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Lenovo Slim 9i review: glass on top, quality underneath

Lenovo Slim 9i

MSRP $2,070.00

“The Lenovo Slim 9i is fast, incredibly well-built, gorgeous, and sports a spectacular 4K+ OLED display.”

Pros

  • Class-leading productivity performance
  • Exceptional build quality
  • Gorgeous aesthetic
  • Spectacular 4K+ OLED display
  • Excellent audio quality

Cons

  • Keyboard is too shallow
  • Limited connectivity

I’d forgive you if you haven’t heard of the Lenovo Slim 9i. Among Lenovo’s many lines and sub-brands of laptops, the name hardly stands out.

But as reviewed, it might be one of the most compelling 14-inch clamshell laptops I’ve ever reviewed. That’s thanks to the gorgeous OLED screen, great performance, and a webcam good enough for video conferencing. It might be less adventurous than last year’s model, but it checks every box for what a premium laptop should be in 2022.

Specs

  Lenovo Slim 9i
Dimensions 12.40 inches x 8.44 inches x 0.59 inches
Weight 3.02 pounds
Processor Core i7-1280P
Graphics Intel Iris Xe
RAM 32GB LPDDR5 RAM
Display 14-inch 16:10 WQUXGA (3,840 x 2,400) OLED
Storage 512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD
1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD
Touch Yes
Ports 3 x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4
1 x 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 1080p with infrared camera for facial recognition
Operating system Windows 11
Battery 75 watt-hours
Price $2,070+

Cohesive designs cost more

Lenovo Slim 9i front view showing display and keyboard deck.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

For me, what sets a premium laptop apart is the cohesiveness of its design, along with its fit and finish. Midrange and even budget laptops can be attractive, but they also tend to be distracted in their designs and don’t exhibit the polish you get from premium machines.

The Apple MacBook Pro 14 is perhaps the best example of this — its design is simple and blocky, yet it all works together to create an attractive aesthetic. And there’s no doubt that when you pick up a MacBook, you can feel its quality. The Slim 9i exhibits those same characteristics, aided by the glass covering on the lid that (literally) adds another visual and tactile dimension.

Lenovo Slim 9i side view showing lid and ports.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Consider the Slim 9i’s newly rounded edges. They not only look great, but they make the laptop incredibly comfortable to hold and handle. The lid’s angled edge serves as a nice contrast when the laptop is closed, and the consistent color scheme throughout, without any extraneous bling, creates that cohesive design I mentioned above.

Then, try to bend the lid and press in on the keyboard deck and you’ll notice that there’s zero give, creating the sensation of a solid piece of metal and glass. And the hinge allows the lid to be opened smoothly with one hand while holding the display firmly in place. Overall, it’s an exquisitely premium build, rivaling the MacBook Pro 14 and the Dell XPS 15, two other incredibly well-made laptops.

Premium laptops aren’t always the thinnest and lightest, but they shouldn’t be chunky or heavy, either. The Slim 9i is just 0.59 inches thick and weighs 3.02 pounds, both good numbers. I’m sure the glass covering adds additional weight, or the laptop would be lighter.

Lenovo Slim 9i top down view showing speaker.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Thanks to thin bezels across the top and sides, with a slightly thicker chin at the bottom, the Slim 9i is also nicely sized in width and height. Overall, the laptop is compact and slightly dense, which like the MacBook Pro 14 lends an air of quality.

The Lenovo Slim 9i’s design isn’t perfect, though. To begin with, while the keyboard has nicely sized and sculpted keycaps and plenty of key spacing, the switches lack depth. They’re light and snappy, but I felt like I was uncomfortably bottoming out as I typed.

The MacBook’s Magic Keyboard is also shallow but provides enough feedback to be incredibly comfortable and precise. HP’s Spectre and Dell’s XPS lineups also offer better — and deeper — keyboards.

