Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 review

Why spend more? The Yoga Chromebook outdoes most laptops for $600

Lenovo’s Yoga Chromebook C630 is a practical, affordable PC that’s easy to like.
Lenovo’s Yoga Chromebook C630 is a practical, affordable PC that’s easy to like.
Lenovo’s Yoga Chromebook C630 is a practical, affordable PC that’s easy to like.

Highs

  • Excellent battery life
  • Sturdy, aluminum chassis
  • Thin bezels look great
  • A blazing fast Chromebook

Lows

  • Keyboard isn’t backlit
  • Display looks dull

Chromebooks are in an identity crisis. They aren’t the small, cheap laptops they used to be. These days, Chromebooks come in all shapes and sizes, and some even pack premium hardware.

On example is the Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630. Starting at $540 and featuring a quad-core Intel Core processor, it’s serious competition for similarly priced Windows 10 notebooks. There’s even a 4K model in the works. Can this Chromebook be your only laptop?

Half the price, just as premium

This is Lenovo’s first shot at a premium Chromebook, but the company knows how to make a durable, stylish laptop. The Yoga Chromebook is made from a couple sheets of thick aluminum, colored a subtle Midnight Blue. It’s a nice finish, though it does tend to pick up fingerprints on the lid. It might not have the unique look of the Pixelbook, but it looks every bit as premium as the Yoga 730, the most obvious Windows 10 alternative.

Riley Young/Digital Trends

The Yoga Chromebook’s premium design is more than skin deep. It also feels like a laptop twice its price. You won’t find creaky or flexible panels here, which are commonplace in laptops under a thousand bucks. That’s even true of some of our favorites in the budget-oriented category, such as the ZenBook 13 UX331UA, Acer Aspire E 15, and Acer Chromebook Spin 15. The Yoga Chromebook outdoes them all.

This is a 15.6-inch laptop, so it has a sizable footprint on a desk. Don’t expect to take this on a plane and comfortably whip it out on a tray. Despite what Lenovo’s advertising might say, you won’t want to use it long as a tablet, either. The 360-degree hinge does come in handy, however, if you want to pull the keyboard back for media mode or lean it back to use the touchscreen. Google has brought over some much-needed touch capabilities to Chrome OS.

Don’t expect to easily use it on a plane.

The Yoga Chromebook features trimmed-down bezels, which reduce the overall size and make for a more pleasant screen. The bezels aren’t as thin as the Dell XPS 15, but they are the slimmest we’ve seen on a Chromebook. The Yoga Chromebook is also svelte for a 15-inch laptop, weighing 4.2 pounds and measuring in at 0.7 inches thick. That’s only a bit thicker and heavier than the Dell XPS 15, or 15-inch MacBook Pro. It’s not as light as 15-inch laptops like the LG Gram or Samsung Notebook 9, but again, it feels more rigid and solid than either of those devices.

The Yoga Chromebook has a standard array of ports — that is, for Chromebooks in 2018. You get a single USB-A port, two USB-C ports, a 3.5mm headphone jack, and microSD slot. It’s a good mix of old and new, though the lack of a dedicated video output will bother some. If you don’t have a new USB-C monitor, you’ll be relying a lot on dongles.

Spacious keyboard and touchpad

We love the look of the Yoga Chromebook’s keyboard, and it’s just as good to use. Its snappy mechanisms feel similar to other Yoga laptops, many of which are considerably more expensive than this Chromebook. The layout is spacious, unlike the Acer Chromebook Spin 15, which has a lot of unused space on the keyboard deck. If you want backlighting, however, you’ll need to spring for the $1,000 4K model that’s yet to be launched. That’s a bit disappointing since the inexpensive Acer Chromebook Spin 15 includes that feature.

lenovo yoga chromebook c630 review xxl
Riley Young/Digital Trends

The same goes for the touchpad, which is larger than the Acer Chromebook Spin 15, closer to the size of the Pixel Slate’s. It’s not as wide as the MacBook Pro or Razer Blade, but it’s large enough to scroll and gesture without feeling cramped. Speaking of which, gestures like the three-finger swipe register without delay, which the Pixel Slate had problems with. Tracking is also smooth and precise thanks to the glass material. The touchscreen also feels quick and responsive, reacting quickly to pinch gestures and scrolling.

The click of the touchpad is a bit louder than we’d prefer, and we had a few issues with accidental clicks. It’s a common problem with affordable laptop touchpad, so we aren’t surprised to see it here.

A bit dim, a bit muted

Lenovo says the Yoga Chromebook was the first Chromebook with a 4K display. That’d be true if it came out today, but we’ve yet to see that model go up for sale. As of now, we’re stuck with a more modest 1,920 x 1,080 panel. Still, for the average person, this resolution is good enough. It’s also an IPS display, so viewing angles look good.

It’s not an overly bright screen, though it was bright enough to overpower the glare in our office. We kept the brightness level around 80 percent in most situations. Options like the Pixel Slate, Pixelbook, and HP Chromebook x2 are brighter.

