Lenovo Slim 9i 14 hands-on review: All luxury
Lenovo’s Yoga 2-in-1 devices remain the company’s most premium selection, but the “Slim” line of clamshell laptops aren’t far behind.
The Yoga 9i 2-in-1 sports polished edges and rounded corners, and now we’re seeing a similar design trickle down to the Lenovo Slim lineup with the Slim 9i 14. After trying one out ahead of release, it is safe to say that this laptop screams luxury.
|Lenovo Slim 9i 14|
|Dimensions||12.52 x 9.06 x 0.6 inches|
|Processor||Intel Core i7-1280P or Intel Core i5-1240P|
|graphics||Intel Iris Xe|
|RAM||16GB or 32GB Dual Channel LPDDR5|
|Display||14.4-inch 2.5k 2880 x 1880 OLED or 14.4-inch 4K 3840 x 2400 OLED|
|storage||512GB or 1TB PCIe Gen 4 2242 PCIE SSD|
|touch||Included on all models|
|Ports||3 USB-C Thunderbolt 4, 1 audio jack|
|wireless||Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1|
|webcam||1080p MIPI Windows Hello Webcam with Electronic Webcam Shutter|
|operating system||Windows 11 Home|
|battery||75 watt-hours; 12 hours of battery life in MobileMark 2018 testing|
|Price, availability||$1,800, available in June 2022|
Priced at $1,800, the design of the Slim 9i 14 fits with the luxury-level price. The elegant design is what stuck with me most, and was why I could not resist touching this laptop right after I was briefed on it ahead of my hands-on time.
Somewhat reminiscent of the old iPhone 4s, which has a glass back, Lenovo is opting to use a 3D glass encasement on the top lid. It really shines bright with its silvery oatmeal finish. When I was holding the laptop for photos, the sun bounced off the lid and created a neat glowing effect.
I could always see the reflection of my photographer as he took photos of me using the device. That’s definitely something you won’t get with a MacBook, which is almost in this same price range. The glass top encasement makes all-aluminum laptops feel so old.
Like the 9i 2-in-1, Lenovo opts for rounded polished edges. Lenovo calls it “Comfort Edge.” This is a design choice that aims to not hurt your palms as you rest your wrist on the keyboard deck for typing. Coming from the Surface Laptop Studio, which has sharp pointed/rounded edges, I really did like the smoothness of the corners of the 9i. It felt really inviting.
Yet that’s not all that made this laptop special. Lenovo is also quite proud of the design materials used in the manufacturing of the device. The company told me that the Slim 9i is a carbon neutral-certified laptop and is made of recycled materials, which it claims is a “world’s first.”
The use of 3D glass doesn’t really impact the overall weight and thickness of the laptop. It measures in at 12.52 by 9.06 by 0.6 inches. Weight is around 3.02 pounds, which is about average for 14-inch laptops in this class. The use of 6000-series aluminum in other areas of the laptops also means that the build is sturdy, with absolutely no bending or creaking when I tried to flex the lid or the keyboard deck.
While the design of the Slim 9i shines bright, so does the display. I was hands-on with a model that features a 14-inch, 3840 x 2400 4K resolution OLED panel, and it really felt immersive. (The Slim 9i only comes in one 14-inch size.)
Like most laptops these days, the panel is in the 16:10 aspect ratio, so I was able to pull up sessions of Microsoft Edge and multitask with three windows open side by side. The 4K resolution pushes bonus pixels, leaving more room for extra items like Teams chat or an important document on your screen.
I was sitting in direct sunlight during testing, though, and the display was pretty reflective, which proved slightly annoying. However, Lenovo tells me that the display can hit 400 nits of peak brightness on all models. It also is claimed to hit 100% of the DCI-P3 color gamut and is VESA Display HDR 500 certified.
Note that the panel also has a 90Hz refresh rate. That’s up from the standard 60Hz you’ll get on a MacBook or most other Windows laptops. It’s still not as much as the 120Hz on the Surface Laptop Studio or Surface Pro 8, but 90Hz did make scrolling in Windows feel quite smooth, especially when web browsing.
To put all those certifications to the test, I watched a pre-saved video on the laptop of a raccoon eating a hot dog. From the gray in the fur to the black under his eyes, it was like the adorable creature almost jumped out of the screen. Even the red in the hot dog itself was also especially bright.
