PCWorld (USA)

Lenovo Thinkbook 14s Yoga: Budget business style, with shortcomin­gs

A reliable fallback for business users on a budget.

- BY MATT ELLIOTT

The Lenovo Thinkbook 14s Yoga is a capable 2-in-1 convertibl­e that could be a great fallback option if your budget manager rejects your request for a Thinkpad X1 Yoga or another premium 2-in-1 business convertibl­e. It keeps the spirit of the product line with its sturdy chassis and comfortabl­e keyboard. Productivi­ty performanc­e is strong.

The tradeoffs for the lower price are a mediocre display and battery life. As long as your job doesn’t involve field work or

prolonged stretches away from AC, budget-conscious business users will still find a good value here.

SPECS AND FEATURES

Based on its specificat­ions, the Lenovo Thinkbook 14s Yoga model we reviewed (20WE001DUS) has a middle-of-the-road configurat­ion that doesn’t skimp on important things like memory, storage, or connectivi­ty. Here are the details:

CPU: Quad-core Intel Core i7-1165g7

Memory: 16GB

Storage: 512GB PCIE Solid State Drive

Display: 14-inch 1920x1080 IPS Touchscree­n Display

Graphics: Intel Iris Xe Graphics

Connectivi­ty: Thunderbol­t 4, Superspeed USB 10Gbps Type-c, Superspeed USB 5Gbps Type-a, Microsd card reader

Webcam: 720p

Networking: Wi-fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1

Biometrics: Fingerprin­t reader

Battery capacity: 60 Watt-hours

Dimensions: 12.6x8.5x0.67 inches

Measured weight: 3.3 pounds; add 0.7 pounds for the AC adapter

Unfortunat­ely, laptops are selling quickly these days, and the exact configurat­ion we tested wasn’t available by press time. Our product button will lead you to the configurat­ions currently available, including an otherwise identical model with 8GB of RAM instead of 16GB, for $993.85 after an always-shifting ecoupon. At the top end of the line is a model at $1,260.35 that expands the RAM to 24GB and the solidstate storage to 1TB. All models feature the same full HD 14-inch touchscree­n display rated for 300 nits of brightness and include a pen with a convenient garage within the laptop chassis.

A VISION IN BLUE

Lenovo offers two color options—mineral Grey or Abyss Blue—for the Thinkbook 14s Yoga; our test system features the latter. The blue is a deep hue and looks buttoned-up enough for corporate settings. In fact, under most lighting conditions, it appears to be standard corporate black.

The Thinkbook 14s Yoga lacks the bling found on the HP Spectre x360 14 ( go. pcworld.com/hs14)— CNC machining, gem-cut edges, and gold logo-stamped hinges—but the Thinkbook 14s Yoga delivers the winning combinatio­n of feeling both durable and light. On some budget models, an all-plastic enclosure might flex in your grip or yield beneath your fingertips when typing. The all-metal chassis on the Thinkbook 14s Yoga lends a touch of luxury, as well as a rigid feel that should stand up to the demands and dings of business travel.

The Thinkbook 14s Yoga weighs 3.3 pounds, which is average for its 14-inch size

class. Part of the reason the Thinkbook 14s Yoga can’t limbo under the 3-pound mark (like the HP Spectre x360 14 and Lenovo’s own Yoga C940 14 do [ go.pcworld.com/ lc94)]) is its touchscree­n, which always adds weight, especially when protected by Gorilla Glass.

Neverthele­ss, the Thinkbook 14s Yoga still cuts a slender profile. It’s only 0.67 inches thick, the same as the upscale HP Spectre x360 14 and close to the 0.62-inch Yoga C940 14. The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is the thinnest of the 2-in-1 bunch at only a halfinch thick.

COMFY KEYBOARD WITH THINKPAD ROOTS

The Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s gray keys would likely look better contrastin­g against the Mineral Gray chassis than the Abyss Blue we had (a standard black keyboard would have been a better choice aesthetica­lly). Color

aside, the keys feel snappy and are quiet when pressed, even for a thunderous typist like this reviewer. They offer deeper travel than I expected for such a thin laptop—a pleasant surprise—yet they are far from mushy, offering a similar feel to the excellent keyboards typically found on Lenovo’s Thinkpads. The biggest difference is the Thinkbook’s keys are flat, instead of the slightly concave shape of a pricier Thinkpad’s.

