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Lenovo Legion Y720 review – Lenovo’s premium 15-inch gaming solution is all about features

Lenovo did a really smart move to release two different versions of their new Legion gaming laptops – one for entry-level gaming and the other one with more powerful and premium approach. Similarly to Acer’s strategy with the low-end Aspire VX 15 and the higher-end Aspire V 15 Nitro Black Edition. But what Lenovo did was to take things a bit further, feature-wise that is.

For the extra few hundred bucks, the Legion Y720 offers a lot of improvements and features to the table. For example, the Y720 features a much better IPS panel (for the UHD version that is), considerably better cooling design that supports the more powerful GTX 1060, all-aluminum build and last, but not least, it’s the first laptop in the worlds with Dolby Atmos, which by the way, isn’t just a gimmick. Our sound tests confirm that. Let’s take a closer look at what Lenovo has to offer in the higher-end segment and did they learn from their previous mistakes.

You can find some of the available models here when the laptop is released: http://amzn.to/2n9ZVy3

Contents

Retail package

Since this is a sample unit, we are not sure what the final package will contain but the usual user manuals, AC adapter and power cord should be inside.

Design and construction

Following the previous design concept of the Y-series gaming laptops while carrying some similarities from the Y520, the Legion Y720 finally looks like a complete product with very little or even unnoticeable design flaws.

The lid is made of rock-solid brushed aluminum plate with interesting patterns and the Y-series logo in the middle. Pushing the middle bends the plate ever so slightly so you shouldn’t worry about stability in any way. However, like all brushed aluminum surfaces, the Y720’s lid is a fingerprint magnet. Opening the lid requires both hands as the centered hinge is a bit overly tightened but feels a lot more stable than before. We didn’t like the sway in the Y700 and Y50 and we are happy to see a general improvement in this regard. The screen’s bezels are now thinner and we also see the familiar glossy anti-glare coating on top of the screen. The bottom brings back the integrated subwoofer along with big vent openings for extra airflow. Unfortunately, the dust-protective cloth makes an appearance again, which wears off quite fast and we suggest removing it after a few months of usage. In our experience, it will vastly improve the airflow.

Flat sides part of the soft-touch plastic interior deliver all the needed connectivity options and more. On the right, you will find two USB 3.0 ports, one USB-C 3.1 connector supporting Thunderbolt 3, HDMI and a mini DisplayPort. Whereas on the left, you will find the RJ-45 port, another USB 3.0 connector, 3.5 mm audio jack and the DC charging port. At first glance, the port distribution seems well-balanced and will not get in the way of the user but in our opinion, the HDMI and mini DisplayPort should have been on the left. This way you will have a bit more room for your external mouse on the right. And finally, we can’t miss addressing the grills on the back of the machine. Since the cooling fans are located in the left and right corners, the vents are placed on the sides as well. We expect a much better heat dispersion than on the Y520.

Opening the lid reveals silky-smooth matte plastic that feels great but it’s also a fingerprint magnet. Smudges are quite prominent. Anyway, you will also notice the red speaker grills positioned above the keyboard giving the notebook that distinctive Lenovo Y-series gaming look. The keyboard is practically the same as the one we saw in the Y520 – gaming-oriented layout with big arrow keys positioned below the Numpad area, long key travel with excellent feedback and highlighted WASD keys. The version we got didn’t have the optional RGB backlight but the standard red LED illumination instead. But what about the touchpad? Well, they finally fixed it! It doesn’t wobble anymore, it’s responsive, clicky and accurate. The plastic surface of the trackpad area might get in the way if your fingers are moist but it will do the job just fine.

As we expected, the Y720 brings a lot of improvements over the last generation and over the Y520 as well. We have a robust construction, an unconventional but comfortable layout of the keyboard for gaming, better hinge design, more practical vent openings and a lot better touchpad design.

Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options

The laptop doesn’t feature a dedicated service lid but the bottom piece is really easy to detach, just like the Legion Y520. Once the backplate is removed, you can access the cooling system, storage, memory, battery and Wi-Fi module. You just have to remove all the screws and pry it up.

