Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021) Assessment

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It is wonderful what a distinction a—effectively, an entire overhaul of all the things below the hood makes. On Lenovo.com at this writing, a configuration of the IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook is $337.49 with a tragic Intel Celeron CPU, sadder 4GB of reminiscence, and saddest 32GB of eMMC flash storage. At Costco, our take a look at unit is $549.99 with an eleventh Technology Core i3 chip, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB NVMe solid-state drive, and it is one of many nicest Chromebooks we have encountered. (It was even nicer when Costco took $100 off as we began this evaluation, however sadly the sale has ended.) Solely a ho-hum show panel retains it from a Editors’ Selection suggestion; you continue to would possibly need to leverage that price-club membership if that sale drops once more.


Déjà Vu in Abyss Blue 

The Flex 5 is a convertible laptop computer with a 13.3-inch contact display. We reviewed a mannequin with a tenth Technology Core i3, half the RAM, and eMMC storage in July 2020. Whereas that one’s aluminum lid and ABS plastic backside have been Graphite Grey, the brand new unit is a good-looking darkish shade known as Abyss Blue. The display bezels are medium-thin; there’s only a little bit of flex when you grasp their corners or mash the keyboard deck.

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Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021) right angle


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

This client convertible measures 0.67 by 12.2 by 8.4 inches and weighs 2.97 kilos, a sliver thicker however lighter than Lenovo’s 13.3-inch enterprise 2-in-1, the ThinkPad C13 Yoga Chromebook (3.3 kilos). Just a few Chromebooks are lighter nonetheless due to magnesium alloy building. (The Google Pixelbook Go clamshell weighs 2.3 kilos, and the 14-inch Asus Chromebook Flip C436 is 2.6.)

A tiny sliding shutter blocks the webcam when you’re involved about on-line snoops. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth are customary, as is the standard Chromebook perk of a 12-month Google One membership with 100GB of cloud storage plus SoundCloud Go and Stadia trials. The keyboard is backlit, although there is not any fingerprint reader to skip typing passwords.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021) rear view


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

On the laptop computer’s left aspect are USB 3.2 Kind-A and Kind-C ports (the latter accommodating the AC adapter), in addition to an audio jack and a microSD card slot…

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021) left ports


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

There is a second USB-C port at proper, together with an influence button, a quantity rocker, and a security-cable lockdown notch…

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021) right ports


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

With no HDMI port on the chassis, you will want a USB-C DisplayPort dongle to attach an exterior monitor.


The Show: A Few Extra Nits Would Be Neat 

The total HD (1,920-by-1,080-pixel) show is rated at a modest 250 nits of brightness, leaving me tapping the Brightness Up key in hopes of a greater view. White backgrounds do not pop, and colours, although wealthy sufficient, look gentle. Distinction is sweet, although reflections from the contact panel block large viewing angles. 

Like different Chromebooks, the Flex 5 provides a wide range of “appears like” or fake resolutions when you suppose the native 1080p makes display parts too small. The default is 1,536 by 864. A spec sheet on Lenovo’s web site mentions an OLED display choice, however I could not discover a system with it on the market at this writing.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021) front view


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

Maxx Audio audio system flanking the keyboard produce surprisingly respectable sound—vocals appear a little bit muted, however audio is not harsh or tinny even at prime quantity. The bass is not very punchy, however you’ll be able to distinguish overlapping tracks. The 720p webcam captures comparatively sharp, barely dim pictures with good coloration and minimal static. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021) keyboard


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

Following the usual Chromebook structure with top-row browser and system shortcuts and a search/menu key rather than Caps Lock, the keyboard has a quick, tappy typing really feel. The buttonless Mylar touchpad glides and faucets easily however has a stiff, shallow click on.


Testing the Flex 5 Chromebook: The Core i3 Struts Its Stuff 

For our benchmark charts, I in contrast the IdeaPad Flex 5 to 4 different Chromebooks. Two are convertibles, smaller and bigger than the Lenovo respectively: the Intel Celeron-powered Acer Chromebook Spin 311 and the Core i3-based HP Chromebook x360 14c. Two are clamshells: the 13.3-inch Google Pixelbook Go, which has a low-power, eighth Technology Intel Core i5 CPU, and the 14-inch, business-focused Asus Chromebook CX9. You’ll be able to see their fundamental specs within the desk under.

We take a look at Chromebooks with three total efficiency benchmark suites: one Chrome OS, one Android, and one on-line. The primary, Principled Applied sciences’ CrXPRT 2, measures how rapidly a system performs on a regular basis duties in six workloads akin to making use of picture results, graphing a inventory portfolio, analyzing DNA sequences, and producing 3D shapes utilizing WebGL. The second, UL’s PCMark for Android Work 3.0, performs assorted productiveness operations in a smartphone-style window. Lastly, Basemark Internet 3.0 runs in a browser tab to mix low-level JavaScript calculations with CSS and WebGL content material. All three yield numeric scores; greater numbers are higher. (See extra about how we take a look at laptops.)

The Lenovo’s Core i3-1115G4 processor has solely two cores as an alternative of 4 or extra, nevertheless it proved fairly perky. Opening a number of tabs and enjoying movies did not faze it. It was second solely to the eleventh Gen Core i5 Asus in CrXPRT 2 and PCMark for Android, and it took the gold medal in Basemark Internet (although all of the contenders, besides the lowly, Celeron-based Spin 311, acquitted themselves ably).

Two different Android benchmarks concentrate on the CPU and GPU respectively. Primate Labs’ Geekbench makes use of all accessible cores and threads to simulate real-world functions starting from PDF rendering and speech recognition to machine studying, whereas GFXBench 5.0 stress-tests each low-level routines like texturing and high-level, game-like picture rendering that workouts graphics and compute shaders. Geekbench delivers a numeric rating, whereas GFXBench counts frames per second (fps).

Lastly, to check a Chromebook’s battery life, we loop a 720p video file with display brightness set at 50%, audio quantity at 100%, and Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting disabled till the system quits. If there is not sufficient inner storage to carry the video, we play it from an exterior SSD plugged right into a USB port.

The IdeaPad carried out nimbly in our CPU take a look at and downright stunned us in GFXBench, exhibiting suitability for informal gaming regardless of counting on Intel’s historically unimpressive UHD built-in graphics. (We anticipated the Asus CX9 to win, nevertheless it balked on the benchmark.) It confirmed sufficient battery stamina to get by way of a full day of labor or faculty, although 9 and 1 / 4 hours is not a top-tier end result by right now’s requirements—11 or 12 hours would have been preferable.


Verdict: A Successful Mixture 

It does not include a stylus as some convertibles do, however the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook is an interesting touch-screen 2-in-1, with above-average efficiency and a snug keyboard.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021) tent mode


(Photograph: Molly Flores)

A brighter show and an HDMI port would make it an Editors’ Selection award winner. Whilst is, although, it deserves a spot in your checklist of Chromebooks value trying out—and if Costco ever repeats its $449.99 sale, snap it up.

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Chromebook (2021)

Cons

  • No HDMI port

  • Barely dim show

The Backside Line

Chromebooks with poky processors and cramped flash storage dominate the market, however Lenovo’s fair-priced IdeaPad Flex 5 reveals how a Chromebook can profit from an Intel Core CPU and a “true” onboard SSD.

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