There are preset patterns you can choose from or you can set up your own patterns and save them to call up when you want, say for a specific game or if you simply want to switch to a more businesslike all-white backlight. 

There is also another app for setting up custom macros for a row of six keys on the left side of the keyboard. It, too, is easy to use. However, the macro key placement shifts the entire keyboard slightly to the right, which, for touch typists like myself, might cause some initial frustration. There's also a softness to the key travel that feels fine for long gaming sessions, but might disappoint for typing.

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The keyboard software lets you quickly program macros for games. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The keyboard is paired with a responsive touchpad that seems unusually small for a 15.6-inch laptop and while it has discrete mouse buttons opposed to single clickpad, but the buttons, like the keyboard, feel a little soft. If you'd rather connect your own peripherals, there are plenty of options. 

In back, you'll find two USB 3.1 (Gen 2) ports, Ethernet, Mini DisplayPort 1.4 and HDMI 2.0 ports along with the power input. On the left there's a headphone jack and a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port and on the right is a USB 3.1 (Gen 1) port. There's no SD or microSD card slot.

The 15.6-inch 1920x1080-pixel resolution matte display looks good with games, photos and videos. It's brighter and has better color than the Y530's display I tested, too, so if you're considering that model over the Y730, keep that in mind. Lenovo gets points for surrounding the display with a thin bezel instead of the thick ones on most gaming laptops, even pricier ones. Although it also loses points for putting the webcam below the screen so it's shooting upward at an unflattering angle.

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Most of the Y730's ports are on the back. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

Good gaming right now

At its full 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution and settings on high, older games like BioShock Infinite and Deus Ex: Mankind Divided ran smoothly, though the latter was better at medium, as were Battlefield 1 and Strange Brigade. Really anything graphically demanding, you'll want to play on medium. Strange Brigade, for example, started out fine on high, but after about an hour frame rates started to drag. Sessions of PUBG and Fortnite were fine, so if you're just looking for a nice-looking gaming laptop to do battle on breaks in your work or school days, this configuration is plenty. 

The exception to that statement is storage. Personally, I would skip configurations with a 128GB solid-state drive because it doesn't leave you much space for game storage. On the other hand, storage drives (and memory) are user accessible for expansion or upgrades, so you can always swap it out on your own later. The laptop supports PCIe NVMe SSDs that will help speed up performance, especially launching games. 

Lenovo Legion Y730 adds some flash to its 15-inch gamer

See all photos

Long battery life isn't typical for a gaming laptop, but the Y530 actually lasted longer than most, hitting a little more than 7 hours on CNET's streaming video playback battery test. The Y730, on the other hand, fell way short of that mark, lasting only 2 hours and 49 minutes. 

Entry-level with extras

The Lenovo Legion Y730 is essentially the Y530 with an aluminum body and a better keyboard and display for not much more money. This is also one of my favorite designs for a budget-friendly gaming laptop that I've seen this year. While it's thin and light for a gaming laptop, I appreciate being able to connect an external display, mouse and keyboard to back, keeping the cables tidy and out of the way. However, if you care more about graphics performance than design, you'll be better off to get a GTX 1060 in the Y530 or going with another option like Dell's G5 15 or something else

Geekbench 4 (multicore)

Lenovo Legion Y730-15ICH 17786Dell G5 15 (5587) 17246Acer Nitro 5 14220Lenovo Legion Y530 14171Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 11548
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R15 CPU (multicore)

Lenovo Legion Y730-15ICH 1181Dell G5 15 (5587) 1043Acer Nitro 5 851Lenovo Legion Y530 815Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 599
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Video playback battery drain test (Streaming)

Lenovo Legion Y530 437Dell G5 15 (5587) 359Acer Nitro 5 333Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 300Lenovo Legion Y730-15ICH 169
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)

3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

Lenovo Legion Y730-15ICH 1899Acer Nitro 5 1873Dell G5 15 (5587) 1851Lenovo Legion Y530 1825Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 758
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance

Deus Ex: Mankind Divided gaming test

Lenovo Legion Y730-15ICH 37.7Acer Nitro 5 37.7Dell G5 15 (5587) 37.5Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD 31.2Lenovo Legion Y530 28.4
Notes: Longer bars indicate better performance (FPS)

System configurations

Lenovo Legion Y730-15ICH Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2HGz Intel Core i7-8750H; 16GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 2TB HDD + 256GB SSD
Dell G5 15 (5587) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.2HGz Intel Core i7-8750H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti; 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
Lenovo Legion Y530 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,666MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti; 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
Dell Inspiron 15 7577 Gaming (late 2017) Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7300HQ; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,400MHz; 6GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 with Max-Q Design; 256GB SSD
Acer Nitro 5 Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050Ti Graphics; 256GB SSD
Asus TUF Gaming FX504GD Microsoft Windows 10 Home (64-bit); 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H; 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Graphics; 1TB HDD
Lenovo Legion
8.0

Lenovo Legion Y730 (15-inch)

Pricing Not Available

Score Breakdown

Design 8Features 8Performance 8Battery 7