Lenovo Yoga 900 review: A big power boost for Lenovo’s ultra-slim Windows 10 laptop

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Lenovo Yoga Pro 900 review: Performance and battery life

While those refinements are all well and good, there are more important upgrades afoot here, and they address the big problem we had with last year’s Yoga 3 Pro: performance. Where that laptop was only able to muster a lowly Intel Core M processor, and one that suffered from horrible throttling issues at that, the new version goes right up to Core i7, and it comes with the very latest Skylake generation of processors. The Yoga 900’s chassis has had to expand by a couple of millimetres to accommodate the processor’s extra heat output, but the increase in power is dramatic.

Currently, only one model is available in the UK, and this is the fully-loaded Yoga 900. This machine has a 2.5GHz Core i7-6500U Skylake processor, 16GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD, and the 13.3in touchscreen sports a pixel-perfect 3,200 x 1,800 resolution. As you’d expect, this all makes for a very quick, luxurious-feeling laptop. Windows 10 flies along, while boot and restart times are quick thanks to the SSD.

It’s not all fantastic news, however. Lenovo has made a big deal of the Yoga 900’s new cooling system, and while the pair of fans do a decent job of quietly expelling hot air, overall performance lags behind similarly specified rivals. The Dell XPS 13, for instance, has exactly the same processor and half the RAM, yet proved 10% quicker in our video transcoding tests, and 16% faster in the demanding multi-tasking section of our benchmarks.

Lenovo Yoga 900 vs Dell XPS 13 (late 2015) vs MacBook Pro 13 (2015) - multitasking

Lenovo Yoga 900 vs Dell XPS 13 (late 2015) vs MacBook Pro 13 (2015) - Video transcoding

It turns out the Yoga 900 has inherited one of its predecessors traits: CPU throttling. Push the processor hard and, after a spike of activity at full speed, the clock speed starts to oscillate up and down every ten seconds or so, varying between 2GHz and 2.7Ghz as it butts up against its (presumably thermal) limits. The CPU doesn’t get especially hot – I saw peaks no higher than 76℃ – but the throttling clearly has an effect on the overall performance in benchmarks. Whether this will have an impact in everyday use depends entirely on what applications you’re using, though.

One big improvement, at least on paper, is a significantly larger battery. This year, the Lenovo Yoga 900 has a 66Wh battery, which compared with the Yoga 3 Pro’s 44Wh battery is a full 50% higher in capacity. The result is very decent battery life. With screen brightness set to 50%, the Yoga 900 kept playing full-screen video for 11hrs 26mins before giving up the ghost.

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