Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Y480

We’re finally receiving laptops featuring the third-generation “Ivy Bridge” processor. This CPU, still named under the Intel Core series conventions, isn’t just shrunken down using a new 22nm process, it’s also a 3-D chip that has stacked components, the first time this technology has been used in a mass-produced CPU.

Of course, if you don’t care about semiconductor advances, all of that nets out to the usual promises chipmakers offer every time a new CPU generation is launched: Faster performance and lower power consumption, the key selling points for any laptop.

Lenovo’s IdeaPad Y480 is an update to last year’s Y470. It remains built as a do-it-all traveling companion for consumers who want a laptop with a reasonably sophisticated configuration plus lots of bells and whistles, but who don’t want to spend a lot of money along the way.

The big sell with Ivy Bridge is performance, so let’s start there. Despite the Core i7-3610QM CPU, the Y480 doesn’t really have it. While I wasn’t aghast at the numbers, benchmarks were below those of numerous second-generation Core i5 laptops we’ve recently seen, and I had noticeable delays launching apps and even waiting for the Wi-Fi to connect. Boot-up was not noticeably faster, despite a “Boot Optimizer” system included, either. The results were curious enough that I asked Lenovo what was up. A company rep guessed that the 5400rpm hard drive was the bottleneck.

The other big sell with Ivy Bridge is battery life, and the Y480 flubs it there, too. I got just three hours of DVD playback and a mere two hours of running time using the Powermark benchmark. Neither is impressive and, with the intended audience for this laptop, this is likely a deal-breaker.

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