Which way to bend? (Yoga Guide)
Update 26.4.2016: I published a new article with a link to a companion web app for this article. You can more interactively compare the different Yoga models there. I also added a reference to this web app to this original article.
Update 22.6.2016: As this article gets a lot of views, I updated the text with new Yogas that have hit the stores since this was published. I also updated the web app to include the Yoga 510 as well. I fixed some specs and added links to other reviews as well.
This is a guide to all the Yoga notebook goodness Lenovo offers currently. And there are quite a few Yogas out there! If you are unfamiliar with the Yoga style of computers, I will tell you this: when you see one, you will probably like the Yoga idea – whoever I showed the Yoga always liked it.
Is it a computer for you and which one to get if you want one? These can be difficult questions to answer.
Which way to bend?
The Yoga line or 2-in-1 notebooks mean a computer that is both a tablet and a notebook at the same time. The display can be bent backwards a full 360 degree, until it sits on top of the bottom of the notebook.
So in addition to the regular notebook mode, you can use it as a stand, a tent or a tablet. Read my article about the Yoga modes for more information.
Lenovo released the first Yoga about 3 years ago. Since then, other manufacturers started copying the design as well. This year (2016) has seen a boom in the different Yoga notebooks Lenovo offers.
So what Lenovo Yogas are available?
Currently the following Yoga notebooks are available:
- Yoga 3 Pro (my review) (although this is a one year old model, I will include it for comparison, because it is still sold and makes for a viable option)
- YOGA 900 (my review)
- ThinkPad Yoga 260
- ThinkPad Yoga 460
- ThinkPad X1 Yoga (my review)
- ThinkPad P40 Yoga
- … and then some …
- YOGA 900S
- Yoga 700 series: 11″ and 14″ models
- Yoga 710 series: 11″, 14″ and 15″ models
- Yoga 500 series: 15″ model
- Yoga 510 series: 15″ model
Are they all similar? Different? Which one to choose?
This is your guide.
There are a lot of Yogas and more are coming. Because of the changing nature of the available models and because it was difficult to compare them, I also created an interactive tool (browser based) to be able to compare just the models you want.
You can more interactively view the Yoga models you are interested in, compare them, sort them based on different features. (in case you want to leave feedback for the app, visit my blog post for the app). You can even choose if you want the specs in mm or inches 🙂
Anyway, here is the original image for this article:
What can these Yogas do anyway? All these notebooks support all four modes of operations. If you would want to read an example how you can utilize the Yoga modes, please read my guide about using a Yoga for presentations. In this department, they are all equal.
The ThinkPad Yoga line has a unique feature that is not present on the consumer Yoga line, and that is the lift and lock keyboard. When the ThinkPad Yogas go into tent, stand or tablet mode (the hinge goes beyond 180 degrees), the keyboard frame raises, so the keys and the frame is flush. The keys also get blocked, and cannot be pressed.
Some people complain that the YOGA 900 is uncomfortable in tablet mode because you can still physically press the keys. If you are one of these people, you will need to look at the ThinkPad Yogas. I do not find it disturbing, although it does feel strange.
The Yoga 3 Pro has a processor from 2014, a Core M chip. The YOGA 900S and the YOGA 700/710 (11 inch) have a second gen Core M chip. All other notebooks have 6th Generation Skylake Core i processors.
Because you can decide which processor to get, there is no clear winner in this category.
The Yoga 3 Pro lags behind with the Core M chip, but if you read my review you will see that it is still a very capable machine. The 2nd generation Core M models are even better, and have nothing to be shy about in the performance department. Of course the Core i processors will take the lead in performance, but that does not automatically mean that everyone will need the power they offer.
Because different people have different needs, I will not automatically say that the faster and more expensive processor is automatically the winner here.
All these notebooks come with SSD storage. Options include SATA and PCI NVMe. While the latter is speedier on paper, I am unsure how noticeable the difference would be in real world situations. That said, I did buy a X1 Yoga with the faster PCI NVMe, and it just blows my mind how fast it is. Having used other models as well, I would still say you will be happy whatever you get.
The SSDs are replaceable (with more or less hassle).
Every Yoga in this article can have up to 16Gb of RAM. The older model the Yoga 3 Pro is limited at 8 Gb (and those cheaper 710 and 510 Yogas also end at 8Gb, except the 15″ 710 version).
The Yoga 3 Pro, YOGA 900 and X1 Yoga have memory modules that are soldered to the motherboard. This means that you cannot change the amount of RAM later, if you decide that whatever you got is not enough.
The ThinkPad Yoga 260, 460 and the P40 Yoga have a single DIMM slot. This means that you can upgrade the RAM later.
Winner: I would call all this years Yogas winners. I don’t feel the soldered RAM is a big disadvantage, but of course your milage may vary.
Many come with either Intel 515 or 520 graphics, with a few exception.
The newer edition of the YOGA 900 can have the Intel Iris Graphics 540 option.
The ThinkPad Yoga 460 can also come with an nVidia GeForce 940M.
The ThinkPad P40 Yoga comes with an Intel 520 + nVidia Quadro M500M combination.
The Yoga 710 (14 and 15 inch) can also have the Nvidia GeForce 940M.
The Yoga 510 comes with AMD Radeon R7 M460 graphics.
Winner: If you require dedicated graphics because of games or design/CAD programs then the 460 and the P40 Yogas take the lead. The 710 and 510 series also comes with dedicated options, but those are cheaper notebooks, so they come with other compromises.
For almost any other task you can bet on the integrated graphics solution to perform well enough.
