One Year Vacation
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Henry Kong needs a one year vacation... to pursue his childhood dreams of being a superhero, to create art that is awesome, to do photography where anything goes, and finally to get around making his long overdue comic book.

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Review: Lenovo Y50

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I had planned to update my laptop before my assignment here ends but did not plan on replacing it this early.  -_-'

It was a good deal however and a substantial upgrade.  Despite being loyal to Sony for years now, the VAIOs that they have released after the SE series which I have had for a little more than a couple of years did not impress. This is especially when compared to the specs and value-for-money of other brands.  So when Sony sold off their VAIO division, I decided it was the end of an era and switched to looking into Lenovo.  I was initially looking at their legendary Thinkpad line but strayed to the gaming section where I saw the different high performance variants.

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Long story short, I got the Lenovo Y50 with the following specs:

  • 4th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-4710HQ Processor (3.50 GHz Turbo, 2.50GHz Base, 1600MHz 6MB)
  • NVidia GeForce 860M 4GB Graphics Card
  • Genuine Windows® 8.1 64 bit
  • 16GB PC3-12800 DDR3 1600MHz SDRAM SODIMM Memory
  • 15.6" Full HD 1080p (1920 x 1080) AntiGlare Backlight Display with integrated camera
  • 512GB Solid State Drive
  • Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 3160
  • Bluetooth
  • 720p HD Webcam
  • No Optical Drive
  • 4 Cell 54 Watt Hour Lithium-Ion Battery
  • Backlit Keyboard
  • Lenovo Warranty through August, 2015
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The key specs I looked for was the SSD, dual band wi-fi, top of the line i7 processor, top of the line Nvidia Graphics Card and a full HD resolution screen.  As for the physical look, this is subjective and I preferred something slim, light and minimalist.  The Y50 fit the bill with a brushed aluminum body and subdued Lenovo logo.

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The Y50 being a gaming laptop had some aggressive lines but was not over the top.

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One clear advantage it had over my current VAIO was the speakers.  The JBL speakers and subwoofer produced great sound compared to the tinny speakers of the VAIO.

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I also liked the red backlight and rubberized wrist rest.

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Important also was the HDMI port, at least 3 USB ports and the SD Card Reader.

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The Lenovo keyboard is considered one of the best among laptops.

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Unfortunately the Y50 had a critical flaw.  The screen was an absolute piece of crap.  Lenovo used a TN Panel which was supposed to be good for gaming due to high response times but it was terrible overall.  The colors were bland, the blacks were bad and the viewing angles were terrible.

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I was pretty bummed out when I first saw the screen especially after coming from Sony's awesome displays.

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A side by side comparison confirmed my observation.  The screen was really bad.  I actually had trouble working on it.

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Thanks to the internet, it seems a band of Lenovo Y50 users have been experimenting with their units and have successfully transplanted their stock screens with replacement IPS screens.  IPS screens are known for their awesome viewing angles and color quality.  After doing my research, I ordered a replacement display and did a transplant.  The store which I ordered the display offered to refund me $20 if I made a video tutorial and so the below now exists for everyone:



Thankfully everything worked out fine and I didn't destroy my new laptop.

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The results were fantastic.  The IPS screen was worth every penny.

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The colors, viewing angles, etc. were all superior in every way to the crap TN panel that came with the Y50.

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Oh and the blacks...

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... were black!

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Next order of business was to do a clean Windows 8.1 install.  The Y50 came with 413GB free divided in two partitions and a boatload of bloatware from Lenovo.  As part of my SOP, I created a USB installer and was up with a clean install by the weekend.  Free space was now 444GB with just one partition and it was blazing fast thanks to the combination of the i7, Nvidia card and the SSD.  Startup and shutdown was less than 5 seconds.

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Since I was going to use this as a gaming laptop, I got a gaming mouse to go with it, the Mionix Avior.

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I have been using a wireless mouse for the longest time and so did not know what I was missing with a high performance wired gaming mouse.

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In addition, I got a compact Cooler Master 10 keyboard.  The CM had Cherry MX Red mechanical switches.

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To finish the setup I linked the Y50 via HDMI to my Bravia.

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The Bravia is only 720 and I've been meaning to replace it with a full 1080 with a high refresh rate but I'll do that when I get home.  Meanwhile, I've been having a blast with this achieving 60+ FPS on Titanfall on Ultra settings.  For Battlefield 4 however, Ultra settings net only 30 FPS.  Since the resolution is lower when I connect it to the Bravia, I've been living with 60+ FPS at least.

All in all, it was a great deal for $1499.  Windows 8.1 was not too bad and am now liking it as much as Windows 7.  The i7, SSD and Nvidia 860M were blazing fast and I've been enjoying some good BF4 sessions with Jack and Aids.  The screen however had some bleeding on the upper right but according to the online community would minimize after more usage.  The screen also exhibited some ghosting and it remains to be seen if this would be a bother.  For now it wasn't, but I'll know more once I fly home this December where I won't be using this with the Bravia.  Now... hopefully I can sell my VAIO SE1 for a good price.

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