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Legion Y545 Review – What You NEED To Know!

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The new Lenovo Legion Y545 is an interesting addition to Lenovo’s existing gaming notebook lineup, that starts with the entry-level Y540 and ends with the Y740 that is their flagship offering that has some crazy high specs without actually costing a fortune. In fact, I did a full review on that laptops, so if you’re interested in checking it out you can click right here.

Now ever since we posted that video a lot of you guys have been requesting a review of the Y540, and that’s because it’s predecessor the Y530 was one of the best Bang for the Buck notebooks that you were able to buy back then. Heck, I still think it’s an awesome laptop for the price and what it offers. So we requested Lenovo to send us a sample, and then we requested again, and requested again, and again and again, and this is what we got: the Y545. Honestly, I’m still a bit confused as to why this thing even exists, because this and the Y540 share pretty much the exact same specs except for some minor design changes on the exterior side and that’s pretty much it.

Specs & Price

It starts at $1,000 and that gets you a 9th Gen Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a GTX 1650. The review model that I have comes with the faster Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM in dual-channel mode, and a GTX 1660 Ti non-Max Q graphics card. The price as configured would cost you around $1,300. Now I should also mention that sales on Lenovo laptops on Lneovo’s own website are kind of all over the place. So my advice to you guys would be to always wait for one of these notebooks to go on sale. With that being said, let’s dive into the Y545.

Okay, so let’s start with the design. It’s sort of discrete but it still has a bit of that gamer-y vibe. You get the Legion Y logo that’s LED-backlit in white – it’s not RGB so keep that in mind – while the top panel itself is made out of aluminium and it features his nice gray sandstone finish that I love.

However, I actually kind of prefer the design on the Y540 because it’s a lot sleeker, elegant, minimalistic, call it want you want, because you don’t have that large logo screaming at you in the front, which is great. By the way, both the Y530 and Y540 share the same design, the only difference are the updated specs on the Y540.

Another thing I want to mention is that I prefer the hinge mechanism on the previous models compared to the Y545, because the hinges on the previous notebook were in the corner so they were a lot more sturdier and it felt robust compared to the Y545 which has a hinge in the center and so it doesn’t feel as sturdy as the Y530 or the Y540.

What to Expect?

When you open up the notebook, you’re greeted with a full-sized keyboard along with a soft-touch silicon surface. That’s for sure going to wear out over time, although it is super comfortable when you place your palms on and start typing.

The speakers are unfortunately located at the bottom and they don’t sound that great. In fact, I had trouble filling an average size room with the speaker volume set to 100%, so it doesn’t get as loud and it’s really not ideal for content consumption and other stuff. I really wish they were front facing, but perhaps next time.

Oh, and another thing, the webcam is located at the bottom, which officially makes it a nose cam and it’s possibly the worst location and the quality is pretty terrible.

Now here’s another interesting thing that I thought was worth bringing up. The power brick that comes to the Y545 is absolutely huge, especially when compared to the one that’s powering my Razer 15 with an RTX 2080 Max Q. This is a 230W adapter – same capacity as the one for my Razer – but it’s powering a notebook that has the GTX 1660 Ti GPU. When it comes to portability, I mean you really have to make sure you have the proper space to accommodate this huge adapter in your backpack so do keep that in mind.

The keyboard on the Y545 is fantastic. It’s one of the best that I’ve tried, especially on a gaming laptop. There’s a good amount of travel distance and nice tactile feedback. It’s way better than my Razor Blade Advanced model. I’d say that they’re about 90% to what you get with a Thinkpad series, which is awesome. There’s also a dedicated screen recording button. It uses the Xbox Game Bar for recording your gameplay and I think that’s a pretty cool addition for gamers. The trackpad is good. It’s pretty smooth to navigate your fingers around with. I wouldn’t say it’s as smooth as what you’d find on the Blade 15 with the glass trackpad because I’m spoiled by that laptop, but it is good enough to get the job done and on the positive side you also get Windows precision drivers.

