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Lenovo Legion Y740 review: A classy gaming powerhouse

Roland Moore-Colyer
4 Jan 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
2,000
inc VAT

Clever design, excellent cooling and a powerful spec means that on paper, the Legion Y740 is a top gaming laptop

Pros 
Neat, pared-down design
144hz display with G-Sync
Customisable RGB lighting
Cons 
Bad webcam location
Odd macro key placement
HP and Dell rivals offer better value
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Competition is fierce in the gaming laptop arena, with different manufacturers constantly vying to beat one another on power, price and portability. Lenovo’s Legion Y740 is yet another 15in gaming contender trying to bring plenty of power to bear without being back-breakingly heavy.

The Legion Y740 made its debut earlier this year, following on from Lenovo’s more budget-oriented Legion Y730. With the exception of a new Intel processor, little has changed in the late-2019 model. Nevertheless, the Legion Y740 has a sharp design and some solid specs, so if you’re in the market for a gaming laptop then it’s worth reading on.

Lenovo Legion Y740 (2019) review: What you need to know

The Legion Y740 is the answer to the question: "What happens if you cross a Lenovo ThinkPad with an Alienware m15?" The result is a premium gaming laptop with a 15.6in, 144Hz display that costs £2,000. If you want to spend less (or more) on such a Lenovo machine, then you’re out of luck, as there’s only one version of the Legion Y740 available in the UK. But for the money, the Legion Y740 comes with an Intel Core i7-9750H, 16GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard disk drive.

Most importantly for a gaming device, Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 2070 Max-Q is present and correct. That graphics card is a slightly modified, more power-and-heat-efficient version of the GeForce RTX 2070. This means the Legion Y740 is geared to deal with all the latest graphically demanding titles at solid frame rates, and it can take full advantage of its high-refresh-rate display.

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Lenovo Legion Y740 (2019) review: Price and competition

At £2,000 the Legion Y740 is far from cheap, especially when you can get the Acer Nitro 7 (2019), which offers a 144Hz display and the same processor, for just £1,200. But then the Acer machine comes with less potent GeForce GTX 1660 Ti and lacks the build quality of the Legion. To get a gaming laptop with a comparable graphics card and specification, you’ll need to spend a little extra.

A similarly specced Alienware m15 costs £2,500, for example. And for the same amount, the Asus ROG Zephyrus offers the same CPU as the Legion Y740 but throws in 32GB of RAM and a full-fat GeForce GTX 2070.

MSI has the GS65 Stealth with the same specification and the Legion Y740, but for £2,200 it offers a larger 512GB SSD, which will likely appeal to people with larger game libraries they want to load up at speed. And the latest Razer Blade 15 offers the GeForce RTX 2080 Max-Q and 240Hz display but costs a hefty £2,880.

As such, the Legion Y740 is competitively priced. Only the £1,700 HP Omen 15 and the £1,729 Dell G7 15 are more keenly priced with access to the same core specs as Lenovo’s laptop, but they arguably lack some of the features and refinement of the Legion Y740.

Lenovo Legion Y740 (2019) review: Design

Lenovo has refrained from an emphasis on sharp angles and red accents synonymous with many gaming laptops, instead opting for a tasteful iron grey finish for the Legion Y740. This classy design extends to its materials, with a mix of aluminium and hard plastic that gives it a premium feel. Granted, it’s not a slick as a Razer Blade but, aside for a little flex in the lid, it’s a solid, subtly refined build.

It’s still unmistakably a gaming machine, however, with an RGB-lit Legion logo printed on the lid to reinforce the point. That multicoloured lighting continues into the keyboard, side and rear cooling system. The lid’s hinge actually sits further forward than on a typical laptop; behind it lives a chunky cooling system and the majority of the ports. This gives the laptop a tapered two-tone look when closed.

While it measures 361.4 x 267 x 19.95mm (WDH) and weighs 2.2kg, the Legion Y740 is still pretty easy to carry around if you pop it in a decent backpack; but be prepared to carry around its reasonably chunky power supply too.

Having most of the ports at the rear – mini-DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet, two USB Type-A 3.1 ports, Kensington lock and a proprietary power port – allows for a really clean setup if you’re connecting the Legion Y430 to an external monitor and peripherals. There’s one USB Type-A 3.1 on the right side, and a USB-C Thunderbolt 3 port and 3.5mm audio jack on the left.

One iffy aspect to an otherwise pleasing design is the bottom-mounted 720p webcam, which creates an unflattering double-chin view for people on the other side of calls or streams.

Rounding off the design is a pair of Dolby Atmos speakers on the base. Don’t let the branding fool you: they’re well-balanced for downwards-firing speakers, but can’t compete with the top-mounted speakers found in the likes of the Razer Blade and MacBook Pro laptops.

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Lenovo Legion Y740 (2019) review: Keyboard and touchpad

The Legion’s full RGB-lit keyboard has more than a hint of ThinkPad, with square keys that are ever so slightly rounded. ThinkPad keyboards are always lovely to type on and the same applies here. It offers a tactile and accurate typing experience, even when hammering the keys.

Additional key travel and actuation would be nice for gaming purposes, as the keyboard can feel a tad mushy when playing action-orientated games. A set of macro keys sit to the far left of the keyboard, and these can be assigned using bundled Lenovo Vantage software. Meanwhile, RGB backlighting is fully customisable via Corsair iCUE software.

