Lenovo IdeaCentre Y910 Gaming All-In-One Review

All-in-One computers aren't traditionally known for offering gaming-grade processing power. Their cramped internal space provides less flexibility compared to a traditional desktop and that often means compromising with lower end components. This tradeoff between size and performance isn’t for everyone, but there certainly are many cases where an AIO is the perfect solution.

The Apple iMac dominated the AIO scene for years with a stunning design and beautiful display, but there are now a number of great options on the Windows side, and the amount of performance you can squeeze into the back of a monitor has increased considerably, too.

Today I’ll be checking out the IdeaCentre Y910 Gaming AIO from Lenovo. Available in two different models, it promises top-of-the-line gaming performance in a compact form factor.

The base $1,800 model packs a Core i5-6500 processor, GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GPU, 12GB of DDR4 2133MHz RAM, a 1TB HDD, and a 128GB PCIe SSD. The higher end model that I’ll be checking out today comes with a Core i7-6700 processor, a GTX 1080 8GB GPU, 16GB of DDR4 2133MHz RAM, a 2TB HDD, and finally a 256GB PCIe SSD.

With a base price of $1800, the Y910 isn’t exactly the most affordable option for budget-conscious gamers, an additional GTX 1060 model with 8GB of RAM could be added to the lineup, but regardless, this is one powerful AIO for sure, especially thanks to the Pascal graphics inside.

The first thing that struck me when I unpacked the Y910 was how thin the bezels are. Lenovo has managed to cram all of the display processing circuitry into the base of the monitor, removing virtually all of the other three bezels. The construction at first glance is nice and appears high quality. There are silver and red accents on the base of the unit that also serve as the Y910’s built in speaker system.

From the front, the Y910 looks just like a standard 27” monitor. The back is wedge shaped with two distinct and removable rear panels. To save on space, Lenovo has opted to turn the monitor stand into the actual power supply, negating the need for an external power brick since everything is built right in. Given the power needs of the internal components, I think this was a really good idea.

The I/O panel is split into two layouts. On the rear and towards the bottom we find an HDMI in, HDMI out, two USB2.0 ports, a gigabit network jack powered by Killer, and the standard AC power plug.

The inclusion of a video output here allows for a second auxiliary monitor, while the HDMI in port allows for the Y910 to be used as a standalone monitor. If you outgrow the performance or just want to plug in another media device, you can still take advantage of the 27-inch, 144Hz 2650x1440 monitor.

On the user’s right side is the second set of ports. From top to bottom we have two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, a headset jack, a microphone input, two more USB 3.0 ports (one with fast charging support) and finally a slim CD drive. Lenovo offers a decent array of ports but in place of the outdated optical drive I'd rather see more audio options such as an optical out or line out for speakers.

Given the AIO has either a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080, a second DisplayPort video output would have been good, too. This would allow for a triple monitor surround setup to take advantage of all that GPU power. Putting most of the connectors on the side isn’t the best for cable management if you need more than the two USB ports so I would put that as another area for improvement.

Internal Hardware and Peripherals

Out of the box the Y910 comes with a warranty guide, quick start guide with diagrams of how to upgrade the internal components, a keyboard and a mouse. The keyboard and mouse really stick out in contrast to the other high quality components given the price tag of at least $1,800. They both work fine but they're not what you'd call gaming peripherals.

The keyboard is very mushy and has a peculiar layout with an extra tall delete key. It looks like they tried to save space by squishing everything together. Notice how the arrow keys are offset. The mouse feels cheap and doesn’t inspire much confidence. I certainly would have expected Lenovo’s Y Gaming keyboard and mouse to be included standard. Especially since they show it in the marketing images.

Moving inside is a much better experience, however.

To get access to the user upgradeable components, the two back panels must be removed. The red “Y” accent at the top isn’t just a fashion statement; it’s the quick release to remove those panels. Pressing each side removes the adjacent panel, revealing the components inside.

At the top left is the PCIe SSD slot. The cover removes with just a push, making upgrades very easy if 128GB or 256GB isn’t enough for you. A single screw holds the drive in place.

