The ThinkPad Yoga sits the middle of two different design ideologies tugging at each other. The result: an IdeaPad-shaped ThinkPad, but with the materials ThinkPads are known for. A smooth magnesium shell causes the screen to slip slightly when in tent mode, despite the rubber strip at the end of keyboard deck. It's a necessary conceit to achieve as true a ThinkPad look and feel as possible.

Measuring 12.46 x 8.7 x 0.74 0.76 inches (W x D x H) and weighing just over 3.5 pounds, the ThinkPad Yoga is one of the thinnest and lightest pro-grade laptops around. It's been a breeze to carry in my backpack to and from the office this past week. However, a profile that slim forced Lenovo to cut down on ports considerably.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review

Where many business-class laptops have at least three USB ports, the ThinkPad Yoga has just two. It also lacks the RJ-45 and VGA ports that many enterprise folks use on a daily basis. Though the addition of mini-HDMI is nice, but it doesn't make up for having to use a USB Ethernet adapter, or ponying up another $119.99 for Lenovo's OneLink ThinkPad dock for Ethernet access.

Spec sheet

This is the ThinkPad Yoga configuration Lenovo sent to TechRadar:

  • CPU: 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-4200U (dual-core, 3MB cache)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • RAM: 4GB PC3-12800 DDR3L
  • Screen: 12.5-inch 1920 x 1080 FHD with 10-point multi-touch
  • Storage: 128GB SSD
  • Ports: 2 USB 3.0, mini-HDMI, 4-in-1 card reader, OneLink docking port, headphone/mic jack
  • Connectivity: Intel dual-band 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
  • Webcam: 720p front-facing camera
  • Weight: 3.52 pounds
  • Size: 12.46 x 8.7 x 0.74 0.76 inches

This setup costs a grand total of $1,329 (starting at £779.99, $1,249 AU), and largely matches what's on offer from the $999 Yoga 2 Pro configuration we reviewed. The major differences here are the ThinkPad Yoga's 802.11ac networking, which does not come standard, and the 1080p display. While the Yoga 2 Pro lacks the snappier AC wireless standard, it offers a much sharper 3200 x 1800 IPS touch panel. Specs considered, the ThinkPad Yoga looks even more like an IdeaPad in a ThinkPad's body.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review

These specs also meet that of the 13-inch MacBook Air, and even exceed it in some regards, like CPU clock speed and display resolution–though, Apple offers double the storage for about $30 less. If these guts appear underwhelming, a fully-loaded ThinkPad Yoga—replete with 2.1GHz Core i7-4200U chip, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB solid state drive—will cost you a whopping $1,514.

That said, each core in this Intel Haswell can ramp up to 2.3GHz with both cores active using Intel's Turbo Boost. Regardless, the user that spends a lot of time knee-deep in multi-sheet Excel projects or in graphics-heavy applications like Photoshop might be better served by the extra RAM and the 2.1GHz, dual-core Core i7-4600U. That chip can be boosted up to 3.3GHz.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga review

For any user upgrading from a third generation Intel chip to the latest, the most noticeable gain will be in endurance, but more on that later. As for graphics options, this is it. All of the available CPU options offer Intel's integrated HD Graphics 4400, and the ThinkPad Yoga does not offer a dedicated GPU. This might disappoint Photoshop users and/or video pros, but many are already firmly rooted in the Apple camp.

The compromises that Lenovo was forced to make to meet this form factor are laid out. The ThinkPad Yoga will not meet its brethren on the I/O front, though it is currently unmatched as the thinnest, most versatile ultrabook in the ThinkPad lineup.