Lenovo’s new Slim laptops delight the digits with carbon and glass

Lenovo Slim 9i closed
Enlarge / The Slim 9i is the flagship.

Scharon Harding

On Thursday, Lenovo introduced a series of laptops with various options and designs. The Slim laptops, formerly called IdeaPad Slim, are a new lineup of clamshell designs that will look to compete in June with thin and light builds, high-end components, high-res OLED displays, and some unique textures.

Creator clamshells

The Slim 7 Pro X and Slim 7i Pro X have 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, USB-A, a headphone jack, and HDMI 2.0.
Enlarge / The Slim 7 Pro X and Slim 7i Pro X have 2 Thunderbolt 4 ports, USB-A, a headphone jack, and HDMI 2.0.

Scharon Harding

The standout products are the 14.5-inch Slim 7i Pro X and Slim 7 Pro X — with the “i” meaning it has an Intel CPU. Lenovo is launching the “X” moniker to represent laptops made for creators. In addition to offering up to an RTX 3050 laptop GPU (4GB GDDR6), Lenovo also fine-tunes the machines’ hardware, a Lenovo rep told Ars Technica when we checked out the laptops in person. AI software also helps manage performance and battery usage.

Lenovo would not disclose TDP numbers but said the Slim 7 / 7i Pro X has a higher TDP than the non-Pro X versions, (which in the US will only be available as 16-inchers), especially if you get it with a dedicated laptop GPU, which is turned down in the non-Pro X versions.

The new laptops also have a 70 Watt-hour battery compared to the non-X’s 60 Whr. Lenovo claimed the battery would last up to 12.5 hours of 1080p video playback with an Intel CPU and 15.5 hours for the AMD version.

The laptops employ Intel and AMD’s respective series of creator-targeting CPUs. H-series chips top Intel’s 12th Gen mobile CPU pyramid, and the Slim 7i Pro X goes up to an i7-1200H with six Performance cores, or P-cores at 2.3-4.7 GHz, 8 Efficiency cores, or E-cores (1.7 -2.3 GHz), 20 threads, and 96 EUs.

Meanwhile, the AMD version of the laptop goes up to a Ryzen 9 6900 HS Creator Edition, with eight cores, 16 threads, and a base clock speed of 3.3 GHz that can boost to 4.9 GHz. It also features AMD’s 12 GPU-core Radeon 680M graphics.

Lenovo also equipped the creator machines with ultra-fast RAM. The Intel machines support up to 32GB of LPDDR5-6000 memory across two channels, while the AMD version can hit 6,400 MHz — as fast as LPDDR5 gets.

The laptops include 1080p webcams, start at 3.48 lbs, and are as thin as 0.63 inches.
Enlarge / The laptops include 1080p webcams, start at 3.48 lbs, and are as thin as 0.63 inches.

Scharon Harding

Ultimately, they’re not as heavy-duty as Lenovo’s ThinkPad laptops, which include workstation-comparable laptops like the 16-inch ThinkPad X1 Extreme. That laptop goes up to an octa-core i7-11850H, RTX 3070 (8GB), and DDR4-3200 RAM for about $ 2,800.

The Pro X laptops prioritize resolution and speed rather than color coverage, though 100 percent sRGB is fine for those creating for Windows, for example. The 3072 × 1920 screens have a high 120 Hz refresh rate and Nvidia G-Sync Adaptive-Sync to fight screen tears. Max brightness is a claimed 400 nits for the IPS panel.

Lenovo Slim 9i: A touch of glass

The Slim 9i's screen looked vivid with saturated colors in our short time with it.
Enlarge / The Slim 9i’s screen looked vivid with saturated colors in our short time with it.

Scharon Harding

The flagship of the Slim series, the Slim 9i, has a higher starting price of $ 1,800.

A lot of that price comes from the machine’s 14-inch OLED touchscreen. You can get the high-contrast screen with 3840 × 2400 resolution (323.45 pixels per inch) at a standard 60 Hz or drop to 2880 × 1800 (242.59 ppi) for a tick up to 90 Hz. Either way, the 16:10 screens are VESA DisplayHDR 500 True Black-certified, which promises the deepest deep blacks and at least 500 nits brightness.

The Slim 9i at least looks like a flagship, thanks to a touch of glass. Like a modern smartphone, the lid is covered in 3D glass. A Lenovo rep told us that the glass does not provide extra protection, but makes the laptop look sleeker. The glass also played well with the rounded, shiny edges of the laptop’s deck. The glass encasement seemed susceptible to fingerprints, though, and we’d hate to imagine the laptop’s appearance should you ever damage the glass.

The Slim 9i only comes with Intel CPUs, going up to an i7-1280P. The CPU has four P-cores (2.1-4.7 GHz), eight E-cores (2.1-3.4 GHz), and 16 threads. Memory is slower than on the aforementioned Pro X laptops, maxing out at 32GB of LPDDR5-5600 across two channels.

You should be able to squeeze out more battery life from the Slim 9i’s 75Whr battery compared to the Pro X machines. Lenovo claims up to 15 hours of 1080p video playback.

Port selection is skimpier than on the Pro X laptops with three Thunderbolt 4.0 ports and one 3.5mm jack.
Enlarge / Port selection is skimpier than on the Pro X laptops with three Thunderbolt 4.0 ports and one 3.5mm jack.

Scharon Harding

Another boost over the so-called creator machines is in audio; the Slim 9i has two 2 W tweeters, plus a pair of 3 W subwoofers. If you want even more oomph and a similar design, consider Lenovo’s Yoga laptops, which include the same setup, plus a soundbar in the hinge.

Carbon-clad

Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon.
Enlarge / Lenovo Slim 7i Carbon.

Scharon Harding

As the name suggests, the Slim 7i Carbon uses a combination of magnesium alloy and carbon fiber in the lid. You will not find carbon fiber in the deck, as magnesium alloy offers better heat management and lower costs. That design made for a matte, soft finish with a gentle texture that helped with my grip. It also matched the premium feel of the ThinkPad X1 Carbon, which uses the same chassis materials.

The Slim 7i Carbon starts at 2.13 lbs and 0.58 inches.
Enlarge / The Slim 7i Carbon starts at 2.13 lbs and 0.58 inches.

Scharon Harding

The 13-inch Slim 7i Carbon comes with up to an i7-1260P, 32GB of LPDDR5-4800, a 1TB SSD, and a 2560 × 1600 IPS panel at up to 90 Hz. Its 50 WHr purportedly lasts up to 13.5 hours with 1080p video playback.

The laptop has three USB-C ports, including two Thunderbolt 4.
Enlarge / The laptop has three USB-C ports, including two Thunderbolt 4.

Scharon Harding

The Slim 7i Carbon will start at $ 1,300.

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