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By Rich Woods
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 review: A showcase for what AMD Ryzen 4000 can do
by Rich Woods
If you follow my work, then you know that I work with Lenovo a lot on product reviews. For the IdeaPad Slim 7 though, it's a bit different, because this product didn't come from Lenovo. AMD actually wanted to send me this one to show off its Ryzen 4000 processors, and it became very apparent that this machine does just that, even though I've already reviewed a number of Ryzen 4000 PCs.
It's also an overall excellent PC, with a solid keyboard, a stylish design, and more. I can't find a price for this specific configuration, but it starts at $899.99 on Lenovo's website.
CPU AMD Ryzen 7 4800U (25W, 1.8GHz, up to 4.2GHz boost) Graphics AMD Radeon Graphics Body 320.6x208x14.9mm (12.62x8.18x0.58"), 1.4kg (3.08lbs) Display 14” FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, glossy, 300 nits Ports (2) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) USB-C (USB 3.2 + DP + Power Delivery
(1) USB-C (Power Delivery) for DC In
SD card reader
Headphone / mic combo
Memory 2 x8GB (Dual Channel)-Down Storage 512GB SAMSUNG MZVLB256HBHQ-000L2 NVMe SSD Audio 2 x 2W front-facing Dolby Atmos Speaker System Camera IR & 720p HD Battery Up to 17.5 hours (FHD), Rapid Charge Connectivity 802.11AX (2 x 2), Bluetooth 5.0
Material Aluminum Color Slate Grey OS Windows 10 Home Price Starts at $899.99
The color of the model that AMD sent me is called Slate Grey, and I'm probably visibly disappointed in the video above when I saw that that's what the company sent me. That's because it also comes in this beautiful maroon color, which is what's shown off in the reviewer's guide. Keep in mind that IdeaPad is strictly a U.S. brand, as this is called the Yoga Slim 7 outside of the U.S., so it might only come in Slate Grey here.
The only actual difference between this and the Yoga Slim 7 is that there's no Yoga branding stamped in the lid. The other reason I didn't care for the Slate Grey color is because I've seen it in tons of Lenovo laptops, and I've never found it to be particularly inspiring. I'd love it if the company added some metallic accents in some places just to sexy it up a bit.
The only really defining branding is the '7 SERIES' stamped in the lip. It's likely that elsewhere, that actually says 'Yoga 7 SERIES'.
With an aluminum chassis, it weighs in at just over three pounds, which is pretty comfortable considering that this is actually a pretty powerful PC, more powerful than most ultrabooks, but we'll get into that in the performance section.
On the right side, you'll find two USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports for 5Gbps data transfer speeds, which is fine. That's also where you'll find the power button and a microSD slot.
The ports, however, are probably my biggest complaints about this device. Unsurprisingly, there's no Thunderbolt 3. I've still never actually seen an AMD-powered PC with Thunderbolt, although it is possible. But my big complaint is that only one of the USB Type-C ports have display out.
Personally, I usually work with a Thunderbolt 3 dock, so I can just plug it into a laptop and my two 4K monitors are good to go. When I come across a laptop that doesn't have Thunderbolt, that's OK too because one of the monitors is connected via USB Type-C, so I can just connect the dock with one monitor attached, and the other monitor to the two USB Type-C ports. Of course, I can't do that here because only one USB Type-C port supports display out.
Luckily, it does have HDMI 2.0. If I was really going to make this my forever PC, I'd connect one monitor via USB Type-C and connect the other via HDMI.
Display and audio
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 packs a 14-inch FHD display at 300 nits. It's not a convertible, as the company's 'Slim' branding implies. It also doesn't support touch. As far as 14-inch FHD displays go, this one is pretty good, although it doesn't really stand out to me.
For one thing, it is very glossy, although that's kind of expected in a premium PC like this. I do wish that it was bright enough to compensate.
The color accuracy is great though, and so is the viewing angle. You can look at this screen from a solid 178 degrees and not see any noticeable distortion. But that's what it adds up to. It's a solid screen that won't blow your socks off.
The screen actually has narrow bezels on all sides, and the top one has Lenovo's reverse notch design. Not only is this for brand recognition, but it also just makes it easier to open the laptop. And of course, it makes extra space for a webcam and an IR camera.
What just might blow your socks off are the two 2W speakers that sit on either side of the keyboard. They sound great, with clear and rich sound, and they can get pretty powerful. Personally, I use them for listening to music while I work, but they'll be great for anything, from video calls to streaming movies.
