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

Lenovo Slim 9i front angled view showing display and keyboard deck.

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.

Lenovo Slim 9i left side view showing ports.
lenovo slim 9i review right side

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

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