Storage upgrade options – 2.5-inch HDD, M.2 slot

As expected, the motherboard holds a standard 2.5-inch HDD as well as an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD slot, both of which, in our case, are occupied. In the 2.5-inch bay, we found a WD Slim 1TB HDD while in the M.2 SSD slot, we found an OEM model of Samsung’s PM951 PCIe NVMe drives with the whopping 1TB capacity.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
M.2 slot1TB M.2 PCIe NVMe Samsung PM951 SSD (2280)Upgrade options
2.5-inch HDD/SSDWD Slim 1TB HDD @5400 rpmUpgrade options

RAM

As usual, the motheboard supports up to two RAM sticks each up to 16GB DDR4-2400. However, our unit came with two 8GB DDR4-2400 chips. The memory slots can be found under the metal plate right next to the heatsinks.

SlotUnitUpgrade price
Slot 1Samsung 8GB DDR4-2400Upgrade options
Slot 2Samsung 8GB DDR4-2400Upgrade options

Other components

The Wi-Fi module is placed right next to the battery and it’s Intel 3165NGW.

Under the M.2 SSD, you can also find the wireless receiver for the Xbox controller.

The battery features an unusual design with and making the most out of the small space. It’s rated at 60Wh.

Cooling system

The cooling system has nothing in common with the one on the Legion Y520. It uses the standard setup with two separate cooling fans, one heat pipe connecting both heatsinks and the fans and two dedicated heat pipes for the CPU and GPU. The heatsinks appear to be massive and are able to support the demanding hardware without any problem. Our stress tests confirm that.

Interestingly, we found a small copper plate attached to the bottom plate so heat gets disperesed easier.

Display quality

We were pretty surprised to see that the Legion Y720 sports the same AH-IPS panel from LG that we saw in the Legion Y520. To be honest, this is disappointing because the considerably cheaper Y520 offers a decent IPS panel for its price range while the same just isn’t enough for the premium Y720. The model number is LP156WF6-SPK3 offering the usual 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) resolution, 142 ppi and 0.18 x 0.18 mm pixel pitch. It can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 60 cm.

Viewing angles are excellent as you can see from the image below.

As expected, the maximum brightness, color temperature and contrast ratio don’t differ too much from the Legion Y520. We’ve got 311 cd/m2 maximum brightness in the middle and 286 cd/m2 as average across the surface, which means 16% maximum deviation. The color temperature is 7000K so colors will appear slightly colder than usual. The contrast ratio is 820:1.

We’ve also measured the color deviation (dE2000) compared to the center of the screen – 3.8. This is a fairly decent result because values above 4.0 are unwanted.

Color reproduction

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

As expected, the sRGB coverage is pretty low – 51% so almost half of the commonly used colors on the web and HDTV won’t be seen. This is probably the main drawback of the panel.

Below you will see practically the same image but with the color circles representing the reference colors and the white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut pre and post calibration.

We’ve created the “Office and Web Design Work” profile at 140 cd/m2, 6500K (D65) white point and gamma curve optimal for sRGB (2.2).

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the Office & Web Design profile.

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the Gaming & Movie Nights profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.

Gaming capabilities (Response time)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 25 ms.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse Width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

PWM was detected from 0 to 99% screen brightness but the good news is that the frequency is fairly high and reduces the negative effect on one’s eyesight.

Blue light emissions

Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SDP) graph.

Conclusion

Don’t get us wrong, the display quality is good but it’s really not enough considering the price range of the Legion Y720 – it definitely works for the lower-priced Legion Y520 and even the Lenovo V510 but not in this case. The most noticeable drawback would be the limited sRGB coverage, lower than usual contrast ratio, slightly below average maximum luminance and the presence of PWM from 0 to 99% brightness.

Buy our display profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for Lenovo Legion Y520 and Legion Y720 configurations with 15.6″ LG Philips LP156WF6-SPK3 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen, which can be found at Amazon: http://amzn.to/2lboci0

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

Read more about the profiles HERE.