Keyboard and trackpad
The IdeaPad Slim 7 actually has an excellent keyboard, and it's among my favorite around. I almost always find that Lenovo makes great keyboards, with the odd man out here and there. I'm starting to like their consumer laptop keyboards more and more too. It's so comfortable, and it feels like it has just the right amount of resistance to feel solid, but not hurt your fingers. It gives enough so that you don't have to press hard, but it doesn't feel loose. It's just right.
Naturally, the keyboard is backlit. One thing you'll notice is that it's fairly shallow, something that's common in consumer laptops. It's just that if you're comparing it to a ThinkPad, this keyboard is much shallower.
One thing missing, surprisingly, is a fingerprint sensor. It just surprises me because I so rarely see a Lenovo PC that doesn't have one. Lenovo pioneered fingerprint sensors on PCs with its ThinkPad lineup, long before Windows Hello was a thing. But of course, this machine does still have an IR camera for facial recognition, and if I had to pick one or the other, I'd pick the IR camera in a heartbeat.
The Precision trackpad is clickable, and it's fine. The nice thing about Precision trackpads is that they're fast and responsive, supporting the gestures that you're used to. Of course, they're so common now, with HP finally making the switch in its premium laptops.
Performance and battery life
OK, here's the good part. The performance on this thing is a phenomenal, and it really showcases the best of AMD Ryzen 4000. Here's the deal. AMD Ryzen 4000 is built on a 7nm process, while Intel offers 10nm and 14nm in Ice Lake and Comet Lake, respectively, both of which are under the 10th-gen umbrella.
In all of my testing so far, Ryzen 4000 smokes the best that Intel has to offer in the 15W class. From what I've seen, a Ryzen 5 4500U is more comparable to a Core i7-1065G7, when it's actually aimed at more of a Core i5. The IdeaPad Slim 7 actually includes a Ryzen 7 4800U, and moreover, the TDP is jacked up to 25W. There's a fair bit of power here.
The Ryzen 7 4800U has eight cores and 16 threads. Note that unlike Intel's U-series processors, not all of AMD's have simultaneous multithreading (SMT). The Ryzen 5 4500U and Ryzen 7 4700U both have the same number of cores and threads, while the Ryzen 5 4600U and Ryzen 7 4800U both have twice as many threads as cores.
With eight cores, 16 threads, and a 25W TDP, this is one of the most powerful three-pound 14-inch PCs that you're going to find. You can actually do a bit of gaming on here, if you want. For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8 and PCMark 10.
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7
AMD Ryzen 7 4800U (25W) Acer Aspire 5 (A515-44)
AMD Ryzen 7 4700U Lenovo ThinkPad T14s
AMD Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U Lenovo Flex 5 14
AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Dell XPS 13
Intel Core i7-10710U Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Intel Core i7-1065G7 PCMark 8: Home 4,566 3,702 4,298 4,135 3,501
PCMark 8: Creative 4,861 4,228 4,568 4,214 3,966
PCMark 8: Work 3,926 3,689 3,857 3,693 3,342
PCMark 10 5,252 4,718 4,963 4,708 4,314
As you can see, the Slim 7 actually smokes anything else I compared it to. To be clear, the Ryzen 7 PRO 4750U also has SMT, so the 25W TDP makes a big difference here.
You might be surprised to hear this at this point, but battery life is pretty awesome as well. As usual, the power slider was on the notch above battery saver. I kept the brightness at about 75%, as that's where I needed it with the available brightness. With all of that, I got about eight hours of regular usage, meaning working in the Chrome browser, OneNote, To Do, Slack, and so on.
Eight hours is really good, and it's rare to see in a laptop with this kind of thickness and weight. I want to be clear about how impressed I am with the battery life considering how much power is in here. Eight hours is kind of a magic mark, as it lets you get through a workday without charging it.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 has the best performance that I've seen from a three-pound PC, and that's why I'm so quick to call it a showcase for what AMD Ryzen 4000 has to offer. With a 25W octa-core CPU, there's just nothing out there that compares. AMD Ryzen 4000 is already better than Intel Ice Lake, but this really kicks it up a notch.
As always, there are a few things that I'm willing to complain about. The biggest one is the port selection. If we can't have Thunderbolt 3, then I really want two USB Type-C ports with DisplayPort. My other complaint is that this really isn't a great PC for outdoor use, something that I find increasingly important in the age of working from home. The screen isn't bright enough to compensate for how glossy it is, and there's no cellular option.
However, I'd bet that for the vast majority of use cases, neither of those things matter at all. Plenty of people spend years with a laptop without ever plugging it into a third-party monitor.
This is an awesome laptop. Aside from the excellent Ryzen performance, it also has lovely Dolby Atmos speakers, and more importantly, an excellent keyboard that adds to the pleasure of using the IdeaPad Slim 7. If you want to check it out on Lenovo.com, you can find it here.