Our colorimeter isn’t compatible with Chrome OS, but we did notice issues with our naked eye. We put on a couple different clips from Solo: A Star Wars Story and noticed the colors looked less vibrant than normal. To test further, we set the screen side by side with a MacBook Pro and Pixel Slate. The Lenovo Yoga Chromebook C630 isn’t awful, but colors that appeared bright on those devices looked muted on the Yoga by comparison. You’ll have to wait for the forthcoming 4K model for the better media machine.

The speakers sound decent, though their placement on the bottom of the device makes them more muffled than they should be.

The fastest Chromebook of them all

Unlike most Chromebooks, which use Celeron or low-powered Y-Series processors, the Yoga Chromebook comes with full-fat Intel Core chips. That means you can expect a significant bump in performance. However, there are a couple of configurations to consider. Our review unit came with the Core i5-8250U processor, which is from Intel’s latest and best line of CPUs for ultrabooks.

The Yoga Chromebook is the fastest Chromebook we’ve ever used. There’s no question about that. In our Android Geekbench tests, it zoomed past the Y-series processor used in the Pixel Slate and even edged out the same Core i5 processor in the Acer Chromebook 13.

The test where the Yoga Chromebook really flexed its muscles is in Speedometer 2.0, which tests how fast web apps load. This is a test where Chromebooks tend to perform strongly, but the Yoga Chromebook is on another level. Its score is comparable to the quad-core MacBook Pro 13 or the six-core Dell XPS 15.

The Yoga Chromebook is the fastest Chromebook we’ve ever used.

Thanks to the inclusion of the Google Play Store, there’s a wide variety of games to choose from. Just don’t expect them all to work as well as they do on your phone. We did, however, try out Asphalt 9, one of the most graphically intensive Android games. The laptop’s Intel integrated graphics held up well enough to handle the game at the High Quality graphics setting, something the Pixel Slate had difficulty with.

There is, however, a catch. Availability. Our $700 review unit just happens to be a Best Buy exclusive, so if you want the extra power, that’s where you’ll have to turn. The one available directly for sale from Lenovo’s website has a slower Core i3-8130U, which starts at $540 and comes with a 64GB eMMC flash drive. While you can still expect solid performance out of that option, it should be noted it’s a dual-core, instead of quad-core, model.

A full day of battery — and then some

The other Chromebooks that use an Intel U-series processor, such as the Acer Chromebook 13, has suffered in battery life. For a Chromebook, that lack of battery is a big deal. How does the Yoga Chromebook C630 fair?

This Chromebook’s battery life excels in light web browsing, which should come as no surprise. It lasted for 10 hours 50 minutes in our iMacros web browsing test with the screen set at 100 lux. The 56-watt hour battery keeps the laptop powered well over a day of browsing — and then some. It’s right in line with what we’ve seen from some other Chromebooks with 8th-gen Core processors, like the Pixel Slate or Acer Chromebook Spin 15.

Expect a full day of battery life, even if you’re multitasking.

The same goes for battery life in our video loop test, where we see how long the Yoga Chromebook can play continuous video for before dying out. The Yoga Chromebook lasted 12 hours and 42 minutes, which is enough to watch the entirety of the Lord of the Rings trilogy extended edition in one sitting (if you so please). The Acer Chromebook Spin 15 outdoes it with its impressive 13 and a half hours, as does the XPS 15. Even still, the Yoga Chromebook isn’t far behind.

In Basemark, our most difficult battery test, the Yoga Chromebook suffers a bit. This benchmark is meant to simulate more intensive applications. It lasted just two hours and 44 minutes, which is well behind devices like the Acer Chromebook Spin 15 and Pixel Slate. Fortunately, there aren’t many applications for Chrome OS that can stress a Chromebook like this test does. For the most part, you can expect a full day of battery life, even if you’re multitasking.

Our Take

The Yoga Chromebook C630 is the perfect middle ground between premium and affordable. At $540 (or even for the $700 Best Buy option), there aren’t many Windows 10 laptops we’d recommend, making a Chromebook like this one a very solid alternative. It’s not the flashiest Chrome OS device we’ve used, but with performance at the top of its class and impressive build quality to boot, it’s one of the easiest to recommend.

Is there a better alternative?

There isn’t a Windows 10 laptop anywhere near this price that compares in build quality, performance, and battery life. The only one that comes nearest is the Acer Aspire E 15, though you won’t get near the portability, both in battery life and chassis size.

There are a couple of serious competitors in the Chromebook space, however. The Acer Chromebook Spin 15 is a bit cheaper than the Yoga Chromebook, though it has a slower processor and weaker build quality. The closest competitor is the Dell Inspiron 14 2-in-1, which matches the Yoga in just about every spec, including price. It doesn’t, however, offer a more powerful Core i5 version, though the built-in stylus slot is a plus.

How long will it last?

This is a futureproofed laptop. Its 8th-gen processor will last you for years before it gets sluggish. Meanwhile, the port selection has enough USB-A and USB-C to manage the transition of peripherals. The one-year warranty isn’t great, but it’s become the industry standard.

Should you buy it?

Yes. If you’re looking for a premium-feeling Chromebook — or even just an affordable laptop — the Yoga Chromebook is a fantastic option.

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