Notebookcheck

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS Convertible Review

Yoga-ized. Lenovo's flagship business Ultrabook - the Thinkpad X1 - gets the Yoga-treatment and joins the company's every-growing stable of 2-in-1 convertibles. How the new offspring with its active stylus compares is the subject of our review.

Lenovo's first version of the business-oriented subnotebook-slash-Ultrabook Thinkpad X1 dates back to 2011. The slim-and-light has evolved significantly since then and although not all the changes along the way sat well with Thinkpad loyalists - take for example Lenovo's forray into a completely button-less touchpad design in 2013 - overall the Ultrabook has done very well in our reviews with it's sleek yet powerful no-nonsense approach. The 4th-generation Thinkpad X1 Carbon 2016 - a review is coming soon - is, according to Lenovo, the "world's lightest 14-inch business Ultrabook" at about 1180 grams. In addition to the X1 Carbon, Lenovo also announced a 2-in-1 convertible based on it at the CES 2016, aptly named "Thinkpad X1 Yoga". The new addition is supposed to be the first convertible with an OLED screen, although models with regular IPS screen are offered as well. At this time, the version with OLED screen is in the works but not available yet and our review candidate - the Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS - thus features an IPS panel with a resolution of 2560 x 1440 pixels.

At the time of writing, Lenovo offers three customizable X1 Yoga models on their website. The least expensive version sports an Intel i5-6200U processor, 8 GB of RAM, a 128 GB SATA3 SSD, and a 14-inch FHD IPS touchscreen with 1920 x 1080 pixels and sells for $1400; the most expensive model with core i7-6600U processor, 16 GB of RAM, and 512 GB SSD costs $2100. The latter model can be upgraded to a 1 TB PCIe-NVMe SSD for a heart-stopping $475 more. Our review notebook is available from various online retailers and can be found for about $1700.

Competitors are other 2-in-1 designs like Lenovo's equally business-oriented Thinkpad Yoga 14, the newer Thinkpad Yoga 460, which offers much of the same functionality as the X1 in a heavier, but much less expensive package, the 13-inch HP Spectre x360 13, its larger 15-inch brother HP Spectre x360 15, and the 13.5-inch Microsoft Surface Book.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS (ThinkPad X1 Series)
Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics 520, Core: 1050 MHz, 20.19.15.4352
Memory
8192 MB 
Display
14 inch 16:9, 2560x1440 pixel 210 PPI, 10-finger, native pen support, VVX14T058J10, IPS, glossy: no
Mainboard
Intel Skylake-U Premium PCH
Storage
Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH, 512 GB 
Soundcard
Intel Skylake-U/Y PCH - High Definition Audio
Connections
3 USB 3.0 / 3.1 Gen1, 1 HDMI, 1 DisplayPort, 1 Docking Station Port, Audio Connections: combo-jack , Card Reader: microSD, 1 Fingerprint Reader, Brightness Sensor
Networking
Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 (a/b/g/n/ac), Bluetooth 4.1
Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 16.8 x 333 x 229 ( = 0.66 x 13.11 x 9.02 in)
Battery
52 Wh Lithium-Ion, 4-cell
Operating System
Microsoft Windows 10 Pro 64 Bit
Camera
Webcam: 720p
Additional features
Speakers: stereo , Keyboard: Chiclet, Keyboard Light: yes, 12 Months Warranty
Weight
1.36 kg ( = 47.97 oz / 3 pounds), Power Supply: 285 g ( = 10.05 oz / 0.63 pounds)
Price
2000 USD

 

Case

Just like the newest X1 Carbon, the X1 Yoga is constructed from a mix of materials: carbon fiber for the top cover and a magnesium alloy for the palm rest and bottom cover. The updated material, which Lenovo calls "Super Mag", promises a thinner and yet lighter system without the need to sacrifice durability. According to Lenovo, the convertible has passed various MIL-STD-810G durability tests which include vibration, drop tests, and LCD stress tests, among others.

While not everybody might call the matte black, wedge-shaped design beautiful, it's nonetheless attractive in its own right. The surface areas are smooth to the touch and resist fingerprints quite well, the keyboard is designed to handle liquid spills and the chassis certainly seems robust enough to survive the rougher use a corporate road warrior might subject it to. While the rigidity has improved compared to the earlier generation, we still noticed a bit of flex - in particular when pressing down on the left and right palm rest. We can only assume that the differences in the design - particularly the lift-and-lock feature of the keyboard (more on that later) - contributes to the added flexibility. Exerting slightly higher pressure was also accompanied by audible clicks and creaks. Both the base unit and the display are torsionally not quite as rigid as some competitors, namely those with a unibody / metal chassis - but of course the X1 Yoga is also lighter.

