What's hot: LED display is gorgeous and stereo audio is excellent. Good performance.
What's not: Mouse buttons are stiff. Short runtimes on battery power.
Reviewed April 12, 2009 by Tong Zhang, Senior Editor
Lenovo makes and markets a large selection of PCs in the U.S. ranging from notebooks to desktops, workstations and servers. There are three lines of Lenovo notebooks: the ThinkPad, the IdeaPad and a budget line that doesn't get its own name, just model numbers. The ThinkPad brand has enjoyed a long history and still has a strong foothold in the enterprise market, but Lenovo wanted to branch out into the consumer market. The IdeaPad targets consumers and offers the ultra-small 10-inch S Series netbooks with the Intel Atom processor, the ultra-thin U Series and the multimedia Y Series notebooks. The IdeaPad Y Series comes in 14-inch, 15.6-inch, 16-inch and 17-inch configurations and we'll look at the IdeaPad Y650 16-inch in this review.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 targets multimedia buffs who want a large screen (a gorgeous LED screen at that), a great audio system and enough power to play and edit videos and handle most games. Though it's not a small notebook the Lenovo Y650 is very slim for a 16-incher, and can be a great dorm system. What's inside? The Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 runs on the Intel Core 2 Duo P8700 processor at 2.53GHz with a 1066MHz 3MB cache. There is an option to get a lower speed P8600 processor running 2.40GHz for about $500 less. The IdeaPad Y650 - 418534U has the NVIDIA GeForce G105M with 256MB of dedicated graphics memory. There is also an option to get integrated Intel X4500 for less money. The IdeaPad Y650 has 4GB of 1066MHZ PC3-8500 DDR3 SDRAM memory, a super-bright 16 inch widescreen backlit LED display, 320GB hard drive and a built-in optical drive. The notebook comes with Windows Vista Home Premium 64-bit.
Design and Ergonomics
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 is a stylish notebook, and we really like its looks. Not only is it ultra-slim for a notebook of this size, but the hexagon-embossed soft-touch cover and the snow-white keyboard with milky white LED lights are eye catching. The copper trim surrounding the chassis is very pleasing and the two stereo JBL speaker grilles look cool. The 84-key full size keyboard has very good travel by notebook standards and is very easy to use. The large notebook size allows for not only a full size keyboard but also a large touchpad with mouse keys, speaker on/off and volume buttons, the power button and a one-touch recovery launcher right at your fingertips. The large multi-touch trackpad is responsive, and you can use it for scrolling and zooming (using a pinching action) as it can recognize gestures. In contrast to the very useable keyboard and the touchpad, the mouse buttons are very stiff with almost no travel. The Lenovo also has a small panel of touch-sensitive controls above the keyboard that allows you to launch applications, start Dolby setup and slide through a Mac-like dock of icons.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 measures 15.4 x 10.2 x 1.0 inches and weighs 5.62 pounds. That's a skinny 16-incher and a lightweight in the large notebook world. The Lenovo has a 16-inch widescreen display that's 1366 x 768 resolution. The glossy LED backlit display has a 16:9 aspect ratio with a 500:1 contrast ratio. It looks super-bright and color saturated, and max brightness is retina-burning bright. Movies, games and photos look outstanding on the Lenovo. The 1.3 megapixel camera lives above the display.
Hardware and Performance
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 - 418534U has an Intel Core 2 Duo processor P8700 running at 2.53GHz with a 1066MHz system bus and 3MB L2 cache. The P8600 processor runs at a slightly slower 2.40GHz and you can customize the Y650 with the slower processor for a cheaper price. The IdeaPad Y650 - 418534U has 4GB of 1066MHz memory, and 8 gigs is the max capacity (there are 2 SO-DIMM slots). The Lenovo is a very good multimedia machine and a very decent gaming machine thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce G105M graphics card with 256MB of dedicated memory. All the Lenovo Y650 models have a 320GB hard drive (5400 rpm) and a dual-layer DVD +/-RW optical drive.
We put the Lenovo IdeaPad Y650 through PCMark Vantage benchmark tests as well as the Windows Vista Experience Index test. We also ran the same PCMark tests on a Sony Z550 notebook with Intel Core 2 Duo P8600 processor (2.4GHz) and the Gateway P7808u FX with Intel Core 2 Quad Q9000 processor, and provide the scores for comparison.
PCMark Vantage Benchmark results:
Lenovo IdeaPad Y650
PCMark Suite overall score: 3603
Memory Suite: 2367
TV & Movie Suite: 2771
Gaming Suite: 3045
Music Suite: 3651
Communication Suite: 3994
Productivity Suite: 3570
HDD Test Suite: 2794
PCMark Suite overall score: 4826
Memory Suite: 3572
TV & Movie Suite: 3524
Gaming Suite: 4267
Communication Suite: 4512
Productivity Suite: 4722
HDD Test Suite: 3165
Windows Vista Experience Index score for the Lenovo IdeaPad Y650:
Total score: 4.2
Gaming graphics: 5.0
Primary hard disk: 5.4
The Lenovo benchmark numbers are quite good and the notebook runs MS Office applications, the DVD player, web browsers and most games very smoothly. We tested some games on the Lenovo and it handled most with ease. Unlike the Gateway P-7808u FX, the Lenovo plays 32-bit games such as Elder Scrolls Oblivion without crashing. However, games that require super computing and graphics power like Crysis, didn't get high frame rates. See the gaming test video below. With all effects and textures turned to max, Crysis ran at about 5 fps to 10 fps. In a frenzy firefight with particles flying everywhere and many units going at once, the machine couldn't handle aiming and shooting actions effectively. If you are looking for a killer notebook, check out the Gateway P-7808u FX. However, games a notch down like F.E.A.R. 2 play just fine on the Lenovo.
