Review: Lenovo Y710 Cube, a portable gaming PC for your next LAN

Lenovo recently released the Y710 Cube PC and its a designed with portable gaming in mind. While online gaming has certainly been on the rise, there’s still plenty of...

Lenovo recently released the Y710 Cube PC and its a designed with portable gaming in mind. While online gaming has certainly been on the rise, there’s still plenty of scope for a good old LAN session at a mates place, or for those more serious, local gaming events. Most people in search of serious performance will build or buy a tower, sacrificing portability for performance. On the other side of the equation, laptop makers have tried to squash in desktop-like performance in a laptop form factor and we know that typically doesn’t end well.

Lenovo believes you can have the best of both worlds, a powerful gaming rig that’s small and light enough that you’ll want to take it with you. To assist this portability, the case has an integrated handle, so you just remove the cables from the back and carry the 7.4kg cube to your car.

Don’t forget the Y710 Cube isn’t just for gamers, its portability also applies to a demographic of performance hungry creatives. I’ve wrestled with this issue myself. Intense 3D models or After Effects animations need serious performance to render in an acceptable time, yet the place you create is a combination between the home and the office. This generally means you have a PC at both locations and then manage versions between the two sites. Then you’ll have a meeting and instead of showing the content off in its native application, you’ll render it out to some lower-quality for display to the project group. What you’d really love is to use just one PC, something light enough to move between sites when required and one that you can present from.

The Y710 gives you the speed and power, as well as the location flexibility to suit your lifestyle before and after 5.

Design

I typically don’t think of Lenovo design department as doing interesting things, often more utilitarian than artistry flair, but this time they’ve excelled. The angled panels create visual interest and when you’re rig’s up against the competition, looks count.

The case itself is efficient in size, measuring 31.3 cm x 31.4.cm x 25.2 cm and while not a perfect cube, we’ll let Lenovo off the hook with that one. The built-in handle is perfectly positioned against the distribution of internal components, so the 7.4kg doesn’t want to tip forward or back, it really just works as you’d hope.

In terms of appearance, the Y710 is finished in a stealthy matt black and carbon-fibre styling with the top fins front Y and even the top USB ports all supporting a nice red-orange accent colour. The case just looks tough and I’d be proud to have it sitting on my desk at any LAN event.

Features

The Y710 cube confidently knows its a machine for the gamer and as such, features a triple-light array at the front of the case. Unfortunately these aren’t the multi-coloured LEDs found in other cases, they’re red, plain and simple. When it comes to software, Levono’s utility to manage the lights simply offers a choice between on or off, or 3 different levels of brightness. This is pretty basic considering most gamers want customisation. While it matches the case accents, we’d love to see this improved in future versions.

Lenovo are doing some networking magic with the Y710. While you normally choose between WiFi or a wired network connection, Lenovo’s Double Shot Pro allows your Ethernet (cable) and WiFi to work together for faster networking performance. They say this translates to less in-game lag, but is probably most useful when also broadcasting your game to services like Twitch. While there may be times where owners can’t be connected by both networking options, the fact you can and the computer can take advantage of it, is a brilliant inclusion.

Keyboard and mouse

Included with the Y710 Cube was a keyboard and mouse from Lenovo. If you’re any kind of gamer, you’ll already have a gaming keyboard and mouse and these will be throw away items. If you’re just getting started, you’ll likely have to use these and for that, I feel sorry. These really aren’t great.

To start with Lenovo continue to screw with the location of the left Ctrl key, switching its place for the function keys. This does nothing to aid the consumer, simply causing frustration as you’re learned keystrokes result in mistakes, its frustrating with no positive to offset the re-learning required and if you move between machines like I do, then this is not ok. As for the mouse, its very basic, not even back and forward buttons on the side for quick access with your thumb. With the quality of these peripherals, it’d probably be better to save the cost and leave them out.

Specifications

If you buy the Y710, you’ll want to pay attention to the detail. There’s a number of choices you have to make and simply going to the closest retailer may mean you miss out on the best possible configuration for your needs.

In terms of GPU, there’s 3 options, I’d recommend the last, not only because that’s what was in the review unit, but for the longevity of the system, you should always try to get the best graphics you can afford at the time.

