PCWorld (USA)

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 (2022): The pinnacle of design

The Yoga 9i is a real gem.

- BY MATT SMITH

A decade has passed since Lenovo introduced the first Yoga 2-in-1. Though Microsoft’s Surface devices set the trend, it was arguably the high-volume Yoga line that became the true vanguard of mainstream convertibl­e design. Lenovo’s Yoga 9i 14-inch (2022) builds on this decade of experience in all the right ways. From the thin profile to the powerful internals, this year’s model delivers blazing-fast performanc­e in a tiny package. Although the

fan noise can be a bit loud and we feel as though it relies too much on USB-C, overall we were impressed with this machine.

SPECIFICAT­IONS

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14-inch is among the first laptops with Intel’s new 12th-gen Core mobile processors targeting thin-and-light machines. Though thin, the laptop packs four performanc­e cores and eight efficiency cores for a total of 12.

CPU: Intel Core i7-1260p

Memory: 16GB

Graphics/gpu: Intel Iris Xe (96 EUS)

Display: 3,840x2,160 IPS with HDR support

Storage: 1TB

Webcam: 1080p with IR

Connectivi­ty: 2x USB-C 4.0 / Thunderbol­t 4, 1x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, combo headphone/mic

Networking: Wi-fi 6, Bluetooth 5

Biometrics: Fingerprin­t reader

Dimensions: 12.57 inches wide x 8.53 inches deep x 0.64 inches thick

Weight: 3.02 pounds The laptop’s specificat­ions are otherwise mundane, though certainly high-end for a 14-inch laptop of this size. It skimps on nothing, which makes the Yoga 9i’s entry-level MSRP of $1,249 ( fave. CO/3SDZADI) justifiabl­e, though our review configurat­ion will set you back $1,450 at Best Buy ( fave.co/39suico).

DESIGN AND BUILD QUALITY

Lenovo doesn’t get enough credit for its design. I can’t think of another Windows laptop maker so consistent­ly willing to go off script and the Yoga 9i 14-inch is a prime example of its willingnes­s to depart from the norm.

From a distance, the Yoga 9i looks like most Windows 2-in-1s. It’s a clamshell design with a rotating hinge that folds back 360 degrees, effectivel­y turning the laptop into a tablet. Approach it, however, and you’ll notice the laptop is adorned with round, gleaming chrome edges across the top and bottom half.

It’s an eye-catching look with practical benefits. The rounded edges mean you never encounter a hard touch point while maneuverin­g the laptop. This will be a minor point for many. After all, it’s not like other 2-in-1s will slice your finger. Still, the Yoga 9i is more inviting than the norm.

The Yoga 9i’s low weight and touchscree­n further improves ease of use. It’s a great machine to carry with one hand or spin around to share something with a friend or co-worker across a table. It’s not small or light enough to be an ipad replacemen­t, but the 9i comes as close as you can expect from a device without a detachable keyboard. That’s good news if you need a 2-in-1 for use in cramped spaces or for travel.

KEYBOARD AND TRACKPAD

The Yoga 9i 14-inch offers a quality keyboard despite its thin profile. Key travel is good and has a firm, pleasant bottoming action. The layout is also excellent and makes full use of the laptop’s 14-inch size. Key caps are reasonably sized yet there’s plenty of space between keys.

Several unique keys can be found on the keyboard’s right side. These include a key that turns the Windows systemwide dark mode setting on or off and one that flips through performanc­e modes. Though a nice extra, they’re not a must-have and won’t change how most people use the 2-in-1. The keyboard has a backlight and uses a light sensor to automatica­lly turn it on in a dark room (it can also be activated manually).

I appreciate the large touchpad. It measures about 5 inches across and 3 inches deep. This is a great size for a thin, portable 2-in-1 and provides plenty of room for Windows’ multi-touch gestures. The touchpad does a good job of rejecting unintended input, which is important, as its large size means my palms came to rest on its surface.

