Like its larger 17-inch counterpart, Lenovo’s 15-inch Legion Y740 (starts at $ 1,679.99; $ 1,919.99 as tested) is an effective GeForce RTX-based gaming laptop with an appealing high-end feature set. The design is plainer than most, but the physical build is solid and, unlike the 17-inch version, perfectly portable for a gaming machine. The Legion Y740 is not quite a bargain at this price, and the battery life is disappointing, but it represents fair value for the components and feature set, with performance to match more expensive options. This price stretches past what we would consider midrange, but it’s the least expensive among the high-performing, high-cost RTX-based machines we have tested so far, among them the Editors’ Choice Razer Blade 15 and the near-miss Acer Predator Triton 500. (Those are more powerful, and have spiffier builds.) If you’re trying to keep the cost under $ 2,000 for an RTX gamer, the Legion sticks close to those systems and demands few concessions.
Restrained Style, Compact Build
The Legion Y740 maintains the same style as both the previous iteration and its larger companion, the 17-inch Legion Y740. The shape itself is slick, an angular, modern-looking design with the display hinge set in front of a rear thermal block, which helps keep the rest of the laptop thin. Aesthetically, it’s on the tasteful side as gaming-laptop designs go, perhaps too plain for some. (Myself, I favor restraint above an over-the-top look any day.)
The entire chassis is silver and black, with a smooth finish on the lid and a Legion logo running vertically along the side. You don’t get the gaudy, unattractive lid logo that “adorns” many gaming laptops.
The chassis styling is a better fit, to me, at 15 inches than on the 17-inch model. The larger size makes the 17-incher very slab-like, and it accentuates the plainer aspects of the design. Smaller doesn’t mean less expensive, though: This model is still pricey as configured, and you may want something more chic for nearly $ 2,000.
The Y740 comes in at a very reasonable 0.88 by 14.2 by 10.5 inches (HWD) and 4.8 pounds. That’s nice and compact for a gaming laptop. Keeping the weight below five pounds means it’s relatively portable, and it doesn’t undermine the point of being thin. (The 17-inch version, while 1 inch thick, weighs 6.4 pounds, making it unappealing to tote.) That’s just above the weight of our top pick, the Blade 15 (4.6 pounds), though Razer’s machine is a bit trimmer all around and boasts a superior build. The Acer Predator Triton 500, our other favorite, also weighs in at 4.6 pounds, so the Legion Y740 is in good weight-class company.
I have no real complaints about the build quality of the keyboard or touchpad. If I were nitpicking, I’d say the keys have a somewhat mushy feel when fully pressed, and that the touchpad is on the small side, but they’re more than serviceable, on the whole. The touchpad tracks smoothly and feels sturdy, thanks to dedicated left and right click buttons instead of a depressible touchpad. (Those tend to be hit-and-miss.)
The keyboard features individual key backlighting powered by Corsair iCUE, included software that can be used to change the colors and effects of each key. As for the speakers, they’re also adequate. I’d give preference to my gaming headset of choice, as the speakers get tinny at the highest volumes, but they’re fine for watching videos or playing music.
The display itself is a 15.6-inch full HD IPS panel, but that’s not all it has going for it. As is becoming increasingly common in the premium-gaming-laptop market, the screen also supports a 144Hz refresh rate and Nvidia’s G-Sync, two high-end features that essentially make games look smoother in action. Some serious gamers and esports aficions will only buy monitors or laptops with panels that support these features, and they are a sign of a leading-edge gaming design. (That said, if you’re indifferent to these fine points, know that they’re still a factor in the high price tag.) The picture quality is decent, but not especially noteworthy—I’m short on either criticism or praise for the screen, which is passable as gaming-laptop panels go.
Ports and Configurations
As with the 17-inch version, most of the ports are located around back, on the thermal block. The port icons there face up, which is useful on its own, but they are also backlit, making finding the right connection even easier.