Microsoft Weekly: Windows updates, Xbox pre-order details, and Edge news
by Florin Bodnarescu
Among other things, we found out this week exactly when the Xbox next-gen pre-orders start, what new features folks can look forward to in Edge, and on which day the next Surface event may be. You can find info about that, as well as much more below, in your Microsoft digest for the week of September 12 - 18.
We start the column this week with a set of optional updates for folks running the October 2018 Update, May 2019 Update, or the November 2019 Update. These are:
May 2019 Update / November 2019 Update (1903/1909): KB4577062, build 18362.1110 / 18363.1110 – adds a notification for IE11 users that Flash will reach end of support in December, as well as fixing an issue causing apps to go into unwanted repair cycles, 4K HDR content being darker than expected, lowering the likelihood of having missing fonts, reducing Windows Mixed Reality HMD distortions and aberrations, and fixing an issue that causes a device to stop after using a pen for several hours. October 2018 Update (1809): KB4577069, build 17763.1490 – contains the same IE11 and missing font fixes from above, but also fixes for East Asian character input and Korean IME-specific issues. Known issue: After installing KB4493509, devices with some Asian language packs installed may receive the error “0x800f0982 – PSFX_E_MATCHING_COMPONENT_NOT_FOUND.” In other Windows news, Microsoft has pushed out build 20215 from the vNext branch to the Dev channel, with a number of fixes and quite a few known issues. The noteworthy small addition is the fact that Windows search now supports dark mode, but that’s only server-side, meaning it’s not technically part of this build.
And while we’re on the subject of builds, 19042.508 landed in the Release Preview channel, signaling that Microsoft is prepping for the release of 20H2, or what’ll most likely be the October 2020 Update. Like 1909, this is an enablement package, so it’s a rather small download.
New features present in 20H2, which are already included in version 2004, include the new Start Menu transparency effects, the replacement of Legacy Edge with the new Chromium Edge, and a couple of other small tweaks.
The update is rolling out to seekers in the RP channel, meaning those who go to Windows Update and opt into receiving it.
Xbox pre-order details
Since we’re on the eve of a new console generation, it’s worth noting that both Sony and Microsoft have now been pretty forthcoming in terms of both price and pre-order availability.
Unlike Sony though, Microsoft has set September 22 as the day it opens pre-orders for the Series S and Series X – something it had announced last week. This week however, the company also revealed the time at which pre-orders will begin. This will happen on September 22 at 8AM PT in the States, 8AM AEST in Australia, 8AM BST in the UK, 8AM PT in Canada, 9AM NZST in New Zealand, and 9AM CEST across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa.
As far as Xbox All Access is concerned, it will be available to opt for at the same times in the countries already listed, with the addition of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, all of which will have All Access ready for you starting at 9AM CEST on September 22.
In more service news, Game Pass subscribers can now play Company of Heroes on PC, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep and Forsaken on Android and console, as well as Halo 3: ODST on Android and PC starting September 22. On September 24, you’ll be able to play not only Warhammer: Vermintide 2 on Android and Xbox, but also Night in the Woods on Android, Xbox, and PC.
Leaving the subscription on September 30 are Panzer Dragoon Orta, Westerado: Double Barreled, and Yooka-Laylee on console, plus Bad North, DiRT Rally 2.0, and Dishonored 2 on both PC and console. Don’t forget that if you have Game Pass Ultimate, you already have access to the newly-launched Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming service on Android at no additional cost.
For folks who have Xbox Live Gold, Book of Unwritten Tales 2 plus Armed and Dangerous are now free to claim, and if you’ve had your eye on Borderlands 3, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, or others, Deals with Gold has you covered.
Xbox One owners have a few things to look forward to next week, as Mafia: Definitive Edition is set to hit stores – among other games, of course -, though be advised that the already launched Crysis Remastered does have some serious performance and visual issues on Xbox One X.
Switching to first-party games, Flight Simulator got its second patch with a ton of fixes, as well as a new development roadmap, SDK update, and much, much more. On the console side, more details have been revealed about Gears Tactics, including the arrival of a bunch of new features set to coincide with the release on console.
Lastly, while we’re on the subject of the console, Microsoft has updated its privacy settings on Xbox, and will now no longer be collecting voice data.
In case you’ve already switched to the new Edge browser on Windows, the good news is that if you have an iOS-based device, you’ll be able to set Edge as your default browser starting with iOS 14.
For folks in the Dev channel, as of version 87.0.637.0, the browser has a password generator feature that can suggest strong passwords. This is also present in the Canary channel, which in addition supports an upcoming feature dubbed Sleeping Tabs. You are now essentially able to suspend inactive tabs (and thus save resources), though enabling a flag with the same name is required for this to work.
