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Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Comparison Smackdown


Posted July 2, 2014 by , Editor in Chief (twitter: @lisagade)

By popular demand, we pit two pen-toting 12 inch tablets in today's Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga comparison smackdown. The Surface Pro 3 undeniably brings the more stunning looking design, and it's light too at 1.76 pounds. The ThinkPad Yoga is a slim (by Lenovo standards) Ultrabook with that ThinkPad durability and a great keyboard, but it weighs 3.5 pounds. The Surface Pro is a tablet with the brains of an Ultrabook; the ThinkPad Yoga is Lenovo's business-minded convertible that can be a heavy tablet, a presentation tool or a well- equipped laptop.

MS Surface Pro 3

Both are (or will be in the case of Surface Pro 3) available with 4th generation Intel Core i3, i5 and i7 ULV CPUs with Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. Both are available with 4 or 8 gigs of RAM (not upgradable) and support both pen and touch. The ThinkPad Yoga is easy to open up for upgrades, while the Surface Pro 3 is glued together and is thus not very serviceable. The ThinkPad Yoga has a standard 2.5" SATA drive bay filled with your choice of an SSD or HDD, while the Surface Pro 3 has an mSATA SSD. In terms of computational power, they're on even footing. If including the price of the Surface Pro 3 Type Cover, they're priced fairly similarly.

Clearly the big differentiator is the design. If you need a tablet first and foremost, the Surface Pro 3 is the likely choice. If you need a versatile convertible Ultrabook, then the Lenovo is your machine. If you type lots, the Yoga's keyboard calls to you since it beats the decent but not stellar Surface Pro 3 Type Cover keyboard. If you do that typing at a desk most of the time, where you can use a full size Bluetooth or USB keyboard, then the gap narrows. If lightening your load is paramount, the Surface Pro 3 is your machine, being one of the lightest full Intel Core tablets on the market. If having plenty of ports is your idea of computer heaven, then the Lenovo is your machine: it has 2 USB 3.0 ports, combo audio, mini HDMI and a full size SD card slot. The Surface Pro 3 has just 1 USB 3.0 port, combo audio and a microSD card slot. Docks are (or will be for the Surface Pro 3) available.

MS Surface Pro 3

Then there's the pen. Microsoft switched from Wacom to N-Trig with the Pro 3, and that's a difference artists care about, but not note takers. Wacom offers more pressure levels and has more mature driver support in the form of WinTab (N-Trig only recently released their WinTab driver). The ThinkPad Yoga has a Wacom digitizer and pen, but be careful: some retailers sell a version that lacks the Wacom digitizer and is touch only.

Lastly there's the display, with Surface Pro 3 having a moderately higher resolution 2160 x 1440 12" panel vs. the 1920 x 1080, 12.5" ThinkPad Yoga display. Both are fairly bright and we give points to Lenovo for the anti-glare matte layer on the pen + touch model. Surface Pro 3 fights back with not just higher pixel density but wider color gamut (75% of Adobe RGB vs. 52%). The Surface Pro 3 has a more uncommon 3:2 aspect ratio, which is a bit less widescreen than the usual full HD 16:9. This makes it less ungainly to use in portrait mode, and a little easier to hold.


Deals and Shopping:


There are of course plenty more points, so watch our Microsoft Surface Pro 3 vs. Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Comparison Smackdown video.


Benchmark Comparisons:

  Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga (Core i5-4200U, 4 gigs RAM, SSD) Microsoft Surface Pro 3 (Core i5-4300U, 4 gigs RAM, SSD)
PCMark 7 4769 5111
wPrime (lower is better) 19.83 sec. 19.98 sec.


Pricing from manufacturers' websites:

Microsoft Surface Pro starts at $799 with Intel Core i3, 4 gigs of RAM and an 64 gig SSD. $999 for Core i5, 4 gigs RAM and 128 gig SSD. The Type Cover keyboard is $130 additional.

Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga starts at $901 with Core i3, 4 gigs RAM, 500 gig HDD and 1366 x 768 touch screen. $1,200 with Intel Core i5, 4 gigs RAM, full HD pen + touch and 128 gig SSD (depending on retailer and current sales specials).


Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Review

Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Review



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Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga Specs:

Display: 12.5" full HD 1920 x 1080 IPS screen with 10 point multi-touch and 400 nits brightness. Wacom active digitizer with matte finish available direct from Lenovo's website. Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. Has a mini HDMI port.

Battery: 4 cell, 47 Wh Lithium Ion rechargeable, sealed inside (can be serviced if you remove the bottom panel, affixed with Phillips head screws).

Performance: 4th generation Intel Haswell ULV CPUs. Available with Intel Core i5-4200U, Core i5-4300U, Core i7-4500U and Core i7-4600U, all dual core with Turbo Boost. 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3L RAM (soldered to motherboard) and 128 or 256 gig SSD (2.5", 7mm high SATA3).

Size: 12.46 x 8.70 x 0.75 inches. Weight: 3.5 pounds.

Camera: 720p webcam and mic.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers with Dolby audio, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated single band 2 x 2 Intel N-7260 WiFi 802.11b/g/n or dual band Intel 7260 802.11ac WiFi and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Windows 8.1 with the usual Lenovo device management software.

Expansion and Ports: 2 USB 3.0 ports, mini HDMI, 3.5mm combo audio, OneLink Dock port and SDXC card slot.


Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Specs:

Display: 12" ClearType Full HD Plus display with 10 points of multi-touch and Gorilla Glass. Resolution: 2160 x 1440. N-Trig digitizer pen included . Intel HD 4400 integrated graphics. Mini DisplayPort. Has ambient light sensor, accelerometer for automatic screen rotation, magnetometer and gyroscope.

Battery: 42 Wh Lithium Ion rechargeable (sealed inside). Compact power brick with USB charging port for phones and tablets.

Performance: 1.9GHz dual core Intel Core i5-4300U (4th gen Haswell). 4 or 8 gigs of DDR3L RAM (soldered on board). 64, 128, 256 and 512 gig mSATA SSD drives available.

Size: 11.5 x 7.93 x 0.36 inches. Weight: 1.76 pounds.

Camera: 5MP cameras front and back.

Audio: Built-in stereo speakers with Dolby sound, mic and 3.5mm standard stereo headphone jack.

Networking: Integrated dual band Marvell WiFi 802.11b/g/n/ac and Bluetooth 4.0.

Software: Windows 8.1 Pro 64 bit.

Expansion and Ports: 1 USB 3.0 port, mini DisplayPort, 3.5mm combo audio jack and micro SDXC card slot.



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