Review

Lenovo Yoga 7i 15 review: Tiger Lake, Thunderbolt 4, and style for $1,049

For a mainstream consumer laptop, I found Lenovo's Yoga 7i 15 to be a delight. First of all, Intel's new 11th-generation processors make a big difference in terms of graphics power and connectivity, but the Dark Moss color is a nice touch.

However, I went into this review asking one big question: why? The Yoga 7i 15 weighs in at 4.19 pounds. That's pretty standard for a 15-inch laptop encased in aluminum, but these types of PCs tend to also have 45W processors and dedicated graphics. Once we start looking at 15-inch PCs that have integrated graphics, they start targeting the thin and light market.

The Yoga 7i 15 does neither. It's not thin and light, nor does it have dedicated graphics. With Intel's Iris Xe graphics, there's a lot more power under the hood than something like this used to have, and it's quite an enjoyable PC.

Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-1165G7, 2.8GHz, four cores, eight threads
GPU Intel Iris Xe
Display 15.6” FHD (1920x1080), IPS Touch, 100% sRGB, HDR400 Dolby Vision, 500 nits
Body 14.03x9.27x0.7-0.75in (356.46x235.65x17.97-19.25mm), 4.19lbs (1.9kg)
Storage 512GB PCIe NVMe
RAM 12GB LPDDR4
Ports (2) USB 3.2 Gen 2, Type-A
(2) Thunderbolt 4, Type-C (Power, DP 1.4, Data, Always on)
(1) 3.5mm Headphone/Mic Combo Audio Jack
Connectivity Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11 AX (2 x 2) + Bluetooth 5.0
Audio 2 x 2W user-facing Dolby Atmos Speaker System
Keyboard 6-row, multimedia Fn keys, LED backlight
Precision Touchpad
Battery 71Wh
Material Aluminum
Color Dark Moss
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $1,049.99


This model seems to only be available from Best Buy. Lenovo's website has a different configuration, and seems to not currently be offering a customizable model.

Day one

Design

The Lenovo Yoga 7i 15 comes in both Slate Grey and Dark Moss, and Lenovo sent me the Dark Moss model. I have to say, I kind of love it. If you follow my reviews, then you've seen me criticize the design of Lenovo's consumer Yoga laptops as dull. The Slate Grey color, while traditional and fine for some, it's just boring in a world where Lenovo's competitors are doing more exciting things.

The Dark Moss color is a shade of green that's tinted more on the yellow end of the spectrum than the blue end. It's not bright and vibrant; it's more subtle than that while still having a deep color. When I saw that it was a shade of green, this is admittedly different from what I was expecting. In fact, you might want to see it in person before you buy it, although I like it a lot.

In the top-left corner, the Yoga logo is a mirrored greenish-yellow, giving it a nice touch. It's the first time I've seen the logo come in something other than silver, if my memory serves me. The Lenovo logo on the bottom right is Dark Moss in a silver frame.

Note that I'm going to say similar things about the Yoga 9i 14, since Lenovo seems to finally be trying different things with its consumer laptops.

The lid of the aluminum laptop is stamped with 'Yoga 7 Series', something that you'd expect to see from a Yoga laptop ever since Lenovo introduced its reverse notch design. Speaking of the aluminum build, this does weigh in at over four pounds, so it's not a necessarily light device. It is, however, a fairly inexpensive device considering what you get.

Part of that value is Thunderbolt 4, one of the value propositions behind Intel's 11th-generation processors. With Thunderbolt 4, you can get 40Gbps data transfer speeds off of a single port, or you can use one to power dual 4K monitors or one 8K monitor. If Iris Xe graphics aren't enough for you, you can use it to connect an external GPU. With two Thunderbolt 4 ports, you can connect dual 4K displays to your laptop and still have a port leftover for charging.

