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ThinkPad Yoga 11e review: A hidden Chromebook gem

JR Raphael | Aug. 25, 2014
With its exceptional build quality and outstanding (and flexible) display, Lenovo's new Chromebook is a meaningful notch above the rest.

It's not the type of feature you need, by any means, but it's a luxurious addition that's very nice to have.

A big question for me coming into this review was how well the ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook would fare in terms of performance. Like Lenovo's N20p Chromebook, the Yoga 11e uses one of Intel's new Bay Trail processors. Those are typically considered to be more efficient but less powerful than the Haswell-based alternatives used in many current Chrome OS devices.

While the N20p proved to be somewhat limited in performance, though, the Yoga 11e is surprisingly capable. It's not quite at the level of a comparable Haswell-based system, but with its higher-end quad-core Celeron N2930 CPU and full 4GB of RAM, the Yoga 11e Chromebook is more than able to hold its own.

In general use, the system felt snappy and responsive; even with numerous tabs and processes running, things never seem laggy or slow. When I did a side-by-side comparison with a Haswell-based Asus Chromebox loaded up with the same 4GB of RAM, the two systems were almost neck-and-neck in terms of page-loading time.

The Chromebox occasionally pulled ahead and finished loading something a second or two before the Yoga 11e, but we're talking about the type of difference you'd notice only in a closely controlled comparison. Even with the level of abnormally intensive multitasking I tend to do in my day-to-day work, the Yoga 11e had no problem keeping up.

And that's what's most important: No matter how I've used the device, I've never felt frustrated or held back by its speed. The extra resources put into this system seem to give it the fuel it needs to keep up with Chromebooks from outside of the Bay Trail family.

The one area where the ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook comes up slightly short is in the realm of stamina: The system is listed for "up to eight hours" of use, but I've been able to squeeze only five to six hours out of it per charge. Five to six hours is by no means horrendous, but it also isn't spectacular and is well below what many other Chromebooks provide (I've seen 8.5 to 10 hours on some of the recent systems).

The Yoga 11e ships with 16GB of onboard storage. You can add more space via a four-in-one card slot on the side of the device.

Bottom line
Lenovo's ThinkPad Yoga 11e Chromebook is a standout device with a lot of compelling qualities. It's the most sturdy and well-constructed Chromebook you can buy for under $1,000 today, with an exceptional keyboard and trackpad, an outstanding touch-enabled IPS display and respectably solid performance for both casual and power users.


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