Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 review: Striking design and performance

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 review: Striking design and performance

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 laptop sits on a small desk.

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7

MSRP $1,730.00

“The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 offers outstanding performance thanks to Intel’s 12th-gen CPU, and it’s received a stunning new design.”

Pros

  • Excellent performance
  • Beautiful OLED display
  • Gorgeous design
  • Useful security and privacy features
  • 1080p webcam

Cons

  • Keyboard is only okay
  • Average battery life

The initial wave of Intel 12th-gen laptops is hitting the streets, and I got a chance to check out one of the very first. The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 is in its seventh generation, and it’s been completely redesigned with a new rounded chassis and 16:10 aspect ratio display. The result is a laptop that’s as fresh on the outside as it is inside.

My $1,730 review unit came equipped with the Intel Core i7-1260P CPU and a 14-inch 16:10 WQHD+ (2880 x 1800) OLED display. It’s a Best Buy configuration that will be available in about a month as I’m writing this review, and it places the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 squarely in “premium laptop” territory. But as it turns out, the Yoga 9i is more than deserving of that designation.

Design

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 top cover showing logos.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Manufacturers have made significant changes to a laptop’s design in a single generation. One example is HP’s gem-cut aesthetic that it implemented in its Spectre lineup. I’d rate the new Yoga 9i 14’s design update as just as dramatic, and it’s also just as gorgeous. The most significant change is to the edges of the chassis, which are now attractively — and comfortably, especially in tablet mode — rounded and highlighted in chrome.

The lid’s edges are slightly more angular, creating a striking contrast when the laptop is closed. You can choose from two colors, Oatmeal (silver) and Storm Grey (dark grey), both of which are maintained throughout the laptop for a clean look. Compared to the HP Spectre x360 14, previously the best-looking convertible 2-in-1 on the market, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 is just as stunning while also coming across as smoother and more streamlined.

Constructed entirely of CNC machined aluminum, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 is a sturdy laptop with no significant bending or flexing in the lid, keyboard deck, or chassis bottom. The Spectre x360 14 is a bit more solid, but not so much so that you’d notice unless looking for it. The Acer Swift X is an example of a 14-inch machine that’s less expensive and feels like it, with some bending in the lid and flexing in the keyboard deck.

The hinge is precisely what you want in a convertible 2-in-1. You can open the laptop with one hand, yet the hinge is firm enough to hold the display in place in clamshell, tent, media, and tablet modes. The reverse notch housing the webcam and infrared camera gives you something to grab onto when opening the display, which is convenient.

The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 has reasonably small display bezels on the sides and on top, with a bottom chin that’s a bit larger due to the 360-degree convertible hinge. It’s a thin convertible 2-in-1 at 0.6 inches and light at 3.06 pounds. The HP Spectre x360 14 equips a 13.5-inch display and so is smaller in width and depth while being thicker at 0.67 inches and a little lighter at 2.95 pounds.

The latest Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 also sports a 16:10 14-inch display with small bezels, and it’s within fractions of an inch in width and depth while being a bit thicker at 0.62 inches and heavier at 3.61 pounds. Overall, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 is nicely sized and easy to carry around even while enjoying a slightly larger display than the run-of-the-mill 13-inch laptop.

Connectivity is fine for a 14-inch machine, with one unfortunate omission. There’s a single USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, two USB-C 4 ports with Thunderbolt 4 support, and a 3.5mm audio jack. What’s missing? An SD card reader of some kind would have been nice to have. Wireless connectivity is up to date with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.

Performance

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 laptop sits on a small desk folded like a tent.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

We’ve finally got our hands on a mainstream Intel 12th-gen Alder Lake CPU that we can thoroughly benchmark, and that’s a good thing. In this case, it’s the Core i7-1260P, a 28-watt chip with 12 cores — four Performance and eight Efficient. That compares to the Core i7-1265U, which has 10 cores — two Performance and eight Efficient — and runs at 15 watts. Intel’s new processor scheme is a bit more complicated than before, but suffice it to say that this is the faster version of the Alder Lake CPU you’ll find in thin and light laptops. I had no idea what to expect by way of performance, and I was looking forward to putting the new chip through its paces.

