Lenovo Yoga 910 Full Review,Price And Performance

What’s Hot: Striking design, excellent build and finish. Lovely looking watchband hinge, fast performance, bigger than average display.

What’s Not: Fans can get noisy, few ports and no Thunderbolt 3.

The Lenovo Yoga 900 was a good convertible from the folks who invented the “yoga” 360 degree hinge. Build materials and the paint finish could’ve been better to compete with the luxurious HP Spectre x360, but it was nonetheless a good machine. Fast forward to 2016 and the Yoga 910 is almost everything we could wish for. Materials, fit and the finish are truly top notch, it’s gotten thinner and lighter and the display is larger without increasing the footprint. How did they manage to go from a 13.3″ display to a 13.9″ display without making the machine larger? By using a fashionable super-narrow bezel display, every bit as narrow as the Dell XPS line that started the fad. There’s still a considerable bezel along the bottom, but that provides room for electronics below the display and it matches the base that houses a much larger battery. I’ll definitely take a large bottom bezel (that’s the one that’s least noticeable anyway since it acts as a display stand of sorts) if it means a bigger battery. The only downside is that, like the Dell XPS 13, there’s no room for the webcam up top, so you get a chin-cam. As a consolation, if you use it in tent mode (the upside-down V position), the webcam is up top, which is fine if you don’t Skype and type at the same time.

Specs at a Glance

The Lenovo Yoga 910 is a 13.9″ Ultrabook with a 360 degree hinge. Lenovo’s very attractive watchband hinge holds the display more firmly than most hinges (there’s less wobble when you tap on the screen or use it on a bouncy bus). It runs Windows 10 on the 7th generation Kaby Lake Intel Core i7 dual core 2.7 GHz CPU with Intel HD 620 graphics. It weighs 3.04 lbs. and is quite thin. It’s available with 1920 x 1080 and 4K IPS gloss touch screens (no active pen support) and it has a backlit keyboard. It’s available with 8 or 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM and fast PCIe SSDs. Biometric login is provided via a fingerprint scanner that supports Windows Hello login, it has two USB-C ports, the rear of which is used with the USB-C charger. Sorry, there’s no Thunderbolt 3 here, and the front USB-C port isn’t the faster gen. 2 kind. The rear USB-C port is intended for charging, and we found it only supports USB 2.0 for peripherals. There’s a standard USB-A 3.0 port, so you won’t have to run to the store for dongles (unless you need display out), and a 3.5mm audio jack.

Design and Ergonomics

The Yoga has grown up, and it looks every bit as chic and high quality as the high-end competition like the HP Spectre x360 and Dell XPS 13. In fact, it still looks good next to the very expensive Microsoft Surface Book. The CNC aluminum unibody construction is very rigid, more so than the previous Yoga 900, and the finish now looks like metal rather than the painted-on finish of the Yoga 900. It’s available in your choice of silver, champagne gold and gunmetal black. For the holidays 2016, Best Buy is selling a limited-edition glass lid version with high end specs (it’s a little thicker and heavier due to the glass layer added on top). The Yoga 910’s sides have a nicely contrasting highly polished stainless finish and the watchband hinge likewise has a stainless-steel finish. The watchband hinge sometimes makes creaking sounds, which we’ve heard on previous watchband hinge models, and we assume this is due to the many moving parts. That hinge has held up on older models, so we’re not worried.

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This is a Windows 10 convertible Ultrabook with a 360 degree hinge that allows you to use it in standard laptop position as well as tent, presentation and tablet modes. Given the touch screen, it’s easy enough to use the Yoga 910 in the three non-laptop positions. Like most Windows convertible PCs, it’s a bit big and heavy to use as a tablet in the same way you’d use an iPad, but it’s fine if you lay it on a desk or your lap. Since there’s no active pen support only a capacitive stylus like those made for non-Pro iPad models will work (and that means no pressure sensitivity or palm rejection). Thus the appeal of tablet mode is perhaps limited, but tent mode is fantastic for hands-free movie watching and airplane tray tables when you don’t need the keyboard.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The Synaptics trackpad is excellent and offers quite a few software settings. The backlit keyboard is good, but it has low travel 1.3mm with a bit less of the pleasing tactile feel of the competing HP Spectre x360. Though Lenovo has gotten rid of the right column arrow keys (they weren’t the best idea), they retain the truncated right shift key, which may drive touch typists crazy. The enter key at first looks like one of those old-fashioned oversized right angle carriage return keys, but in fact it’s not connected to the \ key directly above (though that \ does have an extended lower edge to make it look like it’s joined to the enter key). That might look odd, but it didn’t affect typing. Despite these minor quibbles, it’s a good enough keyboard for most unless you particularly hate short travel keyboards–Lenovo ThinkPads would be a better alternative then.

