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Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro review: A potential Surface Pro 3 killer with a fancy new hinge

Gordon Ung | Nov. 14, 2014
It's the thinnest convertible laptop to date with a beautiful screen, and packs Intel's new Core M chip too.

Most convertible machines are about productivity and browsing, so a lot of people dismiss performance. But they do so at their own risk. If performance didn't matter, the world would still be happily driving the same Netbooks with the original sucktastic Atom CPUs. So to measure the performance of the Yoga 3 Pro, I tapped PCMark 8 and 3DMark. PCMark 8 runs simulated browsing, photo editing, video chat and light gaming to measure performance. 3DMark, meanwhile, is a gaming and graphics benchmark. You can see how the Yoga 3 Pro fared in this test in the chart below.

Uninspired performance, but it may not matter
Compared to a Surface Pro 2 with a Core i5-4200U and a Surface Pro 3 with a Core i5-4300U, the Yoga 3 Pro isn't very inspiring. As you can see in the chart above, the oldest of the three convertibles won our graphics battle. Why? The reason is mostly due to physics. The Surface Pro 2 is about as thick as half a stack of pancakes and you could probably beat a zombie to death with it. Its entire design is built to endure high temperatures under heavy loads. But with the Surface Pro 3, Microsoft opted for a thinner machine, and a more refined experience. Under heavy workloads, the Surface Pro 3 throttles down to control excessive heat.

Once we get to the Yoga 3 Pro we're looking at an even thinner notebook. In fact, if Lenovo is to be believed, it's the thinnest convertible ever made. To help accommodate this thinness--and not burn your lap--Lenovo also throttles down CPU clock speeds to help keep heat under control.

As you can see in the chart above, the fifth-generation Core M in the new Yoga is slower than the fourth-gen Core i5 parts in PCMark 8's Home Conventional test, which uses a mix of web browsing, casual gaming, word processing and video conferencing to measure performance. If you plan on using the Yoga 3 Pro for hardcore Photoshop or video editing work, think twice before pulling the trigger. But you probably won't notice any performance deficits during normal productivity use. Afterall, this isn't a Netbook that has problems typing the letter A.

Cool like Fonzie
Unlike the Surface Pro 3, which get warm under loads, the Yoga 3 Pro runs surprisingly cool. There's a small 1x4-inch strip on the bottom and rear of the Yoga 3 Pro that gets warm during heavy use, but other than that, it's cool to the touch.

Interestingly, Intel touted the Core M as enabling fanless designs, but Lenovo chose to embed a small fan. You can hear it on occasion, but it's very quiet. The fans in the Haswell-based Surface Pro 3 definitely make themselves known, so score a win for the Yoga 3 Pro on acoustics.


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