Also, the Slim 9i lacks the usual connectivity you get with 14-inch laptops. There are only three USB-C ports with Thunderbolt 4 support to go with a 3.5mm audio jack. Usually, 14-inch laptops include USB-A and HDMI ports along with an SD card reader of some sort. Those are missing here.

Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2 provide modern wireless connectivity, but the lack of legacy physical ports is a weakness.

Moving back to the positive, the Slim 9i’s touchpad is large and comfortable, with precise Windows 11 multitouch gesture support and confident yet quiet button clicks. And the touch display is welcome.

Premium performance

Lenovo Slim 9i rear view showing lid and logo.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Your $2,070 buys a load of high-end components, including a 28-watt 14-core/20-thread Core i7-1280P, 32GB of LPDDR5 RAM, and a 1TB PCIe Gen4 SSD. Given the thin chassis, the CPU choice is fitting, avoiding the temptation to stuff in a 45-watt CPU. Some other manufacturers have given in to that temptation with mixed results.

Accordingly, the Slim 9i performs exceptionally well. Across all our benchmarks, the laptop holds its own against several other 14-inch laptops. That includes the smaller Dell XPS 13 Plus with the same Core i7-1280P CPU, those 14-inch machines with the 28-watt 12-core/14-thread Core i7-1260P, and some laptops with the 45-watt 14-core/20-thread Core i7-12700H.

Geekbench
(single / multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23
(single / multi)
PCMark 10
Complete
Lenovo Slim 9i
(Core i7-1280P)
Bal: 1,720 / 10,115
Perf: 1,726 / 11,074
Bal: 114
Perf: 95
Bal: 1,795 / 9,467
Perf: 1,824 / 11,301
5,442
Dell XPS 13 Plus
(Core i7-1280P)
Bal: 1,316 / 8,207
Perf: N/A
Bal: 127
Perf: 94
Bal: 1,311 / 6,308
Perf: 1,650 / 7,530
4,309
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,717 / 9,231
Perf: 1,712 / 10,241
Bal: 130
Perf: 101
Bal: 1,626 / 7,210
Perf: 1,723 / 8,979
5,760
Dell Inspiron 14 Plus
(Core i7-12700H)
Bal: 1,671 / 10,898
Perf: 1,644 / 10,196
Bal: 117
Perf: 89
Bal: 1,718 / 8,997
Perf: 1,774 / 11,035
5,854
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
(Core i7-1260P)
Bal: 1,531 / 8,209
Perf: 1,580 / 8,342
Bal: 133
Perf: 138
Bal: 1,538 / 6,993
Perf: 1,538 / 6,783
4,982
Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
Bal: 1,417 / 6,854
Perf: 1,404 / 7,223
Bal: 112
Perf: 111
Bal: 1,402 / 8,682
Perf: 1,409 / 8,860
5,647

The Slim 9i is more than fast enough for extremely demanding productivity workflows and can perform some creative tasks. It suffers in the latter from its integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, but its performance is impressive for such a thin laptop.

The Lenovo tool for tuning the thermals for performance was relatively effective, and I’ve noted both balanced and performance modes here. The laptop throttled a bit, as do all thin and light laptops with modern CPUs, but it managed to maintain competitive frequencies for the most part.

The battery life isn’t bad for a 4K OLED laptop.

Gaming is another story. While the Slim 9i did well enough given its integrated Intel Iris Xe graphics, scoring 1,894 in the 3DMark Time Spy test and hitting an average of 22 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite at 1200p and epic graphics, that’s not exactly impressive gaming performance. You’ll be able to run some modern titles at 1080p if you turn down the graphics, but not much more than that.

Solid performance is a premium quality, but so is battery life. The ultimate premium machines manage to balance both, and the Slim 9i comes close thanks to 75 watt-hours of battery capacity. It fell behind in our web browsing test and the PCMark 10 Applications battery test, but it did fine in our video test.

These aren’t bad results for a fast laptop with a 4K+ OLED display. However, whether you get a full day’s battery life will depend entirely on your workflow.