Lastly, if you’re on a Mac and have been experiencing ‘Error code 6’ crashes, the company is working on a fix.
Microsoft’s bid for TikTok’s U.S. operations has been rejected by ByteDance. As a result of Project Natick, the Redmond giant has found underwater datacenters to be reliable and effective. The C++ extension for Visual Studio Code is now at version 1.0. Outlook on both iOS and Android has gotten a number of fixes and improvements in the latest update. Reactions are rolling out globally for both Yammer on the web and mobile. Microsoft and bp have partnered on Azure to advance sustainability. There’s now an open-source bug finding tool from Microsoft, called Project OneFuzz. Microsoft has announced new Threat Protection APIs, with the platform being ‘integration-ready’. Azure Files now has NFS 4.1 support, in preview. The ability to hyperlink shapes to pages, copy diagrams into other files, and more have come to Visio on the web. Azure NetApp Files now has cross-region replication support. Your Phone will receive a new Contacts tab, UI tweaks, and more. Skype 8.64 brings in message reaction customization, share sheet updates on iOS. Spotlight, the ability for folks to lock select video feeds in Teams, is now rolling out. The Redmond software giant has detailed features and enhancements made to OneDrive in August. Logging off
To end the week, and of course the column, we take a look at a smattering of Surface news, including a possible date for Microsoft’s next hardware event.
Kicking things off with existing devices, owners of both Surface Laptop 1 and 2 should be presented with a bunch of firmware updates that, above all else, will improve charging reliability. Also receiving firmware updates are the Surface Book, Surface Pro (5th-gen), and Pro 6, as well as the first-generation Surface Go.
In terms of what the future may bring, Microsoft is reportedly refreshing the Surface Pro X with new colours and a new SQ2 SOC. The SOC will be based on the second-gen Snapdragon 8cx, while the device itself should now also come in the traditional platinum colour of Surface devices.
As to when we could see all this revealed, according to reputable leakster WalkingCat on Twitter, the company could hold the next Surface event on October 1 or September 30 (depending on the time zone you’re in). This of course lines up with previous hardware events from the company which have – for the most part – been in October.
Missed any of the previous columns? Be sure to have a look right here.
By Rich Woods
Lenovo Legion 7i review: Core i7-10750H, RTX 2080 SUPER, and a 240Hz screen
by Rich Woods
Last month, I reviewed the Lenovo Legion 5i, its mid-range gaming laptop. Now, it's time to take a look at the flagship of the bunch, the Legion 7i. While it has more powerful offerings, it also has some of the more colorful features that gamers enjoy, such as RGB lighting in various places.
Like you'd expect in an upgrade from the mid-range, it has some other perks. For example, it actually has Thunderbolt 3, a rarity in a gaming laptop. And of course, it has Intel Comet Lake H processors and up to Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 graphics.
The 'i' in the name stands for Intel, as the standard models actually come with AMD's Ryzen 4000 H-series processors. I haven't gotten my hands on those yet though.
CPU Intel Core i7-10750H (2.6GHz) GPU Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super with Max-Q Design Memory 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 Display 15.6" FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, 100% Adobe sRGB, 240Hz, 500nits, VESA DisplayHDR 400 Certified, Dolby Vision Enabled, NVIDIA GSync Body 14.15x10.20x0.78" (359.34x259.04x19.9mm), 4.96lbs (2.25kg) Storage 2TB SSD Connectivity Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11 AX 2 x 2 + Bluetooth 5.0 Ports (1) USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
(2) USB 3.1 Gen 2 Type-A
(1) Thunderbolt 3 Type-C (Thunderbolt, DP, USB 3.1, HDMI)
(1) HDMI 2.0
(1) RJ45 Ethernet
(1) USB 3.1 Type C
(1) Headphone Jack Audio 2 X 2W Dolby Atmos Speaker System for Gaming with Chamber Keyboard Corsair ICUE RGB Support Battery 80Wh 4 cells; ~8 Hours Color Slate Grey Material Aluminum OS Windows 10 Home Price $3,049
As far as the design goes, there really isn't much, if anything that's changed since last year's Legion Y740. Personally, I think that's a good thing, as Lenovo's Legion laptops are definitely among the more stylish out there. They have a certain industrial design that makes that pretty enough to game on with RGB lighting, but also standard enough so that you can take them to work.
This one is made out of aluminum, and the color is called Slate Grey, just like its predecessor. You can compare this to the Legion 5 series, which is typically black and has a plastic lid. Another key feature that you'll typically find in the 7 series and not the 5 series is RGB lighting.