Speaking of weight: the convertible tipped our scale at just 1.36 kg - a bit heavier than Lenovo's claim of 1.27 kg / 2.8 lbs. In addition to the fact that the Apple Macbook Air 13 with its 13-inch display has almost the same footprint as the Yoga - see our size comparison below - it weighs the same as well. The 13-inch HP Spectre x360 weighs about 0.2 lbs more; Microsoft's Surface Book is downright heavy by comparison at 1.51 kg / 3.33 pounds. The 2015-edition of the X1 was already quite slim by most standards, but the new Yoga is slimmer still at just under 17 mm. Lenovo's own Yoga 900 has the X1 beat by a couple mm; the Microsoft Surface Book measures 22 mm because of its unusual hinge design.

The hinges look similar to the regular X1 hinges, but of course they allow the display to be rotated 360 degrees. Like all Yogas, the X1 supports four different modes: Laptop, Stand, Tent, and Tablet. Past 180 degrees, a pop-up asks the user if tablet mode should be enabled, which in turn means that touchpad and keyboard input are disabled.

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Connectivity

Unlike the previous X1 carbon, both its successor as well as the new Thinkpad X Yoga come with 3 USB 3.0 ports instead of 2. The third port is in place of the proprietary Ethernet adapter port, so for hardwired connections, an USB-to-Ethernet-adapter is required. A USB-C port is notably absent - Lenovo seems to think that for a business machine, the newer standard is of less importance than it might be on a consumer machine. Lenovo's OneLink+ connector allows the connection of the dock, which offers a multitude of additional ports.

left side: DC In, OneLink+ (docking), Mini-DP, USB 3.0 (always-on USB)
left side: DC In, OneLink+ (docking), Mini-DP, USB 3.0 (always-on USB)
right side: stylus, power, volume rocker switch, audio combo-jack, 2x USB 3.0, HDMI, Kensington lock slot
right side: stylus, power, volume rocker switch, audio combo-jack, 2x USB 3.0, HDMI, Kensington lock slot
rear: MicroSD card slot, SIM slot
rear: MicroSD card slot, SIM slot

Communication

The Micro-SD and the SIM card slot on the rear
The Micro-SD and the SIM card slot on the rear

Although our review convertible contains a SIM slot, at this point the corresponding LTE 4G modem isn't offered. 11ac wireless connectivity is provided by an 2x2 Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8260 module (M.2) with a theoretical transfer rate of 867 Mbps. Bluetooth 4.1 is integrated as well. During our time with the notebook, we experienced no connectivity issues or dropouts.

Security 

As a business notebook, the X1 Yoga offers the typical security features like power-on, hard disk, and supervisor password, Trusted Platform Module, TCG 1.2-compliant and Software TPM 2.0 and a touch-style fingerprint reader. Note that models equipped with the i5-6200U or the i7-6500U - the CPU in our review convertible - do not support vPro; both the i5-6300U and the i76600U do, however. Unlike the previous model, there is no proprietary Ethernet adapter port, so users who are worried about (the lack of) wireless security need to purchase a USB-to-Ethernet-adapter instead.

Accessories

Aside from the notebook itself and the power adapter, no accessories are included. Lenovo offers several accessories on their homepage, including a sleeve ($50), a spare Thinkpad Pen Pro-3 ($40), the larger Thinkpad Pen Pro with replaceable AAAA battery (also $40), and the OneLink+ Dock ($180), which comes with a 90 watt AC adapter, DP + DP+VGA, 4x USB 3.0, 2x USB2.0 (1 always-on power 2.4A), Gigabit Ethernet, audio combo-jack, and a Kensington lock slot.

Maintenance

Although there is no dedicated maintenance cover and the entire bottom plate needs to be removed for access, this task is easily accomplished by removing nine regular Phillips screws. Since the RAM is soldered on and not upgradeable, the only possible task which could be accomplished is swapping out the SSD, which occupies the single M.2 slot.

Warranty

Lenovo warrants the system against manufacturer's defects for a period of 12 months. The base (depot) warranty can be extended of course and Lenovo offers many different options up to 5 years. Upgrading to a 2 year depot warranty costs $70, a 3 year onsite NBD + sealed battery warranty is available for $200, just to name a couple.

Input Devices

Keyboard

The 6-row chiclet-style keyboard looks identical to the one Lenovo uses for the "standard" X1 Carbon - and from a usability standpoint, it is. The key travel is generous and the feedback excellent for a notebook this thin. Thanks to the slightly concave surface of the keys (which measure 16 x 16 mm) misses are - at least in our experience - a rarity. Of course this is highly subjective, but we think that Lenovo's keyboard lends itself better to long typing session than let's say the keyboard the HP Spectre is equipped with.

