IdeaPad Y700-15ACZ Review

Discussion in 'Yoga, IdeaPad & Essential' started by Assembler, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. Assembler

    Assembler Notebook Geek

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    The 15.6 inch IdeaPad Y700 series are Lenovos new gaming machines, euqipped with the latest Intel/AMD/Nvidia hardware. As currently you can only preorder them, there is a pre-sales event for the AMD hardware based Y700-15ACZ in China since mid september. I got my hands on one of them and here is my review !

    Update (11.02.2016): It is now confirmed that there is just one US model that does support FreeSync (with R9 M380 dGPU) and is only available on Best Buy. If you are still interested in this machine, you should check my post on page 4 on how to resolve throttling issues. Some users also report that it might help to remove the dust filter covering the vents on the bottom panel.

    Update (11.09.2015): I did some more testing and updated the following sections:
    1. Gaming Performance
    2. Temperature
    3. Battery Life
    4. Final conclusion

    Specifications
    • Processor: AMD FX-8800P, 2.1 GHz (Turbo: 3,4Ghz)
    • Graphics Adapter: AMD Radeon R9 M385X - 4096 MB GDDR5, Core: 900-1000(Boost) MHz, Memory: 1200 MHz + integrated Radeon R7 (Carrizo) - 1 GB shared memory, Core: 800 MHz Catalyst 15.10 (custom Lenovo driver, 09/2015)
    • Memory: 8192 MB, DDR3L-12800, 2x4 GB (Samsung)
    • Display: 15.6 inch 16:9, 1920x1080 pixel, LG Philips LP156WF6-SPK1
    • Storage: Western Digital WD10SPCX-24HWST1, 1000 GB
    • Sound: Realtek High Definition Audio Controller (Speaker, unknown chipset)
    • Connections: 1x USB 2.0, 2x USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, 1 Kensington Lock, Combo audio jack, 4 in 1 Card reader (SD/SDXC/SDHC/MMC)
    • Networking: Realtek RTL8168/8111 Gigabit-LAN (10/100/1000MBit), Broadcom 802.11ac 2x2 Wireless Adapter (BCM 43xx ??), Bluetooth 4.0
    • Size / Weight: 387x277x25.95mm / 2.6kg
    • Battery: 60 Wh Lithium-Ion, 4 cells
    • Operating System: Windows 8.1, 64 Bit
    • Additional features: 2x 2W stereo speakers (with subwoofer), Keyboard backlight (red), 135W Power supply (20V, 6.75A)

    There is only one model available for 6500 RMB (~1000$) that comes with a regular 1TB HDD and 8 GB RAM. I upgraded the HDD / RAM with the following components:
    • Plextor PX-512M6GV-2280 M.2 SSD (SATA)
    • 16 GB (2x8) Kingston HyperX Impact memory (DDR3L, 1600 MHz, CL9)

    Case

    The chassis is quite bulky, even for a 15.6 inch notebook. Still, it is not that heavy as you expect it would be. The bottom panel and outer lid are made of brushed metal, the palm rest is rubberized and the display is covered by "edge to edge" glass. The only cheap parts are glossy plastic between the keyboard / display and the fan exhaust. As you probably never touch those areas the overall look and feel is very nice. While the rubberized surfaces are resistent to finger prints the brushed metal ones are not, on the other hand they are a dust magnet like the plastic parts.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Maintenance

    If you checked the hardware maintenance manual provided by Lenovo and think opening this machine should be a piece of cake, well ... its not. After removing the 11 screws on the bottom you will realize that its not even moving slightly. There are several plastic clips, known from many ultrabooks that are holding the bottom panel so tight, you will not find any gap to put a plastic card or a thin screw driver between the panel and the outer casing. I did not manage to open it without some scratches in the rubber coat. If you want to upgrade you should be prepared for that.


    Connectivity

    Ports are unchanged form its predecessor the Y50, but the sides are switched. The NOVO button, audio jack, card reader and USB 2.0 are now on the left side together with the AC adapter. On the right side we have 2x USB 3.0, HDMI, Gigabit Ethernet and the Kensington Lock.

