While Lenovo is normally thought of as a business brand, their IdeaPad (and IdeaCentre and IdeaTab) range of products tend to focus more on the consumer market. Case in point is the Y series of IdeaPad gaming notebooks, which have traditionally been relatively price competitive with other options. Lenovo usually keeps the specs a bit down from the top-end mobile GPUs, but they’re looking to at least up the ante this next round with the option for SLI graphics. That’s not all that amazing, but what is cool is the way that Lenovo gets there.

The IdeaPad Y400/Y500 gaming notebooks are getting an overhaul with a new industrial design that's reminiscent of ASUS' "stealth" G-series notebooks. But that's not the really interesting part; what was pretty cool is that the UltraBay has a variety of supported devices, including the option to slot in a second GPU (GT 650M) for SLI capability. With two GT 650M cards you should have a decent amount of performance, though I suspect a single GTX 680M would still be faster (and likely more expensive). Other UltraBay options include an optical drive, a 2.5” hard drive caddy, and a secondary cooling fan.

We didn’t have a chance to do any benchmarking, but the option to enable/disable the second dGPU any time you choose by simply removing it from the UltraBay is definitely cool. Actually, what might be even better is to forget about SLI and instead make laptops with UltraBay support for a single dGPU—allowing users to slot in a GPU in this fashion should give more control than other external interfaces that haven’t really caught on, though there are still plenty of things to work out to make that happen. Given the Y400/Y500 features, though, it seems more a question of “when” than “if”.

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  • Dustin Sklavos - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    I can't wait for them not to send us one of these. Reply
  • colinw - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    You mean they won't want to send their newborn child into the jaws of death? Reply
  • creed3020 - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    Wow I'm absolutely loving this type of configurability. Being able to ramp up to SLI graphics if you need them and then back it out to through your 1TB HDD for a backup is great.

    I wonder if they also are going to make one with an additional battery. That would be a wise option for those that want to stick with the internal GPU but want more battery life for a trip for example.
    Reply
  • Sottilde - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    I have heard that one is coming but it's just a rumor.

    This series in particular could use it. Specs are nearly identical to the Y580 (thus making the model numbers especially confusing; this model is more advanced than the Y580), but battery life is ~2h45m vs ~5h. The culprit is Optimus: for whatever reason the internal Intel HD4000 GPU is completely disabled on the Y400/Y500.

    Nobody has been able to figure out why quite yet. It is unfortunate; while Optimus has its bugs, it certainly helps battery life. In addition Quick Sync and WiDi rely on the HD4000, so they do not work at this time on the Y400/Y500.
    Reply
  • vanwazltoff - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    optical had drive bay adapter are nothing new, the fan wouldnt help much, i do however like the idea of using the optical for sli graphics or more battery life both of which are awesome ideas though i have never seen anyone use it for battery life before Reply
  • extide - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    The fan is on the GPU bay modules... Reply
  • Sottilde - Monday, January 14, 2013 - link

    Actually, they offer a module that's simply a cooling fan. I believe it's about $30. Word on the internet street is that it does absolutely nothing because there's no heat vented from that part of the laptop.

    Strangely they also offer a hard drive caddy for the insane price of $189. If you look around you can find a comparable caddy for ~$30 or less.
    Reply
  • danjw - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    Does this line come with the same spamware/crapware/junk that other OEMs ship on their systems? Reply
  • cabbeer - Wednesday, January 09, 2013 - link

    Can I use put this in the ultrabay of my existing thinkpad t420s? Reply

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