About the author: Joe reviews hardware based on how it fits into his life. Joe is a sales professional that manages a team, travels weekly, a part-time professor and gamer. He is a father and husband who also has the privilege of being GWW’s President.
The Y40 borrows a lot from it’s big brother, the Y50. Lenovo injected it’s premium styling in a smaller package, while managing good performance at a sub-$1,000 price point. The once barren mid-level gaming laptop marketplace has now become crowded with a number of excellent 15″-17″ machines; but the 14″ space still has some room to grow. Lenovo has entered this space at nearly the same time it entered the gaming laptop space in general. The Y50 is a strong performer and the Y40 is not just a scaled down version, but also a less expensive alternative with components that are also lesser. The Y40 doesn’t compare to other 14″ gaming laptops in performance, but it blows them away on price or performance per dollar.
Something Lenovo does better than most manufacturers is build quality. Since 2013, their gaming laptops have had a similar appearance: black with red accents around the speakers, keys, and ports. They’ve maintained that styling with this laptop as well. The chassis is a rich black matte that is cool to the touch while resting your palms near the keyboard. It fully wraps around the laptop and highlighted by that sweet red accent. Despite the smaller size, Lenovo managed the same ports between the Y40 and Y50. On the left side: power, Ethernet, HDMI out, and two USB 2.0 ports. On the right: headset and S/PDIF jacks, SD memory card reader, always-on USB 3.0, and a lock switch. As I wrote about the Y50, I feel comfortable using the Y40 for play or for work. It’s extremely stylish but is lacking one design feature of the Y50: back-lit keys. For a gamer it’s a must for the WASD keys to be visible at all times.
My Y40 came equiped with an Intel i7 4510U, running at 2.0GHz with a boost range up to 3.10GHz. It’s L3 cache is 4MB and consumes only 15W of power. It’s energy efficient which helps the Y40 achieve roughly 5 hours of battery life. Additionally, onboard this CPU is an Intel HD 4400 GPU. What’s special about these GPUs is they are “switchable” meaning the laptop runs at lower power unless the primary, discrete GPU is needed. But these CPUs only have 2 cores so they tend to struggle running the latest games on settings in 1080p. In fact, they’re the gaming bottleneck in all models of the Y40. They can run older games well, such as Max Payne 3 and Skyrim. There’s nothing wrong with have a less expensive laptop for mobile gaming if you have a powerhouse at home, such as the Lenovo Erazer x510.
Unlike the Y50 series, which uses the Nvidia GTX 860m video card, Lenovo opted for the Radeon R9 275. That’s surprising considering the performance gap between these two video cards. Competing companies, such as Gigabyte, offer a 14″ laptop with the 860m, but the price point is upwards of 25% higher.
The best way to compare laptops is to create categories of the features you feel are most important and then assign a weighted value to each category. For me, those categories are gaming performance, chassis, screen resolution, and keyboard. All of those are subjective to the buyer, save for one: performance. Windows 8.1 and the games we play require more power than ever before, but some hardware exists that can give you a edge (e.g. solid state drive (SSD) and performance RAM). Each Y40 model includes at least an 8GB SSD, attached via mSATA, which helps with boot speeds and overall data movement. It doesn’t do much it add frames per second to your gaming experience. RAM, on the other hand, is a critical component for gamers. If you have interest in the Y40, be sure to observe the model variances and avoid the 8GB model unless you intend to or already own performance RAM to replace it. Keep in mind these Intel i7 mobile CPUs only support up to 16GB of RAM. The two tables below show how the Y40 stacks up against other gaming laptops I’ve tested, and some real-world frames-per-second results.
|Skyrim||1280×720 | 60FPS|
|Marvel Heroes||1920×1080 | 20 FPS|
|Sorcerer King||1920×1080 | 38 FPS|
The R9 275 isn’t a slug by any means, but I caution buyers to do their research and observe the benchmarks above carefully. The Y40 is not for dropping jaws. It’s for portability. The Y40 can get the job done; no doubt. It’ll run most new games at 1080p with anti-aliasing turned off and other settings on low or medium. But you’ll get better game performance at 720p. At under $1,000 this is a fine expectation. You still have all the benefits of mobile gaming: it’s light, thin, and does non-gaming tasks with ease. Some of the applications I used include Microsoft Office, document management in Chrome, Audacity, and Bandicam. At just under 5lbs, it stacks up against traditional work laptops from Dell, HP, and Lenovo, while actually being able to play games.
Intel® Core™ i7 4500U (1.80GHz 1600MHz 4MB L3)
Intel® Core™ i7 5510U (2.10GHz 1600MHz 4MB L3)
Windows 8.1 64
Up to AMD R9-M275
Up to 16GB DDR3L
14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) Display
|Dimensions (W x D x H)||
13.7″ x 9.8″ x 0.9″
Up to 1TB HHD or up to 512GB SSD
JBL® speakers with Dolby® Advanced Audio V2
Up to 5 hours WiFi browsing depending on configuration
2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, Audio Combo Jack (headphone and mic), HDMI-out, 4-in-1 (SD / MMC / SDXC / SDHC) card reader, RJ45, SPDIF