Lenovo Yoga 920 Review: High-End 14-inch Convertible 2-in-1

by Reads (1,176)
  • Editor's Rating

    Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

      • Software & Support
      • 8
      • Upgrade Capabilities
      • 4
      • Usability
      • 6
      • Design
      • 8
      • Performance
      • 8
      • Features
      • 7
      • Price/Value Rating
      • 6
      • Total Score:
      • 6.71
      • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10
  • Pros

    • Elegant design
    • Bright 1080p touch display
    • Excellent battery life
    • Strong performance
    • Includes smart pen
  • Cons

    • Pricey
    • Shallow keyboard feel
    • Very limited port selection

Lenovo’s Yoga series is the company’s consumer-focused convertible notebook line. It’s compromised of two tiers, the mid-grade Yoga 700 and the top-tier Yoga 900. The Lenovo Yoga 920 we’re reviewing in this article is the most premium convertible in the line, a fact that’s not hard to miss given its lofty starting price of $1,329. You’re getting a very high-quality device with all the bells and whistles for that amount of money. On top of that, the Yoga 920 is even more interesting since it features the latest Intel 8th generation “Coffee Lake” quad-core processors. This marks the first time Lenovo is offering a quad-core processor in a Yoga 700 or 900 series notebook. Our benchmarks will show the Core i7-8550U processor in our review unit offers significant performance advantages over previous-generation Intel chips.

Lenovo Yoga 920

Yoga 920 in Laptop Mode

We reviewed the 13-inch Yoga 720 in mid-2017. The primary difference between the Yoga 720 and the Yoga 920 we’re reviewing here lies in design. Both notebooks are physically very close in size and weight; however the Yoga 920 has Lenovo’s iconic watchband-style hinge, and has a more elegant overall look. The Yoga 920 also has a more powerful battery, although it otherwise shares its technical specifications with the Yoga 720.

As we wrote this, the Yoga 720 went for $1,299 on Lenovo’s website when equipped with a 1080p display, a Core i7-8550U processor, 8GB of memory, and a 512GB SSD. With those same specifications, the Yoga 920 was $1,549. That’s hardly an insignificant difference for most of us. However, some of the extra features of the Yoga 920 may make it worth the extra consideration. Let’s find out.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Build and Design

The Yoga 920 is a design-first device. This convertible is designed to look good in every sense of the word, and we think it’s safe to say it does. You can get this 13.9-incher in three colors; silver, bronze, and the darker graphite of our review unit. The color extends all the way around the notebook, including the bottom panel.

The outside of this notebook is metal. It has an exceptionally solid feel without a hint of flex anywhere. We especially noted the stiffness of the lid.

Lenovo Yoga 920

Top

Lenovo Yoga 920

Bottom

The Yoga 920 is about as thin of a notebook as we’ve seen; it measures just one half-inch tall with the lid closed. The chassis has a skinnier-than-usual width of 12.7 inches for a notebook that has a 13.9-inch screen; that’s thanks to the extra-slim display bezel. The 8.8-inch depth is a bit more than expected, though. We suspect the convertible hinge mechanism might need some extra space. An added bonus of the extra depth is that the display is slightly more elevated for more comfortable viewing. The 720p webcam is positioned at the top of the screen, as it should be.

Lenovo Yoga 920

Yoga 920 in Tablet Mode

An area where this Lenovo misses the mark is that its display can’t be opened one-handed. The intricate watchband-style hinge, a staple of Lenovo’s high-end Yoga notebooks for some time now, is a tad too stiff to allow that to happen. The hinge does work very well for turning the Yoga 920 into a tablet, however. It has a smooth operation and enough torque to keep the lid flush against the base of the notebook. The less-expensive Yoga 720 has two rectangular hinges that don’t look nearly as fancy as the watchband hinge, although they provide the same level of functionality.

The three-pound weight of the Yoga 920 isn’t light. The metal construction and convertible nature of this device must have something to do with that. Even the business-class Lenovo ThinkPad T470s weighs less, although it’s not a convertible. The competing HP Spectre x360 convertible is 2.8 pounds, although its screen is a half-inch smaller. Either way, we don’t think it’s wise to expect to replace an iPad or similar tablet with the Yoga 920. This is a notebook-first device without a doubt. (Take a look at our feature for our thoughts on convertible notebooks as tablet replacements: Why 2-in-1 Notebooks Aren’t Great Tablet Replacements.)

