A sleek ultraportable with a 360-degree hinge, the Lenovo Yoga C940 (starts at $1,169; $1,624.99 as tested) is adept as serving as a mobile home theater, productivity partner, and digital canvas. As the company’s most premium consumer-focused 2-in-1 ultraportable laptop, it packs all of its cutting-edge features into a slim and light package. It’s not quite as trim or as well-designed as the competing Dell XPS 13 2-in-1, but its better typing experience, larger screen, and superior audio quality make it worth a look.
Sizing Up the Competition
Besides the XPS 13 2-in-1, the Yoga C940’s other main competitor is the HP Spectre x360 13. All three of these devices offer flip-and-fold hinges that let them transform into more convenient orientations for making presentations or watching movies. They all have slightly different screen sizes. The Spectre’s is the smallest at 13.3 diagonal inches, followed by the Dell’s 13.4 inches and the Lenovo’s 14 inches. The differences are minor, and to my eyes they don’t significantly impact the everyday viewing experience.
However, the Yoga C940’s slightly larger screen does bring a commensurate increase in weight. The Dell and HP each weigh 2.9 pounds, while my Lenovo review unit tips the scales at 3.04 pounds. Again, the difference is small, but even a couple of ounces matter for people who carry their laptops with them day in and day out. At 0.62 by 12.6 by 8.5 inches (HWD), the Yoga is also larger in every dimension than the XPS 13 2-in-1, and it has a larger footprint than the Spectre x360 13.
It’s also significantly heavier than the 2.2-pound HP Elite Dragonfly, a business-focused convertible with the same 14-inch screen size that recently copped PCMag’s Editors’ Choice.
The bezels that border the C940’s screen are a significant factor in its larger footprint. While HP and Dell now use tiny 2.2mm webcams in their premium ultraportables, the Yoga’s camera is bigger, with a physical sliding door over the lens to thwart online snoops. It’s a handy feature, but it requires a significantly thicker top bezel, and the webcam lacks the IR sensors required for Windows Hello face recognition. The fact that the Spectre x360 13 manages to include IR sensors, a smaller lens, and a side-mounted webcam kill switch that accomplishes the same goal as the sliding shutter suggests that the Lenovo is behind the cutting edge here.
The Yoga’s standard active pen is another factor contributing to its size and weight. The pen stays charged when it’s docked in the slot located at the laptop’s upper right corner. It’s a nifty solution, but the stylus itself is smaller and less comfortable to hold than the digital pens offered as optional extras with the XPS 13 2-in-1 and Spectre x360 13. My large fingers had trouble gripping it whenever I tried to doodle or take notes on the C940’s touch screen.
How Sweet the Sound Bar
Lenovo’s Yoga brand pioneered the 2-in-1 category, and the 360-degree convertible hinge is one area where the company has always set the pace. The premium 900-series Yogas have featured significantly revamped hinges with each new model, including a watchband-style hinge worthy of a jeweler’s showcase for the Yoga 920. The Yoga C940 (like the Yoga C930 before it) ditches this bling in favor of something more useful: a hinge that doubles as a sound bar. The C940’s hinge is further refined from its predecessor’s by using a single piece of metal instead of two separate rotating ones as before.
The sound bar hinge contains two tweeters which complement two downward-firing woofers underneath the laptop. Because the tweeters rotate as you move the Yoga’s display, they’re always facing you, which results in more clearly defined audio when you’re watching movies or videos. Together, the system offers some of the best sound quality I’ve encountered from a laptop. It’s not quite as good as the astounding bass offered by the 16-inch Apple MacBook Pro, but it’s close, and it’s far better than the rather tinny sounds that emanate from the XPS 13 2-in-1 and Spectre x360 13.
The C940’s keys are solid, depressing with satisfyingly robust clicks. They’re more comfortable than the magnetic key switches of the Dell convertible, though not quite as comfortable as the keys of many larger Lenovo ThinkPad laptops. The touchpad offers accurate cursor movements, but its clicking mechanism is a bit stiff for my taste.
Specs and Configuration Options
The base configuration of the Yoga C940 includes an Intel Core i5 CPU, 8GB of system memory, and a 256GB solid-state drive. My review model stepped up to a quad-core, 10th-generation Core i7-1065G7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 512GB SSD. All versions come with 802.11ax wireless (Wi-Fi 6) and a 60-watt-hour battery. Color options for the aluminum chassis include the Iron Gray hue seen in the photos that accompany this review or the lighter Mica Silver of my review unit. Gray is in vogue in the ultraportable world and I think it looks more modern, so I’d spring for that color given the choice.
My test unit also featured an upgraded 4K (3,840-by-2,160-pixel) display with a rated brightness of 500 nits, which is more than adequate for viewing in a brightly lit office. Base models come with a full HD (1,920 by 1,080) touch screen rated at 400 nits. I tend to prefer higher-resolution panels on convertible and detachable PCs, since I find individually noticeable or detectable pixels to be more annoying when the device is in an orientation other than the conventional laptop mode.
