If you’re in the market for a compact laptop with a convertible screen and have around $800 to $1000 to spend, the 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 720 should be on your list.
It’s a mid-2017 launch from Lenovo and inherits many features from the premium Yoga 910 convertible, but it’s a simpler, more compact build, with a standard 13.3-inch IPS screen, active pen support, Thunderbolt 3 connectivity and an average sized 48 Wh battery. It’s also a few hundred dollars more affordable than the Yoga 910.
I’ve spent the last few weeks using this laptop and gathered all my impressions in this post, we the goods and the quirks, so read on if you’re interested in getting a Yoga 720 and just want to know if it’s worth your hard earned buck.
Specs as reviewed
||Lenovo Yoga 720 13-IKB
||13.3 inch, 1920 x 1080 px, IPS, touch, glossy, Active pen support
||Intel Kaby Lake Core i7-7500U CPU
||Intel HD 620
||16 GB DDR4 (soldered)
||512 GB SSD (M.2 NVMe)
||Qualcomm QCA6174 Wireless AC , Bluetooth 4.1
||1x USB 3.0 Type-A , 2x USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, mic/earphone
||48 Wh, 45 Wh charger
||310 mm or 12.2” (w) x 213 mm or 8.38” (d) x 14.3 mm or 0.56” (h)
||2.82 lbs (1.28 kg) + .42 lbs (.19 kg) charger and cables
||white backlit keyboard, fingerprint sensor, HD webcam, stereo speakers
Lenovo also offers a 15-inch Yoga 720 notebook, but it’s a completely different product built on Intel HQ hardware with Nvidia 1050 graphics. You can read more about that one in this article.
Design and first look
While it’s not as distinguished as the Yoga 910, the Yoga 720 is a very well made laptop of its own. Metal is used for the entire outer shell, with a smooth texture that feels great to the touch and doesn’t show any smudges or fingerprints on this Silver version we got to review. In fact, this finishing is very simple and under the radar, as nothing stands out, not even the branding elements, making this a perfect option for schools and places with strict design policies.
There’s no unibody construction like on the Yoga 910, as the inner chassis is made from plastic, but the build quality of this thing is top notch, with a very strong screen and very little to no give in the keyboard deck either.
The Yoga 720 is also light, thin and fairly compact, with small bezels on top (9 mm) and on the sides (6.5 mm) of the screen, but a pretty hefty bezel on the bottom that looks somewhat weird in Tablet and Tent modes. The top bezel is not as tiny as on the Yoga 910 and that left room for Lenovo to squeeze the webcam in there this time.
This computer is a convertible with a screen capable of flipping to 360-degrees on the back. It’s very comfortable to use as a regular notebook, with a spacious interior that integrates a full-size keyboard, big trackpad and a fingerprint sensor, a low profile and tapered edges. It’s also a pretty decent Tablet, but watching movies in Tent mode is odd due to the small bezel at the bottom and the very large one at the top.
That at least allows for room to grab the computer from in Tablet mode, although you’d have to put your hand right on top of the cooling exhaust, which can get unpleasant. I do like that Lenovo made sure there’s more room to blow out hot air and there’s an intake cut on the underbelly, which means they actually learned from the flaws of older Yogas that struggled to keep the internals cool due to having insufficient intake and exhausts.
Of course, the more standard hinges’ design helps with the cooling design, leaving more room for exhaust grills than the wristwatch band design of the more premium Yogas. On the other hand these hinges on the 720 are a bit stiffer and don’t work as smoothly, but still do a fairly good job at taking the screen through its various modes. In fact, if the Yoga 910 wouldn’t have been so fresh in my mind, I probably wouldn’t even have mentioned this aspect, but I just know there are better ways to do it. The hinges also allow to lift the screen with a single hand, but there’s still no creek to grab it from which makes the whole process a little difficult. The screen is a little longer than the main body and this should be enough to leave an ledge, but the rounded smooth surface is just a little slippery. But hey, I can sure nitpick on tiny details like this one.
Flipping the laptop upside down you’ll notice four rubber feet, two speaker grills in the bottom corners and that air intake I mentioned earlier.
As far as the IO goes, there’s still not much on the sides, with an USB Type-A ports, two USB Type-C connectors and a headphone jack. But this time both those USB Type-C slots support Thunderbolt 3 x4, which makes the laptop future-proof. You still don’t get any adapters included in the pack and you’ll have to buy some to hook up an external monitor or other peripherals.
All in all, this 13-inch Yoga 720 is one of the nicest convertibles in its mid-range class. It might not feel as exquisite or premium as the Yoga 910, Zenbook Flip S or Spectre x360, but it’s still compact, well built and practical, for a fraction of the price.
There’s a 13.3-inch touchscreen on our Yoga 720 review unit, with a pretty solid IPS FHD panel.
It’s averagely bright, albeit not ideal for outdoor use, it’s crisp and sharp and fairly color accurate, as you can see from the details below (taken with a Spyder4 sensor):
- Panel HardwareID: Infovision M133NWF4 R0;
- Coverage: 99% sRGB, 72% NTSC, 76% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.0;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 373 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 10100:1;
- White point: 6000 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.27 cd/m2;
- Average DeltaE: 0.90 uncalibrated, 1.25 calibrated.