    Communication

    WLAN is provided by a Broadcom Wireless 802.11ac adapter with integrated Bluetooth 4.0. I could not figure out the exact model number, but it seems to belong to the BCM43xx series. It does support the 2.4 and 5 GHz band and has two antennas (2x2). I did not experience any connection drops or other issues beside low transfer rates at the beginning. The driver is set to only support 20Hz channel bandwidth for a/b/g networks by default, after changing this to 20/40 MHz i got normal speeds with my old TP-Link router. I didnt test the Ethernet Port yet, but i guess it will do its job.


    Keyboard

    Nothing new here, its still the same AccuType keyboard used by the Y50 notebook. Only the W/A/S/D keys are now highlighted, i guess to give it some "gaming touch" (i dont like it). The reviewer of the Y50 on notebookcheck was not satisfied with this keyboard, i dont agree totally. The keys have strong feedback and are not as "spongy and innacurate" as noted, but typing still feels a little bit strange and you have to get used to it. The backlight has to levels and can be switched by pressing FN+Space.

    Touchpad

    The Touchpad is large and the surface smooth but to trigger the mouse clicks you need a lot pressure on the corners. Otherwise i didnt had problems with that.


    Display

    This was my biggest concern and the reason why i actually wanted to wait for some reviews before buying this notebooks, as the FHD TN panel of the Y50 series was a joke. Now we got some serious upgrade, the 1080p matte IPS display is manufactured by LG Philips (LP156WF6-SPK1) and offers excellent brightness / contrast ratio. Black is pitch black and there is no screen bleeding. It seems to be the same display used by the new Dell Latitude 3550-0123, you can check the german review here. The screenshot shows a direct comparison between the Y700 and my 13.3 inch Samsung Ativ Book 7 with its touch IPS screen.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Update: As AMD recently announced the display is connected via eDP and supports FreeSync in the range of 40 - 60 Hz, but the option to enable is still missing in recent drivers.

    Processor

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    The Y700-15ACZ is equipped with the top model of AMDs latest Carrizo-APUs, the FX-8800P (2.1 GHz base clock). The TDP can be configured from 12W to 35W TDP, in this case it seems to use the full cTDP range. Tests of slightly slower A10-8700P showed that the CPU will use its turbo quite well when configured at 15W, so we should not see much improvements beside that the CPU will not throttle down when the integrated GPU is used. The CPU did used its max. turbo (3.4 GHz) in all benchmarks, even when all cores are utilized. Here are the Cinebench R15 results (i took the other values for comparison from the notebookcheck database):

    Cinebench R15 (CPU Single 64Bit)

    82 points - Core i3-5005U
    84 points - FX-8800P
    108 points - Core i5-5200U
    121 points - Core i7-5500U
    121 points - Core i7-4712HQ

    Single thread performance is on the level of the Intel i3-5005U, now surprise here.

    Cinebench R15 (CPU Multi 64Bit)

    208 points - Core i3-5005U
    259 points - Core i5-5200U
    271 points - Core i5-5300U
    282 points - FX-8800P
    289 points - Core i7-5500U
    517 points - Core i7-4712HQ

    Thanks to holding its maximum turbo the FX-CPU can shine in multi core benchmarks and is beating the popular Intel i5-5200U and even comes close to the i7-5500U. Still, it is far behind of a "real" Intel quad core CPU such as the i7-4712Q that has similar TDP (37W).

    [​IMG]


    Cinebench R11.5 (CPU Single 64Bit)

    0.96 pts - Core i3-5005U
    0.97 pts - Core i3-5010U
    0.98 pts - FX-8800P
    1.24 pts - Core i5-5200U
    1.41 pts - Core i7-5500U
    1.43 pts - Core i7-4712HQ

    Cinebench R11.5 (CPU Multi 64Bit)

    2.27 pts - Core i3-5005U
    2.82 pts - Core i5-5200U
    3.16 pts - Core i7-5600U
    3.35 pts - Core i7-4600M
    3.39 pts - FX-8800P
    5.76 pts - Core i7-4712HQ

    While the single thread results are just slightly better in Cinebench R11.5, multi core performance surpasses the i7-5600U and even the 35W Haswell i7-4600M CPU.

