When it comes to PC gaming, I’m an advocate for building one yourself. Many times, I feel that getting one pre-built means you pay more and get less. However, if I ever decide to upgrade my current rig, I’d probably go with the Lenovo ideacentre Y900. Why? What you’re getting here is hassle-free and powerful enough to be worth that extra investment.
Specs (as reviewed)
- 6th Generation Intel Core i7-6700K 4GHz Processor
- Nvidia GeForce GTX 970 4GB Graphics Card
- 8GB DDR4 2133 MHz RAM
- 2TB+8GB Solid-State Hybrid Drive
- 120GB Solid-State Drive
- WIndows 10
The ideacentre Y900 is dressed to impress; the combination of its cosmetic vent design, two-tone paneling, and red-orange glow makes for a sharp design. It also comes equipped with a clear side panel so that you can see the motherboard and other internal components. To be honest, I can’t decide which profile of the tower I prefer, the front or the side.
The only real negative is the placement of the connectors on the case. Instead of being flush with the front of the case, these are positioned at an angle on the top of the case. If you have cables connected and you want to use the CD/DVD drive, your cords dangle right over the tray when it opens. More of a nitpick, but I think it’s worth noting.
It shouldn’t be hard to believe that the performance on the ideacentre Y900 is phenomenal with the specs that it has. It isn’t just the numbers, but how well these work together that impresses me. For starters, the 120GB Solid-State Drive with Windows 10 installed is an excellent combo. Boot time is only 20 seconds, which is a huge jump over my Windows 10 laptop and desktop HDDs.
A 120GB hard drive would fill up pretty fast, so this rig comes equipped with an additional 2TB + 8GB Solid-State Hybrid Drive. These have your traditional mass storage for files and programs that don’t need faster load times, but they also come with a SSD sector for the files you call to the most. This results in considerably better performance over your standard HDD with all the benefits of mass storage that SSDs don’t have yet.
Of course, a gaming PC wouldn’t be complete without a killer CPU and graphics card, and you’re getting some of the best here. The 6th Gen Intel Core i7 6700K at 4GHz and the Nvidia GTX 970 with 4GB of VRAM will last you for a very long time as far as current-gen goes, especially with chip developers hitting the upper threshold of how far you can push the boundaries of physics. This set is also Oculus-ready if that suits your fancy. The 8GB of Ram it came with are fairly standard for PC gaming now, but the motherboard does support up to 32GB for upgrading.
In my testing, I had absolutely no problems playing my catalog of Steam games. The most graphically intensive games I have (likeCivilization V, Sonic Generations, and Metro: Last Light) that I was never able to run at max settings were handled with no issues on this setup. I’m confident that any optimized PC games will run wonderfully.
Since this system has an Nvidia GPU, you also get the GeForce Experience program. GeForce Experience lets you keep track of your system specs, optimize your games, and update your GPU drivers. You can also stream to your SHIELD devices if you have any.
The only feature of this program that I wish was included was a more detailed system monitor. Having things like temperature measurements on the CPU and GPU as well as fan status on my current setup and not in with GeForce Experience feels weird. It’s not necessary since the system is well optimized, but I miss not having some freedom to tweak as desired.
One feature I omitted from the GeForce Experience section because it is the most standalone one, and that is ShadowPlay. ShadowPlay is a recording software available on Nvidia GTX 600/600M cards and above, and it’s some impressive software.
It lets you automatically record up to 20 minutes of your past gameplay so you can make sure your once-in-a-lifetime moments are captured. If you want to record for longer sessions, it also has a manual feature so recording can be turned on and off. Both of these can be recorded up to 4K resolution at 130 Mbps. You can also record mic audio, but it’s embedded in the video with no way to adjust its volume.
The manual recording works very well with the 2TB SSHD, making recording gameplay super easy for Let’s Plays and reviews (something I’ll miss dearly). You also have the ability to stream directly to Twitch, but I was unable to test that with my poor upload speed.
However, I was able to test streaming in some capacity thanks to Steam’s In-Home Streaming capability. While it’s not a feature built-in, the GTX 970’s ability to encode for ShadowPlay translates well to being a host PC. Thanks to that, I’m able to stream to my 5-year old ASUS laptop with surprisingly little input lag and frame drops (and over Wi-Fi at that!)
Keyboard and Mouse
The visual design of the ideacentre Y900 is also reflected in the Y Precision Mouse and Mechanical Keyboard, with the most prominent being the pulsing three-star lights. The keyboard itself is very feature-heavy, so let’s start off with that.
The red backlit key brightness can be adjusted, for both the full keyboard and the WASD/Arrow keys separately. There are a selection of hotkeys, including one to disable the Windows key (very useful for intensive keyboard and mouse play), there are also 6 macro keys on the left hand side, five available for mapping and the 6th for toggling 7.1 surround sound with the Lenovo Y Gaming Surround Sound Headset. The keyboard also has a built-in USB port, headphone and mic jack, as well as a detachable wrist rest for comfortable gameplay sessions.
There isn’t a lot to complain about, but I do have some niggles. Not being used to a mechanical keyboard, it took some time to adjust. While I did notice considerable improvement in gameplay, you’re probably better off using a different keyboard for anything else, especially typing. The weight of the keyboard is also nice, but its form factor really takes up a lot of space on your desk. If you’ve got a smaller setup, it could be a big problem.
The Y Precision Mouse is your better bet here (provided you are right handed). You can adjust its weight with 4 metal bearings in whatever combination feels comfortable to you. The DPI setting can also be changed thanks to a button that sits below the scroll wheel, ranging from 1200 to 3600 DPI. Besides you standard mouse buttons, there are four additional buttons to use, but I only found the two side ones useful. The two that sit on top right beside the left mouse button can’t be remapped. They are are only for volume control and can easily be hit accidentally. The other two buttons are perfect and feel like natural extensions for your thumb.
The Y Gaming Surround Sound Headset is also very good as far as sound quality goes. While I couldn’t take advantage of the 7.1 surround sound due to my hearing loss, your regular audio sounds great and noise cancelling works very well. The USB connection with optional headphone jack for an additional device turned out to be a lot more useful than I expected. Mic quality isn’t as great, though. By comparison, my Turtle Beach X12 headset has much better mic quality in both audio and noise filtering. The USB cable is also considerably short, which is perfect when combined with the Y Gaming Mechanical Keyboard, but not if you just want them by themselves.
The Lenovo ideacentre Y900 is the perfect PC for those who want the simplicity of console gaming. Low maintenance with no real technical glitches or hardware issues make this pre-built PC one of the most hassle-free experiences I’ve had. While the initial cost is high, you’re getting a lot for that, with the 8GBs of RAM being the weakest component. The keyboard and mouse are perfect for gaming once you get used to them, and the headset is okay for what it does. Overall, I think that this PC is worth the investment since it’ll likely keep you going for years.