Review

Lenovo Yoga 9i 15 review: Big, powerful, and a workhorse convertible

This year, Lenovo's flagship consumer convertible PC is called the Yoga 9i. This follows two years of being the Yoga C900 series, and prior to that, the Yoga 900 series. Yes, Lenovo has struggled with branding as of late, but the product is still solid, and the latest 15-inch Yoga 9i is here. And to be clear, it's the successor to the Yoga C940 15.

And when I reviewed that, I called it the rare workhorse convertible. That hasn't changed. It still has a 45W Intel Core processor and Nvidia GeForce graphics. Of course, the ninth-gen CPU has been replaced by 10th-gen, but also, the GeForce graphics have been bumped up to a GTX 1650 Ti.

While the powerful internals are what makes it stand apart from its 14-inch sibling, the Yoga 9i series is just awesome. It has the best audio quality that you'll find in a laptop with the powerful Dolby Atmos rotating soundbar, and it has a built-in pen garage. The screen supports Dolby Vision HDR, and it's just an all-around solid package.

Specs

CPU Intel Core i7-10750H
Graphics Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB GDDR6
Body 13.99x9.39x0.69-0.78in (355.5x238.5x17.5-19.7mm), 4.41lbs (2kg)
Display 15.6" FHD (1920x1080), IPS, 500nit, VESA HDR400, Dolby Vision
Memory 16GB LPDDR4, 2933MHz
Storage 1TB PCIe NVMe
Ports (1) USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
(2) Thunderbolt 3 (Power, DP 1.4, data)
(1) 3.5mm audio
Battery 69Wh, Rapid Charge Express
Connectivity Intel Wi-Fi 6 802.11 AX201 + Bluetooth 5.0
Audio Rotating Sound Bar with Dolby Atmos Speaker System certification
2W x 4 (2x woofer, 2x tweeter)
Input 6-row, multimedia Fn keys, numeric keypad, LED backlight
Buttonless glass surface multi-touch touchpad
Material Aluminum
Color Slate Grey
OS Windows 10 Home
Price $1,799.99


This model is sold at Bestbuy.com, but not at Lenovo.com. It was provided by Lenovo.

Day one

Design

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 15 that was sent to me comes in Slate Grey, and it's made out of aluminum. Yes, it seems to look the same that it has in previous years, and frankly, it's a bit dull. I've often criticized Lenovo for the gray aluminum laptop look. Just take a look at HP's beautiful Spectre x360 15 and you'll see what I mean.

I will point out that Lenovo is doing some cool things with design on its 14-inch Yoga 9i, which is available in all-black and with a leather cover. It's pretty great. That's exclusive to the 14-inch one though, at least for now.

On the left side of the PC, there are two Thunderbolt 3 ports, a 3.5mm audio jack, and an AC power port. Yes, you'll need to use Lenovo's 135W proprietary power adapter instead of USB Type-C, since this powerful machine requires more power than you'd get over Power Delivery. In fact, these ports don't even support Power Delivery, so if you wanted to use a USB Type-C charger for a slow charge, you can't even do that.

Those Thunderbolt 3 ports do support DisplayPort 1.4, so you should be able to connect an 8K display to one port if you wanted to (I don't have an 8K display to test). Those ports also make it possible to dock the PC and use the Yoga 9i as your desktop. It has the power to handle all tasks for most people, and the display output for your high-resolution monitors.

On the other side, there's a lone USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port. USB 3.2 Gen 1, also known as USB 3.1 Gen 1 and USB 3.0, is good for 5Gbps data transfer speeds. The combination of two USB Type-C ports and one USB Type-A port isn't uncommon for consumer laptops, but I'd still hope for a second USB Type-A port on a big device like this. That's a very minor complaint though; after all, one USB Type-A port should be fine for on-the-go, and if it's docked at home, you'll have extra ports that way.

You'll notice on that side that there's also a pen garage. This is one of my favorite things about premium Lenovo convertibles. The pen doesn't get away like it does if it's magnetically attached to the side, but you still always have it with you. It's also always charged. The only downside is that it's not a full-size pen, so if you want that, you can purchase any number of third-party products.

Finally, the Yoga 9i 15 comes with a Dolby Atmos soundbar in the hinge. Lenovo calls it a rotating soundbar, because no matter which orientation you're using the device in, you've still got audio firing right at you.

Dolby Vision display and Dolby Atmos rotating soundbar

Lenovo does have both FHD and UHD options for the screen. This time around, the firm sent me the FHD model, which should get better battery life. They both support Dolby Vision HDR, and they're super bright at 500 nits.

Honestly, there's a big trade-off to be had here. Obviously, battery life drops off dramatically when you switch to UHD, but FHD just doesn't look as good. And the bigger the screen, the more noticeable it is. For a 15.6-inch panel, I feel like a higher resolution is pretty necessary, especially on something like the Yoga 9i, which is meant to have an excellent media consumption experience. As always, I wish there was a QHD option.

The Yoga 9i 15 has narrow bezels all around, and the top bezel is a bit bigger. Lenovo also used its reverse notch, which we're seeing across the lineup, and it has a privacy guard built into it. The reverse notch provides an easy way to lift the lid, and it also gives Lenovo some extra space to pack in the webcam and other sensors. There's no IR camera for Windows Hello though.

