If you’re after a gaming laptop capable of smooth 1080p gaming performance today as well as for the next 2-3 years, you should be set on one of the modern configurations with Intel HQ processors and an Nvidia 1060 graphics chip.
As of mid 2017, there are several devices out there that meet these requirements, and in this article we’re discussing Lenovo’s option in the segment, the Legion Y720.
This is a 15-inch gaming notebook with a well built body, an IPS display, an RGB keyboard, KabyLake Core i HQ processors, DDR4 RAM, Nvidia GTX 1060 6 GB graphics, fast NVMe storage, a Thunderbolt 3 port and a 60 Wh battery. On paper, it gets pretty much what it’s expected from such a computer and it meets most expectations in practice as well, as you’ll find from the detailed article below. It’s not perfect, no laptop is, but its shortcomings are not necessarily crippling; among them, the fact that it’s heavy, lacks an SD card-reader and runs hot under load. Competition is very tough at this level though, and every small detail counts.
Read on for our in-depth impressions on the Lenovo Legion Y720-15IKB, with the goods and the quirks, so you’ll find out if this should be your next or not.
Specs as reviewed
|Lenovo Legion Y720-15IKB|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, non-touch, anti-glare|
|Processor||Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7700HQ CPU|
|Video||Intel HD 630 + Nvidia GT 1060 4GB|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 (up to 32 GB)|
|Storage||1 TB 5400 HDD (2.5″ bay) + 1TB SSD (M.2 NVME 80 mm)|
|Connectivity||Gigabit LAN, Intel AC 3165 Wireless AC , Bluetooth 4.1|
|Ports||1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1x USB 3.1 Type C (Thunderbolt 3), HDMI, mini DisplayPort, mic/earphone, LAN, Lock|
|Battery||60 Wh, 170 W charger|
|Operating system||Windows 10|
|Size||380 mm or 14.96” (w) x 280 mm or 11.02” (d) x 30 mm or 1.18” (h)|
|Weight||6.75 lbs (3.06 kg)|
|Extras||red backlit keyboard (with RGB option available), 2.1 speaker system, webcam, no SD card-slot, wireless receiver for the Xbox controller|
The Legion Y720 is one of the better built 15-inch laptops I’ve got my hands on lately. It’s pretty much built like a rock, with no give or flex in either the main-frame or the lid. That’s the good news.
The bad news is this laptop is bulky and heavy for its class, with a 1.18″ height towards the back, in its thickest point, and an overall weight of around 6.75 lbs (varies slightly based on configuration). Most 15-inchers with similar specs weigh around 5.5 to 6.0 lbs and are roughly 1″ to 1.2″ thick (Dell Alienware 15, MSI GE63, Asus ROG GL502VM, Acer Predator Helios 300, Acer Aspire Nitro V15 Black), with the most portable alternatives getting to only 4 lbs and .7″ in thickness (MSI GS63 Stealth Pro).
In other words, Lenovo chose to sacrifice portability for build quality. Very good build quality, I must stress, but whether that’s something you’re willing to accept is entirely up to you.
Aesthetically, this Legion is in my opinion one of the better looking gaming notebooks in its niche. It’s mostly black, with some red accents around the exhaust grills on the back edge and on top of the keyboard, so you could almost get away with these in a strict school or work environment. But then there’s also the Legion logo on the hood, backlit by the screen’s backlight (which mean it get’s brighter or dimmer accordingly to the screen’s brightness). It’s fairly subtle and also one of the coolest lit logos I’ve ever seen, but still flashy enough to attract attention. At least there are no other lights, especially on the interior. Well, except for two small status LEDs on the sides, but you’re not going to notice those in daily use, not even in a completely dark room.
Being mostly black, the Legion Y720 is going to show smudges very easily, both on the brushed aluminum outercase and on the smooth plastic interior. You’ll have to keep a cleaning cloth around, that’s just the way it is with black laptops.