As for the I/O, the majority of them are located at the back. So you get a Kensington lock, power input, gigabit LAN port, HDMI 2.0, and two USB 3.1 Gen1 ports. So this is something that you really have to consider little more, this model does not offer any USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, so that basically means that you wont to have access to the 10Gb/s protocol since even the Type-C port at the back is running at Gen1 speeds. And that’s really odd because the Predator Helios from Acer offers USB 3.1 Gen2 ports, so does the ASUS RoG Zephyrus G GA502 that I checked out recently. So it’s really odd to see that omission on the Y545 especially since it has a 9th Gen CPU and some really good specs.

On the right hand side there is an extra USB 3.1 port and on the left you’ll find another one as well, and a headphone/mic jack. Unfortunately, it does not have an SD card reader or a Thunderbolt 3 port. I should mention that the Y740 comes with USB 3.1 Gen2 ports as well as a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C connector.

Moving onto the display, I don’t really have anything to complain about it. It’s a 15.6-inch 1080p IPS panel running at 60Hz. The color reproduction is great, it has good balance of contrast and saturation. I can comfortably color grade a video on this thing. It’s not a super bright panel because it comes at around 300 nits, so outdoor visibility may be a bit challenging. I think this is a bit of an issue with most Windows notebooks out there.

Now you could opt for the 144Hz IPS panel, but it is a $100 premium. Honestly, I would pay that extra $100 because when gaming with a faster refresh rate the experience is just so much better compared to when you’re gaming on a notebook with a 60Hz panel. When I was playing Overwatch and Battlefield 1 I noticed screen tearing here and there, and it just wasn’t as pleasing. You could definitely get away with it, it’s just that when you go 144Hz or anything above a 100Hz it’s difficult to go back.

Upgradability

In terms of upgradability, when you crack open this notebook you have instant access to the memory storage and Wi-Fi card. The primary SSD unfortunately does not have the fastest write speeds. It’s a 120GB Hynix PCIe Gen3 x2 drive, so if you want something a little bit faster I suggest picking up something from Western Digital or Samsung. Also do know that the included Hynix drive is mounted onto a metal bracket and if you want to upgrade it in the future you can simply uninstall it just like a traditional M.2 drive. It would have been nice if Lenovo included and additional M.2 slot.

The 1TB Seagate drive performs as it’s supposed to. I’m glad that it’s a 7200RPM drive and it’s a nice inclusion to store your game library or you can also upgrade to a 2.5-inch SSD if you desire.

With regards to RAM, you have access to the two slots and the memory can be upgraded up to 32GB, which is nice.

Now I do wanna mention something very important. You see Lenovo pre-configured this notebook out of the box with the integrated Intel UHD graphics disabled. So that means if you’re running a Word processing task or running your PowerPoint presentation or if you’re watching a TV show, it’s going to run off of that GTX 1660 Ti graphics card, which is overkill. You don’t need that GPU to drive those types of applications. And if you unplug the notebook, it’s going to run off of that discrete graphics card, which is definitely going to result in shorter battery life. So what I had to do was enable Hybrid mode through Lenovo’s Vantage software. What that does is that it enables Intel graphics as well as it activates NVIDIA’s Optimus technology. So it switches between the discrete GPU and the Intel GPU depending on the type of workload that you have on this laptop. I ran all my benchmarks with Hybrid mode enabled and the power settings set to High Performance because I thought it was a fair comparison to the other notebooks that I’ve tested in the past, because those laptops come with UHD graphics enabled.

The battery capacity on the Y545 is around 57 watt-hours. It’s certainly a lot smaller than the ROG GA502D that I looked at recently. On my light load test that consists of refreshing a Chrome webpage every 15 seconds, the Y545 lasted for about 7 hours. On a heavy load test, while running Real Bench on loop, the system lasted for just a little over an hour.

