Yoga 9i (15 & # 39;) 2-in-1 laptop
"The Yoga 9i is very fast for a 2-in-1, and with the right display it could work well for creative people."
Solid build quality
Very good keyboard and touchpad
Excellent audio performance
The battery life suffers from a small battery
The display has poor contrast
Lenovo recently renamed its Yoga line, for example changing the Yoga C940 15-inch 2-in-1 to the Yoga 9i. This is a purely marketing move – the Yoga 9i is the same as the C940 with updated components inside. Some other new yogas are a little more innovative, like the leather-covered Yoga 9i 14-inch, but Lenovo has chosen to play it safe with its largest, most powerful convertible laptop.
I received a $ 2,000 Yoga 9i review unit that came with a sixth generation Intel Core i7-10750H with six cores, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe solid state drive (SSD), and a 15.6-inch Full HD display (1920 x 1080) and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q GPU. The Yoga C940 was already a fast laptop with a mediocre display and poor battery life that put it off a higher rating. Does the Yoga 9i fix the laptop problem and make it a more competitive proposition?
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
Since the updated CPU is the main difference between the Yoga C940 and the Yoga 9i, we'll start there. And it's a good place to start as the Yoga 9i gets the most out of its components.
In Geekbench 5, the Yoga 9i achieved 1,285 points in single-core mode and 5,551 points in multi-core mode. That is moderately faster than the 1,106 and 5,117 points of the Yoga C940 and beats the current closest competition, the HP Specter x360 15, with 1,237 and 5013. The Dell XPS 15, a logical clamshell competitor, managed 1,314 and 7,549 with a much faster core i7-10875H with eight cores.
In Handbrake, our test that encodes a 420MB video as H.265, it took the Yoga 9i 2.4 minutes to complete the test. Like many newer laptops, the Yoga 9i has a utility for adjusting performance by changing the fan behavior, and the Yoga 9i only dipped for eight seconds in high-performance mode – not particularly impressive. The Specter x360 15 took 16 seconds longer than the Yoga, and the XPS 15 was done in just over two minutes. I'll also mention the HP Envy 15 with its Core i7-10750H, which beat the XPS 15 by two seconds in HP Command Center Performance mode and five seconds faster than the Yoga 9i in normal mode – the HP utility did more The Envy 15 was the fastest in the handbrake test in this group.
In Cinebench 20, the Yoga i9 achieved 2625 points in multi-core mode and 481 points in single-core mode. This is comparable to the Specter x360 15 (2523 and 469), the XPS 15 (3582 and 488), and the Envy 15 (2593 and 436). All of these functions were in the laptop's normal performance mode. The Yoga 9i and Envy 15 showed a slight increase in their respective performance modes, but not enough to catch up with the XPS 15 with its additional two cores and four threads.
Finally, I ran our Premiere Pro test encoding a two minute 4K video and this is where the Yoga 9i surprised. It took four minutes and 51 seconds (oddly enough in both normal and performance modes), which defeated the more powerful XPS 15, which lasted a little over five minutes. The Specter x360 15 lagged behind here and took 7.5 minutes to complete the test. The Envy 15 was the performance leader in performance mode, finishing in just three minutes and 53 seconds. It matched the XPS 15 in normal mode.
That's a lot of data that has to be digested. So let's simplify things. The Yoga 9i is the fastest 15-inch 2-in-1 we've tested, and we suspect it's the fastest you can buy. It can also be upgraded to a Core i9-10980H. If you're looking to spend the money, this 2-in-1 can get you even more performance. From this perspective, the Yoga 9i isn't just a laptop with high productivity and the flexibility of a 2-in-1 device. It's also a candidate for creatives who need quick photo and video editing. Whether the Yoga 9i really lives up to this standard depends on its display, which we'll cover next.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
My test device was equipped with the 15.6-inch Full HD IPS display from Lenovo with a nominal output of 500 nits and supports Dolby Vision High Dynamic Range (HDR). Lenovo also offers a 4K IPS display, which is also rated at 500 nits.
According to my colorimeter, Lenovo's demands on brightness are a bit exaggerated. I saw 351 nits, which is way above our preferred threshold of 300 nits, but not nearly 500 nits of course. The colors for premium displays today were average at 97% of sRGB and 75% of AdobeRGB, and the DeltaE 1.42 color accuracy was good but not great (less than 1.0 is indistinguishable to the human eye and is considered excellent viewed). And Gamma was perfect at 2.2, which means photos and videos aren't too light or too dark. You will find that most Full HD displays these days are similar and you will have to switch to high quality 4K IPS and OLED displays to get better. For example, the 4K OLED display on the Specter x360 15 had 426 nits, 100% sRGB and 98% AdobeRGB, and a DeltaE or 1.21. The XPS 15's 4K IPS display was even stronger at 442 nits, 100% of sRGB and AdobeRGB, and a DeltaE of 0.65.