When the convertible is used in Stand, Tent, or Tablet mode, the difference between the X1 and the X1 Yoga becomes apparent: the latter employs Lenovo's "Lift'n'Lock" feature. The keyboard keys appear to sink into the system creating a flat surface - in reality, it's the frame that's rising up. This can be a life saver, as it's nearly impossible to "catch" a key even with the notebook placed keyboard first on an uneven surface or while holding it in Tablet mode. Beyond 190 degrees, both the keyboard as well as the touchpad are disabled to prevent accidental inputs. As we mentioned earlier, the palm rests have quite a bit of "give", but the keyboard itself doesn't flex much even during spirited typing sessions. Pressing Fn plus the spacebar turns on the backlight - two brightness levels are available.

Touchpad

The glass touchpad measures about 10 x 6 cm and feels very upscale. Inputs are recognized and translated immediately, the accuracy is great, and multi-touch gestures are smooth and predictable. The driver panel offers a plethora of adjustment options for both the pad and the trackpoing, which allow the user to tailor the response to their liking. Clicks are well-defined, although slightly noisy. The trackpoint buttons are located right above the touchpad and are much softer in their response. As always, the middle button is for the trackpoint and is used for scrolling up and down.

Touchpad with trackpoint buttons
Touchpad with trackpoint buttons
Keyboard
Keyboard
Lift'n'Lock-feature - frame up and level with keys
Lift'n'Lock-feature - frame up and level with keys

Touchscreen & Stylus

Passive vs. active stylus
Passive vs. active stylus

Lenovo now uses Wacom's AES technology, which consists of a powered stylus and a passive digitizer screen. The older Thinkpad Yoga 12 used essentially the same EMR (electromagnetic resonance) technology Wacom has been using in their Intuos line of pen tablets for a number of years. In the latter case, the pen is passive, but the digitizer is active. The advantages of the new technology - which functions similar to Microsoft's N-Trig - is that it reduces the parallax effect and increases the edge accuracy in particular. Of course the pen now requires a battery, which can be an issue for thinner devices. The new X1 Yoga stylus is exceedingly slim, however - in fact, it's the same diameter (albeit a little longer) as the passive stylus that comes with the Thinkpad Yoga 12. Two contacts on the pen connect when it's stored in the silo - according to Lenovo, 15 seconds of charge are good enough for 100 minutes of use, while a full charge lasts for 19 hours. The stylus has 2048 levels of pressure sensitivity as well as right and left click buttons, which can be assigned functions using the Wacom Pen Menu. Using the pen for short periods is fine, but during longer sessions we experienced cramping issues - a larger diameter would definitely help here. For $40, Lenovo offers the Thinkpad Pen Pro, which measures 9.5 mm and comes with a replaceable AAAA battery.

As far as using the pen is concerned: we found the accuracy to be spot on and noticed definite improvements over the older EMR technology - especially as far as parallax is concerned. Palm rejection is also top notch and we never had to deal with erroneous inputs. It definitely feels like less pressure is required to draw and write, which is also an advantage. While writing, latency is not noticeable, so we never had to wait for the pen to "catch up". 

The touchscreen works flawlessly as well, even up in the corners. Lenovo seems to be using a newer anti-glare coating, which is much less obtrusive as the one used on the Yoga 12. The hinges don't hold the display quite as securely though, so tapping the screen in laptop mode with either the stylus or prodding it with a finger results in more of a display bounce.

Display

The touchscreen display panel with a QHD resolution of 2560 x 1440 QHD is based on IPS technology - the convertible with the OLED screen is supposed to be available this spring. As far as the brightness is concerned, the display matched Lenovo's advertised brightness exactly - we measured an average of 271 nits for our panel. Given the price, we find this result a little disappointing. The HP Spectre x360 13 is a bit brighter at 325 nits, the 13.5-inch Microsoft Surface Book - which many users will compare the X1 Yoga to - is significantly brighter at over 415 nits, which makes outdoor use a much more pleasurable experience. At least the display doesn't dim when the convertible is running on battery power. Neither the black value (0.38 cd/m²) nor the contrast (743:1) are standouts, either. The Spectre x360 is once again a little bit better; the Surface Book makes the X1 Yoga look dingy by comparison (contrast 1752:1). 

The uniformity is quite decent and the backlight bleeding more or less limited to the lower edge of the panel and at maximum brightness settings.

