Introduction

In January of this year, my wife and I were in need of a new laptop. A well-documented hinge issue with our Alienware M11x R2 meant that the screen was pretty much ready to fall off. While this issue was covered by a recall, the laptop was getting long in the tooth anyway so we decided to get something newer.

The Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro seemed to be an ideal machine for our use case. With a 13.3” screen, it was only slightly larger than the Alienware’s 11.6” size which had worked well for us. At just a hair over 3 lbs, it was far lighter than the outgoing machine, and we expected a longer battery life due to the upgrade to the Haswell processor. As someone who has used Windows 8 and 8.1 extensively, I also wanted a touch screen with an IPS panel (well – anything but TN!), a decent size solid state drive, and nothing too expensive.

After doing some research on several different devices, we purchased the Yoga 2 Pro and the device I purchased in February will be the subject of this review. This was to be primarily a laptop, but one of the key points of the Yoga series is the hinge that opens a full 360° allowing the laptop to transform into a tablet. We thought this might be nice to allow some different use cases with the machine, but the primary intention for the device was to be a laptop.

The original Yoga 13 was first announced at CES in 2012 by Lenovo, and then launched in October 2012. The smaller Yoga 11 version was a Tegra 3 powered Windows RT version, but the Yoga 13 was a true Ultrabook with typical for the time Ultrabook internals – an Intel Core series processor, SSD, and 1600x900 IPS touchscreen. The original Yoga 13 was a capable Ultrabook, with its Ivy Bridge Core i5-3337U, and was later upgraded to the Yoga 2 Pro with the introduction of the fourth generation Intel Core processor.

The Yoga 2 Pro was launched as a successor to the Yoga 13 in October 2013, but it isn’t just a CPU refresh. The Yoga 2 Pro is thinner and lighter, has a backlit keyboard, and a QHD+ 3200x1800 resolution display – double the original Yoga’s resolution in both axis, to go along with the Haswell CPU refresh.

Specifications for the Yoga 2 Pro echo the usual Ultrabook template. There are options for Core i3, i5, or i7 U series processors, with Intel HD 4400 processor graphics. Storage comes via an mSATA Solid State drive in 128GB, 256GB, or 512GB of NAND versions. The screen resolution is one of the key differentiators from most Ultrabooks, with the Lenovo having 276 pixels per inch, rather than 166 DPI for 1080p at 13.3" in devices such as the Sony Vaio Pro.

Lenovo Ideapad Yoga 2 Pro Specifications
Processor Intel Core i3-4010U
(2C/4T, 1.7GHz, 3MB L3, 15W)

Intel Core i5-4200U
(2C/4T, 1.6-2.6GHz, 3MB L3, 15W)

Intel Core i7-4500U
(2C/4T, 1.8-3.0GHz, 4MB L3, 15W)
Chipset Haswell-ULT
Memory 2x4GB DDR3L-1600 11-11-11
Graphics Intel HD 4400
(20 EUs at 200-1100 MHz)
Display 13.3" Glossy IPS 16:9 QHD+ (3200x1800)
(Samsung SDC424A Touchscreen)
Storage 128GB/256GB/512GB SSD (Samsung mSATA)
Optical Drive N/A
Networking 802.11n WiFi (Intel Wireless-N 7260)
(2x2 300Mbps capable 2.4GHz only)
Bluetooth 4.0 (Intel)
Audio Realtek HD
Stereo Speakers
Headset jack
Battery/Power 4 cell 55Wh
65W Max AC Adapter
Front Side N/A
Left Side Flash Reader (SD/MMC)
1 x USB 3.0
1 x Micro-HDMI
AC Power Connection
Right Side Power Button
Battery status indicator
Novo button (Used to enter Recovery or BIOS)
1 x USB 2.0 (Sleep Charging)
Headset Jack
Volume
Screen Rotation Lock
Back Side Exhaust vent
Operating System Windows 8.1 64-bit
Dimensions 12.99" x 8.66" x 0.61" (WxDxH)
(330 mm x 220 mm x 15.5 mm)
Weight 3.06 lbs (1.39 kg)
Extras 720p HD Webcam
Backlit Keyboard
Colors Silver Grey
Clementine Orange
Pricing $929 (i3, 4GB, 128GB)
$1099 (i5, 4GB, 256GB) as configured
$1199 (i5, 8GB, 256GB)
$1299 (i7, 8GB, 256GB)
$1699 (i7, 8GB, 512GB)
note - not all models available in all markets

There are some good points and poor points in this list, and we’ll go through them in detail later on. With the current state of Windows 8.1 devices that can be both tablets and laptops, there are two general distinctions. There are those where the internals are behind the display, and those with the internals in the keyboard. The distinction determines whether the device will be better as a tablet or a laptop, with the Yoga 2 Pro falling into the latter category.

Design and Chassis
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  • BMNify - Friday, August 1, 2014 - link

    Only sub-pixel density matters to your eyes. Reply
  • Rdmkr - Friday, August 1, 2014 - link

    "Only sub-pixel density matters to your eyes." - I disagree. Luminance detail is what matters most to the eyes and this is determined by the pixel density, not subpixel density. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chrominance#mediaview... ; first is luminance, second chrominance. Reply
  • kyuu - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    I wish they made the 11.6" model with a 1080p IPS screen. Everything is great about it except for that damn screen. And the HDD, but I'm hoping that's replaceable (or can at least accept an M.2 like the 13" models can).

    And I'd prefer some AMD silicon in there, but that's just wishful thinking.
    Reply
  • Valantar - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    Thanks for a great review - although others have commented on it being late, I find it interesting to get a full review with the added benefit of commentary from actual long-time usage of the device.