Weight and size
Weight wise the non-dedicated graphics options are around 1.2-1.3 kg and the bigger (more powerful) 460 and P40 Yogas are around 1.8 kg. Still pretty light.
Size wise the winner is the YOGA 900S, followed by the Yoga 3 Pro.
The 11 inch version of the 700 and 710 Yogas are also very small.
The ThinkPads have a wonderful keyboard of course. The YOGA 900 and Yoga 3 Pro keyboards are decent, but not quite the quality of a ThinkPad keyboard (I am mostly typing this article on the YOGA 900, and it is a pretty nice typing experience).
That said, don’t forget about external ThinkPad keyboards 🙂
The two consumer Yogas (Y3P, Y900) come with WQHD+ screens (3200×1800). This is the highest resolution of them all. Both come in at 13″
The ThinkPad Yogas come mostly in FHD (1920×1080), and go from 12.5″ to 14″.
The ThinkPad Yoga 260 has a HD screen option in addition to the FHD one. (remember, HD is lower than FHD!). I would advice against getting the HD screen with the Yoga 260.
The other ThinkPad Yogas (X1, P40, 460) also have a WQHD option available, which offers 2560×1440 resolution.
The ThinkPad X1 Yoga will be available with an OLED screen later this year (probably April 2016). Although the colour reproduction will probably be superior, it will eat into the device’s battery life, deducting at least two hours compared to the regular screens.
Winner: the field is pretty equal when it comes to displays. The price difference for the higher resolutions screens is usually under 100$ / 100€ (except for the OLED, for which no pricing is yet announced). The higher resolutions screens have crisper text, which is nicer to look at if you work a lot with texts. If you just want to watch movies, the lower resolution could be fine as well (and by lower I mean FHD of course).
Pen and touch
All Yogas have 10 point multitouch (naturally).
The ThinkPad Yogas come with a digitizer pen (by Wacom). All of the models have a nice little silo where you store a lighter version of the pen. You can also purchase the separate ThinkPad Pen Pro to work with the ThinkPad Yogas.
In this comparison I use the battery life estimates published by Lenovo. All except the Y3P have 8 or more hours of quoted battery life. It is impossible to give you a measurement, because battery life will depend on what you do with the machine. A bigger battery is usually better, but then again more power hungry components might negate the advantage of the bigger battery.
Portwise I think they are all well equipped.
I should mention that the YOGA 900 with the USB 3.1 Type C does give some headaches, because currently the adapter situation for Type C is not really nice. It is hard to find a good adapter, and adapters also cost a lot. Some shops carry “fake” adapters. Read my experience with adapters in my YOGA 900 review. The situation should improve as the port gets more widespread and more manufacturers get into accessory production.
I will quote Euro prices from the Finnish Lenovo store. So be sure to check your local store and local deals. Use the prices here for comparison only.
- Yoga 3 Pro – starting at 999€ (although this one will probably soon disappear from stores)
- YOGA 900 – starting at 1339€, Business Edition 1599€
- YOGA 900S – starting at 1399€
- ThinkPad Yoga 260 – starting at 1069€
- ThinkPad Yoga 460 – starting at 1029€
- ThinkPad X1 Yoga – starting at 1959€
- ThinkPad P40 Yoga – starting at 1819€
- Yoga 500 – starting at 806€
- Yoga 510 – starting at 899€
- Yoga 700 (11″) – starting at 797€
- Yoga 710 (11″) – starting at 649€
- Yoga 700 (14″) – starting at 1034€
Based on the prices the X1 Yoga is a very premium choice. Fully configured it reaches 3000€ (!). I would expect the P40 Yoga to get a similar price range, maybe a little lower.
The YOGA 900 and 900S are the top of the consumer line, they even cost more than some of the ThinkPad options. The 500 and 700 series are more for the budget constrained buyer. They are all Yogas, but they make compromises in quality, weight, size for delivering a cheaper package.
Which one to choose?
If you have read my article up to this point you will probably wonder how I could recommend any one single system over the others. And you would be right, I cannot. It depends on what you are looking for. Given the above information I hope you have a clearer picture in front of you.
I will try to give some advice based on what your primary preference is.
If you want a Yoga and price is of concern, then go for the ThinkPad Yoga 260 if you want a ThinkPad.
If you do not want a ThinkPad, then the budget may determine what you want. The YOGA 900 is an excellent choice, but quite pricey. The 710 and 510 Yogas from the consumer line are more budget friendly choices.
They are all incredibly thin and light. If you want something small, go for the ThinkPad 260 Yoga or the YOGA 900S.
If weight is your primary concern, look for the smaller and integrated graphics models. The YOGA 900S is the lightest of the bunch, but so is the YOGA 900, ThinkPad 260, X1 Yoga. The more performant ThinkPads and the 510/710 lines get heavier.
If you value pen input, then you need to choose something from the ThinkPad lineup, because the consumer Yogas do not have pens.
Performance wise there is no real difference.
There are some models with Core m processors and some with Core i. If you just want a media consumption device, Core m should be fine. These are also fine for basic office work.
If you want to do more serious things on your computer, consider one with the Core i option.
Work or leisure
For work I would recommend you get a ThinkPad Yoga, although the market is really confusing, because now the YOGA 900 is getting a business edition too.
I absolutely love the hinge on the YOGA 900 (and Yoga 3 Pro). It is very unique and stands out.
If you want built in WWAN (4G/LTE) you will need to get a ThinkPad. Those YOGAs have options for built in WWAN support.
Feel free to ask me questions in the comments sections below. Also don’t forget to check out the companion web app.