Sunday, July 21, 2024

Lenovo Yoga 7 14 2-in-1 Gen 9 review: a budget laptop with one big problem

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Lenovo Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 front view showing display and keyboard.

Lenovo Yoga 7 14 Gen 9

MSRP $650.00

Score Details

DT Recommended Product

“For the price, the Lenovo Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 hits the sweet spot.”

Pros

  • Attractive price when on sale
  • Solid build quality
  • Attractive aesthetic
  • Good productivity performance
  • Comfortable keyboard

Cons

  • Touchpad is very noisy
  • Display colors are poor

Windows laptops are undergoing a seismic shifts, with Windows on ARM getting a boost from new Qualcomm chipsets and Intel and AMD accelerating their AI capabilities. But they all have one thing in common — they’re aimed at laptops costing $1,000 and much more.

Contents

  • Specs and configurations
  • Design
  • Keyboard and touchpad
  • Connectivity and webcam
  • Performance
  • Battery life
  • Display and audio
  • So close to being a great valueShow 3 more items

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Not everyone wants to spend that much money, and not everyone is concerned about having the fastest on-device AI performance. Lenovo’s Yoga 7 14 2-in-1 is aimed at those people, and it offers good performance, solid battery life, and a quality build for a very attractive $650 price. But it has one flaw that you’ll want to keep in mind.

Specs and configurations

 
Lenovo Yoga 7 14 2-in-1 Gen 9

Dimensions
12.51 inches x 8.75 inches x 0.66 inches

Weight
3.55 pounds

Processor
AMD Ryzen 5 8640HS
AMD Ryzen 7 8840HS

Graphics
AMD Radeon Graphics 750M
AMD Radeon Graphics 780M

RAM
8GB
16GB

Display
14.0-inch 16:10 WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS, touch

Storage
512GB SSD
1TB SSD

Touch
Yes

Ports
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x USB4
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1 x HDMI 2.1
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
1 x microSD card reader

Wireless
Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3

Webcam
1080p with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition

Operating system
Windows 11

Battery
71 watt-hour

Price

$650+

As usual, Lenovo’s pricing is both subject to change and sometimes confusing. Using the company’s configurator, the entry-level configuration runs $794 for an AMD Ryzen 5 8540HS chipset, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 14.0-inch IPS display. The configurator shows a $999 price for a Ryzen 7 8840HS, 16GB of RAM, and a 1GB SSD.

However, that same high-end configuration is just $650 at Best Buy. That’s an extremely attractive price for a laptop with some high-end components, but its display holds it back from a strong recommendation. The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus has similar specs, with an Intel Meteor Lake chipset, that you can buy today for $850 with a much better display. And, the Asus Zenbook 14 Q425 with an excellent OLED display can sometimes be had for well under $800.

Design

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 has an all-aluminum chassis and is built well. It’s as solid as laptops costing a lot more, with no bending, flexing, or twisting. I’d rate it nearly as well-built as the HP Spectre x360 14, which is twice as costly. It’s easily as good as the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus. As will be a theme in this review, it’s remarkable how much laptop you can get for so little money today.

The aesthetic punches even higher above the Yoga’s price. The dark grey lid and chassis are surprisingly elegant, with rounded chassis edges that are both striking and comfortable to use in any of the 2-in-1s four modes — clamshell, tent, media, and tablet. There’s none of the chrome bling that once adorned budget laptops, and it’s nearly as good looking as the much more expensive Yoga 9i Gen 9. If you’re worried about carrying around a cheap looking laptop, fear not.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

In terms of its portability, the Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 is reasonably small, with thin display bezels except for the usually large chin that houses the 360-degree convertible hinges. It’s also reasonably thin, and not terribly heavy for a 14-inch 2-in-1. The Spectre x360 14 2-in-1 is just slightly smaller and lighter, but not by much.

