The 15-inch Lenovo Yoga 730 is not like most other laptops in today’s market: a 15-inch computer with a 360-degrees convertible touchscreen and Intel Core U hardware with dedicated Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics (the full-power version, not the Max-Q variant), all tucked inside a sturdily built metallic body and with a starting price of under $1000 as of late-August 2018.
This mix puts the Yoga 730 of the map for those of you looking for a versatile all-rounder with a fair price, a convertible touchscreen, good everyday performance, and some decent gaming abilities. This is definitely not primarily a gaming device and nor is it the most powerful laptop you can get at around $1000, but if you value the portable and lightweight construction, the 2-in-1 format or the nice keyboard on top of all those aspects aforementioned, this could be for you.
The Yoga 730-15IKB builds on last year’s Yoga 720-15IKB, but while on a first glance the two look identical, they’re actually different in many ways.
We’ve spent two weeks with a final retail version of the 15-inch Lenovo Yoga 730 and gathered all our impressions below, with the strong points and the quirks.
Lenovo sure cut some corners in order to meet the lower price-point, so there are a few aspects you should be aware of before taking the plunge, especially related to its performance with games and some of the screen’s particularities. We’ll get in-depth on these matters and all the other fine bits and details in the review below.
Specs as reviewed
|Lenovo Yoga 730-15IKB|
|Screen||15.6 inch, 3840 x 2160 px, IPS, touch, glossy|
|Processor||Intel Kaby Lake-R Core i7-8550U CPU|
|Vide0||Intel UHD 620 + Nvidia GTX 1050 4GB|
|Memory||8 GB DDR4 (8 GB onboard, 1x DIMM)|
|Storage||512 GB SSD (M.2 PCIe)|
|Connectivity||Gigabit LAN, Wireless AC (Realtek RTL8822BE) , Bluetooth 4.2|
|Ports||2x USB-A 3.1, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 3, HDMI 2.0, mic/headphone|
|Battery||51.5 Wh, 90 W charger|
|Size||360 mm or 14.17” (w) x 249 mm or 9.8” (d) x 17 mm or .68” (h)|
|Weight||4.18 lbs (1.9 kg) + 1.05 lbs (.47 kg) for the charger|
|Extras||backlit keyboard, webcam|
Lenovo offers the Yoga 730 in a few different configurations, with either Core i5 or i7 U processors, various amounts of SSD storage, up to 24 GB of RAM and either a FHD or a UHD IPS touchscreen. They all get the same battery and GTX 1050 4GB graphics.
Design and exterior
I doubt even the pickier among you will find a fault with how well this computer is built. The outer-case is entirely made out of smooth aluminum panels, with a sturdy lid, underbelly, and sturdy interior and keyboard deck. There’s little to no flex in the outer shell, and the simple design lines with very few branding elements make it an ideal choice for stricter environments, like schools and businesses.
The Yoga 730 is also fairly compact and light for a 15-inch computer with this kind of a metallic build, and unfortunately that comes with a sacrifice in battery size, which we’ll address further down. Even so though, if portability and a small form-factor are important criteria in your selection, this laptop should definitely make it to your shortlist.
While the Yoga 730 is overall well built, it’s not as well finished. I’m not a big fan of the sharp edges and corners, nor of the uneven connection between the bottom panel and the sides, which leaves some unpolished sharp bits towards the front and back corners. The inner front lip is sharp as well, to the point where it’s going to leave its marks on your wrists if you’re using the laptop on a smaller desk, without ample arm support.
This aside, as well as the fact that the rubber feet on the bottom are made of hard plastic and don’t offer a lot of grip, this is a fairly practical computer. The screen is held in place by two sturdy hinges and can be operated with a single hand. Since the Yoga is a convertible, the screen rotates to 360 degrees and you can use the device as a regular notebook, as a tablet, or as something in between. Of course, at 4+ lbs, this is not the kind of tablet you can easily hold with your hands, not even when gripped from the hefty chin beneath the screen, but I’d reckon some of you might have a good use for it in this mode.
As far as cooling goes, fresh air is sucked in through the grill on the bottom and then pushed out by two fans through the cuts on the back-edge, away from the user. This is a simple and pretty much faultless design.
Lenovo didn’t skim (much) on the IO either, and this laptop gets two USB-A slots, a USB-C slot with Thunderbolt 3 (only 2x PCIe lanes), as well as an HDMI 2.0 connector for video output, unlike the Yoga 720 predecessor. There’s still no card-reader though.
