When I was looking around for a new laptop, I came across this YOGA 730 from Lenovo. It seemed like a great option to me compared to the incredibly expensive XPS 15’s and X1 Extremes I saw elsewhere. In fact, it almost seemed too good to be true. I managed to get my unit new off eBay for a measly $680 USD, which at the time of writing, that config would be worth roughly $1300 USD. About 48% off on a brand new laptop? Definitely. Why? Well, it was sold at a pawn shop. I’m not sure exactly why, but it was new in the box when I got it, anyway.
Processor: Intel i7-8550U
GPU: NVIDIA GTX 1050 (Mobile) (4GB)
RAM: 8GB DDR4 2400mhz (soldered), expanded to 2x8gb with the SODIMM slot
Storage: 256GB NVMe SSD
External Build Quality
This laptop is made up of about 90% aluminum. The only bits that aren’t that could be are the hinges, which are a silver-painted plastic instead. Otherwise, the whole chassis was aluminum. It felt relatively sturdy, besides the screen which felt like it might snap off the hinges whenever I pushed it. I’m not sure why it felt like this, and it might just be the nature of these 360 hinges, but it just felt like I was bending something momentarily inside the laptop whenever I moved the screen.
Apart from the somewhat uncomfortable screen flex, there were a few manufacturing defects or straight up design flaws in this particular unit. On my unit, the very corners of the palm rest (where it comes to a point) were not beveled like the rest of the palm rest, leaving an incredibly sharp bit of laptop to snag your wrist on. Less dangerously, there was also a noticeable gap along the top of the display where, at certain angles, light could reflect off the internals of the laptop lid between the little gap, causing a distracting glare. Plus, under direct light you can see this gap pretty obviously. I’m not sure if this developed as I used the laptop or if it came like that, but still.
The last weird thing with this laptop was that near the bottom of the screen, along the rubber edge that kept the screen up from the keyboard, you could feel the screen “bulge” out, almost like it had slid down and out over time. I’m still not sure how this happened.
Besides that, the keyboard feels decent, the aluminum doesn’t “feel” cheap (however it does surface scratch really easy, which is kind of annoying), and there isn’t a whole lot of flex to the machine when you press on it. The unibody aluminum chassis helps a lot with that. This device also has a glass touchpad, which uses Microsoft’s precision drivers.
Ports and Connectivity
On the right side, you have the power button, a Thunderbolt 3 port (with 2 PCIe lanes), an HDMI port, and a USB type A port.
On the left you have the charging port, a USB type A port, a headphone jack, and Lenovo’s odd (but useful) “maintenance menu” pin-hole button. You can press that with something like a SIM eject tool to access a little diagnostic menu.
I did run into issues with the two USB type A ports not being enough for what I was doing, but I’m not exactly the average consumer. Regardless, I’d at least like to see 3 type-A ports, especially since basically no-one besides MacBook users owns a ton of USB-C to USB-A hubs, and most peripherals designed with x86 devices in mind are Type A.
This device does not have an Ethernet port (as you can see), so it comes with a Realtek 8822BE WLAN card, which can handle (according to the spec sheets) 802.11a/b/g/n/ac, so basically anything you’d need WiFi wise. However, I ran into some nasty issues with wireless that I’ll go into soon.
Using this laptop, it did “feel” like a $1300 laptop, and using it for day to day tasks was really breezy. Watching YouTube wasn’t a problem, especially with the almost excessive GTX 1050 Mobile Lenovo decided to pack into this laptop. But, let’s ignore the GPU for now. This device was a breeze to type on, was just about as thin and light as I liked for portability, and really just was a good experience as a computer.
Typing on this laptop was lovely. The 360 hinge did a great job of keeping the screen stable, although it was mildly wobbly when touched. I haven’t seen a 2-in-1 that doesn’t wobble when it’s touched, however, so I can’t speak to how good the hinge is.
Using this laptop as a tablet is nearly impossible, given that it’s shying over 4.2lb of 2-in-1. You’ll find yourself straining to hold this thing in a comfortable tablet position for long periods of time, let alone use it as one because it’s so cumbersome and big. If you plan on using a 2-in-1 as a tablet, look away from 15″ screens. It’s a bit much. Presentation mode is great, though, and I found myself using it for video consumption pretty often. The screen seems so much bigger when it’s just a few inches closer to you.
The screen itself is fine. It’s reportedly 300 nits, and that aligns with what I’ve experienced. The glass is really reflective, and you won’t have much luck trying to use this outside, or in direct sunlight. The glare, reflections and how dim the screen is make for an impossible to see display.