According to our benchmarks, the Core i7-1260P is a significant bump up from Intel’s 11th-gen U-series CPUs (and its 35-watt H-series) and competitive with AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800U. Its strongest showing was in Geekbench 5, where it was faster than the rest of the machines in the comparison group. Lenovo includes a utility that switches performance modes, and the results in the table reflect the balanced mode.

If you switch to performance mode, then you’ll see faster results in all but the PCMark 10 Complete score. For example, while the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 took 130 seconds to complete our Handbrake test of converting a 420MB file to H.265 in standard mode, it finished in 101 seconds in performance mode. In Cinebench R23, it jumped from 7,210 multi-core, a third-place score, to 8,979 in performance mode, behind only the Swift X. Note that the Yoga’s single-core Cinebench R23 score was the fastest by a fair margin (except for the Gigabyte Aero 16, more on that below).

If you’re a demanding productivity worker or need to tackle some lower-end creative tasks, this convertible 2-in-1 is a solid choice.

I also ran the Pugetbench Premiere Pro benchmark that runs in a live version of Adobe Premiere Pro, and in balanced mode, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 scored 223. That’s below the Samsung Galaxy Book Pro 360 with a Core i7-1165G7 that scored 241. In performance mode, though, the Yoga scored 290, which is close to the MacBook Air M1’s score of 320. We don’t expect much from laptops with integrated graphics and we don’t often test them with Pugetbench, but these results are promising.

When mated with a faster GPU, we can expect solid creative performance from the Core i7-1260P, at least for thin and light machines. For a glimpse at 12th-gen CPUs for larger workstations, check out the scores of the Gigabyte Aero 16 running the 45-watt, 14-core (6 Performance, 8 Efficient) Core i7-12900HK. When configured with an RTX 3080 Ti, the Core i9-12900HK in the Aero 16 hit 1,115 in Pugetbench.

Overall, the Core i7-1260P is much faster than the previous generation for creative applications, and it’s able to handle highly demanding productivity workflows with ease. It’s still a CPU for ultrabooks, but it’s more competitive with AMD’s current offerings and Apple’s M1 ARM CPU. I didn’t list Apple in the table, but for example, the MacBook Pro 13 M1 scored 1,487 single-core and 7,547 multi-core in Cinebench R23, and it took 156 seconds to complete our Handbrake test. Of course, AMD’s Ryzen 6000 is just around the corner and that may change the equation once again, but Intel’s 12th-gen is looking good for now.

Focusing on the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 once again, I can say it’s a speedy laptop that would handle the work I do and then some. If you’re a demanding productivity worker or need to tackle some lower-end creative tasks, this convertible 2-in-1 is a solid choice.

Geekbench (single/multi) Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi) PCMark 10 Complete 3DMark Time Spy
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 (Core i7-1260P) 1717/9231 130 1626/7210 5760 1,658
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon (Ryzen 7 5800U) 1,373/6,080 125 1,409/8,086 5,682 1,308
Acer Swift X (Ryzen 7 5800U) 1,287/6,663 99 1,437/10,135 6,247 4,073
Asus ZenBook 14X OLED (Core i7-1165G7) 1,536/5,780 173 1,479/5,717 5,366 1,756
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro
(Core i7-11370H)
1,578/5,957 202 1,514/5,544 5,149 1,888
Dell XPS 13 (Core i7-1185G7) 1,549/5,431 204 1,399/4,585 n/a 1,380
HP Spectre x360 14 (Core i7-1165G7) 1,214/4,117 236 1,389/3,941 4,728 1,457
Gigabyte Aero 16 (Core i7-12900HK) 1,915/13,482 73 1,907/12,969 686 9,833

The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 utilizes Intel’s integrated Iris Xe graphics, and its performance hasn’t improved over the previous generation according to 3DMark. It’s in line with what we have in our database for 11th-gen machines. It’s a little faster in performance mode with a Time Spy result of 1,979, but that’s not significant. The Yoga might have driver issues because Fortnite gave some wacky scores.

At 1200p and High graphics, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 hit just 12 frames per second (fps), lower than the 20+ fps we see with 11th-gen Iris Xe laptops. The frame rate only struggled more as I bumped up the resolution and graphics settings. Intel Iris Xe systems are never recommended for gaming, but right now, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 doesn’t even rise to the usual Iris Xe standards.

