Digital creatives usually have two main choices when they consider buying an all-in-one PC to work on. If they’re Mac fans, than the iMac (or iMac Pro) is the obvious choice, while Windows users (who have a few more options) mainly go for the Microsoft Surface Studio 2.
Those two options have a lot in common, both featuring high in our list of the best computers for graphic design. They are powerful and stylish all-in-one PCs (which means the computer is built into the screen) – but they are also very expensive.
The Lenovo Yoga A940 is pitched as an alternative to both, and while it does a few things the same as its main rivals, there are some important differences as well.
CPU: 3.2GHz Intel Core i7-8700 (hex-core; 12MB cache; up to 4.6GHz Turbo Boost)
Graphics: AMD Radeon RX 560X (4GB GDDR5); Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 16GB DDR4
Screen: 27-inch IPS touchscreen, 4K UHD (3,840 x 2,160), 100% Adobe RGB with Dolby Vision
Storage: 1TB SSD (PCIe)
Ports: Intel Thunderbolt USB-C, USB 3.1, 3-in-1 card reader, Audio jack, LAN, HDMI, 4 x USB 3.0
Connectivity: 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Weight: 32 pounds (9.56kg)
Size: 25 x 18.3 x 9.6 inches (635.7 x 467 x 244 mm; W x D x H)
The biggest differentiator of the Lenovo Yoga A940 is price. In the UK, the Lenovo Yoga A940 starts at £1,999. It comes with an Intel Core i5-8400 CPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB hard drive and 256GB SSD and AMD RX 560 GPU with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
That’s a fair bit cheaper than the Surface Studio 2, which starts at £3,549, and the iMac Pro, which begins at £4,899. However, Apple’s latest 27-inch iMac just beats it in the value stakes at £1,749.
The relatively low price of the Lenovo Yoga A940 compared to its competitors should definitely make it a compelling option if you’re after an all-in-one PC for your studio, but are on a tight budget. Of course, the Lenovo Yoga A940 isn’t exactly cheap, but it offers some pretty good value for money – on paper at least.
But undercutting the competition by so much should surely mean compromises have been made. Does that impact how good the Lenovo Yoga A940 is as a workstation for digital creatives? Let’s find out.
Lenovo Yoga A940: Power and performance
One of the reasons why the iMac Pro and Surface Studio 2 are so expensive, is that Apple and Microsoft, respectively, have put some of the latest and most powerful hardware in their devices.
Meanwhile, Lenovo has kept costs down by using older, slightly less powerful components in the Yoga A940. For the model we reviewed, the A940 came with an eight-generation Core i7-8700 six-core processor, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and an AMD Radeon RX 560X graphics card with 4GB of GDDR5 memory.
That’s not a terrible selection of components, but compared to the Surface Studio 2 and iMac Pro, they just can’t compete. But that’s not to say they make the Yoga A940 a poor performer. For a lot of tasks, the Yoga A940 does a fine job of keeping up. But there are definite compromises that have been made that keep it from being a real powerhouse of a workstation.
Take the processor. The Intel Core i7-8700 was launched at the end of 2017. In terms of CPUs, that makes it pretty long in the tooth. There have been a number of processor launches since then that bring more power and less power consumption – two key features for an all-in-one PC, as their compact designs mean you want a powerful PC, but one that doesn’t produce too much heat.
Despite its age, the processor isn’t that bad, with six cores and a base frequency of 3.2GHz and a turbo frequency of 4.60GHz. Those extra cores are useful for multitasking – running multiple apps and performing more than one task at the same time – which is certainly handy for digital creatives – such as video editors who want to edit and preview footage, while also working on other parts of the project.
In certain markets you can also configure the Lenovo Yoga A940 to come with a more recent CPU, like the Intel Core i7-9700 eight-core processor. While this ups the overall price of the PC, in our view it is worth doing as it leads to even smoother performance. However, this option isn’t available in all markets, so you may have to check what specifications are available before you buy.
While the processor is old, but still decent, the GPU of the Lenovo Yoga A940 is more concerning for digital creatives that do a lot of graphic work. That’s because it comes with the AMD Radeon RX 560X with a rather paltry 4GB of GDDR5 memory. This is a mid-range graphics card that’s aimed at consumers, rather than professionals. If you’re looking for an all-in-one workstation for doing intense graphical tasks, such as 3D rendering or high resolution video editing, then the Radeon RX 560X just won’t cut it. Meanwhile, the iMac comes with one of the best graphics cards, the AMD Radeon Pro Vega 48, which is AMD’s professional series GPU, and a much better performer.
Lenovo Yoga A940: Display
What’s perhaps most disappointing is that while the GPU isn’t great, the Lenovo Yoga A940 comes with an absolutely fantastic 27-inch 4K screen. It features 100% Adobe RGB support and Dolby Vision – with the former especially important for creatives that need accurate colours, such as photographers.
Why is this disappointing? Because, while the screen is so good, it feels like a missed opportunity to not back it up with a powerful graphics card. When working at 4K resolutions, the AMD Radeon RX 560X will struggle due to its limited memory.
