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Lenovo IdeaPad S940 Laptop Review: Slimmer, Lighter, Sleeker

Slimmer, lighter, sleeker. The quest for the sleekest and most portable laptop continues unabated with Lenovo’s IdeaPad S940, easily one of the most attractive machines we’ve seen to date. With a dazzling 4K HDR display, Dolby Atmos audio, a Core i7 CPU, and a tiny footprint, is this $2,000 work of art the one to beat?

For many years now, marketing from companies like microchip manufacturers has featured the elusive ultra-slim, ultra-small laptop of the future, which not too long ago was merely a sci-fi dream of sorts. Fast-forward to 2019, and we not only have made that dream a reality, but we’re living with multiple options from various manufacturers that fit that description. Dell’s XPS 13 obviously comes first to mind, as it was the first mover in a market with tiny bezels and super-small footprints and form factor. But Lenovo’s own Yoga series has been chasing this goal for quite some time, with HP’s EliteBooks and Spectre laptops alongside them.

Today, with the release of the IdeaPad S940, Lenovo takes this dream a step further. Unlike its closest competitors, the S940 ($2,000 as configured) features a 14-inch dazzling 4K HDR display with ultra-slim bezels and a unique rounded glass edge. That’s easily the largest screen of any laptop of its size, made possible by the aforementioned rounded glass edge and an inverted notch to accommodate the webcam in its natural location above.

Alongside this centerpiece, our review unit is powered by a Core i7-8565U quad-core CPU, 16 GB RAM, and a Samsung 512 GB NVMe SSD. Surely, you might think, there must be some significant compromises undertaken in order to achieve such an ambitious design. You’d be correct—but let’s start from the top and work our way through yet another gargantuan review.

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Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Graphics adapter
Intel UHD Graphics 620, Core: 300 - 1150 MHz, Memory: 1067 MHz, 25.20.100.6577
Memory
16384 MB 
, LPDDR3 2400 MHz
Display
14 inch 16:9, 3840 x 2160 pixel 315 PPI, B140ZAN01.3, IPS, glossy: yes
Mainboard
Intel Cannon Point-LP
Storage
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, 512 GB 
,
Soundcard
Realtek Unknown @ Intel Cannon Point PCH
Connections
1 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 2 USB 3.1 Gen2, 2 Thunderbolt, Audio Connections: 3.5 mm headphone+mic combo audio
Networking
Intel Wireless-AC 9560 (a/b/g/n = Wi-Fi 4/ac = Wi-Fi 5), Bluetooth 5.0
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 12 x 320 x 199 ( = 0.47 x 12.6 x 7.83 in)
Battery
52 Wh, 6755 mAh Lithium-Ion
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p IR Camera, fixed focus
Primary Camera: 1 MPix
Additional features
Speakers: 4 x 2W Dolby Atmos speaker system, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.236 kg ( = 43.6 oz / 2.72 pounds), Power Supply: 304 g ( = 10.72 oz / 0.67 pounds)
Note: The manufacturer may use components from different suppliers including display panels, drives or memory sticks with similar specifications.

 

Case

The IdeaPad S940 is undoubtedly one of the most attractive laptops we’ve ever reviewed. Chiseled out of aluminum and sandblasted for a professional-looking matte finish, the Iron Grey case is both clean and appealing in its styling. The bottom cover and display lid both feature a subtly rounded edge, which is both striking and comfortable in the hand. The display, while highly reflective, is extremely bright and bordered by tiny 5 mm bezels, with a unique curved glass edge (literally—inspired by modern smartphones) rounding out the design. Apart from this eye-popping screen, the only semblance of pomp is found in the two silver Lenovo logos, one on the lid and one on the right edge near the touchpad.

Weighing just 1.236 kg—with a footprint of just 320 x 199 mm and a thickness of only 12 mm—the S940 isn’t the smallest device in our comparison group, but it’s also just one of two 14-inch machines in the lineup. Only the ThinkPad X1 Carbon matches its screen size, and while the X1 weighs slightly less (1.1 kg), it’s a considerably larger machine at 323 x 217 x 16 mm. Despite its ultra-thin profile, we detected only mild flex in the center of the case (above the touchpad), thanks in part to the large rear rubber foot spanning the horizontal breadth of the top of the machine’s underside. The only true negative to such a compact form factor remains the availability of palm rest real estate; users with larger hands will probably find lengthier typing sessions to be less than comfortable, as the chiseled front edge can dig into the palms.

The display lid is supported by two expertly-tuned hinges; there is absolutely zero bounce in transit or while typing—a critical feature for a machine with a glossy display finish. Plus, the lid can be opened with a single hand, a feat which is rendered even easier by the aforementioned inverted webcam notch.

323.5 mm / 12.7 inch 217.1 mm / 8.55 inch 15.95 mm / 0.628 inch 1.1 kg2.49 lbs320.1 mm / 12.6 inch 234.5 mm / 9.23 inch 15.4 mm / 0.606 inch 1.5 kg3.24 lbs320 mm / 12.6 inch 199 mm / 7.83 inch 12 mm / 0.4724 inch 1.2 kg2.72 lbs304.1 mm / 12 inch 212.4 mm / 8.36 inch 14.9 mm / 0.587 inch 1.4 kg3.02 lbs302 mm / 11.9 inch 189 mm / 7.44 inch 16.9 mm / 0.665 inch 1.2 kg2.62 lbs302 mm / 11.9 inch 199 mm / 7.83 inch 11.6 mm / 0.4567 inch 1.2 kg2.7 lbs

Connectivity

The first area in which compromise is evident is, unsurprisingly, that of port selection. As a result of the S940’s incredibly thin profile, only USB Type-C ports are present, though two of these are Thunderbolt 3 ports (either of which can also be used to charge the machine). The third is located on the opposite (right) edge of the laptop, and it’s accompanied downstream by a 3.5 mm combo audio jack—the only other port on the entire machine.

Front: No connections
Front: No connections
Rear: No connections
Rear: No connections
Left: USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, combo audio jack
Left: USB 3.1 Type-C Gen 1, combo audio jack
Right: Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1 Gen 2 x 2
Right: Thunderbolt 3 / USB 3.1 Gen 2 x 2

Communication

The Intel Wireless-AC 9560 adapter
The Intel Wireless-AC 9560 adapter

The S940 leverages an Intel Wireless-AC 9560 adapter (featuring Bluetooth 5.0) for its WLAN, and as usual, its performance is strong. We measure 652 Mb/s and 679 Mb/s receive/transmit in our tests, which places it near the top of our list and well above the average for the subnotebook class. Needless to say, there is no room for an Ethernet port on the device; if one is required, an adapter or dock is the only option.

