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Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 11S Convertible Notebook Review: A Game of Compromises

Subject: Mobile
Manufacturer:

Performance - Processor, General, Hard Drive

Much has already been said about the Yoga 11S’ CPU, but to quickly recap:

  • Intel Core i5-3339Y 1.5 GHz
  • Turbo Boost up to 2.0 GHz single-core and 1.8 GHz dual-core
  • 13W TDP
  • Performance comparable to Ivy Bridge i3 17W TDP ULV processors

Subjectively speaking, the notebook feels pretty snappy, primarily thanks to the standard SSD coupled with a more-than-capable CPU. But the numbers don’t lie, so let’s see how it fares in our usual array of benchmarks.

Although we’ll do our best to put these results into perspective with the Yoga 11’s nVidia Tegra 3 performance, since most of the same benchmarks will not run on Windows RT, only so much comparison is possible. For that reason, we’ve also thrown the Lenovo ThinkPad Twist into the mix, whose fellow x86 CPU (the 1.7 – 2.6GHz, 17W TDP Intel Core i5-3317U) makes such comparisons possible.

Performance – Processor

Our synthetic CPU benchmarks consist of three different tests that focus on different aspects of processor performance. The first of these is SiSoft Sandra:

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The Yoga 11S turns in a relatively tame performance in Sandra’s CPU tests, with results that are below that of the average Ultrabook—though again, that’s to be expected considering the lower TDP. For instance, Lenovo’s own recent ThinkPad Twist scored over 30% better.

Next, let’s take a look at Cinebench R11.5:

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Since this is a relatively new addition to our testing repertoire, we only have comparative data for two completely different machines (in a totally different class of notebooks)—so keep that in mind. Both of them are high-performance gaming notebooks with quad-core CPUs, and we’ve only included them for sake of some context; the Yoga 11S should not be expected to compete in any way. Having said that, its scores are still pretty modest—though it’s at least impressive that it is able to compete with 17W TDP Ivy Bridge CPUs, even if they are just i3 models without the option of Turbo Boost. You’re in many ways essentially getting the power of a basic 17W 3rd-generation Core CPU packed into a 13W design.

Peacekeeper carries the benefit of being platform-agnostic, even though it is much more heavily focused on browser-level performance:

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The score of 1716 isn’t great, but it’s at least an order of magnitude higher than the Yoga 11’s pitiful 356, and it also beats that of most Chromebooks. Ultrabooks, on the other hand, generally score higher—including the ThinkPad Twist, which managed 1987 in comparison (not much higher, but significant).

And finally, there's 7-zip:

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Application Performance

We’ve also recently introduced PCMark 7 as a new addition to our application performance testing process:

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Here, the Yoga 11S’ SSD greatly benefits it, with a score (3855) which is above that of the Lenovo Y500’s 3275. The Y500, in contrast, includes a standard mechanical hard drive equipped with an mSATA SSD for transparent caching—and while this approach is effective at improving overall system performance, as this benchmark demonstrates, it still can’t compete with the likes of a 100% solid-state configuration. On the other hand, the MSI GT60, with its much more powerful configuration overall, pushes ahead by another 50-something percent with a blazing score of 6013.

Performance – Storage Devices

Turning our focus more intently to storage devices specifically, let’s see how the IdeaPad Yoga 11S’ Samsung PM841 256GB compares to some of the other recent notebooks we’ve reviewed.

Our first benchmark for any solid-state devices is always AS SSD:

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The overall score of 980 tells all: this is a very fast drive. At least as far as read speed is concerned, the Yoga 11S leaves little to be desired, standing alongside other very fast SSDs in modern machines. The write speeds (above 250 MB/s for anything above 8 KB in size) are also much quicker than any standard hard drive, though they dwindle a bit in comparison with the fastest SSDs (which post speeds well above 300 MB/s).

Next, here’s how things look in ATTO:

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Looking pretty good, with speeds that aren’t likely to worry anyone. 4 KB and below is, as usual, where we really begin to see the biggest drop in overall speeds.

CrystalDiskMark’s results:

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Again, it’s the 4 KB value that really shows the drive’s weakness (apart from the relatively deficiency in write speeds), but regardless, it’s still far better than the average mechanical drive, of course.

Finally, for sake of consistency, here’s our HD Tune results:

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Keep in mind that with this benchmark, we only have results for the hard drive in the MSI GT60. That’s because usually HD Tune isn’t used to benchmark SSDs. Nevertheless, for comparison’s sake, we’ve included it for your reference.

August 21, 2013 | 09:49 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How much does it cost?

August 22, 2013 | 11:22 AM - Posted by Steve Schardein

Ha!  Thanks for pointing that out.  I completely forgot to mention the number.

Our unit as configured was $999, though you can get the 11S for as little as $749 if you don't mind sacrificing some CPU and storage space.  Though (as I mentioned in the article), if you're looking for an Ultrabook with great battery life on a charge, I would recommend comparing to some of the emerging Haswell models.  Hopefully we'll see a refresh containing a 4200Y or similar later this year; that'd help a ton in that department. :-)

-Steve

August 31, 2013 | 03:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

is it good for gaming?

September 3, 2013 | 07:02 AM - Posted by Steve Schardein

In a word, no, though it can remarkably handle some light gaming in spite of its size and TDP.

Check out the Gaming Benchmarks page if you haven't already.

April 27, 2014 | 10:38 AM - Posted by Steve Orlich (not verified)

I just picked up a refurbished model from Micro Center with the Haswell 4210Y about a week ago. I was curious about gaming as well. So, I went ahead and downloaded Steam to see what it could do. After much debate over starting with Torchlight 2, I decided to go right for Borderlands 2. I was not expecting much, but wow. I was able to play quite well with my level 51 commando playing through one of Captain Scarlett's missions. I perceived no noticeable lag while playing, with the exception of longer load times when moving into new areas. It did produce some pretty impressive heat at the center of the rear exhaust area. I did have a warning message when I exited that I was almost out of memory and to save programs. I think this will resolved when I upgrade the memory to 8 gigs next week. I did not look to see what my frame rates were, but It looked pretty impressive. Very happy with this, I got it to have for entertainment while traveling for business each week. I was never impressed with any of the new tablets. They were just not powerful enough, but this little Ultrabook may be the best use of Windows 8 I have seen.

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