Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Professional Assessment: Beautiful Show Saves Day

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro

RRP $ 1,420.00

"Despite a few flaws, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is one of the better new Windows 11 laptops you can buy."

advantages

  • Solid productivity performance

  • High resolution 90 Hz display

  • Great keyboard and touchpad

  • Simple but attractive aesthetics

disadvantage

  • Build quality is a little below average

  • Battery life is mediocre

Apart from the Surface devices, new Windows 11 laptops have so far been sparse.

Now there's Lenovo's IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro, one of the most anticipated newbies with Microsoft's latest operating system, and it promises to take advantage of Windows 11 with high-end components and a productivity-friendly 16:10 high-resolution display.

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is said to be a prime example of the “Midrange Plus” lineup from Lenovo, which offers some of the same features that you will find in ThinkPads and a high quality finish that is nevertheless (relatively) affordable.

My configuration was $ 1,420, which is not that cheap. The $ 1,190 launch configuration is also in a confusing place. But in the end it all comes down to whether this is a good laptop for the money. Despite a few problems, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro makes a promising start into the Windows 11 era of laptops.

draft

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

When I judge the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro as a premium laptop, I have to pick out a few nits in terms of build quality. It's made of machined aluminum, which is a good thing, but I found the lid a bit pliable and the keyboard deck and case base had some flexibility. That would be a suitable build quality for $ 1,000 or less, but at over $ 1,400, it's missing something. The HP Specter x360 14, for example, is only a few hundred euros more and is rock solid, while the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED is several hundred euros cheaper and more robust. However, the hinge on the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is superb, making it easy to open the laptop with one hand while holding the display firmly in place.

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro has minimal bezels on the top and sides and a larger chin than the Dell XPS 13. An inverted notch on the top houses the cameras and adds a convenient opening for opening the lids. Together with the larger 16:10 display, the chin makes the laptop lower than it could be, while the side bezels keep it relatively narrow.

It's a well-sized laptop that is easy to carry around.

Overall, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is in line with other 14-inch laptops with 16:10 displays such as the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9. At 0.67 inches, it is thin, although not as thin as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 with 0.59 inches. At three pounds, its weight is average for 14-inch laptops. The ThinkPad is half a pound lighter, however. Overall, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is a well-sized laptop that is easy to transport.

Aesthetically, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro matches many newer laptops that use a minimalist design. It seems the more laptops I check, the more similar they look. The Ideapad is available in slate gray (my test device) or light silver. It has very simple lines and angles, a curved trailing edge and subtle logos that give it a very nondescript appearance.

As with so many similar laptops, including the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, it's an attractive laptop, but it won't stand out. The HP Specter x360 14, with its gem-cut design and bright accent colors, offers a much bolder design. Do you like the look of the IdeaPad? Probably, unless you want a laptop that makes a fashion statement. It certainly won't offend you.

Connectivity isn't a strength. On the left you will find two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports (one of which is used for power supply) and a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port and a 3.5mm audio jack on the right.

Unfortunately there is no SD card slot or HDMI which is disappointing. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 take over wireless tasks.

power

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

My test device was designed for more powerful laptops with a 35 watt Intel Core i7-11370H CPU, the 11th. It's an interesting processor that divides the difference between, for example, an 8-core / 16-thread Core i7-11800H with 45 watts and a 28-watt 4-core / 8-thread Core i7-1185G7. The Core i7-11370H is a productivity CPU through and through – it's supposed to be fast enough to handle demanding productivity workflows, but it's not in the same league as processors, which are faster in creative applications.

The first thing to note is that Lenovo has included its Performance Optimization utility that allows you to switch between battery saving, smart cooling, and extreme performance modes. The utility only made a difference in two of our benchmarks, our Handbrake test, which encodes a 420MB video in H.265 and Cinebench R23. Both are CPU-bound, and this is where the utility had the biggest impact.

For example, in Handbrake it took the IdeaPad 202 seconds to complete in intelligent cooling mode and 155 seconds in performance mode. That's a significant difference, and in fact, it was almost the same as the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio with the same CPU in that laptop's performance mode. The same was true for Cinebench R23, where the IdeaPad's score jumped from 5,544 to 6,150, a more competitive result.