Networking
iperf3 Client (receive) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
752 (min: 651, max: 774) MBit/s ∼100% +15%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter
682 MBit/s ∼91% +5%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
673 MBit/s ∼89% +3%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
652 MBit/s ∼87%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel Wireless-AC 9260
617 MBit/s ∼82% -5%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (30.9 - 950, n=127)
536 MBit/s ∼71% -18%
iperf3 Client (transmit) TCP 1 m 4M x10
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
679 MBit/s ∼100%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel Wireless-AC 9260
640 MBit/s ∼94% -6%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
598 (min: 271, max: 625) MBit/s ∼88% -12%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Killer Wireless-n/a/ac 1435 Wireless Network Adapter
577 MBit/s ∼85% -15%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (36 - 949, n=127)
532 MBit/s ∼78% -22%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel Wireless-AC 9560
347 MBit/s ∼51% -49%

Accessories

The 65 W USB-C power adapter weighs 304 g, and it’s the only accessory included with the S940.

Maintenance

Apart from the choice of T5 Torx screws which secure the bottom cover (just four in total), maintenance is easy on the S940. Options for replaceable FRUs are obviously limited by the design, but users will be happy to hear that the M.2 SSD is fully accessible and replaceable, as well as the WLAN adapter, speakers, and battery. The RAM is soldered to the board and cannot be upgraded post-purchase.

The internal components, secured by 4 Torx T5 screws
The internal components, secured by 4 Torx T5 screws

Warranty

The IdeaPad S940 ships with a 1 year depot warranty. The warranty can be upgraded (as usual) to one of Lenovo’s other options, which include longer terms and on-site service.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The chiclet keyboard is overall quite good, though travel is very short (as expected). Feedback is well-tuned, however, providing a good sense of certainty for keystrokes, and actuation force is comfortable. Spacing and layout is also familiar; the only real negative here is the small vertical arrow keys and the PgUp/PgDown/Home/End buttons configured as alternate functions.

The keyboard is backlit with two configurable levels of brightness. Key visibility in bright environments is decent, but thanks to the white lettering on the (dark-ish) grey background, it could be better.

The keyboard is serviceable.
The keyboard is serviceable.
Key travel is shallow, but feedback is good.
Key travel is shallow, but feedback is good.
Even backlighting across the breadth of the keyboard
Even backlighting across the breadth of the keyboard

Touchpad

The large, glass clickpad is very good overall.
The large, glass clickpad is very good overall.

The Microsoft Precision touchpad seems sufficiently large at 105 mm x 52 mm, and it features a smooth glass surface for effortless operation. The integrated buttons—always a bit of a sticking point—are also quite good, with medium actuation required and a palpable sense of feedback. Drag/drop is relatively easy, also—for a clickpad.

Display

Without a doubt, the S940’s 4K HDR display is one of its most impressive features. It’s not only uncommonly bright (Lenovo quotes 500 nits), but it features subjectively rich color and contrast to boot. The curved glass at the edges doesn’t cover any portion of the actual panel (just the bezel surrounding it), so unlike (for instance) Samsung’s Galaxy phones, there’s no obstructive reflection imposed by the geometry. The top-end display we’re reviewing today is Dolby Vision capable and meets the VESA400 HDR standard. Lenovo says it “can decode a full 12-bit PQ signal from a video and intelligently map that content to the capabilities of the display to produce the best picture.” During our time watching sample content streaming on Netflix, the difference certainly does seem tangible.

It's not the only option, however: on “lower-end” models (such as the $1,499 starting configuration), an FHD display (400 nit brightness, according to Lenovo) is standard. Both displays are glossy. As is usually the case, the lower-resolution display (also with its lower brightness) should also save some energy, which might come in handy (as we’ll see during the battery tests in a bit). Oddly enough, there is no touchscreen option available.

We didn’t notice any significant backlight bleed on dark screens, but there is some minor bleed detectable along the top and bottom edges (pictured below).

Only minor backlight bleed is noticeable.
Only minor backlight bleed is noticeable.
Subpixel array, IdeaPad S940
Subpixel array, IdeaPad S940
516
cd/m²
579.5
cd/m²
522
cd/m²
516.2
cd/m²
594.5
cd/m²
511.8
cd/m²
514.3
cd/m²
581.2
cd/m²
492.9
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
B140ZAN01.3
X-Rite i1Pro Basic 2
Maximum: 594.5 cd/m² Average: 536.5 cd/m² Minimum: 6.17 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 83 %
Center on Battery: 594.5 cd/m²
Contrast: 1383:1 (Black: 0.43 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 4.87 | 0.6-29.43 Ø6, calibrated: 2.83
ΔE Greyscale 6.7 | 0.64-98 Ø6.2
100% sRGB (Argyll 3D) 72% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll 3D)
Gamma: 2.091
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
B140ZAN01.3, IPS, 14, 3840x2160
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
ID: AUO 282B B133ZAN Dell: 90NTH, IPS, 13.3, 3840x2160
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
APPA03E, IPS, 13.3, 2560x1600
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
AU Optronics B133HAN05.C, IPS, 13.3, 1920x1080
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
LP140QH2-SPB1, IPS, 14, 2560x1440
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
AUO B139HAN03_0, IPS, 13.9, 1920x1080
Response Times
-16%
10%
-7%
27%
30%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
57.2 (30, 27.2)
64.8 (31.6, 33.2)
-13%
46 (21, 25)
20%
54.4 (24.4, 30)
5%
38 (19.2, 18.8)
34%
34.4 (18.8, 15.6)
40%
Response Time Black / White *
32 (17.2, 14.8)
38 (19.2, 18.8)
-19%
32 (17, 15)
-0%
37.6 (18.8, 18.8)
-18%
26 (14, 12)
19%
25.6 (15.6, 10)
20%
PWM Frequency
118000 (75, 150)
Screen
11%
24%
-1%
-10%
-28%
Brightness middle
594.5
428.3
-28%
519
-13%
276
-54%
316
-47%
312
-48%
Brightness
536
414
-23%
504
-6%
263
-51%
311
-42%
295
-45%
Brightness Distribution
83
88
6%
95
14%
89
7%
84
1%
87
5%
Black Level *
0.43
0.27
37%
0.33
23%
0.21
51%
0.35
19%
0.43
-0%
Contrast
1383
1586
15%
1573
14%
1314
-5%
903
-35%
726
-48%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
4.87
2.69
45%
1.4
71%
4.85
-0%
4.5
8%
7.6
-56%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 max. *
7.9
6.19
22%
2.8
65%
8.24
-4%
10.3
-30%
15.06
-91%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 calibrated *
2.83
2.01
29%
1.6
43%
1.6
43%
1.96
31%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
6.7
3.7
45%
2.2
67%
5.7
15%
7.7
-15%
8.8
-31%
Gamma
2.091 105%
2.1 105%
2.22 99%
2.08 106%
2.2 100%
2.01 109%
CCT
6891 94%
6706 97%
6908 94%
7424 88%
6639 98%
6874 95%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
72
60.4
-16%
77.3
7%
63
-12%
68.6
-5%
59.1
-18%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
100
93.5
-6%
99.99
0%
98
-2%
97.9
-2%
92.3
-8%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
-3% / 7%
17% / 22%
-4% / -2%
9% / -4%
1% / -19%