Minor backlight bleeding (exaggerated in the image)
Minor backlight bleeding (exaggerated in the image)
Subpixel array
Subpixel array
263.2
cd/m²
268.8
cd/m²
254.1
cd/m²
276.7
cd/m²
284.7
cd/m²
267.1
cd/m²
276.2
cd/m²
279.4
cd/m²
273.8
cd/m²
Distribution of brightness
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 284.7 cd/m² Average: 271.6 cd/m² Minimum: 3.15 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 89 %
Center on Battery: 284.7 cd/m²
Contrast: 743:1 (Black: 0.383 cd/m²)
ΔE Color 5.24 | - Ø
ΔE Greyscale 7.32 | - Ø
94.68% sRGB (Argyll) 70.17% AdobeRGB 1998 (Argyll)
Gamma: 2.22
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
14, 2560x1440
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
13.5, 3000x2000
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
13.3, 2560x1440
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14
14, 1920x1080
Sony Vaio Z Flip
13.3, 2560x1440
Response Times
-8%
37%
6%
Response Time Grey 50% / Grey 80% *
38 (15.2, 22.8)
39 (24, 15)
-3%
24 (11, 36)
37%
38.4 (14.8, 23.6)
-1%
Response Time Black / White *
30.4 (6, 24.4)
34 (10, 24, mini hills)
-12%
19 (10, 28)
37%
26.4 (6.8, 19.6)
13%
PWM Frequency
219 (99)
Screen
42%
12%
10%
10%
Brightness
272
414
52%
324
19%
274
1%
354
30%
Brightness Distribution
89
88
-1%
90
1%
90
1%
89
0%
Black Level *
0.383
0.25
35%
0.34
11%
0.3
22%
0.285
26%
Contrast
743
1752
136%
953
28%
953
28%
1246
68%
Colorchecker DeltaE2000 *
5.24
2.06
61%
4.36
17%
5.62
-7%
9.56
-82%
Greyscale DeltaE2000 *
7.32
2.87
61%
4.62
37%
6.19
15%
4.08
44%
Gamma
2.22 108%
2.44 98%
2.18 110%
2.35 102%
2.33 103%
CCT
6277 104%
6820 95%
6857 95%
5606 116%
6560 99%
Color Space (Percent of AdobeRGB 1998)
70.17
64
-9%
60
-14%
64.3
-8%
Color Space (Percent of sRGB)
94.68
96
1%
93
-2%
97.1
3%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
17% / 32%
25% / 17%
10% / 10%
8% / 9%

* ... smaller is better

Color coverage for sRGB and AdobeRGB is about 95 and 70 %, respectively - a quite decent result. The sRGB coverage is within a percentage point of the Surface Book, which might make the X1 interesting for those who plan on photo editing and similar tasks. Of course there are devices which are better suited for digital artists, but for a quick edit in the field the X1 Yoga should suffice.

X1 Yoga vs. sRGB
X1 Yoga vs. sRGB
X1 Yoga vs. Spectre x360
X1 Yoga vs. Spectre x360

Color and grayscale accuracy as shipped are nothing to get too excited about, even though they are still acceptable. The Microsoft Surface Book is pretty much perfect right out-of-the-box. A calibration improved the accuracy significantly with an average DeltaE deviation of 1.3 for colors and 1 for grayscale, which is outstanding. Only the color blue exceeds the ideal value of <3 at maximum saturation levels. Combined with the decent sRGB coverage, the panel is well-suited for a quick photo edit in Lightroom, Photoshop or a similar program. One caveat: the matte filter is actually applied on top of the panel and causes a slightly grainy appearance. Compared to the Thinkpad Yoga 12, the graininess is significantly reduced, but glare is a little more prevalent.

ColorChecker pre-calibration
ColorChecker pre-calibration
Grayscale pre-calibration
Grayscale pre-calibration
Saturation pre-calibration
Saturation pre-calibration
ColorChecker post calibration
ColorChecker post calibration
Grayscale post calibration
Grayscale post calibration
Saturation post calibration
Saturation 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
30.4 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 6 ms rise
↘ 24.4 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. » 75 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is worse than the average of all tested devices (26.6 ms).
       Response Time 50% Grey to 80% Grey
38 ms ... rise ↗ and fall ↘ combined↗ 15.2 ms rise
↘ 22.8 ms fall
The screen shows slow response rates in our tests and will be unsatisfactory for gamers.
In comparison, all tested devices range from 0.9 (minimum) to 636 (maximum) ms. » 33 % of all devices are better.
This means that the measured response time is better than the average of all tested devices (42.5 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 detected 219 Hz99 % brightness setting

The display backlight flickers at 219 Hz (Likely utilizing PWM) Flickering detected at a brightness setting of 99 % and below. There should be no flickering or PWM above this brightness setting.

The frequency of 219 Hz is relatively low, so sensitive users will likely notice flickering and experience eyestrain at the stated brightness setting and below.

