Thereâs no shortage of computer makers that would like to sell you a big, expensive gaming laptop. So in an effort to differentiate themselves, companies are thinking of ways to make a portable screen attached to a keyboard and some silicon inside seem more attractive. Asus latched onto Nvidiaâs new Max Q design program for its new Zephyrus gaming laptop and crammed top-of-the-line specs into previously unheard of thin-and-light body. Meanwhile, Acerâs Predator 21x stretches the very definition of a laptop (and your wallet) by packing pretty much anything the company could think of into an absolutely monstrous body. Lenovo is taking a different, and unfortunately, slightly more sedate path with its flagship Legion Y920 gaming laptopâthis laptop looks like one made by everyone else, and for Lenovo, which is known for some really out there and often stunning design choices, this is an uninspiring take.
But itâs not, precisely, a bad laptop. It has a standard 17-inch body with an Intel Core i7 HK processor, Nvidia 1070 graphics, 16GB of RAM and a pair of storage drives (one HDD, one SSD). Lenovo spices things up with surprisingly powerful JBL speakers with a dedicated 3-watt subwoofer, a Full HD display with Nvidia G-sync support and just enough RGB lighting to keep you from falling asleep during late night gaming marathons. Lenovo even went so far as to create its own low-profile mechanical keyboard, which is pretty ambitious (and par for course for Lenovo). Thereâs just one problem: I donât think Lenovo totally nailed dat clack.
The keys on the Y920 feel noticeably stiffer than your average laptop and their actuation isnât totally smooth either, which leaves you with an experience that feels a bit chunky. At the bottom of stroke, you still get a meaty click, but my actual favorite thing about the keyboard is the ripple setting for the keyboardâs backlighting that causes colors to radiate out from the last key you pressed. And thanks to the way Lenovo put independent RGB lights behind every key and the thin translucent strips around the touchpad and behind the keyboard, you can can make the whole system light up like a disco ball if you want. But this isnât a feature unique to Lenovoâs keyboard. Instead its another example of Lenovo failing to really distinguish its flagship gaming rig.
Pretty colored lights aside, the Y920 features a very basic (and at 10.1 pounds, heavy) design. The chassis is mostly plastic, aside from its brushed metal lid and faux leather wrist-rests. It isnât an offensive combination, but itâs not very memorable either. Lenovoâs premium Yoga laptop line has signature watchband hinge, while the ThinkPad series has that loveable little red dot. The Legion feels tame, itâs missing its own trademark flair. I think it would do Lenovo some good to move away from the overused black-and-red color scheme that every other gaming laptop makers seems to abuse and try something else.
But at least what the Y920 lacks in style, is made up for in utility, thanks to a healthy selection of ports include four USB 3 Type-A, one USB-C port with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI, DisplayPort, Ethernet and pretty much anything else you might ever need. Lenovo even smartly put all the ports youâd need to hook up a Vive or Rift on the same side, so you wonât have to drape cords around the laptop like some kind of techy spiderâs web. But even though the utility is great, itâs hard to get super excited about ports.
And itâs hard to get excited about the (still really good) performance. In Rise of the Tomb Raider, the Y920 pumped out 100 fps maxed out on very high at 1920 x 1080. And in PlayerUnknownâs Battlegrounds, which is pretty much the only game anyone plays nowadays, the Y920 hovered around 70 fps on Ultra. This gives it enough headroom to stay above 60 fps almost all the time, and for times like intense firefights when things dipped below 60, the Y920âs G-sync-enabled helps make gameplay look as smooth as possible.
Really, my biggest gripe, beyond a boring design, is actually something you canât get on the Legion Y920: Nvidia 1080 graphics. Not having the option of configuring the Y920 with the best GPU currently available seems like a weird omissions for what is supposed to be Lenovoâs flagship gaming laptop. Thereâs also Y920âs price to consider. Currently, itâs listed at $2,699 on Lenovo.com, which is way too high. Some other folks claim to have seen third-party retailers list the Y920 around $2,400, but Iâve had no such luck. And even if you could, thatâs still about the same as a top-of-the-line Alienware 17, which has similar specs and a more powerful Nvidia 1080 GPU.
A high price and a yawn-worthy design had me wary of the Y920. Then things got worse when MSIâs GT75VR Pro arrived halfway through my testing period. Thatâs because even though the GT75VRâs starting price of $3,300 puts it an an even loftier bracket, MSIâs massive gaming laptop, like the Y920, also has its own low-profile mechanical keyboard, which was developed in partnership with SteelSeries. And critically, unlike the Y920âs keyboard, it actually delivers smooth stroke and that clicky, tactile feel I was looking for when I first heard companies were putting low-profile mechanical keyboards on laptops.
The Y920 just doesnât feel as cool in comparison. But thereâs definitely potential. Lenovo, you are one of the the biggest laptop makers in the world. Put some fire and passion into this thing, and make your flagship gaming laptop stand up to the nutty systems other notebook makers are whipping up, and save the sensibility for the more affordable stuff. A lackluster design and a pretty, but ultimately just OK keyboard arenât enough, especially for $2,700.
- The Y920âs G-Sync screen makes games look smoother when your fps dip under 60.
- It has all the ports youâll ever need, even if you want to hook up a VR headset like a Rift or Vive.
- This thing weighs 10.1 pounds, so donât plan on moving this around very often.
- Lenovo created its own proprietary low-profile mechanical keys and then put RGB backlights behind every one.
- The stereo speakers and 3-watt subwoofer have a definite kick.
Windows 10 Home â¢ 7th Gen Intel Core i7-7820HK â¢ 16GB of RAM â¢ 1TB 5400 RPM HDD + 512GB SSD â¢ Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU with 8GB of GDDR5 â¢ 17.3-inch 1920 x 1080 G-Sync display â¢ Killer Wireless 802.11 Wi-Fi â¢ dual 2-Watt JBL speakers with 3-watt subwoofer â¢ 16.75 x 12.41 x 1.43 inches â¢ 10.12 pounds â¢ 4 USB 3.0 Type A ports â¢ 1 USB Type C port with Thunderbolt 3 â¢ 1 DisplayPort â¢ Ethernet â¢ separate headphone and mic jacks â¢ SD card reader