* ... smaller is better

Now for our measurements: the UHD display in our review unit achieves an average brightness of 536.5 cd/m², which is actually higher than promised by Lenovo, and extremely bright for a laptop. It’s the brightest screen in our comparison field today, in fact, edging out the MacBook Pro 13 and comfortably defeating the Dell XPS 13. Distribution is a bit less impressive at 83%, but it’s not really a noticeable discrepancy during general use. Finally, contrast is also very good at 1383:1 (thanks to a black value of 0.43 cd/m²).

We measure 100% sRGB gamut coverage and 72% AdobeRGB, which is a good result. It also beats all competitors, with the exception of the MacBook Pro 13, which just barely beats it with 77.3% AdobeRGB gamut coverage.

vs. sRGB
vs. sRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. AdobeRGB
vs. Dell XPS 13
vs. Dell XPS 13
vs. X1 Carbon
vs. X1 Carbon
vs. HP 14
vs. HP 14
vs. MacBook Pro
vs. MacBook Pro

Our CalMAN measurements suggest that the panel could benefit from some post-purchase calibration. With the exception of the particularly deviant Yoga C930, most competitors fare batter than the IdeaPad S940 in terms of color accuracy: ColorChecker and Greyscale DeltaE measurements of 4.87 and 6.7 aren’t terrible, but post-calibration, these numbers dropped to 2.83 and 2.6 respectively, which is quite a bit more palatable. The Total Gamma value of 2.091 and CCT Average of 6891 are much closer to ideal, however.

Color analysis (pre-calibration)
Color analysis (pre-calibration)
Saturation sweeps (pre-calibration)
Saturation sweeps (pre-calibration)
Grayscale analysis (pre-calibration)
Grayscale analysis (pre-calibration)
Color analysis (post-calibration)
Color analysis (post-calibration)
Saturation sweeps (post-calibration)
Saturation sweeps (post-calibration)
Grayscale analysis (post-calibration)
Grayscale analysis (post-calibration)

Display Response Times

Display response times show how fast the screen is able to change from one color to the next. Slow response times can lead to afterimages and can cause moving objects to appear blurry (ghosting). Gamers of fast-paced 3D titles should pay special attention to fast response times.
       Response Time Black to White
32 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 17.2 ms rise
↘ 14.8 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.8 (minimum) to 240 (maximum) ms. » 82 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (24.8 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
57.2 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 30 ms rise
↘ 27.2 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 93 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (39.5 ms).

Screen Flickering / PWM (Pulse-Width Modulation)

To dim the screen, some notebooks will simply cycle the backlight on and off in rapid succession - a method called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) . This cycling frequency should ideally be undetectable to the human eye. If said frequency is too low, users with sensitive eyes may experience strain or headaches or even notice the flickering altogether.
Screen flickering / PWM not detected

In comparison: 51 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 9331 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

Our response time measurements suggest a slow panel that would be far from ideal for gaming (not that it’s likely to be used as such anyway). However, we fortunately didn’t measure any PWM at any brightness setting.

Outdoors, as expected, the high-gloss screen finish renders usage in the sun nearly impossible (even in spite of the high display brightness). Shaded areas are no problem however.

In the sun
In the sun
In the shade
In the shade
Wide IPS viewing angles
Wide IPS viewing angles

Performance

The S940 can be equipped with either a Core i5-8265U or a Core i7-8565U. Either 8 GB or 16 GB of LPDDR3 RAM is available—and RAM cannot be upgraded later on (it’s soldered to the board). Finally, you have the choice of various capacities of M.2 and NVMe SSDs. Our review unit features the Core i7-8565U CPU, 16 GB LPDDR3 RAM, and 512 GB NVMe SSD.

A second run of 3DMark 11 confirms that the system does not lose any performance when operating unplugged. LatencyMon reveals occasional spikes in latency, but it’s probably not enough to actually interfere with most real-time streaming tasks. Wireless radio status did not affect these results.

CPU-Z CPU
CPU-Z CPU
CPU-Z Caches
CPU-Z Caches
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Mainboard
CPU-Z Memory
CPU-Z Memory
GPU-Z
GPU-Z
Octane v2
Octane v2
LatencyMon
LatencyMon
 

Processor

Cinebench R15
Cinebench R15

The Intel Core i7-8565U is a 14 nm quad-core Whiskey Lake SoC that we’ve already tested in numerous other machines. The CPU features Thermal Velocity Boost, which acts as a sort of second stage of Turbo Boost that takes into account device thermal and power conditions to provide a very short-term frequency boost to up to 4.6 GHz single-core (4.1 GHz multi-core).

As we’ve seen during our testing of some other machines equipped with Intel’s TVB, running the Cinebench R15 benchmark in sequence (as opposed to running the multi-CPU test isolated) results in significantly lower benchmark results. That’s why in our graph below, you’ll see two values at the start of the Cinebench loop test (540 and 508) which outstrip the final recorded Cinebench R15 multi-CPU value in our database (497). Because this is how we test every machine, however, the value we record is the first one we receive during our normal testing routines. The Cinebench loop values, by contrast, are recorded in isolation.

In comparison with the sole other machine in our field sporting the same CPU (the Dell XPS 13), the S940 performs around 16% slower and 44% slower in single- and multi-core operations respectively. It’s well below the average for other machines in our database with this CPU as well. This is almost certainly a result of the system’s very conservative cooling and thermal policies; the XPS 13, for example, gets much louder in comparison, (as we’ll see in just a bit), and thus cools more quickly and effectively. The S940 doesn’t seem to respond as aggressively to the heat, and instead just caps its CPU performance more conservatively and tries its best to remain silent whenever possible.

A quick glance at our Cinebench R15 loop test results below provides further illustration of the situation. The S940 starts lower than all other competitors at 540 points, and throughout the course of the next six iterations, drops even further down to the 430 to 440 range—a roughly 20% drop from the score we received during the initial run. By comparison, the XPS 13 9380 posts an initial score of 735 in this same test, and only drops sporadically down below the 600 mark after many back-to-back iterations (586 being the low point).

