Lenovo Yoga 920 review

A new CPU does wonders for Lenovo's faster, still rock-solid Yoga 920

The Yoga 920 rockets ahead of the competition with its new quad-core Intel processor.
The Yoga 920 rockets ahead of the competition with its new quad-core Intel processor.
The Yoga 920 rockets ahead of the competition with its new quad-core Intel processor.

Highs

  • Excellent performance thanks to 8th-gen Intel CPU
  • Great battery life, especially for lighter tasks
  • Solid and attractive build quality
  • Good keyboard and pen
  • Two USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 3 support

Lows

  • A bit pricey, especially in higher configurations
  • Touchpad is slightly twitchy

DT Editors' Rating

Lenovo’s Yoga 910 convertible 2-in-1 was one of our favorite notebooks of 2016, offering an excellent combination of design, build quality, performance, and battery life. It wasn’t perfect, though, and so Lenovo released an update in 2017 to address some flaws and add Intel’s eighth-generation Core processors. In our Lenovo Yoga 920 review, we dig in to see if the company succeeded in making a good 2-in-1 even better.

Our review unit arrived with a 13.9-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) display, a quad-core Core i7-8550U, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB PCIe solid-state disk (SSD). That configuration runs $1,330 at the Lenovo Store (on sale for $1,200), placing it firmly in premium notebook territory compared to slightly smaller 13.3-inch machines like the HP Spectre x360 13 with similar specifications. Upgrade to 16GB memory, a 1TB SSD, and a 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160) display, and you’ll fork over a cool $2,000 (on sale for $1,800).

Lenovo has made some meaningful changes to the Yoga 920, but is that enough to keep up with the Windows notebook competition that has its foot on the gas pedal?

A solidly built machine with a design that’s sharp in more than one way

From a distance, you’d have a hard time telling the new and old machines apart. They’re similar in overall design, down to the iconic watchband hinge, though there are some subtle differences. Lenovo simplified the Yoga 920’s design by straightening out some angles, creating a cleaner look that’s slightly thinner at 0.5 inches (versus the Yoga 910’s 0.56 inches), and smaller in width and depth.

Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The all-aluminum build remains in place, and it’s just as solid as its predecessor. Close the lid and you’ll think the machine is forged from a single hunk of metal. Open the lid and you’ll find zero give, with the keyboard deck also providing a comforting solidity. As before, the watchband hinge is beautiful, and it feels great to use, offering just the right amount of resistance.

Lenovo’s Yoga 920 does look bland, particularly compared to the HP Spectre x360 13, which offers more design flare particularly with its own recent update. Our review unit featured a bronze color scheme (other options include platinum and copper) and doesn’t stand out in this very crowded market. Lenovo is going for a classy, businesslike look, and it succeeded almost to a fault.

The all-aluminum build is just as rock-solid as its predecessor.

Lenovo has slightly increased the size of the top bezel, just enough to move the webcam above the display, where it belongs. That means that you can now hold a video conference without trimming your nose hairs first (we’re looking at you here, Dell XPS 13). This successfully fixes one of the Yoga 910’s most annoying flaws.

We must note the edges around the keyboard deck are a bit sharp. You’ll want to avoid scraping your palms against the front corners when placing your fingers on home row.

Much-improved connectivity

While the Yoga 910 suffered from a weird configuration of underpowered USB-C ports that offered limited USB 3.0 and 2.0 support, the Yoga 920 makes much better use of the new standard. This time around, both UBS-C ports support Thunderbolt 3, making them faster and more useful. There’s also a USB-A 3.0 port for legacy support, and a 3.5mm combo headset jack. You’ll need a dongle to plug in an SD card reader, but that’s increasingly becoming the norm.

Wireless connectivity is the usual 2×2 MU-MIMO 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1. Overall, connectivity is solid for the form factor, but not exactly outstanding.

New pen support means fully competitive input options

The Yoga 920 is stocked with the usual input options. First up is the keyboard, which offers a consistent action with distinct tactile feedback, sufficient travel, and a slightly abrupt bottoming action. The keys are a bit stiff, requiring a little more force than we found comfortable. Spacing is excellent, and the Enter key has been enlarged from the Yoga 910, in response to user feedback. The most recent HP Spectre x360 13 has a keyboard that we found snappier and more precise, and so Lenovo loses a bit of ground here in terms of maintaining its keyboard superiority.

Next, we usually expect a Microsoft Precision touchpad — like the one on the Yoga 920 — to provide nearly perfect gesture support. However, this touchpad is less responsive than it should be and some gestures are hard to use, such as the three-finger swipe to switch apps. You’ll have to turn to machines like the Surface Book 2 or MacBook Pro for better touchpad experiences.

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Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

The touchscreen has no such problems, responding consistently to user input and providing a comfortable swiping surface. Lenovo has added active pen support, alleviating another weakness of the Yoga 910. The Active Pen 2 offers up to 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, two buttons, and an eraser — all of which keeps in competitive with the Surface Pen. To keep the stylus handy, Lenovo includes a pen holder that plugs into the USB-A port.