In comparison: 54 % of all tested devices do not use PWM to dim the display. If PWM was detected, an average of 8568 (minimum: 43 - maximum: 142900) Hz was measured.

As expected for an IPS display, the viewing angle stability is quite good and the screen can be viewed even from very shallow angles without a significant deterioration in picture quality, although the apparent brightness decreases of course. Outdoor usability is unfortunately not that great: even though the panel is matte, the maximum brightness is simply not enough to overcome direct sunlight. We had better success in the shade, but an extra 100 nits would help out significantly.

Viewing angles Thinkpad X1 Yoga
Viewing angles Thinkpad X1 Yoga
Outdoor use - tablet mode, in the shade
Outdoor use - tablet mode, in the shade

Performance

Our review notebook is equipped with an Intel Core i7-6500U processor, which is the second most powerful configuration available with the i5-6200U and the i7-6600U covering the low and the high end, respectively. The RAM - either 8 GB or 16 GB, depending on the model chosen - is soldered on to the motherboard, so future expansion is not possible. The only option to get 16 GB of RAM is to pick the Core i7-6600U processor for $140 and then upping the RAM to 16 GB for an additional $140. Our SKU-number comes with a 512 GB SATA drive; the configurable model on the Lenovo site allows upgrading from this drive to the PCIe-NVMe version for about $55 more.

Processor

The Intel Core i7-6500U is an ULV dual-core CPU based on the Skylake architecture with a TDP of 15 watts. The CPU has a nominal frequency of 2.5 GHz; the integrated Turbo can overclock a single core to 3.1 GHz and both cores to 3.0 GHz. With scores of 128 and 307 (single/multi) during the Cinebench R15 test, the i7-6500U performs exactly like the same CPU in other notebooks. Compared to the i5-6200U - used in the HP Spectre x360 13 and also an option for the X1 Yoga - is only about 10 % slower across the board. The very high-end Core i7-6567U in the Vaio Z Flip VJZ13BA11L is one of the fastest ULV processor and bests the i7-6500U by 15 - 20 % in single and multi-threaded performance.

Please check our dedicated page for the Intel Core i7-6500U for more information and additional benchmarks.

Cinebench R15
CPU Single 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
128 Points ∼64%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
113 Points ∼57% -12%
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
142 Points ∼71% +11%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
129 Points ∼65% +1%
Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK hynix SSD Canvas SC300 HFS256G32MND
128 Points ∼64% 0%
CPU Multi 64Bit (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
307 Points ∼14%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
284 Points ∼13% -7%
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
364 Points ∼17% +19%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
335 Points ∼16% +9%
Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK hynix SSD Canvas SC300 HFS256G32MND
307 Points ∼14% 0%
wPrime 2.0x - 1024m (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
516.7 s * ∼6%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
529 s * ∼6% -2%
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
419.422 s * ∼5% +19%
Super Pi Mod 1.5 XS 32M - --- (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
629.7 Seconds * ∼3%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
752 Seconds * ∼3% -19%
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
584.876 Seconds * ∼3% +7%

* ... smaller is better

Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
128 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
307 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
42.63 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
97.8 %
Help

System Performance

The PCMark 8 scores shows decent enough performance, although other systems with the same CPU  - like the Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051 - manage to outperform the review convertible by roughly 5 - 10 %. The Microsoft Surface Book trails the X1 Yoga, however - despite the fact that it is equipped with dedicated GPU (NVIDIA Maxwell 940M). As stated in that review, it seems that the Surface Book cannot take advantage of the dedicated graphics card.

Perceived performance is excellent: both booting and program launches are very quick without any delays. 

PCMark 8
Work Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
3986 Points ∼61%
Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK hynix SSD Canvas SC300 HFS256G32MND
4256 Points ∼65% +7%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
3782 Points ∼58% -5%
Home Score Accelerated v2 (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
3137 Points ∼53%
Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK hynix SSD Canvas SC300 HFS256G32MND
3454 Points ∼58% +10%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
2947 Points ∼49% -6%
PCMark 8 Home Score Accelerated v2
3137 points
PCMark 8 Work Score Accelerated v2
3986 points
Help

Storage Devices

As mentioned earlier, our review convertible comes equipped with a 512 GB M.2 SSD - a Samsung PM871. As far as the speed is concerned, the drive performs quite well - but since this is SATA-based storage, the maximum transfer speeds are not as high as one might hope for and generally remain under 500 MB. NVMe-based drives - see the Samsung SM951 M.2 SSD in the the Vaio Z Flip VJZ13BA11L - are significantly faster with almost triple the read and more than double the write speed. Of course, one might argue that high-end drives like that offer no real performance difference when performing normal office tasks and many users will prefer a larger drive over the higher transfer rates. As mentioned earlier, users can chose what type of drive they would like when they configure their notebook on Lenovo's site.