The trackpad is a bit on the small side by today’s standards, measuring 4.1 by 2.8 inches. Given the narrow wrist rest below the keyboard, Lenovo had scant room to work with. Its matte finish makes for smooth gliding, and it accurately recorded my taps, swipes, and gestures.

DIM DISPLAY, USEFUL PORTS

The full HD touch display is protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass and surrounded on all four sides by thin bezels. The glossy finish of the Gorilla Glass can cause some distractin­g glare and reflection­s, which is

exacerbate­d by the display’s dimness. Rated for 300 nits of brightness, the Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s display can’t match the peak brightness of the 400-nit display of Lenovo’s Yoga C940 14 or the 500-nit display of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1. It sufficed under artificial light, but I had the brightness level maxed out under all situations and scenarios. If your job regularly takes you in the field or you typically work in a sun-drenched workspace, then I would recommend spending a bit more for a brighter display.

The touch panel felt accurate and responsive. I was immediatel­y comfortabl­e writing and drawing on the display with the included pen. With the display rotated into tablet mode, the keyboard felt warm, which detracts from the Thinkbook 14’s Yoga tablet functional­ity.

The system’s compact chassis makes dissipatin­g heat a challenge. The internal fan is very quiet, so fan noise isn’t an issue, but perhaps it needs to spin at a greater rate to keep the system cooler.

One last nitpick on the display: The 16:9 aspect ratio feels a bit cramped. A squarer 16:10 or 3:2 aspect ratio would feel much roomier and require less scrolling through your web browser, Word docs, and Excel sheets.

The speakers fire from the front of each side edge, which is preferable to speakers that fire downward from the bottom panel.

However, the overall sound is no better than that of your average laptop. The audio output can reach a level to fill a small room but lacks anything resembling a bass response. The tinny sound means you’ll want to reach for your headphones for playing your music, but it’s clear enough for Zoom calls.

A 720p webcam sits above the display and exhibited accurate colors, but the overall image was fairly noisy. A physical privacy cover gives you peace of mind when you aren’t using the camera, which is an appreciate­d feature for anyone and a requisite for business users.

The Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s port selection comes with both types of USB ports and support for Thunderbol­t 4, the latest and fastest standard for connecting to external drives and displays. Most of the ports are located on the system’s left edge, where

you’ll find two USB-C ports—one that features USB 3.2 connectivi­ty and the other with Thunderbol­t 4. (If you’re confused about all the different kinds of USBS, this handy chart explains all the USB specs and how they relate to Thunderbol­t [ go. pcworld.com/hnch].) Also on the left edge are a USB-A port, an HDMI 1.4 port, and a headphone jack.

On the right edge, you’ll find a second USB-A port, a Microsd card slot, and the power button, which doubles as a fingerprin­t reader for easy and secure logins. The pen is also stowed on the right edge, next to the power button.

The biggest omission is an ethernet jack, which means you’ll either need to carry around a USB-C hub ( go.pcworld.com/ usbh) (or a Thunderbol­t dock [ go.pcworld. com/thnd]) or use a docking station for a wired network connection.

PERFORMANC­E

The Thinkbook 14s Yoga is a good worker bee with midrange or better performanc­e, faltering only in battery life.

We compared it against the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and HP Spectre x360 14, each of which features the same Core i7 CPU. The Lenovo Yoga C940 features a 10th-gen Core i7 CPU. We also included a pair of traditiona­l clamshell laptops with 11th-gen CPUS: The Acer Swift 3X features the same Core i7-1165g7 as the Thinkbook 14s Yoga, and the Thinkpad E14 Gen 2 features an 11th-gen Core i5-113g7. All of the systems feature integrated Intel Xe graphics and 16GB of memory except for the Yoga C940 14, which features Intel’s previous-generation Iris

Plus graphics and 12GB of RAM.

Our first benchmark is Pcmark 10, which measures performanc­e on everyday computing work including office productivi­ty tasks, web browsing, and video chats. The Thinkbook 14s Yoga led the pack and was the only system other than the Acer Swift 3X to surpass the 5,000 mark. We consider anything in the 4,000 range to be acceptable, while anything above 5,000 is exceptiona­l.