Display and audio

Close up on the Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

If you’ve been using a laptop with an IPS display, turning on a model with an OLED display is a sublime experience. The dynamic colors and inky blacks immediately impact you, and the quality difference is instantly apparent. That’s exactly how I felt turning on the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 with its 14-inch 16:10 WQHD+ (2880 x 1800) OLED touch and pen-enabled display. It’s a real beauty, with the only disappointment being that it runs at 60Hz rather than the 90Hz offered by the IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon‘s OLED panel.

My colorimeter agreed with my subjective opinion. The display was bright at 406 nits, well above our 300-nit threshold. Colors were wide at 95% of AdobeRGB, 100% of sRGB, and 100% of DCI-P3, and they were incredibly accurate at a DeltaE of 0.87 (less than 1.0 is considered excellent). And the contrast was the usual inky black at 28,380:1.

That compares well to other OLED displays, such as the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon which was almost as bright at 397 nits, had equally wide colors at 96% of AdobeRGB, 100% of sRGB, and 100% of DCI-P3 with an accuracy of 0.88, and the same high contrast at 27,590:1. These are better results than you’ll get from an IPS display, making for a creator’s dream panel.

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 Speaker Bar via a rear view.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 retains the unique rotating Soundbar in the hinge that houses two 2-watt tweeters with two 3-watt woofers firing out the side of the laptop. In this generation, it’s tuned by Bowers & Wilkins and promises enhanced audio quality. In my testing, there was tons of volume and more bass than you’ll find in a typical laptop.

At the same time, there was distortion at full volume that made mids and highs scratchy and unpleasant. Turning down the volume a little fixed that and gave a much more pleasant sound. Ultimately, though, I was a little disappointed with the sound quality given Lenovo’s attention to the feature, and I rank it a fair distance behind the best Windows laptop, the Dell XPS 15. The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7’s will work fine for Netflix binging and such, but you’ll want a pair of headphones for music and other high-quality audio.

Keyboard and touchpad

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 keyboard and stylus in a top-down view.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7’s keyboard is typical of Lenovo’s non-ThinkPad laptops. It provides a spacious layout with large keycaps and a switch that offers a bit less travel than average and a soft bottoming action. It’s not my favorite keyboard because it lacks precision, but it’s not a terrible experience by any means. The IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon used a different version with deeper travel and more click at the end of each keystroke, and I wish that keyboard was utilized on the Yoga. The HP Spectre and Dell XPS lines offer better keyboards, and Apple’s Magic Keyboard on its latest MacBooks is the best.

Most notable with the new keyboard design is the row of special-purpose keys along the right-hand side. You’ll find a switch for the performance tuning utility, a quick key for turning on background blur in video calls, keys to quickly switch between audio and color modes, and a fingerprint reader. They’re convenient and still leave plenty of room for a spacious standard keyboard layout.

The touchpad is 45% larger than the previous generation, and it’s indeed spacious. It’s comfortable across its entire surface and offers a satisfying click, although only the bottom of the touchpad responds to presses. As a Microsoft Precision touchpad, it provides confident Windows 11 multitouch gesture support. The touchpad is a strength.

Of course, the display is touch-enabled, and it was precise and accurate as most touch displays are today. It also supports Lenovo’s Precision active pen, which I found to work as well as any other for handwriting and sketching using Windows 11 Ink. The pen is included in the box, which is a plus.

Battery life

Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 laptop sits on a small desk in media mode.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Another burning question regarding Intel’s 12th-gen CPUs is their efficiency. We expect them to offer better battery life than the previous generation, but that’s been based on Intel marketing claims without independent benchmarks to back them up. The thing is, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 doesn’t just benefit from any 12th-gen efficiencies. It also packs in 75 watt-hours of battery capacity, which is a lot for a 14-inch laptop — even one with a power-hungry OLED display. So, we must keep that in mind when evaluating the laptop’s longevity and drawing any conclusions about Alder Lake CPUs.

Overall, battery life wasn’t a strength, and I find that surprising.