DISPLAY, AUDIO

The base Yoga 9i 14-inch has a IPS touchscree­n with 1,920x1,200 resolution, but my review unit had the upgraded OLED touchscree­n with 3,840x2,400 resolution. This makes for a 16:10 aspect ratio, which provides extra vertical screen real estate that’s useful when multitaski­ng or viewing vertically scrolling content like web pages or PDF documents. Text clarity is excellent, as 323 pixels are crammed into each inch. Eagleeyed users might detect a fine speckled pattern in bright white documents, a likely result of the OLED screen’s particular subpixel layout, but I didn’t find it distractin­g.

Image quality is otherwise excellent. The Yoga 9i’s display has accurate color, a wide color gamut spanning up to 99% of DCI-P3, a high maximum brightness above 400 nits, and deep black levels thanks to the OLED display panel. Images and movies look vivid, crisp, and have a realistic sense of dimensiona­lity that draws in your eye.

HDR is supported and Lenovo even offers support for Dolby Vision HDR in addition to the less capable HDR10 standard. It can’t match the brilliance of Apple’s MINI-LED Macbook Pro but has an advantage in crisp contrast and depth that becomes apparent when viewing in a dark room.

The display is glossy, so glare can be a problem. The maximum brightness of 400 nits allows use even beside a sunlit window, but some reflection­s will be obvious.

In another departure from the norm, the Yoga 9i leans hard into audio quality. The hinge doubles as a miniature Dolby Atmos soundbar. It works well, delivering a loud, throaty presentati­on that is suited to music and movies but still clear enough for podcasts. Maximum volume is high enough to fill an office, though this sometimes muddies the sound in bass-heavy tracks. This is an excellent sound system for a slim 2-in-1.

WEBCAM, MICROPHONE, BIOMETRICS

A 1080p camera standard on the Yoga 9i 14-inch. This is great to see on any premium Windows device and remains the exception, not the rule. It’s an obvious upgrade over 720p, offering a big leap in sharpness and more accurate, vivid color. Exposure is still an issue in unevenly lit rooms, however, and using it at night will introduce a ton of noise. The camera offers a small physical privacy shutter, which is a nice touch.

The laptop’s dual microphone setup performs as expected. It’s usable from several feet away from the laptop. You can even speak from across a small room if you raise your voice. Quality is thin and distant, however, and distinctly different from using a real microphone.

Biometric login is offered through both a fingerprin­t reader and facial recognitio­n. The fingerprin­t reader works well but, as always, it can be fooled by greasy or dirty fingerprin­ts. Facial recognitio­n through Windows Hello is the quicker, more reliable method. It works well even in a dark room.

CONNECTIVI­TY

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14-inch has a pair of USB-C 4/Thunderbol­t 4 ports. These include Displaypor­t Alternate Mode for connecting displays and can charge the laptop when connected to a USB-C power source. With the right adapters, these versatile ports can be used to attach a HDMI or Displaypor­t display, connect to the Internet over wired Ethernet, or drive multiple additional USB ports in a USB hub.

There’s only one USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port for connecting legacy wired peripheral­s. It’s joined by a 3.5mm combo audio jack for connecting a headset or external speakers. This makes for a slim selection of wired connectivi­ty. Those who don’t choose to go wireless for most peripheral­s will likely need to purchase a dock, which can range from $50 to several hundred dollars (depending on its capabiliti­es).

While the lack of wired connectivi­ty will annoy some, it’s typical for the premium 2-in-1 space. Want more wired connectivi­ty? You’ll need to put up with a heavier, thicker machine.

Wireless connectivi­ty is provided by Wi-fi 6( fave.co/3ikecui), along with Bluetooth 5.1. The wireless adapter provided very strong, reliable performanc­e in my testing, dealing well with all corners of my home. Bluetooth was functional up to about 25 feet with walls between devices.

PERFORMANC­E

The Yoga 9i 14-inch is an interestin­g test of the Intel Core i7-1260p’s capabiliti­es. This new 12th-gen Intel Core processor packs a total of 12 processor cores (four P-cores, 8 E-cores), plus Intel Xe graphics. It looks great on paper.

Pcmark 10 gets the Yoga 9i with i7-1260p off to a mediocre start. The benchmark score of 5,280 is not bad, but it doesn’t defeat the prior model with an Intel Core i7-1195g7 processor ( fave.co/3foemiq). It also falls behind the Ryzen 5700U.