Keyboard and touchpad

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The keyboard is very good, with Lenovo’s usual sculpted keycaps and plenty of key spacing. The switches are light and snappy, with just a bit of looseness that I found less than precise. This is one area where both the Spectre x360 14 and Yoga 9i Gen 9 were better, with a little extra firmness in their keyboards that made for an overall more comfortable feel. But even so, the Yoga 7 14 Gen 9’s keyboard is very good.

The mechanical touchpad is a different story. While it’s large enough, barely, and handles swiping and tapping just fine, the buttons are way too loud and harsh. The Inspiron 14 Plus’s mechanical touchpad was much better, and the Spectre x360 14’s haptic touchpad was one of the best on a Windows laptop.

The Yoga’s display is touch-and pen-enabled. My review unit didn’t come with a pen, so I couldn’t test it. But, I expect that it will work as well as most Windows 2-in-1s for digital handwriting and drawing.

Connectivity and webcam

The Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 has very good connectivity, with a mix of reasonably modern ports and legacy connections. As an AMD machine, it’s lacking Thunderbolt 4, but the USB4 connection should provide some of its capabilities. The Inspiron 14 Plus has a Thunderbolt 4 port. Wireless connectivity is Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.3, which isn’t quite the most up-to-date but will keep speeds at their highest widely available for several years.

The webcam is a quality 1080p version, with support for Microsoft Studio Effects AI features thanks to a Neural Processing Unit (NPU) that’s faster at 16 tera operations per second (TOPS) than Intel’s Meteor Lake chipset with an NPU rated at 10 TOPS. That’s less than the newer chipsets, like Qualcomm’s Snapdragon X lineup that runs at 40 TOPS. At this point, there aren’t many on-device AI features in Windows 11 that can use the NPU, and it’s uncertain if or when Microsoft’s Copilot+ functionality will be available for any but those with the Copilot+ designation. And even then, as of now, the AI functionality is limited.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The webcam includes an infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello facial recognition. It worked quickly and reliably, and is contained in Lenovo’s reverse notch that makes it easier to open the lid.

Performance

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 I reviewed uses AMD’s Ryzen 7 8840HS, an 8-core/16-thread chipset running at 28 watts. That competes with more comment Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, also a 28-watt chipset but with 16 cores (six Performance, eight Efficient, and two Low Power Efficient) and 22 threads. Both are aimed at demanding productivity users, and both use integrated graphics that aren’t fast enough to power creative tasks or gaming.

In our benchmark suite, the Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 was reasonably fast, more so than the lower-power Intel U-series chipsets but a step behind the Core Ultra 7 laptops I’ve reviewed. The differences aren’t major, though, making the Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 plenty fast for demanding productivity users.

Geekbench 5
(single/multi)

Handbrake
(seconds)

Cinebench R23
(single/multi)

PCMark 10
Complete

Lenovo Yoga 7 14 Gen 9
(Ryzen 7 8840HS)
Bal: 1,800 / 10,125
Perf: 1,802 / 10,631
Bal: 84
Perf: 73
Bal: 1,665 / 13,058
Perf: 1,648 / 13,162
6,929

Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Core Ultra 7 155U)
Bal: 1,692 / 8,309
Perf: 1,663 / 8,505
Bal: 131
Perf: 119
Bal: 1,770 / 7,171
Perf: 1,786 / 8,532
5,957

HP Envy x360 14 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155U)
Bal: 1,515 / 7,710
Perf: 1,713 / 7,710
Bal: 139
Perf: 120
Bal: 1,713 / 6,751
Perf: 1,766 / 8,146
5,750

Dell XPS 13
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
Bal: 1,469 / 10,774
Bal: 1,666 / 10,446
Bal: 83
Perf: 82
Bal: 1,649 / 9,311
Perf: 1,606 / 12,005
5,928

Dell Inspiron 14 Plus 2024
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
Bal: 1,681 / 11,331
Perf: 1,635 / 11,274
Bal: 72
Perf: 70
Bal: 1,629 / 13,153
Perf: 1,676 / 14,529
6,688

