Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

A forward-looking gaming desktop for PC enthusiasts

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Our Verdict

This gaming desktop might come in a designer case wrapping, but it's much more accessible and easy to upgrade than your average pre-built system short of a boutique.

For

  • Tool-less design
  • Sharp looks
  • Expansive upgradability

Against

  • Inaccessible cable management
  • A tad pricey

Buying a pre-built desktop PC usually means getting something chock full of proprietary hardware that makes it impossible to upgrade. However, Lenovo is bucking that trend with the Lenovo Ideacentre Y900.

This $1,799 (about £1,274, AU$2,385) gaming mid-tower is fully loaded with standard PC components and plenty of space for upgrades – all while looking sharp on the outside.

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

Design

The Lenovo Y900 cuts an intimidating figure. From the glowing red "Y" and sharply angled accents in front to the plastic panels etched with a carbon fiber-like weave, it's easy to see this gaming PC takes plenty of inspiration from hyper cars.

The chassis is attractive and aggressive in a subtler way than the tank tread-like Acer Predator G3 or weirdly wonderful Alienware Area 51.

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

In fact, the Y900's façade is relatively clean, thanks to a stealthy DVD tray that opens with a flip-down panel. Meanwhile, all the front-facing IO ports are nearly out of sight at the top of the case, along with a power button clearly inspired by the keyless ignition in modern cars.

Beyond looks, Lenovo has incorporated plenty of features gamers will like. For starters, there's a side window to show off all your components humming inside. Up top, you'll find a carry handle built into the chassis and a set of vents if you chose to add a top-mounted radiator.

Removable dust filters – an almost unheard of inclusion on most pre-built systems – are found on front of the case, and another is beneath the power supply. Lenovo was even considerate enough to use rubber fasteners to secure the rear fan, dampening any potential rattle and noise.

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

Tool-less delight

The Y900 continues its brilliant streak as we go inside and explore its tool-less interior. It easy to open up the case – you don't even need to undo any thumbscrews. Instead, you simply slide the rear lock open and press a button to pop out the side panel.

Inside, you'll find an ATX motherboard with room for four memory modules and two full-sized graphics cards. On top of the necessary PCI-Express lanes to upgrade your graphics, the Y900 also offers tool-less access to the rear expansions slots and the all the appropriate power cables. You can bet I swapped in a pair of Nvidia GTX 980 Ti cards just for fun.

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

Storage-wise, there are four tool-less drive caddies (two of which are occupied) that let you snap a hard drive (HDD) or screw in a solid-state drive (SSD). You'll also be able to power up your system (quite literally) with a 1,000-Watt power supply, if you need to replace the stock 625W unit.

The only thing you won't be able to easily work with is organizing all your cables. Out of the box, Lenovo has done a great job tucking all the cables behind hard drive cages, but it's a pain to pull off the rear panel.

All-in-all, the Y900 is built with a surprising number of similarities with some of the best computer cases from Corsair and Phanteks, and these considerations will even please custom PC builders.

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

Spec Sheet

Here is the Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 configuration sent to techradar for review:

  • CPU: 4GHz Intel Core i7-6700K (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.2GHz with turbo boost)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 (4GB GDDR5 RAM), Intel HD Graphics 530
  • RAM: 16GB DDR4 (2,133 MHz)
  • Storage: 256GB SSD; 2TB SSHD (8GB flash cache)
  • Optical drive: DVD-R
  • Ports: 6 x USB 3.0, 4 x USB 2.0, Ethernet, HDMI, VGA, DVI, 7.1 analog audio out, optical audio out, headphone jack, microphone jack, PS/2 combo, 7-in-1 card reader
  • Connectivity: Lenovo AC Wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Weight: 33 pounds (14.97kg)
  • Size: 8.12 x 19.82 x 18.85 inches (W x D x H) 20.6 x 50.4 x 47.9 cm

Even if you chose not to upgrade the Lenovo Y900, this $1,799 (about £1,274, AU$2,385) configuration comes stocked with some of the best components on the market today. The Intel Skylake processor will easily see you through a few years of play, and the Nvidia GTX 970 graphics card makes this rig ready for virtual reality.

It's an expensive system nonetheless even with an included gaming keyboard and mouse. But given the expansive upgradability and all the smart features built into the case, the Y900 seems to be worth the expense.

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

However, the highest-end configuration is just plain overpriced at $2,499 or AU$3,999 (about £1,769). Even if this configuration nets you Nvidia GTX 980 graphics and 32GB of DDR4 RAM, you could easily build a comparable PC for less.

Conversely, the most affordable, $899 (about £636, AU$1,192) setup is great platform to build on if you want to split the difference between buying pre-built and a completely custom job. It's missing a few key parts, including discrete graphics and that hybrid hard drive, while bumping you down to only 4GB of RAM – but you'll spend nearly the same amount building for the components you actually get here.

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

Benchmarks

Here's how the Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 28,596; Sky Diver: 26,189; Fire Strike: 9,629
  • Cinebench CPU: 882 points; Graphics: 146 fps,
  • GeekBench: 4,223 (single-core); 16,705 (multi-core)
  • PCMark 8 (Home Test): 4,657 points
  • Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (1080p, Ultra): 79 fps; (1080p, Low): 175 fps
  • GTA V: (1080p, Ultra): 44 fps; (1080p, Low): 178 fps

With two high-end parts on tap, it's almost a foregone conclusion that the Y900 performs well. It packs enough power to play games at 1080p and Ultra settings at a playable 30 to 45 frames per second (fps), but not quite enough for a silky smooth, 60fps experience.

I also used this PC to play The Division on the Acer Predator X34 (a 3,440 x 1,440 ultra-wide monitor) with high settings, and the frame rate held at a decent 30fps (and higher) clip.

With everyday tasks, the gaming PC also easily drove two Full HD monitors with a dozen different tasks split between them.

Lenovo Ideacentre Y900 review

Final verdict

Lenovo's Ideacentre Y900 is a different kind of pre-built beast, with an accessible designer case and standard PC parts. It's powerful enough so that you don't have to worry about upgrading it for quite some time, and when you do, it will be largely a stress-free exercise.

Intel's Skylake processor and top-end Nvidia graphics make it a serious option if you need serious power. Even custom PC builders may be interested in the Y900 for its approach to easy accessibility, upgradability and maintenance. I challenge all the other vendor-made gaming PCs to rise to this same standard.