Here's our video of gaming on the Lenovo Y650:
The Lenovo Y650 has 2 USB 2.0 ports, VGA and HDMI out, RJ-45 Ethernet, eSATA, ExpressCard/54 and a 6-in-1 card reader. The notebook has dual array mic built in, a mic jack, 3.5mm headphone jack with SPDIF-out stereo and a consumer IR port, though it doesn't come with a remote. For wireless, the Lenovo Y650 has Intel's WiFi Link 5100 802.11 a/g/n and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR. The built-in Wi-Fi has very good range and gets a strong signal.
The Lenovo Y650 ships with Windows Vista Home Premium Edition OS 64-bit. Lenovo also installs its software on the machine including the Lenovo OneKey recovery utility software, Lenovo ReadyComm connection software and the Lenovo Desktop Navigator which helps users navigate between shortcuts, files and programs and works with the touch-sensitive panel on the Y650. The Lenovo Desktop Navigator is a cool application but it also crashes the notebook occasionally. Also included is VeriFace facial recognition software which works nicely. For multimedia, the Lenovo has Cyberlink Power2Go, Lenovo EasyCapture and Media Show applications. Like many of today's notebooks, the Lenovo Y650 comes with a 60 day trial of MS Office 2007 and 90 days of Norton Internet Security.
Lenovo takes backup and recovery seriously: the OneKey Rescue System 6.0 gets its own hardware button. The software allows you to back up your system, create restore discs, restore from backup and restore to the factory state.
The thin notebook body means a thin and small battery in Lenovo's case. The 16-inch Y650 has a 6-cell 2000mAh Lithium Ion battery that manages 1.5 hours of DVD playback time with Wi-Fi turned on and the power setting at Balanced. If you plan to watch a Lord of the Rings movie find an AC outlet first. Playing Crysis lasted us a little over an hour with the power setting at High Performance and playing Elder Scrolls Oblivion lasted us 1.5 hours with the power setting at Balanced. Productivity applications like MS Word, Excel and Adobe Photoshop use less power, and the notebook can go up to 2.5 hours especially if you turn Wi-Fi off. The notebook standby time is about 4-5 days. One nice thing about the smaller battery is that it charges quite fast. The Lenovo Y650 has a large 90W AC charger with 100-240V at 50-60Hz.
ThinkPad fans should be happy to see that Lenovo is making a run at the consumer notebook market. The Lenovo Y650 is a strong contender amongst HP, Dell and Sony notebooks. It has a display that rivals Sony's high-end displays, Dolby audio with JBL hardware that can compete with HP's Altec Lansing setup and good performance for most productivity, multimedia and gaming applications. The notebook has a thin, sleek design and it has a good number of ports including an HDMI out port. The price is competitive at $1,149 - $1,249 and should be on the short list for those who are looking for a mid-sized notebook that can handle multimedia and moderate gaming. The battery life means this isn't a notebook for frequent travelers and those who are away from power for long periods of time.
Pro: Stylish design and slim body, bright, sharp and colorful screen, excellent audio, good performance in most tasks. Good utility software.
Con:No fingerprint scanner, mouse keys are stiff, battery life is short.
Display: 16" diagonal widescreen backlit LED display at 1366 x 768 native resolution (WXGA). Intel PM45 Chipset. NVIDIA GeForce G105M Graphics with 256MB of discrete video memory.
Battery: 6-cell Lithium Ion battery pack, 2000mAh. 90W AC adapter, 100-240V/50-60Hz.
Performance: Intel Core 2 Duo processors P8700 model at 2.53GHz, 3MB L2 cache, 1066MHz system bus. 4GB memory DDR3 1066MHz Dual channel. 2 DDR slots.
Size: 15.4 x 10.2 x 1.0 inches. Weight: 5.62 lbs.
Drives: 320GB (5400 RPM) Serial ATA hard disk drive. DVD+/-RW double layer drive.
Audio: High Definition audio 2 channels, built-in stereo speakers. Built in mic, sound volume control, mic input port and headphone out port.
Networking: Intel WiFi Link 5100AGN (802.11a/g/n) and 10/100/1000 gigabit Ethernet. RJ-11 modem port. Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR.
Ports and Slots: 2 USB 2.0 ports, external eSATA port, HDMI port, 6-in-1 card reader, VGA monitor port, ExpressCard/54 slot and 3.5mm mic-in port.
Software: Windows Vista Home Premium Edition with SP1 64-bit Operating System. Microsoft Works 9, Adobe Reader, Cyberlink Power2 Go, and Lenovo utilities including Lenovo OneKey Recovery, Lenovo ReadyComm and Lenovo Desktop Navigator. Windows Media Player and Internet Explorer included. Recovery partition on the computer. Trial software includes: Microsoft Office Professional 2007 Edition (60-day trial) and Norton Internet Security 2008 (90-day trial).