The heavily multi-threaded Cinebench

R15 benchmark is a different story. It puts the cores to work for an outstandin­g score of 1,837. This absolutely blows away the prior Core i7-1195g7 and comes surprising­ly close to the Ryzen 7 5700H. Intel’s many-core approach pays off here.

This remains true in Handbrake, another heavily multi-threaded benchmark. Transcodin­g a 4K file of the short film Tears of Steel takes over an hour, which is a long time, but it’s about a half-hour less than prior Intel processors. The Core i7-1260p does not

score as close to the Ryzen 7 5700H as in Cinebench, however.

Processor performanc­e is a win for the Core i7-1260p. It scores very well in two out of three tests and, importantl­y, does its best work in multi-threaded workloads. That’s important, because the bulk of demanding workloads a user will face in 2022 are heavily multi-threaded.

But what about graphics?

The Core i7-1260p offers many processor cores but doesn’t make big changes to integrated graphics. That’s fine, as Intel’s Iris Xe with 96 execution units remains capable for its category. It delivered a score of 1,985 in 3Dmark Time Spy. This is the match for the best Intel integrated graphics we’ve tested in the past and will match or beat most Ryzen mobile APUS as well.

Games from the Xbox One/playstatio­n 4 era are typically playable at 30 frames per second or better, though the most demanding will require cuts in resolution and detail settings. Older games, like CounterStr­ike or League of Legends, can sustain 60 FPS at 1080p.

I’m impressed by the Yoga 9i’s performanc­e. The Intel Core i7-1260p is a winner in multi-threaded workloads and pulls off this victory without compromisi­ng in other areas. This achievemen­t is even more impressive given the Yoga 9i’s slim form factor.

There’s just one issue to be aware of— noise. The Yoga 9i is quiet at idle but a real whirlwind at full tilt. It’s enough to annoy anyone in the same room if the laptop is left in the open. This is an area where Intel-powered laptops just can’t compete with Apple’s nearly silent Macbook line.

BATTERY LIFE

Lenovo squeezes a large 75 watt-hour battery into the slim Yoga 9i 14-inch—serious capacity for a 2-in-1 and good news for endurance.

The Yoga 9i lasted 12 hours and 12 minutes in our standard battery test, which

loops a local 4K video file until the laptop dies. This is far from a record and a bit less than the prior Yoga 9i model, but I’d still call it better than average.

Real-world observed battery life was not as impressive. The laptop averaged about seven hours of endurance in a workload of heavy web browsing, document editing, and occasional photo editing. The 4K OLED display is a likely factor, as these screens can be powerhungr­y at high brightness.

SOFTWARE

The Yoga 9i’s product page ( fave.co/3pltms9) touts several partnershi­ps, including Amazon Alexa for PC and three free months of Xbox Game Pass. Free stuff is nice, but it hints at a problem: There’s a lot of bloatware.

Lenovo stuffs the Yoga 9i with several added icons and content. By far the most annoying is Mcafee antivirus, which often interrupte­d my workflow with two to three back-to-back banner ads. It’s not as bad as some recent Acer laptops but disappoint­ing to see in a laptop priced well above $1,000.

VERDICT

Lenovo’s Yoga 9i 14-inch is an excellent addition to the company’s long line of capable premium 2-in-1s. It packs strong performanc­e, a great OLED display, excellent audio, a pleasant keyboard, a large touchpad, and future-proof connectivi­ty into one compact, versatile package. Though Intel’s new Core i7-1260p is performant enough for many profession­als and creators, the Yoga

9i’s size and connectivi­ty makes it ideal for travelers, students, and everyday users who want a premium Windows experience.

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 ?? ?? The Lenovo has round, gleaming chrome edges across its top and bottom half.
The Lenovo has round, gleaming chrome edges across its top and bottom half.
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We were impressed by the Yoga 9i’s keyboard.
 ?? ?? The 14-inch IPS touchscree­n offers excellent image quality.
The 14-inch IPS touchscree­n offers excellent image quality.
 ?? ?? The Lenovo’s lack of wired connectivi­ty may annoy some.
The Lenovo’s lack of wired connectivi­ty may annoy some.
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 ?? ?? The Yoga 9i is an excellent all-round 2-in-1.
The Yoga 9i is an excellent all-round 2-in-1.

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