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.
I’ve been using a TPY as my
I’ve been using a TPY as my daily driver since January (CTO, 1920×1080 + digitser, i7-4500U, 8GB, 256GB sSD). The only complaints I have with it so far are:
– The pen silo is sharp-edged, so unless you insert the pen with robotic precision every time, it will inevitably become heavily scratched. Merely a cosmetic issue
– Mini-HDMI. Fuck mini-HDMI, I’d much rather have DP. It’s usually docked when I’m using an external display anyway, but it means carting around an extra couple of adapters if I’m expecting to use an external display on the go
– The middle-click section of the trackpoint ‘button’ area CANNOT be set as a middle-click! It can be used as a ‘universal scroll’ button, but not to send the middle-button click command. This is frankly moronic. You can still three-finger-click with the touchpad, so I generally just use the touchpad (which I’ve had no issues with).
– If you leave orientation unlocked, and lift up the laptop by the side immediately after closing it, it will re-orient before it goes to sleep. this means that the next time you wake it, it will awaken in the wrong orientation, flip to the opposite orientation, then flip the the correct orientation. There’s an orientation-lock button on the outside, so this is rarely an issue.
– The matte finish on the display is applied over the gorilla glass, so can scratch easily.
Other than that, it’s a great laptop.
I would love a 2015 version
I would love a 2015 version with the following alternations:
– Ditch HDMI in favor of DP
– Add Broadwell or preferably (if available) Skylake processor
– Replace the 2.5″ SATA with a M.2 slot => gained room could be used for beefier cooling solution and / or battery
– Replace touchpad with a standard ThinkPad one
– If the hinges are as distracting as stated in this review: rework them 😉
I guess that would result in an almost perfect device for myself!
I got a dozen or so of these
I got a dozen or so of these and are prepping to deploy them. Some notes:
The Onelink Doc can’t be used to boot from network (PXE).
You can ONLY use the Thinkpad branded USB / Ethernet to PXE.
I wish I could swap the Mini-HDMI (WHY?) with Mini-DP and / or VGA. Built in Ethernet would also be awesome.
All of the new Thinkpads have horrible touchpad. Not sure what Lenovo is thinking with them?
Seems like most reviews of
Seems like most reviews of the newer Thinkpads don’t like the click pad. Where as it’s not perfect, I much prefer it to the physical buttons. The physical buttons require a lot of two handed work to do click and drag and such. Where as the click pad can single hand click drag and release for either left or right click. And three finger click for middle works better than a left+right click or other options with physical buttons. I agree that the click itself feels loose and could use some tweaking. That might help with repeated clicking which is harder than with the physical buttons. But I think it’s move in the right direction.
And I haven’t really noticed any issues with accidental clicking or moving while typing. I think I did when I rebuilt a T431S and didn’t have the most recent drivers installed. But after update it seemed fine.
Or course I understand a lot of the complaints for people who liked things the way they are. I have my things that I don’t like when they are changed.
Yes the business will reimage
Yes the business will reimage this with windows 7, so why should any enterprise spend money for touch when any enterprise will use their IT department’s approved system Image and Productivity software. And, there are plenty of last year’s model Core i7 quad core business laptops available from the resellers, at bargain prices(New in a sealed Box), that outperform this laptop, and last year’s model business laptop usually comes with discrete graphics, that OpenCL really accelerates those spreadsheets! There is nothing like Intel’s last year’s model core i series CPUs, that can compete with Intel’s this years overpriced and under-improved “New” offerings, that is in the CPU category, graphics, and OpenCL acceleration, is better left to AMD or Nvidia.
There’s your answer. In an enterprise environment, it’ll always be cheaper to buy new hardware and use the manufacturers warranty services, than to buy from resellers and handle repair in-house.
Besides, this isn’t a mobile workstation. Comparing it to a (e.g. Wxxx series) powerhouse with a discrete GPU is apples-to-oranges. I’ve seen plenty of X-1 Carbons and X2xx series without discrete GPUs used for regular office work.
All very good points guys and
All very good points guys and I wholeheartedly appreciate the dialogue. I take all of these things into account for future reviews.
In regards to the new clickpad, I have tried hard to adjust to its use and appreciate what it brings to the table. But, in an even worse turn than HP Elitebook's ForcePad, I just feel like it makes operation unnecessarily difficult. I'm not sure why all three of the ThinkPads I've reviewed have exhibited the pointer jumpiness, but I do know that the drivers on the Yoga were the latest release and I was still experiencing that problem. It is especially frustrating as it really doesn't buy that much additional room, and even a conventional clickpad could have been much better in my opinion (such as even that which was found on the X220 and X230).
Under “Pros” you stated RAM
Under “Pros” you stated RAM is upgradeable but I’ve read elsewhere that says the RAM is soldered in. Can you clarify this point?
Great review BTW.
Whoops, not really
Whoops, not really sure where that came from, heh. Thanks for pointing that out! Corrected.
Also, glad you liked the review! These things take a lot of time to assemble 🙂