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Lenovo Yoga 9i (15-inch) review: A big-screen 2-in-1 for work and entertainment

Although it's little more than a spec bump from last year's C940, the 15.6-inch Yoga 9i is still an excellent pick for a premium desktop replacement with the flexibility of a convertible.

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Josh Goldman/CNET

The 15.6-inch Lenovo Yoga 9i is not exactly what it might seem. It looks like a premium two-in-one for productivity -- from its clean, metal body to its webcam privacy shutter and fingerprint reader to its full number pad topped with media controls. But then you add in the DisplayHDR 400 display (available in FHD or UHD resolutions), the 360-degree soundbar speaker hinge with Dolby Atmos support and its 10th-gen Intel Core i7 CPU and discrete graphics, and you've got a two-in-one for entertainment, content creation and gaming. The Yoga 9i is essentially like having a laptop, a large pen-enabled tablet and a small all-in-one desktop. 

8.0

Lenovo Yoga 9i (15-inch)

Like

  • Slim and stylish for a desktop replacement
  • Excellent performance for work and entertainment

Don't Like

  • Disappointing port assortment given its size
  • Memory can't be upgraded

However, not too much has changed from its predecessor, the Yoga C940. Performance is improved but not by leaps and bounds. And I got about 100 more minutes of battery life on our streaming video test, running for 11 hours, 22 minutes. Still, if you're putting its discrete graphics to work, you're not going to get through a day without charging. And it's because of the GPU that it needs a larger power supply than you might expect and doesn't charge through its USB-C Thunderbolt 3 ports. It does recharge quickly at least, giving you two hours of use with a 15-minute charge. 

Lenovo Yoga 9i (15-inch)

Price as reviewed $1,799
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch 1,920 x 1,080 touch display
CPU 2.6GHz Intel Core i7-10750H
Memory 16GB DD4 RAM 2,933MHz (soldered)
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti Max-Q
Storage 1TB SSD
Networking 802.11AX (2 x 2) WiFi 6 & Bluetooth 5.0
Connections 2x USB-C (Thunderbolt 3), 1x USB-A, 3.5mm combo audio jack
Operating system Windows 10 Home 64-bit

The configuration I tested currently sells for $1,800 at Best Buy. That's the starting price direct from Lenovo, too, but given that Lenovo is nearly always running a promotion, you could probably get it for less. It's a good combo, but you are paying more here for the premium features and design. Those features include things like the aforementioned webcam privacy shutter, HDR display and the included active pen. The pen, which stores and charges in the right side of the body, has a new elastomer tip that adds some friction. To me, it feels similar to a wax pencil on glass. 

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The two-in-one design lets you use the 9i more like an all-in-one desktop. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

With a two-in-one this size, one of my favorite ways to use it is in stand mode with the keyboard facing down and the display forward. Attach a keyboard and mouse and you've got what's essentially an all-in-one desktop with a 15.6-inch display. Unfortunately, this does mean you can't use the fingerprint reader to sign in, though. 

The Yoga 9i has two Thunderbolt 3 ports and one USB-A port, which means you'll likely need a dock or adapter if you want to add an external display or two to your setup. It's disappointing there's no HDMI out, Ethernet or SD card slot. Also, the power button is on the right side toward the back and, with its USB-C ports, power input and headphone jack all on the left, it's too easy to accidentally press it while plugging things into the 9i. 

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The new keyboard is snappier than last year's model. And yes, those stickers are removable. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Don't want to attach a keyboard and mouse? The Yoga 9i's are just fine to use full time. The backlit keyboard has enough travel and feedback to make touch typing comfortable. Compared to the C940's, the keys have a bit more pop to them. Lenovo squeezed in a number pad and media controls, too. The precision touchpad is smooth and responsive with a defined click to it. 

The full-HD display is nice, too, and the higher 500-nit brightness is appreciated. It's not meant for color-critical work, but is good enough for average photo and video editing. For movies, games and other entertainment, you likely won't be disappointed. The same goes for the audio from the soundbar hinge. Regardless of the position the screen is in, you get clear audio. And, with the Dolby Atmos processing turned on, it sounds better than other laptops this thin. You'll still want good headphones or external speakers for thumping bass, but for general listening to music or watching videos, this setup works really well. 

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The only port not on the left side is a USB-A. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

This Yoga 9i's combination of a six-core processor and lower-end midrange discrete graphics can handle school and office productivity tasks to content creation. And yes, it's perfectly capable of gaming at medium to high settings depending on the title. You will want to make sure you get as much RAM as you can afford, though, as it's soldered on and can't be increased later (it maxes out at 16GB). If you're going to skimp, do it on storage since that can be upgraded. If you feel you need the most performance possible, you can bump up to an eight-core Core i9-10980HK processor. 

The fact that you get this performance in a slim two-in-one is pretty great, but it does occasionally require the fans to go full blast to keep things cool. They aren't particularly loud, but won't miss them. However, if you want, Lenovo's included Q-control software lets you or the laptop decide how to cool. 

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Josh Goldman/CNET

If you've been on the fence about getting a two-in-one or sticking with a traditional clamshell laptop, the 15.6-inch Lenovo Yoga 9i strikes a happy medium. Also, thanks to its discrete graphics, it's an excellent compromise for those who want something that's a productivity and entertainment machine that also includes PC gaming.