Lenovo has enjoyed a huge wave of success with the introduction of the Yoga 2 Pro, and when the Yoga 3 Pro was announced some time ago, we were really curious to see how it would fare in a real-world situation. On paper, it looks pretty amazing, with a 0.5” thickness and a weight of 2.62. This is thinner than Apple’s new 12″ Macbook, and lighter than the Macbook Air 13.
The latest Dell XPS 13 (Model XPS9343) would be very close, although not better, in both weight and thickness, but it doesn’t turn go into tablet mode.
The 3200×1800 IPS display is the second thing that jumps out when reading the specs since it promises to deliver a very nice viewing experience. The Core M processor was somewhat of a concern, but the 8GB of RAM was reassuring. In the end, we took it for a spin and here’s our full Yoga 3 Pro review.
The external aspect of the laptop is without a doubt a very powerful attractor. Laptops have thinned out on a regular basis over time, but there is no question that being thinner -and lighter- is still seen as a major “plus”, as long as performance and battery life remain in check (more on that later).
The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro uses the same Multi-Mode design which allows it to bend over at 360 degrees to turn into a tablet, and adopt a couple of “Viewing” positions, in addition to the traditional “Laptop” position that people need to be truly productive.
Obviously, it is not iPad-thin when in “Tablet Mode” but it goes a very long way to make the experience more comfortable for simple reading or viewing, thanks to the 13.3” display. I used it to read or watch movies in planes and it’s just way better than a simple laptop: you can set it up at an angle and distance that will media consumption much more pleasant.
"THE HINGE DESIGN IS CRAZY GOOD"The versatility and thinness are made possible by Lenovo’s new hinge design. Typically, a 360-degree hinge would make the laptop a little thicker in the back. The Yoga 2 Pro already did very well, but the Yoga 3 Pro takes it to the next level and puts the MacBook Air to shame in that regards (My MacBooks hinges have a limited range). It is certain that Lenovo will continue to invest and leverage this new design in upcoming products.
The Lenovo design team has done a great job building a super-thin & light laptop, which does not feel flimsy. It’s not very hard to build a light laptop made of cheap-looking plastic. Build one that feels solid and rigid is much more difficult.
The keyboard resembles the one found in the Yoga 2 Pro’s except that the function key row has been removed. The tactile feel is quite decent, but the thinness of the design is probably starting to put some pressure on the keyboard design. Of course, the keyboard is backlit and well-tuned to emit a soft light: you can comfortably type in the dark.
It is not perfect, however. For one, I don’t think that removing the function keys row is a good idea. There are a lot of PC apps that have keyboard accelerators based on those keys, and I don’t think that productivity should be messed with, in the name of Design. You may or may not use these keys as much, but I wish that Lenovo made them come back going forward.
The Lenovo Carbon X1 series remains the best one as far as keyboards are concerned, and I wish that all Lenovo laptops would feature that particular keyboard. But it’s also fair that the super-thin design cannot accommodate large key-travel designs.
The trackpad is pretty decent and works well. It is not gigantic, but is large enough to be worked on with relative comfort. I typically don’t use fancy gestures, but if you like doing things like edge scrolling, whirl motion, etc.… you may wish to have a slightly larger trackpad. I just move the cursor and scroll up and down with a double-finger scroll.
I found the trackpad “click” to be quite stiff. Again, there’s pressure from the ultra-thin design to make things move as little as possible in the vertical axis, but I really prefer having a bit more of a physical feedback when I click. People who like “tapping” will probably not mind at all.
As we hinted earlier, the display is one of the best parts of this laptop. With a 3200×1800 resolution, it is extremely crisp and every app that is hi-DPI friendly look amazing.
The screen uses an IPS LCD technology, which means that its view-angle is very good. To give you an idea, the display is just as good as the best tablet displays out there. The one thing that “touch technology” has done to the laptop world is to spread higher quality displays at a very fast pace.
Internal hardware (Intel Core-M based)
This particular model (Yoga 3 Pro 80HE000LUS) comes with the Intel Core M 5Y70 (dual-core at 2.6GHz), 8GB of RAM and 512GB of SSD storage.
8GB of RAM remains a very decent amount of memory for a laptop, and most users should be happy with this. Depending on your work, you may need more, but for a productivity ultra-thin, we consider that this is great.
The 512GB of storage is more than enough for my laptop needs. To be honest, I usually get by with 128GB or am comfortable with 256GB because I only use the laptop as a mobility device. My main system is a desktop, and I have a little file server to store random data files that I don’t need to access daily.
As you can expect, the Yoga 3 Pro supports the latest WiFi AC standard which extends both range and speed when compared to previous iterations. If you have the right router, things should be speedy and nice.
There are about 8 different configurations going from $1100 to $1320 (best street prices) at the time of publishing. They all use the same processor, so we will use the cheaper one for performance/price comparisons. Beyond that the Operating System (Pro or Home) and the hard drive capacity are the only notable differences, and they don’t really impact the performance
Lenovo has picked the Intel Core M processor, which consumes less power than the Core i5/i7 models. I suppose that this was done to compensate for the low battery capacity (due to the super-thin design). However, the end result is that the performance in the $1200 price range isn’t so great.
As you can see on a benchmark like PCMark 8 Home (with GPU support), there is a large performance gap of 30% or so with heavier (3lbs or so) laptops, such as the Yoga 2 Pro, or HP’s Spectre X360.
If we look at “performance relative to its weight”, the Yoga 3 Pro still doesn’t win, but the gap shrinks down to 10%, which makes a sense: Lenovo had to leave some performance on the table to achieve its extraordinary thin & light objectives.
The Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro comes with a battery capacity of 5900 mAh (44 Wh), which not the greatest out there. This is without a doubt a result of the quest for thinness. However, it would manage to play MP4 1080p video files for about 6.67 hours, according to our tests. That’s about 15% of battery for every hour of movie playback (WiFi ON, 150 Nit brightness, Low-Power mode).
I hope that Lenovo will include things like a fast-charge option in the future. In my experience, the total capacity isn’t as important as the ability to charge extremely quickly (80% in 30mn) – unless you are in a situation where you don’t have access to power at all. But these days, a lot of airlines are providing 110V plugs even in coach seats, and during trade shows someone could easily find a plug for 20-30mn.
Conclusion: edgy design, needs more punch
"IF EVERY OUNCE COUNTS, THE YOGA PRO 3 WILL SAVE THE DAY"This laptop design is truly amazing and extremely likable. The multi-mode positions, ultra-light weight (2.62 Lbs) and a beautiful hi-DPI display are the killer features of the Yoga 3 Pro.
However, the performance is not as high as I had hoped. Whether it is to compress video or, just in general, coming from a faster Core i5 or Core i7 system, the difference is noticeable.
And that’s the main tradeoff you will have to make: if you are doing basic productivity tasks, it’s fine, and the Yoga 3 Pro should keep you relatively happy. I’m saying “relatively” because at times, even browsing the web with many tabs can be a performance challenge.
Executives that spend their time in a few apps (MS Office…), professional writers, lawyers, etc.… could be very happy with this laptop. People who need an ultra-light computer (because in their backpacks all day) may also greatly appreciate the design.
You will need to think about how you truly want to use it, and I hope that this review helped you decide if it is right for you. If you have other questions, please drop a comment, and I’ll do my best to reply while I still have the test unit with me.