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Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro review: A lovely display saves the day

lenovo ideapad slim 7i pro review
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro
MSRP $1,420.00
“Despite some flaws, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is one of the better new Windows 11 laptops you can buy.”
Pros
  • Solid productivity performance
  • High-resolution, 90Hz display
  • Great keyboard and touchpad
  • Simple but attractive aesthetic
Cons
  • Build quality is slightly subpar
  • Battery life is mediocre

Beyond the Surface devices, new Windows 11 laptops have been sparse so far.

Now there’s Lenovo’s IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro, one of the most anticipated newcomers sporting Microsoft’s latest operating system, and it promises to leverage Windows 11 with high-end components and a productivity-friendly 16:10, high-resolution display.

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is intended to be a prime example of Lenovo’s “midrange-plus” lineup, which boasts some of the features you’ll find in ThinkPads and a quality build while still being (relatively) affordable.

My configuration came in at $1,420, which isn’t so cheap. The $1,190 starting configuration sits in a confusing place, too. But ultimately, it’s all about whether this is a good laptop for the money. While it has some problems, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro manages to be a promising start to the Windows 11 era of laptops. Take a look at the latest Lenovo gaming laptop deals for potential discounts from this brand.

Design

A Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro sitting on a table, angled to a view of the backside and lid.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

If I judge the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro as a premium laptop, then I have to pick some nits with its build quality. It’s constructed of machined aluminum, which is a good thing, but I found the lid to be a bit bendable and the keyboard deck and chassis bottom had some flex. That would be a suitable build quality at $1,000 or less, but at over $1,400, it’s a bit lacking. The HP Spectre x360 14, for example, is just a few hundred dollars more and is solid as a rock, while the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED is several hundred dollars cheaper and is more robust. The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro’s hinge is excellent, though, making it easy to open the laptop with one hand while holding the display firmly in place.

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro has minimal bezels up top and on the sides, with a larger chin than you’ll find on the likes of the Dell XPS 13. An inverted notch at the top houses the cameras and adds a convenient lip for opening the lid. Added to the taller 16:10 display, the chin makes the laptop deeper than it might be, while the side bezels keep it relatively narrow.

It’s a well-sized laptop that’s easy enough to carry around.

Overall, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is in line with other 14-inch laptops with 16:10 displays like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9. It’s thin at 0.67 inches, although not as thin as the ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9’s 0.59 inches. Its weight is average for 14-inch laptops at three pounds. The ThinkPad, however, is a half-pound lighter. Overall, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is a well-sized laptop that’s easy enough to carry around.

Aesthetically, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro joins many recent laptops that utilize a minimalist design. It seems the more laptops I review, the more similar they start to look. The IdeaPad is available in slate gray (my review unit) or light silver. It has very simple lines and angles, a curved rear edge, and subdued logos that combine to give it a very nondescript appearance.

As with so many similar laptops, including the likes of the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, it’s an attractive enough laptop, but it won’t stand out. The HP Spectre x360 14, with its gem-cut design and bright accent colors, enjoys a much bolder design. Will you like the IdeaPad’s look? Probably, unless you want a laptop that makes a fashion statement. It certainly won’t offend.

Connectivity isn’t a strength. You’ll find two USB-C with Thunderbolt 4 ports along the left-hand side (one of which is used for power) and a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port and 3.5mm audio jack along the right-hand side.

Unfortunately, there’s no SD card slot or HDMI, which is disappointing. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 handle wireless duties.

Performance

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro sitting on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

My review unit was equipped with an 11th-gen 35-watt Intel Core i7-11370H CPU, a 4-core/8-thread processor that sits between the U-series aimed at thin and light laptops and the 45-watt H-series intended for more powerful laptops. It’s an interesting processor that splits the difference between, say, an 8-core/16-thread 45-watt Core i7-11800H and a 28-watt 4-core/8-thread Core i7-1185G7. The Core i7-11370H is a productivity CPU through and through — it’s meant to be fast enough to churn through demanding productivity workflows, but is not in the same league as processors that are faster at creative applications.

The first thing to note is that Lenovo included its performance-tuning utility that lets you switch between battery-saving, intelligent cooling, and extreme performance modes. The utility made a difference in just two of our benchmarks, our Handbrake test that encodes a 420MB video to H.265 and Cinebench R23. Both of those are CPU-bound, and that’s where the utility had the most impact.

In Handbrake, for example, the IdeaPad took 202 seconds to finish the process in intelligent cooling mode and 155 seconds in performance mode. That’s a meaningful difference, and in fact, it almost matched the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio with the same CPU in that laptop’s performance mode. The same held with Cinebench R23, where the IdeaPad’s score jumped to 6,150 from 5,544, a more competitive result.