However, for less graphically demanding workloads, the GPU will be fine. But we do wish Lenovo had splashed out a little bit more on a better graphics card.
Above the display is a 1080p webcam, which can be used to log on to Windows 10 with a glance, while also offering excellent video quality if you make video conference calls using Skype or Google Hangouts.
Lenovo has also included Dolby Atmos speakers in the display, and while these don’t match external speakers, they are some of the best we’ve heard in an all-in-one. While music producers and soundtrack editors may still prefer to plug in external speakers, for many people, the built-in speakers of the Lenovo Yoga A940 do a fantastic job.
Another neat touch is that on either side of the screen is a USB port (covered by a magnetic cover). You can plug in Lenovo’s Content Creation Dial, which is included in the set. You can use this dial for various things, such as scrolling through pages, zooming in and out, opening programs and changing the audio volume. It supports a number of creative apps, such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, and you can set it up to work with other apps as well.
Best of all, it can be plugged into either the left or right-hand side of the screen, making it comfortable to use no matter if you’re left or right-handed.
Perhaps the best aspect of the display from a digital creative’s point of view, is that it is a touchscreen, and a digital stylus is included. The screen can be angled and tilted up to 25 degrees, and its dual-hinge design makes it easy to position the screen so that it can be used as a digital canvas.
Artists will be particularly impressed with this aspect – and it makes it a much more useful tool than the iMac, for example, which does not come with a touchscreen.
By positioning the screen as low as it can go, you can comfortably draw on it. As the Lenovo Yoga A940 runs Windows 10, you have access to a huge selection of drawing tools, such as Adobe Illustrator, as well as built-in inking tools. Plus, with the vibrant 4K 27-inch screen, you’ve got plenty of workspace to draw on. Digital art looks particularly impressive on the Lenovo Yoga A940’s excellent display, and the touchscreen is fast and responsive, despite the underpowered GPU, and the included stylus is of decent quality. It’s battery-powered, with a button that can be used to switch drawing tools when used, and with a good level of sensitivity. The touchscreen also has a decent palm rejection feature, so even if you accidently rest your wrist or palm on the screen as you draw, it shouldn’t cause issues. Pair the stylus with the Content Creation Dial, and you’ve got a seriously useful – and enjoyable – all-in-one PC for digital artists.
Lenovo Yoga A940: Key features
While the adjustable touchscreen is undoubtedly the main feature of the Yoga A940 for creatives, Lenovo has done a fine job of kitting the PC out with some other nice little touches.
For example, a button on the right-hand side of the display turns on a series of LED lights beneath the screen. This, Lenovo says, is to allow you to work comfortably in low light conditions – such as at night. It’s a nice feature, and while we’d still prefer to have a desk lamp when we’re working late, it shows the level of thought that has gone into this device.
The Lenovo Yoga A940 also features a built-in wireless charging mat. This is actually one of our favourite features of the PC, as it allows you to easily charge a compatible smartphone or device by simply placing them on the mat. We popped a Galaxy Note 9 on the mat, and it started charging quickly.
It’s a really useful feature – as long as you have the gadgets that can take advantage of it. There is also an indent next to the mat where you can store the stylus. This is helpful for preventing it getting lost, but it doesn’t charge the stylus, as it only uses a removable AAA battery.
The keyboard and mouse are also wireless, though they can’t be charged by the wireless charging mat either. It’s a shame, as that would have been a useful feature. Instead, the mouse uses replaceable AAA batteries, while the keyboard charges via USB cable.
As for the peripherals themselves, they do the job fine, but neither the mouse nor keyboard feel particularly brilliant. We’d be tempted to swap them out for alternatives instead – such as any of the entries in our best mouse or best keyboard guides.
As for ports, the Yoga A940 offers a very good selection, with a USB-C Thunderbolt, USB 3.1, 3-in-1 card reader (great news for photographers) and audio jack. There’s also a LAN port, HDMI and four USB 3.0 ports on the rear. It’s always good to see a large selection of ports on devices geared towards creatives and productivity, as it lets you easily plug in the tools you need without having to pay extra for dongles and converters. Apple take note.
Lenovo Yoga A940: Should you buy it?
So, should you buy this device? The answer to that is quite simple, really. Lenovo has made an excellent all-in-one PC that comes with some great features for digital creatives. If you’ve been after a stylish all-in-one for your creative work, but have baulked at the high price of the iMac Pro or Surface Studio, then this is a fantastic alternative that provides some genuinely innovative and useful touches, while costing less than its competitors.
Digital artists will be especially taken with the adjustable 4K 27-inch touchscreen – it really is lovely to draw on.
However, this isn’t for everyone. If you want an absolute power house of a workstation with cutting edge components that can handle seriously intensive workloads – especially when it comes to graphic rendering – then you’re going to be disappointed with the Lenovo Yoga A940’s specifications. Sadly, it feels in some respects that Lenovo has made too many compromises when it comes to the hardware – especially in the GPU area. The hardware performs well for day-to-day tasks, but if you want something more powerful, then paying a bit more for an all-in-one with more recent components will pay off in the long run.