Lenovo Yoga C940 Review: A Great Ice Lake 2-In-1 Laptop
Lenovo Yoga C940 14": A Big, Beautiful 2-in-1
Variety is the spice of life. Nobody would be happy with just one flavor of ice cream, a single car, or the monotony of a single video game. Thankfully, we don't live in a world like that, so even premium 2-in-1 laptops come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Today we're going to take a look at Lenovo's Yoga C940 convertible notebook, which is a bit different than some of the other foldable computers we have evaluated over the last few months.
You see, the C940 is one of the bigger convertibles around. It's got a full 14-inch display and ample bezels, all of which make it larger than the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 or HP's Elite Dragonfly. There are trade-offs here, to be sure, like a bigger footprint and a bit more weight, but it's also got that larger screen for watching videos or editing documents. In fact, its dimensions have more in common with the recently-reviewed Asus Zephyrus G14 than those aforementioned ultrabooks. So, we'll spend some time with the C940 to see how it fares as both a notebook and a tablet.
Speaking of dimensions, let's take a look at all of the important specs for Lenovo's 14-inch Yoga C940, before we dig in...
|Processor||10th Generation Intel Core i7-1065G7 (4 cores, 8 threads, 8 MB L3 cache, 1.3 GHz base, 3.9 GHz maximum turbo)|
|Display||14-inch UHD (3840x2160) IPS, 10-point touch screen, HDR 400, 500-nit max brightness|
|Graphics||Intel Iris Plus graphics|
|Storage||512 GB PCI-Express NVMe M.2 SSD with 32 GB Optane cache|
|Memory||16 GB LPDDR4x-3733 (soldered)|
|Audio||Stereo Speakers with Dolby Atmos|
|Camera||720p HD Webcam|
|Networking||Intel 802.11AX Wi-Fi 6 module with Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports: Left||2x Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C connector
1x USB 3.0 Type-A
1x four-pole headset connector
|Keyboard||White LED backlit chicklet-style keyboard|
|Touchpad||Integrated touchpad with built-in buttons and gesture support|
|Battery||4-cell 60 Watt-hour|
|Weight||Starting at 2.98 lbs|
|Dimensions||12.61 x 8.54 x 0.57-0.61 inches (320.3 x 215.6 x 14.5-15.7 millimeters)|
|Warranty||1 year depot or carry-in warranty|
|Operating System||Windows 10 Home|
|Price||Starts at $1,099.99 ($1,499.99 as tested) - Find It @ Amazon|
Lenovo outfitted the Yoga C940 with what has become Intel's gold standard for lightweight notebooks, the Ice Lake-based Core i7-1065G7. The Core i7-1065G7 has four cores with Hyper Threading with a base clock speed of 1.3 GHz and a maximum turbo speed of 3.9 GHz. That has proven to be more than enough to handle the typical ultrabook workload in the past and will likely do so here.
A full 16GB of LPDDR4x-3733 memory backs up the processor, which should be plenty for most users for the useful life of the notebook. However, buyers should get all they'll need up front since it's soldered to the motherboard. The one-two combination of a 512GB NVMe PCI-Express solid state drive backed by 32GB of extra-fast Optane cache handles primary storage. We've seen that sort of thing before on the Elite Dragonfly, but it's still pretty unique so we'll be excited to try that out.
Lenovo Yoga C940 Industrial Design
The exterior of the Yoga C940 is arguably the most interesting we've seen among the current crop of convertibles. Its footprint is a little bit bigger than that of other 2-in-1 notebooks, in large part due to its bigger 14" display. Lenovo built the C940 entirely out of aluminum, and it comes in two finishes: Mica, which is the finish on our review unit, and Iron Grey, which is a darker color similar to Apple's Space Gray MacBooks.
The Mica finish is really interesting, as it seems to shift under different lighting conditions. It's kind of a rosy silver that looks almost gold under warmer lighting. Even the keyboard's caps and touch pad have that same chameleon-like color property to them. Is it gold? Is it pink? Is it silver? The finish has all of those colors depending on the lighting in the room, and we really dig it.