Inside of the 'O' in the Legion logo, there's RGB lighting. In fact, you'll also find RGB lighting in the vents, the keyboard, and even one of the USB ports.
Speaking of ports, most of them are on the back, something that I appreciate about the Legion design. It makes cable management really easy. On the back, you'll find two USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports for 10Gbps data transfer speeds, Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, and an AC power port. Yes, you do need a separate power port, since the 230W charger is way too much for USB Type-C Power Delivery.
On the right side, there's a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port for 5Gbps speeds. Personally, I'm a fan of all ports being equal. They're clearly marked, but I never like it when the user has to know the difference between the various USB Type-A ports.
You'll notice that it has vents on both the back and the sides, which allow the dual fans to push out twice as much air. It also has Lenovo's ColdFront 2.0 technology, which uses Vapor Chamber technology to help dissipate heat. You can add to that that there's a Q Control feature that lets you control performance mode, and it can boost the fans into high gear.
On the left side, there are two USB Type-C ports and a 3.5mm audio jack. One of those ports, the one that's labeled as such, is Thunderbolt 3. That means that you can plug in dual 4K displays, which is exactly what I did in my time with the Legion 7i, and it absolutely has the GPU power to push those screens.
Personally, I think the Thunderbolt 3 port would have made more sense on the back with the rest of the ports. I don't think of Thunderbolt 3 as a quick access port, and since I was using a Thunderbolt dock, I would have preferred the cable to be out of the way. It just seems like an odd choice, but I'll take the win in having Thunderbolt 3 on a gaming laptop, which is somewhat rare.
Display and audio
The model that Lenovo sent me includes a 15.6-inch screen, although it does come in a 17.3-inch flavor. This one has a a 240Hz 500-nit panel, and it's pretty great. You can also get it with a 144Hz refresh rate, coming in 300- or 500-nit brightness, but I always recommend going top-end when it comes to gaming displays.
There's no glare, and it's bright enough to work anywhere you go. Also, when it comes to gaming, you might as well get the highest refresh rate, as it does make a difference in your response time. There's also no 4K 60Hz option, so it's not like there are different opinions on what's best here. You don't have to choose between a high resolution and a high frame rate, so just get the high frame rate.
Lenovo used narrow bezels on all sides, something that it also did last year with the Y740. It also used its reverse notch design on the lid, something that we're seeing across the lineup. It provides a bit more bezel space for the webcam and the integrated privacy guard, and it offers an easy way to lift the lid.
The reverse notch and the ports are both subtle changes to the design that we're seeing this year, but another change is that the speakers are located above the keyboard. They're two 2W speakers and they're tuned for Dolby Atmos, and they sound both loud and clear. I'm personally more of a headset guy when gaming, but being able to use the speakers to play is important. They're also great for playing music, with rich sound.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard and trackpad combo was probably my least favorite part of the device, for a few reasons. What I do like is the RGB lighting, which can light up in an array of animations, various colors, various zones, and so on. It's not any different then what you'd expect, but it's good at it.
One thing that bugs me is that you have to use Corsair's iCUE app to control the lighting. That would be fine on its own, but there are already plenty of utilities on this PC. Lenovo has its own called Vantage, and that used to control the lighting on its gaming PCs before it started using Corsair. You also get Nvidia's GeForce Experience for getting graphics drivers and such. I don't think anyone was asking for an additional app to control their PC's settings.
On to the keyboard itself, I find it to be inconsistent. Occasionally it double-types keys, or it can even skip over a keystroke to double-type. I find myself making more corrections than normal with this keyboard. Obviously, it's meant to be more sensitive, since it's to be used for gaming, but one of my favorite things about Legion is the ability to use it for work and play. I find this to be a bit hard to use for work.
My complaints about the trackpad are exactly the opposite. It uses Microsoft Precision drivers, so it's responsive and supports proper gestures, which is great for work. What it's not great for is gaming, because it's clickable. The Legion Y740 didn't have a clickable trackpad, and it has a pair of physical buttons, and that's definitely the way to go for gaming.
The reason is because if you're controlling something in a game with the trackpad, you don't want to accidentally click on it. Of course, this isn't an issue if you use a gaming controller or a mouse.
Performance and battery life
The Legion 7i that Lenovo sent me includes an Intel Core i7-10750H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2080 Super, 16GB RAM, and a 2TB SSD. Frankly, this configuration is pretty great.
Starting with the CPU, the Core i7-10750H is a 45W hexa-core CPU with 12 threads. You can have it configured with up to a Core i9 if you want, and the i9 will even be unlocked for overclocking, as this PC is not. For the GPU, the RTX 2080 Super is the best from Nvidia, supporting things like real-time ray tracing and deep learning super sampling (DLSS).