Asus Zenbook 14 Q425
(Core Ultra 7 155H)
Bal: 1,693 / 10,983
Perf: 1,728 / 11,473
Bal: 94
Perf: 82
Bal: 1,653 / 9,156
Perf: 1,635 / 12,130
6,316

Battery life

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Lenovo packed 71 watt-hours of battery into the Yoga 7 14 Gen 9, which is a good amount for a 14-inch laptop with an IPS display. AMD chipsets tend to be fairly efficient, and so I was expecting good enough battery life.

That’s what I got. The Yoga hit 10.5 hours in our web browsing test, 12.25 hours in our video looping test, and 12.75 hours in the Procyon Office Productivity battery benchmark. The latter is indicative of real-life performance running reasonable productivity tasks, and the Yoga did reasonably well. We just started using this test and so we don’t have many laptops to compare with. The web browsing test is are better than most Intel Meteor Lake results and competitive with the U-series, while the video looping test is just okay.

You’re unlikely to get a full day of work even doing lighter productivity tasks, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from most Windows laptops. The Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 isn’t a bad performer here. The upcoming Windows on ARM Copilot+ laptops, though, promise to be longer-lasting, but those will also be considerably more expensive and we haven’t yet confirmed that promise.

Display and audio

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

So far, everything’s been pretty impressive. The build quality, performance, and battery life have exceeded what I would have expected just a few years ago from a $699 laptop. But, one area has always disappointed at the lower end: display quality. I was hoping for better.

Unfortunately, I could tell this wasn’t a premium display when I first powered it on. The display was a bit lifeless, and that wasn’t just a factor of my reviewing so many laptops with OLED panels. Even compared to contemporary IPS displays, the Yoga’s 14.0-inch 16:10 Full HD+ (1920 x 1200) display wasn’t impressive. In particular, colors were muted and things weren’t as bright, and some laptops for under $1,000 have sharper panels.

When I used my colorimeter to test the display, I was surprised that the contrast was reasonably high at 1,210:1. There was a time when we set our standard for good displays at 1,000:1, but that’s no longer a valid benchmark. I haven’t tested a display in years that didn’t blow through that baseline. Brightness came in at 333 nits, which again is higher than our previous standard, 300 nits. We’ll need to revisit both of those metrics, because even lesser displays do better.

But the Yoga’s colors were just bad. They weren’t wide at 63% of sRGB, 48% of AdobeRGB, and 47% of DCI-P3. They also weren’t accurate at a Delta-E of 3.17. The Dell Inspiron 14 Plus is more expensive, but its IPS panel had 100% of sRGB, 79% of AdobeRGB, and 79% of DCI-P3 with excellent accuracy at a DeltaE of 0.8. And that’s the “worst” IPS panel I’ve reviewed in the last couple of years. The Asus Zenbook 14 Q425’s OLED display has wonderful colors and inky blacks, making it a better choice if you can find it for the same low price.

It’s easy to argue that Lenovo had to cut corners somewhere to be able to sell the Yoga at just $699. And maybe some other laptops in the same range will have similar displays. But it’s still a major compromise.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Audio is fine, with two upward-firing and two downward-firing speakers. There’s plenty of volume and mids and highs are clear, but there’s not a lot of bass. The audio is okay for YouTube videos and such, but a pair of headphones is probably a good thing for music and other content.

So close to being a great value

I liked the Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 quite a bit throughout most of this review. Its performance and battery life are fine for anyone with less money to spend, and in fact the Yoga’s faster and longer-lasting than many laptops that cost a lot more. It’s also well-built and has a very good keyboard.

The one weakness, poor display colors, might not matter to most productivity users. The display isn’t bad, exactly, it’s just not as good as some others. But overall, the Yoga 7 14 Gen 9 is relatively easy to recommend at $699. I just wouldn’t spend any more.

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