Lenovo’s New ‘Slim’ Series Laptops Make a Serious Run At the Dell XPS and MacBook Air

Lenovo’s New ‘Slim’ Series Laptops Make a Serious Run At the Dell XPS and MacBook Air
Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon (Photo: Florence Ion)

Lenovo, which makes the beloved ThinkPad series, revealed today a new generation of “Slim” laptops. We’ve seen this branding before, but gone are the confusing Yoga, Legion, and IdeaPad classifiers — these are just “Slim.” The new clamshell systems closely match the convertible laptops in Lenovo’s flagship Yoga lineup and are positioned to go up against the likes of the Dell XPS 13, HP Spectre x360 14, and MacBook Air.

So far, I like what I see. Lenovo’s new flagship, the Slim 9i, reminds me of the Yoga 9i but for people (like myself) who don’t need the flexibility of a 2-in-1. If you need more power, the Slim 7i Pro X brings discrete graphics and high-end CPU options without compromising on portability. Speaking of portable, the Slim 7i Carbon is a rare 13-inch Lenovo that weighs a measly 1 kg, potentially making it a consumer-focused version of the beloved ThinkPad X1 Carbon.

Lenovo Slim 9i

At the top of the stack is the flagship Lenovo Slim 9i, a thin clamshell laptop with a design that mimics the Yoga 9i, one of the best 2-in-1 laptops on the market. It has the same elegant rounded, polished edges but with a 180-degree hinge. The laptop comes in an “Oatmeal” colour.

Lenovo Slim 9i (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)Lenovo Slim 9i (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)

It weighs 1 kg and measures 12.5 x 9.1 x 0.6 inches, making it slightly lighter than the Yoga 9i. Ports are limited to three Thunderbolt 4 inputs and a headphone jack, so you lose a USB-A port going from the Yoga to the Slim.

The Slim 9i comes with two 14-inch, 16:10 OLED display options, one with a 2.8K (2880 x 1800) resolution and another with a 4K (3840 x 2400) panel. Both get up to 400 nits, are VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black certified, and feature low blue-light technology. Only the lower-res panel gets the benefit of a 90Hz refresh rate.

In terms of performance, the Slim 9i can be equipped with either an Intel Core i7-1280P or Core i5-1240P processor and up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM. Storage comes in two forms: a 512GB or 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD. Lenovo rates the battery life at 15 hours of video playback, though I caution putting much stake into that claim until we’ve tested it ourselves.

Lenovo Slim 9i (Photo: Florence Ion)Lenovo Slim 9i (Photo: Florence Ion)

I’m eager to hear the four-speaker Bowers & Wilkins-tuned audio system, considering this Slim 9i doesn’t have a soundbar hinge like the Yoga model. I’m also hoping the 1080p IR webcam is better than the one on its convertible twin. Overall, though, the Slim 9i is a svelte ultra-portable system with a premium design and good specs.

Lenovo Slim 7/7i Pro X

Available with either Intel or AMD processors, the Slim 7i Pro X and Slim 7 Pro X are slightly heavier and thicker than the Slim 9i but pack faster performance across the board. Based on specs alone, I’d argue that the speed gains are worth the minor tradeoff in portability.

And I really mean “minor.” The Slim 7i Pro X and 7 Pro X weigh 2 kg and measure 12.9 x 8.7 x 0.6 inches, making them about the same size as the Slim 9i but a half-pound heavier. The Intel-based Slim 7i Pro X comes in Dark Teal and Cloud Grey whereas the AMD-based Slim 7 Pro X is available only in Storm Grey.

Lenovo Slim 7i Pro X (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)Lenovo Slim 7i Pro X (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)

With that extra girth, Lenovo stuffed more ports into these machines. Here’s where the fine print matters: the Slim 7i comes with two Thunderbolt 4 inputs, a USB-C, a headphone jack, and an HDMI 2.0. The AMD version, however, has two USB-C ports, two USB-A ports, and a headphone jack. That missing HDMI connection is going to be a thorn in the side of those on Team Red.