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is a fast productivity laptop.

However, the utility made little to no difference in Geekbench 5, PCMark 10, and 3DMark Time Spy. But the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro also scores well in these benchmarks in intelligent cooling mode and is ahead of the U-series competitors and close to the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 with its Ryzen 7 5700U and the Surface Laptop Studio in all but that 3DMark test. The fastest notebook in our comparison list was of course the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 with a Core i7-11800H. Upon closer inspection of the PCMark 10 benchmark, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro did well in all tests, including Essentials, Productivity, and Content Creation.

All of this means that the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is a fast, productivity laptop that can handle anything a typical user will throw at it. Put it in performance mode, which has the fans spinning up and a lot louder, and it can handle lighter creativity tasks better. It won't compete with the faster Intel CPUs or AMD's Ryzen 5000 series for developers, but it's better than the typical thin and light Intel laptop.

Geekbench (single / multiple) Handbrake
(Seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single / multiple) PCMark 10 3DMark time spy
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro (Core i7-11370H) 1578/5957 202 1514/5544 5149 1888
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (Ryzen7 5700U) 1184/6281 120 1287/8013 5411 1247
Samsung Galaxy Book (Core i5-1135G7) 1401/5221 180 1361/5391 4735 1584
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (Core i7-1165G7) 1327/5201 N / A 1469/4945 5147 1776
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio (Core i7-11370H) 1321/5131 179 1304/5450 5091 4266
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 (Core i7-11800H) 1520/7353 106 1519/10497 6251 6691
MSI Sumit E13 Flip Evo (Core i7-1185G7) 1352/4891 207 1360/4392 4872 1751

With Intel Iris Xe graphics, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is not a gaming laptop. The 3DMark Time Spy score is average and it only managed 22 frames per second (fps) at 1200p and epic graphics in Fortnite. This is in line with other Iris Xe laptops and means the IdeaPad is best for older titles or newer titles with lower resolutions and graphics settings. Or just stick to casual gaming.

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Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Lenovo equips the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro with a 14-inch 16:10 IPS display in a so-called “2.8K” resolution at 2,880 x 1,800. It's a sharp and bright display with dynamic colors that aren't over-saturated and enough contrast to make black text appear on a white background. It also runs at 90 Hz (60 Hz is configurable), which makes movements and animations on the screen a little smoother. I found the display to be pretty good during my tests and when I wrote this review. There's also the option for a 2.2K (2,240 x 1,400) IPS display that runs at 60 Hz, which I haven't tested.

My colorimeter agreed with my impressions. The display was quite bright at 369 nits, above our 300 nits threshold, beating the 238 nits of the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 for $ 1,000 and the 326 nits of the Samsung Galaxy Book for $ 900, the both real middle class are machines. The IdeaPad was also brighter than the 306 nits of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 for $ 1,885, and that's officially a premium laptop from Lenovo.

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro also has wider than average colors, with 80% AdobeRGB (72% closer to average) and 100% sRGB (95% is average), much better than the Inspiron 14 2-in-1's 52%. from AdobeRGB and 69% from sRGB and 48% and 64% of the Galaxy Book. The IdeaPad even beats the ThinkPad's 76% and 100%. These colors were also fairly accurate with a DeltaE of 1.65 (1.0 or less is excellent), compared to the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 with 1.8, the Galaxy Book with 2.41, and the ThinkPad with an even better 0 , 99. Finally, the IdeaPad's contrast was 1,340: 1, well above our preferred 1,000: 1 and much higher than the other three laptops I used for comparison.

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Those are excellent results for a laptop that was not explicitly designed for developers who demand even wider colors – although the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro's colors are certainly wide enough for the less demanding creative types. When searching our database, I couldn't find a current 14-inch laptop for the same money or more that had a better display – and most had significantly worse displays. The display also supports Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range (HDR), which makes it a great laptop for binding HDR content from Netflix and other streaming services. Lenovo charges a pretty penny for the IdeaPad, and the display helps justify the investment.

Sound is provided by two downward facing speakers under the front of the cabinet, and the sound was clear and bright. There was minimal bass as always. The only problem is that the volume was low even at full volume, but there was still a hint of distortion. You want headphones for Netflix and music, and sound quality isn't one of the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro's strong points.