All in all, Lenovo did a pretty good job with the Yoga 730 update. It’s a more refined and much sturdier successor of the older 15-inch Yoga, is compact and fairly light for its class, and for the most part, practical to use. You’d still have to accept the aggressive sharp edges and bits on the underbelly, the lack of an SD-card reader and the bottom-placed speakers, but I’d reckon none of these would be deal-breakers for most of you.
Keyboard and trackpad
Typing on this laptop is going to require some time to get used to the short travel and springy feedback, but if you’re familiar with this kind of keyboards implemented on many thin-and-lights these days, you’ll probably end up liking this one.
For me, it’s one of the fastest, quietest and most accurate on the market, but it took me several thousands of words to get used to how it clicks. It’s not going to be for everyone though, as I’d expect many to complain about its weird and rather shallow response, so it’s best to give it a try for a few days before deciding if it’s up to your alley or not.
This keyboard is also backlit, with white LEDs and two intensity levels to choose from (Fn+Space).
The layout is pretty good, with properly sized and spaced keys. There’s no NumPad section, which some of you might miss, and there are no dedicated function keys for Home/End or PgUp/PgDn. The Up and Down arrow keys are also short, half the size of the other keys, so this layout has its share of peculiarities and quirks you’ll have to adapt to.
The clickpad works fine. It’s an averagely sized plastic surface with Precision drivers, it feels nice to the touch, and handles everyday swipes, gestures, and taps well, without any hiccups. It is, however, a bit rattly when tapped firmer, and the physical clicks are fairly clunky as well, but overall most of you should find this good enough.
Lenovo also implemented a finger-sensor towards the right side of the palm-rest, which works quickly and reliably when logging into Windows with Hello.
Lenovo offers the Yoga 730-15IKB with a 15.6-inch touchscreen and a choice of either FHD or UHD IPS panels.
We had the latter on our review unit and it’s an average quality option that most users should find good enough for daily use, movies and games. It’s not as bright or rich as what you’ll get with some of the competition though (HP Spectre x360 15, Asus ZenBook Flip 15), so you’d better keep the laptop indoors most of the time, otherwise you’ll have a had time reading anything on it in bright environments.
Here’s what to expect, based on our Spyder4 sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: BOE HF BOE04F4 (NV156QUM-N51);
- Coverage: 96% sRGB, 71% NTSC, 75% AdobeRGB;
- Measured gamma: 2.2;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 284 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 790:1;
- White point: 6900 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.36 cd/m2.
You can use this calibrated color profile to address the skewed white point and color imbalances.
You should also consider that this panel uses mid-frequency (~1000 Hz) PWM for brightness adjustments at brightness levels under 90%. Most people shouldn’t notice any flickering, but those with an increased sensitivity might. There is a trick that allows you to set the hardware brightness at 100% and then adjust its level via software, detailed in this article.
As the Yoga is a convertible, it gets a touchscreen of course, but also support for the Lenovo Active Pen 2, included in the box. This is a Bluetooth enabled capacitive Active pen with support for 4096 levels of pressure, and is also well made, with smooth metallic finishing. It’s a bit thicker than a standard pen though, and its metallic surface is not very grippy, so for me, this doesn’t feel as comfortable to use as a standard BIC ballpoint pen. On top of that, the laptop’s glass surface is not as smooth as the glass on an iPad or a phone, so both the fingers and this pen don’t slide as easily on this surface, leading to a somewhat awkward dragging effect when taking notes or even when drawing.
You should keep in mind that I don’t have a lot of experience with pens other than on the iPad Pro and the Samsung Note smartphones, but even so, I find the experience to be lacking here. You can draw and take notes with this Active Pen on the Yoga 730, but it’s not going to feel as natural as on other devices with smoother glass finishes, and definitely nowhere close to actually using a normal pen on a piece of paper.
Even so, the pen could come in handy to graphics artists and editors, but the panel’s color-coverage will probably not suffice for their needs, that’s why I don’t think this Yoga 730 is the ideal pick for creative professionals.
We didn’t get to test the FHD panel option that’s available with the entry/mid-level configurations, but I’d expect it to offer similar brightness, contrast, and colors. It might even be identical to the screen on the older Yoga 720, an alright panel with unnoticeable 25K Hz PWM modulation, roughly 300 nits of brightness and 1200:1 contrast ratio (source).
