Lenovo ThinkPad L390 Yoga Review: Business Basics

Buying a fleet of laptops for a business isn’t cheap. But Lenovo’s L-series of ThinkPads, which isn't as fancy as its T or X1-series, cuts some costs. The ThinkPad L390 Yoga ($971.10 / £753.20 as tested; $809.10 / £599.99 to start) is a convertible business notebook with enough ports for business and a comfortable keyboard for typing up reports. But if you need a serious performer or the brightest display out there, you may want to bump up to something that costs a bit more.

Design

Perhaps it’s cliche at this point, but if you’ve seen one ThinkPad, you’ve basically seen them all. That’s especially the case on mid-range models like the L390 Yoga, with its blocky, black aesthetic. The lid is black magnesium with the ThinkPad logo in silver on the top left-hand side. The 360-degree hinges are silver in color.

When you open the lid, the 13.3-inch,?FHD?display is surrounded by a thick, ugly bezel. The rest of the chassis, however, is standard ThinkPad, with chiclet keys, a black deck with a ThinkPad logo and hints of red in the TrackPoint pointing stick and on the mouse buttons.

As most business-focused machines do, the L390 has plenty of ports. On the left are a pair or USB Type-C ports (you’ll use one for charging), a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port and an HDMI output. The right is where there’s a garage for the stylus, the headphone jack, a microSD card reader, a USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A port, Ethernet extension connector and a lock slot.

The Ethernet extension is the lone disappointment. I’d much rather have a full-sized Ethernet port - even one with a jaw that opens up - than need a dongle for it.

At 3.3 pounds (1.5 kg) and 12.7 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches, (321.8 x 224.2 x 18.8 mm) the laptop is 0.2 pounds lighter than last year's but the same size. The?Dell Latitude 3390 2-in-1?is a bit heavier and ever-so-slightly larger, but the?13-inch HP Spectre x360?is a lighter 2.8 pounds and a fraction of an inch thinner.

Lenovo ThinkPad L390 Yoga Specifications

CPU
Intel Core i5-8265U
GraphicsIntel UHD 620 (integrated)
Memory8 GB DDR4-2400
SSD256 GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe
Display13.3-inch 1080p (1920x1080) IPS
NetworkingIntel Wireless-AC 9560, Bluetooth 5.0, Ethernet extension connector
Video PortsHDMI 1.4b
USB Ports2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A
2x USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-C
Audio2x 2-watt Dolby Audio
Camera720p
Battery45Wh
Power Adapter65W
Operating SystemWindows 10 Pro
Dimensions (WxDxH)12.7 x 8.8 x 0.7 inches / 321.8 x 224.2 x 18.8 mm
Weight3.3 pounds / 1.5 kg?
Price (as configured)$971.10 / £753.20

Productivity Performance

With an Intel Core i5-8265U, 8 GB of RAM and a 256 GB?PCIe-NVMe SSD, the ThinkPad L390 Yoga is designed for light workloads, as opposed to media editing.

On Geekbench 4.1, an overall performance test, the L390 Yoga earned a score of 12,404, easily beating last year’s?ThinkPad L380 Yoga?(10,193, Core i5-8250U) and the Latitude (6,414, Core i3-7130U) but below the premium laptops average (13,114).

It took the L390 Yoga 10 seconds to copy 4.97 GB of files, a rate of 509 MBps. That’s again slower than average but faster than all of the competition.

Lenovo’s 2-in-1 took 20 minutes and 47 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, beating the average and all of its competitors.

To stress test the L390 Yoga, I ran Cinebench R15 on a loop 10 times. During those runs, it reached an average CPU clock speed of 2.4 GHz and an average CPU temperature of 85.9 degrees Celsius (186.6 degrees Fahrenheit). On its first run, the laptop achieved a score of 577.9, but it went down from there, only stabilizing around the eighth time running the test.

For graphics, the laptop uses the i5-8265U’s integrated UHD Graphics 620. It earned a score of 72,006 on 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited, behind the Spectre x360 (90,977) and the average (85,098).

Display

The L390 Yoga’s 13.3-inch IPS touchscreen display is vivid, but it could be a little brighter. I watched an FHD trailer for Men in Black: International, and an environmental shot of the Brooklyn Bridge and scenes of Tessa Thompson in the MIB headquarters were dim. I wish I could boost it up just another notch or two. Still, blue lights in a futuristic car popped against the black and white interior, and a red hovercraft was vivid as it plunged through the sky.

Lenovo’s display covers 116 percent of the sRGB color gamut, which is about on par with the average (118 percent) but below the Spectre. It’s far better than the Latitude, however.

The L390’s panel measured 261 nits of average brightness, beating the Latitude but falling way below average (322) and the Spectre (287).