On this strip are two USB 3.1 ports, an HDMI port, a mini DisplayPort connection, an Ethernet jack, and the power connection. The right flank of the laptop holds another USB 3.1 port, and the left has a USB Type-C port (it also supports Thunderbolt 3 transfers) and a headset jack.
Our review unit is equipped with an Intel Core i7-8750H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2070 (Max-Q-limited) graphics chip, 16GB of memory, and a 256GB solid-state drive, plus a separate 1TB hard drive. Lenovo offers several other models, mixing and matching storage capacities along with a step-down GeForce RTX 2060, but they’re otherwise very similar. Our unit has that good combination of a speedy solid-state boot drive and a roomy (secondary-storage) hard drive, while the GeForce RTX 2070 should be well equipped for full HD gaming (more on that below). Other, standard features include 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.1, and a 720p webcam, which is located, not ideally, on the bottom bezel.
Performance Testing: Surprising Speed and Power
For performance-testing comparisons, I picked a handful of gaming laptops that are similarly priced, similarly equipped, or both. Most of these are other GeForce RTX machines, some of them mentioned earlier, but there’s an older GeForce GTX favorite to add some context for graphics performance. A cheat sheet of the key components in each unit is below…
The Asus ROG Zephyrus S is the outlier here, with its older GeForce GTX 1070 GPU, but it’s still a comparable laptop that should demonstrate the differences between GPU generations. The rest are much closer in composition to the Legion Y740: The Acer Predator Triton 500, the Gigabyte Aero 15-Y9, and the 2019 Razer Blade 15 are all 15-inch laptops equipped with one of the top two mobile Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs and mostly the same CPU (save for the Aero).
Productivity and Storage Tests
PCMark 10 and 8 are holistic performance suites developed by the PC benchmark specialists at UL (formerly Futuremark). The PCMark 10 test we run simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks such as word processing, spreadsheet use, web browsing, and videoconferencing. PCMark 8, meanwhile, has a specialized storage test that we use to assess the speed of the PC’s drive subsystem.
The Legion Y740 was able to crush the PCMark 10 test, posting, easily, the highest score. That’s encouraging for everyday home or professional tasks, though generally speaking all of these gaming machines are on the quick side.
The PCMark 8 Storage test was in line with the others. Results on this test tend to cluster together when all the systems are using similar, snappy SSDs as they are here. This means fast boot and load times, including some instances that give you an advantage in-game.
Media Processing and Creation Tests
Next is Maxon’s CPU-crunching Cinebench R15 test, which is fully threaded to make use of all available processor cores and threads. Cinebench stresses the CPU rather than the GPU to render a complex image. The result is a proprietary score indicating a PC’s suitability for processor-intensive workloads.
We also run a custom Adobe Photoshop image-editing benchmark. Using an early 2018 release of the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, we apply a series of 10 complex filters and effects to a standard JPEG test image. We time each operation and, at the end, add up the total execution time. This stresses CPU, storage subsystem, and RAM, but it can also take advantage of most GPUs to speed up the process of applying filters. So systems with powerful graphics chips or cards may see a boost.
The Y740’s processor continued to exhibit a strong work ethic on these tests, flexing its muscles with the highest Cinebench score of this group (suggesting decent thermal management for the processor) and a Photshop completion time right in line with the rest. Lenovo must have done an efficient job with the thermals to give it an edge, since the processor and amount of RAM are the same on most of these systems. While it’s not a specialized media workstation (which would give you a different class of results altogether), it is effective enough for media creation, in most usage cases, apart from serious, sustained professional tasks.
Synthetic Graphics Tests
Next up: UL’s 3DMark suite. 3DMark measures relative graphics muscle by rendering sequences of highly detailed, gaming-style 3D graphics that emphasize particles and lighting. We run two different 3DMark subtests, Sky Diver and Fire Strike, which are suited to different types of systems. Both are DirectX 11 benchmarks, but Sky Diver is suited to laptops and midrange PCs, while Fire Strike is more demanding and made for high-end PCs to strut their stuff. The results are proprietary scores.