Display

We have the full HD 1920 x 1080 display, and there’s a 4K option too, which might sound like overkill for a relatively small 13.9″ panel, but it’s useful for Photoshop jockeys and for even sharper video and text. The 4K display also has more vivid looking colors and higher apparent contrast. Even though 4K is overkill resolution for a 14″ display, the quality (sharpness, vibrance) is clearly better on the 4K model, and is thus the one I’d recommend–it really looks superb. Either way you get a glossy IPS touch screen that doesn’t support active pens like ThinkPad Yoga models. That’s a shame since Lenovo’s consumer Yogas often have the better displays, while the ThinkPad Yoga models get the pens, when artists want the two together in one machine.

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The Yoga 910 with full HD 1920 x 1080 display represents 95% of sRGB and 71% of Adobe RGB, which is typical of laptops in this price range. Brightness is 308 nits on our review loaner, which is also good and typical of laptops in this price segment. Gamma is 2.1, and that falls slightly short of the ideal 2.2, while the hardware white point of 7400K is far beyond the ideal 6600K, which isn’t unusual for laptop displays. The 0.37 black level is again reasonable and typical at this price, and that results in a good contrast ratio of 840:1. The 1080p panel is made by AU Optronics and the 4K display by LG. Unfortunately, we’ve played with the 4K model, but didn’t receive one for testing with our colorimeter, so we can only report that color saturation, contrast and sharpness look noticeably better than the 1080p model.

Performance and Horsepower

Lenovo is clearly positioning this as a powerful Ultrabook since they only offer Intel Core i7 offerings. Better yet, it’s the new Intel 7th generation Kaby Lake dual core, 15 watt Core i7-7500U with Intel HD 620 graphics. This is one of the first notebooks to ship with Kaby Lake, and the main benefit is better battery life and reduced heat, though the skinny aluminum clad Yoga 910 transfers a good bit of warmth to the casing. When using Word, MS Edge and email, the laptop is just warm, but when playing YouTube video, Netflix or working in Photoshop it’s noticeably higher than body temperature at 109F on the bottom center area. That’s not burning hot, but you’ll notice it, unlike many 15 watt dual core Ultrabooks.
Fan noise on our review unit is an issue when the laptop is plugged into the charger. It’s not that the tiny twin fans can make raucous noise, but they certainly are audible. When not charging (charging generates heat), the fans are generally silent or fairly quiet for productivity and streaming video tasks. Some owners have complained of annoying fan noise when not plugged in, but our unit hasn’t exhibited this. Lenovo Yogas have a history of being noisier than average over the years, likely because they’re so thin.

The laptop is available with 8 or 16 gigs of DDR4 RAM and 256 gig, 512 gig and 1TB fast PCIe SSDs. RAM is soldered onto the motherboard and isn’t upgradeable, while the SSD is a standard M.2 2280 drive and is upgradable. The Intel 8260AC WiFi card is the usual socketed and upgradable kind, though this is a very good card and you likely won’t want to change it.

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Performance is as good as any dual core i7 laptop on the market from the Skylake and Kaby Lake generations. Intel really hasn’t boosted CPU performance by more than a few percentage points, but their HD 620 integrated graphics is up to 10% faster. That doesn’t mean the Yoga 910 is a gaming rig, that’s not what it’s designed for, but you can play casual and some several year old games on it with reasonable frame rates and 720p or 1080p resolution. The convertible is more than capable of everyday productivity work in MS Office, web, social networking, streaming 4K video and work with 24MP RAW files from a dSLR camera. It’s fine for light to moderate coding, but like all Ultrabooks, isn’t ideal for 3D CAD since it lacks dedicated graphics.

Battery Life

Lenovo significantly increased battery capacity to 78 WHr, which is very high for a 13 to 14 inch Ultrabook. In fact, battery life with our 1080p model is good, though the Spectre x360 runs a bit longer on a charge. 4K displays typically signficantly reduce battery runtimes, so I’d expect the 4K model to not have the stamina of our full HD unit. We averaged 8 hours on a charge in mixed real world productivity use with a Photoshop session and an hour of streaming video thrown in (brightness set to 150 nits/40%). That’s pretty good, even if it’s not at the very top of the runtime heap.

The laptop ships with a compact 45 watt square charger that plugs in via USB-C cable to the rear USB-C port.

 

Conclusion

There’s a lot to love here, the Lenovo Yoga 910 is the slimmest, lightest and best looking Yoga in Lenovo’s consumer line to date. It’s rigid, well-made and that watchband hinge is as striking and functional as ever. This is a high-end Ultrabook with a price tag to match. The price isn’t extravagant, especially because Lenovo and their biggest US partner Best Buy are prone to having frequent sales, but it’s a little bit more than the competing HP Spectre x360 (which must be the thorn in Lenovo’s side by now). The Yoga 910 is every bit as attractive and chic, and it adds the bonus larger display and a stunning 4K option. The laptop is fast and there are storage and RAM options to ensure its usefulness for several years. Our only caveat is the fan, which can be annoying. Perhaps Lenovo will issue a firmware update to address that.

Price: starting at $1,049

Website: www.lenovo.com