AMD hasn’t had a very high following in the notebook world. For various reasons, they haven’t been able to really put their processors into high-end products. The last time we had something like that available, it was in the form of MSI’s GX60 and GX70 series. Those laptops never really benefited from software tricks like AMD’s Mantle API, and were otherwise woefully underpowered compared to their Core i5 counterparts. AMD’s latest series of APUs have been decent and provide a better gaming experience than Intel’s stuff, but they never made it back into a high-end product… until now. Hit the jump to learn more about the Lenovo Y700.
Unveiled to show-goers at IFA 2015, the Y700 family is Acer’s next generation of gaming laptops based on the Y-series family, which started off back with the Y500 and Y400 during the Sandy Bridge era. The Y700 is a complete redesign that echoes some of the design of Acer’s new Predator family, with red accents everywhere, a backlit keyboard and red trim around the WASD keys. The series has taken an interesting turn, as Lenovo has chucked out the Blu-Ray drive and turned it into an ultrabook-like form factor.
The specs sheet seems to be promising as well for the AMD variant of the Y700. The sole processor choice is the FX-8800P, a quad-core APU with 512 shaders belonging to the GCN 1.1 family (shared with Hawaii and Bonaire graphics cores). The chip itself is quite interesting in that it has a 35W thermal design power (TDP), but can be configured to fit into a 15W TDP limit depending on the notebook design. Halving the TDP will affect performance somewhat, but it’ll mostly affect the processor cores, as the graphics portion of the chip will do a lot of the heavy lifting for what you’ll be doing with the notebook. Unlike previous APU families based on Trinity or Kaveri, Carrizo on the mobile side has a dual-channel DDR3-2133MHz capable memory controller, which should provide quite a boost in graphics performance when gaming on the IGP.
There are other things as well that make the Y700 interesting for both the Intel and AMD builds. You’ll be able to choose from models that ship with a 1TB SSHD or up to 512GB SSD, up to 16GB of memory (which you’ll probably want to replace anyway with RAM of a higher frequency), 802.11 a/c Wi-Fi with MiMo support and speakers designed by JBL. There’s a 15.6-inch TN-based 1080p display to help sweeten the deal as well. Lenovo quotes a starting price of $949, which will include about 8GB of RAM and the 1TB drive. There’s something else interesting about the Y700 series’ choice of graphics as well.
Both the Intel and AMD options have either the Radeon R9 M375 or R9 M385X to choose from. They are likely both based on the Venus family and will integrate the Stratos Pro and XT configurations respectively, which will probably be limited to clock speed adjustments on the core and memory. This same part is found currently in the Apple 2015 Macbook Pro 15 with Retina display, and any gaming benchmarks I can find on the chip basically peg it being capable of running AAA titles at 1080p with medium settings – just about where a desktop-class Radeon R7 360 is today.