Hardware and performance
We got to test a mid to high-end configuration of the 15-inch Yoga 730, with the Intel Core i7-8550U processor and Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics, a very fast 512 GB PCIe SSD, but only 8 GB of memory. That’s upgradeable though.
For that, you’ll need to remove the laptop’s back panel, which is held in place by a handful of Torx screws. Inside you’ll get easy access to the M.2 80 mm storage slot, the Wi-Fi module and the RAM, but the RAM slot is covered with a metallic shield/radiator that you’ll need to remove first.
This laptop comes with 8 GB of onboard memory and a spare DIMM beneath that aforementioned shield, which should take up to 16 GB RAM. However, Id’ advise you to put an 8 GB stick in there (for a total of 16 GB) in order to get the memory to work in dual-channel.
With this kind of hardware, there’s no surprise the Yoga 730 handles everyday tasks without a sweat, while running cool and quiet.
This laptop also handles continuous heavy CPU loads well, but the gaming experience is where we ran into issues. We’ll explain why below.
Before we get to these though, you should:
- update the drivers and BIOS on your device to the latest available versions (via this link, BIOS v1.06 at the time of this article);
- launch the Lenovo Vantage app, go to Hardware Settings > Smart Settings, disable Intelligent cooling and select Optimize system for Performance.
This last part is extremely important, as at the date of this article the Yoga 730-15 throttles significantly while Intelligent cooling is active, in order to keep CPU/GPU temperatures down. This translates in reduced performance in combined CPU+GPU loads, as well as the stuttering many are experiencing while playing games on this computer.
With those out of the way, let’s get to how the Yoga 730 performs in demanding loads.
First of all, we test the CPU’s performance by running Cinebench R15 in a loop and observe the scores in conjunction with the CPU’s frequency and temperatures.
Out of the box, the i7 in our sample performed well, reaching high Turbo Speeds for a few seconds and then settling at around 2.9-3.0 GHz. The CPU is TDP-limited at a pretty high threshold of 28 W. In the log below you’ll notice that temperatures rise quickly to 97 degrees Celsius, and then the CPU clocks down. This behavior translates in an initial Cinebench score around 680 points, which then settles in the 600-630 range for the next concurrent runs.
Next we undervolted the CPU to -100 mV (undervolting is a safe procedure that improves performance/CPU thermals and is explained here), and reran the Cinebench procedure.
In this case, the CPU reaches the high 97 degrees limit a little slower, so it’s able to run at maximum Turbo Clock speeds for a bit longer. On top of that, due to the reduced voltage, it’s capable of hitting the TDP limit of 28W while stabilized at a higher frequency of 3.2-3.3 GHz, as you’ll see in the following picture. All these translate in an initial Cinebench score of around 710 Points, with scores in the 650 to 680 points for the next runs.
In conclusion, undervolting the CPU results in a slight up to 10% performance boost in continuous demanding loads, corroborated with reduced temperatures/power drain in daily use.
The performance boost is marginally visible from the benchmarks results as well. First, here’s what we got on the default profile:
- 3DMark 11: P6746 (Graphics: 7393, Physics: 4601);
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 4514 (Graphics – 5482, Physics – 3856);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 1747 (Graphics – 1626, CPU – 3028);
- PCMark 08: Home Conventional – 2738;
- PCMark 10: 3618;
- PassMark: Rating: 3726, CPU mark: 9110, 3D Graphics Mark: 3654;
- GeekBench 3.4.2 32-bit: Single-Core: 3581, Multi-core: 13679;
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 4496, Multi-core: 13409;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 80.03 fps, CPU 680 cb, CPU Single Core 171 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 166.51 fps, Pass 2 – 41.89 fps.
We also ran some of them on the -100 mV undervolted profile:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 4703 (Graphics – 5491, Physics – 4787);
- GeekBench 4.1.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 4516, Multi-core: 13577;
- CineBench R15: OpenGL 81.02 fps, CPU 708 cb, CPU Single Core 167 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 172.77 fps, Pass 2 – 45.42 fps.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about the gaming performance. First of all, the following log shows you what happens when Intelligent Cooling is active: the CPU clocks down to 0.8-1.2 GHz, which causes stuttering and pretty much an awful experience with most recent titles.