Sound familiar? It should, because Thunderbolt 3 had the same capabilities. There's one key difference now, and it's an important one. With Thunderbolt 4, that's the minimum spec. With Thunderbolt 3, the minimum spec allowed OEMs to use two lanes instead of four, chopping the bandwidth in half. That meant 20Gbps speeds, one 4K display, and so on. The even bigger problem was that if you bought a PC with Thunderbolt 3, there was no easy way to tell if it was a minimum spec port or a full port. Now, there's no question of what a Thunderbolt 4 port can do.

On the other side, you'll find two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, delivering 10Gbps data transfer speeds. It's nice to see current-generation ports on the USB Type-A side of things too, because I just reviewed an HP EliteBook x360 1040 that still had USB 3.2 Gen 1 ports.

Overall, I do like the design, particularly the Dark Moss color that comes with the aluminum build. It's a bit heavy considering what it offers, but I appreciate it considering that it only costs just over a thousand dollars and comes with a pretty big battery.

Display and audio

The Lenovo Yoga 7i 15 has, you guessed it, a 15.6-inch display. It only comes with an option for Full HD resolution, so there's no 4K option like we've seen from the 7-series in the past. This always disappoints me a bit, because I feel like FHD isn't quite enough when you get to 15.6 inches. It definitely helps for battery life though.

It does come in two flavors, one with 250-nit brightness and one with 500-nit brightness and support for Dolby Vision HDR. Obviously, I'm going to recommend the latter. Dolby Vision HDR is going to provide an overall better experience, and it's just a better panel. It also gets pretty bright, helping with things like glare and outdoor use.

The screen has support for Lenovo's Active Pen 2, supporting a full 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The bad news is that the pen doesn't come with the device. One of my favorite things about the 9-series is the pen garage, letting you always have the pen with you. So in other words, if you want the pen included, you need to get the Yoga 9 series.

The reason for this, of course, is to cut costs. Considering how good this PC is with a Core i7, Thunderbolt 4, a 512GB SSD, and 12GB RAM, $1,049.99 seems like a steal. One of the ways Lenovo can reach that price is by selling the pen separately. It also lowers the barrier of entry for the consumer. This PC might be barely affordable today, but you can always get the pen at a later date.

As I noted earlier, this PC does use Lenovo's newer reverse notch design. Unfortunately, there's no IR camera and the top bezel isn't particularly small, so that extra space isn't being used to fit in extra stuff. It's just how Lenovo is designing its products, and of course, it serves as an easy way to open the lid.

You'll notice the speakers above the keyboard, and the two 2W speakers are tuned for Dolby Atmos. Indeed, they sound loud and clear, but you should know that along with the pen garage, this is another big sacrifice when you step down from the flagship Yoga 9 series. The Yoga 9i comes with a rotating Dolby Atmos soundbar in the hinge, and in my opinion, it has the best audio of any laptop on the market.

You will undoubtedly be happy with the speakers on this PC, but I just wanted to be clear on the difference from the Yoga 9. The overall video and audio experience for just over a thousand dollars is pretty great though.

Keyboard and trackpad

I'm pretty certain that the keyboard on the Lenovo Yoga 7i 15 is the same as the one when I reviewed the Yoga 9i 15. They both have a numpad to the right of the main keyboard, so it's personal preference as to whether you'd actually like that or not. I don't use it.

The keys are backlit, and it's the shallower type of keyboard that you'd find on a high-end consumer Lenovo laptop. Lenovo sticks with much deeper keys on its ThinkPads, but while the style is different on its consumer PCs, I feel like quality really doesn't suffer. It's also definitely one of the quieter keyboards around, something that's nice for loud typists.

To the bottom-right of the keys, there's a fingerprint sensor. This is the only method of biometric authentication that comes with the Yoga 7i 15. I'd definitely prefer to have an IR camera if possible, but it's still nice to have a fingerprint sensor as opposed to nothing at all.

The Yoga 7i 15, as you'd expect, has a Microsoft Precision touchpad, and it's quite good. If you follow my reviews, than you probably already know that I'd prefer it if it was a bit larger, taking advantage of the available real estate on the aluminum deck. However, I wouldn't expect it from such a machine.