0102030405060708090100110120130140150160170180190200210220230240250260270280290300310320330340350360370380390400410420430440450460470480490500510520530540550560570580590600610620630640650660670680690700710720730740Tooltip
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø437 (404.11-539.89)
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø675 (576.21-734.96)
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø621 (517.08-693.73)
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5 Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U; CPU Multi 64Bit; macOS Software Update: Ø688 (666.16-693.55)
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5 Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U; CPU Multi 64Bit; macOS: Ø579 (560-607)
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø512 (506.95-595.21)
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4 UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø588 (570.26-651.27)
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE Vega 10, 2700U, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDHTNG; CPU Multi 64Bit: Ø573 (548.16-653.78)
Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel Core i7-8565U
184 Points ∼84% +16%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (73.1 - 193, n=48)
170 Points ∼78% +7%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel Core i7-8550U
168 Points ∼77% +6%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel Core i7-8550U
167 Points ∼77% +5%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel Core i5-8265U
159 Points ∼73% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel Core i7-8565U
159 Points ∼73%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Core i5-8259U
154 Points ∼71% -3%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
136 Points ∼62% -14%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (20 - 185, n=281)
117 Points ∼54% -26%
CPU Multi 64Bit
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel Core i7-8565U
717 Points ∼16% +44%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel Core i7-8565U
677 Points ∼15% +36%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Core i5-8259U
687 Points ∼16% +38%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Core i5-8259U
608 Points ∼14% +22%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
654 Points ∼15% +32%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel Core i7-8550U
653 Points ∼15% +31%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel Core i7-8550U
629 Points ∼14% +27%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel Core i5-8265U
603 Points ∼14% +21%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (361 - 815, n=49)
586 Points ∼13% +18%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel Core i7-8565U
497 Points ∼11%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (32 - 1051, n=291)
346 Points ∼8% -30%
Cinebench R10
Rendering Single 32Bit
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (2682 - 8906, n=16)
6571 Points ∼61%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
4527 Points ∼42%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (322 - 7345, n=466)
3176 Points ∼29%
Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U
17043 Points ∼26%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U
  (3806 - 23118, n=16)
16983 Points ∼26%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (661 - 31463, n=448)
7193 Points ∼11%
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
159 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
497 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
51.14 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
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System Performance

Fortunately, CPU performance is only one variable in the equation. Our synthetic general performance benchmarks using PCMark still suggest a very fast machine—and that’s because these days, quite frankly, CPUs are rarely the primary bottleneck. Instead, storage plays an enormous role in general system performance, and in this category, the S940’s Samsung NVMe drive is absolutely blisteringly fast (as we’ll see in the next section). This, coupled with sufficient CPU performance, results in a strong PCMark 10 overall score of 3870 (just 8% below the XPS 13 9380’s 4172) as well as good Productivity and Essentials scores of 6674 and 8390, respectively.

Digital Content Creation, which focuses much more on arithmetic-heavy (and thus CPU-centric) operations such as photo and video manipulation and encoding, scores a much more modest 2810 (versus the XPS 13’s 3370). In this latter test, the S940 is in dead last in our comparison field, whereas in the former tests, it’s always near the front. Again, the CPU is the only real bottleneck we’re dealing with here, and it’s really still not a dealbreaker; most competitors only lead the S940 by a single-digit percentage margin (though the ZenBook, Yoga, and XPS range from 12%—20% ahead). Unless you’re planning on a lot of this sort of activity, the S940 won’t disappoint you.

Case in point: throughout our time with the laptop, general performance seemed undeniably strong, with applications launching nearly instantaneously and boot/installation times zipping along as we’d expect to see from a machine carrying this price tag.

PCMark 10
PCMark 10
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Home Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 8 Work Accelerated
PCMark 10
Digital Content Creation
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3370 Points ∼26% +20%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
Vega 10, 2700U, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDHTNG
3251 Points ∼25% +16%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G
3142 Points ∼24% +12%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG
3033 Points ∼23% +8%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3010 Points ∼23% +7%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
2975 Points ∼23% +6%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (2264 - 3370, n=19)
2947 Points ∼23% +5%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
2810 Points ∼22%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (534 - 4338, n=95)
2504 Points ∼19% -11%
Productivity
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
6911 Points ∼66% +4%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (3381 - 7588, n=19)
6688 Points ∼64% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
6674 Points ∼64%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
6630 Points ∼64% -1%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG
6505 Points ∼62% -3%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G
6025 Points ∼58% -10%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1014 - 7281, n=95)
5268 Points ∼51% -21%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
Vega 10, 2700U, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDHTNG
4493 Points ∼43% -33%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
4390 Points ∼42% -34%
Essentials
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG
9291 Points ∼81% +11%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
8466 Points ∼74% +1%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
8390 Points ∼73%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (5450 - 9029, n=19)
8242 Points ∼72% -2%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G
7786 Points ∼68% -7%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
7476 Points ∼65% -11%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
7364 Points ∼64% -12%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
Vega 10, 2700U, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDHTNG
7320 Points ∼64% -13%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (2062 - 9664, n=95)
6875 Points ∼60% -18%
Score
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4172 Points ∼51% +8%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG
4072 Points ∼50% +5%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (2486 - 4178, n=19)
3907 Points ∼48% +1%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3870 Points ∼48%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3798 Points ∼47% -2%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G
3787 Points ∼47% -2%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
Vega 10, 2700U, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDHTNG
3402 Points ∼42% -12%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
3284 Points ∼40% -15%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (743 - 4609, n=98)
3186 Points ∼39% -18%
PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG
5110 Points ∼78% +21%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (3596 - 5189, n=17)
4733 Points ∼73% +12%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4552 Points ∼70% +8%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
4399 Points ∼67% +5%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G
4341 Points ∼67% +3%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
Vega 10, 2700U, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDHTNG
4340 Points ∼67% +3%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4304 Points ∼66% +2%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
4209 Points ∼65%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1283 - 5363, n=220)
4063 Points ∼62% -3%
Home Score Accelerated v2
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3754 Points ∼62% +19%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
3665 Points ∼60% +16%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
UHD Graphics 620, 8550U, SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG
3615 Points ∼59% +15%
Average Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (2577 - 4179, n=18)
3528 Points ∼58% +12%
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
Vega 10, 2700U, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDHTNG
3365 Points ∼55% +7%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3296 Points ∼54% +5%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
UHD Graphics 620, 8265U, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G
3150 Points ∼52% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
UHD Graphics 620, 8565U, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
3147 Points ∼52%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1027 - 4211, n=248)
3044 Points ∼50% -3%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3147 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
4209 points
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Storage Devices

Both standard M.2 SATA and NVMe PCIe 3.0 x 4 drives are available for S940 configurations, but again, the drive is relatively easy to replace provided you’ve got a Torx T5 screwdriver on hand. Our review unit includes a 512 GB NVMe SSD: specifically, a Samsung PM981, which is among the fastest drives we’ve tested. Its performance predictably tops the charts in our comparison field too, with overall speeds that obliterate those of the ZenBook 13, MacBook Pro 13, and Yoga C930. The other two machines (XPS 13 and ThinkPad X1 Carbon) are actually powered by the same drive.

