The Lenovo Slim 7i changed my mind about laptop keyboards

The 2024 Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9 14-inch with backlit keyboard
The Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9 has one of my favorite laptop keyboards (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

I love keyboards, but I’m not usually a fan of laptop keyboards – that is, until I met the Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9. On the surface, this is a fairly standard premium laptop, but it has one of the most satisfying keyboards I’ve ever found on a laptop. It got me thinking, what makes the Lenovo Slim 7i’s keyboard stand out in a crowd of flat, mushy laptop keyboards? 

Here’s a look at why I love this particular laptop keyboard, plus a few features you can look for to find the perfect laptop keyboard for you. 

The Lenovo Slim 7i maxed out my typing speed 

Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9 typing test score on Monkeytype

My wpm high score on the Lenovo Slim 7 Gen 9 (14-inch) (Image credit: Monkeytype)

At first glance, the keyboard on the Lenovo Slim 7i didn’t catch my attention. It has gray plastic keys with a thin, basic font and white backlighting. On the surface, that’s very similar to the keyboards on countless other laptops. 

Then I ran my typing test on the Slim 7i. I always use Monkeytype to test my typing speed on the laptops and keyboards I review. My average typing speed on my daily driver mechanical keyboard (currently the Lofree Block) is 84 wpm with 94.3% accuracy. 

So, I was shocked when I clocked in 102 wpm with 100% accuracy while typing on the Slim 7i. I scored even higher the second time around with a whopping 104 wpm with 98% accuracy. Those are impressive scores in general, but this is also the highest I’ve scored on any laptop or keyboard I’ve tested. 

I couldn’t ignore a score like that, so I paid more attention to the keyboard on the Slim 7i during the rest of my testing. The Slim 7i’s keyboard wasn’t just good for typing, either. I also enjoyed gaming on it, which really surprised me. I noticed a few things about it that set it apart from other laptop keyboards I’ve used. 

What makes a great laptop keyboard?  

Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9 keyboard overhead

The keyboard on the Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9 (14-inch) (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

When shopping for a new laptop, it’s easy to focus on everything but the keyboard or, in the case of the best gaming laptops of 2024, look for only RGB backlighting. A great keyboard can really enhance your experience with a laptop, though. 

For evidence of this, look no further than the controversy (and outrage) that ensued when Apple changed the keyboard on their Macbooks back in 2015. The butterfly keyboard was so bad, it resulted in a class-action lawsuit against Apple (and also forced the company to bring back its higher-quality scissor switch keyboards). 

So, it’s worth paying attention to the keyboard when you’re looking for a new laptop, especially if you’re often typing for work or school. While the Lenovo Slim 7i isn’t perfect for everyone, its fantastic keyboard offers some hints about what to look for in a great laptop keyboard. 

First, check the laptop’s key travel. This is how far the key moves vertically when you press it. Ultra-thin laptops tend to have very little key travel while thicker laptops have a bit more. The Lenovo Slim 7i might not be the thinnest laptop out there, but it’s still pretty compact at just 0.59 inches (for the record, that’s only 0.14 inches thicker than the 15-inch M3 Macbook Air). 

Despite being so thin, the Slim 7i still delivers 1.5mm of key travel. Laptop manufacturers don’t always advertise key travel, but you can usually find it in the technical specifications on the manufacturer’s official page for a laptop. 

Another trait to look for is tactile feedback. Unfortunately, this is something you need to physically test out on a laptop. There’s a reason tactile feedback is so hyped up in the enthusiast keyboard community, though. When a keyboard has a bit of a bump or click when you press a key, it reduces the likelihood of accidental keystrokes and provides satisfying audio feedback. 

The Lenovo Slim 7i has a noticeable bump when keys bottom out, although it’s not a loud keyboard. The combination of high key travel and a bit of tactile feedback ensures that the Slim 7i’s keyboard doesn’t feel flat and “mushy” the way many other laptop keyboards do. 

The 2024 Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9 curved keys on laptop keyboard

The bottom edges of the keys on the Slim 7i are slightly rounded (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

Key shape can also make a difference. One unique feature of the Slim 7i’s keyboard is the slight curve on the bottom edge of each key. It might look like a minor difference, but it reduces how far your fingers need to move, which also helps balance out the higher amount of key travel, allowing you to have the best of both worlds.

Balancing gaming and typing with a laptop keyboard 

2024 Lenovo Slim 7i (Gen 9) 14-inch running Nightingale

I enjoyed gaming on the Slim 7i's keyboard (seen here running Nightingale) (Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

There is one area where laptop keyboards tend to fall flat compared to mechanical keyboards: gaming. Laptop keyboards are often too cramped and flat for a comfortable gaming experience and smaller laptops lack full-size arrow keys and the number pad, which are a must-have in some games. A laptop keyboard could be great for typing, but disappointing for gaming. 

So, how do you find a laptop with a good balance for both? In my experience, one factor that improves the gaming experience on a laptop is once again key travel. Laptop keyboards with a bit more key travel are more satisfying in general but also reduce the likelihood of accidental keystrokes due to the extra pressure needed to register a key press. While that’s a simple mistype when writing, it could be the difference between your digital life and death when gaming. 

Another factor gamers should look for in a laptop keyboard is key size and the space between keys. The smaller and closer together keys are, the more likely you are to get a bunch of accidental keystrokes. Larger keys will also result in more accurate typing. Gaming keyboards are more likely to have larger keys, but it’s not a feature exclusive to that niche. While you may have to sacrifice touchpad size to get a larger keyboard, it’s usually worth it, especially if you want to do some gaming on your laptop, which is often better with a gaming mouse anyway. 

Bottom line 

Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9 laptop keyboard

(Image credit: Stevie Bonifield)

The keyboard might not be the deciding factor in your laptop shopping process, but it is worth considering. I tend to find laptop keyboards disappointing compared to mechanical keyboards, but I was happily surprised by the Lenovo Slim 7i Gen 9. Thanks to its 1.5mm key travel, unique key shape, and satisfying tactile feedback, the Slim 7i delivers a highly enjoyable typing experience that significantly improved my experience with this laptop. 

So, the next time you’re searching for a new laptop, take a minute to check out its keyboard design. A mediocre keyboard might not ruin a laptop, but a great keyboard can take the user experience up a notch. If you want to get your laptop search off to a good start, take a look at our guides to the best laptops and best laptops for writers

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Stevie Bonifield
Freelance Writer

Stevie Bonifield is a freelance tech journalist specializing in keyboards, peripherals, gaming gear, and mobile tech. Outside of writing, Stevie loves indie games, photography, and building way too many custom keyboards