With the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro, a new high-end, ultra-thin Industrial design was introduced. There were a lot of things that we liked, but it was ultimately an “executive” kind of laptop, with too little horsepower and battery capacity, which we mentioned.
When Lenovo introduced the Yoga 900 weeks ago, we felt like it took the 3 Pro design and made it just right. Now, we’ve had the opportunity to use the Lenovo Yoga 900 in the real world for a couple of months, so this review will go over that experience, along with some data-based analysis of the configuration and options you have.
As you have noticed, the Yoga Y900 uses the design language of the Yoga 3 Pro, and that’s a great thing to do. As such, it has the same build quality and uses a 360-degree hinge system that makes it possible to use the laptop as a tablet, or make it stand in various ways so that it can adapt itself to the current circumstances.
Although a little bit thicker and heavier than the Yoga 3 Pro, the Yoga 900 remains smaller and lighter than the Macbook Air, the HP Spectre x360 and the Microsoft Surface Book.
For example, I found that the tablet mode was great to read documents or browse web page in a plane. Being able to have it rest in a non-traditional laptop position also makes it possible to obtain the proper view angle on a tray and in spots where depth is limited. On a 13-hr flight to Seoul, this is priceless. Of course, in the classic laptop mode is the best for productivity.
There are four USB ports on this laptop, which is very nice when compared to many models that only have 2 (if not one…). One is a USB 2.0 and also serves as the power connector. There are two full-size USB 3.0 ports to connect most devices, including high-speed drives, etc. Finally, there’s a USB 3.0 Type-C port that can also serve as “video output” if you have the right adapter (not in the box).
On the right side, the volume controls have gone away, but the power control and mute button are still there. The power control is a little easier to find because it protrudes just a bit more.
The Lenovo Yoga 900 keyboard has changed for the best: there is now a dedicated row of Function keys, which were previously missing from the Yoga Pro 3. Although their absence did make the design “cleaner”, it could potentially damage the productivity of people who rely on these particular keys, like programmers.
Lenovo has also slightly changed the travel key depth (not as deep) and removed the white contour of the keys. The change in depth didn’t bother me at all, and in fact, I realized that was the case only when I was taking side by side photos of the two laptops.
The trackpad is 90×60 millimeters big and allows a comfortable use. It’s not the biggest one out there, but unless you use a lot of uncommon gestures (circular, four fingers), this shouldn’t be an issue at all. Although there are arguably larger/better trackpads in high-end laptops, this is one of the best one available in this price range, and it is certainly good enough that most people wouldn’t pay attention to it.
As it was the case with the Yoga 3 Pro, the “click” is a bit stiff, but this is a relatively new laptop, so it may age to be a little softer. Also, I’m the kind of user that doesn’t like to “tap”, but to “click” — depending on which camp you’re in, this may or may not be important to you.
Finally, it may be a software thing, or Windows 10, but I found the scrolling to be smoother (than on the Yoga 3 Pro) when I scroll with the trackpad in apps and browsers.
In this new Yoga incarnation, the display remains stellar. With a resolution of 3200×1800 and an IPS LCD panel, the image quality is stunning. The black levels are superb and the colors “pop”. As you can expect from this kind of resolution, icons and text are extremely crisp, and it’s a pleasure to read and work on this screen.
That’s particularly true since my work entails reading and typing a lot of text/code, so that makes a huge difference.
Since it has a shiny glass treatment, the display has better color rendering when indoors, but it is more prone to reflections when used outdoors or with strong lighting indoors. It’s the case for all shiny displays, but it’s something to consider before making a final decision.
Internal hardware (powerful)
I have the Lenovo Yoga 900 model 80MK, 900-13ISK which came with an Intel Core i7-6500U @ 2.50GHz (turbo 2.59GHz), 16GB of RAM and a 512GB SSD.
Note: for performance/price ratio, I’ll use the 8GB/256GB model price as a reference since the extra RAM and larger SSD size doesn’t impact synthetic benchmarks.
All Lenovo Yoga 900 models will feature the same Core i7-6500U processor but there are 8GB and 256GB SSD options for which I expect the benchmark performances to be similar to the laptop I have on hand.
