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Interior: Is Beauty Only Case Deep?

Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Review: One Flexible Ultrabook
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Disclaimer: It is always advised to remove the main battery and any other external power source from any electronic device before servicing the hardware. However, in the case of most Ultrabooks like the Yoga 13, the battery is not accessible without disassembling the system. Therefore, additional care and attention must be applied within an anti-static environment to ensure user and system safety. In other words, don’t try this at home!

The Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 is somewhat unique in regards to how the internal components are accessed. Unlike most notebook designs that facilitate internal access via panels on the underside of the system, the internal workings of the Yoga 13 are accessed by removing the keyboard. Removable components include the memory, system drive(s), and the wireless module.

To access the system memory, carefully push in the upper keyboard retaining tabs using an anti-static nylon pick, then gently fold the keyboard over (back to front). This exposes the interconnect ribbon cable header just below where the system memory resides. If double-sided clear 3M tape is found on the rear of the keyboard assembly, carefully save it for re-application later, or better yet, purchase a supply of replacement tape.

If you're only replacing the system memory, there is no need to fully disconnect the keyboard. However, if further disassembly is needed, the keyboard will need to be carefully removed by unlatching the ribbon cable retainer header, then disengaging the ribbon cable from the header.

RAM

The memory module inside our Yoga 13 is a Micron Technology MT16KTF51264HZ-1G6 series PC3-12800 (1600 MT/s) stick with the following specifications:

Part Number
Module Density
Configuration
Module Bandwidth
Memory Clock/Data Rate
ClockCycles (CL-tRCD-tRP)

MT16KTF25664HZ-1G6

2 GB
254
12.8 GB/s

1.25 ns, 1600 MT/s

11-11-11

Even with the higher clock latency ratings, it’s good to see Lenovo using a highly-reputable memory supplier like Micron. Regardless of the brand of memory used, however, the Yoga 13 is slightly handicapped because it only utilizes one of the platform's two available memory channels. This is an unavoidable result of Lenovo’s use of just one SO-DIMM slot rather than stacking two low-profile SO-DIMM slots, or incorporating a second bank of SDRAM on the system board itself. Although we appreciate Lenovo’s effort to offer an Ultrabook with removable system memory, the technological step backwards is going to be most disappointing for folks looking to use the HD Graphics 4000 engine, who'll find it short on available bandwidth.

With the keyboard removed from the system, the process of separating the keyboard bezel and palm rest assembly from the system base frame is not difficult. It’s just a matter of possessing the relevant technical skill and the correct tools. These steps are covered in the official Lenovo IdeaPad Yoga 13 Hardware Maintenance Manual that can be freely downloaded from the Lenovo USA website.

Once the palm rest assembly is completely removed, the inner-beauty of the Yoga 13 can be observed, studied, and enjoyed.

On a design level, the internal layout of the Yoga 13 is, for the most part, very clean and well thought-out. The only questionable component placement we observed is the location of the “right” speaker, which is placed more like a “middle” speaker, sandwiched in-between the system’s lithium-ion battery and cooling fans. While on the subject of the cooling fans, the dual-fan thermal transfer assembly is a very nice touch. Later on, we’ll see if the noise and air flow generated by these fans have any audible effect on speaker output.

SSD

After removing the SSD module from the primary mSATA port (labeled A), we are able to verify the device is an OEM version of the Samsung PM830, as shown by its part number.

The general specifications for the SSD in our Yoga 13 are as follows:

OEM Part Number
Drive Capacity
Sequential Read Speed
Sequential Write Speed
Operating Voltage/Noise
Power Draw Idle/Active

MZMPC128HBFU-000L1

128 GB

≤ 500 MB/s

≤ 255 MB/s

3.3 V ± 5%, ≤ 100 mV P-P

.09/3.0 W

When inspecting the file structure of the Yoga 13’s 128 GB SSD via an external dock interface, we see a somewhat crowded drive with no less than eight partitions serving their own respective purpose. However, since the drive is not a traditional, mechanical disk subject to fragmentation, this allocation of data isn’t a concern.

We also note that the SSD was dispatched from Lenovo with approximately 81.5 GB free of the actual 119.2 GB total data capacity available to Windows 8.

Refocusing our attention back to the system board, we are delighted to see that Lenovo integrates a second mini-PCIe/mSATA combo port (labeled B) inside the Yoga 13 for those who wish to add a secondary mSATA SSD module or install a wireless broadband card (although no factory-installed WWAN antenna is present in our system).

Wi-Fi

We should also note Lenovo’s decision to utilize the internally-interfaced USB 2.0 Realtek RTL8723A combo WLAN/WPAN module card on the Yoga 13 system board. Unfortunately, there is no half-height mini-PCIe slot present to support other WLAN hardware choices. Compatibility options are further limited since the BIOS contains a whitelist that restricts the end user from seeking a third-party solution. Fortunately, that second full-height mini-PCIe/mSATA combo bay should accept compatible WLAN cards if the port is not already spoken for with a secondary mSATA SSD module or a WWAN card. We can confirm that the existing antenna leads will cleanly reach the second PCIe/mSATA bay with no issues.