Web browsing Video PCMark 10
Applications
Lenovo Slim 9i
(Core i7-1280P)
6 hours, 28 minutes 12 hours, 36 minutes 8 hours, 10 minutes
 Dell XPS 13 Plus
(Core i7-1280P)
8 hours, 0 minutes 9 hours, 20 minutes N/A
Dell Inspiron 14 Plus
(Core i7-12700H)
7 hours, 3 minutes 9 hours, 29 minutes 8 hours, 34 minutes
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(Core i7-12700H)
4 hours, 29 minutes 7 hours, 29 minutes 5 hours, 48 minutes
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
(Core i7-1260P)
7 hours, 39 minutes 14 hours, 34 minutes 10 hours, 42 minutes
Lenovo Yoga 9i 14 Gen 7
(Core i7-1260P)
9 hours, 10 minutes 12 hours, 45 minutes 8 hours, 32 minutes
 Asus Zenbook S 13 OLED
(Ryzen 7 6800U)
8 hours, 4 minutes 13 hours, 13 minutes N/A

Class-leading optics and audio

The screen of the Lenovo Slim 9i.

So far, we have a laptop with a bona fide premium design, legit premium performance, and decent battery life. The final box to check is the Slim 9i’s multimedia quality, which today goes beyond just the display and audio.

To begin with, given the importance of videoconferencing in today’s world of hybrid workers, we also need to consider its webcam. The Slim 9i sports a 1080p version, promising and delivering higher quality video quality, and there’s an electronic shutter switch to turn the webcam off for enhanced privacy.

Lenovo Slim 9i front view showing webcam.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Thanks to an infrared camera, Windows 11 Hello passwordless login is supported and works reliably. The IR camera also enables Lenovo’s intelligent sensing technology, which includes zero touch login and lock that puts the Slim 9i to sleep when the user leaves the area and wakes it up (and automatically logs in) when the user returns. This feature worked reliably as well.

Those capabilities are nice to have, but if you’re spending $2,000 on a laptop, you’ll expect a high-quality display. The Slim 9i delivers that in spades, with a 16:10 4K+ OLED panel that’s bright with wide and accurate colors and the usual OLED inky blacks. It’s a stunning, incredibly sharp display and a pleasure to use. No matter what you need in a display, the Slim 9i delivers

Brightness
(nits)
Contrast sRGB gamut AdobeRGB gamut Accuracy DeltaE
(lower is better)
Lenovo Slim 9i
(OLED)
389 27,050:1 100% 95% 0.89
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10
(IPS)
411 1660:1 98% 76% 1.96
HP Pavilion Plus 14
(OLED)
398 27,830:1 100% 95% 0.78
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7i Pro
(IPS)
369 1,340:1 100% 80% 1.65
Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 7 Carbon
(OLED)
397 27,590:1 100% 96% 0.88

Finally, Lenovo didn’t incorporate the soundbar from the Yoga 9i Gen 7, but it did build in four speakers, two downward-firing and two upward-firing. Tuned by Bowers & Wilkins, the audio system provided plenty of volume with clear mids and highs and a touch of bass.

It’s one of the better speaker setups I’ve reviewed in a 14-inch laptop, and you won’t often feel the need for a pair of headphones.

You can get a good laptop for less, but…

Lenovo Slim 9i top down view showing keyboard and touchpad.
Mark Coppock/Digital Trends

Sure, the Lenovo Slim 9i is expensive. But, it provides a premium build that’s second to none, with an aesthetic that’s cohesive and gorgeous, and its performance is class-leading. The laptop will meet the most demanding productivity user’s needs and can serve as a low-end workstation for creators.

Battery life isn’t the best, and the keyboard is too shallow, but overall, the Slim 9i lives up to its price. It’s among the best 14-inch clamshell laptops you can buy, rivaling Lenovo’s ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 and well above lower-priced options like the Dell Inspiron 14 Plus.

Editors’ Choice




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