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Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review

A lovely but troubled 2-in-1 workstation laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review

The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 is surprisingly light for a 14-inch laptop, at just 4.2 pounds (1,905 g). You would think the magnesium and metal hinges would add a few extra ounces, but this medium-sized convertible is even lighter than other plastic 14-inch notebooks, like the 4.41-pound (2000 g) Acer Aspire V7 and the 4.62-pound (2,095 g) Lenovo Z40.

This is largely thanks to ditching the optical drive entirely, which has also allowed Lenovo to thin out the machine to a scant 0.8-inches. This machine won't take up much room on your desk either, measuring just 13.3 inches wide and 9.4 inches in depth.

The ThinkPad Yoga 14 also fits neatly into the middle, compared to the HP Envy x360 and Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro. By the nature of being a 15.6-inch convertible laptop, the x360 is the largest, measuring 15.1 x 10.2 x 0.9 inches or 383 x 259 x 22 mm (W x D x H) and weighing 5.3 pounds (2,404 g). Meanwhile, the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro is on the edge of scaling in as an Ultrabook at 2.6 pounds with 11.8 x 9 x 0.5-inch, or 299 x 228 x 12 mm dimensions.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review

Here is the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 configuration sent to TechRadar for this review:

Spec Sheet

  • CPU: 1.7GHz Intel Core i5-4210U (dual-core, 3MB cache, up to 2.7 GHz with Turbo Boost)
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GT 840M (2GB GDDR5 RAM); Intel HD Graphics 4400
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3L (1600 MHz)
  • Screen: 14.0-inch, 1,920 x 1,080 IPS LED Backlit
  • Storage: 1TB HDD (5400 rpm)
  • Ports: 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 4-in-1 card reader, HDMI, headphone/mic combo jack,
  • Connectivity: Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260; Bluetooth 4.0
  • Camera: 720p webcam
  • Weight: 4.2 pounds
  • Size: 13.3 x 9.4 x 0.8 inches (W x D x H)

For $1,099, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 comes with some nice components, including that bright and vivid display. This also the only model available, if you want any memory or storage upgrades you'll have to install those on your own.

Unfortunately, the Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 is listed as coming soon in the United Kingdom and simply does not exist in Australia. We will update this review when the laptops availability changes – until then the approximate pricing for importing the unit listed above is about £728 and AU$1,414.

The HP Envy x360 comes at a comparative bargain as it comes sporting the same Intel Core i5 processor with a comparable 8GB of RAM and 1TB hard drive for $779 (£649, AU$819). On top of all this, you'll also get a significantly more screen real estate with the 15.6-inch FHD display.

Alternatively, you could save up a bit more and grab the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro for $1,299 (£999, AU$2,099). Though it's a smaller 13.3-inch, the Yoga 3 Pro comes with an even higher-resolution screen, glimmering with 3,200 x 1,800 pixels. The Yoga 3 Pro also comes with a few more fancy spinning rims, including a 256GB solid-state drive as well as a fan-less, 1.2GHz Intel Core M processor.

Unlike its competitors, the ThinkPad Yoga 14 is the only machine to sport a dedicated graphics chip. The onboard Nvidia GT 840M had no problems keeping up with streaming 4K YouTube video, plus it offers a helping hand during graphically intensive applications, like Adobe Lightroom 5.

Performance

The Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 is a mostly solid performer. However, despite its capable Core i5 CPU humming inside, the machine hangs for a few seconds after start up. The likely culprit(s) is a half-dozen resource hogging applications, including Maxthon Cloud browser and Norton Internet Security, both of which you would be better off without in the first place.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review

Aside from the sluggish start up, I had no other performance issues. Applications spring from the Start menu almost instantly. In my two weeks with the machine, the ThinkPad convertible never hit a performance snag, even when asking it to render 15 Firefox and Chrome tabs - all while running another handful of applications simultaneously.

Benchmarks

  • 3DMark: Cloud Gate: 5,780; Sky Diver: 5,331; Fire Strike: 1,447
  • Cinebench CPU: 232 points; Graphics: 58.79 fps
  • PC Mark 8 (Home Test): 2,106 points
  • PCMark 8 Battery Life: 4 hours and 3 minutes

In our suite of benchmarks, the ThinkPad Yoga 14 also proved to be one of the more capable convertibles I've reviewed thus far. Thanks to a discrete graphics chip, the ThinkPad Yoga smoked its competitors in the 3DMark graphics tests, putting up a Fire Strike score of 1,447. The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro finished the same test with only 329 points, while the HP Envy 15 x360 was only able to rack up 504 points.

In the PCMark 8 scores, however, the ThinkPad Yoga 14 is a bit less impressive. The HP machine pulls ahead with a 2,322 score. Still, the ThinkPad finished with a respectable 2,106 points - much higher than the Yoga 3 Pro's 1,147 score.

Wherever life takes you

Bearing the ThinkPad name, you expect an excellent typing experience with the Yoga 14, and this laptop fully delivers. Outfitted with Lenovo's nearly perfect AccuType keyboard, each key depresses with a pinch of resistance and offers more travel than most notebooks.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review

Likewise, the trackpad is absolutely massive and super accurate for navigating around the desktop and in programs. Better yet, it clicks down with springy action.

But what I love the most about the ThinkPad Yoga 14 is its superb screen. The colorful and contrasty display makes it excellent for viewing everything from image-heavy webpages to full length films on Netflix. If you're into photography, this is a pixel-perfect display for editing images, too.

Here are the only bits not to like: for one, the display is a bit glossy (but can be overcome through bumping up the brightness. Another issue is the IPS glow caused by the backlight spilling out from all four edges of the screen. It's a problem that most users wont' notice, in most cases, and it only ruins the aesthetic of dimly lit movie scenes. But this small issue is the only thing holding this display back from being perfect.

Decent to borked battery life

Battery life on the ThinkPad Yoga 14 averages around 4 hours and 3 minutes, according to our PCMark8 battery test. That's almost perfectly in line with my own testing. I was able to get 4 hours and 21 minutes out of the unit while streaming Google Music, a fairly taxing, 45-minute Google Hangout video call, editing Microsoft Word documents and keeping a dozen tabs open in Firefox.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review

In my anecdotal battery test, I kept the keyboard backlight on and set the screen brightness to 75%. So you should be able to squeeze around 30 more minutes of battery life by toning down both settings.

Still, with battery life nearing 5 hours, the ThinkPad Yoga 14 only ranks in as decent. But remember: our review unit happened to be one of the defective ones – twice. Other outlets report the Yoga 14 has a battery life that maxes out at almost 6 hours.

By comparison, the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro lasted for 4 hours and 30 minutes with a much higher resolution screen. The HP Envy 15 x360, on the other hand, ran for a shorter 3 hours and 53 minutes.

Bundled software

Lenovo has been in a bit of hot water since the SuperFish debacle, and new ThinkPad Yoga 14 owners should immediately run Windows Defender to remove it from their laptop. There's a load of other unwanted applications you should immediately delete, including the Maxthon Cloud browser, Dragon Assistant, and many more.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14 review

The intense appetite for preloaded software has gone too far, and Lenovo has admitted to it. At any rate, here's the short list of applications you might want to keep on your system:

  • Lenovo System Update Search: An app to easily update your laptop's firmware and other programs.
  • Lenovo Reach: Lenovo's own cloud storage service. Another 5GB of free web storage never hurts.
  • Lenovo QuickControl: Control your laptop remotely with an iPhone or Android device – useful for presentations.
  • Lenovo Ultranav: The software driving the ThinkPad Yoga 14's awesome trackpad. Be sure not to remove this program.