Where the display of the Yoga 9i fell behind was in its contrast, where it only managed 670: 1. This is a bad score for a premium laptop today, many of which meet or exceed our preferred threshold of 1000: 1. The Specter x360 16's OLED display was the typical ridiculous 426,180: 1, and the XPS 15 was great for a 1480: 1 IPS display. Such low contrast sometimes left the Yoga 9i's display a little washed out compared to its main competition appear, especially with black text on a white background.
Still, for the most part, I enjoyed using the display. I'll admit that I like high-resolution, high-contrast displays for the sharpest possible text, which is why I would have preferred a 4K panel – as a writer, the Yoga 9i's display would never make me happy. If you don't mind Full HD in a larger display, you'll find that it gets you through your productivity work with ease. I'll find that Dolby Vision HDR support means that Netflix HDR content is superior to most other Full HD displays – very bright and with dark scenes showing more detail than most other displays.
We haven't tested the Yoga 9i's 4K display yet, but they typically have wider, more accurate colors and better contrast. Whether the 9i is a true creative workstation depends on whether the 4K display meets your color requirements. Unfortunately, this is not a question that we can currently answer.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
I normally set the audio performance in the display area, but the Yoga 9i's audio system deserves special attention. Instead of placing a speaker or two somewhere in the case, Lenovo built a soundbar into the 360-degree hinge that houses custom tweeters with vibration buffers to reduce distortion and a pair of darting woofers under the case. When you put the soundbar into the hinge, you'll benefit from Dolby Atmos speakers in all orientations, including the media mode that is most likely to benefit you. And it's excellent audio with tremendous volume that never gets distorted, clear mids and highs, and even a hint of bass. You can use the Yoga 9i to play Netflix all by yourself without the need for headphones or external speakers, even if you share it with a friend. This is unusual for a Windows 10 laptop. The Yoga 9i can't quite compete with the latest MacBooks for the best laptop audio, but it's damn close.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
The design of the Yoga 9i is unchanged from that of the Yoga C940. First, and perhaps best, this means that the case is very solid with no bending, bending, or twisting of the lid, keyboard deck, or case base. It is made of machined aluminum and enjoys an excellent fit and finish. Small touches like a hinge that can be easily opened with one hand while staying in place during use are abundant and give a very high quality overall feel. The Dell XPS 15 and HP Specter x360 15 have nothing to do with the build quality of the Yoga 9i.
Aesthetically, the Yoga 9i fits Lenovo's very conservative overall picture. The angles are overall clean, and the back of the case and the bottom of the lid have matching rounded surfaces that work well with the rest of the machine. It's a solid dark gray, with the exception of the Dolby Atmos rotating soundbar, which is built into the hinge area and has a coppery hue. The Specter x360 15 is a much more eye-catching laptop with its gem-carved design and copper accents. However, if you prefer a cleaner and simpler look, then you'll love the Yoga 9i.
Like the Specter x360 15, the Yoga 9i has small bezels, while the Yoga uses an inverted notch to give something to grip when opening the lid and to make room for the webcam. The Yoga 9i ranges in thickness from 0.69 to 0.78 inches with a slight taper and weighs 4.41 pounds. That's comparable to the Specter x360 15 at 0.79 inches and 4.24 pounds. The Yoga is a bit wider and deeper than the HP, which ultimately offers a bit more size to take with you and more keyboard deck to work with and a larger touchpad. This is a compromise that you will either love or hate. Both 2-in-1s are larger than you would like to use as a tablet, unless you've propped them up on a surface.
Connectivity is mediocre, with a proprietary power port, two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, a 3.5mm audio jack on the left, and a single USB-A 3.2 port on the right. Surprisingly, there is no SD card reader, which is a real disappointment, especially for creative people. The Specter x360 15 has a full-size HDMI 2.0 port and can be connected to additional displays without a dock. The wireless connection is via Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0.