Keyboard, Touchpad and Stylus

With 1.6 millimeters of travel and 72 grams of travel, the L390 Yoga’s keyboard is springy and comfortable. On the 10fastfingers.com typing test, I reached 111 words per minute with a 1 percent error rate. The speed is normal for me, but that’s a better error rate than my average 2 percent.

Lenovo outfitted the L390 Yoga with a 3.9 x 2.2-inch touchpad, which is smooth and accurate. It uses Windows precision drivers, which, as usual, meant every gesture I tried worked on the first try. For longtime ThinkPad fans or those who don’t want to remove their hands from the home row of the keyboard, there’s a TrackPoint.

The stylus, the ThinkPad Pen Pro, offers 2,048 degrees of pressure sensitivity. It’s quite thin, but it lives in a crevice on the laptop and doesn’t use batteries (it charges while being stored). The size makes it difficult to consider for art, but for simple note taking or marking up PDFs, this is more than enough.

There are two customizable buttons on the stylus, both of which can be set up in the Lenovo Pen Settings program.

Audio

The Dolby-tuned speakers on the ThinkPad L390 are decent for a 13-inch convertible. When I listened to Halsey’s “Without Me,” the vocals and percussion were strong and clear.

I could hear the synths but wanted a bit more of them. I played around with the presets in the Dolby Premium Audio app, but it was the graphic equalizer that let me tune the song to my liking.

Upgradeability

Once you get the case off, the L390 Yoga’s main components are upgradeable. The two SODIMM slots are easily accessible (one of ours was empty, meaning a single 8 GB RAM stick rather than a 2x 4 GB configuration), as is the?M.2 slot for an SSD?(there’s no room in this machine for a traditional, 2.5-inch hard drive).

But getting the case off was a practice in patience. Loosening the bottom case’s nine screws with a Phillips head screwdriver is easy enough, but then you have to pry apart latches around the entire base of the unit. But there’s not much wiggle room, and I spent a good 15 minutes with a pry tool finding the right angle to work my way around until it popped loose. That being said, it was a literal snap to get the bottom back on.

Battery Life

The L390 offers a workday’s worth of battery life. It ran for 8 hours and 14 minutes on our battery test, which continuously streams video and browses the web over Wi-Fi, as well as runs OpenGL benchmarks, all at 150 nits of brightness.

That’s just higher than the 8:11 average and better than the Latitude (6:35), but the HP Spectre x360 ran for 12:07. Last year’s ThinkPad L380 lasted slightly longer at 8:30.

Heat

After streaming 15 minutes of?HD?video from YouTube, the center of the keyboard measured 35.2 degrees Celsius (95.4), the touchpad reached 27.6 degrees Celsius (81.7 degrees Fahrenheit) and the bottom of the laptop hit 40.2 degrees Celsius (104.4 degrees Fahrenheit) at its hottest spot.

Webcam

While I prefer an FHD webcam, the 720p camera on the L390 actually fares decently. It didn’t struggle too much with highlights (our fluorescent office lights were only slightly blown out), and I could make out the speckled pattern in my gray shirt. However, it wasn’t as crisp as I’d like. I couldn’t make out all of the individual hairs on my head or in my beard, and my skin looked way too smooth.

Software and Warranty

The only major software that Lenovo preloads onto the L390 Yoga is its Vantage software. Vantage is a one-stop shop for system updates, hardware settings, your serial number, hardware scans and your warranty status.

Of course, it came with a bunch of bloat built into Windows 10, including two different versions of Candy Crush, Fitbit Coach, Phototastic Collage and Royal Revolt 2: Tower Defense.

Lenovo sells the ThinkPad L390 Yoga with a one-year warranty.

Configurations

The L390 Yoga I reviewed, with an Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, 8 GB of DDR4 RAM and a 256 GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD, costs $971.10 (or £959.99 for a UK model).

The cheapest model runs an Intel Core i3-8145U, 4 GB of RAM and a 128 GB M.2 PCIe-NVMe SSD and goes for $809.10 (£599.99).

In between are models with other memory and storage options.

Bottom Line

Lenovo’s ThinkPad L390 Yoga is a capable, but not powerful, 2-in-1 aimed at businesses. If you’re just filling out some spreadsheets, using chat apps or word processing, it will get the job done, especially with a comfortable keyboard and plenty of ports for?monitors?and peripherals.

If you want more power, endurance or graphics, you’re best either moving up in the ThinkPad line to a T or X1-series device, or trying a consumer laptop like the HP Spectre x360. Either of those solutions costs more money, however.

But if you’re a small business or have basic needs, the L390 may still be the right choice for you.

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Photo Credits: Tom's Hardware

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