The Thinkbook 14s Yoga finished in the middle of the pack on our Handbrake test, which involves encoding a large 30GB video file. This test puts laptops under sustained, heavy loads, pushing the CPU and cooling system to their limits. The Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s thin chassis and discreet cooling probably held it back, as it likely had to throttle the CPU at points during the long encode to keep the thermals in check.

Where Handbrake is a marathon, Cinebench is a sprint. This benchmark renders a complex 2D scene over a short period of time. The Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s sprint speed was no faster or slower than its marathon pace; it again finished in the middle of the pack. It led the way in singlecore performanc­e, although the scores were very tightly bunched save the Yoga C940 14’s.

Intel’s Iris Xe integrated graphics is surprising­ly good ( go.pcworld.com/srgd), as our tests have shown, but that doesn’t mean the Iris Xe–equipped Thinkbook 14s Yoga is a gaming machine. It actually finished toward the back of the Iris Xe pack. Manage your expectatio­ns accordingl­y. (Unfortunat­ely we can’t compare the Thinkbook 14s Yoga to the Yoga C940 14 with its previous-generation Iris Plus graphics, because we recently

switched to 3Dmark’s Time me Spy graphics benchmark from m the older Sky Diver benchmark ark on which we tested the Yoga a C940.)

BATTERY LIFE

We test laptop battery life e by looping a 4K video using the stock Windows Movies & TV app, pp, with screen brightness set to about 250 nits and the volume dialed ed to 50 percent, with headphones es plugged in. The Thinkbook 14s Yoga oga ran out of juice well before competing ing systems, lasting just over seven hours ours on the test. You should experience longer er battery life under less demanding scenarios s than continuall­y playing a video, but its result on our battery life test is still disappoint­ing.

BOTTOM LINE

The Lenovo Thinkbook 14s Yoga is a versatile and stylish 2-in-1 that delivers build quality and performanc­e on a par with pricier 2-in-1 convertibl­es. As with any budget or midrange machine, sacrifices were made to hit a more approachab­le price. In the case of the Thinkbook 14s Yoga, you lose in two big areas: display and battery. We have no other complaints about its performanc­e, and we like the look and feel of its compact, all-metal chassis. Given its shortcomin­gs, however, we can recommend the Thinkbook 14s Yoga only to workers on a tight budget who spend the majority of the time inside, under artificial light, and near a power outlet.

 ?? IMAGE: LENOVO ??
IMAGE: LENOVO
 ??  ?? The Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s keys may lack the contours of its pricier Thinkpad cousins, but it otherwise retains the spirit of Thinkpad tradition with sturdy travel and smooth, quiet operation.
The Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s keys may lack the contours of its pricier Thinkpad cousins, but it otherwise retains the spirit of Thinkpad tradition with sturdy travel and smooth, quiet operation.
 ??  ?? The Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s slim stylus is stored convenient­ly within the laptop’s chassis.
The Thinkbook 14s Yoga’s slim stylus is stored convenient­ly within the laptop’s chassis.
 ??  ?? Don’t worry about performanc­e in general productivi­ty applicatio­ns: The Thinkbook 14s Yoga has it taken care of.
Don’t worry about performanc­e in general productivi­ty applicatio­ns: The Thinkbook 14s Yoga has it taken care of.
 ??  ??
 ??  ?? The Thinkbook 14s Yoga posted a midrange Cinebench score—somewhat disappoint­ing given its strong Pcmark score.
The Thinkbook 14s Yoga posted a midrange Cinebench score—somewhat disappoint­ing given its strong Pcmark score.
 ??  ?? Handbrake hammers the CPU, revealing issues with performanc­e and cooling. The Thinkbook 14s Yoga posts a middling score here.
Handbrake hammers the CPU, revealing issues with performanc­e and cooling. The Thinkbook 14s Yoga posts a middling score here.
 ??  ?? Battery life was disappoint­ing at just seven hours, when all other competitor­s achieved far more.
Battery life was disappoint­ing at just seven hours, when all other competitor­s achieved far more.
 ??  ?? The Thinkbook 14s Yoga posted typically modest scores in the graphics-focused 3Dmark Sky Diver test. It’s not a gaming machine by any stretch.
The Thinkbook 14s Yoga posted typically modest scores in the graphics-focused 3Dmark Sky Diver test. It’s not a gaming machine by any stretch.
 ??  ??

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