Hi. We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. Click OK and continue to use the site.  OK

Ultrabook reviews, guides and comparisons

Lenovo Yoga 720 15-inch – first impressions and initial review (vs the Dell XPS 15 9560)

By Douglas Black , updated on April 10, 2017

The 15-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 started turning heads as soon as its specs were released: a quad-core CPU with a Nvidia GTX 1050 in a 14.33 x 9.5 x 0.74-inch package? An aluminum chassis? No stupid colors or gaming design elements? No giant bezels? Convertible? Thunderbolt 3?

Is the 15-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 too good to be true?

As perhaps one of the first people to receive the 720, I’ve had a couple of days with it and I’d like to share my impressions. I know a lot of people are interested in the Yoga 720 as an alternative to the Dell XPS 15, and that’s just the way I’ve been assessing it for myself.

Without further ado, let’s get into my first impressions and benchmarks of the device.

Here are the specs:

Lenovo Yoga 720-15
Screen 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 px (optional upgrade to 3840 x 2160 px), IPS matte
CPUup to Intel 7th-gen Core i7-7700HQ
GPUNVIDIA GTX 1050 (2GB DDR5)
RAM8GB DDR4 on-board (supports up to 16GB)
Storage256GB (supports up to 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD
Camera720p
Battery72 WHr
Ports1x USB-C/Thunderbolt 3, 2x USB-A 3.0, 3.5mm headphone/mic combo, Fingerprint reader
Size14.33 x 9.5 x 0.74 inches (364 x 242 x 19mm)
Weight4.4 lbs (2.0 kg)

Exterior and design

The first impressions you’ll get of the Lenovo Yoga 720 is that it’s a little heavy, and the aluminum finish is very smooth, like worn Onyx. It’s only 4.4lbs according to Lenovo, but—perhaps because you’re expected to flip it around in your hands and use it as a tablet occasionally—it seems a bit more than that.

The overall finish is smooth and comfortable in the hand, while the beveled edges around the trackpad and fingerprint are nice accent touches. It feels solidly constructed and not at all fragile (as you would hope a 15-inch convertible that costs north of US$1200 for the base model would be). It is slightly (but noticeably) larger than the XPS 15, yet it also doesn’t feel quite as premium and well put-together. Stacking them on top of each other, you can see the Lenovo is a few millimeters bigger in each dimension.

It doesn’t seem to pick up fingerprints anywhere near as much as its contemporary, however.

Where the XPS 15’s design is sharp and angular in parts due to its layered aluminum/carbon fiber/aluminum sandwich construction, the Yoga 720 feels distinctly more round and smoother in the hand. Whether this is a plus or not is up to your taste, but for me I preferred the more solid look and feel of the XPS 15.

Keyboard and touchpad

The keyboard is one area where the Yoga 720 is clearly head and shoulders above the XPS 15. The keys are more solid, have no wobble, and travel slightly deeper than the XPS 15’s. I don’t have an exact measurement, but I would guess 1.4-1.5mm compared to the XPS’s 1.3mm.

The other clear area of superiority here is the design of the fingerprint scanner. Unlike the XPS’s implementation, this one seems well designed into the chassis and is always easy to see and find with your finger in dim lighting.

Some other notes for keyboard aficionados: Lenovo has swapped the Fn and Ctrl keys to a “standard” arrangement (generally these are reversed on Lenovo laptops in comparison to most others). There is a function key toggle setting in the sparse BIOS, but not much else (there is an option to disable the dedicated Nvidia GTX 1050, however). All in all, the keyboard is very much a strong-point of this machine when comparing to the XPS.

The touchpad, however, is a different story. Although it uses Microsoft Precision touchpad drivers, it is an all-around bad experience. I’m not sure if my unit was defective, but nearly every other gesture was not recognized, and the cursor would fail to respond frequently (I tried turning off the palm-check to no avail). The touchpad also has a very floaty feeling, making the mouse feel imprecise even when it does function. Hopefully Lenovo will get their act together and fix up the show-stopping experience that is the trackpad.