The Yoga 13 is equipped with a standard, single-band 2.4 GHz 802.11 b/g/n + 802.15-compliant Bluetooth-enabled wireless card.

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  • 0 Hide
    danaistina , June 12, 2013 11:26 PM
    I bought a yoga 13 a few months ago. Author of the article obviously has some special version of this ultrabook, which no one else, including me and the people of the Lenovo forums has heard that there is no following problems: touchpad does not support all Windovs 8 gestures, wirerless card has very weak signal, runs very hot and noise from the vents is loud. And finally: windows 8 has not yet up to use touch screen like a android or ios devices.
  • 0 Hide
    kartu , June 12, 2013 11:57 PM
    Would be nice to see the same thing with AMD's Jaguar based APU.
  • 2 Hide
    danaistina , June 12, 2013 11:57 PM
    I bought a yoga 13 a few months ago. Author of the article obviously has some special version of this ultrabook, which no one else, including me and the people of the Lenovo forums has heard that there is no following problems: touchpad does not support all Windovs 8 gestures, wirerless card has very weak signal, runs very hot and noise from the vents is loud. And finally: windows 8 has not yet up to use touch screen like a android or ios devices.
  • 1 Hide
    sgadadish , June 13, 2013 3:29 AM
    Tent (Joke) Mode : simply serving as a digital picture frame placed tastefully on a shelf or desk . , Sure...
  • 0 Hide
    hothfox , June 13, 2013 7:45 AM
    I contemplated this and the Thinkpad Twist, and wound up getting the Twist, largely because when you flip it around to it's tablet mode, the keyboard and touchpad are covered by the screen, instead of exposed.
  • 0 Hide
    Amdlova , June 13, 2013 8:07 AM
    9hr battery... idle and screen of... 5 hr real condition... when we get something can do 12 hrs.
  • 0 Hide
    whyso , June 13, 2013 8:16 AM
    How is the yoga gettng better bandwidth numbers that it is in theory capable of? 21GB/sec for cached read when theoretically it maxes out at 12.8 GB/sec
  • 0 Hide
    ojas , June 14, 2013 10:40 AM
    Are those external body temperature is degrees Celsius or Fahrenheit?
  • 0 Hide
    Kattie Anderson , June 14, 2013 4:27 PM
    Get a premium support for yoga at http://ytechsupport.com/lenovo-laptop-support-.html
  • 0 Hide
    Kattie Anderson , June 14, 2013 4:31 PM
    http://ytechsupport.com/lenovo-laptop-support-.html
  • 0 Hide
    AMKANMBA , June 15, 2013 12:00 PM
    I think the xps and lenovo convertible laptops are the same. No two processors are alike(I am a fan of dell though, happy to see it win).
  • 0 Hide
    Fernando Lopez Martinez , June 15, 2013 5:14 PM
    Quote:
    I bought a yoga 13 a few months ago. Author of the article obviously has some special version of this ultrabook, which no one else, including me and the people of the Lenovo forums has heard that there is no following problems: touchpad does not support all Windovs 8 gestures, wirerless card has very weak signal, runs very hot and noise from the vents is loud. And finally: windows 8 has not yet up to use touch screen like a android or ios devices.

    I agree with you. I also bought a yoga 13 and the Wifi is really bad. For that money, is incredible that the wifi is only N150. I also have lot of problems connecting to some places. I can confirm that those problems are true.

  • 0 Hide
    flowingbass , June 16, 2013 9:43 AM
    Stand mode is just stupid. might as well use laptop mode instead, it takes the same amount of space when in laptop mode but no touchpad and keyboard support and your keyboard is at risk of being dirtied up by the surface you put the device on. Tent mode could be somewhat useful, like if you lack the space to put the device on while requiring to still be able to see the screen.

    the only useful modes i can see is laptop and tablet mode.
  • 0 Hide
    sanilmahambre , June 17, 2013 6:28 AM
    AMD's APU should easily raise the Win 8 graphics rating and decrease the overall amount
  • 0 Hide
    clriis , June 17, 2013 9:27 PM
    Quote: Stand mode is just stupid. might as well use laptop mode instead, it takes the same amount of space when in laptop mode but no touchpad and keyboard support and your keyboard is at risk of being dirtied up by the surface you put the device on. Tent mode could be somewhat useful, like if you lack the space to put the device on while requiring to still be able to see the screen.
    .....

    I find the stand mode to be really ideal when travelling on bus/train/flight and also in general when just sitting in a chair. Place it in your lap and you got a tablet with a 'stand' which you can adjust to an ergonomically correct position and got both hands free
  • 0 Hide
    clriis , June 17, 2013 11:29 PM
    I have been a Yoga owner for the past 3 months and in general I really like this hybrid though it takes some time finding out new ways of utilising and working with, especially when you are also new to the modern/metro interface but I don't find the learning curve steep and for me it's definitely an enjoyable and amusing process. Overall I have no regrets given that it is also a fantastic traditional laptop. As opposed to others I don't find any problems using Windows 8 in traditional desktop mode with mouse and all and no, I don't miss the Start button.

