Like the IdeaPad Y580 that preceded it, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 offers a heck of a lot of bang for the buck in the 15" multimedia and gaming laptop segment. The Y500 targets gamers with its red backlit keyboard and red speaker grilles on the top deck that cover two 1.5 watt JBL speakers. More important to gamers are the dual NVidia GT650M graphics card in SLI for some serious gaming pleasure. Remarkably, this Intel Core-i7 quad core machine with a full HD display won't set you back nearly as much as you might think: our configuration lists for $1,199 and Lenovo often has specials for several hundred dollars less. If you've been coveting an Alienware, MSI gaming laptop or an Asus ROG model but found their prices too rich, the Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 is worth a serious look.
Though the red accents and dual graphics cards are tailed to gamers, this is a fine system for anyone who needs some serious computing and graphics power: video editors, Flash animators, developers and 3D designers. Unlike "serious" gaming notebooks, the IdeaPad Y500 is staid looking (except for those small splashes of red). And it's relatively light at 6 pounds and not too chubby at 0.6 to 1.4" thick. It looks more like an everyday computer and we like Lenovo's revised styling with design cues from the very attractive IdeaPad U series. And Lenovo's AccuType keyboard is perfect for those who spend a lot of time typing.
Lenovo says that the Y500 models on US retailers shelves will all have the dual graphics card configuration. Right now, the machine is available with the Intel Core i7-3630QM full mobile quad core third generation Ivy Bridge CPU and your choice of 8 or 16 gigs of RAM. It has a glossy 1920 x 1080 display that's quite pleasing though not wildly bright at 220 nits, and a conventional spinning HDD with optional 16 gig caching SSD drive. Dual band Intel Centrino N 2230 WiFi and Bluetooth are standard, as is a 1MP webcam. The computer ships with Windows 8 64 bit and there is no touchscreen option.
There's one NVidia GT650M graphics card with 2 gigs VRAM on the motherboard, as per normal notebook architecture. The second matching card lives in an Ultrabay on the Y500's side. Yes, you can take it out (after shutting down the machine and removing the battery) and swap in an optional $69 DVD burner, a $189 removable HDD or a $29 removable fan. If you don't buy the DVD burner, you can use an external USB DVD drive (not included but easy to find in stores).
Here's our Lenovo IdeaPad Y500 video review. Our full written review will follow once we can stop playing Crysis 3, Skyrim and Bioshock Infinite!