Keyboard and touchpad

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro has the same keyboard design found on all Lenovo laptops that are not labeled as ThinkPad. It's roomy with large and comfortably shaped keycaps. The "TrueStrike" switch mechanism was adopted from Lenovo gaming laptops and offers a tactile feel. The switches are snappy, with a soft bottom movement that makes for a precise feel. There was also a lot of travel for this type of keyboard.

It's not quite as comfortable as HP Specter or Dell XPS keyboards, but it's close enough. Most people will love this keyboard.

The touchpad was large and took up most of the palm rest space. Kudos to Lenovo for using the larger display. The touchpad surface was smooth, with just enough friction for precise swipes, and the buttons made a healthy click without being loud. It's a Microsoft Precision touchpad, and so the usual Windows 10 multi-touch gestures were well supported. The touch display was responsive and welcome too.

An infrared camera and facial recognition have Windows Hello support, and it was quick and reliable. Lenovo has incorporated its user presence detection technology, which locks and hibernates the laptop when the user leaves the area, keeps the laptop unlocked when the user is in front of it even when the keyboard and touchpad are not in use, and the laptop automatically reactivated when the user returns from an absence. It can even pause a video when the user leaves. Overall, it's a handy system that works well, and I had to turn it off to run my battery tests unless I wanted to sit in front of the laptop for hours.

Battery life

Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

With a 61-watt-hour battery and a high-resolution 14-inch display, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro made me very curious about its battery life. I was also wondering how the 35 watt CPU would fare.

Initially, the IdeaPad was inconsistent in our web browsing test. When I first ran the test, the laptop only lasted 6.25 hours, which is a miserable score compared to the 10 hours or more we like to see from thin and light premium laptops. I ran it a second time and it lasted 7.75 hours. That's better, but still way behind the field.

The battery life is not a strength of the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro.

For example, the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 lasted 12.9 hours in this test, while the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio lasted 10.5 hours. However, just as worrying as the short run time was the inconsistency. In our video benchmark, which runs through a local Full HD movie trailer, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro managed 12.75 hours, which is a decent score that surpassed the 11 hours of the Inspiron but behind the 14 hours of the Surface Laptop Studio lagged behind.

In the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, which is the best indicator for the longevity of productivity, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro lasted 9.25 hours. We didn't test the Surface Laptop Studio in this review and the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 wouldn't complete it, but the IdeaPad scores below average for thin and light laptops. Most last at least 10 hours, and some, like the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo, can last 13 hours or more. In the PCMark 10 gaming battery test, the IdeaPad only lasted 95 minutes, which indicates that the laptop is maintaining its performance on battery power.

Overall, the battery life is not a strength of the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro. Whether it can last a full day at work depends on your workflow – if it's tough at all, have your charger with you just in case.

Our opinion

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is positioned as a mid-range laptop, but priced like a premium device, and luckily it lives up to the latter. The build quality is a bit poor and the battery life mediocre, but the performance is solid and the display is excellent for this device class. It is a good looking laptop that is reasonably sized and attractive with a simple design.

The additional features, such as user presence detection technology, are welcome additions that add value. The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is a solid addition to the 14-inch clamshell market and is conquering a healthy niche for itself thanks to its outstanding display.

Are there alternatives?

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is a great alternative if you're willing to spend a little extra cash. The display isn't that good, but the battery life is spectacular and the build quality is much better.

HP's Specter x360 14 is another solid option that is also a bit more expensive but gives you the flexibility of a 2-in-1, sleek design, and the option for an even better OLED display.

As always, the Dell XPS 13 is a great choice if you're willing to cut down on the size of the display (and chassis). It's fast, durable, and incredibly attractive and well built. Again, you'll be spending a little more, but it's worth it.

How long it will take?

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro could feel a bit more robust, but is built well enough to last for several years of typical use. Its components are up to date and are designed to keep Windows 11 running. As always, the industry standard one-year warranty is disappointing.

Should you buy it?

Yes sir. Offering great performance and a beautiful display, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro will meet most of the needs of the most demanding productivity user. Only the battery life stands out as a real minus.

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