PCIe SSDs like this have become the new standard for this type of machine. They are much smaller than standard SATA based SSDs and they offer three or more times the performance. The drive included in the Y910 is a Samsung PM951 model from their "Client" line of SSDs.

A full sized 3.5” hard drive fits into a custom sled and slides in without screws or additional tools. Unfortunately, the drive in our review sample did not work so I wasn’t able to test it. This isn’t a huge deal since these units are shipping around the country and stress tested by countless reviewers.

I was surprised to find an actual 3.5" drive considering the internal space requirements. The capacity of smaller 2.5" drives has increased so much that there isn't really a good reason not to include one in here. The space savings could have been better used for improved cooling and airflow.

On the right panel we find the memory and GPU. The RAM cover is removed in the same way as the SSD one. Inside, we find two slots for SODIMM RAM. They insert at an angle and then fold down flat just like a laptop. The top end model comes with 16GB, but you can put up to 32GB in if you want.

The last and probably most import upgradeable component is the graphics card. It's housed in a thin metal shroud behind the right back cover. Rather than using integrated or proprietary connectors, the GPU is connected with standard HDMI and DisplayPort cables. The DisplayPort drives the built in monitor, and the HDMI is for a secondary monitor. The PCI power cable is long enough to reach around.

Despite the GTX 1080 only requiring an 8 pin connector, the Y910 comes loaded with an 8+6 pin connector for future expansion. The internal power supply is only 380 Watts so be sure to consider than when putting in a new card down the road. The black metal casing is also designed specifically for a full sized Nvidia card. Smaller cards shouldn't be an issue, but can only be secured on one side of the housing. Larger cards aren't really going to fit unless you do some heavy modifications.

The GPU was the hardest component to get to. The internals are so densely packed that there just isn’t much room to maneuver. The whole assembly slides out after unplugging the power and video connectors. From here, there are just four more small screws to remove and the GPU is free.
Overall System and Gaming Performance

I ran various synthetic and real world benchmarks to put the Y910 through its paces. Right off the bat with Cinebench we know the Y910 is going to be a heavy hitter. The Core i7-6700 easily powers through the test, coming out on top in both single and multi-threaded workloads.

It also unsurprisingly tops the Intel Skull Canyon NUC6i7KYK. The NUC also features a 6th gen Intel core processor, i7-6770HQ, however the Core i7-6700 in our Y910 greatly benefits from an improved thermal design which allows for higher boost clock speeds.

WinRAR compression is another CPU heavy task. The Y910 is just edged out by the NUC in both single and multi-threaded applications, it's still much faster than nearly everything else we've tested.

Memory performance seems to be our first trouble spot as the Y910 had a poor showing here, coming in at only 22GBps. For those that use RAM intensive applications, upgrading to higher performance memory might not be a bad idea. As it stands, 22GBps isn't terrible, but I would have expected a bit better from a product in this price range.

SiSoftware's Sandra Cache Performance benchmark tests the CPU's internal cache. It's not something that the user can access, but it is a key element in making a fast processor. As expected again, the Y910 with its beefy i7-7600 comes out on top again. The NUC is also following closely behind due to the two sharing a very similar internal architecture.

The 7-Zip benchmark is very thread heavy so the Y910's 8 hyper-threaded cores had no problem eating up this test. The compression/extraction benchmark focuses on a system's overall CPU and memory performance. While the Y910's 6th gen core i7 is a generation old, it's still looking very solid so far.

Our HandBrake test focuses on the PC's ability to encode media. A computer needs fast storage, fast memory, and a powerful CPU to be able to encode media quickly. The Y910 easily beats out the competition here with an average 720p H.264 speed of 232fps.

Looking at encoding again from a different perspective, the Y910 also comes out on top of our x264 benchmark. The i7-6700 was able to boost up to 3.8GHz and power through this test as well.

Before moving on to gaming performance, I wanted to go over some more basic system results. Thanks to the internal high speed SSD, the Y910 had a full boot time of under 15 seconds. The SSD maxed out with a write speed of 1562MBps and a significantly slower read speed of 310MBps. The Y910 also comes with an additional spinning HDD for mass storage. Unfortunately, our review unit's drive was faulty so we weren't able to test it. There isn't too much to say about a standard 3.5" mechanical hard drive though and it didn't have an effect on the overall review.

