Sunday, June 23, 2024

I love the MacBook Pro, but this Windows laptop came surprisingly close

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Lenovo Yoga Pro 9i 16 rear view showing lid and logos.Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

There are some great machines in the 15-inch laptop category, which has recently been stretched to include the more common 16-inch laptop. The best among them is the Apple MacBook Pro 16, which offers fast performance for tasks like video editing and the longest battery life.

Contents

  • Specs and configurations
  • Design
  • Keyboard and touchpad
  • Ports, webcam, and security
  • Performance
  • Display
  • Portability
  • If you have the money, the MacBook Pro 16 is betterShow 3 more items

The Lenovo Yoga Pro 9i 16 is aimed not only at other 16-inch Windows laptops but also at the MacBook Pro 16. It offers many of the same benefits but at a lower price. Can it take a place at the top?

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Specs and configurations

 
Apple MacBook Pro 16
Lenovo Yoga Pro 9i 16

Dimensions
14.01 inches x 9.77 inches x 0.66 inches
14.28 inches x 9.99 inches x 0.72 inches

Weight
4.8 pounds
4.52 pounds

Processor
Apple M3 Pro (12-core)
Apple M2 Max (14-core, 16-core)
Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
Intel Core Ultra 9 185H

Graphics
Apple M3 Pro (18-core)
Apple M3 Max (30-core, 40-core)
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4050
Nvidia GeForce RTX 4060

RAM
18GB (M3 Pro)
36GB (M3 Max 14/30)
48GB (M3 Max 16/40)
64GB (M3 Max 16/40)
96GB (M3 Max 14/30)
128GB (M3 Max 16/40)
16GB LPDDR5x (7467 MT/s)
32GB LPDDR5x (7467 MT/s)

Display
16.2-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina XDR (3456 x 2234), 120Hz
16-inch 16:10 3.2K (3200 x 2000) IPS touch/non-touch 165Hz
16-inch 16:10 3.2K (3200 x 2000) mini-LED touch, 165Hz

Storage
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
4TB SSD
8TB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD

Touch
No
Optional

Ports
3 x USB-C 4 with Thunderbolt 4
1 x HDMI 2.0
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x SD Card reader
1 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x HDMI
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x SD card reader

Wireless
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3

Webcam
1080p
5MP with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello

Operating system
MacOS Monterey
Windows 11

Battery
100 watt-hours
84 watt-hours

Price
$2,499+
$1,971+

Rating
4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars

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Lenovo’s pricing changes often, as do its configurations. When I first reviewed the Yoga Pro 9i 16, it started at $1,482 for an Intel Core Ultra 7 155H chipset, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 GPU, and a 16.0-inch 3.2K IPS display. That price has since gone up to $1,971, which as we’ll see is less than the MacBook Pro 16’s starting price but not quite so outstanding. When configured with a Core Ultra 9 185H, 32GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD, an RTX 4060, and a 16.0-inch 3.2K mini-LED display, it costs $2,783. When I reviewed it, that configuration was $2,105.

The MacBook Pro 16’s prices are rock-solid and consistent, at least when purchased from the Apple Store. It starts at $2,499 for a 12-core CPU/18-core GPU M3 Pro chipset, 18GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 16.0-inch mini-LED display. When configured similarly to my Yoga Pro 9i 16 review unit (the high-end model), the MacBook is $3,099 for the same M3 Pro, 36GB of RAM, and a 1TB SSD. The most you can spend on a MacBook Pro 16 is $7,199 for a 16-core CPU/40-core GPU M3 Max, 128GB of RAM, and an 8TB SSD.

At current prices and when looking at likely the most direct comparison in terms of performance, the Yoga Pro 9i 16 is about $300 less than the MacBook Pro 16. As we’ll see, that’s not quite so cometitive as when I reviewed the Lenovo.

Design

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The MacBook Pro 16 is one of the best-designed large laptops made today. It’s constructed from a chunk of aluminum that’s solid as a rock. Its aesthetic conforms to Apple’s latest, with a rounded boxy appearance that’s understated yet attractive, in both Silver and Space Black color schemes. The hinge opens smoothly and holds the display firmly in place. Overall, the MacBook feels like extreme quality.

The Yoga Pro 9i is also very well-built, with an all-aluminum chassis and lid that also resist bending, flexing, and twisting. It doesn’t have quite the same feel, but you won’t think of it as a lesser laptop. Its Luna Grey color scheme is more traditional while also being minimalist, and its rounded edges are arguably more comfortable than the MacBook’s sometimes sharper edges. The reverse notch at the top of the display that houses the webcam and other electronics is a better solution than the MacBook’s display notch that some people find disruptive. The hinge is also smooth and functional.

Thanks to a slightly thinner but heavier chassis, the MacBook Pro 16 feels denser than the Yoga Pro 9i 16. That contributes to that feeling of solidity. Overall, the MacBook is slightly smaller despite having a slightly larger display, and that’s because of thinner display bezels.

Keyboard and touchpad

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Both laptops have excellent keyboards. The Yoga Pro 9i 16 has Lenovo’s standard version with sculpted keycaps and plenty of key spacing, even with the somewhat anachronistic numeric keypad. That’s because the MacBook Pro 16’s even more expansive keyboard is constrained on each side by larger speaker grills. The MacBook’s Magic Keyboard switches are shallower but more snappy and precise, at least for me. The Yoga Pro 9i 16 has switches that are deeper and slightly stiffer and thus slightly more fatiguing.