Screen

The unit I received had the FHD (1080p) screen. Although there is a 4k option, I feel that the smart money is on the FHD due to the relatively limited 72WHr battery. The XPS 15 gets about 7-8 hours of battery life with a 96WHr battery and the UHD screen, so it’s reasonable to expect the Yoga 720’s battery life will be roughly 25% less. By my calculations, that will give most users between 4-5 hours of battery life with the 4k display—but we should wait and see what the real world numbers end up being.

Back to the FHD screen, it is underwhelming. There is a fair amount of backlight bleed, but worse than that, I had a stuck (lit) pixel in the upper left corner.

Quality control issues aside, the display seems quite average. It doesn’t get anywhere near as bright as the UHD or FHD screens on my XPS 15s, and has some color wash-out when viewed from off angles. The contrast and color gamut, although not quantified with a colorimeter, are subjectively inferior to both the UHD and FHD displays on the XPS 15. Combined with the glare from the highly reflective Gorilla Glass, it is a definite weak point and contributes to the whole machine feeling less premium as a result.

Since some people complain of IPS ghosting on the XPS 15 displays, I also ran some tests with testufo. If you’re sensitive to response times, I can tell you that the Yoga needed a pixel spacing of 42 for the trail of the moving blocks not to touch, while my FHD and UHD XPS 15s needed about 58 and 56, respectively.

Performance

I was able to run enough tests and benchmarks on the Yoga 720 to get an idea of its performance and thermals, as well as determine if there is any throttling of the CPU or GPU.

My first test was Geekbench 4.0’s “Compute” benchmark. I set the power plan to “High Performance”, but it seems that the Yoga didn’t feel like going above 3.0GHz for most of the time. As a result, the score was significantly lower than the XPS 15 (which scores around 4600 and 13,500 on single-core and multi-core, respectively). I updated the BIOS and all other available drivers before running the benchmarks, so I’m not sure if this is a bug or an intentional reduction in performance.

Next, I ran the Unigine Heaven benchmark on “basic” preset, for a solid score of 2695. As can be seen in the graphs below, the GPU keeps its clocks very well, despite a toasty temperature above 80C. The CPU, however, still seemed intent on not turbo-boosting much.

I saw no indications of GPU throttling after running the Unigine Heaven benchmark on a loop for 30 minutes, though both the CPU and GPU got rather hot. These temperatures should be improvable with an undervolt and a repaste, however.

The Yoga 720 did not fare so well on the Fire Strike benchmark when compared to the XPS 9560. Both the CPU and GPU scores are roughly 1000 points below where the XPS typically scores, leading to an overall score about 500 points below the average.

As you can see in the graphs below, the CPU is not operating as fast as it should. The PL1 limit, visible in the window on the right, appears to have been limited to 30W. This indicates some level of VRM throttling on the CPU. I would expect an undervolt to solve this, however, as an undervolted i7-7700HQ will almost never hit 30W even under maximum load.

Finally, I took a look at the Thunderbolt 3 port. I know a major reason many people are interested in the 15-inch Yoga 720 over the XPS 15 is because the XPS 15’s Thunderbolt 3 port is not connected on all four lanes. Regrettably, it seems that the same is true for the Yoga 720.

Pricing and availability

The Lenovo Yoga 720 is currently “temporarily unavailable”, according to Lenovo’s website. I’m not sure if this is due to the issues I mentioned here, or if it’s just a supply issue. According to previous announcements from Lenovo, it is expected to hit brick and mortar stores in early April for around US$1250 and up. Given the current unavailable status of the Yoga 720, this may be subject to change.

Wrap up

I expected a lot from the 15-inch Yoga 720, but I came away a bit disappointed. Defects aside, perhaps I expected too much for a machine significantly cheaper than a similarly configured XPS 15.

