Lenovo Yoga C640 review: The ultimate laptop for students?

lenovo yoga c640 review c740 01

Lenovo Yoga C640 review: The ultimate laptop for students?

“The Lenovo Yoga C640 is a killer value for students and budget-level laptop buyers.”
  • Great battery life
  • Clean, portable design
  • Excellent display for the price
  • Tremendous value
  • Solid build quality
  • Keyboard is a little shallow
  • No Thunderbolt 3 port
MSRP $600.00

There’s no need to spend over a thousand bucks on your next laptop. That’s especially true if you’re a college student or someone who favors Office apps.

Lenovo apparently agrees, as its new $600 Yoga C640 is targeted specifically at that demographic. That’s a mighty attractive price for a laptop that presents very few compromises.

Unlike its adventurous predecessor, the Yoga C640 is a tried-and-true Intel laptop, packing a 10th-gen Intel Core i3 processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Has Lenovo made the best laptop you can buy at this price?

Design

The Yoga C640 boasts an all-aluminum construction that belies its budget pricing. There’s a tiny bit of flex in the keyboard tray and bottom of the chassis, and none on the lid. It doesn’t quite live up to the build quality of some other Yoga models, like the much more expensive Yoga C930.

The lid can almost be opened with one hand, with just a little bit of friction lifting the chassis bottom off the surface of the desk. But this is a 360-degree convertible 2-in-1, meaning the display swings around from clamshell to tent, media, and tablet modes. The tight hinge does a good job of keeping the display in place in all these modes.

The Yoga C640 feels more elegant and modern than most $600 laptops.

Like many Yogas today, the aesthetic is fairly conservative. It’s a gunmetal gray color with zero bling; you won’t find a stitch of chrome on the laptop, other than a small patch that surrounds the logo. It won’t stand out in a crowd, especially not compared to laptops like HP’s gem-cut Spectre x360 13, which screams “look at me!” Compared to the $650 Acer Swift 3 with its typical silver chassis, though, the Yoga C640 strikes me as having a more elegant and modern design. The same is true when it’s compared to the $560 HP Pavilion x360, which isn’t as refined and trim as the Yoga C640.

The Yoga C640 isn’t the smallest 13-inch laptop around. To begin with, the bezels aren’t huge, but they’re not as small as you’ll find on the Spectre x360 13 or the Dell XPS 13. That makes the chassis a bit larger than those of very tiny 13-inch laptops. The Yoga C640 is quite thin, though. It measures 0.67 inches thick, which is identical to the Spectre x360 and only slightly thicker than the XPS 13. The Yoga C640 weighs 2.98 pounds compared to the HP at 2.88 pounds and the Dell at 2.8 pounds. It compares well in portability to these high-end laptops, despite being much cheaper.

The Yoga C640 gets the same kind of privacy shutter for the webcam that adorns the ThinkPad line. This one is dubbed the TrueBlock Privacy Shutter and it works similarly — just slide it over to physically block the webcam. I prefer HP’s button on the Spectre x360 13 that electronically turns off the webcam, leaving nothing in the system for hackers to access if you want to turn off the 720p webcam.

Connectivity is mediocre even for a budget ultralight. There are two USB-A 3.1 ports, a USB-C 3.1 port, and a 3.5mm audio jack. There’s no Thunderbolt 3 port — not that we expect one at this price — and no microSD card reader, which is disappointing. Wireless connectivity is also a step behind at Wi-Fi 5 (rather than the newer Wi-Fi 6 standard) and Bluetooth 5.0.

Keyboard and touchpad

If you like the typical Lenovo Yoga keyboard, then you’ll love the one on the Yoga C640. Like always, it has plenty of spacing and a crisp mechanism. The travel is a little too shallow for my tastes, but I consistently hit about 90% of my usual 90 words a minute or so. I still prefer the HP Spectre x360’s keyboard, and the new Magic Keyboard on the newest Apple MacBooks is my absolute favorite.

The touchpad works well too, thanks to Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers and a smooth and comfortable surface. It’s not a large touchpad, but it does take up most of the available space below the keyboard for a modern, efficient design.

As with all 2-in-1s, the display is touch-enabled and as precise as expected. Lenovo has built in support for its active pen with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity (the pen itself is a $69 option). That’s acceptable at this price point, and while I didn’t get a chance to test inking on the Yoga C640, I suspect it will be as good as it is on the rest of the Yoga line.

Windows 10 Hello password-less login support is provided by a fingerprint reader on the upper-right of the keyboard deck. It’s very accurate and quite fast — I never had to repeat a swipe to log into the Yoga C640. Once again, Lenovo has built a valuable feature into a nicely priced laptop.

Display

One area where budget laptops often fall short is display quality. And that makes sense — manufacturers need to cut costs somewhere to fit into a budget price range. After so much good news with the Yoga C640, I approached the display test with some trepidation.

As it turns out, I needn’t have been concerned. According to my colorimeter, Lenovo chose an average display — that is, an average display for premium laptops. For a $600 laptop, it’s excellent. Colors weren’t particularly wide at 73% of AdobeRGB and 96% of sRGB, but they’re adequate for all but the most demanding photo and video editors.

Contrast was very good at 1040:1, which is above our preferred 1000:1 threshold, and color accuracy was outstanding for a budget laptop at 1.07 (anything under 1.0 is considered excellent). The ZenBook 13 UX333’s display had slightly more colors and contrast, but the Yoga’s display was more accurate, though neither would please creative professionals. Brightness was its weakness point at 242 nits. I like to see displays hit at least 300 nits for good visuals in brightly lit environments.

