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The Yoga 9i starts at $1, ($1, as tested)

The base model includes a Core i5-1135G7, 8GB of RAM (soldered), and 256GB of storage (PCIe SSD). This specific configuration comes with 16GB of RAM and 512GB of storage as well as a Core i7-1185G7 (Intel’s top chip for thin and light devices).

The Yoga 9i is verified through Intel’s Evo platform, as are many of its competitors in the premium 2-in-1 space. To qualify, laptops are supposed to offer a number of Intel-selected benefits, including Thunderbolt 4, Wi-Fi 6, all-day battery life, quick boot time, fast charging, and responsive performance on battery. In my experience, check, check, and check.

As far as video calling goes, the 9i’s webcam is a bit grainy but serviceable; it has a physical privacy shutter, though it’s very tiny and can be clumsy to move if you have large fingers

Performance was as satisfactory as we’d expect from the top-notch 1185G7. The system blazed through a load of 20ish Chrome tabs and booted up noticeably faster than 10th Gen Yoga systems would. Intel’s Iris Xe graphics are more than capable of running some games, as long as you’re not expecting 60fps from anything too demanding. Battery life was also a pleasant surprise, given the power of the processor. I averaged eight hours and 25 minutes of continuous use, with the screen around 200 nits of brightness.

The camera doesn’t support Windows Hello (which is a bit disappointing – other top convertibles at this price point like Spectres and Surfaces do have this feature), but there is a fingerprint sensor beneath the arrow keys that you can use to log in. It had trouble identifying my finger once or grindr love twice but was quick and accurate otherwise.

The 9i also has two dual-array microphones. These are useful not just for video calling (where they picked up my voice just fine) but for Amazon Alexa, which comes preinstalled on the Yoga. Not only can smart home devotees give Alexa voice commands via the Yoga, but they can also activate Amazon’s Show Mode, which will change the Yoga’s home screen to look like the home screen of an Echo smart display. Hey, don’t let me stop you.

My one disappointment here is bloatware. The Yoga 9i doesn’t come loaded with a ton of junk like some budget computers do, but it does force McAfee LiveSafe on you. McAfee alerts were popping up all over the place while I set the device up, and sometimes even appeared in windows in the middle of my screen and interrupted what I was doing. The program is a pain to uninstall, requiring you to close all of your tabs and then to restart your computer. It’s not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things, but it rubs me the wrong way to see this on a $1,500 laptop.

Overall, though, I have very few complaints. The Yoga 9i is an excellent 2-in-1 with standout audio. But is it the best? To answer that, we need to compare it to HP’s Spectre x360 14, the reigning monarch of the 14-inch convertible sphere.

And the Spectre is just a little bit better in many other areas

At MSRP, the Spectre is $180 more than the Yoga for identical specs (though it has Intel’s Core i7-1165G7, a slight step down from the 1185G7). Its main advantage over the Yoga is its design. The Spectre is a really beautiful laptop with gold accents and beveled edges; it wouldn’t look out of place in a jewelry store. The Yoga 9i, while far from ugly, will look just about like every other laptop you’ll see in a given business meeting or lecture hall. Another significant advantage the Spectre has is the 3:2 aspect ratio, which is more roomy and comfortable for multitasking use than the Yoga’s 16:9 panel. I like the keyboard just a bit more, there’s one additional port (a microSD slot, which can be quite valuable for extra storage), the webcam is better, it’s a teensy bit lighter, and it gave me around two more hours of battery life per charge.

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