The build quality I would describe as “good enough”, but is still a notch below the XPS. The screen is something that I could live with as someone who is not working in digital or print imaging, but it may be a deal breaker for others. The two-lane PCIe for the Thunderbolt 3 is a big disappointment, however, and I think that will turn away a lot of people who were looking at it as an alternative to the XPS 15. The floaty and frustrating trackpad was something that also made the machine difficult for me to imagine using as a daily driver: it is something immediately noticeable and consistently jarring for the duration of its use.

In conclusion, if you’re looking for a convertible XPS 15-style device, I would recommend holding off on buying this for a few months and see if firmware updates and improved production can solve the issues I experienced.

Douglas is a teacher, mobile tech enthusiast, weightlifter, personal trainer, SCUBA diver, and traveler. He currently lives in Bangkok.

39 Comments

  1. simons700

    March 28, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    Can the Yoga 720 Charge over USB-C?

  2. Lucas Wilde

    March 29, 2017 at 1:24 am

    A little surprised to see absolutely no mention of the Spectre x360 as a comparison, a far more fitting match up than the XPS and likely the machine many will be choosing between, not the XPS.

    • Douglas Black

      March 29, 2017 at 1:35 am

      There are many dual-core convertible laptops, but there are very few quad-core thin & light notebooks.

      • Lucas Wilde

        March 30, 2017 at 5:58 am

        Yes, and a real world comparison between a Kaby Lake dual-core 2-in-1, and a throttled Kaby Lake quad-core 2-in-1, would be very useful I think.

        I appreciate the in-depth review, it's just that not many people have reviewed both and you have. If you were a graphics professional choosing a 15 inch 2-in-1 , would you opt for the Spectre or the 720? In other words, is the performance increase in the 720 enough to warrant compromising on the build quality?

        • Douglas Black

          March 30, 2017 at 6:09 am

          I don't have access to a spectre 15 I'm afraid. I think if you are going to do graphics heavily then you'll use the 4k screen and an active stylus or mouse, so the awful trackpad won't bother you. I believe the spectre 15 is all-around a step up in quality from what I've read, but of course significantly weaker in threaded and 3d apps.

        • James

          April 5, 2017 at 6:13 pm

          Depends on what type of graphics I'd do. I do know the 15" Spectre is a dual core device and there will be some form of lag because it is dual core only. Also, HP still has its infamous overheating issues and the 15" Spectre is not exempt from this. The 4K screen would be great for graphics. NotebookCheck covered it in detail.

          https://www.notebookcheck.net/HP-Spectre-x360-15-bl002xx-Convertible-Review.196694.0.html

          I would honestly take a look around. If I wanted a graphics heavy device, I'd probably go with the XPS15 or find a way to see if I can configure a Precision 5520 with a GTX card as opposed to the Quadro card.

    • Dan

      April 7, 2017 at 11:57 pm

      FWIW, I returned my HP Spectre x360 (newest version). The 7500u and Nvdia 940 proved to be fairly underpowered for normal multi-tasking (stock quotes in the background with several Chrome tabs running). My 4-year-old old Samsung 7 chronos with an older quad-core, which I need to replace because it is falling apart, runs circles around the x360, benchmarking around 1200-1300 on Novabench vs 900-1075 for the HP. The HP has much faster Wifi though. I thought I would be OK, as the older computer is usually at about 10% CPU during daily use, so I figured the dual core would be about 20%. But it was generally at about 60% running the same programs and seemed like the fans were constantly running.

      The worst thing, however, and by far the biggest deal breaker was an annoying "Ghost touch" on the screen. Google it. But basically, the screen would suddenly scroll to the top or bottom by itself while web browsing, or would bounce up and down in Word or Outlook. It got worse over a period of a couple of weeks, to a point where I had to return the unit. Luckily, HP customer service is very good and they processed the return easily.

      If you do not stress it out too much, and are lucky enough to get a unit that doesn't suffer from the Ghost Touch syndrome, then it is a very fun computer.

