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Article updated on June 11, 2023 at 4:00 AM PDT

Lenovo Slim Pro 7 Review: Portable Power for Content Creators

The 14.5-inch Slim Pro 7 is the rare content-creation laptop that serves up Nvidia RTX graphics in a compact package.

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Matt Elliott
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Matt Elliott Senior Editor
Matt Elliott is a senior editor at CNET with a focus on laptops and streaming services. Matt has more than 20 years of experience testing and reviewing laptops. He has worked for CNET in New York and San Francisco and now lives in New Hampshire. When he's not writing about laptops, Matt likes to play and watch sports. He loves to play tennis and hates the number of streaming services he has to subscribe to in order to watch the various sports he wants to watch.
Expertise Laptops | Desktops | All-in-one PCs | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms
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Lenovo Slim Pro 7

Pros

  • Unusual combination of power and portability
  • Sharp, fast display
  • Rugged chassis
  • Long-running battery

Cons

  • Drab exterior
  • Limited storage space
  • "Clacky" touchpad

Geared toward content creators whose work has them on the go, the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 offers an uncommon combination of power and portability. It's built around a 14.5-inch, 90Hz display and powered by an AMD Ryzen 7 and entry-level Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 discrete graphics. Content creation laptops usually pair a dedicated GPU with a larger 16- or 17-inch display that provides a larger canvas on which to work at the expense of travel ease. With a 14.5-inch display and thin, compact chassis, the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 weighs only 3.5 pounds and makes a better travel companion than a full-size mobile content creation station.

And while the display may be smaller than the usual, it's fine and fast with a 2.5K resolution that's finer than the usual full-HD resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate that's faster than the typical 60Hz panel. Add in long battery life and a rugged chassis, and the Lenovo Slim Pro 7 makes a compelling case for wandering content creators or part-time gamers. The laptop's pedestrian looks, however, may underwhelm graphics pros with an eye for style.

Lenovo Slim Pro 7

Price as reviewed $1,200
Display size/resolution 14.5-inch 2,560 x 1,600 90Hz IPS Touch Display
CPU 3.2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS
Memory 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz
Graphics 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
Storage 512GB PCIe Gen 4 M.2 SSD
Networking Wi-Fi 6E 802.11AX (2 x 2), Bluetooth 5.1
Operating system Window 11 Home 22H2

Lenovo makes only one model of the Lenovo Slim Pro 7, and it's not customizable. It's available direct from Lenovo and also at Best Buy for $1,200 and, at the moment, it's only $900. It features a 14.5-inch display powered by AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS, 16GB of RAM and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 graphics. It also supplies a 512GB SSD. The 14.5-inch, 16:10 display features a 2.5K resolution (2,560x1,600 pixels), a 90Hz refresh rate and touch support. The Ryzen 7 7735HS CPU is a member of AMD's latest Ryzen 7 7000 series and has eight cores, 16 threads and a base frequency of 3.2GHz. The RTX 3050 is the entry-level GPU in Nvidia's previous RTX 30 series. 

In lab testing, the Slim Pro 7 proved itself to be a strong performer and long runner. Along with the AMD-based HP Dragonfly Pro, it trailed the two Intel-based laptops, the Asus ROG Flow Z13 and Dell XPS 15, on the PCMark and Geekbench tests, but the AMD pair was able to flip the script on Cinebench. Although the Slim Pro 7 isn't designed to be a gaming laptop, we ran our 3D graphics and gaming benchmarks to see what the RTX 3050 could handle. And it performed admirably on these tests, keeping pace and in some instances outpacing the Asus and Dell laptops that feature RTX 3050 Ti graphics. And the Slim Pro 7 was the runaway winner on our battery life test, easily outpacing the others here with a running time of more than 12 hours on our demanding online streaming battery drain test.

Lenovo Slim Pro 7 laptop's lid
Matt Elliott/CNET

Dull gray but rugged chassis

The Slim Pro 7 has an all-aluminum chassis with a staid, all-business look. It's entirely a dark gray color that Lenovo calls Storm Gray. The lid is dark gray, the keyboard deck is gray, the keys are dark gray and the bottom panel is dark gray. That's a lot of a rather dull, dark gray. We've asked laptop makers in the past why color options regularly lean toward drab in the US and the standard answer is, "Other colors don't sell well." And this dark gray is the result. 

The only accents are small silver Lenovo badges on the left edge of the keyboard deck and the left edge of the lid. It lacks the style of the HP Dragonfly Pro, which features a gorgeous, minimalistic design with a matte-black finish and gently rounded edges.

Lenovo Slim Pro 7 laptop viewed from above
Matt Elliott/CNET

What the Slim Pro 7 lacks in looks, it makes up for in ruggedness. The chassis feels very firm and has passed MIL-STD 810H tests, proving an ability to withstand drops, vibration, shock, dust, altitude and extreme temperatures. The military-grade ruggedness doesn't turn the Slim Pro 7 into a hulking laptop, though. It measures a trim 12.8 inches wide by 8.9 inches deep and is only 0.6-inch thick. It weighs 3.56 pounds, which is basically the same as the 3.52-pound MacBook Pro 14 and slightly heavier than the 14-inch HP Dragonfly Pro which weighs 3.42 pounds.

The display hinge is stellar. It might seem odd to praise a hinge, but it runs nearly the width of the laptop and holds the display firmly in place while also gliding smoothly when you open and close the lid. And the lid is easy to open, thanks to the notch that gently juts out from the center of the top edge of the display.