Power consumption of the Y910 is unique since it also includes the built in 27" monitor. At an idle desktop, the Y910 pulled 87 Watts. With Prime 95 going to pin the CPU, this number increased to 184 Watts. Finally adding Furmark and Prime 95 together to completely max out the system, the Y910 pulled a healthy 444 Watts from the wall. Lenovo did right in including the power supply in the base of the monitor because an external power supply able to supply 444W would be massive.

Thermal performance is always going to be a letdown for an all-in-one. The Y910 does a respectable job though for the most part. At load, the temperatures jumped up to 80s and 90s even with the fan sounding like a jet a takeoff. GPU noise wasn't too bad, but once the CPU starts working, you'll want some good closed back headphones to try to drown out the fan. The pre-defined fan curves don't do much to help either. They are extremely abrupt which causes the fan to ramp up and down every few seconds. If it stayed at a constant volume, you may eventually be able to tune it out, but with the constant up and down, it becomes very annoying, very quickly.

Finally on to gaming performance; the Y910 is a gaming all-in-one after all. As expected, the GTX1080 with 8GB of memory is easily able to drive today's top games at their max. 1080p performance is extremely solid with the lowest recorded frame rate being 87 on Deus Ex: Mankind Divided. Bumping up to the screen's native 1440p resolution isn't a problem at all. You may not be able to play everything at max settings to do thermal throttling, but you can certainly get very close. Temperatures were in the mid 80s when gaming, but that target can be adjusted in your favorite overclocking program.

Audio, Video, and Other Features

Aside from the beefy components inside the Y910 also has a few other noteworthy features. On the lefthand side is a pop-out headphone holder -- curiously, it's on the other side from the actual headphone jack. At the top is an Intel RealSense 3D webcam. It works just like a regular webcam for Skype, but the 3D features can integrate with Windows Hello to unlock the PC with just your face.

The internal Harman Kardon speakers weren’t really anything special. I wouldn’t play any sort of game with them, but they’re suitable for listening to music or watching a movie. The stereo imaging is pretty bad but that’s just a product of its placement directly in front of the user. The EQ is pretty dense and mushy in the mid range as well.

The display is certainly worthy of the rest of the internal hardware. It’s nothing to write home about in terms of colors or viewing angles, but it gets the job done. With a resolution of 2650x1440 at 144Hz, it’s pretty darn good for gaming. The lack of depth in the black levels as well as average color vibrancy and clarity make it not really suitable for any content creation though.

Lenovo has included their Nerve Center hardware management software. This is really just a re-branded Task Manager but it's a good place to see how all of the hardware is doing at any given time. The Y910 also comes pre-installed with some additional software, but nothing too major.

Managing the Doubleshot Pro networking is Killer Network software. If you have both a Wi-Fi and Ethernet connection, the software will prioritize gaming traffic to your wired connection and all other traffic to the Wi-Fi. I tested sustained wireless speeds of about 60Mbps to a router in the other room. The only noteworthy piece of software is the McAfee trial. It's great while you're getting the PC set up with updates and your software, but it's just going to keep bugging you to unlock it down the road.

The Lenovo Y910 Gaming AIO is an interesting product. With up to a GTX 1080, 16GB of RAM, and a PCIe SSD, it’s an extremely high powered gaming rig. All of those components come prebuilt into the back of a decent 27” QHD 144Hz monitor as well. If you were to build a traditional desktop with comparable specs, you’d be looking at around $1900-2000 already. When you take this into account, the $2300 price tag of the Y910 doesn’t look so out of reach.

The portability factor is huge for mobile gamers that regularly attend LAN events or those who want the best performance with a strict form factor. It takes up just slightly more desk space than any 27” monitor would normally take up too. The cooling and noise issues are to be expected from an all-in-one, but shouldn’t be huge factors most of the time. If you want a top-of-the line GTX 1080 equipped gaming computer, you can indeed get one for cheaper than the Y910.

That being said, if you don’t mind paying a little extra for the all-in-one form factor and a design that just works, the Y910 could be a great buy. Overall gaming performance is great and, once you outgrow the built in hardware, you’ll still have a great display you can use a few more years.