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Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 (AMD) review: The Golf GTI of compact ultrabooks

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
850
inc VAT

Lenovo's new Yoga Slim 7 is a fabulous bargain: fast, well made and extraordinarily sensibly priced

Pros 
Seriously powerful for the price
Excellent loudspeakers
Outstanding battery life
Cons 
No fingerprint scanner
No Thunderbolt support
Poor webcam
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Buying a Lenovo laptop is a bit like buying a Volkswagen hatchback. You can rest assured that you’re getting something well made, reliable, dynamically close to class-leading and usually quite stylish. Every so often VW comes up with something like the Golf GTI  that blows the competition into the weeds. And every so often Lenovo comes up with something like the new Yoga Slim 7 that does much the same.

In terms of outright performance, endurance and quality there’s not much else on the market that can match the Yoga Slim 7 for the same sort of money.

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Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 review: What you need to know

That is thanks to its octa-core AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor and the simple fact that Lenovo has forgotten more about making laptops than some manufacturers will ever know.

To push the Golf analogy a little further, the key is in choosing the right model. The latest generation of Yoga Slim 7 machines start at £750, but that gets you the model with a Tiger Lake Intel Core i5 chip and slower RAM.

Cough up £900 and you can have a Core i7 chip. Add £200 to that and you can also have a UHD display. But the pick of the bunch is the £850 Ryzen 7 model and it is this one that, if you’re looking to spend just shy of a grand on a laptop that you should absolutely put on your shortlist.

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 review: Price & Competition 

No ultra-compact notebook can avoid comparison with Apple’s  M1 MacBook Air. In terms of power and battery life, it has ever so slightly rewritten the rulebook. That said, it is £150 more expensive than the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7, has a smaller display, and opting for a 512GB SSD will add another £200 to the bill. And it has no Type-A USB ports, which will sooner or later get on your nerves. 

Like the Slim 7, Acer's 2020-model Swift 3 also offers a 14-inch non-touch panel combined with either a tenth generation Core i7 or the same AMD CPU as the Yoga Slim 7. The price is certainly right at around £850 but the battery life is mediocre, the design rather uninspiring, the loudspeakers poor and our review unit made a strange humming noise.

Huawei’s MateBook X Pro is currently available with some serious discounts bringing the Intel Core i5, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD configuration well below £1,000. It has an excellent 3,000 x 2,000 resolution display and a good keyboard but battery life is again rather mediocre and the Intel Core processor is tenth rather than eleventh generation.

Microsoft’s Surface 3 Laptop is another fine machine that like the MacBook is a bit stingy on the essentials. The entry-level model costs £999 but only offers a 128GB SSD and a 10th-gen Core i5 processor. The display and keyboard are exceptional though, as is the build-quality.

The fact that three of the four competitors' machines cost around £150 more than the Yoga Slim 7 and the one that isn’t both looks and feels cheaper underlines what good value for money this new Lenovo notebook is.

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 review: Design & Build Quality

As you would expect from Lenovo, the Yoga Slim 7 is a handsome beast and built like a brick outhouse. The aluminium body is solid and free from creaks and squeaks and the same goes for the lid. The styling is quite angular with an industrial feel, a look that’s emphasized by the Slate Grey paint job.

The Intel-powered Slim 7 is also available in a colour called Orchid but grey seems to be the only option for the Ryzen model. That the Slim 7 bears a striking similarity to the highly praised IdeaPad S940 can only be considered a good thing.

The Slim 7 is quite dainty for a 14in laptop. It weighs 1.16kg according to my scales and measures 321 x 205 x 16mm (WDH). That puts it in the same ballpark as the MacBook Air, despite the Lenovo having an extra 0.7in of display diagonal. The bezels surrounding the screen are reasonably slender at around 6mm down the sides and 10mm above and below.

A feature the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 and Acer's Swift 3 share is the ability to fold their screens back through 180 degrees. I’m not sure I can see any reason for this - maybe Lenovo thought the Yoga name deserved something a bit more impressive than the more usual 135-degree tilt but it may suit some needs.

Take a quick tour around the sides of the Slim 7 and you’ll find two Type-C ports on the left, one of which supports DisplayPort but not Thunderbolt, a feature that’s limited to the Intel-powered models. The other Type-C port is what you’ll be using for charging. Bracketing the second Type-C port you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack and an HDMI 2.0 output.

On the right are two USB-A 3.1 Gen 2/3.2 Gen 2 (10Mbits/sec) ports and a MicroSD card reader. This side is also where you will find the power button which rather parsimoniously does not include a fingerprint scanner.  I would have preferred the Type-C ports to have been split one on each side so you could charge from either side, but that's a minor niggle. 

The 720p webcam has an IR sensor to support Windows Hello and, thankfully, does a better job of this than it does as a webcam. Images are generally dull and grainy, especially in lower-light environments. 

The keyboard is every bit as good as you’d expect. It’s thoughtfully laid out, solid and quiet, but a tad shallower than the traditional ThinkPad keyboards we all think so highly of. There's a two-stage backlight but you have to use Shift+Space to turn it on and adjust it rather than a dedicated function key.

The trackpad is similarly well-engineered. The textured-glass cover is pleasant to the touch and the corner click-actions are perfectly weighted and precise. These are the sort of meat-and-potato aspects of laptop design that Lenovo has always excelled at and continues to do so.

