Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Review: Refreshed With Faster Core Mby Brett Howse on March 13, 2015 8:00 AM EST
It would be fair to say that Lenovo was a pioneer in the convertible Ultrabook lineup with the original Yoga. Last year, they updated the Yoga lineup with the introduction of the Yoga 2 Pro. This new model came with a Haswell-U series CPU, along with a 3200x1800 resolution display, all in the Yoga form factor with a 360° hinge. The display was a highlight for the model year, with the Yoga 2 Pro having one of the highest pixels per inch of any laptop available last year. In October 2014, Lenovo took the wraps off of their latest incarnation of the flagship convertible Ultrabook with the launch of the Yoga 3 Pro.
The Yoga 3 Pro was not just a refresh of the internals of the Yoga 2 Pro, but an altogether new creation. The new model is 17% thinner than the outgoing model, and 15% lighter. Rather than power the Yoga 3 Pro with the traditional Ultrabook Intel Core U series processor, Lenovo decided to go for the Broadwell-Y based Core M processor for the Yoga 3 Pro. This has its pros and cons, as we will get to later in the review, but the Broadwell-Y processor has a couple of changes over the Broadwell-U which was launched later. The Thermal Design Power (TDP) of Core M is a mere 4.5 watts, down from the 15 watt TDP of the U series processors which powered last year’s Yoga 2 Pro, and perhaps more importantly, the physical size of the chip, and the Z-height, are both smaller, enabling thinner and lighter devices.
When Lenovo first launched the Yoga 3 Pro, it was offered with the Core M-5Y70 processor. Lenovo has provided us with their refreshed model, which dumps the original Core M for the Core M-5Y71 which was recently released by Intel. This new processor bumps up the performance, and gains an additional 100 MHz base clock, and 300 MHz boost, with the 5Y71 now boosting to 2.9 GHz. It is a decent increase, and it is done in the same 4.5 watt window.
So Lenovo has taken a bit of a departure here with the Yoga 3 Pro. The rest of the Yoga lineup consists of Broadwell-U processors, and will therefore be more powerful. But not everyone needs or uses all of the power that they have, so in the quest to design a thinner and lighter device which is going to be more portable, the Core M is really the only solution for today’s computing landscape. What we need to know is what kind of performance you can expect in a premium Ultrabook such as this.
Below is a table of the specifications of the Yoga 3 Pro to summarize all of the components and compare it to last year's Yoga 2 Pro.
|Yoga 3 Pro Specifications|
|Yoga 2 Pro||Yoga 3 Pro|
|Processor||Intel Core i3-4010U
(2C/4T, 1.7GHz, 3MB L3, 15W)
Intel Core i5-4200U
(2C/4T, 1.6-2.6GHz, 3MB L3, 15W)
Intel Core i7-4500U
(2C/4T, 1.8-3.0GHz, 4MB L3, 15W)
|Intel Core M-5Y71
(2C/4T, 1.2-2.9GHz 4MB L3 14nm 4.5W)
|Memory||4-8GB DDR3L-1600||8GB DDR3L-1600|
|Graphics||Intel HD 4400
(20 EUs at 200-1100 MHz)
|Intel HD 5300
(24 EUs at 300-900MHz)
|Display||13.3" Glossy IPS 16:9 QHD+ (3200x1800)
(Samsung SDC424A Touchscreen)
|13.3" Glossy IPS 16:9 QHD+ (3200x1800) LCD
(Samsung SDC434A Panel with Corning Gorilla Glass and Touchscreen)
|Hard Drive(s)||128GB/256GB/512GB SSD
(Samsung PM851 M.2 2280)
|Networking||802.11n WiFi (Intel Wireless-N 7260)
(2x2 300Mbps capable 2.4GHz only)
Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel)
|Broadcom 802.11ac plus Bluetooth 4.0
(2x2:2 802.11ac 867Mbps capable)
|JBL Stereo Speakers professionally tuned with Waves MaxxAudio 1.5w x 2
|Battery||4 cell 55Wh
65W Max AC Adapter
|4 cell 44Wh
40W Max AC Adapter
|Right Side||Power Button
Battery status indicator
Novo button (Used to enter Recovery or BIOS)
1 x USB 2.0 (Sleep Charging)
Screen Rotation Lock
1 x USB 3.0 with Always-On Charging
Novo (Recovery) Button
Auto Rotate Control
|Left Side||Flash Reader (SD/MMC)
1 x USB 3.0
1 x Micro-HDMI
AC Power Connection
|DC In with USB 2.0 Port
1 x USB 3.0 Port
SD Card Reader
|Back Side||Exhaust vent||Watchband Hinge with 360° Rotation
Air Vents Integral to Hinge
|Dimensions||12.99" x 8.66" x 0.61" (WxDxH)
(330 mm x 220 mm x 15.5 mm)
|13" x 9" x 0.5" (WxDxH)
(330.2mm x 228.6mm x 12.8mm)
|Weight||3.06 lbs (1.39 kg)||2.6 lbs (1.18kg)|
|Extras||720p HD Webcam
There are a couple of things worth mentioning from the specifications. Whereas last year’s model had several SKUs with different processor, memory, and SSD options, the Yoga 3 Pro has simplified the lineup, and provided likely the best combination for price and performance. The Yoga 3 Pro now comes with 8GB of DDR3 standard, and a 256GB SSD or 512GB SSD. The only other difference in the models now is the color, with Lenovo offering Light Silver, Clementine Orange, and Golden as the options.
