The last time Lenovo did a full refresh of its gaming laptop line, it rechristened the models “Legion.” Now, Legion models are, well, legion, and the line is getting its 2018 round of updates, with several fresh laptops and desktops announced at E3 2018. The most interesting of the lot is the Legion Y730 (starts at $1,179.99), Lenovo’s new midrange gaming laptop. It has been given a completely new chassis design and comes in versions with 15.6-inch and 17.3-inch display panels. It will be available in September, but I got a chance to check it out ahead of the announcement.
A New-Look Legion
Though certain features of this model are decidedly gaming-focused, Lenovo wants you to be able to take the Legion Y730 anywhere, including on the road and even into a business meeting.
The larger version of the machine measures 0.95 by 16.24 by 12 inches (HWD) and weighs 6.4 pounds in its heaviest configuration. That’s commendable for a 17-inch laptop, as models at that screen size usually tip the scales at more than 8 pounds, with some reaching as high as 12 pounds. The 15-inch version, meanwhile, measures 0.88 by 14.23 by 10.51 inches and weighs up to 4.8 pounds. Again, that’s relatively light for its screen-size class.
If you’re someone who wants to take a gaming laptop on the go for other uses, the Legion Y730 fits the bill, especially in the case of the 17-inch model, for those who like bigger screens. (Lightweight 17-inchers just aren’t that common.) It’s the 15-inch model that has pricing beginning at $1,179.99; the bigger-screen version starts a bit higher, at a $1,249.99 base price.
The body is well put-together, combining an aluminum lid with a soft-touch keyboard deck. The screen hinge is offset by about an inch from the rear edge of the laptop, which is now home to most of the ports. The chassis felt sturdy overall, which bodes well for tossing it in your bag for the road.
I do like this new design. One of Lenovo’s Legion predecessors I reviewed, the Legion Y520, was simple and restrained, and this model takes the same tack, staying on the minimal side. But it has a slightly sharper look about it.
The brand name “LEGION” is etched down the left side of the lid, with a small glowing “Y” icon inside the “O.” That’s the main sop to a gamer aesthetic. The rest of the design reminded me more of some of the clean laptop designs I’ve seen from companies like Gigabyte, which bridge the gaming and professional worlds. (See, for example, our review of the Gigabyte P56XT.)
Lenovo noted that some thermal tweaks went on beneath the surface of the Legion Y730. Ostensibly, a new cooling system with dual-channel thermal management (the CPU and GPU cooling areas have been separated) and tweaked, multi-length fan blades improves airflow. Heat now ventilates from twin exhausts on the sides. Lenovo claims that these changes should result in a 10 percent reduction in system temperature versus the previous Legion generation. We’ll see.
Display and Components: Mostly, Fair Choices
As for those 15- and 17-inch screens, Lenovo chose wisely in the options for those displays. The panels are IPS, for a better picture with wider viewing angles. And both models keep the pixel count realistic, at a straight-up 1080p native resolution (1,920 by 1,080 pixels), which is appropriate to the internal components. And the bezels have been slimmed down nicely.
There’s more to the Y730 screens than different sizes, though. Gamers will appreciate that Lenovo is catering both to casual players and to more discriminating e-sports types who need fast-refresh features for games that reward eye-blink reaction times. In different configurations between the two screen sizes, you can get panels with a refresh rate of either 60Hz (standard-refresh) or 144Hz (fast-refresh), with the additional option for Nvidia’s G-Sync. The latter is an increasingly sought-after feature for gamers looking for smooth visuals. I didn’t get an opportunity to see games running on either display type, so an assessment of the screen will have to wait for testing, when a unit hits PCMag Labs for review.
Some configurability will extend to the other components, though it won’t be as extensive as we see with some other gaming laptops. The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is the only graphics option for the time being, which may disappoint those who want the power of a GeForce GTX 1060 at this price. Lenovo noted that a version of the Y730 with the GTX 1060 was a possibility, but nothing was firm in that regard.
We hope it happens, though. The GeForce GTX 1060 is an ideal match for gaming with AAA titles at 1080p with all the detail settings cranked up. And indeed, on today’s most-demanding titles, you wouldn’t begin to stretch the limits of a 144Hz-refresh screen even with a GTX 1060 engine. So, clearly, the GTX 1050 Ti is a compromise for casual gaming, or meant for playing games with low system requirements at high refresh rates, such as many of the popular MOBAs of the day.
Processor choices, on the other hand, are more flexible. You can choose between an eighth-generation Core i5 or Core i7 processor. Memory scales from 8GB to 32GB, with an option for 16GB of overclocked Corsair memory. Storage is a dual-drive arrangement, in the form of a smaller-capacity boot-drive SSD (at 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB, presumably an M.2 drive), alongside a 1TB or 2TB conventional platter hard drive.
A Standout Keyboard, and More
The Legion Y730’s keyboard caught my eye, lit as it was with per-key-programmable RGB backlighting. But it intrigued me for a different reason.
Lenovo pointed out to us an interesting, different angle: The keyboard’s supporting software is not Lenovo’s own creation but from Corsair. Corsair, as many gamers will know, offers deeply customizable software with its own line of gaming keyboards and mice, and that tweakability extends to lighting customization. (Why should Lenovo reinvent the wheel, after all?) Lenovo is wrapping this new keyboard initiative around the name “Corsair iCUE,” which is a clear reference to the Corsair Utility Engine (CUE) software platform.
I didn’t get in an extensive typing session, but the Legion Y730’s keys seemed responsive to some quick presses, and there is some marketing around 1-millisecond key response time that will bear some game-testing when the time comes. The laptop’s keyboard deck also features a column of dedicated macro keys for further customization.
Other game- and media-enhancing extras include support for Dolby Atmos. Lenovo says this is a world-first for a gaming laptop, though it’s not the first we’ve seen or heard in a laptop, period. (We recently tested the Atmos-capable Huawei MateBook X Pro.) Atmos is a speaker enhancement that creates a more immersive and “surrounding” audio experience. I didn’t get the opportunity to demo this, but I have heard Atmos deployed on other devices, so it should be a bonus, assuming that it is integrated properly.
I noted plenty of ports on board, including a USB Type-C port; another USB Type-C port with support for Thunderbolt 3; USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 2 ports; HDMI and mini-DisplayPort video outs; and an Ethernet jack. The Y730 also includes support for Bluetooth 4.1. The positioning of many of the ports on the back of the laptop is a new touch.
More About the Legion Soon…
Given the September release date, it will likely be a few months before review units of the Legion Y730 arrive. But we plan to put the Y730 through the full PCMag Labs suite of testing, so check back this September, or a bit before, for a review.