Most every major PC maker now offers a varied lineup of gaming laptops, stratified to specific needs and budgets. The Legion Y730 (starts at $1,209.99; $1,549.99 as tested) occupies an interesting space in Lenovo’s stable. It’s just above its bargain-price brother, the Editors’ Choice Legion Y530, in build quality and feature set, but it falls short of a true premium machine: The Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip inside doesn’t deliver the power needed to nail 60-frame-per-second (fps) gaming in every title. Given that you can get a GTX 1060-based machine in this price range, it’s hard to get too excited. You do get a nice build, plenty of storage, a speedy CPU, and per-key RGB backlighting, so if you plan on casual gaming or aren’t a performance hawk, the Y730 has appeal. If you’d like a GTX 1060 for less, though, consider the Acer Predator Helios 300 or the Dell G7 15.
A Classy Design Upgrade
At a glance, the Legion Y730 looks very much like the Legion Y530. Both measure 0.95 by 14.37 by 10.24 inches (HWD) and weigh 5.1 pounds. (Lenovo also offers a 17-inch version of this laptop, but our review unit is the 15-inch model.) That’s a positive, as I praised the Y530’s design in my review. It was especially appealing for a budget laptop.
With the nifty-looking angles and a slim design, the look is much more thoughtful than the typical square shape. On top of that already solid base is the Legion Y730’s improved materials: It boasts a nicer all-aluminum build than the Y530’s plastic body, making it feel like a more premium machine for the extra bucks. It’s one of the nicer builds in this price range, even compared to more expensive or 17-inch laptops like the Acer Predator Helios 500 or the HP Omen 17.
This premium material is better suited to the clean, minimal color scheme and simple style that the Y530 had. Additionally, the Y730 is equipped with RGB lighting around the chassis, not the pure-black chassis and white lighting of the Y530. You can customize the colors of the lid logo light, the side vents, and each keyboard key through included software, another higher-class feature. Even the more expensive Asus ROG Strix Hero II only offers lighting across four zones, not on a per-key basis.
As with the Legion Y530, the rear thermal and port solution sticks out from the display to make the thin chassis possible, while keeping the laptop cool. It also strikes a unique profile. A neat addition on this pricier model: backlit port icons on top of this rear section, so you can see where each port is from above without turning the laptop around and squinting at each connection.
Like the Y530, the Y730 includes very thin side and top screen bezels, which only improve its look—thick bezels are so last-decade. The bottom bezel is still thick, as it includes both the Legion logo and the webcam, since the top-edge bezel is too slim to fit a lens. Of course, like on any laptop that puts it in the same place, the low-situated webcam isn’t in the most flattering position for photos and video conferences. That may be a nonfactor depending on whether you use the webcam often or not, or if the perspective simply doesn’t bother you.
The Components and the Comfort Items
The display itself is good quality, a full HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) IPS panel with an antiglare finish. The finish cuts down on reflections successfully, even if it lacks the eye-catching gloss of some displays, and the picture quality is sharp.
Given the GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip, anything more than 1080p resolution would not have made sense for gaming, as the GeForce GTX 1050 Ti wouldn’t have been able to push smooth frame rates at, say, QHD. Unlike the ROG Strix Hero II, or even the less expensive Predator Helios 300, the Y730 does not have a high-refresh-rate display, sticking with the standard 60Hz.
The Y730’s keyboard is nice to type on, avoiding the bouncy or squishy feel that plagues some midrange laptops. The keys don’t have a lot of travel, so you might find the action is a bit flat, but it has just enough for my preferences. When I pushed down to test sturdiness, I noticed a little flex in the keyboard, but it’s not flimsy enough to be triggered by normal typing pressure. The touchpad is the kind with a fixed, nonclickable pad and dedicated left- and right-click buttons beneath. It’s solidly made and tracks smoothly.
The speaker quality is just above serviceable—loud and decent quality, but without much bass and a bit tinny at maximum volume. The speakers also feature Dolby Atmos, audio-enhancement software that I’ve experienced on other laptops, offering surround-sound-style output.
You don’t get a ton of configuration options for the Y730, just three SKUs for the 15-inch version. These aren’t drastically different from one another, the other two coming in at $1,209.99 and $1,429.99. All three have a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip, the same display as our unit, and the extras like the backlit keyboard. What differs are the processor, storage, and memory.
