Is it a pipe dream to expect serious gaming performance out of a laptop? It's an expensive one to ponder, for sure. But the Lenovo Y70 Touch makes the convincing statement that no, it's not a dream. You don't even need to flush the savings to game on this laptop, which is its brightest shining point. The Y70 Touch is a generally well-built bundle of hardware for a $1,199 (£1,199, about AU$1,458) starting price.
But at such a bargain, can it hang with those that have earned the moniker "gaming laptop?" After all, a look at the specs will show that this rig is not even close to the echelon of performance put out by the MSI GT72 Dominator Pro and the Origin EON17-S.
Let's just say that it's a budget-friendly gaming laptop, okay? As such, it's well worth investigating to see if it can pump pixels pretty enough to be worthy of your consideration.
It's not often that we review every single member of a family of laptops, but with the Y series's excellent value play, we couldn't help digging deeper. (I reviewed the 14-inch Lenovo Y40, while Kevin Lee critiqued the Lenovo Y50, its 15-inch model.) On the whole, these laptops look identical, but there are a few design choices that differ with the Y70 Touch.
They may be smudge magnets (despite what Lenovo says), but the brushed metal panels comprising the outer shell of the Y70 rise above that complaint and other top-dollar gaming laptop designs. The cross-hatched pattern looks simple and feels cohesive in the way that meticulously crafted technology does.
Opening up the Y70 requires a bit of elbow grease, but – woah, this thing is massive – the inside is just as pretty as its shell led us to believe. What's most immediately eye-catching is the super-smooth matte palm rest. It covers nearly the whole keyboard deck, wrapping around every key and ending near the screen hinge. I could just sit here and feel it all day.
Chiclet keys & tweeters
I know I'm not alone, but Lenovo's AccuType keyboard is my favorite keyboard on a Windows laptop. On this machine, the backlit red chiclet keys dazzle as much as they provide comfort and quiet, responsive feedback.
You'll get this quality keyboard in all of the Y series laptops, but only with the Y70 Touch do you get a full-sized setup with numeric keypad. That may sound cool, but I've got to say, the implementation of the extra keys is really half-baked. A design hiccup in any piece of tech can be forgiven, but not when ease of use is impacted. In this case, the right Shift key and directional arrows are nearly impossible to feel without looking down. It's a shame; I otherwise love the way this keyboard looks and feels.
Moving past the keyboard, the matte palm rest makes way for a horizontal slate of metal to house the speakers just beneath the hinge. On its left and right sides, we have the impressive JBL speakers' shining red accents through black trapezoidal grilles. Identical to the audio setup in the Y50, the slick appearance of the speakers are backed up by a subwoofer planted on the bottom of the machine near some fan vents.
A complaint that I had with the Y40 quickly resurfaced again with the Y70. That is, why are there so few ports? Especially for a gaming and multimedia-focused machine, 3 USB ports – only two of which are USB 3.0 – is a paltry offering.
Moving on from that oversight, the port situation otherwise is standard fare, including HDMI-out, a media card reader, Ethernet and audio jacks. I'll dive deeper into the spec sheet in a bit.
Touch, I remember touch
Another feature setting the Y70 Touch apart from the competition is, well, touch! A 10-point multi-touch layer is embedded in the 17.3-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 display. This means that the screen can register 10 points of contact simultaneously, say 10 fingers pressed against the screen, playing the brown note on a piano app.
Touch controls are a pretty big initiative in Windows 8, and it works as expected. I'm interested to see if the touch screen will be rendered useless or be taken greater advantage of with Windows 10 coming soon. But as it stands today, I could have done without a touch screen, especially if it would lead to shaving a few bucks off the asking price.
I have no complaints about the trackpad other than that it's fairly small proportionate to the laptop's hefty size, like an island in the middle of an ocean. Sure, it could have been bigger, but it feels smooth and works as expected.
Aside from touch and a cramped, but full-sized keyboard, the Y70 looks just like its smaller siblings. However, compared to other high-performance laptops, its design marks a stunning stroke of mastery on the part of Lenovo. But let's get to the good stuff: how does it play?