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is a speedy productivity laptop.

However, in Geekbench 5, PCMark 10, and 3DMark Time Spy, the utility made little to no difference. Even in intelligent cooling mode, though, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro scored well in these benchmarks, coming in ahead of the U-series competitors and close to the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 with its Ryzen 7 5700U and the Surface Laptop Studio in all but the 3DMark test. Naturally, the fastest laptop in our comparison list was the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 with its Core i7-11800H. Looking more closely at the PCMark 10 benchmark, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro did well in all the tests, including Essentials, Productivity, and Content Creation.

What all this means is that the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is a speedy productivity laptop that can handle everything a typical user will throw at it. Set it to performance mode, where the fans spin up and are quite a bit louder, and it can better handle light creativity tasks. It’s not going to compete with the faster Intel CPUs or AMD’s Ryzen 5000 series for creators, but it’s better than the typical thin and light Intel laptop.

Geekbench (single/multi) Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi) PCMark 10 3DMark Time Spy
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro (Core i7-11370H) 1578 / 5957 202 1514 / 5544 5149 1888
Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 (Ryzen 7 5700U) 1184 / 6281 120 1287 / 8013 5411 1247
Samsung Galaxy Book (Core i5-1135G7) 1401 / 5221 180 1361 / 5391 4735 1584
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 (Core i7-1165G7) 1327 / 5201 N/A 1469 / 4945 5147 1776
Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio (Core i7-11370H) 1321 / 5131 179 1304 / 5450 5091 4266
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme Gen 4 (Core i7-11800H) 1520 / 7353 106 1519 / 10497 6251 6691
MSI Sumit E13 Flip Evo (Core i7-1185G7) 1352 / 4891 207 1360 / 4392 4872 1751

With Intel Iris Xe graphics, that IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro isn’t a gaming laptop. Its 3DMark Time Spy score is average, and it managed just 22 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite at 1200p and epic graphics. That’s in line with other Iris Xe laptops and means the IdeaPad is best for older titles or newer titles at lower resolutions and graphical settings. Or just stick with casual gaming.

Display

Image of the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro's display.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Lenovo equipped the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro with a 14-inch 16:10 IPS display in what it calls a “2.8K” resolution at 2,880 x 1,800. It’s a sharp and bright display, with dynamic colors that aren’t oversaturated and enough contrast that black text pops on a white background. It also runs at 90Hz (60Hz is configurable), making on-screen movement and animations a bit smoother. I found the display to be quite good during my testing and as I wrote this review. There’s also the option for a 2.2K (2,240 x 1,400) IPS display that runs at 60Hz, which I didn’t test.

My colorimeter agreed with my impressions. The display was reasonably bright at 369 nits, above our 300-nit threshold and beating out the the 238 nits of the $1,000 Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1 and the 326 nits of the $900 Samsung Galaxy Book, both of which are genuinely midrange machines. The IdeaPad was also brighter than the $1,885 Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9’s 306 nits, and that’s officially a premium Lenovo laptop.

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro also enjoyed wider colors than average, at 80% of AdobeRGB (72% is closer to average) and 100% of sRGB (95% is average), much better than the Inspiron 14 2-in-1’s 52% of AdobeRGB and 69% of sRGB and the Galaxy Book’s 48% and 64%. The IdeaPad even beat out the ThinkPad’s 76% and 100%. Those colors were also fairly accurate at a DeltaE of 1.65 (1.0 or less is excellent), compared to the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 at 1.8, the Galaxy Book at 2.41, and the ThinkPad at an even better 0.99. Finally, the IdeaPad’s contrast was 1,340:1, well above our preferred 1,000:1 and much higher than the other three laptops I’ve been using for comparison.

Closeup image on the webcam, screen, and bezels on the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Those are excellent results for a laptop that’s not explicitly designed for creators who demand even wider colors — though the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro’s colors are certainly wide enough for less demanding creative types. Scanning our database, I couldn’t find a recent 14-inch laptop for the same or more money that had a better display — and most had significantly worse displays. The display also supports Dolby Vision high dynamic range (HDR), making it an excellent laptop for binging HDR content from Netflix and other streaming services. Lenovo is charging a pretty penny for the IdeaPad, and the display helps justify the investment.

The audio is provided by two downward-firing speakers underneath the front of the chassis, and the sound was clear and bright. There was minimal bass, as usual. The only problem is that volume was low even when turned all the way up, yet there was still a touch of distortion. You’ll want a pair of headphones for Netflix and music, and sound quality is not one of the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro’s strengths.