    However, I'm missing some thoughts on using this as more of a work machine rather than a consumption device, especially for more demanding tasks such as video editing. Do you have any additional thoughts here?

    What kind of performance delta could one expect between this and the i7 version? In many reviews the difference in performance even between ULV Haswell i5/i7 systems and more powerful chips like the 28W versions in the MBPr 13" seems negligible (3-400 points in PCMark 7). However I'm left wondering if these tests don't tax the systems over a long enough time, so that any differences due to throttling (or inability to sustain turbo speeds) might be hiddden. Could this be the case? I'd imagine near identical performance from these systems due to both being 2C/4T with similar Turbo speeds, but the nearly 1GHz difference in stock speeds should lead to a significant difference under sustained loads, no?

    The reason I'm interested in these use cases is that my fiancee needs a new laptop. She's studying filmmaking, so she wants something that would be able to run Avid Media Composer, but still is thin and light enough to carry to school every day. The calibration issues with the display don't matter as we have a professional level external monitor at home, and any really heavy work would be done on a desktop. I know the system requirements for Media Composer state that a quad core processor is required, but this would exclude the MBPr 13" as well, so I'm taking this with a grain of salt. My question is in essence this: is there any reason why the Yoga 2 Pro (i7) would not be a good fit for this kind of usage?
    Reply
  • Brett Howse - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    Hi Valantar. While I haven't specifically tested the software you listed so I can't comment on how well it would run, in the benchmarks I specifically made sure to include other similar sized machines. The one closest to what you are asking about is the Acer Aspire V7-482PG-9884 (by the way I love that model name). It's got the 15 watt Haswell i7-4500U so it should be a close comparison as far as CPU performance. The GPU side is different of course because it has a GeForce GT 750M, but on the CPU benchmarks it should be fairly accurate.

    The performance difference isn't huge, because they are both dual core, four thread CPUs with the i5 having a base clock of 1.6 GHz and ramping to 2.6 GHz, with the i7 base at 1.8 GHz ramping to 3.0 GHz. The i7 certainly has an advantage but it's not a lot, so if you are talking about a 15 watt part, the performance is similar, but clearly lower for the i5.
    Reply
  • Valantar - Friday, August 1, 2014 - link

    Thanks for the clarification! I'm still interested in how this would compare to 28W Haswell, but I can see that AnandTech hasn't reviewed a MBPr since 2012, so I guess I'll have to look around a bit for the answer to that.

    As an owner of the device, how would you rate it when it comes to heavier tasks? Does it feel quick when, for example, editing a video or photos? Or would you say it's mostly suited for lighter/more consumption-oriented tasks?
    Reply
  • CSMR - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    Quadrupling resolution is stupid. I wish the PC market would stop doing this.
    There is an optimal resolution for a screen size. Too low resolution and things do not look sharp. Too high resolution and there is needless extra cost, gpu draw and power, and incompatibility with normal resolutions for multi-monitor setups (even using an standard external screen some of the time becomes impossible).

    For a 13" screen, 768p is terrible, 900p good, 1080p excellent, beyond 1080p too high.

    If Windows ever becomes fully resolution-independent, then ultra-high-res becomes OK, but that requires architecture changes for working with more than one screen resolution simultaneously.
    Reply
  • deejayshakur - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    Nice review on the Y2P. I came across many similar reviews discussing the high dpi, wireless card, and yellow display as being weaknesses. So I cross-shopped the Acer S7 (disliked the key configuration on a previous acer), Yoga 2 13", XPS 12 and 15, Macbook Air and ended up scoring a Yoga 2 13" in a sweet configuration from BB: i5-4210U, 8 GB of RAM, Intel 7260 AC wireless, and a 128 GB Samsung XP941 M.2 SSD (which I had no idea about until I brought the machine home). For those that don't know, the Yoga2 (non-pro) comes with the standard 1080p screen (I decided against the Y2P screen). The tradeoff with the Yoga2 is 0.5 lb. Oh, and BB had it on an .edu discount, so $899-125-10% USPS moving discount = $675 and tax.

    Initial thoughts: blazing fast machine for everyday tasks. Great 7-9ish hour battery life on power saver mode. PC Mark 7 basic score was 4953. Boots in 5 seconds, and wakes from hibernation in 8-10 seconds. No wifi issues so far (still in a 802.11g household). The touchpad seems to have a coating on it as everything wipes off nicely and feels soft-touch like the rest of the palm rest area.

    Expansion-wise: I popped a 64 GB Transcend Jetdrive into the SDXC slot. On the Lenovo forums, people have identified an extra, internal M.2 connector, so when those drives become mainstream, there's room for more.

    Most of the reviews for the Yoga 2 13 are based on a 4 GB of ram and a non-SSD. I'm glad Lenovo came out with this configuration cause for most users, I think it's the best of all worlds.
    Reply
  • Mayuyu - Friday, August 1, 2014 - link

    I got the exact same laptop and exact same deal along with Best Buy 10% rewards. The XP941 SSD was certainly a surprise. My only disappointments was the pentile screen and the inability to increase the TDP in Intel extreme tuning utility. Reply
  • FwFred - Thursday, July 31, 2014 - link

    I can confirm I've been using the 7260 AC with no issue since last November. The replacement is fairly cheap, but it was hard to find someone selling the proper version. The swap was pretty easy except for re-attaching the antenna leads. If my fingers were about 10% of their actual size, I think it would be about right :-/ Reply

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