    [​IMG]

    Storage devices


    The model uses a Western Digital WD10SPCX-24HWST1 HDD with 1TB capacity. There is nothing to report about that, it is slow as any other conventional hard disk. The Y700 has one free M.2 (2280 SATA) slot where i installed an Plextor PX-512M6GV SSD. Here are some AS SSD benchmark results if you are interested.

    [​IMG]


    GPU Performance

    Beside the integrated R7 GPU, there is a dedicated R9 M385X that seems to use the same chip as the R9 M280X. The GPU features 14 compute units (896 stream processors) with a base clock of 1000 MHz and should have a boost range up to 1100 MHz, but in all tests the clock maxed out at 1000 MHz. Memory clock stays at low 1200 MHz, according to AMDs specsheet the max. memory clock can be up to 1500 MHz. I did test both integrated and dedicated GPU in 3DMark 2013.

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Radeon R9 M385X


    Ice Storm Standard Graphics 87123
    Ice Storm Standard Physics 34183
    Ice Storm Standard Score 64815

    Cloud Gate Standard Graphics 22418
    Cloud Gate Standard Physics 2934
    Cloud Gate Standard Score 9074

    Sky Diver Standard Graphics 11835
    Sky Diver Standard Physics 4337
    Sky Diver Standard Combined 9426
    Sky Diver Standard Score 9210

    Fire Strike Standard Graphics 3340
    Fire Strike Standard Physics 4192
    Fire Strike Standard Combined 1181
    Fire Strike Standard Score 2898

    Integrated Radeon R7 (Carrizo)

    Ice Storm Standard Graphics 55596
    Ice Storm Standard Physics 33782
    Ice Storm Standard Score 48619

    Cloud Gate Standard Graphics 7431
    Cloud Gate Standard Physics 2943
    Cloud Gate Standard Score 5550

    Sky Diver Standard Graphics 5638
    Sky Diver Standard Physics 4187
    Sky Diver Standard Combined 3063
    Sky Diver Standard Score 4962

    Fire Strike Standard Graphics 1121
    Fire Strike Standard Physics 4207
    Fire Strike Standard Combined 536
    Fire Strike Standard Score 1121

    Results of the M385X are somewhere between the GTX 950M and GTX 960M, apparently more close to the 950M. With higher clock rates it should be possible to get closer to the level of the 960M. The unused turbo / low memory clock might be an limitation by the custom Lenovo Catalyst driver or the system BIOS.

    Gaming Performance

    I dont have any modern games that i could test and compare with, i will try to get my hands on games such as The Witcher 3 and do some updates at this point.

    Update: As promised i did some benchmarks with The Witcher 3 to see how it will perform in demanding games and its rather dissapointing. I used the Medium Graphics / Postprocessing settings on 1366x768 as they do on notebookcheck for better comparison.

    Theoretically the performance is very good with framerates between 41 and 47 fps (~43 avg) but after 20 minutes i experienced heavy frame drops (last screenshot). Those are caused by the CPU that throttles down to 1,4 GHz for a few seconds and thus makes the game unplayable. No tools i checked would show the CPU temps so it is hard to say what the cause is. The GPU reaches 85 degree max. and this seems to be the point where the system starts to throttle and even GPU clock speeds are lower than they should (700 - 900 MHz).

    [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]

    Same behaviour while running Unique Heaven benchmark for half an hour. CPU starts with 3.4 GHz on all threads and throttles down after 15 minutes and stays constantly at 1.4 GHz. The GPU runs with 900-1000 MHz and sometimes drops to ~700.

    Sadly it is not possible to deactivate the CPU turbo or limit its max. clock speed, the only option thats available in CCC is reducing the base clock so the CPU will run constantly at 1.8 or 1.4 GHz. I gave it another try with 1.8 GHz to confirm that the problem is related to CPU temperatures. Here is another strange thing... while the CPU can hold its low speed, now the GPU starts to throttle down to 300 MHz for a few seconds (GPU temps ~80).

    I guess the whole cooling system is not really designed for this CPU/GPU combo, there is some power target that kicks and limit the CPU/GPU, a combination of both or my unit has some serious hardware issues.

