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This laptop beats the MacBook Air in every way but one

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9 front angled view showing display and keyboard.
The Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9 Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

There are plenty of great 13-inch and 14-inch laptops out there, but none that can defeat the M3 MacBook Air head-to-head. That notebook is the complete package when it comes to ultra-portable laptops.

The Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9, however, puts up an impressive fight. In fact, it beats the MacBook Air in nearly every category other than battery life. It’s not quite as thin, either, but as you’ll see, the Yoga 9i Gen 9 is one of the best MacBook Air alternatives you can buy.

Specs and configurations

  Apple MacBook Air M3 Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9
Dimensions 11.97 inches x 8.46 inches x 0.44 inches 12.40 inches x 8.58 inches x 0.6-0.64 inches
Weight 2.7 pounds 2.98 pounds
Processor Apple M3 (8-core) Intel Core Ultra 7 155H
Graphics 8 GPU cores
10 GPU cores
Intel Arc graphics
RAM 8GB
16GB
24GB
16GB
32GB
Display 13.6-inch 16:10 Liquid Retina IPS 2560 x 1664 14.0-inch 16:10 2.8K (2880 x 1800) OLED touch, 120Hz
14.0-inch 16:10 4K+ (3840 x 2400) OLED touch, 60Hz
Storage 256GB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
2TB SSD
512GB SSD
1TB SSD
Touch No Optional
Ports 2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
2 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-C 4
1 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.3 Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1
Webcam 1080p 5MP 2.5K with infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello
Operating system macOS Sonoma Windows 11
Battery 52.6 watt-hours 75 watt-hours
Price $1,099+ $1,329+
Rating 4 out of 5 stars 4 out of 5 stars

Lenovo’s pricing and configurations are highly subject to change, sometimes making it difficult to know when you’re getting the best deal. Right now, the Yoga 9i Gen 9 starts at $1,330 for a Core Ultra 7 155H chipset, 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 14.0-inch 2.8K OLED display. With a 1TB SSD and a 4K+ OLED panel, the Yoga costs $1,430.

Apple’s pricing is typically consistent and its full array of configurations remains constantly available. The base MacBook Air M3 costs $1,299 with an M3 8/10 chipset, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD, and a 13.6-inch IPS display. With 16GB, which would make it comparable to the Yoga’s base model, the MacBook Air M3 is $1,499, or about $170 more. The MacBook can also be configured with 24GB of RAM and a 2TB SSD for $2,299.

The MacBook Air M3 is therefore the more expensive laptop unless you choose its base model. However, 8GB of RAM isn’t the best performance choice for laptops, except for those with the very simplest workflows.

Design

Bladur's Gate 3 being played on the M3 MacBook Air.
The Apple MacBook Air M3 Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The Yoga 9i Gen 9 is an excellent example of the modern 360-degree convertible 2-in-1. It has rounded edges and a gorgeous chassis that is cohesively designed and enjoys a 360-degree hinge that’s smooth, but secure in clamshell, tent, and media modes. It’s an all-aluminum laptop that’s extremely well built and has no bending or flexing in its lid, keyboard deck, or chassis. And it’s drop-dead gorgeous, with narrow display bezels and a reverse notch holding the webcam.

That MacBook Air M3 is also one of the best-built laptops available today, with just some slight flexing in its display and an incredibly solid chassis that’s CNC machined out of a block of aluminum. It’s also very attractive, with a slightly more angular appearance and narrow display bezels that, in Apple’s case, require a display notch to house the webcam. It sports one of the smoothest hinges around and sports Apple’s typical elegance.

Simply put, whether you buy the Lenovo or the Apple laptop, you’ll be getting one of the best in its class.

The Yoga 9i Gen 9’s keyboard is excellent, with large, sculpted keycaps and plenty of key spacing. Its switches are light and snappy and have plenty of travel. Apple’s Magic Keyboard remains one of the best, with less travel ,but equally as large and spacious keys with even snappier switches. Either keyboard will keep you typing at full speed.

The MacBook Air M3’s Force Touch haptic touchpad is better than the Yoga 9i Gen 9’s mechanical version, and it offers the Force Click function that adds extra functionality with a “firmer” virtual click. The Yoga 9i Gen 9, on the other hand, has touch- and pen-enabled displays that support Lenovo’s active pen for writing and drawing on the screen.

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9 front view showing soundbar.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Connectivity is a clear win for the Yoga, which offers as many USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports as the MacBook Air M3 while adding another USB-C port and a legacy USB-A port. Both have the same modern level of wireless connectivity.

Finally, the Yoga 9i Gen 9 has a higher resolution 5-megapixel webcam and builds in an infrared camera for Windows 11 Hello support. The MacBook Air M3 has a Touch ID fingerprint reader built into the power button. Both webcams offer very good images, with the Lenovo’s being slightly better, and both login methods are fast and effective.