AS SSD
AS SSD
AS SSD - copy
AS SSD - copy
CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14
GeForce 840M, 5500U, Samsung SSD PM851 512 GB MZ7TE512HMHP
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
HP Spectre x360 15-ap011dx
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Liteon L8H-256V2G
AS SSD
111%
-7%
81%
-13%
Copy Game MB/s
236.38
638.87
170%
208.15
-12%
Copy Program MB/s
196.5
349.2
78%
185.56
-6%
Copy ISO MB/s
258.42
730.73
183%
224.22
-13%
Score Total
1068
2323
118%
1027
-4%
2298
115%
882
-17%
Score Write
382
559
46%
368
-4%
683
79%
353
-8%
Score Read
449
1187
164%
432
-4%
1090
143%
352
-22%
Access Time Write *
0.046
0.031
33%
0.056
-22%
0.033
28%
0.05
-9%
Access Time Read *
0.058
0.039
33%
0.048
17%
0.067
-16%
4K-64 Write
261.92
326.44
25%
254
-3%
519.93
99%
252.9
-3%
4K-64 Read
369.15
949.47
157%
358
-3%
918.9
149%
274.76
-26%
4K Write
75.65
121.8
61%
73
-4%
108.98
44%
74.05
-2%
4K Read
30.35
47.59
57%
26
-14%
37.25
23%
26
-14%
Seq Write
447.47
1106.62
147%
417
-7%
544.81
22%
263.21
-41%
Seq Read
490.13
1895.88
287%
484
-1%
1341.58
174%
513.18
5%

* ... smaller is better

Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
Transfer Rate Minimum: 385.9 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 417.1 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 414.4 MB/s
Access Time: 0.046 ms
Burst Rate: 266.6 MB/s
CPU Usage: 4.1 %

GPU Performance

The integrated GPU HD Graphics 520 with 24 EUs is certainly no power house, but does support DirectX 12 and the newer H.265-standard. The GPU has access to 8 GB of dual-channel LPDDR3 system RAM. Other graphics cards are not offered - not really surprising given the intended audience and the thinness of the system, which would make cooling a dedicated graphics card problematic. Still - an Intel Iris GPU would improve the performance significantly as well. The Microsoft Surface Book shows similar performance when running the HD Graphics 520; as soon as the dedicated Maxwell GPU in the keyboard dock takes over, the performance nearly doubles. The HP Spectre x360 13 (Intel Core i5-6200U, HD Graphics 520) is just a few percentage points slower during the 3DMark 11 performance test. According to our check with various tools, the GPU maxes out at 1050 MHz (the theoretical maximum) for the core and 933 MHz for the memory, respectively. 

3DMark 11 - 1280x720 Performance (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
1541 Points ∼5%
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
2839 Points ∼10% +84%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
1448 Points ∼5% -6%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
1448 Points ∼5% -6%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
2761 Points ∼10% +79%
Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK hynix SSD Canvas SC300 HFS256G32MND
1569 Points ∼5% +2%
3DMark
1920x1080 Fire Strike Score (sort by value)
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
1544 Points ∼7%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
793 Points ∼3%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
793 Points ∼3%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
1952 Points ∼8%
Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK hynix SSD Canvas SC300 HFS256G32MND
867 Points ∼4%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score (sort by value)
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
5745 Points ∼12%
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
8646 Points ∼17% +50%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
5674 Points ∼11% -1%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
5674 Points ∼11% -1%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
7505 Points ∼15% +31%
Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK hynix SSD Canvas SC300 HFS256G32MND
6374 Points ∼13% +11%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score (sort by value)
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
81504 Points ∼7%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
51751 Points ∼5%
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
51751 Points ∼5%
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
50418 Points ∼5%
Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, SK hynix SSD Canvas SC300 HFS256G32MND
60415 Points ∼5%
3DMark 11 Performance
1541 points
3DMark Cloud Gate Standard Score
5745 points
Help

Gaming Performance

At the lowest settings and a resolution of 1280 x 720 pixels, Bioshock Infinite from 2013 managed 50.5 fps. At medium settings and at a resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels, the frame rate dropped to about 28 fps, which is already a little too low for smooth game play. Newer and 3D-intensive games are therefore out of the question and users who require better gaming performance need to look elsewhere. The Vaio Z Flip with the Intel Iris Graphics 550 offers nearly twice the performance (51.4 fps on medium).

low med. high ultra
Tomb Raider (2013) 71.638.825.111.2fps
BioShock Infinite (2013) 50.528.221.16.4fps

Emissions

System Noise

During idle, the system is completely silent as the fan isn't spinning at all. During medium and higher load levels, the system noise increased to about 35 db, which is still quite acceptable. The Surface Book reaches 41 dB; the HP Spectre x360 13 tops out at 38 dB. Unfortunately we noticed some high-frequency chirping sounds during heavy SSD access - albeit not consistently. At this point we don't know if this is isolated to our test system with the 512 GB SATA-SSD or a general problem affecting other units as well.

