Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 First Thoughts and Video

The Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 is one of the first Intel Ivy Bridge equipped laptops to hit the market. The 14” screen Y480 portable gaming notebook we have comes equipped with a high end Intel Core i7-3610QM 2.30GHz processor, Nvidia GeForce GT 640M dedicated graphics and a generous 8GB of RAM. The Y480 is the replacement model for the previously popular Y470 laptop that we reviewed last year. Before the full review of the Y480 to be posted next week we figured enough folks were interested in seeing a first look and unboxing of this high anticipated laptop.

Click here to see the Lenovo Y480 Full Review

First let’s look at the full specs for the IdeaPad Y480 on hand:

Screen: 14″ LED backlit display, glossy finish, 1366 x 768 resolution
Processor: Intel Core i7-3610QM 2.3GHz Quad-Core processor (3rd generation, Intel Ivy Bridge)
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M LE with 1GB of GDDR5 memory
OS: Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit
Memory: 8GB of DDR3 memory @ 1600MHz
Storage: 750GB Hard Drive with 5400RPM rotational speed
Ports: Two USB 2.0, Two USB 3.0 ports, 6-in-1 media card reader, Ethernet port, headphone out, microphone in, monitor out VGA port, HDMI port
Optical Drive: DVD Super Multi-Burner
Wireless: 802.11b/g/n Wireless Networking, Bluetooth, Wi-Di
Weight: 4.85lbs
Dimensions: 13.6” x 9.4” x 1.3” (Width x Depth x Height)
Features: Backlit keyboard, integrated web cam
Warranty: 1-year
The Lenovo Y480 product page is located here where the latest pricing and deals can be found:


The Lenovo Y480 was ordered from online retailer and cost $999 at the time of purchase. The Y480 is also available in various configurations from The IdeaPad Y480 arrived nicely packaged and in the traditional black and orange colored box Lenovo uses for its IdeaPad line. Let’s step through some unboxing pictures so you can get an idea for what will be delivered to your door should you purchase this notebook.

First, a look at the box the IdeaPad Y480 arrived in:

Opening the box reveals the laptop and all its accessories neatly and tightly packed:

Everything is wrapped in plastic packaging to keep it free from dust during shipping:

And finally here is the Y480 fully unboxed:

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 Video

I put together a short video giving a tour of the Y480, check it out by hitting the play button below:

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 Video
IdeaPad Y480 Design

Lenovo has updated a few of the design features on the Y480 compared to the earlier Y470. They’ve actually toned down the design quite a bit, with the Y470 we saw orange accents and a weave pattern on the lid. With the Y480 the lid is a simple grey color with brush metal finish, and that same look is used inside on the keyboard area as well.

Also gone are some of the touch sensitive media keys at the top of the keyboard, the Y480 has just a mute button and screen color adjustment button while the Y470 had volume up/down buttons in addition to those.

The keyboard itself remains mostly the same, with a chiclet design and the rather strange location of the PgUp, PgDn, Home and End keys aligned on the far right side of the keyboard. The keys are well spaced and have a good amount of travel. The best new feature is the backlit keyboard, something sorely missing on the Y470. The backlight is great and makes viewing keys in the dark so much easier.

The touchpad has received an update, it’s just one giant touchpad with integrated buttons, commonly referred to as a clickpad and something people are used to seeing in the MacBook lineup. There is a small vertical line at the bottom of the touchpad to indicate the border between the left and right mouse buttons. In practice the touchpad works well, you can register a left-click by pushing down anywhere on the touchpad. I do miss the dimpled surface the Y470 had, the Y480 surface is smooth and not as textured.

Lenovo Y480 Performance

The new Intel Ivy Bridge processor and Nvidia graphics are probably the two factors people care most to find out about. Though I have had limited time at the moment and have not had the chance to try any games out, I did run a few benchmarks which indicate the Ivy Bridge processor gives a nice performance boost but the Nvidia GT 640M card on board the Y480 is only about as powerful as the AMD 7690 that’s on board the Y470p. To be specific, the Nvidia GT 640M card is actually an “LE” version, meaning it is not the latest Kepler hardware but rather Nvidia’s Fermi architecture. The performance of the GT 640M LE is pretty much on par with the Nvidia GT 555M that the old Y470 and Y570 had. For those that are gamers, this will be disappointing, though we expect that once the Y480 becomes available on it will have the option of being configured with a more powerful Nvidia GT 650M using the latest Kepler architecture – only time will tell.

With all that said, let’s dig into some benchmarks we ran on the Y480 and analyze the performance.