  • AMD Radeon™ R9-370X, 4GB DDR5 (2 x DVI, DidsplayPort, HDMI)
  • NVIDIA® GeForce™ GTX 1070, 8GB DDR5, DirectX® 12 (DVI, HDMI, 3 x DisplayPort)
  • NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1080, 8GB DDR5, DirectX® 12 (DVI, HDMI, 3 x DisplayPort)

There’s 2 x UDIMM sockets for up to 32GB of PC4-17000 2133MHz DDR4 RAM (review had 16GB).

Storage options are a little limited with just a 1TB or 2TB SATA 6.0Gb/s, 7200 rpm HDD available or if you go SSD, then you can only choose between 128GB  and 256GB (also at SATA 6.0GB/s).

There’s 4x USB 3.0 ports and another 2x USB 2.0 ports on the back, with a further set of 2 USB 3.0 ports on the top which are great for thumbdrives and headsets. This positioning avoids the need to dive behind the cube, something I’ve appreciated many times connecting and disconnecting a number of peripherals during my time with the Y710.

When it comes to networking, there’s 802.11 AC support as well as Gigabit Ethernet and Bluetooth 4.0 to connect wireless controllers of headsets.

 

Performance

All the features in the world are great, but when you buy a gaming rig, you’re likely most interested in how it performs. While the Y710 Cube comes in a number of configurations, the review unit featured an Intel Core i7 6700 (3.4GHz boosting up to 4.0GHz) with 16GB DDR4 RAM, a GTX 1080 GPU and a Seagate Barracuda 2TB HDD. While the hardware is generally great for gaming performance, with games like Asseto Corsa and PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds running easy on the highest settings with good framerates. Things like load times would definitely benefit from a SSD over the SATA 6.0Gb/s, 7200 RPM spinning disk.

Lenovo must be aware of this, with the option for an SSD available on checkout.

Windows 10’s in-built Game DVR feature allows you to capture your gaming sessions to disk and after a quick WinKey+G I was recording in 1080p at 109MB/s at 30fps, while playing at more than 110fps. During my time with the Y710 Cube, I often dived into task manager to see how PC resources we tracking. Generally things were playing nice, but the odd time I seen OneDrive taking a majority of the disk I/O. Windows 10’s new Game Mode should address this issue and avoid you having to manually pause file sync to OneDrive. I also seen the processor boost up to 109% of its normal speed, running at 3.7GHz rather than 3.4Ghz after an extended racing session.

Generally gaming or intense multitasking (read stupid number of Chrome tabs) were no match for the performance of this machine. I think Lenovo really have found a great mix of performance versus size here, with the SSD upgrade an easy one to do after the face.

Of course in mid-2017, the big question of Virtual Reality support comes up with every PC. Its the must have feature if you’re buying a new gaming rig today, even if you don’t already have an Oculus Rift or a HTC Vive, you should definitely buy a PC that’s capable, in readiness for the future. Thankfully the performance available from the Lenovo Y710 certainly do allow you to connect and enjoy (and even develop) VR experiences.

Price and Availability

The Lenovo Y710 Cube comes in a variety of configurations. Strangely right now, there’s only one model available from the website and Harvey Norman.

The Y710 Cube with 16GB RAM and the AMD RX 460 GPU will cost you A$1,899.00.

For more information or if you want to buy, head over to Lenovo Australia.

Overall

While there’s benchmarks like NovaBench where the Y710 scores 1991, the reality is this gaming PC isn’t the best thing money can buy, but it delivers the performance you need today for a decent price. Its a great mix of speed with value and portability. In terms of practicalities, packing up the cube for transportation is easy, disconnect the cables from the back and move it. So small and portable is the cube that its likely your mess of cables, keyboard, mouse, headset and display are the clumsiest part of the portability equation. If you do have VR to move as well, that situation gets even more ridiculous and you start to understand why online gaming is just easier at times.

At less than half of my current tower size, the Y710 is small and the performance parts are engineered well with good cooling to the rear of the chasis. If I had a choice between this compact gaming rig and a oversized gaming laptop that got 2 hours of battery life, it’d be the cube every day of the week.

If you’re looking for a VR or 4K capable gaming rig and don’t want the hassle of building your own, you’d be hard pressed to find a better looking, portable option than the Lenvo Y710. Just make sure you budget to upgrade that hard drive to an SSD.

9
Lenovo Y710 Cube
The Good
  • Performance
The Bad
  • No SSD by default
  • Design
    9.5
  • Performance
    9
  • Features
    8.5
  • Value
    9
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This post is authored by techAU staffers. Used rarely and sparingly when the source decided to keep their identity secret, or a guest author who isn't seeking credit.