The Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 (priced at £999 direct from Lenovo) is, quite literally, a big idea. In addition to its large physical frame, the notebook almost eliminates the need for a desktop PC, sporting a huge screen, built-in Blu-ray drive, and a full-sized keyboard. Throw in exemplary multimedia and gaming capabilities, and it's hardly surprising that the IdeaPad Y580 managed to bag one of our coveted Best Buy awards.
One thing's for certain: The IdeaPad Y580 won't be confused with an ultrabook any time soon. It's a behemoth of a system, measuring 386mm wide by 254mm deep, with its thickness ranging from 23mm at its thinnest point to 36mm at its thickest. Meanwhile, its weight of 2.7kg is nearly twice as heavy as that of a typical ultrabook. Although the IdeaPad Y580's hulking chassis is constructed primarily from plastic, its palmrest and lid are both decked out in a metallic finish.
With a maximum resolution of 1,920 x 1,080, images and text alike looked crisp on the glossy 15.6in screen. Moreover, video playback looked fantastic in 1080p, an attribute that's all the more useful thanks to the IdeaPad Y580's built-in Blu-ray player. I decided to test the Y580's ability to showcase movies, so I threw on the Your Highness Blu-ray and was immediately struck by the superb image quality.
The built-in JBL speakers, situated directly above the keyboard, are equally impressive, pumping out surprisingly loud and distortion-free sound with gusto. Taken together, it quickly becomes apparent that while most laptops are merely adequate for playing music or movies, the Y580 manages to get the job done on its own without the need for external speakers or an additional display.
As fun as it is to watch movies and listen to music, though, most folks still buy a laptop with a semblance of productivity in mind. Fortunately, the IdeaPad Y580 has nailed this, too. The ample full-size keyboard features a numeric keypad and tiled keys with rounded bottoms, making for a smooth typing experience.
The palm rest is equally comfortable, offering an abundance of hand real estate, and nary a thumb inadvertently graced the touchpad during use. The touchpad itself is accented with a thin strip of silvery metal around its edges, and incorporates the right and left-click buttons into a singular design. Like the keyboard, the IdeaPad Y580's touchpad is large and comfortable to use, and both pinch-zooming and two-finger scrolling were executed effortlessly.
The IdeaPad Y580 also comes with a healthy serving of ports. The front sports a 6-in-1 card reader, whereas the left side of the system hosts the aforementioned Blu-ray combo drive, a USB 2.0 port, a USB 3.0 port, and both headphone and microphone jacks.
Meanwhile, the right side is equipped with dual USB 3.0 ports, a VGA port, an Ethernet port, and a full-size HDMI output, which conveniently eliminates the need for dongles when connecting the system to a larger display. Alternatively, wires and dongles alike can be ditched altogether since the Y580 features built-in Intel Wireless Display (WiDi) technology, allowing it beam the audio and video to a compatible HDTV, or one fitted with an adapter.
The IdeaPad Y580 comes equipped with a 1TB, 5,400rpm hard drive and a 64GB solid-state-drive (SSD), the latter of which comes preloaded with some software. However, you’re unlikely to be too worried about storage limits with this machine’s capacious 1TB main disk. The good news is that overall, the ratio of useful apps (Microsoft Office Starter 2010, a full version of McAfee Internet Security) to unnecessary bloatware tips in favour of the user.
Given its combined 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-3610QM processor and 8GB of RAM, the IdeaPad Y580 steadfastly hovered near the top of its class across the board. The laptop’s PCMark 7 score of 2,886 is excellent, and edged past the 2012 HP Envy 17 which hit 2,805.
Likewise, the IdeaPad Y580 displayed exceptional agility in our multimedia tests. It completed our Handbrake video encoding test in 1 minute and 17 seconds, the same time as its predecessor the IdeaPad Y480, and 13 seconds faster than the HP Envy 17. The Y580’s Cinebench score was an impressive 6.22, and it devoured our Photostop CS5 test in a brisk 3 minutes and 25 seconds, which was 12 seconds faster than the Envy 17.
The IdeaPad Y580's discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX660M GPU (with 2GB of memory) also did well in our gaming tests, easily smashing the 30 frames per second (fps) playability barrier in medium quality settings.
In our Crysis benchmark tests the Y580 managed 97 fps in medium quality at 1,024 x 768 resolution, and 13 fps in high quality at its native 1,920 x 1,080 resolution, a shade faster than the Envy 17 which hit 88 fps and 12 fps respectively. The laptop performed admirably in our Lost Planet 2 benchmark tests, recording results of 71 fps in medium quality at 1,024 x 768 resolution, and 28 fps in high quality at native resolution. 3D Mark 06 performance was impressive, with a score of 15,486 at medium detail settings under 1,024 x 768, and 12,720 at full HD resolution with 4x anti-aliasing. Not too shabby, indeed.
The one area in which the IdeaPad Y580 didn't thoroughly dazzle was battery life. Its removable 6 Cell Lithium Ion battery lasted 4 hours and 41 minutes in our MobileMark 2007 battery rundown test, which isn’t a great performance compared to some of its rivals. The HP Envy 17, for example, has enough juice to keep going for 7 hours and 19 minutes – and that’s quite a difference. We’ve seen worse battery life, true enough, but it’s definitely a bit of a weak spot here.
One final note: The Y580 is also available in a slightly lesser configuration for £849, which downgrades the processor to a Core i5-3210M, and the display to a 1366 x 768 resolution affair. It also switches the Blu-ray drive for a bog standard DVD writer, and knocks the main hard drive down from 1TB to 750GB. However, this model is worth bearing in mind if you’re counting the pennies.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Y580 gives you plenty of bang for your buck, and does a great job as a desktop replacement rig. It features a dazzling screen with a full 1080p resolution, a built-in Blu-ray player, and even a full-sized keyboard on top of very impressive multimedia and gaming capabilities. While the rival HP Envy 17 offers a similar smorgasbord of features, the Y580 outguns it while costing a couple of hundred quid less. For these reasons, we're willing to overlook its so-so battery life, and award this fine machine one of our Best Buy accolades.