Not everybody is going to need a screaming desktop computer with high-end 3D graphics to play virtual reality games in the next few months. For a lot of people, a middle-of-the-road machine will be more like it.
That’s why I took a look at the Lenovo Ideapad Y700 running 64-bit Windows 10. It’s one of those game machines for the rest of us who want to play something on the road without bringing along hardware that makes the Transportation Safety Administration alarm bells go off.
The laptop sells for $1,190 in the configuration I used. It can go for as low as $900. The Y700 came equipped with 16GB of main memory (DDR4). It had an Intel Core i7-6700HQ central processing unit with four dual-threaded cores running at 2.6 gigahertz. It also had a 15-inch display running at a resolution of 1920 x 1080, a Nvidia GeForce GTX 960M with 4GB of graphics memory, and a one terabyte hard disk drive. It was no slouch in this configuration.
What you’ll like
It’s got a pretty, all-black design with some nice red borders on the keys to make it sufficiently cool for gamers. It has nice JBL speakers on the sides and plenty of different jacks and slots so you can plug things into it. The keyboard is backlit, and the 15.6-inch screen has a wide viewing angle. It’s also not terribly heavy (at 5.7 pounds) to carry in one hand.
The machine is great at running games. I played a pretty lightweight game — That Dragon, Cancer — on it. It was very heavy and emotional material, but it didn’t tax the machine one bit. XCOM 2 also ran beautifully no matter what it was doing, from rendering scenes, loading massive maps, running cinematics, or just playing without interruptions. It was a little slower running Firewatch, which has some very pretty landscape scenes.
I ran the 3DMark benchmark on the machine, and it came out with reasonably good scores. On the Ice Storm 1.2 test, it came up with a score of 86,998, with a score of 126,894 on graphics, and a physics score of 41,420. On the First Strike demo, it scored 4,021, which was better than 30 percent of all results.
That score was better than the average 3,364 score for a typical gamer laptop in 2013, much better than a typical laptop at 1,479, and far better than an office PC from 2013 at an average of 520. But it was quite short of the 9,271 for a gaming PC that can run the Oculus Rift virtual reality headset. And it was way short of the 4K gaming PC at 17,805.
This means it’s going to be good at running some games, but it’s not going to keep you mesmerized with the latest and greatest games like Ashes of the Singularity.
Things you won’t like
I had a bad habit of eating chips while playing. So I got grease all over the nice keyboard and surface. And you could see it all.
And the fan is noisy when you’ve been playing it for a while. You won’t hear it over the game music or sound effects, particularly if you’ve got a headset plugged in. But it isn’t meant for use in a Zen garden.
It’s not a huge power hog as the Intel chip draws about 45 watts of power. The battery life at five hours is also fairly short. You won’t really want to play it without plugging into a wall.
It’s also not going to get you into the realm of virtual reality as you’ll need at least a Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 graphics card for that kind of play. It has the new USB 3.0 slot that provides power to the device, as well as a couple of extra USB 3.0 slots.
These are all fairly minor complaints. I enjoyed playing with the machine, and it’s been far too long since I reviewed some gamer hardware. As we all zoom forward for the world of VR, it’s not so bad to look in the rear-view mirror at the Lenovo Ideapad Y700.