Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro Review

I recently reviewed the Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 which I tink is a really awesome laptop. Now, I’ve had a chance to check out the newer Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 which is a bit different again, while being another solid laptop. This will be a mix between looking at the Yoga 3, and comparing it to the Yoga 2. Here’s my thoughts:

Firstly, the model I received was silver. It’s a nice silver, but the Clementine Orange colour of the Yoga Pro 2 which is also available for the Yoga Pro 3 really grew on me, which I was surprised about. Given the choice, I’d pick orange – but the silver probably looks a bit more professional. My other slight disappointment was that Ashton Kutcher, Lenovo Product I Engineer wasn’t featured on my laptop as per the picture:

I moved on fairly quick from that. Here’s the specs of the laptop I have:

Processor Intel® Core™ M-5Y70 Processor (4M Cache, 1.1GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (2.6GHz)
Operating system Windows 8.1 64-bit
Display 13.3″ QHD+ (3200×1800), 300nits, 16:9 aspect ratio, with Gorilla glass
Graphics Intel HD Graphics 5300
Memory 8GB, PC3-12800 1600MHz LPDDR3, soldered to system board
Webcam 1.0-megapixel, 720p HD Camera, fixed focus, with dual array microphone
Storage 256GB
Dimensions 330 x 228 x 12.8 mm
Weight 1.19kg
Case colour Platinum Silver
Battery life Up to 9 hours
Audio support Integrated JBL® stereo speakers
Wireless LAN 802.11ac, with Bluetooth 4.0
Ports 2 x USB 3.0
DC-in with USB 2.0 function
Combo audio/microphone jack
4-in-1 card reader (SD, MMC, SDXC, SDHC)

There’s several interesting points here, especially when comparing to the Yoga Pro 2 specs.

The CPU is an Intel Core M model, rather than the i series in the Yoga Pro 2. In a generel performance shootout, the i7 that I had slightly beats the Core M in terms of speed and performance, but the Core M has much more efficient power usage. The Yoga Pro 3 is very quiet when running (there is a fan, but quieter than the Yoga 2 Pro’s). The Yoga 2 Pro gets rather hot when under full load, where as the Yoga Pro 3 only gets slightly warm; a big difference between the two.

This smaller, more power efficient Core M CPU also means the laptop itself can be thinner. Keep in mind that the lower end Yoga Pro 2 comes with an i5 CPU which seems to be so close on performance vs the Core M, you’d notice no difference. There’s also a higher end Yoga Pro 3 than what I have, with the Intel Core M-5Y71 Processor (4M Cache, 1.2GHz), Turbo Boost 2.0 (2.9GHz) CPU which will give you a little extra performance if needed.

There’s not that much difference grunt wise between all these options though, and unless you’re doing really intensive CPU work, they’ll all be more than fast enough for your requirements. The real benefit of the Yoga 3 is the lowered power consumption.

Display is the same between both models, with the very high QHD resolution. Both laptops have amazing screens. Not much else to be said here!

WP_20150325_17_05_41_ProLenovo Yoga Pro 3 Screen

Keyboard wise, it’s very similar to the Yoga Pro 2. Keys are spaced nicely and it’s nice to type on. The trackpad is a little nicer – I’d still prefer having a separate right click button, but haven’t found any issues with clicking the wrong part.

WP_20150325_17_05_23_ProLenovo Yoga Pro 3 Keyboard

Onboard graphics has jumped from the Intel HD 4400 model which has become commonplace, to the HD 5300. There’s no huge difference between these, so again you won’t notice much difference. Intel have a list of games that are playable at 30fps or higher with this chipset, which by no means is an extensive list – but gives you an idea of the capability.

8GB of RAM is more than enough these days, unless you’re doing fairly crazy high end work, or trying to run multiple Virtual Machines – not really what this laptop is designed for. Standard photo and video editing is fine of course. The RAM is soldered onto the motherboard itself which is becoming standard in slim line laptops to save on space.

The internal drive for the Yoga 3 is a 256GB SSD, same as what I had on the Yoga 2. If that’s not enough, there is a 512GB option. Plenty for a laptop!

The Yoga 3 is a rather thin 12.8mm in thickness – thinner than the Yoga 2’s 15.5mm. As a comparison, the Macbook Air‘s thickness is 17mm – so both of these are really thin! Weight wise, the Yoga 3 is also 200 grams lighter than the Yoga 2, and 160grams lighter than the Macbook Air.

Battery life is around the same – again one of those things that is hard to measure and dependent on many factors. You generally won’t get a full day’s work out of it (the 9 hours is really a best case scenario if it’s on the dimmest setting and doing nothing), but it’s still pretty decent for a thin laptop. Power plugs are everywhere anyway! One day we’ll have a Windows capable laptop that can run for a full 8 hour working day under load, and not be chunky (Lenovo Helix with it’s second battery in the keyboard falls into the chunky category).

Ports are pretty standard, apart from the power jack. Recently Lenovo has been using a rectangle plug around the size of a USB-A in most their models, including the Helix, Yoga 2 Pro, Carbon X1 and so on – but the Yoga 3 has a different plug. This time it’s USB-A shaped with an angled end:

The angled end plugs into the laptop, and the standard USB-A rectanged end plugs into the power pack. The reason they’ve done this, is to let the port on the laptop double up as a normal USB port. I like the idea of that, but wish they’d done it sooner and standardised – but my guess is that it’s something to do with the new lower power usage of the Intel Core M CPU.

The other benefit of this new cable is the power plug – it will support a normal USB cable and charge your phone or tablet. It gives you a double up on the usefulness of the plug.

The operating system that comes with the Yoga Pro 3 is Windows 8.1 – not the pro version. This may not bother most, but to see if there’s a feature you need have a look at this comparison chart from Microsoft. This OS is not for use in a business environment, as it won’t join a domain – but in saying that, many businesses should have their own licensing agreement with Microsoft and not care about OEM licenses.

I almost forgot – the hinges. The hinges between base and screen are a new style, and look like they’re off a watch. They look pretty classy, and are very functional. The Yoga Pro 2 had a different style which also worked well, but was probably too thick for the thinner Yoga Pro 3.

WP_20150325_17_04_53_ProLenovo Yoga Pro 3 Hinges

@dgaust from Twitter recently bought a Lenovo Yoga Pro 3, so I asked him for his thoughts on the device:

He also mentioned he would have preferred dedicated function keys which is a fair comment, but personally I’m used to just using the function button combo’d with the number keys to get function key usage. I prefer this over the 2nd Generation Carbon X1’s context sensitive panel, which can be frustrating to toggle through.

All in all, the Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 is an incredibly light and thin laptop, with low power consumption, good battery life and reasonable power that should make most people quite happy to use.

At the time of writing, the base model which I have been using is $2099 AU including GST and delivery.

If you have any questions about the laptop feel free to ask in the comments.

Thanks to Lenovo for providing this laptop for review, and thanks to both @Ant1958 and @AdrianGHughes for asking extra questions which helped in this review.