In a year that's seen tons of strong laptop releases, it’s seriously tough to choose a favorite. But Lenovo's Yoga C930 definitely ranks high on our list, as a great-looking, great-performing, great all-around notebook (with few tradeoffs).
We've been trying out the 4K model of the 13.9-inch laptop, and our first takeaway is that springing for the 4K display might not be the worst decision. The screen is vivid, sharp and colorful. It's plenty bright, too; keeping the display at full brightness just isn’t necessary much of the time (and will save a lot on battery life).
Speaking of battery life, that's another highlight of the Yoga C930. You wouldn't expect a long-lasting battery in a notebook with a 4K touch screen. But we were able to get 7.5 hours of battery life on a charge, with heavy usage and the display set to the "brighter" setting in Windows. That's a solid result, and a half hour more battery life than we got on this notebook's predecessor, the Yoga 920.
As on the previous model, the keyboard and touchpad are both very good on the Yoga C930, and we even noticed a bit smoother performance for the touchpad in the Chrome browser this time around.
For overall performance, everything just zooms on the Yoga C930. Our model features 16 GB of RAM and an eighth-gen Intel Core i7 chip, and Geekbench 4 benchmarking revealed a single-core score of 4737 and multi-core score of 14,806, which are both excellent (better than many business laptops, in fact).
In the real world, the Yoga C930 handled our multi-tasking habits with ease. Interestingly, our model featured the same exact Core i7 chip as we tried out in the Yoga 920, which came out a year ago, and that might seem like a missed opportunity for offering a speed bump. But in Lenovo's defense, timing laptop releases with Intel's upgrade schedule is notoriously tricky.
As on past releases of the Yoga flagship models, the Yoga C930 offers an eye-pleasing design with a metallic body and slim bezels on three sides of the display. It also continues to be highly portable especially for a 14-inch laptop--with a weight of three pounds and a thickness of just 0.57 of an inch.
Even with that thin profile, the notebook doesn't sacrifice the USB-A port, either--one USB-A port is included along with two USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 ports.
Even if this was all that the Yoga C930 had to offer, we'd be happy to recommend it for many types of users. But oh, there's more!
Lenovo has made a bold move with the C930 by swapping out the signature feature of the Yoga line--the watchband hinge that has traditionally enabled the notebook to switch between its various modes (laptop, tent, tablet, etc). In place of the watchband hinge, the Yoga C930 includes a hinge that doubles as a Dolby Atmos sound bar (which fires in two directions).
It's a brilliant move, because one issue with most convertible laptops is that the speaker system can get stifled depending on which mode you're using. (The speakers may sound fine in laptop mode, but then will be firing in the wrong direction in tent mode, for instance.)
With the Yoga C930, the hinge not only serves as a speaker, but it also rotates depending on the mode of the notebook. So in tent mode, for example, the audio presentation is preserved. This is all worthwhile because the Dolby speaker system on the Yoga C930 is great--one of the best we've heard on a laptop this year--and fairly loud, too.
Another clever hardware change is that the Yoga C930 houses its digital pen in the body of the laptop itself (in the backside next to the hinge/speaker). This might be the best idea we’ve seen yet for what to do about the digital pen, which is often prone to getting lost. This method also automatically charges the stylus, which takes care of the other major hassle with digital pens.
We're not sure what the drawback is with the Yoga C930--basically, we think Lenovo nailed it. The pricing might be the sticking point for many users, particularly for the 4K model, which starts at $2999 with 8GB of RAM in Australia.
But at a time when similarly configured Apple MacBook Pros and Microsoft Surface Books are running at $3000 or more, that pricing doesn't actually seem so bad. And that’s especially the case considering the smart upgrades - and impressive lack of trade-offs - offered by the superb Yoga C930.