“The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 is a genre-bending laptop that does anything hard to beat for its price.”
Record battery life
Can handle light games
The screen is a little dark
Small palm rests
Disorder. It’s not a word I idly use, but what AMD’s Ryzen 4000 processors have been doing over the past eight months fits the definition. These chips offer the performance you previously paid dearly for, both in size and price.
So far, however, only a few laptops have been designed from the ground up to use these chips.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 should always be an example of how disruptive Ryzen 4000 can be. After many months of delay, the time has finally come to attempt a seemingly insurmountable task – being a laptop that can be ultra-slim, extremely powerful, and extremely affordable at the same time.
Have AMD and Lenovo just done the impossible?
The IdeaPad Slim 7 revolution isn’t broadcast high. It’s not ugly, but it’s also not attention grabbing. It’s not far from Lenovo’s current crop of conservative, dark gray laptops with rounded edges and an all-metal chassis. The design alone makes it difficult for you to pick this out of the wide range of similar looking laptops from Lenovo. It’s reportedly offered in a possibly more eye-catching “Orchid” color option, but I haven’t set my eyes on it yet.
In a sense, that’s a shame. The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 surpasses our traditional laptop categories in many ways. This is a tiny laptop. It’s only 0.58 inches thick, thinner, and slimmer than the MacBook Air. It weighs only 3.1 pounds and fits the 13-inch MacBook Pro – and yet has an 8-core processor like the gigantic MacBook Pro 16 -Inch. That is the unique offering of this fascinating laptop.
The 13-inch MacBook Pro is possibly the best size comparison. The IdeaPad Slim 7 is a little smaller in almost every dimension, if not by much, and even has the larger 14-inch screen. More importantly, these two laptops share a 25-watt processor. That’s 10 watts more power than your standard 13-inch laptop, which contributes to the unique performance of these laptops.
You’ll find a healthy selection of ports on the sides of the laptop. On the left, the IdeaPad Slim 7 has two USB-C ports, HDMI and a 3.5 mm headphone jack. On the right side, the IdeaPad Slim 7 offers two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, the power switch and a micro SD card slot.
Since this is an AMD laptop, you won’t get Thunderbolt 3, a proprietary Intel technology. However, USB-C is still a versatile port. Each USB-C port can be used for charging, connecting to a monitor, transferring files, and connecting peripherals. You can’t power an external graphics card, but for this laptop these ports are very powerful.
My only real complaint is that you can’t charge the laptop from the right as both USB-C ports are on the left. It defeats the point of USB-C’s versatility.
A 25-watt, 8-core processor in a small laptop is a fascinating requirement, but only if it can actually deliver significantly better performance. I started my tests with Geekbench 5 and Cinebench R20, two benchmarks that can give a comprehensive picture of the CPU’s performance. The IdeaPad Slim 7 particularly impressed with its multi-core performance. Amazingly, Geekbench 5 Multi-Core was only 9% behind the much larger Dell XPS 15 with its 45-watt eight-core processor. In the meantime, it was 23% ahead of the 13-inch MacBook Pro (with a 10th generation Core i5) and 16% ahead of the Acer Swift 3 (with the Ryzen 7 4700U). No laptop in this size class has the cores and threads that will fit the IdeaPad Slim 7.
For a more realistic test, I encoded a 4K video in Handbrake, with performance limited to the CPU. Here, too, the IdeaPad Slim 7 and its Ryzen processor with eight cores knocked out the competition. It even beat some 45 watt six-core laptops like the HP Envy 15 or the Asus ROG Strix G15.
[pullqutoe]For a laptop of this size, the IdeaPad Slim 7 belongs to its own performance category.[/pullquote]
The only place the IdeaPad Slim 7 can’t really compete with these larger laptops is in video editing. Normally I wouldn’t try Premiere Pro on a laptop this small, but I had to try the IdeaPad Slim 7. It took an hour and 18 minutes to export a two minute 4K project to ProRes 422. The higher clock speeds and discrete graphics of larger laptops like the Dell XPS 15 or MacBook Pro 16-inch help them finish the same test in well under 10 minutes.
This does not mean that the IdeaPad Slim 7 cannot be used for content creation workflows at all. If you’re working with lower resolutions, less demanding codecs, or lighter applications, the IdeaPad Slim 7 should work just fine. It’s just not a real replacement for one of those larger laptops. If portability isn’t important, even a cheap gaming laptop like the Dell G5 SE can handle video editing far better than the IdeaPad Slim 7 for roughly the same price. For a laptop of this size, however, the IdeaPad Slim 7 belongs to its own performance category.
Interestingly, Lenovo also sells an Intel version of the IdeaPad Slim 7. But here’s what you get: It’s $ 150 more expensive, has half the memory, and only has a quad-core CPU. The only thing the Intel model has on its side is the discrete Nvidia MX350 graphics card, but AMD’s built-in Radeon graphics outperform it. There’s no reason to buy it through the AMD model.
Apart from the Intel variant, Lenovo does not offer any configurations. That could change in the future, but for now, this model with 8GB of RAM and 512GB SSD is the only option. I really wish a 16GB model was offered to pair better with the high-core processor.
