AMD Finally Proves Its Laptop Prowess With the Incredible Lenovo Slim 7

Illustration for article titled AMD Finally Proves Its Laptop Prowess With the Incredible Lenovo Slim 7
Photo: Joanna Nelius/Gizmodo

There’s a lot to love about Lenovo’s laptops. They’re designed well. They’re reasonably priced for the specs. They’re reliable. I’ve tested a few and owned a few over the years, and it seems like every new model improves on the last. All that definitely applies to this IdeaPad Slim 7. It takes some of the best features from other laptops in its class and packs them into a tiny chassis with a 14-inch display that seems bigger than it actually is. You need processing power? Bam, you got it. You need a bright display? This one is close to 400 nits. You need a long battery life because you’re riding shotgun on a cross-country trip? You got that too. It’s hard to find something negative to say about this laptop.

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Lenovo has a few different IdeaPad Slim 7 models: one with an Intel Core i7-1065G7 processor, which is the same CPU in the Microsoft SurfaceBook 3 I recently reviewed. This is the one you can find in the U.S. right now. Another is out of stock at the moment but starts at $900 and comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 4700U processor. Finally, there’s one available in Europe that AMD supplied for review that comes with a slightly faster AMD Ryzen 7 4800U processor.

The Intel model comes with a Nvidia GeForce MX350 integrated GPU, while the AMD models relies on their own integrated Radeon graphics. That’s not as powerful as the MX350, but I don’t consider that a major disadvantage. Everything else can be configured up to the same specs. (Note: the Lenovo website says this model comes with 8GB of RAM, but the model we received has 16 GB, which is the max amount of RAM in the Intel model.)

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Also, take into consideration that the Intel model starts at $1,050 while the AMD models should start at $900. Every model comes with features like a Dolby Atmos speaker system, a Smart IR Cam that senses when you step away from the laptop and locks it, and a nice spread of connectivity ports that include USB, USB-C, HDMI, micro SD, and a headset jack. The keyboard lacks a number pad, and I am a die-hard number pad fan, but I honestly forgot it was missing on this IdeaPad. The keys are spaced out in just the right way that doesn’t make me feel like I’m over-extending my short fingers to reach the row of number keys. Those with larger hands or longer fingers might feel a bit cramped typing on this laptop, but it’s just the right size for small hands.

But the performance and battery life alone, on top of the cheaper price, make the AMD model the better choice. Compared to other Intel-based models we’ve tested recently, the AMD Ryzen 7 4800U does fall behind in single core processing speeds. With a Geekbench 4 score of 4937, it’s faster than the Intel Core i5-10210U in the Lenovo Yoga C740 by about 200 points, but slower than the Intel Core i7-1065G7 in the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex by the same amount. It’s okay because the multi-core score takes those two to town.

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For a tiny little laptop, this thing has a surprising amount of processing power for image rendering and video transcoding thanks to the Ryzen 7 4800U, an 8-core/16-thread APU with a max boost frequency of 4.2 Ghz. That’s a near equivalent to the Ryzen 7 2700X desktop processor sitting in my gaming PC right now. The IdeaPad Slim 7 was able to render a 3D image in about 9.5 minutes, and closer to 9 minutes when using the GPU to render. That’s about 60 seconds slower than the big and expensive Intel Core i7-10875H in the Razer Blade Pro 17 we recently tested, which is not bad at all.

It wasn’t quite up there running Civilization VI, coming in at 12.2 ms on average to render a frame compared to the 7 ms or 8 ms most 10th-gen Intel processors usually get, but it can still run Civilization VI pretty well. However, because of the integrated graphics, don’t try to play games that rely on the GPU instead of the CPU. I tried that with Overwatch at 1080p on ultra and didn’t do so well trying to play at 37 frames a second. If you turn the resolution down to 720p, the framerate jumps up, and there are plenty of less resource-intensive games it should handle just fine. To be fair this processor (and laptop) isn’t designed for gaming—especially the high-end AAA kind.

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Integrated GPUs typically aren’t. Intel’s 11th-gen Tiger Lake processors are around the corner and might set a new standard for integrated graphics in mobile processors. AMD will have to play catch up again then. But for what you can go out and buy right this second, I’d pick this IdeaPad model over the Intel one without hesitation.

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While the processor is the standout feature of this laptop, the battery life could tie. It’s absolutely incredible: 17.5 hours. 17.5! Which is the maximum battery life that Lenovo advertises for this laptop. The closest we’ve come to that recently was with the Pixelbook Go at 15 hours. By comparison, the IdeaPad Slim 7 Intel version only has a maximum battery life of 14 hours, according to Lenovo. The Slim 7's battery charges ridiculously fast, too. Going from dead to 100% took less than an hour.

Sure, the Pixelbook Go is cheaper than this laptop, about $250 cheaper, but you can’t load programs or apps onto a Chromebook like you can with Windows 10. And for those of you who need Microsoft 365 apps like Word or Excel, or Adobe apps like Photoshop or InDesign for your job, ChromeOS isn’t going to cut it.

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For working professionals, college students, and anyone else who needs a powerhouse of an ultralight and thin laptop—Lenovo’s IdeaPad Slim 7 is one of the best laptops you could buy. Even if you’re looking at that $900 price tag right now, thinking, “I wish it was cheaper,” you can always wait for it to go on sale (and back in stock)—and there’s always the possibility that the price of this one will go down as soon as the Lenovo models with Intel’s 11th-gen processor come out. This is just too good of a laptop to let it drop off your radar.

README

  • Excellent processing power
  • Stupid-long battery life
  • Good variety and number of ports
  • Reasonable price
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Staff Reporter, Reviews at Gizmodo. Formerly PC Gamer, Maximum PC.

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DISCUSSION

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David E. Smith

The webcam is listed as a “No Like,” but there’s nothing in the article that says what’s wrong with it. Is is just blah, like most webcams, or is it actively crappy? Like, super-low resolution, or noisy video, or occasionally picks up ghosts?