Going back and watching some nature videos also confirmed the experience. The greens of forests were bright, and the blues of the ocean deep and immersive. This OLED panel pushes out some incredible black colors and vibrant light colors. You won’t ever get that vibrancy on a MacBook or with laptops that have LCD screens.
Keyboard and trackpad
If you’ve used a Lenovo Slim laptop before, then you know how the Slim 9i 14 should feel. In testing the keyboard, I found there was plenty of key travel, but the keycaps felt a little too shallow when compared to what I am familiar with from using a ThinkPad. I did feel as though the large-sized and curved keycaps made typing easy, and the matching silver color completed the all-premium look.
Lenovo tells me it did also make the trackpad 50% larger between generations. That’s really important, considering that most people spend a lot more time web browsing these days. I enjoyed using the trackpad, and while it is not a haptic one like on the new XPS 13 Plus or the Laptop Studio, it is plenty smooth and accurate. The glass surface meant I missed no clicks and scrolling when spending some time in Microsoft Edge.
I do also want to mention the speakers next to the keyboard deck here, too. There are a total of four on board this laptop, all of which are powered by Bowers & Wilkins.
A sample audio clip that Lenovo played woke up the speakers up, and shook the desk the laptop was sitting on when turned up to around 80%. The speakers and bass levels are definitely strong.
With such a slim design, you should not expect much in terms of ports on the Slim 9i. Unlike Apple’s new MacBooks, this laptop sticks to all USB-C Thunderbolt 4 ports.
On the right side, there’s a webcam kill switch that kills the webcam in the device manager in Windows, disabling it in all apps. It’s a big change from the physical shutter on the webcam that Lenovo first put in its ThinkPads. That’s then followed up by another Thunderbolt 4 port. The left side has two Thunderbolt 4 ports and a headphone jack. All this means that buying dongles is a must.
With the webcam and microphones, Lenovo is including a Windows Hello IR webcam as well as dual microphones. The webcam is 1080p, and when I fired it up, the image quality wasn’t too bad. Despite sitting in direct sunlight, my image wasn’t overly blown out and I still made out the MTA subway line letters in my mask.
Like on the Yoga 9i 2-in-1, the webcam lives at a little hub at the top of the screen, a nice design feature that I appreciate for the aesthetics.
Performance and battery life
Lenovo is claiming that the Slim 9i can let users “tap into a mode of portable performance.” That’s because the laptop sports Intel’s 12th-generation processors, which have both performance cores and efficiency cores on the chipset. There are options for the Core i7-1280P or Core i5-1240P.
Do note the P series moniker here. This laptop doesn’t have the traditional 15-watt or 9W U-series CPUs found in thinner and lighter devices. Rather, it sports Intel’s P-series chips, which run at 28W for balanced performance and battery life when paired with the performance and efficiency cores. These are the same chips that you’ll find in the XPS 13 Plus.
As a reminder, the Core i7-1280P has six performance cores and eight efficiency cores. The Core i5-1240P, meanwhile, has four performance cores and eight efficiency cores.
I was hands-on with the Core i7-1280P model, and despite it being an early sample unit, it kept up with everything I threw at it. We’re looking forward to more in-depth testing in our labs, but in terms of web browsing with about 10 tabs on Microsoft Edge, as well as multimedia consumption, the Slim 9i chugged along just fine.
Other than the Intel chip, there’s also the Lenovo AI Core 2.0 Smart Chip on board the Slim 9i. Lenovo says this delivers improved AI- enabled performance and smarter security, which includes hardware-level encryption engineered to help protect the device from root and ransomware attacks. The Lenovo AI engine can also dynamically adjust fan speed and hardware performance to optimize and accelerate performance. For a device priced close to $2,000, that extra protection is nice.
All of that adds up to up to 12 hours of battery, according to Lenovo’s MobileMark 2018 testing. The company also claims up to 15 hours of battery for 1080p video playback. Rapid Charge Boost also means you can get two hours of usage from just 15 minutes of charging. I wasn’t able to do much battery testing in my time with the device, but we look forward to testing it in our labs. The 4K OLED panel worries me, though, as we’ve seen these panels be quite power-hungry in the past, like on HP’s Specter lineup.
Price and availability
The Lenovo Slim 9i 14 will start at $1,800 and be available in June 2022.