It’s fair to say having “Lenovo” written on the chassis is a good starting point. Few names in the industry enjoy Lenovo’s reputation for solid, professional machines. And the Y430, with its 45nm mobile Core 2 Duo CPU, is one of the first Centrino 2 systems to hit the market.
Even with its top-end CPU, performance from the Y430 isn’t blistering, although it’s more than fast enough. The 2GHz Core 2 Duo P7350 CPU and 2GB RAM combined for an adequate overall score of 1.06 in our benchmarks, and there’s even a little 3D performance: the Nvidia GeForce 9300M GS returned an almost-playable result of 22fps in Crysis at its lowest settings, suggesting there’s a wealth of older games that will run beautifully.
The rest of the Y430’s hardware is a solid trade between performance and practicality. The hard disk is a 250GB Western Digital device, while the optical drive is a DVD rewriter. There’s also 802.11a/g/n wireless networking, gigabit ethernet and – usefully – Bluetooth 2.0, a boon for those with compatible phones.
The external ports on the Y430 comprise an equally-solid list. There are slightly fewer options than we’d like, courtesy of how the LCD swings down behind the back of the chassis, so the only available ports are on the front and sides. Still, you get three USB ports, a 6-in-1 memory card slot, ExpressCard/34 and mini-FireWire. The front also hosts a physical wireless switch. Graphical output comes courtesy of a consumer-friendly HDMI port, with a legacy VGA port for use with standard PC monitors.
The 14.1in LCD is more than adequate. In a nod towards its home user audience the Y430 has a reflective screen, which looks impressive until you try to get anything done with a background of fluorescent office lights. Still, if you can ignore the harsh reflections, the 1280 x 800 LCD is bright, clear, and performs a decent job of reproducing colours accurately.
The hardware boasts all the excellent traits we’ve come to expect from Lenovo. From the time of the earliest Thinkpad we’ve raved about the range’s keyboard quality, and the Y430 lacks nothing in that department. Each key press is firm, with a hint of an exceptionally solid base beneath it. The keyboard is full-size and logically laid-out - there’s no transposing of the CTRL and Fn keys, and we had no problems getting up to speed. The trackpad is built with similar conviction: even the mouse buttons operate with a solid clunk. The plastic wrist rest is totally solid - even a suicidally firm push didn’t produce any flex. The back of the LCD is extremely solid as well - this is a laptop we wouldn’t think twice about cramming into a backpack.
Or rather, it would be, if it weren’t for the obvious problem that rock-solid build quality brings with it extra weight. The Y430 tips the scales at 2.35kg, which combined with its 334mm width and 26mm thickness when closed should make it obvious that this isn’t the most comfortable commuter’s laptop. It isn’t particularly happy when it’s away from a power socket, either.
In our light use test the Y430 lasted a reasonable four hours 16 minutes, but that plunged to just an hour and a half once we set the system running the most demanding portion of our benchmarks. It’s a result that places the Y430 merely in the middle of the pack - those with particularly long commutes or frequent medium-haul flights should think carefully.
There are also a few cosmetic touches we’re not crazy about - notably the cheap-looking glossy plastic above the keyboard, and the rather lurid orange used for the touch-sensitive media buttons and physical volume controls.
Happily, there are plenty of keyboard shortcuts on the Y430 that make everyday computing quicker. Besides the standard Fn+F-key combinations to control screen brightness, volume and hibernation modes, there are shortcuts allowing you to play, stop and skip through media tracks, as well as keys that disable the webcam and trackpad.
Lenovo has even managed to add features to the 1.3 megapixel webcam. The Y430 lacks a fingerprint reader, which seems a shame until you consider the VeriFace Recognition III software. This software uses the webcam to grab a still of your face while you’re sat in front of the Y430, and then uses that image for identity verification each time the Windows logon screen is displayed. We had little success fooling the system during our testing, although whether the system is as strong as a secure password or token-based system is debatable.
It’s tempting to dismiss the Y430 as dull-but-worthy: a laptop that ticks all the boxes without setting any pulses racing. In practice it’s much more interesting. There’s little it can’t do, and its performance makes it up to the vast majority of jobs and even a few games. Add in the beautiful build quality, top-notch keyboard and excellent value for money, and the Y430 is a machine most users would be lucky to own.
This Review appeared in the November, 2008 issue of PC & Tech Authority Magazine
Source: Copyright © PC Pro, Dennis Publishing