Personally, I think a nice cherry on top is the 2TB SSD. A lot of gaming PCs that I review have maybe a 512GB SSD and then a big HDD, and you'd store a lot of games on the HDD because it's got the space. But an SSD is much faster, so having a nice and spacious SSD makes this thing feel so good to use.
Battery life was pretty solid, considering all of the power under the hood. I like to say that you can choose between power and battery life, which is true, but this machine gives you a bit extra for not offering a 4K display. I was able to get five hours of work out of it, if not even a bit more. I didn't try gaming on the battery because I'd prefer not to. You get better performance when it's plugged in, and I don't want to risk it dying.
For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, 3DMark, and VRMark.
Core i7-10750H, RTX 2080 Super Legion 5i
Core i7-10750H, RTX 2060 Legion Y740
Core i7-8750H, RTX 2070 PCMark 8: Home 4,419 4,438 4,776 PCMark 8: Creative 4,185 4,106 5,804 PCMark 8: Work 4,291 4,317 4,122 PCMark 10 4,980 4,898 5,623 3DMark: Time Spy 7,862 6,002 VRMark: Orange 7,978 7,873 VRMark: Cyan 7,795 5,647 VRMark: Blue 2,582 1,849
The difference between the Legion 5i and 7i are pretty clear, since they both have the same CPU and vary on some GPU-focused tasks. As for why the Legion Y740 does so well when compared to the Legion 7i, I frankly have no idea.
Of course, part of it is because Lenovo sent me such a great configuration, but this is a really good gaming laptop. It has a lot of power, and it has a very roomy SSD.
If it wasn't for the keyboard and trackpad issues, it just might be close to perfect. The keyboard could just be a bad unit or something, but the clickable trackpad is just the way it is, and it's the way it was on the Legion 5i as well. Also, it would be nice to have Windows Hello.
Aside from the performance and the SSD, one thing I really appreciated was Thunderbolt 3. Since I use so many laptops, I'm almost always working with a Thunderbolt 3 dock, so I can just connect my two 4K monitors and work from the laptop that I'm reviewing. Usually with a gaming laptop, I have to make some compromises because gaming laptops don't have Thunderbolt 3, or multiple USB Type-C ports.
It also weighs in at under five pounds, it's stylish, and it has some premium Dolby Atmos audio quality. It does blur the line fairly well between work and play, with a clickable trackpad for work and a keyboard that's just a bit too responsive for play. Personally, I don't mind using an Xbox controller anyway.
Here's the really good news. While I priced this out on Lenovo.com for $3,049, Lenovo told me that you can get it on Costco for $2,299.99. You can find it here.
By Rich Woods
HP EliteBook 840 G7 unboxing and first impressions
by Rich Woods
HP's EliteBook 840 G7 is here, and I'm already quire impressed with it. The last time I reviewed an EliteBook 840 was two years ago, with the G5. HP has made a lot of improvements since then, particularly from G6 to G7. When I reviewed the G5, this mainstream laptop felt, well, mainstream.
Now it feels premium. It feels like something I'd have expected from the EliteBook 1000 series a year or two ago. HP shrunk down the footprint, made it thinner, it's lighter, and it's just better. The footprint isn't just a little bit smaller either; as you'll see from the video below, it's quite a bit smaller. And at under three pounds, it feels a lot lighter than you'd expect a mainstream laptop to be.
The model that HP sent me is specced out. It has an Intel Core i7-10810U, a 15W hexa-core vPro chip with 12 threads, along with 16GB RAM, a 512GB SSD, and most importantly, 4G LTE. LTE is always a nice perk to have when it comes to a portable PC. Check out the unboxing video below:
Honor MagicBook Pro review: plenty of Ryzen 4000 power for under €900
by João Carrasqueira
When I reviewed the Honor MagicBook 14 earlier this year, one of my big problems with it was that it was coming after AMD announced the Ryzen 4000 mobile processors, yet the laptop still packed the previous generation. Now, the company has addressed that, not only refreshing the MagicBook 14 and 15 with newer processors, but also launching the MagicBook Pro, packing a 45W Ryzen 5 4600H.
Heading into this review, I was pretty excited about the capabilities of an H-series Ryzen processor, and sure enough, it's pretty good. Honor packed a 45W processor into a package that's barely heavier than its MagicBook 14 - which not only has a 15W processor, but also a smaller chassis - and while it doesn't deliver on everything to perfection, it's still a good device.