The main highlight of the Yoga 900 is the new Core i7 Gen 6, which is much (much!) faster than the Intel Core-M featured in the Yoga 3 Pro. While the Yoga 3 Pro could be a bit slow for regular productivity tasks and underperforming for things like video editing, the Yoga 900 and its Core i7 make working much more comfortable, thanks to excellent performance in the 2.8 Lbs category.
Performance (very good)
There are other laptops on the market that use the Gen6 Intel Core i7-6500U. I’ve picked a few competitors within the same range of size and price, which are worthy of competition: The HP Envy 13t and the Dell XPS 13 (9350). I also picked the Yoga 3 Pro to highlight the evolution of the Yoga series, and I picked the Surface Pro 4 as the reference for in “ultralight performance” laptop leader, with some caveats regarding size and ergonomics. They can all be found in the ~$1200+ range.
As an evolution of the Yoga 3 Pro, the Lenovo Yoga 900 corrects the performance aspect handily. It offers an excellent level of performance and doesn’t feel sluggish.
Since it uses an Intel integrated graphics, it is gaming-capable, but I would not call it a gaming laptop because a discrete GPU from AMD or NVIDIA would be so much better regarding performance, and compatibility.
Performance for the price
What you get for your money is as important as the absolute performance. Based on the 8GB/256GB model and prices, data shows that the Lenovo Yoga 900 is one of the best laptops in terms of performance for the price.
It also ranks well regarding performance for the weight. A computer optimized for the weight/size as the Surface 4 Pro is the most impressive of all, but it does not offer the display real-estate and comfort of the Lenovo Yoga 900. Interestingly, other laptops can lead slightly in specific benchmark despite having very similar hardware.
Performance relative to the weight
The Yoga 900 is very light, but if that’s a priority for you, computers such as the Surface 4 Pro or Lenovo’s own LaVie Z 360 could be sensible choices. They are probably more specialized and I wouldn’t think of them as “do-it-all” laptops, but I want to make you aware of them. Here’s how things are if we look at performance from the prism of weight:
In short, the Lenovo Yoga 900 offers very good performance relative to its size, weight and cost. High-end gaming aside, it’s a computer that we feel comfortable recommending to just about anyone who can afford it.
Battery life: excellent
In terms of battery capacity, the 66Wh battery capacity of the Yoga 900 gives it an undeniable advantage over competitors. Because everyone’s usage is unique, everyone’s “real” battery life is unique as well. Since most these computers run on the same display resolution, CPU, GPU and chipset, the single largest factor in battery life is the battery’s capacity, so I recommend you to focus on that. Unless the OEM is doing something horrible, that should be the key.
In that respect, the Lenovo Yoga 900 is so much better than its predecessor. Capacity has gone from 44.8 Watt Hours (Wh) to 66 Wh. Of course, the hardware platform (mainly CPU) also consumes more power, but overall the rest of the system is very similar to the Yoga 3 Pro, which is why the battery life is better.
It is also interesting to note that the Lenovo Yoga 900 also provides the best battery capacity for the money, and the best battery capacity relative to its weight as well. This is impressive.
If you seek absolute battery life, computers such as the 3.48lbs Core i5 Microsoft Surface Book can run longer (~35%), but you will lose the thinness of the design, increase weight, pay a steeper price and sacrifice some performance.
Conclusion: a 10/10
With the Lenovo Yoga 900, Lenovo proves that it can react relatively quickly to user demand. After launching the Yoga 3 Pro, acclaimed for its industrial design, the feedback from reviewers (including me) and users made it clear that Lenovo needed to offer a similar chassis with superior performance and battery life. It’s now done, and the Yoga 900 is a perfect do-it-all windows laptop.
"THE YOGA 900 IS A PERFECT DO-IT-ALL WINDOWS LAPTOP" If you have specific needs (2lbs weight, 12” screen, gaming performance) there may be alternative/specialized options, but you will pay it in size, weight, comfort and productivity.
At the moment, the Lenovo Yoga 900 is the easy 13.3” Windows laptop choice in the $1200 range. It sets the bar higher, not only in terms of absolute features and performance but especially in terms of “quality for the price” which is one of the most important feature of all.