    Speakers

    The first time i played some of my favourite music with this speakers i got that "wow" effect. I am used to the very good JBL speakers of my Ativ Book 7 but those are on another level. The additional subwoofer makes a huge difference, you can clearly hear the bass and there are no distortions or any other side effects. While the speakers itself are amazing, the Dolby Audio software to enhance sound is not. There are a few modes that you can choose (Dynamic, Movie, Music, Game, Voice, Custom), the first one should automatically optimize sound while playing but it doesnt work most of the time (no change). There is a custom mode where you can opt out some settings and setup your own Equalizer but without any presets. The other modes are almost the same beside the Voice mode.

    System Noise

    The two fans remained quiet while the system idles. Running CPU benchmarks the fans only spin up slightly, you wont notice them unless there is no other surrounding noise. Even when both GPU and CPU are used, fan noise just reached the level of my Ativ Book 7 which is still not loud compared to some gaming notebooks.

    Temperature

    There is no software that could read out the current CPU temperature, but i guess it stays low as there is no throttling or high fan noise. The dedicated GPU reached max. 73 degree clecius in all tests. The casing remained very cool, the palm rest and keyboard got just "hand warm" and the only hot spot can be found close to the fan exhaust.

    Update: On continuous heavy load on both CPU/GPU the GPU reaches up to 85 degree which seems to be a critical point in terms of throttling. The area below the numpad is heating up and feels uncomfortable to touch while the rest of the palm rest stays cool.

    Battery Life

    After 2 hours of movie playback in Media Player Classic (720p, h264) the capacity was reduced to 58%. I setup my own energy profile and reduced the display brightness to 50% (wifi on). You can expect 4-5 hours runtime, probably more on lighter tasks such as web browsing or working with documents.

    Update: Another annoying issue that this machine has in common with many other notebooks: Whenever the dedicated GPU is used the battery starts to discharge while plugged in (1% every ~5 min).

    Conclusion

    Lenovo did a nice job with this AMD platform. If you want the maximum performance out of non Intel/Nvidia hardware for a reasonable price, then there is no way around this machine (until now). The chassis is stable (but bulky) and has a premium look/feel, the display is great and the speakers are amazing. It is quiet for a gaming notebook but the GPU performance could be better. I you are interested in the Y700-15ACZ i recommend to go for a model with 16GB of RAM and additional SSD. That will save you the trouble opening this notebook.

    Update: After facing the issues i mentioned above, i have to revert my recommendation for this notebook. While the first impression was better than expected, it does not perform well in games and battery discharging is another thing that leaves a bad taste. We have to wait for more reviews to see, if those issues are related to my unit or a "desing fail".


    Pro

    + Solid case
    + Brushed metal / rubberized surfaces
    + Good (benchmark) performance
    + Excellent IPS display
    + JBL speakers with subwoofer
    + Respectable battery life

    (+ FreeSync for Best Buy model only)

    Contra

    - CPU/GPU throttling after the system heats up
    - Limited GPU turbo / memory clock
    - Only HDMI as video output
    - Slow HDD (without upgrade)
    - Not easy to maintain
    - Battery discharge on heavy load
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2016
  2. nipsen

    nipsen Notebook Ditty

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    Nice review.

    ...the graphics score on the integrated card sure is decent. Good to have that confirmed. :) Just imagine this in a 12w config - you could likely run pretty much everything in medium to high settings on battery and possibly passive cooling. I've sort of tried to moderate my expectations, but that seems... very solid. I mean, it would be all kinds of neat if you could run a hwinfo tab on the power-draw during the benchmarks, so we could see what the nominal load should look like, and possibly if there's a trick involved with the load-balancing. And it would maybe make it possible to guess at what the gpu-part of the cpu will draw on full load. ..But even if the cpu/gpu-package has to go up to 35w constantly to get to a decent total score, the graphics score alone is ridiculous on 35w. My guess is that you could clock this down and still have absurd Photoshop performance, for example.

    Too bad there's no dual graphics option, though. Sort of thought that was standard with the drivers now, on the later platforms. Also should have that to get anywhere with peak gaming performance, for example with physics effects in Tomb Raider, that sort of thing. Resubmits are very expensive, and using internal ram and having the apu nearby is the kind of thing that normally doesn't make peak fps on traditional benchmarks or games go to ridiculous levels, but it will raise lower fps. Likely you could see that effect in Witcher 3 (and likely Far Cry 3), if you gradually pile on more effects that rely on occlusion filtering to be drawn quickly, and compare that to a intel/nvidia platform with approximately the same performance.