That aside though, there’s little else I can say wrong about the design lines and choice of materials. Metal and soft plastic is used for most of the case, which both feel nice and should handle hassle well. There is however a little bit of glossy plastic that will probably scratch easily, on the hinge and beneath the screen.
The hinge itself works smoothly, allows to lift the screen with a single hand and does keep it in place well, albeit it could be a little firmer. The display leans back to about 135 degrees, which is good enough for daily use, but a little limiting for lap use.
As far as daily use goes, this laptop is fairly comfortable. It sits sturdily on a desk thanks to its feet on the bottom (they’re small, but grippy), the smooth plastic on the palm-rest feels nice to the touch and the IO is properly spread across the sides. However, the front lip is tall, and albeit it’s not sharp, it’s actually a little bothering on the wrists.
Speaking of the underbelly, flipping this notebook upside down you’ll notice those rubber feet, as well as some air-intake grills and a sub-woofer hidden behind the triangular red mesh towards the front of the laptop. The underbelly is made from brushed metal, with the same texture as the lid. The hot air is blown out through the grills on the back edge, while the speakers are actually placed behind some of the red mesh at the top of the keyboard, flanking the hinge.
The IO is solid too, with one exception: there’s no SD card slot. That aside though, the Y720 offers three USB Type A slots, one USB Type C with Thunderbolt 3 support (hooked up through 4x PCie lanes), miniDP and HDMI 2.0 (hooked up to the Nvidia chip) for video output, a LAN port, Kensington jack and audio jack.
Most USBs and the video output connectors are on the right side, with the TB3 port inconveniently placed towards the front of the laptop, while the PSU and LAN slots are on the left edge.
Keyboard and trackpad
The Legion Y720 gets the same keyboard as the Legion Y520, with fairly good feedback and a slightly messed-up layout.
Most keys are proper sized (15 x 16 mm, slightly rounded on the bottom) and spaced, with the arrow keys being actually bigger and separated from the keys around them, which those interested in games will surely appreciate.
The NumPad section is cramped and not standard though, with dedicated keys like Insert, PrtScr, Home or End missing and being integrated withing some of the other NumPad and directional keys. For most users, that’s a non-issue, but professionals who actually use these keys on a regular basis will have a very hard time adapting to this laptop and will probably end up looking elsewhere.
As far as the typing experience goes, this keyboard is one of my favorites, but it’s not necessarily for everyone, as it gets a short and rather shallow stroke. The feedback is is very nice though and the keys feel soft and quiet.
This keyboard is also backlit and our test unit came with red-illuminated LEDs, with two levels of intensity to choose from by hitting FN+Space. Lenovo also offers an RGB backlit option with zone lightning, which will allow you to choose the color of you liking for the back-lightning.
For mouse Lenovo went with a clickpad centered beneath the Space key. It’s well spaced, well positioned and works smoothly and consistently, as you’d expect from a Synpatics surface.
However, the experience out of the box was a little lacking, with the cursor feeling slow and some jerkiness with precise swipes, but those were fixed after downloading the latest drivers from Lenovo’s website and tweaking the sensitivity in the settings. However, I once again couldn’t get two-finger taps for right clicks to work, or the back and forward two finger gestures in the browser.
As a clickpad, the corners depress for physical clicks and they’re actually quite good, nor stiff or noisy. The surface does sound hollow when taped harder, like with most other plastic clickpads.
Lenovo puts a 15.6-inch screen on this laptop, with either a FHD or an optional UHD panel (not available at the time of this post, but might be in the future). Both get a layer of protective glass on top, with what Lenovo calls a non-glare finishing, but which is actually more reflective than on laptops with a standard matte screen. This glass adds to the screen’s sturdiness, but those that plan to use the laptop in bright spaces or even outdoors will not appreciate the choice.
We got the FHD panel on this test option, which most of you will probably choose anyway. It’s the same panel as on the Legion Y520, Acer Predator Helios 300 and a few other gaming laptops, and it’s a decent one. As you can see in the details below, it gets good contrast, deep blacks and ample viewing angles, but its maximum brightness and especially color gamut coverage are limited.