For those looking for a convertible laptop, there are basically two camps. Devices which have the internals in the keyboard like a traditional laptop will be better balanced when using it as a laptop. The other device is a tablet with an attachable keyboard, such as the Surface 3 Pro. There are pros and cons to each approach, and each device can be better at one scenario than another. If you are after a device which can be used as a laptop more than a tablet, then Lenovo’s Yoga range certainly has a lot of appeal. It keeps the traditional form factor of a laptop, and through a well-designed hinge allows for a lot more versatility than a traditional clamshell notebook computer. It all starts with design.
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coolhardware - Friday, March 13, 2015 - linkI'm hoping Lenovo follows in Dell's footsteps and gets rid of the bezel around the screen along with big wasted area around the keyboard.
Pretty sweet to get the same display size and pixel density:
13.3″ 75.59 square inche display (11.6″x6.5″) 3200×1800 16:9 Ratio 276.05 PPI
***all in a much smaller form factor!***
*Source for display specs: http://pixensity.com/list/laptop/
fokka - Friday, March 13, 2015 - linkthe thing is for the tablet mode it's nice to have some bezel to grip the whole thing, so going the minimal bezel route like the xps 13 wouldn't be the most comfortable thing on a device like a yoga 3 pro.
that's the same reason we have the big wasted space around the keyboard: that's where you hold the device in tablet mode. i think they still should have given us at least a row of half-height function keys, but we see that a convertible is always a compromise.
fokka - Friday, March 13, 2015 - linkagreed. the hinge might look nice to some and as long as it works it's fine by me, but if they go ahead and bost about it consists of over 800 parts, that just screams "over engineered" to me.
i also don't see how a simple hinge has to look like a watchband, or a piece of jewelry and again: using 800 parts, when you could reach the same goal with just two is simply too much in my book.
Cook-e-Monster - Friday, March 13, 2015 - linkHugely disappointing to see the keyboard get compromised like this. one of the most useful things about Lenovo is that they make good keyboards with intelligent layouts. Nixing the F-row and hamstringing the PgUp/Down and Home/End keys is probably a deal breaker for me.
I really hope that there's a review coming for the recent HP Spectre. I think it (and the XPS) has Lenovo beat this year
Sushisamurai - Friday, March 13, 2015 - linkI appreciate you linking the notebook bench link, but the Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro isn't listed on your bench results yet (nor in CPU bench). I was also hoping there would be more of an in-depth discussion about the Core-M CPU and probably a few more "real life" use case results and short comings of the CPU, as this is Anandtech's first product review with a Core-M.
I like how you included Dell's XPS 15, but for those unfamiliar with that model, I think you should have at least mentioned what CPU it was other than being a quad-core CPU. Without bench results, it's also hard to compare what core-M's performance is compared to other broadwell/Haswell offerings as the charts are comparing tablets and some Haswell-U's. I think it'd be an interesting dive to see what users would be sacrificing in terms of performance to go to Core-M (form-factor) versus intel's bigger mobile processors. I suppose I could wait for the bench results and pore over the charts myself, and since anyone can do that, that's not why we read anandtech.
Brett Howse - Saturday, March 14, 2015 - linkSorry the Yoga 3 Pro was in Bench but not enabled for public viewing until after I posted. I just enabled it now.
I did mention in the article that the Dell is a quad-core part. I have some more ideas as well to make that more clear but it's a backend thing.
Look for more Core M discussion soon. We had issues getting samples at the start since it seemed like a really slow release but we have some now. I've got a couple more Core M devices in my queue to look at.
Sushisamurai - Sunday, March 15, 2015 - linkSweet. I'm looking forward to more core-M reviews. I think a lot of our readers are interested in reading what you guys have to say about the new MB apple released.
