Back in April (where has the time flown?) I reviewed the Lenovo Yoga 720 without discrete GPU http://surfaceproartist.com/blog/2017/4/11/lenovo-yoga-720-15. I liked the convertible laptop generally but I was disappointed by its performance head to head with the much older VAIO Z Canvas.
A month later I picked up the machine I intended to review in the first place: the Yoga 720 15IKB- Signature Edition (Lenovo part number 80X7001SUS). With an NVidia 1050 GPU working in tandem with its Core i7-7700HQ processor and 16 GB of RAM, the Lenovo finally wrests the title of pen-enabled performance champion from the Canvas.
In benchmark after benchmark (left), the Yoga performed significantly faster than the VAIO. This is to be expected given that the Canvas doesn't have a discrete GPU and is equipped with only 8 GB of RAM. Strictly for comparison's sake, I also included the results of my first generation Surface Book tests. That machine has never been a speed demon and it lagged well behind in all but the TabletMark 2017 test.
The VAIO managed to win the PCMark 10 Productivity race by 4% and the Geekbench 4 OpenCL test by 10%. But in every other instance, the 720 scored well ahead. Until another quad core machine with discrete graphics comes along, the Yoga 720 is the only convertible laptop to consider for animation, rendering and gaming.
In nearly every other aspect, the Yoga 720 15IKB is identical to the previous model I reviewed in April. See that review for my impressions about the design, fit and finish of the laptop. The $1499 model I tested includes a 3840 x 2160 UHD display that is bright and offers excellent color reproduction. Some users have complained about banding on the edge of the display but I haven't found any defects. There is also no detectable light bleed.
Pricing varies nearly daily for Lenovo, so be on the lookout for online specials.
Despite the higher price tag, the Yoga 720 15IKB does not ship with a pen. When it was first announced, Lenovo featured information about the Active Pen 2 but that was pulled from the US site when the 720 began shipping. I was able to get my hands on the Active Pen 2 early via an eBay reseller in China. But earlier this month, Lenovo finally began selling the Active Pen 2 in the US.
The new pen (Part number4X80N95873) retails for $60 and supports up to 4096 pressure levels. It has a Bluetooth button and two programmable side switches. The pen also ships with three replacement tips.
The new pen is about 1/2-inch longer than the original Active Pen and doesn't have a clip. Lenovo ships a USB pen holder that I'm not a huge fan of because the Yoga's 720 ports are somewhat limited.
Pen performance is fine and is nearly identical to the Wacom Bamboo Ink which lists for $80 but can be found at Best Buy for $70. I personally prefer the soft touch feel of the Ink and like its triangular barrel more than the frosted metal Active Pen 2 barrel. The Active Pen 2 also produces a scraping sound on the Yoga 720 glass that I find distracting (see video below). Is it worth a $10-20 investment to buy the Ink? Only you can decide.
Because of its discrete GPU, battery life on the Yoga 720 isn't great. In balanced mode and with the display set to 75%, I was able to get about 5-6 hours of use in Clip Studio Paint and Edge with several tabs open. Fortunately, the batter charges rapidly, requiring less than 90 minutes to top off the charge from 25%.
The more I use the Yoga, the more I appreciate the fingerprint reader vs. the Windows Hello camera found on my other devices. Sign on is almost instantaneous.
As you can see by the Blender and Cinebench results above, the Yoga 720 is the first pen-enabled convertible that I would consider using for serious 3D and animation. I had a challenge getting Photoshop to recognize the NVidia GPU at first and had to go into NVidia 3D settings and force the program to see the 1050.
All in all, the Yoga 720 15IKB is a great value for the power user who also requires pen support.