Check out our full breakdown of the benchmarks below.

AS SSD
AS SSD
CrystalDiskMark 5.2
CrystalDiskMark 5.2
The internal NVMe SSD
The internal NVMe SSD
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
 
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG
AS SSD
14%
-51%
-40%
-263%
Copy Game MB/s
1147.63
412.95
532.54
Copy Program MB/s
503.31
713.52
539.71
Copy ISO MB/s
1294.49
1089.99
627.75
Score Total
4069
4526
11%
1870
-54%
1394
-66%
Score Write
1406
2379
69%
705
-50%
466
-67%
Score Read
1802
1430
-21%
776
-57%
628
-65%
Access Time Write *
0.032
0.029
9%
0.032
-0%
0.51
-1494%
Access Time Read *
0.045
0.036
20%
0.068
-51%
0.46
-922%
4K-64 Write
1154.39
2104.54
82%
162
-86%
510.35
-56%
305.11
-74%
4K-64 Read
1491.67
1178.92
-21%
957
-36%
617.52
-59%
466.39
-69%
4K Write
115.49
127.4
10%
20
-83%
113.99
-1%
106.49
-8%
4K Read
47.71
53.26
12%
9.7
-80%
39.69
-17%
39.16
-18%
Seq Write
1359.68
1473.18
8%
1694
25%
808.71
-41%
544.05
-60%
Seq Read
2624.79
1981.01
-25%
1442
-45%
1186.04
-55%
1228.22
-53%
CrystalDiskMark 5.2 / 6
29%
-38%
-26%
-22%
Write 4K
105.3
139.5
32%
43.24
-59%
113.7
8%
108.7
3%
Read 4K
40.9
61.25
50%
14.07
-66%
43.18
6%
40.91
0%
Write Seq
1914
1863
-3%
887.23
-54%
970.1
-49%
797.5
-58%
Read Seq
2224
2494
12%
1514.79
-32%
1085
-51%
1610
-28%
Write 4K Q32T1
419.3
771.8
84%
225.3
-46%
396.8
-5%
385.1
-8%
Read 4K Q32T1
288.1
454.8
58%
346.53
20%
317.8
10%
305.8
6%
Write Seq Q32T1
1954
1869
-4%
858.8
-56%
517.7
-74%
778.6
-60%
Read Seq Q32T1
3382
3480
3%
2915.4
-14%
1741
-49%
2359
-30%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
22% / 20%
-45% / -44%
-33% / -34%
-143% / -162%

* ... smaller is better

Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ
CDM 5/6 Read Seq Q32T1: 3382 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write Seq Q32T1: 1954 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Read 4K Q32T1: 288.1 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write 4K Q32T1: 419.3 MB/s
CDM 5 Read Seq: 2224 MB/s
CDM 5 Write Seq: 1914 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Read 4K: 40.9 MB/s
CDM 5/6 Write 4K: 105.3 MB/s

GPU Performance

The S940 lacks dedicated graphics options (not surprising given its tiny size), and is instead powered by Intel UHD Graphics 620, whose clock rates range between 300 MHz and 1150 MHz for this SoC. Bear in mind that the 3DMark overall scores are hamstrung by the middling CPU performance (in comparison to other laptops with the same CPU), but isolated GPU scores are very close to what we’d expect. For example, while 3DMark 11 only scores the machine 1987 (versus, for instance, the XPS 13’s score of 2117), the 3DMark 11 GPU score is much closer: just 4% behind, at 1787 points (versus 1855 points). The Yoga 530, powered by an AMD Radeon RX Vega 10, mops the floor with 4045 points.

3DMark Fire Strike Graphics still scores the S940 a respectable 1245 points, and it receives a Cloud Gate Graphics score of 9347 points (just 3% behind the XPS 13’s 9582). Both the MacBook Pro 13, with its Intel Iris graphics, and the Yoga 530 (again, with its RX Vega 10) are miles ahead in all of these benchmarks, of course.

Needless to say, the S940 isn’t really meant for gaming; only older games will run at lower resolutions and settings.

3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Fire Strike
3DMark Cloud Gate
3DMark Cloud Gate
3DMark 11
3DMark 11
3DMark 11
1280x720 Performance Combined
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Radeon RX Vega 10, 2700U
2780 Points ∼12% +66%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
2683 Points ∼12% +60%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8565U
1968 Points ∼9% +17%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
1862 Points ∼8% +11%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8265U
1685 Points ∼7% 0%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8565U
1679 Points ∼7%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (959 - 2084, n=174)
1541 Points ∼7% -8%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (252 - 6547, n=368)
1224 Points ∼5% -27%
1280x720 Performance GPU
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Radeon RX Vega 10, 2700U
4045 Points ∼8% +126%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
3044 Points ∼6% +70%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
1911 Points ∼4% +7%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8565U
1855 Points ∼4% +4%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8565U
1787 Points ∼4%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8265U
1732 Points ∼3% -3%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (1235 - 2006, n=174)
1716 Points ∼3% -4%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (230 - 10699, n=368)
1319 Points ∼3% -26%
3DMark
2560x1440 Time Spy Graphics
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Radeon RX Vega 10, 2700U
679 Points ∼5%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
624 Points ∼4%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (85 - 2840, n=42)
553 Points ∼4%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
392 Points ∼3%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (299 - 431, n=34)
359 Points ∼2%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Graphics
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Radeon RX Vega 10, 2700U
2376 Points ∼6% +91%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
2070 Points ∼5% +66%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
1308 Points ∼3% +5%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8565U
1245 Points ∼3%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (557 - 1401, n=144)
1128 Points ∼3% -9%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (222 - 3726, n=247)
1057 Points ∼3% -15%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Graphics
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Radeon RX Vega 10, 2700U
17440 Points ∼9% +87%
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655, 8259U
14343 Points ∼7% +53%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8265U
10660 Points ∼6% +14%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
10490 Points ∼5% +12%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8550U
9858 Points ∼5% +5%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8565U
9582 Points ∼5% +3%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel UHD Graphics 620, 8565U
9347 Points ∼5%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (6910 - 11436, n=162)
9146 Points ∼5% -2%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (1484 - 22615, n=276)
7743 Points ∼4% -17%
1920x1080 Ice Storm Extreme Graphics
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Radeon RX Vega 10, 2700U
62384 Points ∼9%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (29002 - 59483, n=40)
43683 Points ∼6%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (12299 - 82506, n=64)
39553 Points ∼5%
3DMark 11 Performance
1987 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
8135 points
3DMark Fire Strike Score
1130 points
Help
BioShock Infinite
1920x1080 Ultra Preset, DX11 (DDOF)
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 10
16.8 fps ∼100% +110%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (2.8 - 70.3, n=139)
11.4 fps ∼68% +43%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
10.8 fps ∼64% +35%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
10 fps ∼60% +25%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
9.6 fps ∼57% +20%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
9.6 fps ∼57% +20%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (4.5 - 17, n=151)
9.16 fps ∼55% +15%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
8 fps ∼48%
1366x768 High Preset
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 10
54.8 fps ∼100% +103%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
32.5 fps ∼59% +20%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
31 fps ∼57% +15%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
30.3 fps ∼55% +12%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
30.3 fps ∼55% +12%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (6.96 - 169, n=182)
29 fps ∼53% +7%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (8.1 - 35.9, n=160)
27.2 fps ∼50% +1%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
27 fps ∼49%
1366x768 Medium Preset
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 10
65.9 fps ∼100% +88%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
39.1 fps ∼59% +12%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
37 fps ∼56% +6%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
35.8 fps ∼54% +2%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
35 fps ∼53%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
33.8 fps ∼51% -3%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (8 - 187, n=192)
33.4 fps ∼51% -5%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (11.5 - 45.5, n=161)
32.5 fps ∼49% -7%
1280x720 Very Low Preset
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
AMD Ryzen 7 2700U, AMD Radeon RX Vega 10
95 fps ∼100% +36%
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
81.5 fps ∼86% +16%
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
Intel Core i7-8565U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
70 fps ∼74%
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
Intel Core i5-8265U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
63.4 fps ∼67% -9%
Average Intel UHD Graphics 620
  (18.3 - 90.2, n=161)
60.4 fps ∼64% -14%
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
58.6 fps ∼62% -16%
Average of class Subnotebook
  (16.9 - 231, n=194)
58.2 fps ∼61% -17%
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
Intel Core i7-8550U, Intel UHD Graphics 620
56.2 fps ∼59% -20%
low med. high ultra
BioShock Infinite (2013) 70 35 27 8 fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 41 fps
Rise of the Tomb Raider (2016) 16 11 6 fps

