Lenovo Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7) review: Flexing on the high-end Ultrabook competition

Undeniably one of the best of 2022.

Lenovo Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7)
(Image: © Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

The Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7) demonstrates again that Lenovo's high-end laptops are some of the best available in 2022. The display, design, and performance are all top notch, and the full package even includes a quality sleeve and USB-C adapter.

Pros

  • +

    Gorgeous design with glass lid cover, rounded edges

  • +

    Exceptional 10W total audio output from quad speakers

  • +

    Clear FHD camera with IR, human presence detection

  • +

    High-end performance from the Core i7-1280P CPU, Iris Xe graphics

  • +

    Standout UHD+ OLED display with Dolby Vision

Cons

  • -

    Low-travel keyboard, touchpad has a hollow click

  • -

    Glossy display finish

  • -

    Bloatware and pop-ups are annoying, especially at this price

  • -

    Battery life is less than impressive

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Lenovo's Yoga 9i 14 (Gen 7) took us for a ride when we reviewed it a few months ago, offering up enough performance, high-end features, and gorgeous design cues to be named our pick for overall best Windows laptop. It still stands as the best convertible laptop of 2022, but what about something for users who don't need the 360-degree hinge? 

Lenovo decided to overhaul its Slim 9i 14 for the seventh generation, essentially making it a non-convertible version of the Yoga 9i. The Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7) was announced May 2022 and began shipping the next month. But the Slim 9i has a few of its own special features, like a glass-covered lid, Intel's boosted Core i7-1280P CPU, and optional Intel Arc 350M discrete graphics (available in some regions).

I've been using the new Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7) for the last couple of weeks to see exactly how well it performs, where the overhauled design excels, and how it compares to the Yoga 9i 14 (Gen 7) and other Ultrabooks we've recently reviewed.

Lenovo Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7): Price, availability, and specs

Lenovo supplied Windows Central with a review unit of its Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7) non-convertible laptop. Compared to the previous generation, there have been a number of upgrades to the Slim 9i 14 that better matches it to the convertible Yoga 9i 14 (Gen 7). Here are a few of the changes for the seventh generation.

  • 12th Gen Intel Core mobile CPUs and Intel Evo
  • Up to a UHD+ "PureSight" OLED display
  • 3D glass cover for lid, rounded "ComfortEdge" design for chassis
  • Dolby Atmos tuning for Bowers & Wilkins top-firing speakers
  • 50% larger touchpad

My review unit specifically has a 12th Gen Intel Core i7-1280P processor (CPU), 32GB of DDR5-5600MHz RAM, a 1TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 NVMe solid-state drive (SSD), and a 14-inch UHD+ touch display. This exact configuration costs about $2,140 at Lenovo's official website, and that's without any of its frequent sales events that significantly slash prices. The Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7) seems to currently only be available at Lenovo's website.

Models come with a USB-C adapter and a slim Lenovo-branded laptop sleeve with magnetic clasp. Here's a look at the specifications that make up my review unit.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Header Cell - Column 0 Lenovo Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7)
OSWindows 11 Home
Processor12th Gen Intel Core i7-1280P
RAM32GB LPDDR5-5600MHz
Row 3 - Cell 0 Soldered
GraphicsIntel Iris Xe
Row 5 - Cell 0 Integrated
Storage1TB M.2 2242 PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
Row 7 - Cell 0 Upgradeable
Display14 inches, 16:10 aspect ratio, touch, 3840x2400 (UHD+), PureSight OLED, VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black, Dolby Vision, TÜV Low Blue Light
PortsThree Thunderbolt 4, 3.5mm audio
AudioQuad Bowers & Wilkins speakers (2x2W, 2x3W), Dolby Atmos
WirelessWi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1
CameraFront-facing 1080p (FHD), IR, E-shutter
Battery75Wh
Dimensions12.40 x 8.44 x 0.59 inches
Row 15 - Cell 0 (315mm x 214.4mm x 14.9mm)
WeightFrom 3.02 pounds (1.37kg)
ColorOatmeal
Material3D glass, aluminum

Lenovo Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7): Design and features

(Image credit: Windows Central)

What first caught my eye when unboxing the Slim 9i 14 is its lid. Instead of the usual flat aluminum (which still makes up the frame of the lid and rest of the laptop's chassis), Lenovo added a "3D Glass" cover that's just ever so slightly raised to give it, well, a three-dimensional look. Below the glass is a lighter color than the otherwise uniform Oatmeal finish. The lid is smooth, it's beveled to match the rounded edge, and it adds some extra flair without being too bold.

Like the Yoga 9i 14, Yoga 7i 14 and 16, and some of Lenovo's other 2022 laptops, the Slim 9i has new rounded edges. Sitting closed, the laptop sort of looks like two separate slabs fused together. It's not as precise as a laptop with hard edges, but it's much more comfortable to hold and to press your palms against while typing. The rounded edges are polished to a shine to really make them stand out against the luxe finish, and the chassis doesn't easily pick up fingerprint or smudges.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The Slim 9i shaves off about 1.5mm of thickness and about 0.20 pounds compared to the Yoga 9i. This evidently makes it too thin to host a USB-A port, but thankfully you get three Thunderbolt 4 and a 3.5mm audio jack. To alleviate some of the port pain, Lenovo tosses in a 3-in-1 USB-C hub with HDMI, USB-A, and VGA connections. You will nevertheless want to check out some of the best Thunderbolt 4 docking stations, especially if you're looking to get the most out of your laptop when it's stationary. Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1 handle wireless connectivity.

