The Bottom Line
Jun 12 2012 - Lenovo's IdeaPad Y480 isn't a huge departure from previous version in terms of appearance but it has undergone major internal changes thanks to the new Ivy Bridge quad core processor that gives it some outstanding performance for around $1000. It even features dedicated NVIDIA graphics that make this a relatively compact multimedia platform but it is hampered by only being available with a basic resolution panel. Overall, it makes a good option for those looking at a compact system that doesn't compromise on performance as long as you are willing to accept the display and above average weight.
- Good Performance
- Excellent Keyboard
- Display Could Really Use Higher Resolution
- A Bit Heavy for a 14-inch Class Laptop
- Intel Core i7-3610QM Quad Core Mobile Processor
- 8GB PC3-12800 DDR3 Memory
- 750GB 5400rpm SATA Hard Drive
- 8x DVD+/-RW Dual Layer DVD Burner
- 14" WXGA (1366x768) LED Backlit Display With 1 Megapixel Webcam
- NVIDIA GeForce GT640M LE Graphics With 1GB Memory
- Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n Wireless
- Two USB 3.0, Two USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA, 6-in-1 Card Reader
- 13.5" x 9.4" x 1.3" @ 5.1 lbs.
- Windows 7 Home Premium, Office Starter, McAfee AV Plus
Review - Lenovo IdeaPad Y480
Jun 12 2012 - Lenovo's IdeaPad Y480 is one of the first laptops available to consumers that features the new Ivy Bridge desktop processors from Intel. The new architecture promises to bring better efficiencies from its reduced trace size as well as new integrated graphics. For this model, it uses the Core i7-3610QM which is the lowest grade quad core version of the processor. In terms of performance, it provides more than enough for the average consumer and is particularly good for those looking to do desktop video work on the go. The processor is matched up with 8GB of DDR3 memory that provides it with a smooth experience with Windows 7 even when multitasking.
For storage, the IdeaPad Y480 relies on the more traditional hard drives rather than going with solid state drives or even hybrid drives. This gives the advantage of providing a larger storage capacity as with the 750GB drive in my test version. Performance is a bit lower because the drive does spin at the 5400rpm rate compared to some that use smaller drives but the 7200rpm rate. If you want to expand the storage for the system, the new Ivy Bridge chipsets finally integrated the USB 3.0 peripheral ports allowing for high speed external storage. A dual layer DVD burner is standard on the system for playback and recording of CD or DVD media and there is an option for a Blu-ray reader.
Probably the biggest disappointment with the IdeaPad Y480 is the display. The 14-inch panel has a very modest 1366x768 resolution for its nearly thousand dollar price tag. It would be nice to see this system that focuses on multimedia offer a higher resolution. In addition to this, the panel has some limited vertical viewing angles. The color itself is quite good and accurate but it does also feature a glossy coating like most consumer laptops that means more difficult use outdoors and certain lighting conditions because of glare. At least the system does feature the NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE dedicated graphics processor. While this does carry the new 600 series name, this is actually a core based on the previous 500 series cards. This gives the system the capability of playing PC games up to the panels modest resolution albeit with some moderate detail levels. It also offers benefits of accelerating non-3D applications such as Photoshop which the Intel HD Graphics 4000 lacks.
Overall, the IdeaPad Y480 design hasn't changed much from previous versions with an overall classic design minus the red strip around the display lid. It does feature some brushed aluminum on the back of the display lid and the keyboard desk which gives it a bit more of a premium feel but it still is primarily of plastic. It has a very sturdy feel, probably because of its 5.1 pound weight which makes heavier than most other 14-inch laptops on the market. The keyboard retains the same new isolated layout that is quite good and very accurate. There wasn't much flex to the keyboard but it did seem a bit noisier than past versions or those found on the corporate ThinkPad models. The trackpad has also been redesigned to feature integrated buttons into the trackpad. While the work fairly well, there are still times that one might accidently select the wrong right or left button if it is depressed to close to the middle.
Lenovo equips the IdeaPad Y480 with a standard six cell 48WHr capacity battery. This is pretty typical of many 14 and 15-inch laptops. With the new Ivy Bridge new efficiencies and the NVIDIA Optimus technology, one would hope that it would have extended battery life. In my video playback test, the laptop was able to only run three and a half hours before going into standby mode. This is a bit disappointing as it doesn't really add much longer running time than the previous Sandy Bridge based IdeaPad.