Keyboard and touchpad

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro's keyboard and trackpad.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro features the same keyboard design that you’ll find on all Lenovo laptops not labeled ThinkPad. It’s spacious with large and comfortable sculpted keycaps. The “TrueStrike” switch mechanism has been brought over from the Lenovo gaming laptops, providing a more tactile feel. The switches are snappy, with a soft bottoming action that made for a precise feel. There was plenty of travel for this type of keyboard, too.

It’s not at quite the same level of comfort as HP Spectre or Dell XPS keyboards, but it’s close enough. Most people will love this keyboard.

The touchpad was large and took up most of the space on the palm rest. Kudos to Lenovo for leveraging the taller display. The touchpad surface was smooth, with just enough friction for precise swiping, and the buttons had a healthy click without being loud. It’s a Microsoft Precision touchpad, and so the usual Windows 10 multitouch gestures were well-supported. The touch display was also responsive, and welcome.

An infrared camera and facial recognition provide Windows Hello support, and it was fast and reliable. Lenovo included its user presence detection technology that locks and sleeps the laptop when the user leaves the area, keeps the laptop unlocked when the user is in front of it even if the keyboard and touchpad aren’t being used, and automatically wakes the laptop when the user returns from an absence. It can even pause a video when the user steps away. Overall, it’s a convenient system that worked well, and I had to turn it off to run my battery tests unless I wanted to sit in front of the laptop for hours of idle time.

Battery life

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro sitting angled on a table.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

With a 61 watt-hour battery and a high-resolution 14-inch display, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro had me very curious about its battery life. I was also wondering how the 35-watt CPU would perform.

To begin with, the IdeaPad was inconsistent in our web-browsing test. The first time I ran the test, the laptop lasted for just 6.25 hours, which is an abysmal score compared to the 10 hours or more we like to see from premium thin and light laptops. I ran it a second time, and it managed 7.75 hours. That’s better, but still way behind the field.

Battery life isn’t a strength of the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro.

The Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, for example, lasted for 12.9 hours on this test, while the Microsoft Surface Laptop Studio lasted for 10.5 hours. Just as concerning as the short runtime, though, was the inconsistency. In our video benchmark that loops through a local Full HD movie trailer, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro made it to 12.75 hours, which is a decent score that beat the Inspiron’s 11 hours, but fell behind the Surface Laptop Studio’s 14 hours.

In the PCMark 10 Applications battery test that’s the best indicator of productivity longevity, the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro lasted 9.25 hours. We didn’t test the Surface Laptop Studio in this test and the Inspiron 14 2-in-1 wouldn’t complete it, but the IdeaPad’s score is less than average for thin and light laptops. Most last for at least 10 hours and some, like the MSI Summit E13 Flip Evo, make it to 13 hours or more. The IdeaPad hit just 95 minutes in the PCMark 10 Gaming battery test, indicating that the laptop keeps up its performance while running on battery.

Overall, battery life isn’t a strength of the IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro. Whether it will last you a full day of work depends on your workflow — if it’s at all demanding, then you’ll want to keep your charger with you, just in case.

Our take

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is positioned as a midrange laptop, but priced like a premium machine, and fortunately, it lives up to the latter. Its build quality is slightly lacking and its battery life is mediocre, but its performance is solid and its display is excellent for the class of machine. It’s a good-looking laptop that’s reasonably sized and attractive, if simply designed.

The extra features, such as the user presence detection technology, are welcome additions that add value. The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro is a solid addition to the 14-inch clamshell market and carves out a healthy niche for itself thanks to its superior display.

Are there any alternatives?

The Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9 is an excellent alternative if you’re willing to spend a little more money. The display isn’t as good, but the battery life is spectacular, and its build quality is much better.

HP’s Spectre x360 14 is another solid option that’s a bit more expensive as well, but it will give you the flexibility of a 2-in-1, an elegant design, and the option for an even better OLED display.

The Dell XPS 13 is a great choice, as usual, if you’re willing to step down a bit in display (and chassis) size. It’s fast, long-lasting, and incredibly attractive and well-built. Again, you’ll spend a little more, but it’s worth it.

How long will it last?

The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro could feel a little sturdier, but it’s built well enough to last for several years of typical usage. Its components are up to date and should keep Windows 11 humming along. The one-year industry-standard warranty is disappointing, as always.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro has great performance and a lovely display, and it will meet the majority of the needs of the most demanding productivity users. Only the battery life stands out as a true negative.

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