The laptop's power button is located on the right edge, recessed to prevent accidental presses. There's likewise an e-shutter toggle switch that kills the webcam feed. 

Picture quality is top-notch from the 1080p front-facing webcam. There's no grain in environments with regular light, and minimal grain even when working in a low-light situations. It's one of the better cameras I've seen in a laptop. The Yoga 9i 14's soundbar hinge allowed for there to be room for an extra column of dedicated comms keys; those are absent here with the space taken up instead by the top-firing speakers. Human presence detection ties in with the IR camera to automatically lock and unlock the PC when you depart or approach.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The Slim 9i 14's low-profile keyboard doesn't offer a whole lot of travel. After using it to type thousands of words during the test period, I'd guess it sits around 1mm of travel. I did not, however, have any issues while typing. Keys require a decent amount of force to actuate, preventing a mushy feel. The large keycaps are spaced appropriately, and everything feels well balanced. I enjoyed using it about as much as my usual XPS 13's keyboard, which also has shallow travel.

Navigation keys including Home, End, PgUp, and PgDn are tied to the arrow keys, which could be annoying if you're a productive word processor. Still, not a dealbreaker. Shortcuts for the usual screen brightness and volume are joined by shortcuts for the calculator and screen snip tool along the top row. The white backlight's first brightness setting blends in a bit too much with the Oatmeal keys, though this isn't an issue with full backlight brightness. 

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The touchpad has been significantly upsized for the seventh generation, taking up a ton of space below the keys. The glass surface is smooth and tracks well, with plenty of room for gesture shortcuts. The click is a bit hollow, but in line with Lenovo's other Yoga laptops. The only real downside here is the width; the left palm rest is very narrow, which often led to my hand hitting the touchpad accidentally while typing. It takes some getting used to.

Flanking the keyboard are dual speakers, joined by two more speakers on the underside of the chassis. The Bowers & Wilkins system puts out a total of 10W of sound, and there's Dolby Atmos onboard for further tuning.

The non-convertible design means you don't get the same soundbar hinge as the Yoga 9i 14 (Gen 7), but audio quality is still exceptional. Listening to music has the body rocking with bass, which doesn't sound cheap thanks to the rigid aluminum construction. Voices during calls come through clear, and the combination of speakers and display while watching movies is something special.

Lenovo Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7): Display

(Image credit: Windows Central)

Lenovo didn't skimp at all on its "PureSight" display options for the Slim 9i 14. This in-house branding requires screens to have at least a 2.5K resolution, full sRGB color reproduction, Dolby Vision, and TÜV Low Blue Light certification.

True to the branding, some regions — including those that are calling this laptop the Yoga Slim 9i — have a choice of two 14-inch touchscreens with a 16:10 aspect ratio, OLED panel, VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black, Dolby Vision, 1ms response time, and TÜV Low Blue Light certification.

The main difference between screens is the resolution and refresh rate. My review unit has the more expensive 3840x2400 (UHD+) display with a 60Hz refresh rate. The other option has a 2880x1800 (2.8K) resolution and a 90Hz refresh rate.

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The Slim 9i 14's UHD+ OLED display wows with its precise color accuracy and Dolby Vision HDR capabilities.

Color and contrast out of the box are superb, and there's slim bezel around all four sides. Testing with a SpyderX Pro colorimeter, I measured 100% sRGB, 97% AdobeRGB, and 99% DCI-P3 color reproduction. These are quality numbers that lend themselves to the stunning look of the display. 

Watching movies is a pleasure, especially with Dolby Vision compatible content, and you shouldn't have any issues if you'd like to edit some photos or video. The screen also hit 378 nits at peak without HDR enabled and just 0.9 nits at minimum brightness.

The only real downside to this display is its glossy finish; working under bright lights can cause issues even with brightness cranked all the way up. It's not a dealbreaker by any means, but going with an anti-reflective finish would have alleviated some of the glare.

Lenovo Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7): Performance and battery

(Image credit: Windows Central)

The Slim 9i 14 (Gen 7)'s Core i7-1280P is a real performer, and it runs cool with minimal fan noise. The loudest I heard the fans at full load was about 44.8 decibels (as measured from about a foot and a half from the keyboard, where you head is usually located) and they usually run much quieter. If you're going about regular productivity work or watching a movie, they're essentially not louder than a whisper.

Lenovo worked with Intel to ensure the Slim 9i met Intel Evo standards and indeed the laptop has the badge on the palm rest. This ensures you get about the same level of performance on battery power; I never noticed a difference when going without AC power. 

Nine or more hours of battery life is also a key factor, though this is usually measured with an FHD display. As you'll see below, the UHD+ screen saps the potential. Instant wake, fast charging, Wi-Fi 6, and Thunderbolt 4 criteria are also all hit by the Slim 9i.

Here's a look at how the Slim 9i compares to other laptops we've recently reviewed.