Performance – Synthetic GPU/Gaming
3DMark’s results might at first seem to exonerate the ThinkPad Yoga’s GPU performance, but in actuality, the X240 and T440s exhibited such incredibly restrictive thermal management policies that their performance was notably handicapped as well. Adding a second SODIMM of RAM to either model would most certainly catapult their scores beyond that of the Yoga, however, since the Yoga already enjoys this advantage (and thus the roughly 30—50% performance boost which comes along with it). In short, as is probably obvious, none of these scores is anything special—but the Yoga’s thermal throttling almost guarantees that it cannot reach ideal levels of GPU performance under most circumstances. Again, however, it’s a ULV notebook, and such devices (with very few exceptions) have never been known for their GPU prevalence.
3DMark 11 shows much more forgiving results, or perhaps more accurately they simply reiterate just how critical that second stick of RAM (to invoke dual-channel operation) is when dealing with integrated graphics and shared video memory. The Yoga 11S is unsurprisingly far behind even these other three.
Let’s nonetheless explore further and see how much these results correspond with real-world gaming performance. Since it chose to behave on the ThinkPad Yoga (unlike the MSI GT70 we reviewed recently) and it’s a reasonably good candidate for measuring ULV gaming capabilities, we see the return of Just Cause 2 in today’s benchmark repertoire. Let’s start there.
Just Cause 2
Ah, the venerable Just Cause 2. It’s hard to fire up this game without wanting to grapple onto an airborne helicopter or tie a bus to a boat, but we have to stay professional here at PC Perspective. Sometimes. Accordingly, our benchmarks at 768p (low detail) show performance just a notch above that of the X240 and T440s, primarily due to the fact that those machines (again) lack a second SODIMM. More interesting in this case is the Flex 14’s better overall result by around 1 fps (5%), which suggests that, provided dual-channel performance, it might be able to do pretty well otherwise. Stated another way, this is further confirmation that the Yoga’s temperature throttling is indeed something which directly affects GPU performance.
StarCraft 2 looks a little more positive, with an average rate of 33 fps on Medium settings at 768p. High settings (with AA on) knock it down to 16 fps, but on low settings, it’s a perfectly playable 66 fps.
To be perfectly honest Diablo III actually does manage to distract your humble editor with each benchmark session; it is literally impossible not to succumb to temptation to check one’s inventory and go for a quick bounty run while the game’s open and ready.
Fortunately, that’s possible on the Yoga, with an average frame rate of 33 fps at 768p low detail. It’s a far cry from what some notebooks sporting HD Graphics 4400 can manage, but it’s still mostly playable nonetheless. Of course, in case you’re curious, you might as well not bother attempting at the native res; even at low settings, it can only manage 21 fps on average.
It’s not like we expected Bioshock Infinite to be playable on the Yoga, but for sake of comparison, we continued with our benchmarks anyway. With a total of just under 20 fps on 768p and low settings, it’s just as we anticipated.
Summing up our GPU findings, it’s no surprise that the ThinkPad Yoga should not be depended upon for powerful graphical performance. But even considering the significant throttling we saw, it can still handle basic tasks without too much trouble, which is reassuring.