Emissions

System Noise

The dual fans don't make much noise.
The dual fans don't make much noise.

The IdeaPad S940 greatly favors quiet operation over CPU performance, and our fan noise measurements corroborate this. Idle operation is practically silent—equal to environmental noise levels on average, and at maximum, 31.3 dB(A). But even under load, the machine is fairly quiet: whereas, for instance, the XPS 13 reaches 46.8 dB(A) under max load, the IdeaPad never budges beyond 34.3 dB(A). For those who don’t necessarily require top-end CPU performance, but frequently sit in boardrooms, classrooms, or other such quiet environments, this might be a serious advantage. However, it’d be nice to be able to switch profiles on the fly to prioritize performance at the expense of tranquility when needed.

Noise Level

Idle
28.3 / 28.3 / 31.3 dB(A)
Load
34.3 / 34.3 dB(A)
  red to green bar
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   BK Precision 732A (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.3 dB(A)
Fan noise profile, IdeaPad S940
Fan noise profile, IdeaPad S940

Temperature

As we discovered in the previous section, the IdeaPad works as hard as possible to avoid running its fans at all costs. This means that if it has to reduce CPU performance or allow surface temperatures to rise noticeably, so be it. While idling, average temperatures already reach a rather high 8.7 °C and 10.4 °C above room temperatures on top/bottom respectively (30.9 °C / 32.6 °C). That’s well above the XPS 13, whose idle temps are just 3.3 °C and 6.6 °C above ambient levels in those same areas. In fact, it’s by far the warmest relative idle temperature readings of every machine in our comparison field—with the exception of the Yoga C930, which comes close (6.9 °C / 9.1 °C above ambient temps).

Under load, we measure 37.1 °C / 37.3 °C on top/bottom, a value which is much closer to the differential that we see from laptops like the XPS 13—but the approach to temperature mitigation is different; while the XPS is getting very noisy to maintain such thermal readings, the IdeaPad is cooling its jets and reducing clock rates more aggressively to reduce the thermal load. We’ll see this spelled out in the next section.

Stress Test

After taking a look at our stress testing results, it’s clear that our assumptions about the cooling behavior (or, rather, in this case, the thermal mitigation behavior) are correct. Under full CPU stress, the Dell XPS 13 9380 rockets to 100 °C, then kicks its cooling system into high gear under heavy stress to drop temperatures back into the 70s, and repeats the cycle. But the IdeaPad S940 watches the increase to around 90 °C without blinking an eye, then slashes its clock rates all the way from 4.5 GHz down to around 2.7 GHz, at which point it continues to fade further down into the 2.2 GHz range (as even the reduction to 2.7 GHz can’t sufficiently cool the machine). Chip temperatures never again drop below 90 °C, instead remaining near 92 °C.

GPU stress sees clock rates around the 850 MHz mark, which is above the 300 MHz base rate but quite a bit below the 1150 MHz theoretical max. (HWiNFO didn’t have a proper field for GPU clock rates for our test system, so the best way to visualize where the start of stress begins is by looking for the chip temperature rise near the center of the graph. It ultimately stabilizes around the 71 °C mark.)

Combined stress, as we’d expect, absolutely lays waste to the CPU performance, starting at just 1.2 GHz and dropping further and further until it stabilizes well below the base clock rate at 698 MHz. This is technically throttling, since the base clock rate for the CPU is 1.8 GHz. The GPU manages to maintain a clock rate at least above base frequency at 550 MHz (though since the base frequency is just 300 MHz, it’s a comparatively easier task).