[edd_item edd_id_1=’77325′ edd_id_2=’77328′ edd_id_3=’77332′ edd_id_4=’77335′]

Sound

One of the most prominent features of this notebook are the Dolby Atmos-certified loudspeakers along with the subwoofer making the sound fuller and richer. It’s also the first laptop ever to offer this feature. Watching movies and listening to music is just a delight.

Specs sheet

The specs sheet provided below is for this model only and may vary depending on your region or configuration.

CPUIntel Core i7-7700HQ (4-core, 2.80-3.80 GHz, 6MB cache)
RAM8GB (1x 8192MB) – DDR4, 2400MHz
GPUNVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5)
HDD/SSD512GB M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD + 1TB HDD (5400 rpm)
Display15.6-inch, Full HD (1920×1080) IPS, matte
Optical Drive
ConnectivityLAN 10/100/1000 Mbps, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
Other features
  • 3x USB 3.0
  • 1x USB-C 3.1 (Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3)
  • LED keyboard backlight
  • HDMI
  • RJ-45
  • SD card reader
  • 3.5 mm combo audio jack
Battery60Wh
Thickness25.8 mm (1.01″)
Weight3.094 kg (6.82 lbs)

Software

We’ve tested the unit using a pre-installed version of Windows 10 (64-bit) but if you wish to perform a clean install of the OS, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from Lenovo’s official website.

Battery

The notebook is equipped with a 60Wh battery unit, which might seem a lot but considering the demanding quad-core Core i7-7700HQ on board with the 15.6-inch Full HD IPS panel, the endurance is subpar. The notebook scored a decent amount of time on the web browsing test but failed to impress in the video playback one. Still, we have to note the significant increase in battery capacity from 45Wh on the Legion Y520 to 60Wh on the Legion Y720.

Of course, all tests were performed with Windows battery saving feature turned on, Wi-Fi constantly on and screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2.

Web browsing

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script to automatically browse through over 70 websites.

Just about the average for a gaming laptop – 350 minutes (5 hours and 50 minutes).

Video playback

For every test of this kind, we use the same video in HD.

Below average runtime on the video playback test – 284 minutes (4 hours and 44 minutes).

Gaming

We recently started using the built-in F1 2015 benchmark on loop for accurate real-life gaming representation.

It’s quite unlikely that you will start a gaming session without being close to a power source, but it’s good to know that you can play almost two hours away from the plug – 113 minutes (1 hour and 53 minutes).

CPU – Intel Core i7-7700HQ

The Core i7-7700HQ is Kaby Lake’s top-shelf direct successor of the Skylake Core i7-6700HQ offering slightly higher clock speeds on the almost identical architecture and TDP. While Intel markets Kaby Lake’s architecture as “14nm+”, the Core i7-7700HQ is still on the same 14nm node with the only significant update being in the iGPU department. That’s why the slightly altered clock speeds (2.8 – 3.8 GHz vs 2.6 – 3.5 GHz) bring not more than 10% increase in performance compared to the Core i7-6700HQ. We still have the supported Hyper-Threading technology with 4/8 – core/thread design, the same 45W TDP and 6MB cache.

However, the Kaby Lake generation boasts an updated video engine for the iGPU, although, its performance is just about the same. Branded as Intel HD Graphics 630, the GPU offers slightly higher clock speeds (350 – 1100 MHz vs 350 – 1050 MHz) compared to the Intel HD Graphics 530 and support for H265/HEVC Main10 profile at 10-bit color depth and the VP9 codec for full hardware acceleration. In addition, the HDCP 2.2 is also supported allowing Netflix’s 4K video streaming.

You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i7-7700hq/

Fritz

Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i7-7700HQ managed to get 13.305 million moves per second. For comparison, one of the most powerful computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.

GPU – NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 (6GB GDDR5)

NIVIDIA’s GeForce GTX 1060 GPU aims to be the mid-tier graphics card from the Pascal generation offering similar or even better performance than last year’s flagship models like the GTX 970M and 980M. However, the GPU will be used in high-end laptop configurations.

The graphics card is based on the GP106 chip built on the 16nm FinFET manufacturing process from TSMC paired with up to 6GB GDDR5 VRAM clocked at 8000 MHz effective on a 192-bit interface. The GPU also features the same amount of CUDA cores as its desktop counterpart (1280) and it’s clocked at the same frequencies – 1506 – 1708 MHz.

