Lenovo is a well established business brand. Most people know it as the company that produces their work laptops, but in the past couple of years it seems that Lenovo have been targeting gamers in an effort to make their brand a more household name. After reviewing Lenovo’s last foray into PC gaming (the Y70 laptop) I had some relatively high expectations for their first gaming-centric family of desktops, the Y900 series. Lenovo was kind enough to provide their mid-tier option, the Y900-34ISZ, and it proved to be more than capable for gaming in 1080p. I’ve seen retailers listing this desktop anywhere between $1,499-$1,799, but is it worth the cost? Let’s find out.
The Y900 comes packed with some great features out of the box -- the GTX970, incredible i7-6700 (clocked at 4.0 Ghz), and 10 USB 3.0 ports immediately come to mind, but there are some modest sacrifices as well. The system only comes with 8 GB of 1600Mhz DDR4 RAM, which is capable, but will inevitably require an upgrade in the near future, and the 2TB hybrid hard drive will get taken up quite quickly if you’re a media hog like I am. The good news is that there is room for expansion. The memory can be upped to 64 GB of DDR4 RAM, and the four hard drive bays are easy to work with allowing either 2.5” or 3.5” hard drives to be inserted.
"The Y900 comes packed with some great features out of the box, but there are some modest sacrifices as well."
For people that are new to PC gaming you can take comfort in the fact that this system comes bundled with a keyboard and mouse. The Y Gaming Precision Mouse and the Y Gaming Mechanical Switch Keyboard are Lenovo’s own invention and work surprisingly well. The accessories retail out of the bundle for $49.99 and $139.99 respectively.
The mouse is a feels a bit cheap but it’s no slouch and comes with features a lot of hardcore gamers look for including custom weights that give you a variable weight of up to 8 grams, up to 8200 dpi, and 9 fully customizable buttons that all feel great to use. If I had to nitpick the mouse I’d say the one qualm that I have with it aside from it’s cheap appearance is the weight case. The weight case is incredibly frustrating to work with and open. It requires a lot of force to pry open and 80% of the time when I did the tiny weights spilled out onto the floor. It’s a small issue, but one users should be forewarned of. Those weights are tiny and easily misplaced.
"One thing that really caught me by surprise was how quiet the system ran. Basic use was practically silent and aside from some increase in the GPU fans when playing high-intensity games on ultra settings, the low hum of the whirring fans was barely noticeable."
The Lenovo Y Gaming Mechanical Switch Keyboard is comfortable to use, but will not replace the reliability or customizability of my go to SteelSeries M800. For people without a great mechanical switch keyboard Lenovo definitely provides a wonderful starting point, with a lot of options for gamers to get lost in, but ultimately sacrifices comfort. The switches feel a bit too high on the keyboard, and require a surprising amount of force to be pressed. It’s not unbearable, but it’s certainly not the best available option and seasoned PC gamers will probably not want to replace their go-to standard with the out-of-the-box option Lenovo provides.
Let’s get back to the tower, because it’s massive. The dimensions measure in at 8.12" x 19.82" x 18.85", which means there is a lot of room to upgrade in the future. The internal layout is clean and presentable, and it’s easy enough to work with the standard MOBO that comes with the computer. Tech savvy gamers will have no problem swapping out internal parts for upgrades in the future. The Y900 packs a surprising amount of punch running modern games at 1080p settings with no significant drops in framerate (nothing ever went below 30 FPS). I ran playtests with games like The Witcher 3, Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege, Counter-Strike: GO, Dota 2, Hearthstone, and Fallout 4 and I found them to be consistent with standard GTX970 benchmarks. Aside from a few frame rate drops in The Witcher 3, I never ran into any issues that drastically affected my gameplay. I can imagine that expanding past 1080p would put considerable strain on the card though, and I can foresee significant drops occurring even in 1440p, so keep your monitor resolution in mind.
"Tech savvy gamers will have no problem swapping out internal parts for upgrades in the future. The Y900 packs a surprising amount of punch running modern games at 1080p settings with no significant drops in framerate."
One thing that really caught me by surprise was how quiet the system ran. Basic use was practically silent and aside from some increase in the GPU fans when playing high-intensity games on ultra settings, the low hum of the whirring fans was barely noticeable. Internal temperatures never got out of control, and the system seems designed with gaming in mind. I did not have an opportunity to overclock this system, so I can not begin to comment on how well internal temperatures hold up under additional strain. But with factory clock-rates the system still powered through everything with few problems.
Lenovo advertises a WiFi 802.11 a/c network adapter, and I certainly could see it listed under system devices, but in spite of my best efforts I couldn’t discover any wireless networks at all. I tried every manner of troubleshooting to get the WiFi to work, including deleting and re-installing drivers, but the system would not detect any networks. Not a huge problem for me considering I prefer to run on a wired connection, but it is a problem for people looking to utilize their wireless networks. After reading on forums, I did notice that I was not the only one experiencing this problem and the extra troubleshooting steps provided by Lenovo still didn’t solve the issue.
"So, back to the question at hand: are the Y900 and its accessories worth the $1,599 price point? The answer is a resounding yes."
The other major issue I had with Y900 is the fact that Lenovo insists on pre-installing it’s bloated software. I didn’t take much issue with it in my Y70 review, but all companies, not just Lenovo, really need to learn to start shipping computers without pre-installed software. The inclusion of McAfee is the biggest offender considering the antivirus suite is virtually impossible to uninstall, is incredibly intrusive, and users can find plenty of other options online that are much better. Just ship your computers with Windows installed and include a separate disc, Lenovo. From there, your users can decide whether or not they want to install this software, don’t task your users with having to uninstall all this useless garbage themselves. It’s unnecessary and taints the user experience.
So, back to the question at hand: are the Y900 and its accessories worth the $1,599 price point? The answer is a resounding yes. Lenovo hasn’t just managed to create something chic, they’ve also created a machine that’s easily customizable, allowing any user to customize with ease. Aside from the WiFi hiccup, I really enjoyed my experience with the Y900 and I think other users looking for a pre-built option will too.
Review by: Palmer Sturman