Just lately, I’ve reviewed a lot of Chromebooks geared toward college students. They’re a goal market for a lot of producers, due each to the dominance of Google Classroom throughout many alternative grade ranges and likewise to Chromebooks’ reasonably priced value tags (in comparison with comparable Home windows and macOS machines).
However adults and professionals like Chromebooks, too. Some could also be energy customers operating Linux functions, some might make heavy use of Google Workspace within the workplace, and a few might identical to Chrome OS. That’s who the Thinkpad C13 Yoga Chromebook is for: it’s a Chromebook for grown-ups.
Meaning it breaks some stereotypical “Chromebook” conventions. Primarily, it’s not low cost: it’s not too removed from the MacBook Air in value. Lenovo isn’t the primary firm to do that shtick: Samsung and Google, for instance, have each focused this market with $999 Chrome OS machines previously, and there are Dell Latitude Chromebooks floating round which can be much more costly.
However the C13 Yoga is my favourite try at a premium, convertible Chromebook that I’ve seen thus far. It has the ThinkPad options which have made Lenovo so dominant within the enterprise area for thus a few years: the light-weight and durable construct, the wonderful keyboard, the strong specs, the business-focused privateness options, and extra. It’s not good, but it surely’s sensible. And finally, it really works.
Put this Chromebook subsequent to different members of the ThinkPad line, and you possibly can idiot me into pondering it was one other premium Home windows machine. ThinkPads are identified for his or her sturdy builds, and this one is not any exception. The chassis is aluminum throughout. There’s no flex within the keyboard or the display — and I can’t bear in mind the final time I stated that a few Chromebook. The 360 hinge is sturdy, and there’s no display wobble in any respect. The C13 achieves all this with out getting too clunky: it’s three.three kilos and zero.61 inches thick. Lenovo says it’s been examined towards 12 “military-grade” certification strategies.
The show on my overview unit is a 300-nit 1920 x 1080 IPS panel. The C13 can also be certainly one of only a few 13-inch Chromebooks that provides a 4K OLED show possibility — that one will get as much as 400 nits. Most individuals shouldn’t want that one, because the FHD display is nice. It delivers good colours, good distinction, and spectacular particulars. It does have the cramped 16:9 side ratio, one thing I’ve been glad to see other ThinkPads shifting away from this 12 months.
Elsewhere, you’ll see a variety of different signature ThinkPad thrives. There’s a really snug backlit keyboard, together with the signature pink Trackpoint within the heart. (It does include an ordinary Chromebook format, moderately than the same old ThinkPad format, although the inverted-T arrow keys stay.) ThinkPad followers may even acknowledge the discrete clickers on the highest of the touchpad, in addition to the match-on-chip fingerprint sensor on the precise facet of the keyboard deck and the tiny webcam shutter.
There are some distinctive tidbits as effectively. There’s a Google H1 safety chip inside, which works just like the TPM chips that you just’ll typically discover in Windows business laptops. There’s an non-obligatory digital camera on the keyboard deck (along with the one on the highest bezel) which you should use to snap forward-facing photographs for those who’re utilizing the C13 in pill or tent mode. There are two stereo audio system on the underside of the system which ship a pleasant encompass high quality, although the audio itself is tinny and never nice.
However the actually thrilling factor in regards to the C13 is that it’s the primary Chromebook to make use of AMD’s Ryzen Cell 3000 C-series processors. AMD launched this “C-series” final fall as a line particularly designed for Chromebooks. That stated, they’re largely rebrands of older AMD chips — the Ryzen 5 3500C that’s in my C13 mannequin is mainly a renamed Ryzen 5 3500U from the common 3000 Cell collection. That is two generations outdated now (the 5000 mobile Series got here out earlier this 12 months), but it surely’s nonetheless a strong processor for this type of pc.
The base C13 begins at $909 for 4GB of RAM, 32GB of storage, and an Athlon Gold 3150C processor. That’s a horrible deal for $909, however Lenovo pricing is usually bizarre and randomly discounted and this configuration is presently listed at a extra cheap $590.85. The mannequin I’ve is listed at $1,247 (however presently accessible for $810.55) — it comes with the Ryzen 5 3500C, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage. That’s nonetheless a bit excessive for these specs, but it surely’s a extra cheap worth. I admire that the storage is a PCIe SSD (moderately than the gradual eMMC storage that corporations sometimes attempt to sneak into dear Chromebooks).
That is undoubtedly the best-performing Chromebook I’ve utilized in fairly a while. I used the system as my main driver for just a few days, operating effectively over a dozen Chrome tabs and Android apps, and I nearly by no means felt warmth or heard the followers except I put my ear to the keyboard deck. Nothing slowed the system down, both. I used to be in a position to edit a batch of photographs in Adobe Lightroom with a dump of tabs and apps open and each a Zoom name and Spotify operating within the background, and the expertise was simply fantastic. Talking as somebody who’s examined a variety of sluggish price range Chromebooks lately, it’s actually refreshing to see Chrome OS operating this easily.
AMD has claimed that its built-in Vega graphics are one of the best graphics you will get in a Chromebook, and whereas I can solely confirm that declare anecdotally, I had a considerably higher gaming expertise on the C13 than I ever have with an Intel Chromebook. Relaxation in Items, certainly one of my favourite cell video games, is normally a playable-but-stuttery expertise on Chromebooks. Nevertheless it was fairly easy on the C13, and not using a stutter in sight. Photograph modifying, in each Google Photographs and Adobe Lightroom, was additionally no drawback on this machine.
I ended up operating a pair benchmarks to see how this method stacks as much as competitors. On AndroBench, which measures the velocity of the storage, the C13 Yoga Chromebook was effectively forward of the pack on nearly all of duties, and head and shoulders above the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2. On Geekbench 5, the C13 scored an 890 on single-core and a 2963 on multi-core. Whereas these scores aren’t pretty much as good as these we’ve seen from our prime Chromebook choose, Acer’s Chromebook Spin 713, (and don’t evaluate to the likes of the MacBook Air, after all), they’re nonetheless near the highest of the Chrome OS pack, beating scores we’ve seen from both Samsung Galaxy Chromebooks and the Pixelbook Go.
I additionally discovered the built-in stylus to be easy and responsive on this touchscreen, although it was a little bit of a ache to take away from its storage.
One disappointment underscores all of this, and that’s battery life. Although the C13 has a fairly sized 51Wh battery, I solely averaged six hours and two minutes of steady use with the display at 50 p.c. I ran trials utilizing all types of Android apps, and trials utilizing simply Chrome, with out seeing an enormous distinction. I’ve seen considerably greater than that (with the identical workload) from all types of Chromebooks, to not point out Home windows and macOS laptops. This actually makes me hesitant to advocate that anybody get the 4K display possibility — I can’t think about that most individuals will get acceptable battery life on these configurations if that is what I’m getting with the FHD display.
I’d be extra prepared to let this battery life slide on a price range system (although loads of budget Chromebooks final for much longer than this). However on a $1,247 system, I’m disenchanted to not see an all-day life span. Positive, the processor is highly effective, and there’s typically a trade-off between efficiency and effectivity. However all types of Home windows laptops at this value level go away this battery life within the mud.
One different concern: I may by no means truly get the fingerprint sensor to learn my fingerprint. Lenovo says it hasn’t seen this drawback earlier than, so it could have been a difficulty with my unit.
Android apps have been hit-or-miss on Chromebooks after I first began reviewing them, however lots of them work effectively on the C13. Messenger used to brick my system each time it bought a notification, for instance, but it surely now works simply fantastic. That stated, a lot of the providers I take advantage of every day — Twitter, Messenger, Gmail, Reddit, and so on. — are equal or barely higher experiences in Chrome, and a few work-related Android apps (like Slack and Google Docs) are nonetheless dangerous on Chromebooks. So I typically don’t use Android apps an excessive amount of apart from issues like Podcast Addict, which don’t actually have browser equivalents — however I’m blissful to see the ecosystem enhancing.
The C13 additionally helps Chrome OS’s pill mode, which has gotten higher, particularly with the stylus. It helps numerous helpful Android-esque gestures (swipe as much as go house, for instance). The system generally took a second or so to rearrange and resize all my Chrome home windows after I switched it again to clamshell mode, which isn’t the worst factor on the planet.
The ThinkPad line is, in some ways, the alternative of what many individuals take into account a Chromebook to be. ThinkPads are historically costly, they usually’re very effectively made. However occasions are altering (or no less than, corporations like Lenovo are attempting to make them change). Why shouldn’t Chrome OS followers get a ThinkPad possibility, too?
The C13 Yoga isn’t an ideal machine. The 16:9 display makes me unhappy, and the battery life is an enormous miss. It’s a bit costly for what it gives, as is usually the case with laptops concentrating on enterprise customers.
With that stated, the C13 can also be the closest factor to a MacBook that I’ve seen but within the Chromebook area. It has a strong, sturdy construct that appears and feels premium. It has a powerful processor, a wonderful keyboard, and a strong display, and it comes from a extremely revered model with a loyal base of followers.
So whereas the C13 might not be the precise selection for most individuals — there are extra reasonably priced Chromebooks with higher battery life that will likely be a greater purchase for many shoppers — it’s objectively a neat system that may most likely make a sure sect of Chrome OS customers blissful. For those who’re a Chrome OS enterprise person who’s been jealous of the premium chassis that Home windows and Mac customers get, right here’s a ThinkPad for you.
Images by Monica Chin / The Verge