The following chart is another synthetic graphics test, this one from Unigine Corp. Like 3DMark, the Superposition test renders and pans through a detailed 3D scene and measures how the system copes. In this case, it’s done in the company’s eponymous Unigine engine, whose different 3D workload scenario presents a second opinion on the machine’s graphical prowess.
While it was beaten by the RTX 2080-bearing laptops and the Blade 15’s RTX 2070 on the more strenuous Fire Strike and 1080p Superposition tests, the Legion Y740 still performed admirably on the whole. The pricier systems pushed higher scores on the more demanding benchmarks, but the Y740 held as close, as you’d expect given its guts. Again, the results are short of a workstation’s, like all of these systems, but still reasonably effective for non-gaming 3D tasks. For more game-focused results, we go on to the next tests…
Real-World Gaming Tests
The synthetic tests above are helpful for measuring general 3D aptitude, but it’s hard to beat full retail video games for judging gaming performance. Far Cry 5 and Rise of the Tomb Raider are both modern AAA titles with built-in benchmark schemes. These tests are run at 1080p on both the moderate and maximum graphics-quality presets (Normal and Ultra for Far Cry 5; Medium and Very High for Rise of the Tomb Raider) to judge performance for a given laptop. Far Cry 5 is DirectX 11-based, while Rise of the Tomb Raider can be flipped to DX12, which we do for that benchmark.
The news only gets better here compared to the synthetic tests: The Y740 hangs right with the premium players on both in-game benchmarks. It manages frame rates identical to the Razer Blade 15’s on the maximum-settings tests, and it outperforms all but the Acer Predator Triton 500 and its RTX 2080 (and even there, it runs fairly close).
For the price, especially compared to the others, the Legion Y740 represents a fine cost-to-performance ratio. On this evidence, you’ll be able to run any modern game effectively, even if you don’t quite push the frame rates to the display’s 144Hz limit. If you’re more concerned with topping out frame rates to push the panel, lowering graphics settings on this hardware will get you much closer to 144fps on all but the most demanding games.
Battery Rundown Test
Finally, the battery-life testing. After fully recharging the laptop, we set up the machine in power-save mode (as opposed to balanced or high-performance mode) and make a few other battery-conserving tweaks in preparation for our unplugged video-rundown test. (We also turn Wi-Fi off, putting the laptop in Airplane mode.) In this test, we loop a video—a locally stored 720p file of the Blender Foundation short film Tears of Steel—with screen brightness set at 50 percent and volume at 100 percent until the system conks out.
Unfortunately, the benchmark testing ends here on a down note. The Legion Y740 posted a poor battery-life number, enduring just under two-and-a-half hours on our test. The Razer Blade 15’s six-hour result is one of the things that separates it from the pack, but even if you ignore that overachiever, the Y740 is bringing up the rear.
The laptop’s physical portability is commendable, but it’s undercut by this factor: You can’t use it off the charger for long. So long as you’re able to plug it in at your destination and don’t need to use it for long while in transit, you’ll be fine, but this is far from a battery-endurance machine.
The Value Is Strong With This One
Though we wouldn’t blame shoppers for wanting a bit more flash from their gaming laptop’s chassis at this price, the Legion Y740 has a lot going for it. Lenovo isn’t charging a premium for a super-slim design or fancy materials, but it still offers many of the key features of its pricier competition, including G-Sync, a high-refresh-rate display, and a potent GeForce RTX graphics chip.
Even if the design doesn’t thrill, the physical build has no real flaws. If you want function and fair value before all else in this price range, the Legion Y740 is a worthy choice and a complete package. If you can afford to spend beyond $ 2,000, though, the Acer Predator Triton 500 is more powerful for more dollars, and the 2019 Razer Blade 15 remains our current Editors’ Choice in this class of high-end systems.