Noise Level

Idle
28.8 / 28.8 / 28.8 dB(A)
Load
35.2 / 35.2 dB(A)
 
 
 
30 dB
silent
40 dB(A)
audible
50 dB(A)
loud
 
min: dark, med: mid, max: light   Audix TM1, Arta (15 cm distance)   environment noise: 28.8 dB(A)

Temperature

During idle, the convertible doesn't get very hot - we measured a maximum of about 33 degrees in the middle towards the rear. During the prolonged stress test, the system got very hot, however, which the same spot now reaching almost 50 degrees. The left and the right side of the notebook remain significantly cooler, so lap use is not compromised. We should note here that the ambient temperature had climbed to 25 degrees C, which might explain to a certain degree why the X1 Yoga got so warm. The predecessor (non-Yoga) 2015-edition of the X1 didn't even surpass 40 degrees C. The palm rests stay remarkably cool no matter the load.

Max. Load
 36.2 °C42.8 °C32.2 °C 
 29.6 °C37.4 °C30.4 °C 
 26.2 °C25.6 °C25.6 °C 
Maximum: 42.8 °C
Average: 31.8 °C
37.8 °C49.4 °C32.2 °C
29.2 °C34.6 °C29.8 °C
26 °C27.4 °C26.6 °C
Maximum: 49.4 °C
Average: 32.6 °C
Power Supply (max.)  37.8 °C | Room Temperature 21 °C | Raytek Raynger ST

Stress Test

When subjected to heavy CPU load with Prime95, the X1 Yoga maintained it's maximum Turbo Boost of 3 GHz only for a couple of seconds before dropping down to 2.7 - 2.8 GHz with the CPU reaching a high of 79 degrees C. After 5 minutes, we observed no changes in the CPU speed, but the temperature had dropped to 74 degrees C. To stress the GPU, we run FurMark. Here, the CPU dropped to 1500 MHz with the GPU starting out at 1 GHz at a temperature of 73 degrees. Two minutes later, the GPU had dropped to 900 MHz with the temps between 72 - 74 degrees. One hour later, the GPU was still at 900 MHz with the temp at a steady 75 degrees C. Things changed when we ran Prime95 and Furmark in parallel: the CPU and GPU dropped to 1400 and 800 MHz immediately at a temperature of 68 degrees. A few hours later, the GPU had dropped to 850 MHz, while the CPU remained at 1.4 GHz. The temperature was stable at 71 degrees C. The X1 Yoga is clearly affected by throttling - although given the slim-and-light design with a low TDP, this doesn't come as a real surprise.

Running the convertible on battery power does not change the performance: a quick check with 3DMark 11 showed nearly identical performance.

Prime95 stress
Prime95 stress
FurMark stress
FurMark stress
Prime95 + FurMark stress
Prime95 + FurMark stress

Speakers

The two stereo speakers are located towards the front and fire downwards. The sound is decent and loud enough, although bass is clearly lacking. Voices are very easy to understand - which makes sense since this is a business notebook - but we didn't particularly enjoy watching movies and video clips. For this reason, we recommend external speakers or headphones - particularly for listening to music.

(Green: System idle, Pink: Pink noise, Gray: White noise)
(Green: System idle, Pink: Pink noise, Gray: White noise)
downward-firing speakers
downward-firing speakers

Energy Management

Power Consumption

The power consumption of the X1 Yoga during idle is around 8.2 watts, which is higher than what the Vaio Z Flip consumes (6.9 watts). The average draw under load was about 29 watts, which is just a little lower than the Microsoft Surface Book with Core i7 processor. The Vaio requires a lot more power (43 watts), since its processor has a much higher TDP of 28 watts. The Asus Zenbook UX303UA-R4051T, which is equipped with the same CPU/GPU combo needs about 3 watts less than the review convertible.

The power adapter can supply 65 watts, which is more than sufficient for the encountered loads.

Power Consumption
Off / Standbydarklight 0.24 / 0.37 Watt
Idledarkmidlight 6.82 / 8.21 / 17.55 Watt
Load midlight 28.81 / 34.07 Watt
 color bar
Key: min: dark, med: mid, max: light        Metrahit Energy

Battery Life

Lenovo promises a battery life of up to 11 hours. Our WLAN test with the display set to a brightness of 150 nits (80 %) show that this is a rather optimistic estimate: the integrated 52 Wh battery lasted about 6 hours before the convertible shut down. The 13.3-inch HP Spectre x360 13 lasted 8 hours and 20 minutes; the 13.5-inch Microsoft Surface Book ran for a staggering 10 hours and 45 minutes.