Full CPU stress, Prime 95
Full CPU stress, Prime 95
Full GPU stress, FurMark
Full GPU stress, FurMark
Combined CPU + GPU stress
Combined CPU + GPU stress
CPU Clock (GHz) GPU Clock (MHz) Average CPU Temperature (°C) Average GPU Temperature (°C)
Prime95 Stress 2.2 - 92 -
FurMark Stress - 850 - 71
Prime95 + FurMark Stress 0.7 550 63 63
Max. Load
 39 °C
102 F
43.8 °C
111 F
37.4 °C
99 F
 
 35.8 °C
96 F
41 °C
106 F
37 °C
99 F
 
 34 °C
93 F
32.4 °C
90 F
33.6 °C
92 F
 
Maximum: 43.8 °C = 111 F
Average: 37.1 °C = 99 F
36.2 °C
97 F
47 °C
117 F
38.4 °C
101 F
35.2 °C
95 F
38.8 °C
102 F
36.2 °C
97 F
34 °C
93 F
35.2 °C
95 F
34.8 °C
95 F
Maximum: 47 °C = 117 F
Average: 37.3 °C = 99 F
Power Supply (max.)  34 °C = 93 F | Room Temperature 23 °C = 73 F | Fluke 62 Mini IR Thermometer
(±) The average temperature for the upper side under maximal load is 37.1 °C / 99 F, compared to the average of 30.7 °C / 87 F for the devices in the class Subnotebook.
(±) The maximum temperature on the upper side is 43.8 °C / 111 F, compared to the average of 35.8 °C / 96 F, ranging from 22 to 57 °C for the class Subnotebook.
(-) The bottom heats up to a maximum of 47 °C / 117 F, compared to the average of 40 °C / 104 F
(+) In idle usage, the average temperature for the upper side is 30.9 °C / 88 F, compared to the device average of 30.7 °C / 87 F.
(+) The palmrests and touchpad are reaching skin temperature as a maximum (34 °C / 93.2 F) and are therefore not hot.
(-) The average temperature of the palmrest area of similar devices was 28.6 °C / 83.5 F (-5.4 °C / -9.7 F).
Thermal profile, idle, base unit
Thermal profile, idle, base unit
Thermal profile, idle, underside
Thermal profile, idle, underside
Thermal profile, max load, base unit
Thermal profile, max load, base unit
Thermal profile, max load, side profile
Thermal profile, max load, side profile
Thermal profile, max load, underside
Thermal profile, max load, underside

Speakers

One of four total 2 W speakers in the S940
One of four total 2 W speakers in the S940

The IdeaPad S940 features four Dolby Atmos speakers, 2 W apiece. This results in substantially better audio performance than nearly every other laptop of its size. We measure 79.65 dB of volume, which is quite good. Bass is lower than ideal, of course, but it’s much better than (for instance) the XPS 13. Balance and linearity across the mids and highs are very good—just 4 to 5% away from the median on average. And the overall sound is linear, as well, with only a 12.9% difference from the median (versus the XPS 13’s 27.5%). That’s an impressive result for such a tiny device.

All of the other competitors perform comparably to the XPS. The S940 is truly in a league of its own in audio quality.

dB(A) 0102030405060708090Deep BassMiddle BassHigh BassLower RangeMidsHigher MidsLower HighsMid HighsUpper HighsSuper Highs2045.643.945.6253938.6393139.939.639.94038.437.238.45038.437.938.46338.837.538.88037.136.837.110039.835.639.812547.634.947.616057.333.557.320059.833.359.825063.532.563.531563.731.863.740064.330.964.350065.730.665.76307029.87080069.729.569.7100070.429.170.412507228.672160070.328.470.3200065.428.265.4250063.528.163.5315065.128.165.1400064.527.764.550006527.765630067.527.567.5800065.227.665.21000064.127.564.11250057.727.457.71600058.727.658.7SPL79.740.779.7N49.14.149.1median 64.5median 28.6median 64.5Delta3.22.33.241.841.437.33936.23836.237.236.136.335.437.435.434.833.83532.638.23246.132.448.730.450.230.348.429.855.428.659.427.860.62869.827.475.327.173.227.173.726.770.626.866.326.56327.267.627.670.126.974.826.774.826.568.126.65826.55939.583.23.654.5median 27.4median 631.39.6hearing rangehide median Pink NoiseLenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWLDell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
Frequency diagram (checkboxes can be checked and unchecked to compare devices)
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (79.65 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(±) | reduced bass - on average 9.2% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (12.3% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(+) | balanced mids - only 4% away from median
(+) | mids are linear (5.4% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(+) | balanced highs - only 0.9% away from median
(+) | highs are linear (4.2% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(+) | overall sound is linear (12.9% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 12% of all tested devices in this class were better, 3% similar, 85% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 20%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 8% of all tested devices were better, 2% similar, 90% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K audio analysis

(±) | speaker loudness is average but good (75.34 dB)
Bass 100 - 315 Hz
(-) | nearly no bass - on average 18.6% lower than median
(±) | linearity of bass is average (8.1% delta to prev. frequency)
Mids 400 - 2000 Hz
(±) | higher mids - on average 7.7% higher than median
(±) | linearity of mids is average (11.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Highs 2 - 16 kHz
(±) | higher highs - on average 6.2% higher than median
(±) | linearity of highs is average (10.5% delta to prev. frequency)
Overall 100 - 16.000 Hz
(±) | linearity of overall sound is average (27.5% difference to median)
Compared to same class
» 84% of all tested devices in this class were better, 3% similar, 14% worse
» The best had a delta of 8%, average was 20%, worst was 50%
Compared to all devices tested
» 81% of all tested devices were better, 5% similar, 14% worse
» The best had a delta of 3%, average was 21%, worst was 53%

Speaker sound profile, S940
Speaker sound profile, S940

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Probably partially thanks to its stunning 4K display, the S940 posts higher than average power consumption values relative to its direct competitors. Even while idling, the machine uses 10.2 W average, which is some 16% above that of the next highest consumer, the XPS 13 (8.6 W). Under load, this usage increases to 42.1 W average (less than the XPS thanks to lower clock rates and fan speeds over sustained load periods), with a maximum of 53.6 W. The MacBook Pro and Yoga C930 outstrip these load measurements, but they also perform better correspondingly.

Power consumption over time, Prime95 CPU stress
Power consumption over time, Prime95 CPU stress
Power consumption over time, Max load
Power consumption over time, Max load
Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.52 / 0.7 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 5.2 / 10.2 / 11.9 Watt
Load midlight 42.1 / 53.6 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
8565U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 3840x2160, 14
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
8565U, UHD Graphics 620, Samsung SSD PM981 MZVLB512HAJQ, IPS, 3840x2160, 13.3
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
8259U, Iris Plus Graphics 655, , IPS, 2560x1600, 13.3
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
8265U, UHD Graphics 620, WDC PC SN520 SDAPNUW-256G, IPS, 1920x1080, 13.3
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, SK hynix PC401 HFS256GD9TNG, IPS, 1920x1080, 13.9
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
2700U, Vega 10, SK hynix BC501 HFM256GDHTNG, IPS, 1920x1080, 14
Power Consumption
7%
4%
38%
6%
24%
Idle Minimum *
5.2
5.2
-0%
2.3
56%
1.6
69%
3.4
35%
4.3
17%
Idle Average *
10.2
8.6
16%
8.7
15%
4.6
55%
7.5
26%
6.4
37%
Idle Maximum *
11.9
10.5
12%
12.2
-3%
7.3
39%
11.8
1%
7.8
34%
Load Average *
42.1
44.2
-5%
53.3
-27%
37.9
10%
47.7
-13%
34
19%
Load Maximum *
53.6
47.5
11%
64
-19%
44.8
16%
63.2
-18%
47.8
11%

* ... smaller is better

Battery Life

The internal 52 Wh battery
The internal 52 Wh battery

Unfortunately, the S940 suffers surprisingly short battery life in spite of its fairly standard battery capacity of 52 Wh. Our Wi-Fi Surfing benchmark resulted in just 4 hours and 59 minutes total runtime, which is 55% below the XPS 13’s 7 hours and 44 minutes and nearly half that of the MacBook Pro 13 and Asus ZenBook 13. Since screen brightness is held close to constant across all models in this test, the bright display can’t serve as a valid excuse here. This, perhaps more than anything else, could be a deal-breaker for those looking to snag a laptop for long days at work or school.