Our model includes an Intel Core i7-8750H CPU, backed by 16GB of memory and both a 2TB hard drive and a 256GB boot SSD. The least-expensive option includes a Core i5-8300H processor, 8GB of memory, and a 1TB hard drive with 16GB of Optane Memory. The middle model includes the same processor as our unit, plus 16GB of memory, but a 1TB hard drive and a 128GB SSD.
Plenty of ports come packed around the system’s periphery, including three USB 3.1 ports, a USB Type-C port, an HDMI port, a mini DisplayPort connection, an audio jack, and an Ethernet jack. Your video-out basics are covered there, and the USB-C connection is a nice inclusion. The laptop also includes dual-band wireless and Bluetooth 4.2.
For the Price, Needs More Power
To this point, my appraisal of the Y730 has been generally positive, but there’s no escaping one gnawing issue with this laptop: $1,550 for any machine with a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti is pretty expensive. I’d expect at least a GeForce GTX 1060 at that price, since you can get one in other systems (such as the Predator Helios 300) for hundreds less. Yes, the Legion Y730’s build is nicer than average, so there are features worth paying for if you don’t need more than a GeForce GTX 1050 Ti.
The lesser Y730 configurations mitigate this issue somewhat—having the highest storage combination certainly adds to the cost, irrespective of the graphics. The middle SKU, in particular, is probably the best bang for buck with its Core i7 CPU and respectable twin-drive storage solution. At $1,429.99, though, even that is not necessarily the best deal in terms of graphics power compared to the rest of the market. The Predator Helios 300 and Dell G7 15 offer a GeForce GTX 1060 for $1,299.99 and $1,209.99, respectively—which is to say, more power for less money.
That doesn’t mean the Y730 is incapable for HD gaming, as shown in our benchmark tests…
While the GTX 1050 Ti isn’t a powerhouse, it can push well over 30 frames per second (fps) at 1080p. This was demonstrated on the Heaven and Valley tests on the Ultra quality settings, on which the Y730 averaged 41fps and 50fps, respectively. That falls short of 60fps, yes, but that’s generally too much to expect from the GTX 1050 Ti. Of course, that only emphasizes my earlier point about the cost—it’s hard to argue against paying less and achieving 60fps, even if you don’t get as nice a build or other features.
Outside of specific gaming ability, the Y730 is a capable machine thanks to the Core i7 processor and 16GB of memory. While it’s not breaking any records, its sound PCMark 8 Work Conventional and multimedia results point to an all-around snappy machine…
Indeed, it’s perhaps better for general use and the odd media task than dedicated gaming. (The Y730 more closely maps to professional machines like the Dell Precision 3530 and HP ZBook 15 G5 in these categories.)
Finally, no candy-coating this: The Y730’s battery life was disappointing, lasting just 3 hours and 4 minutes on our video-playback rundown test. Some competitors like the ROG Strix Hero II and Predator Helios 300 don’t last that much longer (at 4:04 and 3:58, respectively), but being at the bottom end of a lower spectrum isn’t exactly good news. Some pricier gaming laptops, such as the Razer Blade or MSI GS65 Stealth Thin, run for more than seven hours. For a laptop that’s relatively light and portable, it’s disappointing that the Legion Y730 can’t last longer off the charger for a flight or a day at a café.
Solid Mainstream Gaming, But Light on Value
On the whole, those benchmark results say a lot about who the Legion Y730 is for. It’s relatively pricey, but it’s still not a surefire 60fps gaming machine. It’s built in a more professional style, so it would fit in at a meeting or in a coffee shop (though its battery wouldn’t last long there), if you’re one to take your laptop out of the house. When you combine those two factors, the Y730 seems better suited to a casual gamer who also needs a general-use laptop.
The Y730’s lesser two 15-inch configurations may prove a better value given the graphics card you’re getting, but the increases in storage and processing speed are not meaningless, either. If you don’t need to play at 60fps or always at the highest settings, and will appreciate the nicer build, the Y730 will prove a solid pick. If you’d rather have a GeForce GTX 1060 for superior performance and a good build on a similar budget, go for the Asus ROG Strix Hero II. If you’d like to spend less and still get a GTX 1060, the Acer Predator Helios 300 and the Dell G7 15 are better bets, even if their build quality isn’t quite isn’t as good.