Nevertheless, the Yoga C640’s display is pleasant for both productivity work and watching Netflix. The latter was made more enjoyable by audio that, though short on bass as usual, was loud and clear and featured clear mids and highs. You’ll want to plug in headphones for the best music quality, but you can flip the display around and enjoy some Netflix bingeing without worrying about attaching any external sound.

Performance

When switching from the Qualcomm 650 ARM CPU of the C730 to an Intel Core processor, you can expect a leap in performance. The dual-core Core i3 is the entry-level model in Intel’s current Core lineup, not quite meeting the standard four cores you see in premium laptops. However, it runs Windows 10 faster than an ARM CPU and doesn’t give up compatibility with legacy desktop applications and peripherals.

I couldn’t do much of a direct objective comparison between the two processors because not all of our benchmarks run on ARM. I ran Geekbench 4 on the Yoga C640 and it doubled the Yoga C630’s performance on the single-core test and was more than 30% faster on the multi-core test. The Core i3’s score of 4,670 single-core and 8,750 multi-core puts it well behind the next level of Core CPU, the Core i5, which scores over 15,000 on the multi-core test. A laptop like the Lenovo Yoga C740 equipped with the Core i5 is significantly faster on more demanding workloads and multitasking.

For office workers and students, the Yoga C640 will be plenty fast.

The Yoga C640 took almost 6.5 minutes to complete our Handbrake test that converts a 4K 420MB video to H.265. The Yoga C740 finished 2 minutes faster. Our previous budget leader laptop, the Asus ZenBook UX333, finished in roughly the same time with its 8th-gen Core i5. Suffice to say that this entry-level Yoga C640 isn’t made for running heavy applications.

While it’s far from the fastest laptop I’ve tested, I found it plenty quick for my usual work. For regular office workers and students, the Yoga C640 will be plenty fast to keep up with their work. Keep in mind, though, that for just $170 more, you can upgrade to a 1oth-gen quad-core Core i5 and a 256GB SSD, maintaining the laptop’s budget aspect while significantly increasing the performance and storage. That puts it about $100 less than the comparably equipped (8th-gen) ZenBook UX333.

Note that if you’re a gamer, this isn’t the laptop for you. You’re limited to Intel UHD graphics, which will let you play older titles at lower resolutions and graphical detail but will choke on anything modern.

Battery life

Next up is battery life, the principal strength of the Yoga C640’s predecessor. This year’s model is still equipped with the same 60 watt-hours of battery life and sports a CPU that — on paper — might be less efficient. I was, therefore, looking forward to seeing how it compared in our standard battery tests.

The results were fascinating. First, in our demanding Basemark web benchmark test that stresses the CPU, the Yoga C640 lasted around 3.5 hours, an average score for a Windows 10 laptop. The Yoga C630 lasted for almost 9 hours, a spectacular score. It was slower running the benchmark, but it shows that ARM CPUs can sip power even while being stressed. The ZenBook 13 UX333 lasted for almost 5 hours on this test, making it a longer-lasting option for demanding work.

You can watch video on the Yoga C640 for an astounding 24 hours on a single charge.

In our web-browsing test, which is a good indicator of general productivity longevity, the Yoga C640 lasted about 10.5 hours, an hour behind the Yoga C630. Again, the Yoga C640 scored well for a Windows 10 laptop — it beats out the Acer Swift 3’s 8 hours, for example — but it’s not in a different class entirely. It’s when I ran our video test that loops a 1080p Avengers trailer until the battery gave out that the Yoga C640 shocked me. It ran for just over 23 hours, the best score we’ve seen in this test. That even beat the very expensive Dell Latitude 7400, our previous leader, by a full 80 minutes.

The conclusion: if you want to watch video on the Yoga C640, you’ll be able to do so for almost an entire 24 hours, which is remarkable. If you’re doing standard productivity work, then you’ll get a full day’s work out of the laptop.

Our take

The Lenogo Yoga C640 is an excellent laptop at $600, and a very good budget option at $770 if you upgrade to a Core i5 and 256GB of storage. It’s well-built, has great input options, offers good productivity performance and superior battery life for the price, and looks good, too.

It’s so good, in fact, that it replaces the Asus ZenBook UX333 as our favorite budget laptop. The fact that you’re getting the flexibility of a 2-in-1 for less money is just icing on the cake.

Are there any alternatives?

The ZenBook UX333 is a competitive option if you just want a clamshell laptop. Hopefully, Asus will update it to 10th-gen CPUs, because being limited to 8th-gen parts holds it back.

If you can spend more money, then the HP Spectre x360 13 is a great 2-in-1 alternative. It’s faster, has a better display option with its OLED panel, and is one of the sharpest laptops around.

If you’re looking for a laptop with a 360-degree hinge, I recommend the HP Spectre x360. It’s small and refined like the Dell XPS 13, and it’s a bit cheaper.

Finally, if you’re a MacOS fan, then you could consider the new MacBook Air. It’s faster, has the excellent Magic Keyboard, and comes as close to budget pricing as you’ll find in Apple’s lineup.

How long will it last?

The Yoga C640 will last as long as you’ll need it to, thanks to up-to-date components and a solid build. The only real limitation is the lack of Thunderbolt 3 support, but you just can’t expect that high-speed port at just$600. The 1-year warranty is standard and disappointing, as usual.

Should you buy it?

Yes. The Yoga C640 is a fuss-free laptop set at an attractive price.

Editors' Recommendations