    Btw, think you can run some OpenCL benchmark on the internal graphics? Or possibly in dual graphics mode. Luxmark, or something like that?
     
  3. Assembler

    Assembler Notebook Geek

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    LuxMark v2.0 64Bit - Room Scene, both GPUs - 802 points
    LuxMark v2.0 64Bit - Sala Scene, both GPUs - 1425 points

    LuxMark v2.0 64Bit - Room Scene, only integrated GPU - 237 points
    LuxMark v2.0 64Bit - Sala Scene, only integrated GPU - 454 points
     
    davidricardo86 likes this.
  4. Link4

    Link4 Notebook Deity

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    Nice review, and I hope you post more benches, especially CPU ones.
    The problem with Cinebench R15 is it's the worst benchmark you can run on an AMD CPU as it gimps the performance of Kaveri and Carrizo and gives huge gains to Haswell and Broadwell when compared to Cinebench R11.5. So you should put some R11.5 scores for comparison. Thevenin on Semiaccurate forums got a score of 3.4 in Cinebench R11.5 multi from is Carrio sample which is quite impressive, beating i7 5650U, i7 4600M(37W), A10 5800K (100W) and almost matches A10 7700K (95W).
    Other nice CPU benches would be X264 HD Benchmark 4.0, chess benchmarks like Stockfish (Houdini would be better but isn't free) Geekbench 3 to compare the scores against those already posted.

    As for the gaming performance can you test some free and popular games like World of Warships and Armored Warfare? I know they are multiplayer and can't really be benchmarked but the FPS is quite stable unless there is smoke or high number of projectiles involved. Just the average stable FPS and lows (when there is smoke and stuff like that) should be fine. Older games such as Metro 2033 and Crysis 3 would also be perfect.
    Also can you install newer Catalyst drivers straight from AMD? The Lenovo ones seem to be way too old and at least WHQL drivers should run perfectly on laptops.
     
  5. Assembler

    Assembler Notebook Geek

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    I can confirm this result !

    [​IMG]

    Actually the Lenovo driver version is 15.10 (09/2015) and not 15.1, my mistake. I will do some benchmarks with Dragon Age: Inquisition and The Witcher 3 this weekend if i have time.
     
    Link4 likes this.
  6. Link4

    Link4 Notebook Deity

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    Thanks a lot, and the single threaded score is nice too. As for the Lenovo driver I'm not sure what that is. Latest Catalyst WHQL driver is 15.7.1 and 15.10 is the latest Beta driver, but it's released on 10/12/2015.

    Edit: Also this is straight from AMD's website:

    The AMD Catalyst™ Software Suite, AMD Catalyst™ 15.7.1 contains the following:

    • AMD Catalyst™ Display Driver version 15.20.1062.1004
    . Note that even though the display driver has 15.20 in it, the real driver is still 15.7.1.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  7. Assembler

    Assembler Notebook Geek

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    I already installed the latest beta driver from the AMD homepage. With the Lenovo driver CCC did not run on startup (even when enabled in Task Manager) and 3DMark crashed sometimes.
     
  8. Encrypted

    Encrypted Newbie

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    Hey man great review! I am hoping this model comes to the US/Canada soon.

    Did you find the laptop to feel more like 5.3 lbs? I noticed that Lenovo tends to mess up their specs...they say their touch model and their non touch model are both 5.7 pounds but I thought that the touch hardware almost always adds .2-.4 pounds on the laptop (Is this correct)?
     
  9. Assembler

    Assembler Notebook Geek

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    It does not feel heavier than advertised, still you don't want to carry it around much. The weight difference between touch/non touch models is usually caused by different materials used for the display. F.e. the Y50 non touch version had plastic surfaces around the display and not the glass cover which his now used for all models (thats why weight is the same).
     
  10. kabangeka

    kabangeka Notebook Enthusiast

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    Y700 no Mini DisplayPort, no S/PDIF digital audio, no hdmi 2.0.Think twice when buying this laptop. I am owner Y50 and it do not have m.2 SSD and displayPort. So upset.
     
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