The Yoga’s touchpad is a mechanical version, and a good example with soft, quiet button clicks. It’s a little off center because of the numeric keypad, and that might bother some people. The MacBook has Apple’s excellent Force Touch haptic touchpad. It’s not only more precise and functional, but it’s even quieter and offers the Force Click feature where a stronger click opens up a menu of additional functionality. More Windows laptops are including haptic touchpads, and I’m hoping to see them become a standard at these prices.

You can select a touch display as an option with the Yoga Pro 9i 16. That’s something no MacBook can offer.

Ports, webcam, and security

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Yoga Pro 9i 16 has a wider set of ports, with more legacy support, while the MacBook Pro 16 has more Thunderbolt 4 ports. They both have full-size SD card readers, which is great for creators. Both have equivalent wireless connectivity that’s current enough but not bleeding-edge.

Lenovo fit in a higher-resolution webcam, and it supports some of the AI-enhanced functionality in Windows such as Microsoft’s Studio Effects software. But that’s pretty much the only real benefit from the Meteor Lake chipset’s Neural Processing Unit (NPU). Both laptops have good image quality for videoconferencing.

The Yoga has an infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition, while the MacBook has Apple’s Touch ID fingerprint reader. Both are secure enough, and Windows Hello is a bit more convenient.

Performance

Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The MacBook Pro 16 uses Apple’s M3 chipset in either the Pro or Max integration. We benchmarked the 16-core CPU/40-core GPU version, which is the fastest and the most expensive. The Pro version that’s significantly less expensive will, naturally, be slower than the results posted here.

The Yoga Pro 9i 16 uses either the 28-watt Core Ultra 7 155H chipset with 16 cores and 22 threads or the 45-watt Core Ultra 9 185 with the same core and thread count but with more power at 45 watts. We tested with the latter, and while it was competitive with similar Windows laptops, it can’t keep up with the MacBook Pro 16. As mentioned, the delta would be less with the MacBook when configured with the M3 Pro.

For demanding productivity users and creators, both laptops are very fast. The MacBook Pro 16 is a better choice for video editors thanks to various optimizations built into the M3 chipset. Other applications will have different relative levels of performance, with the Yoga Pro 9i 16 being a much better gaming laptop thanks primarily to the relative lack of modern titles on macOS.

Geekbench 6
(single/multi)

Handbrake
(seconds)

Cinebench R24
(single/multi/GPU)

Pugetbench
Premiere Pro

Apple MacBook Pro 16
(M3 Max 16/40)
Bal: 3,083 / 20,653
Perf: 3,119 / 20,865
Bal: 50
Perf: N/A
Bal: 140 / 1,667 / 13,146
Perf: N/A
Bal: 8,046
Perf: N/A

Lenovo Yoga Pro 9i 16
(Core Ultra 9 185H / RTX 4060)
Bal: 2,396 / 11,696
Perf: 2,426 / 13,593
Bal: 59
Perf: 54
Bal: 110 / 1,058 / 9,869
Perf: 112 / 1,115 / 10,415
Bal: 5,774
Perf: 6,112

Display

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Yoga Pro 9i 16 offers a choice between a 16.0-inch 16:10 3.2K (3200 by 2000) IPS display and a mini-LED display at the same resolution. Both run at up to 165Hz, and the latter is touch-enabled. The MacBook Pro 16 has one display option, a 16.2-inch 16:10 mini-LED panel at 3456 by 2234 and up to 120Hz.

We reviewed with the Yoga’s mini-LED display, and saw some differences even though the displays shared the underlying technology. Both were extremely bright and had similar color widths, and the Yoga’s colors were more accurate. The biggest difference was in the contrast ratio, where the MacBook Pro’s display was much higher. That was with the Lenovo in Windows’ standard dynamic range (SDR) mode. When switched to high dynamic range (HDR) mode, the Lenovo’s contrast ratio was as high but colors and brightness fell of significantly.

Out of the box, then, the MacBook Pro 16 has deeper blacks, and its HDR performance is the best on a laptop today. The Yoga Pro 9i 16 has an excellent display, as well — just not quite as good.

Apple MacBook Pro 16
(mini-LED)
Lenovo Yoga Pro 9i 16
(mini-LED)

Brightness
(nits)

640
652

AdobeRGB gamut
89%
88%

 sRGB gamut
100%
100%

DCI-P3 gamut
100%
98%

Accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)

1.22
0.66

Contrast ratio
22,150:1
2,360:1

Portability

Mark Coppock / Digtal Trends

Both laptops are large and close enough in size and weight that they’ll feel the same in a backpack. Both will weigh you down.

Where the MacBook Pro 16 truly shines is in its battery life, thanks to the insane efficiency of Apple Silicon chipsets. The Yoga Pro 9i 16 lasted six hours in our web browsing test and 9.5 hours in our video looping test. By comparison, the MacBook Pro 16 lasted for 19 hours and 27 hours, respectively. That’s up to three times as long.

Neither laptop will last that long when doing demanding work like editing video, but the MacBook Pro 16 might last a full day, while the Yoga will give out after a couple of hours. That’s a massive difference.

If you have the money, the MacBook Pro 16 is better

The Yoga Pro 9i 16 is a great laptop with excellent performance and a reasonably attractive price. It’s well-built and has a very good mini-LED display. Compared to many other 16-inch Windows laptops, it’s a highly competitive machine.

The MacBook Pro 16, though, is a distinct cut above. It’s perhaps even better built, with the best keyboard and touchpad, a superior display, and even faster performance in many tasks. And it has the longest battery life by a considerable margin. It’s hard to beat, but you’ll have to pay for all of that goodness.

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