Keyboard and touchpad
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
The Yoga 9i's keyboard looks just like the one you'll find on any other yoga. It has big, shaped keys with a lot of space between them and less travel than I like to see. In this model, however, Lenovo has adopted “TrueStrike” technology from its Legion gaming laptops, which use a “soft landing” switch to provide faster ground action. I will admit that I liked this version better than the others that I tried. They were never my favorite and found them more precise and responsive. The Yoga 9i's keyboard still doesn't match my favorites, the HP Specter line keyboard on the Windows 10 side, and Apple's Magic keyboard on the latest MacBooks. However, most of the people will love this keyboard and they will be typing at full speed in no time.
The touchpad is a good size, not as big as the Dell XPS 15, but still bigger (or at least bigger) than the touchpad on the Specter x360 15. It has a glass cover that makes wiping extremely comfortable. Thanks to the Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers, it is responsive and supports all of Windows 10's multi-touch gestures.
The touch display reacts like pretty much all touch displays today. And it supports Lenovo's active stylus docked on the right side of the case to charge it and make sure you don't lose it. The disadvantage: it is smaller than a "real" pen and therefore takes some getting used to. The pen supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and this version has an elastomer tip that is supposed to better mimic the feel of a pen on paper.
Windows 10 Hello support is provided by a fingerprint reader that was fast and accurate. The Yoga 9i has the usual Lenovo privacy shutter for the webcam – slide it over it and it physically blocks the camera from potential spies.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends
The biggest problem with the Yoga 9i's battery life is that it could be a lot better if only Lenovo had added more battery. It only takes 69 watt hours to power a 15.6-inch display and some powerful components. As we'll see, this results in battery life that isn't terrible but could be a lot better.
First, the Yoga 9i lasted almost 3.5 hours in our demanding Basemark web benchmark test, which is average for laptops with 45 watt CPUs. However, the Dell XPS 15 with its faster CPU and 4K display lasted two minutes less, which means that Dell's inclusion of 86 watt hours of battery capacity pays off here. The Specter x360 15 with its power-hungry OLED display lasted 44 minutes less than the Yoga 9i with its Full HD display (not that the display played such a big role in the Basemark test).
In our web browser test, which best mimics productivity performance, the Yoga 9i lasted a little over 7.5 hours, 40 minutes longer than the XPS 15, and nearly 90 minutes longer than the Specter x360. And in our video loop test, in which a Full HD Avengers trailer is played until the battery is empty, the Yoga 9i lasted a little over 12 hours – a good score that benefited from the Full HD display. The XPS 15 lasted less than 7.5 hours and the Specter x360 15 6.5 hours.
All in all, that's decent battery life for a powerful 2-in-1 with a 15.6-inch display, and the Yoga 9i will last longer than its predecessor. It is possible to spend a full day using the laptop if you save the CPU and GPU. However, if you want to perform demanding jobs, you should carry the power adapter with you. I still can't help but wish Lenovo had a bigger battery because then battery life could be a real strength.
The Lenovo Yoga 9i is even faster than the Yoga C940, which is already one of the fastest 2-in-1s you can buy. Lenovo did some magic with the thermal to get every ounce of power out of it, and it shows. The 2-in-1 is well built, attractive and offers great sound.
The biggest downside is the display, which had poor contrast that spoiled the overall experience. Creatives should check out the 4K display option, which has an impact on battery life but is likely to offer wider and more accurate colors. And I could repeat myself here, but I wish there was a bigger battery in there.
Are there alternatives?
The Dell XPS 15 is a direct competitor of the Yoga 9i in the 15-inch clamshell market and a strong competitor. It has a better display, at least as far as we've tested, making it a better option for discerning creative professionals. The XPS 15 is also cheaper than the Yoga 9i and currently costs almost $ 200 less for an equivalent configuration.
A direct alternative is the HP Specter x360 15, which offers the same configuration as the 9i for $ 300 less (on sale). Aesthetically, the Specter x360 15 is a much more eye-catching 2-in-1 device and offers slightly better connectivity. But the Yoga 9i is faster and can be upgraded to a Core i9 to really chase the HP out of the water.
Finally, you might consider the HP Envy 15, which costs a whopping $ 650 less than the configured Yoga 9i. And for $ 250 less, you get a spectacular OLED display and Nvidia RTX 2060 Max-Q GPU, making the Envy 15 a much more powerful and enjoyable laptop.
How long it will take?
The Yoga 9i is built like a tank and will last forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but as long as you need it. The one-year warranty is industry standard and, as always, is too short.
Should you buy it?
Yes. The Yoga 9i is the fastest 2-in-1 device we know. It has great audio quality and a great design. However, consider the 4K display if you plan to use it for photo or video editing.