Normally I’d recommend using our calibrated color profile to address the skewed gamma, but our sample came very well calibrated out of the box and the calibration didn’t do much except to somewhat change the gray levels, but not necessarily improve them. Still, you can find it in here, in case you want to give it a try.
This aside, I should add that I haven’t noticed any light bleeding on our review unit, the strong screen build sure helps with that. And of course I’ll also add that this screen is able to go 360-degrees on the back, like on most other convertibles.
As of recently Lenovo also offers an UHD panel option for this 13-inch Yoga. It’s sharp and vibrant, but will take a toll on battery life and is only available on the expensive high end configurations, so it wouldn’t be my first pick on this notebook.
The Yoga 720 gets a Wacom digitizer and is compatible with the Lenovo Active Pen 2 stylus, which is sold separately (~$70) and is a Wacom pen with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity, so overall a very capable option for inking and drawing. I didn’t get it with my review unit so I can’t tell you much about it, but you’ll find info on Youtube and the forums.
Keyboard and trackpad
Several thousands words in the bag, I can say the Yoga 720 gets a nice keyboard with a short 1.2 mm stroke, but fairly consistent feedback. For me the typing experience wasn’t as nice as on the Yoga 910 and I can’t pinpoint for sure why, it’s mostly a combination of firmness and finishing. These keys are just a tad stiffer and made from a somewhat cheaper kind of plastic, but it’s still a good performer and allowed my to type accurately, just a little slower than with others.
The keys are also moderately quiet and backlit, with two brightness levels to choose from.
The layout is pretty standard for a 13-inch Lenovo laptop, with mostly full-size keys and good spacing, but also a few quirks. We got the European layout on our sample which comes with a tiny left Shift key bound the the | key nearby, as well as the tall Enter key bound to the ~ key. Both need time to get used to, and so do those half-sized Top and Arrow keys.
For mouse Lenovo went with a well spaced Synaptics clickpad carved into the palm-rest, with beveled edged around. It’s a plastic surface, so the finger doesn’t glide as smoothly on it as on glass trackpads, but otherwise it performs well and doesn’t rattle when tapped like most other plastic clickpads. The click buttons are a little stiff though and require a firmer press to register.
There’s also a fingerprint sensor on this laptop, beneath the arrow keys. It’s tiny, but actually works well for quickly logging into Windows with Hello.
Hardware and performance
The 13-inch Yoga 720 is built on Intel Core U hardware without dedicated graphics. We got to test a high end configuration with the Core i7-7500U processor, 16 GB of RAM and a 512 GB NVMe SSD.
You’re not going to necessarily need all these if you’re looking for a computer for everyday use, for browsing, movies, music, text editing and so on. The Core i5 configuration with 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD will do just fine for these basic tasks and sells for around $800, while the i7 CPU, extra RAM and bigger SSD are going to push it over the $1000 mark. The i7 does help with multitasking though, thanks to its HyperThreading feature, and it’s a $100 upgrade.
The RAM and CPU are soldered on the motherboard, so you should make sure to get what you need from the beginning. The SSD, wireless chip and battery are accessible by removing the back panel that’s hold in place by a few Torx T4 screws.
I’d go for the i7 and 16 GB of RAM to future proof the notebook and especially if I’d plan to put it to some serious work, maybe edit photos in Photoshop and Lightroom, videos in Premiere or run some programming software. There’s a catch though: throttling. The i7 on our test unit was not capable of sustaining TurboBoost speeds in constant demanding loads like benchmarks and games, as you can see below. It’s not a thermal limitation though as far as I can tell, as the CPU’s package only reaches temperatures of around 65-70 Celsius in these loads, yet its speed automatically drops in demanding loads. We used the latest available BIOS and chipset drivers as of July 2017, but to no vain. We even hooked up a 65W charger, just in case the 45W charger did not provide enough power for these loads, but that didn’t change anything either.
Take these findings with a grain of salt at the moment, since our test sample is still fairly early and there’s no obvious reason that explains the throttling other than perhaps some faulty drivers, although we did use the latest available. Still, you should check other sources and see if anyone else reports throttling in similar scenarios.
Here are our benchmarks results, but again, take them with a pinch of salt, retail units might do better.
- 3DMark 11: P1776;
- 3DMark 13: Sky Driver – 4103, Fire Strike – 978, Time Spy – 383;
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 2875;
- PCMark 10: 3522;
- Geekbench 3 32-bit: Single-Core: 3042, Multi-core: 6337;
- Geekbench 4 64-bit: Single-Core: 4335, Multi-core: 8228;
- CineBench 11.5: OpenGL 33.75 fps, CPU 3.48 pts, CPU Single Core 1.55 pts;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 40.69 fps, CPU 308 cb, CPU Single Core 131 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 103.49 fps, Pass 2 – 19.02 fps.
As far as everyday performance and temperatures go, you’ll find details in the pictures below and there’s nothing unusual worth reporting here.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
Lenovo uses a miniaturized cooling system on this laptop with slim heat-pipes and two small fans.