Whether you choose the Intel (Slim 7i Pro X) or AMD (Slim 7 Pro X) version, you’ll get a 14.5-inch, 3K (3070 x 1920) IPS display with 400 nits of brightness and a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate with G-Sync support. Unlike the well-equipped Slim 9i, the Slim 7i Pro X has only dual Harman-tuned speakers.

Lenovo Slim 7i Pro X (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)Lenovo Slim 7i Pro X (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)

That screen might have ticked you off to it: these come with discrete graphics in the form of either an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU or an RTX 1650. While short of being “gaming-calibre” cards, the RTX 3050 held its own when I tested it in the HP Spectre x360 16.

You get three CPU options for each model. The Slim 7i Pro X starts with an Intel Core i5-12500H and goes up to a Core i7-12700H CPU. If you’re an AMD fan, you can get a Ryzen 5 600HS, Ryzen 7 6800HS, or Ryzen 9 6900HS. Interestingly, Lenovo says the AMD model lasts three hours longer on a charge, at 15.5 hours versus 12.5 hours. Rounding out the specs are up to 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM and up to a 1TB PCIe Gen 4 M.2 SSD.

Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon

Perhaps the closest rival to the Dell XPS 13 in both size and price, the Slim 7i Carbon has a 13-inch display, and a chassis that comes in at a measly 0.58 inches thick and 1 kg.

Taking a page from the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, the Slim 7i Carbon employs an aerospace-grade magnesium alloy build that’s reinforced with carbon fibre. If those numbers above don’t mean much to you: this thing is seriously lightweight — the MacBook Air, for reference, weighs 1 kg.

Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)

Aesthetically, this looks fairly similar to the Yoga and Slim 9i, with a rounded “comfort-edge” design available in three colour schemes: Moon White, Cloud Grey, and Storm Grey. The port selection is predictably limited (though perhaps not this limited), consisting of a single Thunderbolt 4 and a USB 3.2 Type-C.

Lenovo couldn’t fit many ports in here, but I’m impressed by the performance components it found room for: the Slim 7i Carbon comes with either a Core i5-1240P or a Core i7-1260P CPU. You can, rather amazingly, equip the laptop with up to 32GB of RAM and up to a 1TB SSD (take that, M1 MacBook Air!).

Lenovo likes a good 14-inch panel, but this Slim 7i is one of the rare models with a 13-inch display at 2.5K (2560 x 1600) resolution, with 400 nits of brightness, a 90Hz refresh rate, and a 16:10 aspect ratio.

Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon (Photo: Florence Ion/Gizmodo)

Sorry Lenovo, but I looked at your specs sheet hard enough to notice the “HD webcam,” meaning this uses a 720p lens. That doesn’t mean much, but the standard for 2022 is shifting to 1080p on high-end models. At least it’s an IR camera with facial recognition.

You obviously want a system this portable to last long on a charge. We’ll need to do our own testing to get a better idea of real-world runtimes, but Lenovo rates the battery life at 13.5 hours of video playback.

Lenovo Slim 7/7i

And since the naming convention hasn’t been confusing enough already, Lenovo is also debuting the Slim 7 in 14 and 16-inch models. I won’t go too into detail on these as they are refreshes of the IdeaPad Slim 7.

Lenovo Slim 7i (Image: Lenovo)Lenovo Slim 7i (Image: Lenovo)

There are a few interesting tidbits here, though. The 16-inch model is available in both Intel (up to Core i7-12700H) and AMD (up to Ryzen 7 6800HS) versions, with up to a 1TB SSD. Only the AMD-fuelled Slim 7 gets up to 32GB of RAM, while the Slim 7i is stuck with 16GB.

The standout spec, however, is the Intel Arc A370M graphics found in the Slim 7i. Intel’s first foray into dedicated graphics in more than two decades, the A370 is positioned as an entry-level GPU capable of double the performance of integrated Iris Xe. This is the only GPU option available, whereas the Slim 7 comes with either an RTX 3050 Ti or an RTX 3050.

Pricing and availability

The Yoga AIO 7 (27-inch, 7) starts at $2,699 and is expected to be available starting September 2022 in Australia. Lenovo said “further Australian pricing and availability to follow”.