Something about the Yoga 920’s design that we aren’t fond of is the relatively sharp edges of the chassis. The corners aren’t forgiving, either. Some beveling around the edges would have mitigated this issue. We doubt there’s any danger of getting cut on the edges, but they do feel like they should be more smoothed off. Interestingly enough, the edges around the lid feel just fine.

Taking apart the Yoga 920 isn’t something we attempted. The bottom panel of the notebook is held on by numerous star-shaped screws. Assuming you do get those removed and are able to get the bottom panel off (again, we didn’t try), the only item that’s likely to be upgradeable under there is the M.2 storage drive. The memory (RAM) in this notebook is soldered to the motherboard, making it impossible to change out.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Input and Output Ports

Port selection isn’t something the Yoga 920 has in abundance. Let the brief tour commence.

There are two Thunderbolt 3 ports (Type-C USB connectors) and the headphone/microphone combination jack along the left edge. This notebook’s power adapter connects to one of the Thunderbolt 3 ports; either can be used for that purpose.

Lenovo Yoga 920

Left Edge

Lenovo Yoga 920

Right Edge

The right side of the chassis has the power button and the sole remaining port, a traditional Type-A USB 3.0.

What’s missing? Well, just about everything else. In order to get video-out capability on this notebook, you’ll need to purchase an adapter for the Type-C USB port. We found a Type-C to HDMI adapter for $35 on Lenovo.com, and a Type-C USB to DisplayPort adapter for $40. You might be better off investing in Lenovo’s $75 travel hub, which offers HDMI and VGA video-out, plus an Ethernet jack and a Type-A USB port. It would be convenient to have another Type-A USB port and at least one form of video-out in the Yoga 920, that’s for sure. We’re all for Type-C USB ports being the future, but we also know that the industry hasn’t quite caught up yet. (Take a look at our feature: USB Type-C: Do You Need It Now?)

Lenovo Yoga 920 Screen and Speakers

Lenovo offers two different screen resolutions on the Yoga 920’s 13.9-inch diagonal display. We had the standard 1080p (1,920 x 1,080) screen on our review unit, while a higher-resolution 4K (3,840 x 2,160) panel is available on the pricier models.

We thought the 1080p screen looked great for all kinds of work, especially multimedia. The colors were well-saturated, and there was plenty of contrast. The IPS panel technology afforded wide viewing angles, a mandatory feature on a convertible notebook like this; in tablet mode, you (and possibly others) will be looking at the screen from different angles, and thus will want the picture to look consistent. The glass display surface does harbor some annoying reflections, but the display’s brightness is usually enough to overpower them. The glass surface works well for touch.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Lenovo Yoga 920
Lenovo Yoga 920 Lenovo Yoga 920

In an interesting move, Lenovo includes its digital smart pen with the Yoga 920. The screen on this notebook offers up to 4,096 levels of sensitivity. That makes it ideal for art and other design-related work.

The active pen is about the same size as a normal ink pen. The metal exterior is cool to the touch, although we wouldn’t have minded a surface with more grip towards the front. The two thumb buttons up there are easy to find and differentiate by feel, however. The pen is powered by a single type AAAA battery, replaceable by removing the rear cap.

Lenovo Yoga 920

Yoga 920 Active Pen

Lenovo Yoga 920

Yoga 920 Speaker

The speakers are under the front corners of this notebook. Tuned by JBL, we were mildly impressed by the overall sound quality. The soundstage is believably full and has some bass. The literal downside with these speakers is that they project downward, meaning this notebook has to be on a hard, flat surface to properly amplify its sound. Overall, while this setup won’t rock your next house party, it’s definitely good enough for watching a movie or casually listening to music.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Keyboard and Touchpad

The shallow keyboard feel on the Yoga 920 takes some adjustment. The keys just don’t have a whole lot of up-and-down travel, and what is there doesn’t provide much in the way of tactile feedback. The lack of cushion at the bottom of the keystroke makes for a stiff feel, too. The typing experience is overall uninspiring, although we prefer it over the near-flat experience of typing on the 13-inch Apple MacBook Pro (2016).