That, however, changes with Intelligent Cooling off and the Performance mode active (details below).
Even in this case though, both the CPU and GPU stay within low thermal limits of around 65-70 degrees Celsius, and their frequencies are automatically adjusted to meet these thresholds. In other words, the GTX 1050 chip inside this laptop runs underclocked at 1.35 GHz for most of the time. The CPU runs at low frequencies as well (around 1.4 – 1.8 GHz), and all these translate in reduced performance compared to a full-size laptop with similar specs, showcased in the following table:
|FHD Ultra – Yoga 730||FHD Ultra – reference|
|Shadow of Mordor||42 fps||~45 fps|
|Tomb Raider||46 fps||~62 fps|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||20 fps||~32 fps|
|Bioshock Infinite||54 fps||~62 fps|
|FarCry 4||39 fps||~43 fps|
The results above compare our Yoga 730 sample with a combined average for GTX 1050 powered laptops. It includes both the 2 and 4 GB versions, so in reality, the gap between this build and a better performing 1050 4GB implementation is larger.
Undervolting the CPU helps, as it allows the processor to run at slightly higher clock speeds, as well as slightly reduces the CPU/GPU temperatures. It doesn’t have any noticeable effect over the gaming experience, as the GPU remains bottlenecked at 1.35 GHz. Details below.
In conclusion, at the time of this update, the Yoga 730 only offers about 80-90% of the gaming performance of other notebooks built on the GTX 1050 4GB platform.
That, however, might change in the future, as according to some user’s on the forums, Lenovo’s technicians are aware of the issue and are supposedly working on releasing a BIOS fix that would better balance performance, thermals and fan noise. However, there’s no way to tell for sure when or even IF such an update will be released. Normally that should allow the CPU/GPU to reach higher temperatures (other implementations allow up to 90 C for both). However, that’s tricky, as the Yoga 730 already hits high external temperatures as it is, so perhaps the fix should compensate the performance gain with faster spinning fans and just a marginal increase of that thermal threshold.
Emissions (noise, heat), Connectivity and speakers
Lenovo implemented a two fan/ two heat-pipe cooling solution on the 15-inch Yoga 730.
However, I don’t think this is a great design, as it implies longer heat-pipes with radiators on a single end, and even my little knowledge in thermals is telling me this approach is not going to dissipate the GPU’s heat (as the GPU is the furthest away from the radiators) as easily as a more standard approach with dual-radiators at the end of each heatpipe and the components sandwiched in the middle.
On the other hand, the fans remain very quiet inside this laptop even when playing games, averaging only 40-41 dB at head-level. They can spin faster and noisier, as they occasionally kick-in more aggressively while running benchmarks or with heavier multitasking, yet for some reason, their behavior is capped with mixed CPU+ GPU loads, perhaps in order to keep noise levels down. This, however, leads to the performance issues mentioned in the previous section, as well as to high bottom-panel temperatures on top of the two heatpipes.
This 15-inch Yoga remains cool and, for the most part, completely quiet with everyday use when the fans are barely audible and only kick on faster from time to time with more demanding multitasking. I should also add that I haven’t noticed any coil whine or other kinds of electronic noise.
I did however notice some sort of knocks coming from the left fan while running benchmarks and other taxing loads. I can’t exactly explain the root of these sounds and they don’t occur systematically in a given condition, but rather randomly. Regardless, pay close attention to such noises on your units and preferably RMA the device in case you get anything similar, this kind of knocks is definitely not something I would be willing to accept in my notebook.
*Daily Use – 1080p Youtube clip in EDGE for 30 minutes
*Load – playing FarCry 4 for approximately 30 minutes on ultra FHD settings
The Yoga 930 doesn’t get one of the newer Wave 2 wireless chips, but a slower Realtek chip with Wireless AC and Bluetooth 4.2. It’s still good enough for daily use, both near and further away from the router, just not a fast as some of the more modern options.
Quite a few people are complaining about Wi-Fi issues on the older Yoga 720, with the connection randomly dropping on 2.4 GHz. I haven’t run into any such issues on this review unit, but some people are still complaining about Wi-Fi issues on the Y730, so this is something you should further look into.
As far as audio goes, the two speakers on the Yoga 730 are not very loud, at about 76-77 dB at head-level, don’t distort or vibrate at high levels. However, the sound coming out of them is only average, with clear mid and highs, but very little on the low end, which makes everything tiny and flat.