Being a 2-in-1, the Yoga C940 has a 360-degree hinge for the display. The hinge is pretty solid, and keeps the system's folded angle secure in regular clamshell, tent, or tablet modes. One thing we wish it had was a magnet to keep the system fully open in tablet mode, which is something HP put on the Elite Dragonfly. On that unit, the system felt secure folded all the way open, and we think the Yoga C940 would benefit from a similar mechanism. There's a little lip on the top of the display, which makes opening the C940 with one hand easy, too.
Lenovo put the speakers in the 360-degree hinge, so they fire directly at a user sitting in front of the machine, which is perfect placement. Those speakers get plenty loud, too. There's a noise-canceling microphone array in the system as well, so people on the other end have no problems hearing. There's not a lot of bass, so it's not optimal for movies if you really want to feel the rumble. However, those speakers are incredibly clear in the vocal range, and have a pleasant tone overall. That made them great for watching TV or YouTube. Buyers who want more can plug in any headset or pair of external speakers to the jack on the left side. There are also two downward-firing speakers that help fill the room towards the front of the system on the bottom, but it's those hinge speakers that really fill our ears in laptop mode.
Lenovo Yoga C940 Display and External FeaturesLenovo gave our review unit the optional 3840x2160 4K UHD panel, which has a maximum brightness of 500 nits. That's bright enough that Lenovo can certify it for HDR400, but as is typical with those panels, HDR brightness is achieved by first lowering the base brightness too low to really comfortably see non-HDR scenes. While the C940's panel won't sear your retinas, 500 nits is a very useful maximum brightness for brightly-lit rooms where the sun might otherwise wash out lesser displays.
The display panel has multi-touch input capabilities, too. It'll recognize up to 10 touch points at a time, which gives me all kinds of ideas about virtual pianos and other musical instruments on its "larger than the usual ultrabook" screen. All the typical Windows 10 navigation gestures are supported, including pinch to zoom and swiping for multi-tasking. Since the Yoga C940 is a 2-in-1, there's a rotation sensor that will automatically shift the screen orientation in table tent or tablet mode, too. There's also Windows Ink support in this display for the included active stylus, too.
Thanks to COVID-19, online meetings are more important than ever, so a robust webcam and good audio are a must. The Yoga C940 has a very usable 720p webcam similar to those on other Lenovo notebooks we've reviewed, like the ThinkPad X1 Carbon and ThinkPad X1 Extreme. We don't think buyers will have any trouble on those critical WebEx or Zoom calls. Unfortunately there's no infrared sensor, so the webcam doesn't work for Windows Hello. There's a fingerprint reader, though, so biometric authentication is still possible.
Lenovo Yoga C940 Inputs and PortsTraditional input is something Lenovo has always done well on the Yoga series. The keyboard is very similar to that of a ThinkPad both in design and in feel. Thanks to the 14" display and slightly larger body, the key caps are bigger than those on the XPS 13 or Elite Dragonfly, which makes typing more comfortable. The only sub-optimal key placements are for the up and down arrows. That's something a lot of notebooks do, though, so we aren't going to single out Lenovo here (the aforementioned Dell and HP machines do it, to). White backlighting is pretty commonplace these days, and it makes typing easier in a dimly-lit or darkened room.
Below the keyboard is the typical track pad. Lenovo gave the pad ample room, and at the default settings we had no trouble moving the pointer from the top-left corner to the bottom-right in one smooth (not swiped) motion. Thanks to its relatively large size, it's also pretty precise as track pads go. Unlike the ThinkPad series, the Yoga C940 comes sans-Trackpoint. The little nub has legions of fans, but due to the 2-in-1 nature of the Yoga lineup, it's not here.
On the right side of the palm rest is a fingerprint reader that's compatible with Windows Hello. We really like to see biometric options on notebooks, so this is nice. As we mentioned earlier, there's no IR support on the webcam, but fingerprint authentication is probably good enough for most users, and of course it's optional for users who would rather type passwords.