    BUT... as a couple of contributors here have already commented, THE WI-FI / BLUETOOTH MODULE ON THE YOGA IS SERIOUSLY FLAWED. To prove that point just try to Google 'wi fi issues' and see what comes out on top!

    In an otherwise interesting review I'm surprised to see that the WI-Fi section deals with only signal strength and not data transfer rates which is supposedly of more interest to the end user. Here the Yoga is challenged especially if you also use one or more Bluetooth devices (like a mouse and streaming audio). Sitting in a space with -61 to -67 dB signal and with no competing or overlapping channels you at times get transfer rates as low as 6 Mbit/s (turning off BT devices increase the speed to around 25 Mbit).

    The Yoga apparently is also very choosy in which wireless router it's connected to. I have personally tried 5 different ones at home (TP-Link WDR4300, Thomson, TP-Link WR741 with Gargoyle, D-Link DIR645 and Netgear R6300), and with the Netgear R6300 I, in some cases, get the above nearly tolerable speeds, but not anything that can match my other wireless devices. I'm now contemplating purchasing the Netgear A6300 USB adapter in order to obtain reasonable and stable transfer rates although this step also contains a number of cons.

    Despite subsequent driver updates Lenovo/Realtek has not managed to solve these problems. The latest update even includes some kind of USB trigger, installing itself as a running service with log file and all. For all we know it makes the mousepointer flicker every two seconds....hilarious!!!

    I (and I'm sure, many others) would be really interested if Scott could elaborate more on the possibilities of utilising the empty slot for adding/changing the WiFi/BT adapter to a PCIe thingi. What would be the real options given the BIOS whitelist and all???
  • 0 Hide
    timeandspace , June 21, 2013 2:37 AM
    The Lenovo Yoga 13 is big but the 11 is not powerful or fast enough. The yoga 13 is great for anyone who wants the speed and visuals. The other comparable Yoga 11s is great (small and speedy) but expensive.

    I've created a comparison chart at: http://angelinaward.hubpages.com/hub/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-13-Price-and-Review-Dream-Deal-or-Dead-Loss

    that compares the Yoga 13 vs Yoga 11 vs Yoga 11s vs Macbook Pro. Based on this chart you'll see that the Yoga 13 still remains the best of the bunch and the launch of the Yoga 11s will do everyone a favour prompting sellers to reduce the Yoga 13 price even more.
  • 0 Hide
    timeandspace , June 22, 2013 4:51 AM
    I find the stand mode to be really great when travelling on flight/bus/train and also when just sitting in a chair. Place it in your lap and to get a tablet with a 'stand' which you can adjust to an ergonomically comfortable position and got both hands free.
    The Yoga 13 is great for when I'm in a hurry or I need to show someone something on the fly and my smartphone screen doesn't cut it, I whip this bad boy out. I manage more than twenty websites and online services for friends/customers and this baby does everything. Not to mention I manage to get in some good Command & Conquer when I'm stuck in-line at the doctors.
    The newest one Yoga 11s (small and speedy) sounds great but it’s expensive.

    I've created a comparison chart <a href=" http://angelinaward.hubpages.com/hub/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-13-Price-and-Review-Dream-Deal-or-Dead-Loss”>Here</a>
    that compares the Yoga 13 vs Yoga 11 vs Yoga 11s vs Macbook Pro.
  • 0 Hide
    timeandspace , June 22, 2013 4:51 AM
    I find the stand mode to be really great when travelling on flight/bus/train and also when just sitting in a chair. Place it in your lap and to get a tablet with a 'stand' which you can adjust to an ergonomically comfortable position and got both hands free.
    The Yoga 13 is great for when I'm in a hurry or I need to show someone something on the fly and my smartphone screen doesn't cut it, I whip this bad boy out. I manage more than twenty websites and online services for friends/customers and this baby does everything. Not to mention I manage to get in some good Command & Conquer when I'm stuck in-line at the doctors.
    The newest one Yoga 11s (small and speedy) sounds great but it’s expensive.

    I've created a comparison chart <a href=" http://angelinaward.hubpages.com/hub/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-13-Price-and-Review-Dream-Deal-or-Dead-Loss”>Here</a>
    that compares the Yoga 13 vs Yoga 11 vs Yoga 11s vs Macbook Pro.
  • 0 Hide
    timeandspace , June 22, 2013 4:54 AM
    Sorry - the link to the comparison chart didn't come out very well, here it is again, it compares the Yoga 13 with 11, 11s and Macbook pro.
    http://angelinaward.hubpages.com/hub/Lenovo-IdeaPad-Yoga-13-Price-and-Review-Dream-Deal-or-Dead-Loss