Performance and battery life

The Yoga 7i 15 includes Intel's 11th-generation 'Tiger Lake' processors, and the unit that Lenovo sent me includes 12GB RAM. Regarding the RAM, I just want to point out that there are plenty of similarly-priced 8GB RAM PCs, and having 50% more memory will absolutely make a difference.

Now, back to the processor, specifically the Core i7-1165G7. Intel's Tiger Lake family is its second-generation CPU family to be built on a 10nm processor, after the company was married to 14nm for quite a while. There are other improvements too, such as the new Iris Xe graphics, Thunderbolt 4, and more.

Iris Xe graphics actually make a big difference, especially if you're coming from a PC that's a few years old. It wasn't that long ago that Intel's integrated graphics were laughable. You can easily use this PC for some solid FHD gaming, or even for FHD 60fps or 4K 30fps video editing. It's really good.

But also, if you're looking to do that kind of stuff full-time, there's better hardware for that. In fact, there's better hardware for that in this form factor. The Yoga 9i 15 packs a 45W Intel processor and dedicated graphics; you'll find the same on HP's Spectre x360 15. If you find a 15-inch laptop with a CPU in this class, it's usually aiming at being thin and light; examples of this include Microsoft's Surface Laptop 3 and LG's gram.

There are a few key reasons that this thing weighs in at over four pounds, such as it being made out of aluminum and frankly, that mainstream PCs like the Yoga 7i aren't engineered to be super thin and light. But it also has a nice big 71Wh battery.

Battery life is phenomenal. Combine that big battery with an FHD display and a U-series (Intel doesn't actually call it U-series anymore) processor, and it ends up with nearly a dozen hours of battery life. That's with the screen at 50% brightness and the power slider at a notch above battery saver. This battery life is a major benefit over the more powerful 15-inch laptops that I talked about above. In almost any case, if you throw a 45W processor and a dedicated GPU under the hood, you're looking at only several hours of battery life, and that can be halved by a UHD display.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, and Geekbench 5.

Yoga 7i 15
Core i7-1165G7
Yoga 9i 15
Core i7-10750H
GTX 1650 Ti
LG gram
Core i7-1065G7
Surface Laptop 3
Ryzen 7 3780U Surface Edition
Acer Aspire 5
Ryzen 7 4700U
PCMark 8: Home 4,043 3,936 3,560 3,360 3,702
PCMark 8: Creative 4,771 4,693 3,945 3,687 4,228
PCMark 8: Work 3,963 3,817 3,660 3,095 3,689
PCMark 10 4,932 5,159 4,023 3,939 4,718
3DMark: Time Spy 1,055 3,643
Geekbench 1,522 / 4,680 1,232 / 5,608


I'm actually a bit surprised at just how competitive the Yoga 7i is, at least when compared to the Yoga 9i. The Yoga 9i 15 is definitely beefier and more equipped to handle more power-hungry tasks, but the Yoga 7i holds its own.

Conclusion

I think the biggest thing that's worth noting about the Yoga 7i 15 is the value. It costs just over a thousand dollars and you get a lot. It's missing a few key things, like an IR camera, a cellular connectivity option, and a pen, but the pros seem to outweigh the cons.

Intel's new Tiger Lake chips are excellent, and this one comes with a Core i7, along with 12GB RAM and 512GB of storage. You can combine that with an excellent FHD display, Dolby Atmos speakers, and frankly wonderful battery life. Indeed, I hope that I keep seeing battery life like this from Tiger Lake PCs.

It's also got a pretty design, something that I don't say about a lot of Lenovo Yoga laptops. I really like the Dark Moss color, and I hope that Lenovo continues to experiment with different looks. You'll see when I review the Yoga 9i 14 that that actually comes with a leather lid.

If you're looking for a mainstream 15.6-inch convertible for around a thousand dollars, the Yoga 7i 15 would certainly be a good pick. You can check it out on Best Buy's website here.

 

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