I mentioned earlier that the Dolby Atmos rotating soundbar provides the best audio that you can get from a laptop, and I'm pretty confident in that statement. It has four 2W speakers built into it, and a comfortable volume for listening to music is around 25% for me. For most laptops, it's around 90%, because regarding the general market, quality has gotten a lot better, but volume has not. This laptop offers both quality and volume. This thing can fill the room.

The Yoga 9i is the ultimate media consumption machine. With a beautiful Dolby Vision screen and the Dolby Atmos rotating soundbar, movies and TV shows look and sound great, and music gets loud. You can also use it for some Full HD gaming if you want. And of course, it's good for work too, as those video calls while working from home will sound crystal clear.

Keyboard and trackpad

The full-size keyboard on the Lenovo Yoga 9i 15 has a numpad to the right of it, something that I'm not personally a fan of on laptops. It's big enough for it, of course, but if you don't want to use the numpad, you have to align yourself to the left.

The backlit keys are a lot shallower than you'd find on a ThinkPad, and that always kind of fascinates me. Both ThinkPads and Lenovo's Yoga consumer laptops have fantastic keyboards that are both comfortable and accurate to type on; they're just different. It's like Lenovo decided at some point that its business customers want something different from consumers.

There's a fingerprint sensor to the bottom right of the keyboard, which is fine. Honestly, I expect it to be there being that there's no IR camera for Windows Hello facial recognition. At least there's one method for biometric authentication.

The Microsoft Precision trackpad is clickable, and it's both fast and responsive, as you'd expect from any Precision trackpad. I do wish it was a bit bigger, a common point that I like to make on larger laptops. The real estate on the aluminum palm rest is there; why not use it? This is something that Dell finally took advantage of this year with its XPS 15 and XPS 17.

And of course, the other method of input is the pen, as I mentioned above. It comes in a pen garage in the PC, so you can always break it out if you need it.

Performance and battery life

The Yoga 9i 15 that Lenovo sent me includes an Intel Core i7-10750H CPU and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU with 4GB GDDR6 memory. The CPU is a 45W processor with six cores and 12 threads, just like the Core i7-9750H that we got in last year's model, although the turbo frequency on this one can reach 5GHz.

You might also recall that last year's Yoga C940 15 also has a GTX 1650 GPU; however, that was one that was using GDDR5 memory. This year's model uses the superior GDDR6 memory, and that's definitely something you should take note of when looking at the GTX 1650 in any device.

These are powerful internals, and frankly, I used this machine for everything. I edited video, played games, watched shows, listened to music, took handwritten notes, and I just typed articles. It's an amazing all-around PC. Speaking of performance, FHD gaming does just fine with what we have here, and so does FHD 60fps video editing.

Sadly, as usual, the powerful internals don't translate well to battery life. I only got about five hours of real-world work, and that was on a good day and not including doing more power-hungry tasks like video editing and gaming. I thought the FHD screen would help it to do better than it did, but that wasn't the case. I'm not upset about it though.

A big part of choosing the right PC for you is finding the right balance between power and battery life. There's always a trade-off to be made, and you have to see how it fits into how you want to be able to use the PC. Of course, if you want better battery life, you can take a look at the 14-inch model that has a U-series CPU and integrated graphics.

For benchmarks, I used PCMark 8, PCMark 10, 3DMark, and Geekbench.

Lenovo Yoga 9i 15
Core i7-10750H, GTX 1650 GDDR6
Lenovo Yoga C940 15
Core i7-9750H, GTX 1650 GDDR5
HP OMEN 15
Ryzen 7 4800H, GTX 1660 Ti
Dell XPS 15 9500
Core i7-10875H, GTX 1650Ti
PCMark 8: Home 3,936 3,915 4,756 3,652
PCMark 8: Creative 4,693 3,788 6,028 4,839
PCMark 8: Work 3,817 3,918 3,989 3,322
PCMark 10 5,159 5,144 5,639 5,136
3DMark: Time Spy 3,643 3,511 6,037 3,743
Geekbench 5 1,232 / 5,608 1,188 / 7,946


Comparing this year's model to last year's, it's no surprise that there are few big changes in the scores. The CPUs between the two generations are very similar.

Conclusion

It's not the prettiest laptop I've seen by a long stretch, and as always, I wish there was 4G LTE and an IR camera, but as I mentioned, I was able to use the Lenovo Yoga 9i 15 for anything I wanted to. That goes for video editing and gaming to work and consumption.

It has the powerful internals for powerful tasks like video editing and gaming. At the same time, it's also just an incredibly well-built machine with a great keyboard and trackpad, so it's excellent for general productivity as well.

But let's talk about just media consumption. The beautiful screen supports Dolby Vision HDR and the Dolby Atmos soundbar provides audio that's second to none. The built-in pen is appreciated too. I was able to use this machine for taking handwritten notes and for signing documents.

I think that with Lenovo's Yoga 9 series, the company provides one of the best all-around experiences out there. If you want to check it out, you can find it here.

 

Report a problem with article
1606991906_googledoc
Next Article

Free download: Google Docs - Quick Reference Card

1563441147_microsoft_electionguard_1
Previous Article

Microsoft shares the innovative ways in which its ElectionGuard software is being utilized

podcast
NEOWIN PODCAST

Episode 19: Android, Windows, and iOS betas are here

7 Comments - Add comment

Advertisement