      • Douglas Black

        April 8, 2017 at 12:00 am

        I experience the same thing with ULV computers, which is why I don't bother with them. They hit much higher CPU% usage and the multitasking lag is very noticeable compared to H-series

    • Alex

      April 20, 2017 at 4:25 pm

      Spectre x360 doesn't even have a dedicated GPU, so people who need GPU are solely going to watch Yoga and XPS, while people who are considering the x360 don't even need the GPU

  3. Mischieftain

    March 29, 2017 at 8:31 am

    Did you run this in Cinebench 15? If so, how did it perform?

    • Douglas Black

      March 29, 2017 at 8:37 am

      I'm sorry, but I returned it due to screen defects :(

  4. AndroidPurity

    April 2, 2017 at 1:44 pm

    Thanks for the early review! It sound really great!! Not worried about display cause Lenovo is known for really good laptop displays, so Im sure that 1 was just bad luck. Also I am not worried about software issues since as you said those will get updated. But the only concern I have is you mentioned the Thunderbolt 3 port, how did you reach to the conclusion of only 2 PCIe lanes? I ask because you acted unsure saying "it seems."

  5. Devin

    April 2, 2017 at 4:55 pm

    How did you confirm the tb3 port was only two lanes like the Dell? That may stop me from getting this. Surprised the trackpad was bad, the yoga 910s is pretty good. Thanks for the prompt and thorough review.

    • Douglas Black

      April 2, 2017 at 7:42 pm

      Take a look at the hwinfo page. That confirms x2 tb3

  6. Ordinary Geek

    April 5, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Disappointed! I had such high hopes for this machine! I like the Dell, but I think it could be better (that poorly-placed webcam is a real bummer, and the keyboard on it is just OK. And the speakers are just mediocre). It seems the only games in town for a powerful quad-core laptop right now are the Dell & the (grossly overpriced) MacBook Pro. Would love it if HP came out with a quad-core version of the Spectre x360 15-inch. That would be perfect. I guess I'm still waiting for the perfect machine…

    • Douglas Black

      April 5, 2017 at 9:55 pm

      I suspect that it being a convertible has to do with it's aggressive passive throttling. It's more likely to be handled so they don't want any part of it getting too hot

  7. WDavid

    May 3, 2017 at 10:22 am

    Thanks so much for this review. I'm currently typing this on an XPS 15 that I'm going to be returning. I love the idea of the XPS 15 but the implementation just seems to be totally flawed. I started off with a UHD model which had the infamouse flickering issue then I returned it for an HD model that had noticeable backlight bleed. I was under the impression (from Dell tech support) that the flickering was actually unusual so I switched back to another UHD model and it also flickers… Every time the screen flickers to a barcode and back again all I can think of is somebody from Dell laughing at me while saying "you paid us $3k so we could do this to you." I'm moving over from a Macbook pro but I absolutely hate the touchbar which also seems to have pushed the price even further. I was hoping the Yoga 720 might be a good alternative now I'm not sure. Maybe I should be waiting for the Asus UX550…

    • Douglas Black

      May 3, 2017 at 10:27 am

      I actually have a new yoga 720 that turned out perfect. I repasted it with liquid metal and the temperatures under load are incredibly low.

      I also ordered a gigabyte aero 15 and precision 5520. I recommend looking at the aero 15 :)

      • Ordinary Geek

        May 3, 2017 at 10:58 am

        Forgive me, but what do you mean when you say you "repasted it with liquid metal"?

        • Douglas Black

          May 3, 2017 at 11:00 am

          Liquid metal is a highly conductive thermal paste, the best on the market it is very difficult to apply, but should last a lifetime

          • Palmies

            May 17, 2017 at 10:03 pm

            How difficult was it to open up the laptop and remove the heatsink? Was it a simple unscrewing process, or did you have to unplug and move some wires around?