CPU AMD Ryzen 5 4600H, 6 cores, 12 threads; Base clock: 3.0GHz, Boost: 4.0GHz GPU AMD Radeon graphics Display 16.1" diagonal FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS LCD, 100% sRGB Body 369x234x16.9mm (14.53x9.21x0.67in); 1.7kg (3.75lbs) Memory 16GB dual-channel DDR4 Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD Audio Stereo speakers, dual microphones Connectivity Realtek 8822CE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac + Bluetooth 5 Ports (1) USB Type-C with fast charging
(3) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(1) HDMI 2.0
3.5mm combo audio
Camera 720p HD webcam in keyboard Security Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 2.0
Battery 56Wh Lithium Ion battery, up to 11 hours OS Windows 10 Home Material Aluminum Price €899.90/£859.99 Day one
In terms of the design, the MagicBook Pro is one of the most boring laptops I've reviewed so far. I'm completely okay with that, and I've reviewed other boring-looking laptops like the LG gram, but it's still boring. Most of the body is Space Gray, which is subtle and classy enough, and the lid only has the Honor logo carved into it in black. Unlike the less powerful MagicBooks, there's not even a hint of color here, which is a shame.
In terms of ports, you can find two USB Type-A ports, both USB 3.2 Gen 1, and a 3.5mm headphone jack on the right side.
On the left, there is another USB Type-A port, one USB Type-C port that's used for charging, and an HDMI 2.0 port. It doesn't go above and beyond in terms of ports, but you have a decent amount of options here.
Looking inside the laptop, you can see that Honor makes use of the extra space around the keyboard to have top-firing speakers, something I usually like, but I'll dive more into that later. There's no number pad, which some might not like, and for some reason, they sent me one with a keyboard layout in German, so it took me a while to get used to that. That won't be a problem if you buy it from your regional representative, though. The FullView display has pretty minimal edges around it, so it feels more immersive.
The most remarkable thing about this laptop's design, for me, is how light it still is despite having a 45W processor. Compared to something in the same ballpark, like the new Dell XPS 15, it's a quarter pound lighter than the base model of that device. It's lighter than my HP Envy x360, which has a 15W processor (though, to be fair, that's a late 2017 convertible), and it's just slightly heavier than Honor's MagicBook 14. I think that's impressive, even if it's not exactly mind-blowing.
Display and sound
The display on the MagicBook Pro is the biggest I've used yet in a laptop, at 16.1 inches diagonally. It comes in Full HD resolution, which you can't configure, and it covers 100% of the sRGB color space. In my usage, I've found it to be a pretty solid display. Colors look lively and even though some might find Full HD less than ideal, I think it's perfectly fine for a laptop display. I've had no problems with the sharpness of the image.
One thing I like about the display is the semi-matte finish it has. It's not completely matte to the point where it feels rough, it's still a smooth surface, but it reflects a lot less light than a glossy panel would. I wish this meant that there was touch support, since this is a display I would love to be able to use with my hands, but sadly, that's not the case.
Like I mentioned above, the bezels are also quite small here, and it feels great to use. The problem with that is there's still no webcam above the display, and if I already disliked that earlier this year, it's even harder to justify when remote work is so much more prevalent. The camera is hidden in the keyboard, and to Honor's credit, the camera quality itself is alright, but the position and angle are just not favorable. I've gotten more used to it, but I still want better camera placement.
When I first saw the upward-firing speakers on the MagicBook Pro, I was very excited about the possibilities. I found the speakers on the MagicBook 14 to be alright despite firing down, so I had high hopes for this one. Sadly, they're not that loud and lack some "oomph", so I was somewhat disappointed. In a vacuum, they're fine enough and they're perfectly audible, but I got more powerful audio out of my RedMagic 5S. The microphones on this laptop are placed on its underside, and they work pretty well for built-in microphones. Their position might be a problem if you're using the computer on your lap, though, since it might rub against your clothes and cause some annoying noise for others.
Keyboard and trackpad
As I said at the start, the keyboard layout on my review unit is German, and that comes with a few quirks I'm not used to. As such, parts of my experience that were less positive aren't entirely Honor's fault. Some things are a little weird, though, like the lack of Home, End, Page Up, or Page Down keys. As one of our readers pointed out in my MagicBook 14 review, though, you can use the Fn key and directional arrows to replace those functions, but it's something to get used to.
I've said before that I'm in no way a keyboard connoisseur, but one thing I did notice when I switched to the MagicBook Pro is that the keys feel a little more shallow than I'm used to. Now, after a day or two, I was perfectly used to it, so the difference isn't that big to me, but it may be worth keeping in mind if you're more sensitive to that kind of thing. The typing experience was overall still pretty good, barring the quirks of the German keyboard layout.
Once again, Honor deserves all the praise I can give for including a Precision touchpad on this laptop. Since trying Precision for the first time I've absolutely fallen in love with the gestures I can do and how well they work, and it's no different here. Plus, Honor's touchpads are more than big enough, so performing those gestures is very comfortable. It's a fantastic trackpad overall and I have nothing bad to point out here.
Performance and battery life
The best way I can describe performance on the MagicBook Pro would be that it's good enough. I assumed heading into it that a 45W processor would yield much better results than 15W processors, but that wasn't the case, at least, not as much as I expected. My benchmark results were closer to that of the Lenovo ThinkPad T14s, which has a Rzyen 7 4750U, with some scores actually being lower than the Ryzen 5 4650U.
In the H-series space, we can compare it to the HP Envy 15, though it's important to keep in mind that laptop has dedicated Nvidia RTX graphics. The PCMark 8 Home and Work tests are the most comparable here, and the Ryzen 5 4600H does pull ahead of Intel's Core i7-10750H by a significant margin.
Ryzen 5 4600H
Lenovo Flex 5
AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Acer Aspire 5 (A515-44)
AMD Ryzen 7 4700U HP Envy 15
Intel Core i7-10750H
(plus GeForce RTX 2060) Dell XPS 13 2-in-1
Intel Core i7-1065G7 PCMark 8: Home 4,211 4,087 3,702 3,566
PCMark 8: Creative 4,470 4,247 4,228 5,010
PCMark 8: Work 3,606 3,687 3,689 3,386
PCMark 10 4,714 4,679 4,718 5,192
I assume some of the less impressive results may have to do with the device being as light as it is and the thermal performance of this design. I do think this begs the question of if bumping up to a 45W processor is worth it, though, especially with Honor having the MagicBook 14 with a Ryzen 5 4500U and lower price. If the performance on that device is similar to the Lenovo Flex 5 above, it could offer a better price-to-performance ratio.
Still, in day-to-day usage, there's not much in the way of performance issues, and you get a very solid experience across the board. I tried running Rocket League on the MagicBook Pro, and I was able to get mostly stable 60 frames per second by setting the Render Quality setting to Performance and the Render Detail to Quality in the game, while running the game at 1080p.
I did experience some issues that I believe can be improved with software, though. When connected to an external display via HDMI, watching a YouTube video in full screen causes a glitch where elements like the video title are overly large and there's a big black border all around the video. Using the myTube app for Windows 10, I ran into the same issues I had with the MSI Trident X, where the next video in a playlist fails to start. Depending on the driver version, moving videos between the two monitors can cause the frame to freeze, too. Since some of these issues seemed to come and go depending on updates, it's possible that they can be fixed through software.
As far as battery life goes, I was pretty happy with the MagicBook Pro. The battery is the exact same size, that being 56Wh, as the MagicBook 14, despite having a more power-hungry processor, but it still lasts me through a workday most of the time. With the Windows performance setting set to "Better performance", I get about seven hours of active usage out of it, including multiple Edge tabs open at a time.
Honor ships its laptops with very clean builds of Windows 10, which I really appreciate. The only preinstalled app is PC Manager, which includes some troubleshooting tips, system checkup tools, and a driver updater. One of its most notable features is the ability to link an Honor phone to transfer files or even share your screen easily. Just tap an Honor phone on the Honor Magic-link tag on the laptop, and you see your phone screen on your laptop, send files, and more. There's also a Nahimic app that lets you tune your audio experience. You can improve the sound a bit by fiddling with the settings here, but it's never amazing.
The Honor MagicBook Pro has a lot going for it considering its €899.90 price tag. The performance of a Ryzen 5 4600H, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of SSD storage are a pretty great deal for the price of this machine. Plus, the fact that you get all that in a fairly light package and with decent battery life is great, and it makes that price even more justified. I did expect a bit more performance from an H-series laptop compared to a U-series one, but clearly, AMD is still besting Intel's competing products in at least some areas, and there's not much to complain about.
With that being said, there are also some downsides. The sound is alright, but I really expected more from top-firing speakers, and I still wish there was touch support on this display. Most importantly, I would like to have a webcam in a more adequate position for video calls, and given the current condition of many users right now, I'm sure I'm not the only one. Plus, the aesthetics are so boring that it's just difficult to be excited about this laptop just from looking at it. It's fine, but nothing that makes me feel good about carrying it around.
Still, you're not going to find many laptops with this kind of performance, display, and light weight, and especially not under €1,000. The Dell XPS 15 with an Intel Core i5-10300H, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage is currently going for $1,199 on Dell's website. That machine is also slightly heavier than the MagicBook Pro. While I wouldn't say it's exciting necessarily, this is definitely a great option to get for €899.90, or even less, since it already seems to be discounted to €799.90 in Germany and France.