- Panel HardwareID: LG Philips LGD0533 (LP156WF6-SPK3);
- Coverage: 65% sRGB, 46% NTSC, 48% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.0;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 261 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 640:1;
- White point: 7100 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.41 cd/m2;
- Average DeltaE: 3.49 uncalibrated, 0.84 calibrated.
The panel on our test unit also suffered from skewed gamma out of the box, which made all the grays look unnatural, but that can be addressed with our calibrated profile available here. The color accuracy remains fairly mediocre even after calibration, so while this screen will suffice for daily use, movies and games, it’s not an option for graphics artists and other professionals who would require color accuracy.
Other details you might want to be aware of are the fact that the panel uses PWM for brightness adjustment, but at a higher frequency, so your eyes won’t be affected much, and its White to Black response time is of roughly 24 ms, according to this article.
That aside, I should also add the there wasn’t much light bleeding around the edges on our test unit, and the screen leans back to about 135 degrees, enough for desk use.
Hardware and performance
The Lenovo Legion Y720 is built on quad-core Intel platforms with Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics (6GB of VRAM), up to 32 GB of RAM (2x DIMMs) and dual storage (an M.2 80 mm slot and a 2.5″ bay). We got to test one of the higher end configurations, with a Core i7-7700HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 1 TB NVMe M.2 SSD and a 1 TB HDD.
For the SSD Lenovo went with a 1 TB Samsung PM961 MZVLW1T0HMLH chip on our test model, one of the fastest and most expensive options available out there, but you can buy your configuration with a smaller and more affordable SSD. In fact, you should, because this 1 TB version throttled in our tests. It gets hot and would require proper cooling, preferably with a dedicated radiator, which Lenovo did not implement here, so I would advise to stick with smaller capacity ones that run cooler, although somewhat slower.
Both the HDD and the SSD are upgrade-able and in order to get to them you’ll have to remove the back panel, but it’s an easy task, as it’s hold in place by a handful of Philips screws and pops-out easily once you unscrew them. Inside you’ll also notice the battery, the Wi-Fi chip and the subwoofer, as well as the two RAM slots that are placed behind a metallic shield. There’s also a wireless receiver for the Xbox controller.
As far as performance goes, we had some issues with our sample, but I couldn’t find users complaining about this on the forums so I reckon the problem is not widespread. Basically, the CPU on our unit would only run at 2.7 GHz in SOME, not all, demanding loads, games and benchmarks, without taking advantage of its Turbo Boost capability.
As a result, some of the numbers below are 10-20% lower than expected from the platform, especially the Cinebench and X264 Bench scores. 3D Mark and PCMark results on the other hand are normal, but take all the results with a grain of salt.
- 3DMark 11: P12168;
- 3DMark 13: Sky Driver – 23951, Fire Strike – 9263, Time Spy – 3556;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 3527;
- PCMark 10: 4794;
- Geekbench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 3823, Multi-core: 13925;
- Geekbench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 4641, Multi-core: 14093;
- CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 66.70 fps, CPU 6.78 pts, CPU Single Core 1.71 pts;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 102.51 fps, CPU 668 cb, CPU Single Core 145 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 159.29 fps, Pass 2 – 41.30 fps.
As far as I can tell the issue is caused by an aggressive throttling of the CPU when hitting 90 degrees Celsius. It’s noticeable in the images below, when running Cinebench and games. As soon as the CPU heats up, it drops to 2.7 GHz.
On the other hand, the CPU is perfectly capable of running at Turbo Boost speeds with daily use and even when gaming on battery, because it does not reach so high temperatures in this case, as you can see below.