Depending on the cooling solution, the GPU can be found in large 17 and 15-inch notebooks but some slimmed-down 14-inch notebooks are also an option. The TDP of the GPU is somewhat lower than the last generation GTX 970M.

You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/

Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this GPU: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/nvidia-geforce-gtx-1060-6gb-gddr5/

Gaming tests

GTA-V-benchmarks

Grand Theft Auto V (GTA 5)Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS107 fps60 fps37 fps

rise-of-the-tomb-raider

Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016)Full HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Very High (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS85 fps42 fps29 fps

Tom Clancy’s The DivisionFull HD, Medium (Check settings)Full HD, Ultra (Check settings)Full HD, MAX (Check settings)
Average FPS88 fps50 fps18 fps

Temperatures

Of course, the extreme stress test that we perform isn’t a representation of real-life usage because even during gaming, the CPU and GPU load isn’t 100% all the time. However, it’s still the best way to determine the overall stability of the system and the effectiveness of the cooling design.

We start off with 100% CPU load for an hour. At first, the CPU was able to run at stable 3.4 GHz but after 10 minutes or so, the CPU’s frequency went down to 2.7 GHz, which is just 100 MHz below the base clock speeds. We were quite puzzled by this because the CPU didn’t reach high temperatures at any point and even ran at cool 60 °C most of the time. Our best guess is that there are some still unfixed issues with this engineering sample. We are most certain that the final units won’t have this problem.

Anyway, we continued with our usual scenario by adding the GPU stress test for another hour. We are happy to report that the CPU’s frequency didn’t change while temperatures did rose to around 80-85 °C, while the GPU was running at 1455 MHz at 81 °C. This is a bit hot, to be honest, but no thermal throttling occurred thanks to the revised cooling system.

Even temperatures on the surface weren’t as big as we thought they would. Keep in mind that the temperatures on the heat map below are measured during unusually long and heavy workload and they will surely be lower during normal usage or gaming. Finally, Lenovo made an effective cooling solution for its 15-inch gaming laptop that’s able to support not only the high TDP Core i7-7700HQ but also the powerful GeForce GTX 1060 GPU as well.

Verdict

The Legion Y720 almost delivers what Lenovo promised from the start and we wonder why the Y520 didn’t have some of those features, like the cooling system, for example. Either way, the Legion Y720 offers updated thin and robust chassis featuring brushed aluminum, much better cooling system than the one in the Y520, more powerful GPU (GTX 1060) and better sound quality with Dolby Atmos. All of this justifies the price premium but unfortunately, the display is a big miss.

With properties like this, the IPS panel just doesn’t fit the profile of a high-end gaming laptop. The sRGB coverage is way below the average, the maximum brightness is slightly lower than it should be, the contrast ratio is subpar and we’ve recorded PWM from 0 to 99% screen brightness. The latter can be fixed by installing our Health-Guard profile, though.

We remain eager to see what Acer has installed for us with the 15-inch Aspire V 15 Nitro BE laptop as it will be the main competitor to take down the Legion Y720. It might not impress with fancy features like Dolby Atmos audio and support for Xbox wireless controller but we definitely expect a better IPS panel – the only considerable downfall of the Legion Y720. At least the screen isn’t half as bad as the one in the ASUS FX502VM.

You can find some of the available models here when the laptop is released: http://amzn.to/2n9ZVy3

Pros

  • All-aluminum, thin and robust chassis
  • Good gaming-centric keyboard and nice touchpad
  • A broad range of connectivity options including USB-C with Thunderbolt 3 support
  • Good cooling system
  • Support for Wireless Xbox controller
  • Excellent sound quality featuring Dolby Atmos certification and a subwoofer


Cons

  • Subpar display quality with low contrast, narrow sRGB coverage and not enough maximum brightness
  • The panel uses PWM from 0 to 99% brightness (our Health-Guard profile eliminates this issue)
  • A bit heavy for a 15-incher
  • No G-Sync support on the built-in display