Benchmarks

So how does it actually perform? Pretty darn good actually. The six-core/twelve-thread Core i7-9750H processor is an amazing performer for rendering. The clock speeds on the CPU were boosting above 4.2GHz and it’s blistering fast. As you can see with Cinebench R15, R20, and Blender, it destroys the Ryzen 3750H on the ROG notebook and the single core performance is excellent on the Y545.

Moving onto some Content Creation. I took this 13 minute 4K project, exported it to the YouTube 4K preset using Adobe Media Encoder, and this notebook took less than 10 minutes to complete that task. That my friends is faster than the AERO15x next featuring the 9th Generation Core i7 processor and an RTX 2070 Max Q graphics card. It’s just crazy.

Gaming on the other hand was as expected, really good. You can easily push over 100FPS in most AAA titles like Battlefield1, Overwatch, and Apex Legends at their highest presets. When you compare these numbers to the Zephyr GA502D featuring a GTX 1660 Ti Max Q graphics card. The Lenovo notebook just takes the edge here because you not only have a faster Intel processor, but you have a non-Max Q GTX 1660 Ti variant.

Disappointing Thermals

Taking a look at temperatures, this is the biggest drawback of this laptop, particularly under a full load. The CPU does get very – and I mean very – hot with temperatures reaching 98°C. And remember, this is with the High Performance setting that maxes out the fan speeds and the clock speeds so we were hovering between 3.8-4.0GHz on all six cores. So in terms of thermal performance, this notebook is a complete disappointment, but I decided to investigate this a little bit further.

So I ended up cracking open the Y530 to see what Lenovo has changed in terms of the cooling solution to compare it to the Y545. Interestingly enough, the fans on the Y530 don’t have cutouts around the blades like the ones found on the Y545. And that got me thinking, could these covers be choking the fans from performing at its maximum efficiency? Regrettably, that is something that I can’t test scientifically, but I thought that was worth bringing up.

The GTX 1660 Ti did peak at 75°C and the clock speeds we’re shifting between 1650MHz and 1770MHz, which is up to spec on these GPUs. Remember this is a non-Max Q variant, so you’re getting desktop-class performance so that’s nice.

The fans are pretty audible, especially under load and this is with the high performance setting. It certainly is a bit quieter than the Zephyr GA502D, but I’d still recommend wearing a pair of headphones when gaming. At idle this notebook is just as quiet as being inside a library.

Now I do want to mention that there are three different power modes that you can select through Lenovo’s Vantage software and that changes the characteristics of the how the CPU performs. So in Quiet Mode, the CPU clock speeds don’t go above 1.4GHz, whereas with Balanced Mode it doesn’t go above 3.2GHz, and in Performance Mode that’s when it unlocks the CPU’s potential. So if you plan on gaming, I’d recommend saying you to the Performance Mode, but if you don’t mind compromising on a little bit of performance and of course temperatures you can certainly switch back between Balanced and Quiet, but do keep in mind that there will be a hit in gaming performance.

So the Legion Y545 from Lenovo is an interesting addition to the Legion family. First and foremost, I’m still so confused as to why this even exists because the Y540 has the same specs. Having said that, I like the fact that they’re offering two different designs, so if you like having a Game-y vibe you can go with the Y545. I was really impressed with the performance of this laptop. I mean that 9th Gen processor paired with the GTX 1660 Ti graphics card – which is not Max Q – it’s just a solid combination. I mean it flies through video editing, gaming, multi-tasking performance is just off the charts. But as soon as I looked at those temperatures… yeah, that was the disappointing part. The thermal performance is not the best. It’s one of those factors that prevents me from recommending this laptop in the first place. But there are also some other things too, like for instance the webcam location is definitely not practical. Also, I’m not really sure why Lenovo decided to implement USB 3.1 Gen1 ports instead of Gen2, and the lack of a Thunderbolt 3 port could be a deal breaker for some of you out there. So overall, it’s just really difficult for me to recommend this laptop just because of it’s thermal performance. If Lenovo was able to address that alone then absolutely by all means this is an amazing notebook for its price, but right now the thermal performance is just disappointing.

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