The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a new line of consumer laptops that succeeds the Lenovo Yoga C940 and comes with 14 or 15.6 inches displays. In this article, we’re going to review the Lenovo Yoga 9i 15.6” (model Yoga-9-15IMH5) equipped with a 4K display, an Intel Core-i9 10980HK CPU, 16GB of RAM, 1 TB of SSD NVME storage, and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650Ti graphic processor.
The Yoga 9i is designed for “Gaming and Work” according to Lenovo. The idea is to make it particularly attractive to Creative workers, Influencers but also Gamers. In recent years, these users have had converging CPU and CPU needs.
Our specific review configuration costs $2449.99 on Lenovo.com, but it came at $2289.99 at publishing time with the online discount. A cheaper model with 256GB SSD, 12GB of RAM, and a Core i7-10750H CPU had a street price of $1689.99.
Users will recognize the general design language from the earlier Yoga C940. All the popular features are here: super-rigid CNC aluminum chassis, thin left/right display bezels, webcam bump, smooth left and right metal finish, and the soundbar that also acts as a hinge.
At 4.41 lbs (2Kg) and 19.7mm at its thickest point, it is probably not the lightest and smallest 15.6-inch laptop you can find, but it’s not easy to find an ultralight 15.6-inch laptop that packs this much power, so it’s not comparable unless you look at the performance per Lbs.
As a Yoga laptop, the display can open 360-degrees to transform the Yoga 9i into a tablet-style computer. The integrated Pen makes this even more interesting as you can then take notes and sketch with speed and precision.
On this 15.6-inch version, the integrated Pen is stored on the laptop’s right side, making it easy to access/store. The Pen’s charging happens in there, so you never run out of battery.
The number of ports is pretty minimal, with two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 / Thunderbolt 3 (support data transfer, Power Delivery, and DisplayPort 1.4) and one full-size USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On). There’s one proprietary 130W Power connector and the classic 3.5mm audio jack as well.
Having at least one full-size USB is a lot better than none, but the computer’s size made me feel like Lenovo could have added a bit more here, such as an HDMI or a security port.
Gamers and creative workers are more likely to use this laptop as a desktop replacement. Perhaps one of the Lenovo Thunderbolt 3 130W docks (~$266) would be the ideal solution to increase connectivity.
More importantly, a dock would lead to a cleaner one-cable setup. Perhaps, we should put that solution to the test in the future.
Keyboard and Trackpad
As usual, Lenovo’s consumer-oriented keyboard has a U-shape and does provide a pleasant typing experience. The non-slip surface makes the keys feel dry and nice, and the keys’ tactile feedback is firm but not “clicky” with a key-travel that seems to be in the 1mm to 1.1mm.
The Numeric Pad of the 15.6-inch version can be excellent if you deal with numbers a lot, whether for coding and app shortcuts (CAD, games). For coding specifically, I would have loved to see full-size Up/Down arrow keys.
The trackpad is large and comfortable, and even though it’s not the largest we’ve seen, we feel like it’s large enough unless you execute complex 4-fingers Windows gestures. The surface feels very smooth, and it’s no surprise because it is confirmed to be Glass.
As usual, the Lenovo soundbar delivers a wonderful sound experience. It is a Dolby Atmos device, and there is a control panel from which several profiles are selectable. The sound software does an incredible job at rendering the audio, and the larger screen size makes watching movies extremely enjoyable.
I am now calling for a 17-inch version of this laptop to push the experience to the next level.
“A WONDERFUL SOUND EXPERIENCE”
If you’re not familiar with Lenovo’s soundbar, the concept is elegant and unique: it contains several speakers to cover a wide frequency range and serves as a display hinge at the same time. No matter how you fold the laptop, the sound energy is always directed towards an optimum, minimizing potential sound-energy loss.
Many laptops simply fire the sound at the bottom of the computer and some energy is absorbed by the surface before being reflected.
Display: FHD/1080p or UHD/4K, no OLED
Depending on your needs, you can pick the FHD or UHD display options. Typically, I recommend the 4K UHD version for Creative workers who may need the higher resolution to edit 4K content or work on intricate details.
Everyone else, especially gamers, would probably want to pick the 1080p version for its lower cost ($150 cheaper) and lesser impact on battery life: The UHD display can reduce battery life by ~30% same workload, at the same brightness.
