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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11 Convertible Notebook Review: The Power of Low Power

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer: Lenovo

Performance

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As we’ve covered already at this point, the Yoga 11 is a notebook that’s equipped like a tablet.  Our review model came outfitted with 2 GB DDR3L RAM, which is the maximum the chipset supports.  Meanwhile, graphics are also handled on-chip (via NVIDIA GeForce ULP) as part of the quad-core Tegra 3 SoC.  Finally, the included SSD of 64 GB capacity may seem generous for a tablet, but it’s pretty restrictive in the world of PCs (and on the Yoga 11, only around 45 GB are left to the user after the preinstalled software is considered).

There are obvious benefits to this approach, though performance is always a concern.  Fortunately, as is the case with other Tegra 3 Windows RT tablets, the operating system is handled quite well by NVIDIA’s solution—so you won’t be doing a lot of waiting during general usage.  The core applications (such as Microsoft Office and the Web Browser) and the Windows desktop operation feel quite zippy, largely thanks to the SSD.  However, beefier apps from the Windows Store and heavier browser-based operations (such as H.264 1080p video playback) obviously push the system to its limits.  There’s a bit of a lengthy delay before some of the apps load, and hi-res video, while generally smooth, does experience some occasional dropped frames and stuttering.

Startup and shutdown times are very quick, however, and the device sleeps fantastically well, much like the average phone (thanks again to the Tegra 3), except without the need for maintaining a cellular connection.

In terms of actual benchmarks, there’s actually very little available. We resorted to the standard array of browser-based benchmarks instead to provide some concept of how the device compares to others, even if it isn’t a very reliable methodology (as results are heavily browser-dependent as well).  For sake of completeness (and curiosity), though, here’s how the IdeaPad Yoga 11 stacks up in the three most popular browser-based benchmarks:

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These scores are a little bit scattered, but that’s to be expected considering the differences between the browsers used to perform the tests.  For instance, the Sunspider score is fairly strong, generally beating that of such rivals as the Google Nexus and Apple iPad 4 tablets, but the PeaceKeeper score of just 356 is incredibly weak by comparison—something like half that of many modern phones.  Meanwhile, the Browsermark result of 1,817 is probably partially hampered by the fact that IE10 is comparatively weak in this test, but it’s still not a bad score.

Ultimately, performance is a bit of a mixed bag.  For most general operation, the Yoga 11 comes off as perfectly capable device.  Windows RT doesn’t require a lot of power, of course, and that helps. But do keep in mind that you will experience the occasional slowdown or stutter when browsing pages with lots of ads or watching hi-res videos.  And while the SSD/Tegra 3 combo works well in most situations, app loading times and other CPU/GPU-taxing scenarios serve as a sobering reminder of the inherent limitations.

June 23, 2013 | 06:35 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Hard to believe you gave it a silver award. It hardly even measures up to the under-powered atom netbooks that died a quiet death.

June 23, 2013 | 08:33 PM - Posted by Terminashunator (not verified)

MY Atom kicks ass. Runs netflix no problem, the 2/4 core processor takes a modest overclock from 1.6 to 2ghz no problem. People complaining about it much more than they should. It's not a multimedia processor, anything it does is to be taken with a grain of salt. 4 hours of netflix is just fine.

June 23, 2013 | 10:08 PM - Posted by pdjblum

Interesting. Probably better than the tegra 3 with windows rt, do you think?

June 24, 2013 | 09:44 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

A CloverTrail Atom kills the Tegra.

June 24, 2013 | 07:02 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

It is just a matter of time before some OEM takes an 8 or more core ARM 64 based CPU and pairs it more powerfull Nvidia graphics solution to compete with ATOM or Core i3!
Nvidia does not have the funds to develop such a chip by itself, but through licensing of its GPU IP to other well funded entities, ATOM will be easily defeated, and at a much lower price! A device like this, with a little more power (maybe in an 8/4 extra big.little CPU) running chrome or Linux with the 8 big 64 bit cores, each individually power gated off when not needed, and 4 little cores for standby and powersaving mobile use, and the Nvidia GPU with GPGPU general purpose compute abilities, for the more taxing video decoding/gaming functions when the device is pluged in!

June 24, 2013 | 07:05 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

Silvermont is going to change everything...WINTEL FTW !
Hold out until early 2014 !

June 29, 2013 | 02:09 PM - Posted by Steve Schardein

This truly was a weird product to have to review. Reason being, it really isn't meant to be powerful--just versatile, portable, and unplugged.  It succeeds wildly in that realm, even though its lack of power and the constraints of the Windows RT platform limit its appeal for many users (including probably most the readers of our site).

It was a tough decision on the final award. Ultimately, as I said in the conclusion, it comes down to what you're looking for. If battery life and basic functionality is it, this might be a wonderful choice--just so long as it isn't your only PC. Based on that criteria, the silver award seems appropriate. (Quoting from a previous article explaining how we review laptops):

"The Silver Award is given to products that have strengths and an obvious appeal to certain users, but also has some flaws that could seriously turn off others. The conclusion will let you know who we think will like the laptop."

Hope you guys enjoyed the review! I appreciate the feedback. :-)

August 5, 2013 | 07:18 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

I have owned a Yoga 11 for several months. It is a cool machine and love the battery life. I have noticed that the WiFi reception is not very good versus regular notebooks and smartphones. I despise the severely limited Windows RT environment and would love to switch it for an 11S.

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