Review Index:

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

Subject: Mobile

Performance - Synthetic GPU, Gaming Benchmarks

Synthetic GPU Benchmarks

Although it’s hardly the primary draw of the Yoga 11S, it’s always interesting to see how even low-voltage ultraportables with varying TDPs handle GPU-heavy operations. The Yoga 11S, with its 13W TDP Intel Core i5-3339Y, can hardly be expected to excel in this realm. Nevertheless, let’s see just what it can manage when confronted with some seriously grueling tasks.

Our first test is the latest version of 3DMark (2013), which includes three different benchmarks:

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It’s hardly a surprise that the Yoga 11S posts such weak scores here. It’s not really worth comparing its results to the other models on which we’ve had the privilege of running this particular benchmark (seeing as they’re all gaming PCs), but for the sake of context, we’ve included their scores regardless. Again, the Yoga 11 cannot provide comparative scores, as its architecture and operating system do not allow for these benchmarks to be performed.

Next, 3DMark 11:

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Again, expectedly weak, although its score is much more closely in line with that of the ThinkPad Twist (which managed 551—around 10% better). Again, this is actually pretty impressive if you consider that its TDP of 13W is 4W below (roughly 24% less than) that of the Twist. Of course, it can’t hold a candle to full-voltage, discrete video configurations, but that goes without saying.

Gaming Benchmarks

Not a lot of time needs to be spent on the subject of gaming with the Yoga 11S, because—quite frankly—it’s just not made for gaming. Its measly ultra-ultra-low-voltage CPU isn’t meant to handle more than the most basic GPU demands, as we’ve seen from our synthetic tests above. There are rare circumstances where a modern game might play on the lowest settings acceptably, but normally the resolution would also need to be reduced to reach playable frame rates. Regardless, we commenced with our core testing to see how rough the situation actually would be.

Just Cause 2 was tested using a 1366x768 resolution, so we can’t necessarily compare it directly with the same 1080p notebooks we ran previous benchmarks against (the same holds true for the next two benchmarks as well). To provide a clearer picture of just how close one might be able to get to running the game acceptably at the native HD resolution, we performed the benchmark on two different groups of options: one where all settings were on High/ON with anti-aliasing and anisotorpic filtering on 2x, and the other where all settings were Low/OFF with only anisotropic filtering remaining on 2x. Here’s what we came up with:

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Thoroughly underwhelming, albeit expected. The ULV CPU simply cannot stand alongside its standard-voltage counterparts. With an average frame rate of just 14, Just Cause 2 is just plain unplayable on the Yoga 11S.

Another popular entry that often works well enough on budget notebooks is StarCraft 2:

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Again, nothing shocking. Fortunately, StarCraft II is pretty merciful when it comes to dealing with low-powered video adapters, and as such, at 1366x768 with all settings Low/OFF, we receive a perfectly playable and even relatively smooth performance of 48.76 frames per second.

Finally, we’ve got Diablo III, which once again is known to perform acceptably on weaker hardware in many cases:

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But here, we’re still squarely in unplayable territory. No changes to the settings provide adequate frame rates at the native 1366x768 resolution. We even tried again on Low settings, but received no consolation:

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Suffice it to say that, as expected, the Yoga 11S could only be used for very lightweight (and severely-gimped) gaming sessions, if that. It simply isn’t designed to be a graphical powerhouse.

August 22, 2013 | 12:49 AM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

How much does it cost?

August 22, 2013 | 02:22 PM - 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. :-)


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August 31, 2013 | 06:01 PM - Posted by Anonymous (not verified)

is it good for gaming?

September 3, 2013 | 10:02 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 | 01:38 PM - 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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