Eighth-generation Intel Core i7 CPU aces benchmarks. Stellar battery life. Sturdy build quality. Comfortable keyboard and touchpad.
Mini directional keys. Speaker placement sometimes results in muffled sound.
- Bottom Line
With a top-notch design and build, the Lenovo Yoga 920 is an excellent convertible laptop that delivers long battery life and speedy performance thanks to its 8th-generation Core i7 CPU.
The Lenovo Yoga 920 ($1,329) is one of the first PCs we've tested to harness the power of Intel's new eighth-generation Core i7 processors, but that's only one of the many compelling reasons to buy this convertible hybrid laptop. The Yoga 920 offers stellar build quality and a well-thought-out feature list that make it one of the most comfortable Windows laptops on the market. And that's before you even notice the astonishing battery life, the Core i7 power, and the reasonable asking price. Sure, there are a few imperfections, but overall the Yoga 920 earns an Editors' Choice award, replacing the HP Spectre x360 13 as the best high-end convertible laptop available right now.
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Lots and Lots of Metal
Although it's not as legendary as the ThinkPad is among corporate road warriors, Lenovo's Yoga lineup is hardly new to the hybrid laptop market, and the Yoga 920 is the replacement for last year's already-excellent Yoga 910. The Chinese tech giant has made some design improvements to address what it described in a statement as "some of the shortcomings of the previous generation product." The improvements amount to a few subtle design changes, a redesigned keyboard, and a relocated webcam, but they don't significantly alter the overall aesthetic.
With its lid closed, the Yoga 920 looks similar to the legions of other sleek ultraportables that are competing for your money. Our review unit sports a bronze metallic finish on both the lid and the bottom of the chassis, though you can opt for platinum, copper, or glass instead. It's stylish without being flashy, although it is a fingerprint magnet (as is the touch screen). The laptop measures 0.55 by 12.72 by 8.8 inches (HWD), roughly the same size as other convertibles, although the less-expensive Dell Inspiron 13 7000 is a bit thicker at 0.76 inch.
The only break from the bronze metallic aesthetic is the hinge, which is comprised of six interlocking silver pieces that vaguely resemble a watchband. In between each are additional moving parts that are the same color as the chassis. They do double duty hiding the exhaust vent and the connection between the display and the motherboard. The hinge means that the screen can rotate through 360 degrees, so you can use the Yoga 920 as a conventional laptop or tablet, prop it up on a table using the keyboard as a stand, or use it in Tent mode for watching movies. The hinge takes up the entire width of the system—similar to what you'll find on the Microsoft Surface Book 2—and it's markedly different than the standard split-hinge setup present on most conventional notebooks as well as the HP Spectre x360 13.
Despite all that metal, the Yoga 920 still manages to weigh in at 3.02 pounds. That's about average for an ultraportable (for instance, the 13-inch MacBook Pro has the same weight), and it won't make your briefcase or large handbag feel heavily laden, but it's far from the lightest option. The HP Spectre x360 13 is a bit lighter at 2.83 pounds, and the conventional LG Gram 13 tips the scales at a featherlight 2.09 pounds.
The display options are unchanged from last year. Our review unit has the standard 13.9-inch 1,920-by-1,080-resolution (full HD) In-Plane Switching touch screen, although you can also opt for a 4K display. Viewing angles are excellent, and colors are vivid, although the screen's glossy surface results in significant glare. In addition to tapping the screen with your fingers, you can use the $60 Lenovo Active Pen 2, an optional accessory that is designed to mimic the feel of writing on paper by using disposable nibs to increase friction. It indeed feels paper-like, and although you'll likely be writing mostly in Tablet mode, the hinge is sturdy enough to prevent the display from moving even when writing in Tent mode.
Unfortunately, the overall elegance of using the pen and the PC together doesn't extend to Lenovo's solution for storing the pen. It comes with a plastic holder that fits into the USB 3.0 port on the Yoga 920's right edge. In addition to looking out of place alongside all that sleek metal and preventing the zipper on your laptop sleeve from closing, the plastic tab holds the pen in such a way that it blocks the power button located next to the USB 3.0 port. We much prefer the Microsoft Surface Pen, which attaches magnetically to the side of the Surface Book.
The Ultimate in Design and Comfort
The keyboard and touchpad display Lenovo's expert craftsmanship. The keys are exceptionally sturdy for a laptop, although they don't have as much travel as their counterparts on the Lenovo ThinkPad T470, which is our favorite laptop for typing. They also lack the full-size Up and Down directional keys of the Yoga 910; Lenovo says customer feedback shows that many people preferred a full-size Shift key as opposed to the larger directional arrow keys. Apparently it's not possible to make both the arrows and the Shift key full-size.