However. There are some rather glaring issues with my unit, and seemingly with this particular model of laptop in general.
Calling this laptop a complete failure would be very accurate. If you’re still sticking around after the sketchiness that is the build quality on this unit’s casing, you’re going to just be disappointed.
After using this device for just a few days, I started experiencing sudden bursts of latency over WiFi for no explicable reason. I did my research, however, and found that a WiFi card replacement was necessary, since the Realtek 8822BE is known to not work correctly. Lenovo legitimately will ship your unit back with an Intel Wireless-AC 8260 if you report WiFi problems because the card it comes with is known for being bad. Even then, that doesn’t solve all of the issues with WiFi.
When using the High Performance power plan in Windows with power connected, waking up the GPU will totally cripple your 5Ghz 802.11ac connection. You’ll stay “connected”, but with no internet. I’m not sure how this even happens, but somehow the machine seems to be crashing the WiFi card. I did use an Intel 9260 as a replacement for my WLAN card (since my 8260 I bought was DOA), but that should make no difference. I was experiencing issues regardless of what I did, and the only remedy was to unplug power and drop down to a balanced power plan. Now, using Balanced isn’t such a bad thing, but the fact that I need to do this just to use my WiFi is absurd. The Lenovo support tech I spoke to seemed to think that uninstalling the WiFi driver and only using Balanced was a “fix,” and updating the driver and using High Performance was somehow user error. I don’t even know.
If the WiFi issue won’t be a big deal for you because you’ll be on an Ethernet dongle all the time, or use 2.4ghz WiFi, well, that isn’t the only issue.
The keyboard has significant 1 second lag every 4 or 5 seconds, causing substantial stuttering while typing. This happens only when the microphone is being actively used by an application, due to a piece of software bundled with the Realtek audio drivers. This software is made by Fortemedia for the microphone drivers. Deleting the FMAP files from the driver directory solves all the issues with lag, but you shouldn’t even have this problem in the first place.
Performance isn’t great stock. I’ll be going into that in detail right about…
This laptop performs about just as well as any other 2-in-1 with an i7-8550U inside of it. And by “just as well,” I mean poorly.
CPU-only (for Non-NVIDIA Models)
With Lenovo’s rubber-cement like thermal compound, the processor sits around 87C under CPU-only load. Temps shot up to 87C quickly and sat there.
Testing was done with AIDA64, stressing the CPU, FPU, Cache, and System Memory. The devices were plugged into AC power, set to High Performance in Windows power options, and set to Performance in Lenovo Vantage’s cooling settings.
With Lenovo’s throttling, you could be running at 800mhz while the CPU is still in the mid 60s. With a repaste (I used TM Kryonaut), temps drop almost 20 degrees Celsius, which is insane, to be frank.
The test below was done with Kryonaut, not stock thermal compound.
Both of these stress tests were done with a -100mV undervolt (ThrottleStop was used). Without it, clocks sat at 3.0ghz due to a physical power limit that I was unable to bypass. It’s impossible to disable.
Combined GPU/CPU Performance (NVIDIA)
Things don’t look good for Lenovo’s stock thermal compound.
Testing was done with AIDA64 running the CPU, FPU, cache and system memory stress, as well as running Heaven at max possible settings in the background to stress the GPU. On the CPU side, the test is the same as earlier. The GPU power plan was set to Max Performance in the NVIDIA control panel. This test below was done with stock thermal compound.
The system was massively overheating at stock, hitting the mid 90s and (on some runs) even hitting 100C depending on ambient temps and airflow. It’s not great. The GPU would only hit roughly the mid 60s, which suggests to me that the CPU should’ve been closer to the fans as opposed to the GPU (in terms of board layout). Regardless, these temps are basically unusable, and the PROCHOT temps I was hitting was resulting in hardware level throttling.
Things got way better after a repaste. After sustained load for a few minutes, temperatures would slowly start creeping back up into the 90s, but the machine itself wouldn’t exactly overheat. At least, not nearly as fast as it was before. But, this machine just can’t handle the 1050 mobile and an 8550U on its heatsink. It’s too much, it overwhelms it, and performance suffers as a result. Throttling galore.
Overall, this laptop isn’t a good buy. There are better options for your money, such as the Lenovo Legion Y740, a Legion Y530 (if you can find one), or even an X1 Extreme if you can afford it.
Build Quality: 1/5
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