Also, I'm aware other products' performance is listed in bench but it would be nice to include products that match the one you're reviewing in terms of size, form factor, and price - I felt that the products you included in your charts were heavily skewed to tablet comparisons, where we could have used some more comparisons for products in similar price ranges.
Otherwise, good read, thank you for your hard work.
sandineyes - Friday, March 13, 2015 - linkI actually bought a Yoga 3 Pro (my first laptop in over 10 years) during the holiday season, and eventually returned it after a few weeks. My thoughts:
-The build quality on this thing is pretty poor for such an expensive device. The panel on the back of the screen on mine flexed quite a bit, as if it didn't fit perfectly. Similarly, there is a piece of plastic below the display that looks like it is fit into a rectangular slot, and that wiggled around too, as if it was glued poorly or something. It also shows usage very poorly; no amount of hand washing prevented it from looking like a mess after using it. I had a chance to touch a MBP while I owned this, and that felt markedly better made.
-The screen is not very good. It wasn't really that much of a problem, and the article mentions it getting better in the refresh, but mine was pretty poor. It was also my introduction to HiDPI Windows and all the caveats that come with that. I am also used to my 16:10 desktop monitor, so I'm probably a bit biased. But seriously, we need more 16:10 laptop screens that aren't on Macs.
-It generally felt fast enough, but mine could not handle HD streaming on Amazon Instant Video (tried Chrome and latest IE). The video would start stuttering, making it un-watchable. Netflix didn't have this issue, and neither did a 1080p video stored locally when used with VLC. I don't know if the refresh has this issue, but it made Amazon Instant Video a last resort.
-The battery life is terrible. I am not really used to laptops, so for me the 5 hours of life I managed out of the thing felt very oppressive. And although this is a minor issue, the included charging cable is too short.
-The last laptop I owned had physical click buttons; my index finger worked the pad, and my thumb rested on the left click button. Based on the Yoga I cannot see how people have adapted to use these new-fangled track pads with no buttons. It is like we've actually regressed in technology over the last 10 years when it comes to this. Getting click and drag to work on these damn things is real challenge.
-Make sure you keep that Harmony software installed; otherwise the computer won't properly deactivate the keyboard and track pad when in stand mode.
-This computer makes me want more, better hybrids to exist. Because of the utility of stand mode, I do not think I can ever buy a normal laptop or a tablet. The light weight of this thing is also a plus, but I think that is more a benefit to tablet mode, which isn't that useful in comparison to the other modes.
fokka - Friday, March 13, 2015 - linkthanks for your quick review, it's interesting to hear some real life caveats, even if you didn't use the latest model.
i also share some of the same complaints about at least some of the current ultrabooks. i recently got to test an asus zenbook (ux301la) and while it looked stunning with its white glass finish, it only stood on three of its rubber feet and kept wiggling, as you moved your hand to and from the palm rest. even the (buttonless!) glass touchpad made a slight squeaking sound, when you moused around on it.
it seems to me that many manufacturers have a problem converting those nice press renders and incredibly high specs into really usable products that don't show some serious flaws after a short amount of time.
many people say this machine (e.g. a zenbook), or that laptop (e.g. the new xps 13) offer incredible build quality, but still i have to see one laptop model to offer such a continuously high build quality as apple does with their whole macbook line. a shame, since i'm really not a fan of osx.
i'm also not the biggest fan of hi dpi screens, especially when the effect is made obsolete due to the use of a pentile matrix. it seems we're just wasting money, energy and gpu cycles, hell, even usability (->scaling), just to have one more spec to boast about. and all this on the machines that are conceptually the worst place to start the dpi-revolution: battery and performance limited mobile devices.
"The screen is not very good." ...if people sum up a screen with those (your) words, i think we can agree that this specific panel was a poor choice on a somewhat premium device like the yoga 3 pro.
and a new $$$$ laptop not managing 1080p playback on one of the biggest VoD services... i think i have seen enough of core m for one day, even if that specific problem turns out to be driver related.
kyuu - Saturday, March 14, 2015 - linkConsidering that you can go to the HP website right now and get the Spectre x360 with 1080p touch, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD, a Core-i5 5200U, a much larger battery and what looks like much better build quality all for under $1000, I'm afraid Lenovo needs to do more than this refresh to keep the Yoga line competitive. You can even upgrade to a QHD display for only another $100, if you prefer resolution to battery life. Hopefully you guys get in a Spectre x360 for review in the near future.
And if you don't care about a 360-degree hinge and a touchscreen, then the Dell XPS 13 knocks it out of the park.