People into strategy and multiplayer games might appreciate the extra keys, but I found they got in the way. Often I’d go to hit the Shift or Escape key while keeping my eyes glued to the screen only to hit one of the macro keys by mistake.

The trackpad is standard fare, featuring a glass-topped surface and a pair of clicker buttons below it. The former is responsive and accurate thanks to the use of Windows Precision drivers, but the buttons have too much travel and don’t deliver a satisfying click. That’s mostly by the by, as you’ll almost certainly plug an external mouse in for all but the most basic of gaming sessions.

Lenovo Legion Y740 (2019) review: Display

Like many competing high-end gaming laptops in 2019, the Legion Y740 has a 1,920 x 1,080 LCD display with a 144Hz refresh rate rather than a 4K touchscreen. This means that, in conjunction with its powerful GPU and G-Sync panel technology, the Legion can play games at high frame rates and remain joyously tear-free.

As for the screen quality itself, it’s rather impressive. With a contrast ratio of 1208:1 and a max brightness of 440cd/m2, there’s bucket loads of contrast and brightness to deliver vivid colours in games and movies. Speaking of colours, the panel covers 90.1% of the sRGB gamut and 96% of the gamut’s volume, and delivers an average Delta E result of 1.93. That won’t satisfy professional photo editors, but it’s more than fine for gaming. As is the FHD resolution, which looks perfectly clear and crisp on a panel of this size.

Turned all the way up, the display delivers 500nits of brightness and supports Dolby Vision HDR (high dynamic range). For games and movies that support it, such HDR support is great. On Windows 10, meanwhile, HDR implementation is hit and miss, and I found that colours look best with HDR turned off but with the brightness maxed out.

Thanks to rather slim bezels on the top and side, there’s not a lot to distract from the impressive display. However, I wish Lenovo had trimmed down the bottom bezel, which is pretty chunky – seemingly without good reason – and gives the otherwise excellent display a bit of a chin.

Lenovo Legion Y740 (2019) review: Performance and battery life

A neat design and slick screen are well and good, but a gaming laptop is nothing without capable innards. With a hepta-core Intel Core i7-9750H topping out at 4.5GHz, 16GB of DDR4 RAM running at 2666MHz, and a GeForce 2070 Max-Q with 8GB of video memory, the Legion Y740 has the silicon to run pretty much every modern game thrown at it, with all the settings maxed-out, and achieve high – or at least playable – frame rates at 1080p.

In the brutal Hitman 2 Mumbai 1080p benchmark on high settings, the Legion Y740 managed 37fps, which is pretty respectable. And in the 1080p Metro Last Light test it delivered 162fps, which beats the better-on-paper-specs of the Razer Blade 15 (2019) and Asus ROG Strix Scar III.

Benchmarks aside, the Legion Y740 chews through all but the most demanding games. Only Deus Ex Mankind Divided, a notoriously punishing title, challenged the laptop when running at max settings and with DirectX 12 enabled. Knocking down to DirectX 11 and reducing the antialiasing brought the frame rate to a usable 30fps.

As the Legion Y740 is running a GeForce RTX series graphics card, it can tap into the ray-tracing and deep learning supersampling (DLSS) abilities of the RTX 2070. The former delivers more realistic real-time lighting effects in games, while the latter uses machine learning to smartly and efficiently apply jagged edge smoothing on supported titles.

One such game is Remedy’s Control, which the Legion Y740 ran with all the settings turned up, with DLSS taking care of antialiasing, and ray-tracing set to high, at perfectly playable frame rates, though not quite 60fps.

All in all, the Legion Y740 delivers superb performance for its size. Thanks to the Legion Cold Front cooling system with four vents, dedicated cooling for the processor and graphics card, as well as a vent and a heatsink for the keyboard, the laptop never gets too hot, and is a lot cooler to the touch compared to other gaming laptops I’ve used recently. Fan noise is noticeable, but not obnoxiously so.

The Legion Y740 impressed in the GeekBench 4 test too, raking in a single-core speed of 5,222 and a multi-core score of 23,509. In the GFXBench Car Chase test, the laptop managed 143fps, which is slower than the Blade 15 and Scar III, but both those machines have more power to play with.

While gaming is the main focus of the Legion Y740, it has real potential as a content-creation machine. In our in-house 4K benchmark it achieved an impressive score of 196, which is on par with creativity-focused laptops like the Asus ZenBook Pro Duo.

When it comes to storage, the Legion Y740 has a 1TB hard disk drive mixed with a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD. That SSD is reasonably nippy, having achieved sequential read speeds of 2,526.4MB/sec and sequential write speeds of 853.7MB/sec in the AS SSD benchmark.

Battery life is the only real weak link here, with the Legion Y740 lasting just 3hrs 10mins in our video playback test. Poor battery life is par for the course with gaming laptops, so this lack of endurance isn't surprising.

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Lenovo Legion Y740 (2019) review: Verdict

At £2,000, the Legion Y740 is far from a cheap machine but the fantastic gaming performance and tasteful design go a long way to justifying that price tag. With limited battery life and oddly placed macro keys, it’s not flawless. Look past the imperfections, though, and it’s one of the best gaming laptops you can buy without having to remortgage your home.

To get the same performance and build quality from a rival laptop, you’ll likely need to spend a couple of hundred pounds more, meaning the Legion Y740 is pretty good value. And if you spot it at a hefty Black Friday discount then you could secure an impressive gaming machine bargain.

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