Typically, if you don’t know if you should get 4K, you probably don’t. Instead, you can put that amount towards the 1TB SSD or ensuring that you’re getting the maximum amount of RAM (16GB).
Resolution aside, both FHD and UHD options have the same general specs: VESA HDR400 certification, ~500 NITs of brightness, and a 72% NTSC color gamut, which is close to 100% sRGB. That’s good enough to satisfy people working on photos/videos for a living.
Can you open the lid with one hand? That’s a yes.
The webcam is pretty basic and is on par with many laptops that were announced in the first half of 2020. Following the pandemic, some OEMs, including Lenovo, have revealed new laptops with higher-quality cameras, but we haven’t had a chance to put the new ones to the test.
On this laptop, the webcam is “okay” and works relatively well in daylight if you have uniform lighting (avoid extreme contrast). It will get noisy pretty quickly at night, and it’s best to have a well-lit room in general.
Our review system is powered by a 14nm Intel Core i9-10980HK (Comet Lake generation), an 8-core (16 threads) processor capable of reaching 5.3 GHz. It was launched in Q2 2020 and has a TDP of 45W-65W, depending on the specific laptop configuration.
There’s also a more affordable Core i7-10750H with six cores and a maximum frequency of 5.0 GHz. Its maximum TDP is 45W but can be configured-down to 35W.
Unfortunately, the maximum amount of RAM you can get is 16GB, and the memory is soldered, so there’s no path for future upgrades. My advice: take the 16GB if you can afford it.
Looking at a CPU test like Geekbench 5, it’s clear that the i9-10980HK delivers workstation-like performance, as it can easily compete with the ThinkPad P1 Gen 3, which we reviewed earlier. Coming from the Lenovo Yoga C740 15.6”, the CPU speed has more than doubled.
“THE CPU SPEED HAS MORE THAN DOUBLED”
The graphics aspect is also exciting: thanks to its discrete NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti GPU the graphics performance is potent enough to get some real Creative work done.
The benchmarks also show that you can select a Core i7 version of this laptop and have very comparable graphics performance levels in some circumstances.
Note that graphics benchmarks don’t use too much CPU (on purpose) to isolate the GPU’s stress. Real games might be another story, and the speed differences could be more pronounced.
We also clocked the WIFI-6 (AX) speed at 458 Mbps (download) and 805 Mbps (upload) on our Gb Internet connection. Such speeds would make anyone’s Internet life rather enjoyable.
The 69Wh battery capacity is very good for a consumer 15.6,” and with Lenovo, you would have to get the ThinkPad P1 Gen 3 to get an 80Wh capacity.
This laptop could get a theoretical battery life of ~9 hours for a simple video playback activity on the 4K display with such a battery size. The same activity could get as high as ~13 hours with the FHD display option, so that’s quite a jump.
With the “best battery” settings, the PCMark 10 Modern Office test yielded 7h13mn of usage (with the 4K display), which is very good for such a laptop. In theory, you could up to 9h30mn when using the 1080/FHD display.
If you’re going to play 3D games or do something very intensive, battery-life will drop quickly, but that’s not surprising because the system is so powerful.
The Lenovo Yoga 9i is a formidable upgrade of the Lenovo Yoga C740 15.6-inch (2020), and although it is also considerably more expensive than the Yoga C740, you get what you pay for.
Starting at around ~$1690, the performance-per-dollar is already superior to the C740, and our Core i9 model (~$2290) is capable of a performance level that few competitors can brag about.
The Dell XPS 15 comes to mind, as it features a similar graphics processor and a Core i7-10750H, which is not quite as fast as the Core i9-10980HK the Yoga 9i has. The XPS can get up to 32GB of RAM, but only 1TB of SSD (vs. 2TB for Lenovo), and at $2099, the value is quite comparable.
“THE LENOVO YOGA 9I IS PROBABLY THE FASTEST CONVERTIBLE 15.6-INCH LAPTOP”
Perhaps the tie-breaker for Lenovo is the Pen and multimode display action from the Yoga family. Converting this computer into a high-performance tablet with a pen could be a decisive advantage for Creative users. The Lenovo Yoga 9i is probably the fastest convertible 15.6-inch laptop.
This laptop can more than satisfy the needs of a large crowd of Creative, Influencers, and even some Gamers who want good performance in a neat and solid design. We highly recommend it.
Overall product rating: 9.5/10
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