Performance, Usage Impressions
Our sample system arrived running Windows 8 64-bit although one could opt for the Pro version when ordering. I’m a bit more versed with Windows 8 now compared to when I reviewed the original Yoga last December. If you’re new to Microsoft’s latest operating system, I would urge you to check out our in-depth review of Windows 8 to get you headed in the right direction.
One thing I love about Windows 8 is how quickly it boots to a usable state (having a solid state drive certainly helps here). From a cold boot, I was in Windows and ready to go in 14 seconds flat. That’s a few ticks slower than the Yoga 13 but all in all, it’s very fast and runs circles around anything else Microsoft has released to date.
Once inside Windows, I headed over to the Add / Remove programs list as I always do. I found just shy of a dozen suspect programs that I would immediately remove had I purchased this system myself. It isn’t the worst case I’ve seen by far but it’s a marked increase over the six or so questionable programs I found on the Yoga 13.
With Windows 8, we were forced to modify our benchmarking procedures slightly. PCMark Vantage refused to give an overall score no matter how hard I tried. We are also doing away with our “real-world” web-browsing battery test in favor of the much more standardized Powermark application. All of our other testing procedures have been carried over from Windows 7.
|Synthetic Tests||Yoga 11S||Aspire S7||Yoga 13||MacBook Air 13"|
|3DMark Score||4018 3DMarks||5000 3DMarks||4393 3DMarks||5785 3DMarks|
|Application Tests||Yoga 11S||Aspire S7||Yoga 13||MacBook Air 13"|
|iTunes Encoding Test||1 min 47 sec||1 min 20 sec||1 min 25 sec||51 sec|
|File Transfer Test|
|Small files||22 sec||16 sec||24 sec||22 sec|
|Large file||21 sec||17 sec||22 sec||22 sec|
The iTunes encoding tests consist of converting 14 MP3s (119MB) to 128Kbps ACC files and measuring the operation's duration in seconds. For file transfers, we measure how long it takes to copy two sets of files from one location to another on the same hard drive. On the small files test we transfer 557 MP3s, totaling 2.56GB. For the large file, these same MP3s were zipped into a single file measuring 2.52GB.
|Gaming Performance||Yoga 11S||Aspire S7||Yoga 13||MacBook Air 13"|
|Far Cry 2|
|1024x768, Medium Quality||19.6 fps||26 fps||23.5 fps||37.3 fps|
|Native res, High Quality||16.2 fps||11 fps||15.3 fps||19.3 fps|
|1024x768, Medium Quality||14.3 fps||19 fps||16.9 fps||25.1 fps|
|Native res, High Quality||10.3 fps||11 fps||10.8 fps||16.1 fps|
Usage Impressions and Closing Thoughts
As I found with the Yoga 13, this system works well as a notebook. It’s thin and light enough to carry around with you throughout the day. Windows 8 combined with a large screen makes for a great tablet experience compared to the bevy of “standard” sized tablets on the market but there are some areas where it could be improved upon when used as a slate.
Despite being nearly two inches smaller in terms of screen size, the Yoga 11S is only 0.32 pounds lighter and is equally as thick as its bigger brother. As such, it suffers from the same issue that plagued early tablets – it’s simply too heavy. Using a three pound tablet for an extended period of time without resting it on your lap or propping it up will certainly have you feeling the burn. It’s an unfortunate tradeoff but one that seemingly has to be made. Granted you can use the system in a number of different configurations (as a true tablet, flipped on its side or propped up in the shape of an upside-down V), it’ll be up to you to decide if the tradeoff is worth it or not.
Flash memory pricing has finally reached a level that makes it feasible for manufacturers to include SSDs as a standard option in new portables, as a result the last few notebooks I’ve reviewed all have come equipped with a solid state drive.
Some may not approve of a notebook with 'only' 256GB of storage capacity, but given the vast number of cloud storage options, streaming video services, and streaming audio services available today, it’s really a non issue. In fact, a few short years ago a 256GB SSD alone would have cost you more than the total price of this ultrabook.
The IPS panel on the Yoga 11S is one of the better ones I’ve seen as it exhibits excellent viewing angles both horizontally and vertically. Screen brightness could be improved by a few ticks and as always, a resolution bump would be welcome but otherwise, you won’t be disappointed with what the 11S has to offer.
I utilized Prime 95 to generate a full load on the CPU in order to objectively measure heat output and fan noise. The fan didn’t generate too much racket but I was a bit concerned with the amount of heat being generated. Let me elaborate.
The cooling fan was able to pump out a good bit of heat but the bottom of the notebook beside the exhaust vents in the center was extremely hot (too hot to keep my finger on for more than a second or two). Mind you, this was observed when the system was connected to the power adapter. A separate test without the power adapter plugged in produced much better results as the same area was nowhere near as hot as it had been before.
I conducted our standard notebook battery tests on the Yoga 11S. Our video playback test consists of looping a 720p rip of the movie Inception at full screen with max brightness and Wi-Fi disabled. This is a taxing test that resulted in just 2 hours and 49 minutes of battery life.
Our Powermark test consisted of running the application at default settings under the “Balanced” profile which gives a mixed workload of web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback. This test was also run at max screen brightness and resulted in 3 hours and 32 minutes of uptime.
Our informal YouTube 4k resolution video test pushed the CPU to around the 50-60 percent usage range. The video never showed any signs of lag nor did the cooling fan ever spin to a noticeable level. For comparison, the Core i5-3317U inside the Yoga 13 hovered mostly in the 90 percent usage range although even still, there was no visible lag.
The two speakers in the Yoga 11S are positioned on either side of the keyboard along the edges of the machine. This seems like good placement as you can still get the full effect even if the system is sitting in your lap. I’ve never been a fan of speakers on the bottom of a notebook as the sound gets muffled by whatever surface the system is resting on at the time.
Placement aside, the speakers sounded alright but they did seem a bit tinny. Output didn’t get very loud even when pushed to the limit, but no distortion was noticed either.
A lot has changed since late last year when I first looked at the Yoga 13. That system showed that there is a market for convertible notebooks and while the Yoga 11S is essentially a slimmed down version of the original, there needs to be more to it at this point to make it a true standout device.
Performance is on par to the competition but I can’t help but feel like the Yoga 11S is a victim of unfortunate timing. By that, I mean it narrowly missed the release of Intel’s 4th generation Core series chip known as Haswell. Granted, Haswell doesn’t provide a huge performance boost compared to Ivy Bridge, but it does deliver significantly better battery life in mobile devices – an area where the Yoga 11S fell flat in our testing.
Furthermore, for a system that is a good bit smaller than the original, I expected it to be a bit lighter on its feet or perhaps a tiny bit thinner. In reality, it’s only marginally lighter than its bigger brother and the exact same thickness. Ultimately if it were up to me, I’d sit on my funds a bit longer and wait for Haswell to find its way into Lenovo’s next convertible Ultrabook.
Pros: Big SSD for the price, nice IPS display, good performance and value.
Cons: This should have been a Haswell ultrabook. Just as thick and barely lighter than Yoga 13 (too heavy for tablet use). Poor battery life.