Lenovo Slim Pro 7's notch on the top edge of the display
Matt Elliott/CNET

The keyboard feels roomy and comfortable with snappy feedback for fast and accurate typing. The touchpad, however, sounds a bit "clacky." It offers a bit too much travel and emits a louder-than-usual sound when clicked. The keyboard offers two-level backlighting, and there's also an Auto setting that turns on the backlighting when conditions darken. 

Lenovo Slim Pro 7's keyboard
Matt Elliott/CNET

The keyboard lacks a fingerprint reader, but the webcam is an IR camera that lets you skip entering a password and log in using facial recognition. The camera also has a 1080p sensor that creates better-balanced images with less grainy noise than previous-generation 720p webcams. And when you aren't video conferencing, you can flip the kill switch on the laptop's right edge to kill the power to the camera to protect your privacy.

A fine display

The 14.5-inch display's 2.5K resolution sits at the midway point between the 14-inch HP Dragonfly Pro's Full HD (1,920x1,200-pixel) panel and the 14-inch MacBook Pro's Liquid Retina XRD display that has a 3,024x1,964-pixel resolution. Having just reviewed the Dragonfly Pro and using the 14-inch MacBook Pro as my everyday laptop, I can state with authority that the Slim Pro 7's display is closer to that of the MacBook Pro than Dragonfly Pro. Text looks crisp and inky black as it does on the MacBook Pro, with none of the blurriness I saw with text on the Dragonfly Pro. The Slim Pro 7 is the least bright, however, of this trio. It's rated for 350 nits of brightness, and I measured a peak brightness of 375 nits with a lux meter. The Dragonfly Pro is rated for 400 nits and hit 450 nits in my testing, while the MacBook Pro hits a peak of 500 nits.

Video editors will appreciate the panel's 90Hz refresh rate, which is 50% faster than the typical 60Hz panel. I was unable to detect smoother movement in watching videos, but video pros ought to notice a difference when engaged in their detailed editing work.

Video editors may not appreciate the Slim Pro 7's 512GB SSD, which could quickly reach full capacity if you are working with large video files. Even an option to upgrade the SSD to a larger size would be useful, but Lenovo offers only one model of the Slim Pro 7, and it's a fixed configuration.

Narrow speaker grilles flank the keyboard, and behind each one is not one but two speakers. The Slim Pro 7's audio output is fuller than that of typical laptop stereo sound. Music playback lacks bass, but the four speakers produce enough oomph to fill a small room.

Lenovo Slim Pro 7 laptop's ports on the left edge
Matt Elliott/CNET

The Slim Pro 7 features a pair of USB-C ports -- one USB 3.2 Gen 2 port with 20Gbps speed and a faster 40Gbps USB 4 connection -- along with a USB Type-A port on the right side to connect a mouse or an older USB peripheral. You also get an HDMI port and a headphone jack but no Ethernet jack, which would be handy for uploading large photo and video files. 

If the staid design and smallish SSD don't trip you up, there's a lot to like about the rugged and compact Lenovo Slim Pro 7, especially when it's on sale with a hefty $300 discount. It's a rarity among content creation laptops in packaging RTX graphics in a laptop that's smaller than 15 inches; most at this size are for gaming. What you sacrifice in screen real estate with the 14.5-inch display you gain in portability with a 3.5-pound travel companion. And stepping down in display size doesn't also step you down to a full-HD resolution -- the display's 2.5K resolution looks incredibly sharp across the 14.5-inch panel. The Slim Pro 7's long battery life also extends its portability -- this is a laptop that will likely get you through the workday on a single charge.

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How we test computers

The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computerlike devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device's aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we're currently running on every compatible computer include Primate Labs Geekbench 6, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found on our How We Test Computers page. 

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Asus ROG Flow Z13 11,629Dell XPS 15 9520 11,138HP Dragonfly Pro 9,146Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14ARP8) 9,053
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 (multicore)

HP Dragonfly Pro 12,696Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14ARP8) 11,520Asus ROG Flow Z13 11,028Dell XPS 15 9520 8,816
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Wild Life Extreme

Dell XPS 15 9520 8,816Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14ARP8) 8,511Asus ROG Flow Z13 8,268HP Dragonfly Pro 3,790
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

PCMark 10 Pro

Asus ROG Flow Z13 7,164Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14ARP8) 6,446Dell XPS 15 9520 6,161HP Dragonfly Pro 6,085
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Guardians of the Galaxy (High @1920x1080)

Dell XPS 15 9520 93Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14ARP8) 91Asus ROG Flow Z13 83
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

The Riftbreaker GPU @1920x1080

Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14ARP8) 128.8Asus ROG Flow Z13 126.18Dell XPS 15 9520 125.13
Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Online streaming battery drain test

Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14ARP8) 727Dell XPS 15 9520 610HP Dragonfly Pro 449Asus ROG Flow Z13 381
Note: In minutes; longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Lenovo Slim Pro 7 (14ARP8) Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 3.2GHz AMD Ryzen 7 7735HS with Radeon Graphics; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050; 512GB SSD
HP Dragonfly Pro Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.7GHz AMD Ryzen 7 7736U with Radeon Graphics; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz RAM; 512MB AMD Graphics; 512GB SSD
Asus ROG Flow Z13 Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.5GHz Intel Core i9-12900H; 16GB DDR5 6,400MHz; RAM 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti; 1TB SSD
Dell XPS 15 9520 Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-12700H; 16GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050Ti; 512GB SSD