PCMark 7 – Measures overall system performance

Laptop PCMark 7 Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 2,502 PCMarks
HP Pavilion dm4t Beats – Intel Core i5-2430M, Intel HD3000, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD 2,382 PCMarks
Sony VAIO SA (Intel Core i5-2430M 2.50GHz, AMD Radeon 6630M, 4GB RAM) 2,022 PCMarks
HP Envy 17 3D – Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 6850M 1GB, 8GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 2,592 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad U400 – Intel Core i5-2430M, AMD Radeon 6470M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD 2,287 PCMarks
PCMark Vantage – Measures overall system performance

Laptop PCMark Vantage Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 8,634 PCMarks
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p (Intel Core i5-2450m, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 6,727 PCMarks
HP Pavilion g6z (AMD Fusion A4-3305M 1.90GHz, 4GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 3,322 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad X130e (AMD E-300 1.30GHz, AMD 6130, 4GB RAM, 5400 RPM HD) 1,981 PCMarks
HP Folio 13 (Intel Core i5-2467M 1.60GHz, Intel HD3000, 4GB RAM, 128GB SSD) 9,026 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 1440 Review (Intel Core i3-370M, Intel HD, 6GB RAM) 4,931 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad Edge E420 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 6,056 PCMarks
Dell Vostro 3450 – Intel Core i5-2410m 2.30Ghz, 4GB RAM 5,901 PCMarks
Dell Inspiron N411z – Intel Core i3-2330m 2.30GHz, 4GB RAM 5,285 PCMarks
Lenovo ThinkPad T420 – Intel Core i3-2310m 2.1GHz, 2GB RAM 3,204 PCMarks

PerformanceTest 7.0

Performance Test 7 is a benchmarking tool form PassMark software. Below is a screenshot of the scores the Y480 achieved and a comparison to two other notebooks:

Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM) HP EliteBook 8470p (Intel Core i7, Intel HD 4000, 8GB RAM) ThinkPad X220 (Intel Core i5-2410m, Intel HD 3000, 4GB RAM)
Overall Computer Score 1,721.6 1,869.5 1,074.5
CPU Mark 8857.4 7,209.9 3,528.1
2D Graphics Mark 419.2 389.6 326
3D Graphics Mark 655.7 412.5 236.9
Memory Mark 1535.0 1,725.6 1,040.0
Disk Mark 560.6 1,704.5 561.6

Super Pi calculated to 1M

Yes, we know how faulty the Super Pi benchmark is (it’s not multithreaded), but people still like to know the score! The Intel Core i7-3610QM calculated Pi to one million digits of accuracy in 11 seconds. Not bad! The Intel Core i5-2410m powered processor in my X220 takes 15 seconds for that calculation, so you’re looking at 25% processor speed improvement in single threaded mode, for a program that can utilize multiple cores the speed improvements are even great.

3DMark Vantage – Measures 3D graphics performance

Laptop 3DMark Vantage
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 5,587
HP Envy 17-3000, Intel Core i7-2670QM, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 7200RPM HD 6,970
Dell XPS 17 (Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, Nvidia 550m, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM) 4,747
HP Pavilion dv6t Select Edition – Intel Core i5-2410m, Intel HD 3000 Graphics, 6GB RAM 1,845

3DMark 11 – Measures 3D graphics performance

Laptop 3DMark 11
Lenovo IdeaPad Y480 (Intel Core i7-3610QM, NVIDIA 640M LE, 8GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 1,333
Lenovo IdeaPad Y470p (Intel Core i5-2450m, AMD 7690M, 6GB RAM, 5400RPM HD) 1,339
Dell XPS 17 (Core i5-2410m 2.30GHz, Nvidia 550m, 6GB RAM, HD 7200RPM) 1,041
Basically these results show that the Intel Core i7-3610QM is a screamer in terms of performance, the 8,634 PCMark Vantage score for the Y480 was nearly 2,000 points more than the Y470p with a Core i5 Sandy Bridge class processor. The CPU Mark score of 8,857.4 achieved by the Ivy Bridge Core i7-3610QM in the PerformanceTest 7.0 benchmark also more than doubles the 3,528.1 score the Intel Core i5 scored.

While the Ivy Bridge processor is undoubtedly impressive, the NVIDIA GT 640M LE turns out to be a middle range graphics card, unable to outdo the last generation Nvidia 555m graphics or AMD 7690M graphics. Indeed, the 3DMark 11 score is almost exactly the same as the Y470p scored with its AMD 7690M, but we have to consider the fact the processor actually helped bump this score a bit so in effect the AMD 7690M graphics are likely better than the NVIDIA GT 640M LE.

Screen and Speakers

The display on the Y480 is a 14” 1366 x 768 variety, it has a glossy finish, but is not as reflective as some screens. The display does a good job of presenting true colors and offers true deep blacks and whites, in other words color accuracy is good. Colors really pop off the screen, thanks in part to the glossy finish. Watching movies can be a real joy. Viewing angles are so-so, the horizontal viewing angles are quite wide but vertical not so – this is typical of most laptop screens.

Lenovo Y480 screen viewing angles

The speakers on the Y480 are certainly above par for a 14-inch laptop. The sound from these JBL speakers can fill a room, the audio offers booming lows and clear highs. There’s no annoying tinny noise that is present in many laptop speakers.

More to Come…

Another big question that remains is how does the Intel Ivy Bridge processor do with battery life? We haven’t had the Y480 long enough to properly test that aspect, but check back in with us next week when we post the full review and have further details and analysis on the this laptop. If you have any specific questions or requests for the full review, please feel free to add a comment.

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