Stepping up to the 4K screen does negatively impact battery life, but as you’ll see in the benchmarks below, my Yoga still showed impressive stamina. Note that neither display offers pro-level features such as OLED technology, HDR, or wide color gamuts, but colors still looked brilliant and text crisp during both day and night testing of the C940.
All configurations of the Yoga C940 feature the same port selection, which includes two Thunderbolt 3 ports that also support USB 3.1 Type-C, one USB 3.1 Type-A port, and a combination audio jack. The inclusion of a USB-A port is welcome for connecting thumb drives and any other older peripherals you might have, but if you were hoping to connect the Lenovo to an external display you’ll need a Thunderbolt 3 to DisplayPort or HDMI adapter, since there’s no HDMI port.
The Yoga comes with a one-year warranty for parts and labor, with additional years of coverage and accidental damage protection available at extra cost. In an interesting twist, Lenovo also offers a 15.6-inch version of the C940, new this year. We tend not to recommend convertibles with screens larger than 14 inches, since they’re too heavy and unwieldy to use comfortably as tablets, but desktop replacement shoppers with frequent presentation needs may be interested.
Convertible Computing Performance
The Yoga C940 shares the same Core i7-1065G7 processor as the versions of the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1 and HP Spectre x360 13 that PCMag reviewed, so the trio should offer comparable performance in the everyday productivity tasks for which they’re designed. The quad-core CPU features a base clock speed of 1.3GHz and top turbo speed of 3.9GHz, as well as Hyper-Threading that lets it handle up to eight software instruction threads at a time.
In addition to the abovementioned HP and Dell, I compared the C940’s benchmark performance with that of the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga, a corporate 2-in-1 that adds features enterprise IT departments care about such as remote management and sturdier construction. Finally, I threw in the Microsoft Surface Pro 7, a similarly priced Windows tablet with a detachable keyboard.
As expected, the Yoga C940, XPS 13 2-in-1, and Spectre x360 13 performed roughly equally in our PCMark 10 office productivity test, which simulates tasks like word processing, spreadsheeting, and web browsing. Any score above 4,000 in this test is excellent. Similarly, their solid-state drives aced the PCMark 8 test of the storage subsystem.
My anecdotal experience largely matched these benchmark results. The C940 only felt sluggish once, when I tried to use a CPU-intensive web app with many other browser tabs open. Everything else, from switching between windows to dragging and dropping icons, was silky smooth. I didn’t notice any noise from the cooling fan even while browsing with multiple tabs open, though I did hear the fan spool up when the Yoga was installing apps and software updates.
Gaming with Iris Plus
While the Yoga C940 is not intended to be a gaming or multimedia content creation laptop, it will do in a pinch, thanks in part to the efficiency of its 10th-generation CPU and Intel Iris Plus integrated graphics. It proved significantly faster than the Core i5-powered Surface Pro 7 in transcoding a video file in the open-source Handbrake app and rendering a 3D image in Maxon’s Cinema 4D-based Cinebench R15. Both of these tests max out available processor cores and threads for several minutes.
When it came to applying a series of filters and effects to a JPEG image in Adobe Photoshop, which only uses maximum CPU power for short bursts, the C940 wasn’t any faster than its competitors.
The integrated graphics of the Yoga C940, XPS 13 2-in-1, and Spectre x360 13 are significantly better than the ones in the ThinkPad X1 Yoga and Surface Pro 7. The C940’s performance in our 3DMark and Superposition gaming simulations even suggest that it could manage satisfactory gameplay in AAA as well as casual and browser-based titles, as long as you kept resolution below 1080p and graphics quality settings dialed down.
Excellent Battery Life for 4K
That the Yoga C940 lasted more than 12 hours in our unplugged-video-playback battery test is a significant achievement. No, it’s not as good as the results of the Spectre or XPS, but neither of those convertibles have 4K displays in the configurations we reviewed. The ThinkPad X1 Yoga’s 4K screen offers a fairer comparison, and that machine lasted for less than eight hours.
If you’re concerned that even 12 hours won’t be enough, the 1080p version of the C940 should offer even longer life, since it’s using the same battery to power one-quarter as many pixels.
A Full-Featured 2-in-1
Lenovo ushered in the era of the convertible laptop with the Yoga, and its latest flagship consumer model continues to innovate, with a hinge that not only rotates, but offers surprisingly great sound quality. In some other areas, however, especially size and weight, the Yoga C940 is a bit behind the curve. We would have liked to see Lenovo employ the webcam and screen-bezel miniaturization strategy that HP and Dell have, or create a radically lighter design like HP’s Dragonfly.
If a built-in stylus, extra screen real estate, and a USB Type-A port matter more to you than a bit of extra bulk, though, the Yoga C940 is actually a better choice than its XPS and Spectre competitors. It’s a fine ultraportable hybrid, and certainly worthy of carrying on the Yoga name.