Lenovo Yoga 3 14 review: This hybrid puts performance, price before high-end design

I know this sounds like a lot of caveats and, well, it is. But, for me, none of them are real deal breakers or are so frustrating that it prevented me from using or enjoying the Yoga 3 14. The screen brightness would be the biggest issue, especially if you plan to frequently use it outside.

Ports and connections

Video Micro-HDMI
Audio Stereo speakers, combo headphone/microphone jack
Data 2 USB 3.0, 1 USB 2.0, SD card reader
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.0
Optical None

Connections, battery and performance

Despite being bigger and thicker than the Pro version, Lenovo used the same port assortment for the two models. This includes a Micro-HDMI video output that will require either a male Micro-to-full-size HDMI cable or a dongle with a male Micro-HDMI and female full-size HDMI.

The Yoga 3 also has a USB 2.0 port that doubles as the power input, which is both good and bad. It gives you more functionality than a standalone laptop power jack and, since the cable is removable from the power adapter, the adapter can be used for charging other USB devices. A special USB cable is needed for charging, however, and the included one is just 6 feet long; plan on packing an extension cord for longer reaches.

Battery life came in at 8 hours and 5 minutes on CNET's video playback drain test. I was able to get through a full work day on a single charge, which mainly consisted of working inside of Google's Chrome browser while streaming music, with no worries. The harder you drive the system and the brighter you set the display, the less your battery will last.

Taken alone, that's some pretty good battery life. But when next to the similarly configured Dell XPS 13 (non-touch) and HP Spectre x360, it falls way short, with each getting 12 hours on CNET's drain test.

As for system performance, the Yoga 3 14 basically matched those two systems on CNET Labs benchmarks. The non-touch version of the Dell was slower at Photoshop, but that model has only 4GB of RAM, versus the 8GB in the other Broadwell systems.

If you don't run computer benchmarks as part of your daily routine, you'll be happy to hear that the Yoga 3 14 performed very well when doing real-life day-to-day tasks including web browsing with more than a couple dozen tabs open, light photo and video editing, streaming video or music and casual mobile games.

Conclusion

It might not have the style of the Yoga 3 Pro, but the Lenovo Yoga 3 14 more than makes up for it in battery life, system performance and price.

HandBrake Multimedia Multitasking test

Dell XPS 13 (2015, non-touch)
428
Dell XPS 13 (2015, touchscreen)
441
HP Spectre x360
476
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2014)
478
Lenovo Yoga 3 (14-inch)
577
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
682

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test

HP Spectre x360
235
Lenovo Yoga 3 (14-inch)
238
Dell XPS 13 (2015, touchscreen)
243
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2014)
253
Dell XPS 13 (2015, non-touch)
263
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
263

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Apple iTunes encoding test

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2014)
76
Dell XPS 13 (2015, non-touch)
112
Lenovo Yoga 3 (14-inch)
113
HP Spectre x360
113
Dell XPS 13 (2015, touchscreen)
113
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
142

Note:

Shorter bars indicate better performance (in seconds)

Video-playback battery-drain test

Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2014)
986
Dell XPS 13 (2015, non-touch)
726
HP Spectre x360
720
Lenovo Yoga 3 (14-inch)
485
Dell XPS 13 (2015, touchscreen)
422
Lenovo Yoga 3 Pro
346

Note:

Longer bars indicate better performance (in minutes)


System Configurations

HP Spectre x360 13t Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD 5500 Graphics; 256GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 (2015, non-touch) Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 4GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 2,000MB (shared) Intel HD 5500 Graphics; 128GB SSD
Dell XPS 13 (2015, touchscreen) Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD 5500 Graphics; 256GB SSD
Apple MacBook Air (13-inch, 2014) Apple OS X 10.9.3 Mavericks ; 1.4GHz Intel Core i5-4260U; 4GB 1,600MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 1,536MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5000; 128GB SSD
Lenovo Yoga Pro 3 Windows 8.1 (64-bit); 1.1GHz Intel Core M-5Y60; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD Graphics 5300; 256GB SSD
Lenovo Yoga 3 (14-inch) Windows 8.1 (64.bit); 2.2GHZ Intel Core i5-5200U; 8GB DDR3 SDRAM 1,600MHz; 3,839MB (shared) Intel HD 5500 Graphics; 256GB SSD