Finally, the Yoga 920 retains its fast and accurate fingerprint scanner to the right of the touchpad, with full support for Windows 10 Hello password-less login. More and more notebooks are including infrared cameras for facial recognition, and so the Yoga 920 is falling a bit behind in this respect — including compared to Lenovo’s own Thinkpad line that’s recently added infrared camera options to machines like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

An average — and therefore very good but not great — display

Our review Yoga 920 came equipped with a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080 or 158 PPI) display, which at 13.9 inches is just sharp enough that pixels aren’t plain. Lenovo also offers a configuration with a 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160 or 317 PPI) display that adds around $670 to the price but also increases RAM to 16GB and SSD storage to 1TB.

According to our colorimeter, Lenovo’s choice of panel is just good enough to qualify as average for today’s premium notebooks — a positive, given how good displays have become.

The Yoga 920’s display covers 72 percent of the AdobeRGB color gamut. That’s competitive with machines like the ZenBook Flip S, which also provides a Full HD display, and it falls slightly behind the higher resolution of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, and the 4K UHD display on the Yoga 910. Color accuracy came in at 2.01 (where 1.0 or less is indistinguishable to the human eye), which is also average for our comparison group.

The Yoga 920 scored a strong 880:1 contrast ratio at 100 percent brightness, which competes well against all but the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, with its excellent 1,120:1 score. It actually beats the new Spectre x360 13, which took a bit of a step back in display. Brightness came in at 308 nits, which crosses our 300-nit threshold for displays that are likely to be visible in bright environments. Gamma was perfect at 2.2, meaning that, for example, videos will be neither too bright nor too dark.

The Yoga 920’s display was enjoyable in normal day-to-day use. Colors were good enough for all but the most exacting creative work, and videos were bright, yet provided detail in darker scenes. Black text on white backgrounds also stuck out, meaning it’s great for anyone who works with words or numbers.

Good enough sound for the occasional Netflix session

The Yoga 920 sports two downward-firing speakers on the bottom-front of the chassis, and we found them loud enough for watching movies by yourself, or with a small group. Music was lacking bass, but the midrange and highs were sufficiently clear that you won’t immediately plug in a set of headphones. Lenovo touts the “360-degree audio” provided by Dolby Atmos, but we didn’t notice anything different in our tests.

lenovo yoga 920 review speaker
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Another improvement is four far-field microphones that enhance Cortana’s responsiveness when you talk to her across the room. In our brief testing, we found that Cortana did indeed respond reliably, even when we were quite a few feet away.

Intel’s eighth generation provides a real performance punch

The Core i7-8550U that Lenovo packed into the Yoga 920 ups the ante from two cores to four, promising better multitasking. However, Intel lowered the base clock speed to a power-sipping 1.8GHz –compared to 2.7GHz with the Core i7-7500U — while increasing the turbo frequency to 4.0GHz from 3.5GHz.

We found the new Intel processor offers a meaningful improvement. And, just as important, Lenovo leveraged that improvement to make the Yoga 720 a seriously fast machine.

For example, in the Geekbench 4 benchmark, the Yoga 920 scored 4,683 in the single-core test, which is faster than any Core i7-7500U in our comparison group, including the Yoga 910. The multi-core score of 14,566 was even more impressive, blowing away dual-core machines, and beating the faster yet less efficient quad-core Core i7-7700HQ.

In our Handbrake test that converts a 420MB video to H.265, the Yoga 920 scored a speedy 613 seconds, almost twice as fast as the Yoga 910 and the other dual-core machines. Only the Core i7-7660U-equipped Microsoft Surface Pro came close. While the Core i7-8550U couldn’t keep up with the Core i7-7700HQ, it still managed an impressive showing.

lenovo yoga 920 review 14891
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Overall, the Yoga 920 makes great use of the new CPU’s potential. It’s quick as a general productivity machine, and can do real work as well. Add to that excellent thermal management that keeps heat down with minimal fan noise, and it’s a win-win situation.

Fast enough storage thanks to Samsung’s SSD

The Yoga 920 is equipped with the speedy Samsung PM961 PCIe SSD, which typically provides excellent storage performance.

As it turns out, the Yoga 920 underperforms. It scored 1,147 megabytes per second (MB/s) in the CrystalDiskMark read test, and 1,172 MB/s in the write test. That’s fast, but not as fast as some other machines in our comparison group that were equipped with the same SSD.

There’s no accounting for the difference here, but it hardly matters. These may not be the fastest scores, but you’re unlikely to notice during actual use. Throughout our testing, the Yoga 920 felt quick, and it’s likely to provide all the performance that the typical high-end productivity user requires.

No better for gaming than any other notebook with integrated graphics

We always expect the same basic experience from machines equipped with Intel’s integrated graphics. The Yoga 920 utilizes the Intel UHD 620, and don’t let the name fool you – it’s the same low-powered GPU as the Intel HD 620.

Our expectations were justified. The Yoga 920 scored 1005 in the 3DMark Fire Strike test, which is in line with our comparison group utilizing the same GPU. The Yoga 920 can run older titles at lower resolutions, but will fall short in modern titles, even at Full HD resolution and lower settings.