The most interesting design decision is the port layout. Perhaps owing to its 2-in-1 roots, the Yoga C940's external ports are all on the left side. For right-handers who like using external mice, that's the correct side (sorry, lefties). Lenovo gave the system a single USB Type-A port and a pair of Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C connectors. There's also a typical four-pole headset port for your favorite analog headset or external speakers. As far as ports go, that's it, but for a notebook meant to be carried around, that's probably plenty.
It's a tablet! It's a notebook! It's a 2-in-1!The Yoga C940 is a pretty big 2-in-1. Sure, there are bigger 15" convertible notebooks, but the size of this particular Yoga pushes the bounds on what's comfortable as a tablet on the couch. It may not seem like much, but the Yoga C940 is a full inch wider than the XPS 13 and nearly three-quarters of an inch deeper. The overall footprint of 107.7 square inches is around 13% bigger than the 95.3 square inch footprint of the XPS 13 2-in-1, with the Elite Dragonfly's 93.2 square inches being smaller still. The Surface Pro lineup is an entirely different form factor, so those comparisons aren't necessary.
In some ways, though, the perceived weaknesses of the C940 might also be its strengths. The Yoga is still perfectly usable when folded in half, for my bigger hands at least. Especially on the speaker side, there's plenty of bezel to grab onto when using it in tablet mode. The same is true of the webcam side, though not to such an extent. The lip that helped so much in opening the lid one-handed does serve as a bit of a handle, though doing so will cover and no doubt smudge the webcam.
The biggest problem, though, is that when our fingers slipped, the machine's lid started to swing shut. As we mentioned earlier, there's no magnet here to hold the lid open in tablet mode. That's a big help on smaller units like the Elite Dragonfly, so we can't help but think it'd be even handier on larger units like the Yoga C940.
Instead, it's tent mode that salvages the 2-in-1 capabilities of the Yoga C940. The larger 14" display makes videos just a bit bigger for viewing, and setting the unit upside-down allowed us to bring the screen closer. Between the display and the exceptionally clear (for a laptop) speakers, I caught myself catching up on NBC's Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Netflix Original Nailed It on a tablet instead of my big 4K TV and home theater.
Lenovo cleverly hid an active stylus in a "garage" on the back of the unit, similar to what Samsung does on the Galaxy Note lineup of smartphones. The slot keeps the stylus charged, so as long as we put it back when we're done, the battery should always be ready whenever creativity strikes. The stylus supports 4096 levels of pressure, and in our tests had very low input latency, making the 14" Yoga a great drawing station. Our humble doodles looked pretty decent, too.
Lenovo C940 Software ExperienceTypically, high-end laptops are pretty free from unwanted applications, and the same is true of the Yoga C940. Lenovo bundles all the drivers the system needs along with its own Lenovo Vantage application. Vantage is a one-stop system management shop that takes care of updating drivers and the system BIOS. Lenovo's Migration Assistant built into Vantage helps buyers get data from an older PC onto the new one. Finally, Vantage also has all the hardware monitoring and battery health features you could need.
The one thing nobody loves on their new PC is ads. The Yoga C940, like a lot of notebooks, comes bundled with a trial for McAfee LiveSafe. The trial had been activated prior to us receiving the C940, and so by the time testing had commenced, we were getting more than enough nag screens to buy a subscription. Once a day would have been one thing, but we were greeted by this screen, or something similar, just about every time we woke the PC from sleep over a two week period.
Outside of LiveSafe, Lenovo kept the Yoga C940 free from third-party applications that we didn't need or want. We appreciate the relative lack of extra software cruft, and we were happy to find that removing LiveSafe was a simple process. While many users are more comfortable paying for a subscription to an antivirus package, many more are satisfied with the protection offered by Microsoft's Windows Defender.
Now that we've covered all the hardware and software, it's time to see how this baby handles. Next up is all of our performance testing...