Lenovo Yoga 920There are also some non-intuitive layout quirks, as well. The half-sized up and down arrow keys are sandwiched between the full-size left and right arrow keys, whereas we prefer the inverted-T arrangement generally found on Lenovo ThinkPads. In addition, the Home, End, Page Up, and Page Down keys should be dedicated, and not doubled up as secondary functions within the arrow keys.

At least there’s no flex in the keyboard, and we did appreciate the two-level white backlighting. The backlighting wasn’t automatically on in our review unit; we had to press the Fn and spacebar keys to enable it.

The clickpad is slightly offset to the left in the palm rest. It has a press-able surface in lieu of physical buttons. The clicking action was stiff and made too much noise, but tapping to click was an easy way to get around both problems. The pad is amply sized and has a finger-friendly anti-glare surface.

To the clickpad’s far right is the Yoga 920’s built-in touch fingerprint sensor. This is a feature we consider a requirement on an ultra-portable notebook like this.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Performance

The exact Yoga 920 configuration we received for review wasn’t available on Lenovo.com as we wrote this. This notebook starts at $1,329, which is not bargain territory, but you’re getting a potent machine for that amount of money. The specifications at that price point include a 1080p display, an Intel Core i5-8250U quad-core processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. The next model up is the $1,549 configuration, which has a faster Core i7-8550U processor and 512GB of storage, all else the same. Our review unit was something of a unicorn in that it included the Core i7-8550U processor, but had just 256GB of storage. It’s safe to say the price would have fallen somewhere between $1,329 and $1,549. The Yoga 920 models with the higher-resolution 4K panel started at $1,999.

The Yoga 920 is based around the new Intel 8th generation processors (codenamed “Coffee Lake”). This notebook uses the U-class parts rated for 15 watts as we would expect in a thin-and-light notebook like this. With previous-generation Intel chips, that would have meant a dual-core processor, but the 8th generation Intel chips can be quad-core parts. The Core i5-8250U and the Core i7-8550U that are both available in the Yoga 920 have four processing cores. The difference between the two chips is mostly clockspeed; the Core i5-8250U has a varying frequency between 1.6 and 3.4GHz, while the Core i7-8550U runs between 1.8 and 4GHz. For most usage, we think the Core i5 will be more than potent enough. Either way, these chips bring significantly more processing power to the table than the 7th generation dual-core chips. (Look for our benchmarks in the next section.)

Lenovo Yoga 920

Yoga 920 in Tablet Mode

For 3D work, the Yoga 920 relies on the Intel UHD 620 graphics integrated into its Intel processor. Despite the naming change, the UHD 620 is largely the same as the HD 620 graphics that were in the 7th generation Intel chips. This GPU is designed for smooth video playback and some basic 3D animation, but it’s safe to say that playing the next Call of Duty isn’t going to be a reality. (The original Call of Duty ought to be no problem, though.)

As we noted earlier in this review, getting to the insides of the Yoga 920 isn’t for the inexperienced. We therefore recommend you buy this notebook as you intend to use it; don’t plan on upgrading parts later. The memory (RAM) is one thing you can’t upgrade, period, as it’s soldered to the motherboard. The minimum memory configuration in the Yoga 920 is 8GB, a plentiful amount of daily usage. For heavy multitasking, you’re better off opting for one of the models with 16GB of RAM. Storage-wise, our review unit had a 256GB Samsung-brand storage drive, the smallest offered in this notebook. Storage upgrades to 512GB and 1TB are available. Configurations with the latter were going for $1,999 on Lenovo.com.

The wireless card in our review unit was a Qualcomm Atheros 802.11ac card. It connected fine to our local wireless network, although our Yoga 920 didn’t see some of the further-away networks that we’ve seen when reviewing other notebooks, like the Lenovo ThinkPad P51. Bluetooth 4.1 connectivity was also included.