As far as gaming goes, our test sample scored very well in our tests, despite the fact that the CPU only runs at stock speeds. The GPU works fine though, averaging temperatures of around 75 Celsius in continuous loads, which actually maters in these modern games. Gaming on battery on the other hand is limited, as the GPU clocks down to only about 60% of its stock speed in this case.
|Shadow of Mordor||46 fps|
|Grid Autosport||98 fps|
|Tomb Raider||97 fps|
|Bioshock Infinite||100 fps|
|FarCry 4||77 fps|
|Need For Speed Most Wanted||60 fps|
Bottom point, we noticed some issues on our test sample, but as far as I can tell based on the lack of complains on the forums and online stores, final retail units won’t run into them. In fact, even with the CPU clocking down on our review unit, that was only visible is a few synthetic benchmarks and had no impact on everyday use or gaming performance.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
There are two fans inside the Legion Y720 and a fairly standard cooling architecture, with a heatpipe that spreads on both the CPU and GPU, as well as an extra dedicated heatpipes for each of the two. It’s a standard approach and it should work well.
As far as daily use is concerned, the CPU and GPU run perfectly fine and the outer case doesn’t get hot. The two fans inside spin all the time and they’re averagely loud, roughly 38 dB at head level. That means you’ll hear them in a perfectly quiet room, but not otherwise. The GPU fan is not controlled independently, so the laptop does not have the ability to only spin the CPU fan in daily use and keep the other one quiet.
When it comes to demanding loads, the CPU averages roughly 80 degrees Celsius and the GPU around 75 C. Both these numbers are normal for a 15-inch laptop with this configuration.
Update: The outer case temperatures on the other hand got very high on our sample, however, I’m pretty sure our review sample was flawed. While there are some reports of high temperatures on the forums, there aren’t actually many complains and I also found at least two trust worthy reviews that report much lower temperatures than what we got in our tests. I suggest you check them out here and here, and take our findings with a BIG lump of salt. Some units might behave like our sample, but most will not.
Our findings: What’s bothering on our sample is that the entire chassis gets hot, with the hottest part being the bottom-left corner of the interior and the middle, around the X, C and V keys, and not the top or the back like with most other laptops. That means your hands will come in contact with these hot surfaces and this Legion will actually feel more uncomfortable to use than other devices that manage to keep the lower half cooler.
You can somewhat tweak the temperatures by selecting the Extreme Fan Mode from the included Lenovo Nerve Sense app. Be default, they run at 43-44 dB at head level while playing games, but if you switch to this mode they’ll spin faster and get insanely noisy, at 49-50 dB. The Extreme Mode actually lowers CPU and GPU internal temperatures by 5-8 degrees C (~75 for the CPU, ~68 for the GPU), however the impact at the case level is smaller, around 1-2 degrees.
It could actually be a little bigger if you activate the Extreme mode before launching the game, as this way it wouldn’t allow the case to get hot in the first place. In my case I used the laptop on the standard mode for a while, so the case already reached high temperatures, and only then switched to the Extreme mode and measured the differences.
Whether or not you’d be able to cope with the noisy fans is different story though, what I’m sure of is that you’ll absolutely need headphones to cover their noise.
You’ll find more details about the outer case temperatures in the pictures below.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing FarCry 4 for 30 minutes
Connectivity wise, there’s Gigabit LAN, Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.1 on the Legion Y720. Our version came with the slow Intel 3125 wireless module, the same one we’ve seen on the Legion Y520, which is only capable or reaching speeds of about 50 Mbps near the router and struggles at 30 feet with 2 walls in between.
If you need better wireless you should absolutely upgrade this to one of the better Intel chips (7265, 8265). However, I’ve see some reviews pointing their units came with Intel 8265 chips preinstalled, so I reckon Lenovo equips the laptop differently in some regions. Regardless, make sure you check the wireless performance of your unit, and in case you end up with the Intel 3125 chip and need faster speeds, just buy that better chip and replace it.
The speaker system includes 2 x 2 W speakers placed on top of the keyboard, flanking the screen’s hinge, as well as a 3 W subwoofer on the underbelly, so on paper is a step-up from what you’ll find on most other laptops in this segment. Luckily, real life performance is impressive as well.