These fans are active pretty much all the time with daily use, even with very basic activities, but they’re almost inaudible at normal head level in a regular room, averaging about 35-36 dB with slight bumps in multitasking (in a room with an ambient noise of 33 dB). You will hear them in a perfectly quiet environment though. They also spin faster and noisier with games and other constant high-load tasks, averaging about 43-44 dB at head level.
As far as temperatures go, this laptop gets fairly hot with demanding loads, but rests otherwise within normal temperature limits of about 35-37 degrees in everyday use, which is just what you should expect from a computer with this kind of hardware and overall size.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing Neef For Speed: Most Wanted 4 for 30 minutes
Connectivity wise there’s Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.1 on the Yoga 720. Lenovo went with a Qualcomm QCA6174 module that performs very well near the router but was pretty much unusable at range on our sample, with the speeds dropping to very low levels at 30 feet with two walls in between, despite the fact that the signal strength is still rated at 3 bars in Windows. I did use the latest drivers available on Lenovo’s website as of July 2017, so this is either a software problem or an issue with the wireless antennae. The Qualcomm chip is usually a solid performer, as proven on the Yoga 910 for example.
I can’t tell for sure what was wrong here, but is definitely something you should check on your devices, especially if your room or office is farther away from the router.
As far as the speakers go, there are two of them, placed on the belly, in the front corners. Covering them on lap use doesn’t have a noticeable impact on the sound coming out, but these speakers are just about average, with volumes up to 76 dB at head level and clear, bur rather tiny sound with little low end (starts at about 130-140 Hz in the tests available on Youtube). They’re not awful overall, but also far off from being memorable.
We kept the camera for the end. It’s placed on top of the screen and it’s alright, a little washed out, but will do the job in a well lit room. The mics on the other hand are on the bottom of the screen and have a slightly hard time cancelling noise from the keyboard and especially the fans, when those are active.
There’s a 48 Wh battery on the Yoga 720, which is just a tad small for a convertible in this niche. We set the screen at 30% brightness, which is ~120 nits, and here’s what we got:
- 9.5 W (~5 h of use) – very light browsing and text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.8 W (~8 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 4.5 W (~10 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 5.5 W (~8 h 30 min of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11.5 W (~4 h of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 30%, Wi-Fi ON.
The platform is efficient when it comes to playing video content, but browsing eats fast into the battery even in Edge, which is one of the more efficient browsers, so you shouldn’t expect more than 4 hours of daily multitasking from this thing.
There’s a compact 45 Wh power brick with USB-C tip included in the pack and a full charge takes a little over 2 hours. The charger only weighs about .24 kg, cables included.
Price and availability
The 13-inch Yoga 720 starts at around $800 at the time of this post for a configuration with a Core i5-7200U processor, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB SSD, and this imo will get you the most value for your buck and is best suited for everyday use.
You can upgrade to the i7 processor for $100 extra, or to an i7, 16 GB of RAM a 512 GB SSD, but that takes the cost to about $1100. You can also opt for a 1 TB SSD and the UHD screen, yet this configuration is going to set you back about $1600.
Follow this link for more details, updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading the article.
There’s very little wrong about this 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 720. It’s well built, compact and fairly light, it packs a nice screen with digitizer and pen support, a good keyboard, fast hardware and a mid-sized battery. It has some quirks and is only average here and there, when it comes ti its speakers and battery life, but none are actually deal-breakers for everyday use. And you should keep in mind this Yoga is a mid-range product that starts at around $800 and not a competitor for high-end 2-in-1 ultraportables, waters big sharks like the Lenovo Yoga 910, the HP Spectre x360 13, Zenbook Flip S UX370 or Samsung Notebook Pro 9 swim in.
Potential buyers should fair this against laptops with similar features and price tags, like the Asus Zenbook UX360CA/UA lines and the Dell Inspiron 13 7000, each with their own particularities, which I quickly summarized for you below:
- Asus Zenbook UX360CA – thin metallic build, no backlit keyboard, fanless Core Y hardware, no digitizer or pen support, limited IO and no TB3, 54 Wh battery, 2.9 lbs (1.3 kg), more affordable – starts at $699 with a 512 GB SSD;
- Asus Zenbook UX360UA – metallic build, backlit keyboard, Core U hardware, no digitizer or pen support, good IO but no TB3, 57 Wh battery, 2.8 lbs (1.27 kg), not worldwide available – starts at around $800 with a 512 GB SSD;
- Dell Inspiron 13 7000 – metallic build, backlit keyboard, Core U hardware, digitizer or pen support, good IO but no TB3, 42 Wh battery, 3.8 lbs (1.75 kg), starts at around $800 ;
The Zenbooks are somewhat cheaper and get bigger batteries, but lack pen support, while the Inspiron works with pens, but gets a smaller battery and is much heavier. So all in all the Yoga 720 is the best option in its class of mid-range convertibles with powerful hardware, modern features and few compromises. If you have north of $1000 to spend though, you might find something better suited for your needs in the higher end class.
That pretty much wraps this review, but the comments section is open below for your feedback and questions on this 13-inch Lenovo Yoga 720, and we’re around to help out if we can.
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