Below the keyboard is a touchpad that doesn't suffer from multitouch input lag the way other Windows pads do even when they're set to higher sensitivity settings. Using two fingers to scroll is as seamless as it is on a Mac laptop, and there's excellent palm rejection so you don't accidentally move the cursor when you're typing. When it comes to clicking, however, Mac touchpads are superior, since their haptic feedback means that the entire surface of the pad is clickable, rather than just the lower portion like you'll find on the Yoga 920.
The fingerprint reader works well to log in to Windows, which is a nice bonus since the laptop's webcam doesn't support face-detection logins via Windows Hello. Still, the camera itself, located above the center of the screen, is capable of clear, crisp HD video. Audio quality from the two JBL speakers is excellent too, although their downward-firing position on the bottom of the chassis means that they're most powerful when you use the Yoga 920 in Tent mode so that the speakers face you. In tablet and laptop configurations, the sound is a bit muffled, but the speakers still produce a pleasing range of highs and lows.
In addition to the power button and the single USB 3.0 port, the right edge includes a system reset pinhole. On the left edge, you'll find two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support, each of which can also be used to charge the Yoga 920 via the included 65-watt USB-C power adapter, as well as the headphone jack. A total of three USB ports plus the headphone jack is a relatively sparse I/O complement, but at least Lenovo includes both USB-C and USB Type A, as opposed to Apple's MacBook Pros, which now only come with USB-C.
Wireless connectivity options include 802.11 ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.1. Lenovo offers a standard one-year warranty.
In addition to an Intel Core i7-8550U processor running at 1.8Ghz, our review unit includes 8GB of memory and a 256GB solid-state drive (SSD), both of which are upgradeable. While you can open the case and upgrade components yourself, it's not a straightforward process, so it's best to upgrade the memory and hard drive when you purchase your laptop.
That said, if it's pure computing muscle you're looking for, you don't have to change a thing. The Yoga 920 aced all of our productivity benchmark tests, largely thanks to the power of the eighth-generation Intel processor. The new CPU was announced in August and is slowly starting to show up in consumer PCs; this is the first time we've tested it in a laptop. Despite a reduced clock speed compared with the Yoga 910 , the Yoga 920 was almost twice as fast completing our Photoshop image-editing tasks (6 minutes and 2 seconds vs. 2:54) and much faster encoding a video using Handbrake (2:15 vs. 1:21).
It also posted class-leading scores on the proprietary PCMark 8 test for measuring videoconferencing, web browsing, word processing, and other routine tasks (3,284), as well as the CineBench 3D rendering benchmark (578). The upshot is that photographers and video editors who frequently edit their work in the field will find the Yoga 920 to be quicker at completing many tasks than even the gold standard MacBook Pro.
All that power doesn't mean shorter battery life, however. The Yoga 920 lasted an astonishing 22 hours and 38 minutes on our battery life test, which involves playing a looped local video file until the battery is exhausted. That's nearly an hour longer than its predecessor, and far outlasts both the Surface Book (19:16) and the MacBook Pro (16:26), each of which have developed their own reputations for excellent battery life. For a more realistic anecdotal test, we charged up our Yoga 920 review unit on Saturday morning, and it still had more than 30 percent battery life left on Sunday night, after a full weekend of web browsing and streaming videos.
As with most convertible 2-in-1s with integrated graphics, however, the Yoga 920 isn't a great choice for gaming or graphics-intensive apps. It failed to breach the 30 frames per second threshold on our Heaven and Valley gaming benchmarks, even with medium quality settings. None of the competition did much better, except for the Microsoft Surface Book, which has an Nvidia graphics card, and the MacBook Pro, which sports a superior Iris Plus integrated GPU.
The Yoga 920 is usually silent, but its fan kicked into overdrive during our benchmark tests and occasionally when browsing resource-intensive or poorly coded websites in Google Chrome—especially Google Maps. Each time the fan spooled up, it was very loud, but it spooled down again as soon as the offending browser tab was closed or test was completed.
It Doesn't Get Much Better
The Lenovo Yoga 920 has everything you need from a sleek laptop—excellent performance and battery life, superb build quality, and premium looks—and thanks to its pen and Tablet modes, you can even use it to sketch artwork or comfortably watch movies in a cramped airplane seat. Few Windows rivals can match its performance, although that will change as more eighth-generation laptops go on sale. For now, it's the best Windows convertible you can buy, and an excellent alternative to the MacBook Pro as both a status symbol and a workhorse for creative professionals.
As a hardware analyst, Tom tests and reviews laptops, peripherals, and much more at PC Labs in New York City. He previously covered the consumer tech beat as a news reporter for PCMag in San Francisco and Silicon Valley, where he rode in several self-driving cars and witnessed the rise and fall of many startups. Before that, he worked for PCMag's sister site, Computer Shopper, where he occasionally dunked waterproof hard drives in glasses of water. In his spare time, he's written on topics as… More »
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