The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 got off to a mediocre start with our web browsing test that cycles through a series of popular websites. It lasted for just over nine hours, an average score that’s well behind much longer-lasting machines like the MacBook Pro 13 M1 (16 hours) and MacBook Air M1 (15.5 hours) with their very efficient Apple M1 processors. In our video test that loops through a local 1080p movie trailer, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 made it to 12.75 hours, which once again is an average score. The Spectre x360 14 managed 10.75 hours, while the MacBook Pro 13 M1 hit 21 hours and the MacBook Air M1 came in at 18.5 hours.

In the PCMark 10 Applications battery test that’s the best indication of productivity battery life, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 lasted 8.5 hours. That’s slightly below average and less than the HP Spectre x360 14, which lasted 35 minutes longer with its smaller 67 watt-hour battery. Finally, in the PCMark 10 Gaming battery test that gives an idea of how hard a laptop works when running on battery power, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 lasted for an average two hours.

Overall, battery life wasn’t a strength, and I find that surprising. The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 has a huge battery and, given 12th-gen efficiencies, I expected better battery life even given the high-res OLED display. We’ll have to review more machines to draw firm conclusions, but at this point, it doesn’t seem that Alder Lake automatically confers improvements in longevity. The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 might get you through a full day’s work on a charge depending on your workload, but there’s no guarantee.

Webcam, security, and privacy

The Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7's webcam showing off the inverted notch.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 has an upgraded 1080p webcam, which is significantly improved over the 72op versions you’ll still find in most laptops. Video quality is enhanced considerably, making it a boon for hybrid workers who rely on videoconferencing to stay in touch with coworkers. An infrared camera works with the webcam to provide a reliable password-less Windows 11 Hello login. There’s also a fingerprint reader for those who prefer that method for logging in.

Lenovo’s suite of Smart Assist utilities is also available, including Zero Touch Login and Zero Touch Lock. These features monitor the user’s presence, locking the laptop and putting it to sleep when the user walks away, and waking it up and automatically logging back in when the user returns. Smart Assist can also start and pause videos based on user presence. The utilities work surprisingly well, so much so that I needed to turn them off to perform my battery testing. They’re a real convenience for anyone who wants their laptop to be private and secure when they leave it alone.

Pricing and configurations

Lenovo hasn’t published much information on Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 configurations. We have the upcoming Best Buy-exclusive $1,730 review unit that’s equipped with the Core i7-1260P CPU, 16GB of DDR5 RAM, a 512GB PCIe Gen 4 solid-state drive (SSD), and the 14-inch 16:10 WQHD+ OLED display. There’s also a less expensive Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 currently available on Lenovo’s website, coming in at $1,450 for a Core i7-1260P, 8GB of DDR5 RAM, a 256GB PCIe 4 SSD, and a 14-inch WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS display. We’ll see more configurations coming soon, including the option of a 4K UHD+ (3840 x 2400) OLED panel.

Our take

The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 is an exquisite laptop, gorgeous in its new design, solidly built, and offering outstanding performance. The luscious OLED display rounds out what’s likely to be a leading convertible 2-in-1 throughout 2022.

It’s a little on the expensive side, although not more so than its strongest competition. Its keyboard isn’t in the same class as the best Windows and Mac alternatives, though, and I’ve seen better battery life. Even so, the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 is an excellent addition to the 14-inch convertible 2-in-1 stable.

Are there any alternatives?

The HP Spectre x360 14 can’t hold a candle to the Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 in terms of performance, at least not until it gets updated to 12th-gen chips itself. HP’s laptop offers an equally lovely design and as good an OLED display, though. It’s also a bit more expensive, but it’s the only 14-inch class convertible 2-in-1 that comes close.

Lenovo’s clamshell IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon makes for another fine choice if you don’t need a 2-in-1. It’s as fast and its battery life is a little better, and it has its own excellent OLED display that runs at 90Hz.

Apple’s MacBook Pro 14 is my final recommendation. It offers the usual excellent MacBook build quality, utilizes Apple’s incredibly fast M1 Pro chip, and has excellent battery life and a lovely display. If you’re okay with MacOS, then this is a great, if expensive, option.

How long will it last?

The Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7 has a rigid chassis that’s solid enough to last for years. It also utilizes the most up-to-date components, making it an excellent long-term investment. The standard one-year warranty is disappointing, as usual.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Excellent performance, a spectacular design, and a superior display — there’s a lot to like here.

Editors’ Recommendations






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