Lenovo builds in user-presence sensing technology that manages the laptop when a user leaves and returns, logging off and back on and going to sleep and waking up accordingly.

Performance

The MacBook Air on a white table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The Yoga 9i Gen 9 uses the 28-watt Intel Core Ultra 7 155H, a 16-core (six Performance, eight Efficient, and two Low Power Efficient), 22-thread chipset. It packs in Intel Arc integrated graphics and has been a solid performer across a range of laptops, meeting the needs of demanding productivity users. The MacBook Air M3 uses Apple’s M3 chipset, which has eight CPU cores and either eight or 10 GPU cores. It’s also a solid performer for demanding productivity workflows, but its integrated GPU is faster than Intel Arc.

Looking at our suite of benchmarks, the MacBook Air M3 is faster in all but our Handbrake test and the Cinebench R24 multi-core CPU test. The MacBook Air M3 can also complete the Cinebench R24 GPU test, which Intel Arc won’t run, and its performance in the real-world PugetBench Premiere Pro benchmark is about 56% faster.

All in all, the MacBook Air M3 is a faster laptop for virtually all users. Neither laptop makes for a great gaming machine.

Geekbench 6
(single/multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R24
(single/multi/GPU)
Pugetbench
Premiere Pro
Apple MacBook Air M3
(M3 )
3,102 / 12,078 109 141 / 601 / 3,049 3,633
Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9
(Core Ultra 7 155H / Intel Arc)
Bal: 2,264 / 11,647
Perf: N/A
Bal: 98
Perf: 81
Bal: 101 / 594 / N/A
Perf: 102 / 670 / N/A
Bal: 2,015
Perf: 2,329

Display and audio

Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9 top down view showing media mode.
Mark Coppock / Digital Trends

Lenovo offers two display options with the Yoga 9i Gen 9, a 14.0-inch 2.8K 2880 x 1800 (242 PPI) OLED display running at 120Hz and a 14.0-inch 4K+ 3840 x 2400 (322 PPI) OLED panel at 60Hz. The MacBook Air M3 uses a 13.6-inch 2560 x 1664 (224 PPI) IPS display at 60Hz. That makes the two Lenovo displays sharper, with the 2.8K panel offering the highest refresh rate.

We tested the Yoga 9i Gen 9’s 2.8K OLED display and it had wider and more accurate colors and much deeper contrast than the MacBook Air M3’s display. The MacBook’s panel was brighter. Overall, the Lenovo scores a significant win.

Apple MacBook Air M3
(IPS)
Lenovo Yoga 9i Gen 9
(OLED)
Brightness
(nits)
495 400
AdobeRGB gamut 87% 97%
 sRGB gamut 100% 100%
DCI-P3 gamut 99% 100%
Accuracy
(DeltaE, lower is better)
1.24 0.59
Contrast ratio 1,480:1 27,790:1

The Yoga 9i Gen 9 has Lenovo’s Soundbar that houses two tweeters, and there are two side-firing woofers. The MacBook Air M3 has a four-speaker sound system. While both have very good audio quality, the Yoga’s implementation has more volume, with clearer highs and mids and more bass.

Portability

The MacBook Air on a white table.
Luke Larsen / Digital Trends

The MacBook Air M3 is the thinnest laptop available today at just 0.44 inches and it’s reasonably light at 2.7 pounds. The Yoga 9i Gen 9 is thicker at up to 0.64 inches and slightly heavier at 2.98 pounds. The MacBook is therefore the more portable laptop, but neither laptop is a load to carry around.

However, when it comes to battery life, the MacBook Air’s M3 chipset is far more efficient. Even though it has a much smaller battery at 52.6 watt-hours versus 75 watt-hours, the MacBook lasts 19.5 hours when web browsing versus the Yoga 9i Gen 9’s roughly six hours. The MacBook Air M3 will last you more than a full day’s work, while the Yoga 9i Gen 9 isn’t likely to make it much past lunch.

The Yoga 9i Gen 9 puts up a spectacular fight

If you’re looking for a 14-inch convertible 2-in-1, the Yoga 9i Gen 9 should be on your short list. It’s fast, well-built, and has spectacular displays. It’s also reasonably affordable even while being a premium laptop. If you’re considering a MacBook Air, but want something in the Windows ecosystem, it gets a hearty recommendation.

However, the MacBook Air M3’s thinness and battery life are still unbeatable, and in this type of device, those are both paramount aspects. That makes it the better overall laptop in this class, even if the Yoga 9i Gen 9 puts up a spectacular fight.

Editors' Recommendations

Mark Coppock
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