Maximum runtime (Reader's Test)
Maximum runtime (Reader's Test)
Minimum runtime (Classic Test)
Minimum runtime (Classic Test)
WLAN runtime
WLAN runtime
Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS
HD Graphics 520, 6500U, Samsung SSD PM871 MZNLN512HCJH
HP Spectre x360 13-4104ng
HD Graphics 520, 6200U, Samsung SSD PM851 256 GB MZNTE256HMHP
Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 14
GeForce 840M, 5500U, Samsung SSD PM851 512 GB MZ7TE512HMHP
Microsoft Surface Book Core i7
Maxwell GPU (940M, GDDR5), 6600U, Samsung MZFLV512 NVMe
Sony Vaio Z Flip
Iris Graphics 550, 6567U, Samsung SM951 MZVPV256 m.2
Battery Runtime
40%
-19%
82%
21%
Reader / Idle
922
747
-19%
949
3%
WiFi v1.3
356
500
40%
648
82%
451
27%
Load
120
159
33%
WiFi
352
Battery Runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
15h 22min
WiFi Surfing v1.3
5h 56min
Load (maximum brightness)
2h 00min

Pros

+ very slim and light
+ good performance
+ 2-in-1 versatility
+ good keyboard / touchpad
+ comes with Wacom AES pen
+ great color / grayscale accuracy after calibration

Cons

- expensive
- some flexing / creaking
- no USB-C
- IPS display is not bright enough
- just average battery life

Verdict

In review: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS. Test model provided by Lenovo US.
In review: Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS. Test model provided by Lenovo US.

Overall, the Lenovo X1 Yoga is a solid and well-designed business convertible, although - at a street price of $1700 for our configuration - it's far from inexpensive. The Yoga continues where the "normal" X1 has left off: the chassis is made from carbon fiber and a magnesium alloy and is not only very slim and light, but also comes with a 360-degree hinge, which allows the Yoga to be used in laptop, tent, presentation, and tablet mode. The active stylus is a definite improvement over the passive one the Thinkpad Yoga 12 shipped with - and it's still as slim as before, so it can be stored (and charged) in its own slot. Of course the pen is most useful in tablet mode - and holding a 14-inch one isn't very comfortable in the long run. The keyboard offers the familiar Thinkpad quality, and the touchpad/trackpoint combo is excellent as well. 

The display is - at least after calibration - one of the most accurate ones Lenovo has ever incorporated in one of their designs. The color gamut is very good as well - we just wish the maximum brightness was a little higher.

The Thinkpad X1 Yoga does what it was designed for rather well - but for a price.

Users who frequently plan on using their device in tablet mode, might be better off with a design a la Surface Book with its detachable keyboard dock - although the price climbs even higher. The HP Spectre x360 13 might not have the business acumen, but an identically-equipped notebook can be found for less than $1200, which makes it a good alternative in our book. Lenovo's own Thinkpad Yoga 460 ticks the same checkboxes as the X1 Yoga - it's a bit heavier and thicker, but also a lot cheaper. The older Thinkpad Yoga 14 is still around as well: equipped with a Full-HD screen, dedicated GPU, and previous-generation processor, it sells for as low as $900.

Lenovo Thinkpad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS - 04/18/2016 v5.1
Bernhard Pechlaner

Chassis
75 / 98 → 77%
Keyboard
90%
Pointing Device
94%
Connectivity
59 / 80 → 74%
Weight
71 / 78 → 84%
Battery
88%
Display
84%
Games Performance
56 / 68 → 82%
Application Performance
83 / 87 → 95%
Temperature
89%
Noise
93%
Audio
59 / 91 → 65%
Camera
60 / 85 → 71%
Average
77%
85%
Convertible - Weighted Average

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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > Reviews > Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga 20FQ-000QUS Convertible Review
Bernhard Pechlaner, 2016-04-11 (Update: 2016-04-11)
Bernhard Pechlaner
Bernhard Pechlaner - Review Editor
Ended up in the IT sector in the 90s more or less accidentally and have remained in the industry (as a sysadmin) ever since. Always been interested in laptops - first purchase was - if memory serves correctly - a Toshiba Satellite T2115CS with DX4-75 processor, 4 MB of RAM and 350 MB hard disk drive (and Windows 3.1). To this day, laptops appeal to me - much to the chagrin of my wife, who doesn’t seem understand why we need 5-10 of them at any given time ;-).