The camera is placed at the top of the screen, flanked by a set of microphones, and while rather washed out, it’s actually nicer than what you’ll find on most other laptops and is placed where it belongs.
There’s only a 51.5 Wh battery inside the Yoga 730, about average for a 15-incher and mostly on par with similar convertibles in its class (48 Wh – Acer Spin 5, 57 Wh – ZenBook Flip UX562), but smaller than what the HP Spectre x360 15 offers (84 Wh).
As a result, even with the efficient hardware platform, you shouldn’t expect more than 3-4 hours of daily multitasking on a charge, a bit longer while running videos, and just shy of one hour with games.
Here’s what we got in our tests, with the screen set at 40% brightness, roughly 120 nits.
- 10 W (~5 h of use) – very light browsing and text editing in Google Drive, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 7.8 W (~6 h 35 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 7.8 W (~6 h 35 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 8.8 W (~6 h of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Better Battery Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 17 W (~3 h of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Better Performance Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 52.0 W (~1 h of use) – gaming, Best Performance Mode, screen at 40%, Wi-Fi ON.
Keep in mind that the UHD screen takes its toll here, FHD models should last a bit longer in each case.
This laptop comes with a 90 Wh power brick and a full charge takes a little over 2 hours. The 15-inch Yoga 730 does not charge via USB-C, unlike its 13-inch brethren.
Price and availability
The Lenovo Yoga 730-15IKB is available in stores around the world at the time of this article.
It starts at under $1000 in the US, but at £1099 in the UK and around 1200 EUR in Europe, for a Core i5-8250U configuration with GTX 1050 graphics, 8 GB of RAM, 256 GB of SSD storage and the FHD screen. The i7 CPU is a $100 addon, and the UHD screen is only paired with higher-end configurations that go for around $1500, with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage.
You can also get this 15-inch Yoga 730 without the GTX graphics, starting at just $700.
Follow this link for updated configurations and prices at the time you’re reading this article.
This Yoga is a good buy for students and those of you who need a well-balanced computer for both work and occasional fun.
It’s a well built 2-in-1 laptop with simple design lines and lightweight construction (for a 15-inch convertible). It also gets modern hardware and can easily handle everyday chores and more demanding loads as well, but sacrifices on performance and battery life to some extent in order to stay portable, which is something you’ll just have to accept.
You’ll also have to accept the only average-quality screen, speakers and battery-life, as well as the short-stroke keyboard that’s going to take some time to get used to.
On top of that, if you’re not interested in gaming at all, the GTX 1050 versions are not for you. And if you don’t want to pay extra for the convertible form-factor and the touchscreen, you’d better look elsewhere entirely.
On the other hand, if you are interested in the touchscreen and the graphics, you should know that you’ll only get the performance of a GTX 1050 Max-Q GPU from this laptop, as both the CPU and GPU throttle to sub-standard frequencies while dealing with games. As a result, the Yoga 730-15IKB offers roughly 80-90% of the gaming performance you’ll get on a full-size laptop with a similar GPU, at least at the time of this article. Just keep in mind to update the drivers and BIOS, and make sure to disable Intelligent Cooling from the Vantage app in order to prevent the stuttering issues many buyers are complaining about on the forums.
So when you draw the line, the Yoga 730 is a mixed bag of strong points and some compromises, which for the most part are balanced by the aggressive pricing, especially in the US.
You should, however, consider the competition as well, as some of the alternatives might actually better fit your needs and budget. If you’re shopping in the lower end, the Acer Spin 5 is an even more affordable alternative, while the Zenbook Flip UX562 is more compact, lighter and gets a larger battery, as well as an optional Pantone UHD screen with 100% AdobeRGB color coverage. At the higher end, the HP Spectre X360 15 with its brighter screen and much larger 84 Wh battery come in place, but keep in mind you’re only getting MX150 or RX Vega M graphics with that one, which is significantly slower than even the snipped GTX 1050 variant inside the Yoga.
Last but not least, if a convertible touchscreen is not a must, you might find better value in clamshell devices like the Asus ZenBook UX533, or even the more powerful and higher-tier Dell XPS 15 and Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme/P1.
That’s about it for our review of the Lenovo Yoga 730-15IKB. Get in touch in the comments section below if you have any feedback or questions, we’re around to help out if we can.
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