The bottom panel is secured by seven Torx screws and is easy to remove. Once inside you will find the RAM is soldered in place but there is an M.2 2242 expansion bay for additional storage if the 512GB SKHynix SSD proves too small. Wireless communication is handled by Intel’s common AX200 Wi-Fi 6 card which also supplies Bluetooth 5.0.


Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 review: Display and Audio

Flanking the keyboard are two upward-firing Dolby Atmos-branded speakers, pumping out all of 2W. There’s plenty of volume on tap, a decent amount of bass and even a hint of stereo separation. The Slim 7 is one of the best sounding compact notebooks I’ve encountered.

Some people criticise Dolby Atmos for sounding over-processed but I have no truck with this argument. I don’t expect audiophile purity from a laptop, just a full, balanced soundscape and that is precisely what the Yoga Slim 7 delivers.

The 14in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS display is every bit as good as the sound system. Granted, it doesn’t support touch but many people simply don't need that on a laptop. Its sRGB coverage is decent at 95.7%, as is the peak brightness of 389cd/m2. An average Delta E figure of 1.43, contrast ratio of 1,705:1 and a non-reflective, matte finish are the icing on the cake.

On a more subjective level, it’s just very easy on the eye with natural, well-saturated colours. It’s one of those panels you can stare at for a long, long time and not feel like your eyeballs are about to melt.

If I had to pick a hole it would be that there is some backlight bleed along the bottom edge but, unless you plan on looking at a black screen in a dark room with the brightness turned up to the maximum, this is a failing unlikely to manifest itself in everyday use.

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 review: Performance & Battery Life 

As anyone who read my recent review of Acer’s latest Swift 5 will know I’ve been quite impressed by Intel’s latest eleventh generation Core i5 chips and associated Iris Xe graphics. AMD’s third-generation Ryzen 7 is considerably more capable than Intel’s latest i5 offering, or the previous generation Core i7 chips.

Our in-house 4k benchmark score put the Ryzen 7 well ahead of both the Core i5-1135G7 and slightly behind Apple’s M1 silicon. (Note I’ve compared with the M1 Mac mini as the previously benchmarked MacBook Air and MacBook Pro were benchmarked with non-native applications). That's the benefit of a processor with eight cores, a boost speed of 4.1GHz and 8GB of LDDR4X dual-channel RAM running at a brisk 4,266MHz. Make no mistake, for a ULV (ultra low voltage) processor, the AMD Ryzen 7 4800U is a beast.

The integrated Radeon RX Vega 8 GPU also delivered the expected performance boost in the real world.  Running through the opening levels of Doom, the Slim 7 managed an average of 28fps at 1,920 x 1,080 and 59fps at 1280 x 720. That’s better than the Core i5-powered Acer Swift 5, which only achieved 42fps at 1,280 x 720.

Better still, under gaming and benchmark stress the Slim 7 remained cool. And the fan noise, even when it was running at full speed, wasn’t particularly annoying.

Lenovo reckons the Slim 7’s 60.7Whr (3,960mAh) battery is good for 17hrs 30mins of continuous use. Surprisingly, that is not overly optimistic. Our usual battery video run-down test produced a result of 15hrs 40 mins, which suggests you could get longer with less intensive use. That is an hour better than the class-leading MacBook Air and a very impressive result. A full charge from the bundled 65W charger takes around two and a half hours. If that sounds like too long, Lenovo will sell you a 95w charger for around £40.

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Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 review: Verdict 

For £850 the new Ryzen-powered Slim 7 packs quite a punch. Its octa-core processor stomps all over Intel’s latest Core i5 silicon while at the same time offering outstandingly good battery life.

The display is superb and will appeal to anyone who thinks gloss-finish screens are the work of the devil. The speakers don’t let the side down either. Add a very good keyboard and rock-solid aluminium body into the mix and you’ve got a compelling package. As I said at the beginning, the Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 is a very fine laptop indeed – truly a hot hatch among budget ultrabooks.

Lenovo Yoga Slim 7 specifications 

M1 Apple MacBook Air

ProcessorAMD Ryzen 7 4700UApple M1
RAM8GB8GB
Additional memory slotsNoNo
Max. memory16GB16GB
Graphics adapterRadeon RX Vega 8Apple M1 (7-core or 8-core)
Graphics memorySharedUnified
Storage512GB256GB
Screen size (in)14.013.3
Screen resolution1920 x 19802,560 x 1,600
Pixel density (PPI)157227
Screen typeLCD IPSIPS
TouchscreenNoNo
Pointing devicesTouchpadTouchpad
Optical driveNoNo
Memory card slotYes, MicroSDNo
3.5mm audio jackYesYes
Graphics outputsHDMI 2.0, USB-CUSB-C (Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4)
Other portsUSB Type-A 3.2 x 2, USB Type-CUSB-C (Thunderbolt 4 / USB 4)
Web Cam720p720p (FaceTime HD Camera)
SpeakersStereo, Dolby AtmosStereo
Wi-FiWi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)Wi-Fi 6 (802.11ax)
BluetoothBluetooth 5.0Bluetooth 5
NFCNoNo
Dimensions, mm (WDH)321 x 205 x 16304 x 212 x 0.4-16.1mm
Weight (kg) - with keyboard where applicable1.161.29
Battery size (Wh)60.749..9
Operating systemWindows 10 HomeMacOS

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