We measured up to 88 dB max volume at head level and the sound is clear, rich and with a fair amount of low end, well, as much as you can expect from a notebook. I haven’t noticed any distortions at high levels either, but the subwoofer does cause the palm-rest to vibrate. Still, I’m pretty sure you’re not going to keep these speakers at high levels while actually working at the computer, they’re just too loud.
An HD webcam is placed on top of this screen, flanked by two microphone pins, and while there’s nothing memorable about them, they will do fine for occasional Sype calls and conferences.
Lenovo went with a 60 Wh battery on this laptop, which is bigger than what most other notebooks in the niche offer. We set the screen at roughly 120 nits (50% brightness) and here’s what you should expect in everyday use:
- 11.9 W (~4h 30m of use) – very light browsing and text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.9 W (~4h 30m of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 9.2 W (~6h 30m of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.8 W (~4h 30m of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 19.9 W (~ 3h of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 39.0 W (~1h 30m of use) – gaming, High Performance Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON.
The laptop comes with a 170 W power brick and a full charge takes over 2 hours.
Price and availability
At the time of this post the base configuration of the Lenovo Y720 sells for around $1050 in the US and includes a Core i5-7300HQ processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 1 TB HDD and no SSD, with the FHD IPS screen, red-backlit keyboard and Nvidia GTX 1060 6 GB graphics.
A higher-tier configuration with a Core i7-7700HQ processor, 16 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD and RGB keyboard sells for around $1300.
Follow this link for updated configurations and the latest prices.
We’ll start with the things Lenovo did well here: the build quality is nearly flawless, the laptop looks very nice, the keyboard is comfortable, fast and quiet, the trackpad works smoothly and accurately, the IO includes nearly all the required ports and the speakers are some of the better I’ve heard on a mid-level laptop in a while. On top of these, the Legion Y720 performs well in daily use and gets a 60 Wh battery, while most other competitors get smaller ones.
As far as performance and temperatures under load go, I can’t draw conclusive decisions based on our sample, which was a test sample and did not perform to the best of its abilities. We noticed some issues with the CPU heating up and capping down its frequency to stock speeds, as well as issues with the outer case getting very hot, but other reviewers (that we trust) did not get similar results with their samples, so I expect performance and temperatures not to be a concern on the final retail units of this notebook. Our overall rating of 4/5 is based on this assumption. Still, your should read other opinions as well, both reviews and what buyers have to say on the forums.
That aside, the Y720 has a few indisputable quirks. For starters, it’s big and heavy for a 15-incher. Then, the FHD panel is only average, with fairly low brightness and mediocre color reproduction. The included wireless chip is slow as well, especially if you’re a bit further away from the router. Besides these, you should also be aware that the metallic exterior is a fingerprint magnet, the laptop’s front lip is a little tall and uncomfortable, there’s no SD card slot and its price is perhaps a little higher than you’d expect from a Lenovo laptop.
In fact, the i7 configurations are priced about the same as the rivals from Asus (ROG GL502VM) or Acer (Aspire Nitro V15 Black), a little bit under the MSI GE62 Apache Pro, Gigabyte Aero 15, MSI GS63 Stealth Pro and Dell Alienware 15, but also above devices like the Acer Predator Helios 300 or the Eluktronics P650. Given how competitive the Legion Y520 is priced in the 1050/1050 Ti segment, I was expecting the Y720 to match that aggressiveness and offer the Core i7 configuration for a little less. Should happen on sales though, down the road.
Bottom point, as long as the Legion Y720 actually proves to perform properly under load (both in terms of speed and temperatures), it is an option to consider in the GTX 1060 notebooks’ segment. The Aspire Nitro V15 Black and Dell Alienware 15 remain my favorites in the niche, and the Predator Helios 300 remains the best-buy, but the Legion Y720 is not far off and for the right price, could well be your next.
Well, that’s about it for our review of the Lenovo Legion Y720, but the comments section is open, so get in touch if you have anything to add or any questions.
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