          • Douglas Black

            May 17, 2017 at 10:06 pm

            always unplug battery, but yeah it's just screws. it's a better designed heatsink/cooling solution than the XPS 15 to be sure.

            I am actually selling my Yoga 720 (which has been repasted with conductonaut) for 1000 USD + shipping, if anyone is interested :) too many computers around

          • Noel Quiles

            May 25, 2017 at 11:37 am

            . What are the specs of the yoga you're selling?

      • Marc Anthony

        May 5, 2017 at 5:26 am

        Hi Douglas, please share a comparison of the gigabyte aero 15 and the Yoga 720, that would be very interseting to look at.

        • Douglas Black

          May 5, 2017 at 5:32 am

          iUnlock has got my aero 15 right now and depending on his opinion of it, it will make its way to me. My second yoga 720 should arrive Tuesday

      • Earl J

        May 12, 2017 at 12:32 pm

        So is it benchmarking closer to the XPS after the repaste?

        • Douglas Black

          May 12, 2017 at 9:40 pm

          Yes, it holds clocks well. Actually there was a bios update that allowed you to select max performance. That fixed the low cpu scores/clocks

  8. Ryan

    May 11, 2017 at 10:59 am

    How difficult is it to get to the additional memory slot to add an additional 8GB?

    Also, which SSD do they seem to be typically coming with?

    Thanks!

    • Douglas Black

      May 11, 2017 at 11:05 am

      just open 'er up and then remove the metal shield over the RAM slot. Then it's just like normal RAM :)

      SSD is a SK HYNIX PC300 which delivers 1800/400 r/w speeds. Pretty standard OEM NVMe bit.

  9. Rita

    May 13, 2017 at 4:07 am

    Hello Douglas,

    thanks for your review.
    Could you say something about the noise emissons?
    For me a very important point!

    Thanks a lot

    • Douglas Black

      May 13, 2017 at 4:23 am

      It's fairly quiet doing office tasks. Once you use the gpu, both fans come on and you'll hear it. It is quieter than the XPS 15.

  10. jed

    May 19, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    i am currently going to college in a few months, and i need a 15" laptop that is capable of doing work and also can run high end games. im thinking about buying the yoga 720. im choosing between the hp x360, dell xps, and the yoga 720. which do you recommend?

    • Douglas Black

      May 19, 2017 at 9:51 pm

      Not the spectre. It is half the speed of the xps and yoga 720 in games. You'll need to mod the xps 15 to play games on it without severe throttling, so I would recommend the 720.

  11. Nicos

    May 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    Good review. There's haven't been much news on this. I bought the 15.6 inch with 16 GB of RAM and the GTX 1050 for drawing, scripting, programming, etc. Its still in the box. You said you got this one and it was going to become your everyday work horse and you were going to update your review. Yet, now you are trying to sell it. So ultimately is it good or not good?

    • Douglas Black

      May 21, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      It's a solid all-around computer, but I bought an Aero 15 so the yoga became redundant :)

      • Ajay

        May 22, 2017 at 4:58 am

        Hi Douglas,
        I am interested in buying your Yoga 720..what are the specs..screen size/ RAM/ SSD size/ 4K resolution/ Warranty period?
        You mentioned you pasted something called conductonaut–have no idea what that is or why did you do it? Does it affect the warranty?
        I am in the NYC area..how do I pay–Paypal?
        Can I email you directly?
        Thanks–AJ

        • Douglas Black

          May 22, 2017 at 5:01 am

          Hi Ajay!

          Actually, I just ended up giving it to a friend.

          Conductonaut is a special thermal paste that is made of highly conductive materials, including indium and gallium. It is actually corrosive to aluminum and electrically conductive, so great care must be made when applying it. However, done correctly, it will last a lifetime and lower temperatures more than any other thermal grease.

    • Josue

      May 26, 2017 at 12:26 am

      Hey Nicos, I am thinking of getting one for similar usages as you. How are you liking it so far??

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *