Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Pro review: big screen for the mainstream

I recently reviewed the Gigabyte Aero 16, a 16-inch Intel workstation with a powerful GPU. It was hot, heavy, expensive and had…little battery life. The 16-inch laptop category has traditionally been dominated by these kinds of desktop replacements.

Lenovo’s IdeaPad Slim 7 tries something different in its 16-inch frame. This is an AMD-powered laptop with a more mid-tier GPU and a 16-inch display. It lasts all day on battery. And it’s much, much more affordable than many laptops of this size, with a price tag of just over $1,000 ($1,015, to be exact) for this test configuration. (This unit is currently sold out on Lenovo’s website, but the company says it should be back in stock soon.)

With a solid build and low-profile look, a full selection of ports, and a high-resolution, high-refresh rate 16:10 display, the Slim 7 (if you can find one in stock) is a competitive machine by any standard. . It won’t be the best choice for everyone, but it’s a good reminder that many people don’t need to pay thousands of dollars or sacrifice all-day battery life to get a computer. large screen laptop.

This is probably partly because the Lenovo name is on both of these devices, but using the IdeaPad is like using a (much more expensive) ThinkPad in many ways. It’s not as instantly recognizable as a ThinkPad (the two interesting color options are Cloud Gray and Storm Grey), but it’s certainly built as well, with a sturdy aluminum chassis and a comfortable finish that doesn’t scratch easily. during my testing period. You may notice that there is a slight lip at the top of the screen where the webcam lives. By lightweight, I mean lightweight – it’s a noticeably less noticeable protrusion than you’ll find on, say, the ThinkPad Z series. It fitted in very quickly and didn’t affect my experience with the computer in any way portable.

The keyboard also comes close to ThinkPad quality (which is highly commendable). The keys have a good click, and Lenovo uses the large bridge to fit a full numeric keypad. I exceeded my usual typing speeds and really felt like my fingers were flying; it’s a keyboard I’ll be sad to say goodbye to when I return this device.

Lenovo has packed a spacious keyboard and full numeric keypad into the deck of the IdeaPad Slim 7 Pro.

There’s also a handy hotkey: you can press Fn+Q to switch between cooling profiles (Extreme Performance, Battery Saver, etc.), so you don’t have to dig into Lenovo’s software to do it. . As someone who changes profiles often, this was nice to have. My only slight issue is that the backspace key is on the small side and very close to the Num Lock key. I have pressed the Num Lock key several times by accident when I wanted to press backspace.

Don’t let the word “Slim” raise your expectations too high: this isn’t a featherweight device, and it packs some serious power. The chassis weighs 4.59 pounds and is up to 0.79 inches thick. It’s portable for a 16in, but I want to make sure people don’t see “Slim” and expect an LG Gram. If you’re looking for something smaller, there are 14-inch Intel models of the Slim 7 Pro that you can get for less than $1,000.

But where the Slim really punches above its weight class is the display. It’s a 2560 x 1600 display with fairly thin bezels. The 120Hz refresh rate makes a noticeable difference when scrolling through long articles or documents (as I do every day) – after spending a bit of time at 120Hz, going back to 60Hz just feels wrong.

Otherwise, the panel hit 364 nits of brightness in my testing and displayed bright, accurate colors. It was also glossy and repelled noticeable reflections indoors, but nothing hindered my work.

The IdeaPad’s 16-inch display is excellent: it’s bright, colorful, large, and high-resolution.

The only real shortcoming in connectivity is the lack of Thunderbolt since this is an AMD system. There are two USB 3.2 Gen 1, one USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 1.4b, card reader and combo audio jack. Besides the Thunderbolt accessories, I was able to plug in everything I needed without any issues. Being able to charge via USB-C, in addition to the dedicated power port, was also handy. Speaking of audio, the speakers aren’t the loudest, but they deliver surprisingly clear audio with distinct levels.

Lenovo enthusiasts should note that there is one significant difference between the IdeaPad and its older ThinkPad cousins: the webcam. It supports both Windows Hello and presence detection, which come in handy. But there is also no easy way to turn it off. This won’t be a problem for everyone, but I really like the shutter on many ThinkPad physical models – as someone who uses their webcam all day, it’s nice to be able to double confirm that it’s extinct. The Slim 7 Pro doesn’t have a physical shutter, nor a default kill switch on the keyboard; you have to dive into Lenovo’s software to turn it off.

The Slim 7 Pro has a good selection of ports, including a full-size HDMI and SD card slot.

Inside, my test unit packs AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800H, 16GB of RAM, and 1TB of storage, in addition to Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050 GPU. From what I can see on Lenovo’s website, this is the only configuration available. And it’s fast. I ran Zoom calls on loads of Chrome tabs without lag, fan noise, or keyboard heat of any kind, even with battery saver turned on. The Ryzen 7 5800H is a good processor, and I wouldn’t expect it to have any issues with the tasks that most people do. The RTX 3050 wouldn’t be the best choice for, say, full-resolution gaming, but it should be able to lend a hand in graphics-heavy workloads.

Battery life is one area where the Slim 7 Pro may fall short for some people. I was getting around seven and a half hours of continuous use with the display on medium brightness. That’s impressive for a 16-inch with such a high resolution panel, but you can definitely find laptops at this price that will last longer.

The only part of the Slim 7 experience where the cracks are starting to show is the bloatware. This device had no tonne junk on it – no random games or software backends – but it came with some McAfee programs that sent me popups here and there and were a bit of a pain to uninstall. It’s more understandable on this IdeaPad than on a $3,000 ThinkPad, but it still feels very much like something that cheapens an otherwise great experience.

The IdeaPad Slim 7 Pro fills a niche that isn’t very crowded right now.

When I hear that someone I know wants a laptop with a 16 or 17 inch screen, I often struggle to come up with a recommendation. The reality is that many of the larger models in this category aren’t good choices for consumer use: companies often assume that the buyer looking for a 16-inch screen is also a power user who needs high GPU power, has company cash. to spend, and don’t care about a little weight.

If I was shopping for, say, my cousin who wants his movies to be really big or my friend who needed a big screen to take the bar exam last year, I might recommend this device over some something like the Dell XPS 17. It’s more affordable and has a processor that can handle what most people need to do. And while those looking for portability may prefer one of the many lighter 15-inch laptops out there, the 16:10 trades off that portability a bit for a noticeably larger screen real estate. It’s a bit in between, but I can see an audience for it.

It’s also just a good reminder of the absurd price of some other well-built laptops. The cheapest 14-inch ThinkPad X1 Yoga costs several hundred dollars more than this Slim model, and I’d much rather use the IdeaPad any day — while the Yoga has a number of security features and features. design staples that are worth a lot of money to its customer base, I rightfully think the IdeaPad’s bigger and better screen offers more benefits to your average consumer. And while the Slim 7 Pro might be hard to find, it’s worth remembering that if you’re considering buying the ThinkPads, MacBooks, and XPSs of the world, you should make sure you’re not overlooking any decent devices that might suit your needs. at lower prices.