Our Lenovo Yoga 920 review unit has the following technical specifications:

  • 13.9-inch display (1920 x 1080 resolution, IPS panel, glossy surface, 10-point touch support)
  • Windows 10 Home 64-bit
  • Intel Core i7-8550U quad-core processor (1.8GHz, up to 4GHz Turbo Boost, 8MB cache, 15-watt TDP)
  • Intel UHD Graphics 620
  • 8GB DDR4-2400 dual-channel RAM (soldered/non-user upgradeable)
  • 256GB SSD (SAMSUNG MZVLW256HEHP-000L2)
  • Qualcomm Atheros QCA61x4A 802.11ac wireless network adapter
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • 4-cell 70 watt-hour li-cylindrical battery
  • Dimensions: 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.5 inches
  • Weight: 3.02 pounds
  • One-year limited warranty
  • Digital smart pen included
  • Starting price: $1,329
  • Price as configured: estimated $1,400-1,450

Lenovo Yoga 920 Benchmarks

PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
 

PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
 

3DMark Fire Strike is a newer DirectX 11 benchmark that measures overall graphics card performance for gaming (higher scores mean better performance):
 

CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:

wPrime processor comparison results (listed in seconds – lower scores mean better performance):

Lenovo Yoga 920 Heat and Noise

There are two small fans inside the Yoga 920’s chassis, both facing out the rear of the unit at the display hinge. The exhaust openings are hard to see unless you look for them. The fans were occasionally running during our tenure with the Yoga 920, usually turning on after we visited a webpage with a lot of animations or watching a 4K video. A very faint whir can be heard with the fans turn on. The top fan speed, which we believe we heard while we were running our benchmarks, wasn’t all that loud. We could hear the air passing through the exhaust vents from a few yards away, but that was in the absence of background noise. The fans didn’t appear to have any whine.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Battery Life

We use Futuremark’s Powermark benchmark to test battery life. We run the test in its Balanced setting with the notebook in airplane mode, and the screen brightness set to approximately 50 percent. This is a demanding run-down test, simulating office productivity, web browsing, videoconferencing, video playback, and gaming workloads.

Powermark battery life benchmark (listed in minutes – higher scores mean better performance):

The Lenovo Yoga 920 achieved an excellent time of 6 hours, 50 minutes. That’s much better than the 4 hours, 48 minutes we recorded from the 12-inch Samsung Galaxy Book, and also surpassed the 4 hours, 32 minutes we recorded from Lenovo’s own Yoga 720. The large 70 watt-hour battery in the Yoga 920 certainly helped it do as well as it did. The Yoga 720, by comparison, has only a 48 watt-hour battery. Something to keep in mind is that our Yoga 920 had the 1080p display. The battery life is likely to be significantly less if you opt for the 4K display, as that is much more demanding on resources.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Power Adapter

Lenovo Yoga 920The Yoga 920 comes with a 65-watt power adapter, which is more powerful than the 45-watt adapters we’re used to seeing with notebooks this size. It connects to the wall with a three-prong adapter, while the end that goes into the Yoga 920 is a Type-C USB connector. The Yoga 920 has two Type-C USB ports on its left side, either of which can be used for the power adapter.

The adapter and its cables weigh 0.8 pounds. The brick itself measures 4.3 by 1.1 by 1.8 inches. The cable that connects to the wall is 37 inches; the longer end that connects to the notebook is 70 inches. That gives you just over a nine-foot range from the nearest outlet, a normal range for a notebook power adapter.

Lenovo Yoga 920 Final Thoughts

As the saying goes, if you want the best, you’ll have to spend a little extra. In the case of the Yoga 920, that’s up to a few hundred more over the Yoga 720 when equipped similarly. That’s a steep price difference out in the open. However, the Yoga 920’s slimmer design, chic watchband-style hinge, and significantly improved battery life ought to help soften the blow to your wallet. This notebook also includes a digital smart pen, an uncommon inclusion even on tablets, let alone convertible notebooks.

Lenovo Yoga 920

Lenovo Yoga 920

The major drawbacks for the Yoga 920 are its shallow keyboard and limited port selection. The keyboard had an overly stiff feel to us due to the keys’ lack of travel. For port selection, the Yoga 920 has no native video-out, so you’ll have to buy a Type-C USB adapter to HDMI or DisplayPort. It also has just one traditional USB port.

The Yoga 920’s starting price is $1,329, with our review unit coming in at just under $1,500. If you can live with a less-fashionable design and reduced battery life, the Yoga 720 is a worthwhile alternative for up to a few hundred less. But if you have the coin, the Yoga 920 is a high-end ride.

Pros:

  • Elegant design
  • Bright 1080p touch display
  • Excellent battery life
  • Strong performance
  • Includes smart pen

Cons:

  • Pricey
  • Shallow keyboard feel
  • Very limited port selection



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