You can play games on this laptop! Yes it’s true and it’s kind of a miracle. The Ryzen 7 4800U comes with eight Radeon graphics cores. This is easily the best discrete graphic I’ve ever seen on a laptop. It holds great promise for the future of AMD’s Radeon graphics.
In the 3DMark Time Spy benchmark, it is 29% faster than the Dell XPS 13 with its integrated Intel Iris Plus graphics. It even outperforms discrete entry-level graphics such as the Nvidia MX350 in the Asus ZenBook Duo. The result is decent low-end performance in modern games.
These are easily the best discrete graphics I’ve ever seen on a laptop.
Take Fortnite, for example. As long as you keep the graphics settings at medium or below, the games play pretty smoothly. You’ll find it hard to get up to 60 frames per second (fps) without tweaking the 3D resolution slider a bit. For the first time, however, Fortnite can be played with built-in graphics without any problems.
A less GPU-dependent game like Civilization VI will perform even better. The IdeaPad Slim 7 struggled to keep up with the Ultra settings, but averaged 45 fps on Medium. That’s still a long way from what 15-inch laptops with discrete graphics can do, but again, you can play Civilization VI without having to resort to low graphics settings. This is really impressive for a laptop with no games.
The only real competition the IdeaPad Slim 7 has in this form factor is the GTX 1650 version of the Razer Blade Stealth. While you can get better frame rates on this computer, it’s also far more expensive.
Keyboard and touchpad
This keyboard is not my favorite. The trip feels very short and the buttons have a muddy bottom effect. I prefer the Dell XPS 13, MacBook Air, or HP Specter x360. It didn’t take me long to get used to it, however, and I like the curved shape of the keycaps.
The keyboard backlight doesn’t have its own key, but Fn + Space is a solid replacement. The backlight is very bright – to the point where I would like a lower brightness setting.
My main problem with the keyboard is its location. The keyboard is farther from the screen than most laptops to make room for the speakers and ports. The result is less space for the touchpad and palm rests underneath. If you have small hands, you’re fine, but those palm rests were too small for me so I had to dig the edges of the chassis into my palms. It is not a comfortable position to type in for a long time. Laptops like the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex also suffer from this problem.
The touchpad performs better and offers a smooth tracking surface and enough space for swipes and gestures with two fingers. The click feels solid, although it’s a little louder than I’d like it to be.
When comparing AMD with Intel, there was no clear winner in terms of battery life. Until now. I don’t know if it’s the big 60 watt battery or the efficient 7 nm processor, but the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 is an absolute champion in terms of battery life. This can disappear from the wall all day – and a few more.
In our lightest test, which repeated a local video file until it died, the IdeaPad Slim 7 lasted over 18.5 hours. This is one of the best times I’ve seen on a laptop that isn’t a Chromebook or ARM-based laptop.
The real record was set in our web browsing test. The IdeaPad Slim 7 lasted over 16 hours here, which was only surpassed by the Qualcomm-powered Lenovo Flex 5G. That’s an insane lifespan for a load.
As my daily driver, I found that the IdeaPad Slim 7 can easily survive a whole working day despite my heavy multitasking, music streaming and countless open apps.
Display and speaker
If the IdeaPad Slim 7 has one notable flaw, it is the screen. It uses a 14-inch 1080p panel that does the job, but not with a lot of grace. The screen is a bit dark and only reaches 247 nits. This is both the 300-nit threshold that I like to see in laptops and the result of strong glare. When watching a movie with dark scenes, the first thing to do is to turn off any light in the room. The contrast is the only bright spot at 1,370: 1.
The display is also a slight shade of green, although it is adequate in terms of gamut and color accuracy. Unfortunately, a 4K 100% AdobeRGB model for professionals is not offered.
I was pleasantly surprised by the speakers. You’re right on the keyboard deck, pointing at your ears – which does wonders for the clarity of the audio. These still don’t replace a decent bluetooth speaker, but for the occasional music or video watching, they get the job done.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 may not be the true flagship AMD wants. Its screen is lackluster and the design is far from remarkable. Thanks to its fantastic performance, long battery life and impressive integrated graphics, the IdeaPad Slim 7 exceeds the possibilities of small laptops.
Are there alternatives?
There are many Ryzen 4000 laptops out there that aren’t as powerful as the IdeaPad Slim 7 but are available at a cheaper price. The most obvious option is the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14, which is not as powerful but is a lot cheaper. The HP Envy x360 13 is another good example of a cheaper AMD laptop with a little less performance.
If you’re willing to pay a few hundred more dollars, the Dell XPS 13 is a better designed laptop. Performance and battery life can’t quite keep up with the IdeaPad Slim 7, but the small form factor and better display make it worth the additional cost.
How long it will take?
The IdeaPad Slim 7 should last at least three or four years, which is normal for laptops. Due to the limited configuration options, you may want to upgrade memory or memory yourself in the future, but everything is soldered up.
Lenovo offers a standard one-year warranty. You are on your own past.
Should you buy it?
Yes. It’s the best laptop you can buy under $ 1,000.