It’s probably a safe assumption that the FHD display should result in significantly better battery runtimes. While the UHD display truly is a thing of beauty, unless battery life simply isn’t a concern, we’d highly recommend considering saving the cash and downgrading to that panel option instead.

Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
8h 26min
NBC WiFi Websurfing Battery Test 1.3
4h 59min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 43min
Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL
8565U, UHD Graphics 620, 52 Wh
Dell XPS 13 9380 i7 4K
8565U, UHD Graphics 620, 52 Wh
Apple MacBook Pro 13 2018 Touchbar i5
8259U, Iris Plus Graphics 655, 58 Wh
Asus ZenBook 13 UX333FA
8265U, UHD Graphics 620, 50 Wh
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon 2018-20KGS5DU00
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, 57 Wh
Lenovo Yoga C930-13IKB 81C4
8550U, UHD Graphics 620, 60 Wh
Lenovo Yoga 530-14ARR-81H9000VGE
2700U, Vega 10, 45 Wh
Battery Runtime
55%
94%
119%
80%
122%
27%
Reader / Idle
506
1668
230%
701
39%
WiFi v1.3
299
464
55%
581
94%
593
98%
537
80%
664
122%
401
34%
Load
103
132
28%
111
8%
Witcher 3 ultra
94

Pros

+ sleek and compact design
+ sturdy build with well-tuned hinges
+ stunningly beautiful 4K HDR display
+ deceptively powerful audio
+ extremely quiet operation
+ very good clickpad

Cons

- CPU performance far below expectations, especially under sustained loads
- high thermals under load are never addressed by cooling solution
- high idle case temperatures
- short battery life
- USB Type-C ports only (along with audio jack)
- only glossy display options

Verdict

In review: Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL Laptop
In review: Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL Laptop

The IdeaPad S940 is an absolutely gorgeous device. It’s one of the smallest and lightest 14-inch laptops we’ve reviewed to date, and it would fit fairly well on both a kitchen table or in a boardroom. But while it’s tiny, it still feels relatively sturdy in its build, with a rigid display lid, perfectly-tuned hinges, and very little flex across the breadth of the case. It also is host to one of the most impressive—and incredibly bright—4K HDR displays we’ve seen in a laptop. Supplementing that display are not two, but four deceptively powerful Dolby Atmos speakers as well… and while physics remains an inevitable constraint, they provide an audio experience that far exceeds that of practically any other laptop of its size. It’s almost silent under nearly all conditions, and barely audible even under load. And finally, in spite of its thinness, the input devices are fairly decent also—with a very good glass clickpad accompanying a shallow but still serviceable keyboard.

The IdeaPad S940 is a beautiful laptop that, as configured (with the 4K display and Core i7 CPU), makes a few crucial missteps that render it difficult to recommend for most uses. We look forward to evaluating an FHD configuration with a Core i5 CPU at some point, which we hope might resolve some of these disappointments.

If only the entire package were so remarkable. Unfortunately, from here, things take a turn for the less impressive. Port selection is somewhat thin, with two Thunderbolt 3.0 ports (no dedicated charging port) alongside just one other USB Type-C port and a headset jack. Power consumption is on the high side and battery life is disappointingly short—with under 5 hours measured in our web surfing benchmark. But most troubling of all is the machine’s unwillingness—or perhaps inability—to properly cool itself: sustained loads result in temperatures climbing quickly into the 90s centigrade, after which point they never recover lower. The result is below average CPU performance for the Core i7 chip on our review unit. But the laptop is equally uninterested in cooling itself while idling and under normal usage—a negligence which results in much higher than normal idle surface temperatures and less-than-comfortable lap-based use in many situations.

So, unfortunately, the practical uses for the S940—at least, with the aforementioned stunning UHD display—are thinner than they otherwise could be. It’s likely that the FHD display option should appreciably improve the battery life, though we haven’t yet tested such a configuration, so we can’t say for sure. If CPU performance isn’t important, perhaps that inadequacy can be overlooked by some as well—or, again, perhaps the Core i5 might perform just as well at a much lower cost. That also might assist somewhat on the temperature front, which could improve the overall situation. As configured, though, despite its absolutely beautiful featherweight construction and display, it’s hard to recommend the $2,000 S940 over the company’s own business flagship, the X1 Carbon, or any number of other close competitors (all of whom perform better in most of these categories), such as the Dell XPS 13 or MacBook Pro 13.

Lenovo IdeaPad S940-14IWL - 06/27/2019 v6(old)
Steve Schardein

Chassis
79 /  98 → 81%
Keyboard
77%
Pointing Device
92%
Connectivity
52 / 80 → 65%
Weight
72 / 35-78 → 87%
Battery
81%
Display
84%
Games Performance
59 / 68 → 87%
Application Performance
85 / 87 → 97%
Temperature
85 / 91 → 93%
Noise
95%
Audio
80 / 91 → 88%
Camera
53 / 85 → 62%
Average
76%
85%
Subnotebook - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo IdeaPad S940 Laptop Review: Slimmer, Lighter, Sleeker
Steve Schardein, 2019-06-30 (Update: 2019-07- 1)
Steve Schardein
Steve Schardein - Review Editor - @othersteve
In grade school, my first computer—an Apple IIGS—started it all for me. Later, in the nineties, if I wasn’t repairing computers for family and friends, I was busy cooking up nifty Visual Basic projects and playing PC games like Command & Conquer and Heroes of Might and Magic. Soon, much of my free time was spent moderating popular gaming forums and covering the industry for various websites. All the while, I never stopped repairing computers, and in 2006, I started a technology consulting company in Louisville, KY—Triple-S Computers—which I have been fortunate to nurture to great success by specializing in not only repairs, but also new machine consultations and purchasing, data recovery, and malware/security. And since 2012, I have proudly contributed many dozens of reviews to Notebookcheck, a site which I have long considered to be the ultimate authority on laptops and related technology. Today, I am truly living my dream: still a child at heart, ever-curious, constantly learning, and thankful to you, our readers.