Nevertheless, we went ahead and ran Civilization VI at Full HD, and recorded 12 frames per second (FPS) at medium detail, and 6 FPS at ultra detail. That’s just not good enough, so you’ll want to pick a different machine if you’re looking to game, such as the Asus ZenBook Flip 14 that packs a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 into a similar 14-inch 2-in-1 format. The ZenBook, for example, managed a playable 33 FPS in Civilization VI at Full HD and medium detail, and you’ll find it a better option for esports titles than the Yoga 920.

Battery life is mixed, but don’t let that worry you

The Yoga 910 enjoyed a large 79 watt-hour battery. Surprisingly, Lenovo chopped it down to 70 watt-hours in the Yoga 920. Seeing a decrease in battery life is never a welcome sight, so we had to hope that the Full HD display, combined with a theoretically more efficient CPU, would make up for it.

The Yoga 920 provided some mixed results in our suite of battery tests. Don’t despair, however, because that mix ranged from merely good to downright excellent.

We saw three hours and 23 minutes in our most demanding Basemark test, which runs through a series of CPU- and GPU-intensive web processes. Basemark is a performance test at heart, so it’s a great measure of how long a machine can last when it’s at full load. Compared to our comparison group, the Yoga 920 was competitive but not class-leading, being beat out by the HP Spectre x360 and blown away by the Surface Book 2 13.

In our macro test, which loops through a series of popular web pages, the Yoga 920 was again competitive but not a leader. It lasted for eight hours and 11 minutes, a strong score again bested by the Spectre x360 13 and Surface Book 2 13.

The Core i7-8550U sips power when it’s not being taxed.

Finally, in our test that loops an Avengers trailer until the battery gives out, the Yoga 920 excelled. It lasted almost 14 hours, among the longest durations we’ve measured with — again — the Spectre x360 13 and Surface Book 2 13 lasting longer. The Yoga 910 lasted just under 10 and a half hours, again held back by its 4K display, but aided by its larger battery. We must conclude the Yoga 920’s Core i7-8550U sips power when it’s not being taxed, but it’s not the best performer in our comparison group.

Overall, the Yoga 920 provided good battery life when running hard, and excellent battery life when lightly used. In fact, battery life is so promising that choosing a 4K UHD display becomes feasible — you’ll give up longevity by upping the resolution, but the Yoga 920 has headroom to spare.

In addition, the machine is thin and light for a nearly 14-inch device, at 0.5 inches and 3.02 pounds. It feels great in the hand and is easy to carry around, which makes it a truly portable 2-in-1 indeed.

Warranty information

Lenovo offers a standard one-year parts and service warranty for the Yoga 920, which is just average for notebooks and, as usual, a bit disappointing at these prices.

Our Take

The introduction of Intel’s eighth-generation Core processors was an opportune time to refresh the Yoga 900 series, but Lenovo didn’t stop with just the CPU. It also touched up the design, putting the webcam up top where it belongs, fixing a key customer gripe by enlarging the Enter key, adding Thunderbolt 3 support, and simplifying the look.

The result is a much-improved 2-in-1 in the Yoga 920 that not only performs better, but also addresses the key complaints of users.

Is there a better alternative?

There are many strong competitors in the 2-in-1 and notebook market. The following are some options to consider, but until we’ve reviewed all the newest models, we can’t say that any of them are superior to the Yoga 920.

First on the list of viable alternatives is the HP Spectre x360 13. It’s recently received its own redesign, including an upgrade to eighth-generation Intel processors. It remains our favorite convertible 2-in-1, however, offering its own excellent combination of performance and design. It’s a bit less expensive, at $1,200 for the same Core i7, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD compared to the Yoga 920’s $1,330. However, the Spectre x360 has a smaller battery, and you can see here how it goes punch-for-punch in pretty much every category.

The Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 is a well-made machine that we like quite a bit, with decent productivity performance from it’s low-power Intel CPUs, along with great battery life. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is priced roughly the same as the Yoga 920, at $1,350 for a Core i7-7Y75, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. The XPS 13 2-in-1 is much smaller than the Yoga 920 overall, and sacrifices performance to make that possible.

A newer option if you’re looking for some lightweight gaming (think esports titles), you can consider the Asus ZenBook Flip 14. It’s priced lower at $1,300 for a Core i7-8550U, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB PCIe SSD, and it adds in a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 GPU. While the Yoga 920 is still the better-built machine, the ZenBook Flip 14 provides significantly better graphics performance and is worth consideration if you’re not an all-work-and-no-play sort.

How long will it last?

The Yoga 920 is well-built, and it should last for years of typical mobile use. It’s also equipped with the latest and greatest Intel CPU, along with enough memory and storage to ensure that you’re still productive years down the road.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Yoga 920 fixes everything that was wrong with the previous version — which wasn’t much — and increases performance. There are a couple of alternatives that are worth considering first, but there’s very little to not like on the Yoga 920.

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