Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 assessment: When selecting Intel hurts

MSRP $735.00

“The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 misplaced efficiency and battery life in its transition from AMD to Intel. Add in a poor show and it is laborious to advocate.”

Execs

Strong construct high quality

Comfy keyboard and touchpad

Good audio system

Lively pen included

Cons

Unimpressive efficiency

Mediocre battery life

Unacceptable show

I reviewed the AMD Ryzen model of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 convertible 2-in-1 laptop computer final 12 months, and located it to supply a ton of efficiency for a really engaging $600 value. It didn’t fairly make our listing of finest price range laptops, nevertheless it was shut. This 12 months, I used to be supplied the prospect to assessment the 2021 refresh, which doesn’t change a lot — most notably, Intel is on faucet this time round. I seemed ahead to seeing how this model compares.

I reviewed the $735 midrange configuration of the IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 with a Core i5-1135G7, which is the proper Intel chip to check to the Ryzen 5 4500U within the earlier assessment unit. That’s barely a price range laptop computer value (though it does double the storage over the AMD machine), and I discovered the Intel model to supply a lesser worth proposition than final 12 months’s mannequin. You may get a Core i3 for a extra engaging $570, however you surrender half the RAM and storage. Ultimately, it proves why AMD continues to be the chief in price range laptops.

Design

The IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 has basically the identical construct because the earlier mannequin, solely this time there’s some glass fiber blended in with the plastic within the lid to present it a sturdier really feel. The remainder of the chassis is all plastic, nevertheless it nonetheless feels strong — extra so than some premium laptops that use magnesium alloy to scale back weight. In comparison with the budget-oriented and fairly bendable Asus VivoBook Flip 14, which makes use of plastic within the chassis and aluminum alloy lining the lid, the IdeaPad Flex 5i seems like one million bucks.

The IdeaPad’s hinge can also be surprisingly good, being unfastened sufficient to open with one hand, however then stiffening when it reaches an upright place to carry it in place in clamshell, tent, media, and pill modes. General, the IdeaPad Flex 5i’s construct high quality exceeds its price ticket.

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

The two-in-1 maintains its darkish gray aesthetic, with only a contact of chrome within the Lenovo emblem on the lid and the keyboard deck. It’s a really understated look, with a number of angles to present it a streamlined look, nevertheless it in any other case avoids any bling or ostentation. Lenovo’s price range and midrange laptops have been minimalist of their designs for a number of years now, and the IdeaPad Flex 5i maintains that pattern. The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 is a bit more dynamic in its look, however that doesn’t imply it’s better-looking — it truly suffers from a lime inexperienced lining across the Enter key that breaks up its colour scheme. I’d say the IdeaPad Flex 5i seems to be higher than it prices, and it gained’t make you’re feeling such as you’re slumming it whenever you take it to a complicated coffeehouse.

Like final 12 months’s mannequin, although, the IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 is bigger than it must be. Its show bezels are skinny on the edges however giant on prime, and the chin is big. That makes it deeper than obligatory. It’s additionally fairly thick at zero.82 inches and barely heavy at three.three kilos. The Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (about $200 greater than the IdeaPad) is zero.69 inches and three.09 kilos, whereas the Asus VivoBook Flip 14 is available in at zero.72 inches and three.31 kilos. If there’s one space the place the IdeaPad Flex 5i exhibits off its low-cost nature, it’s within the outsized nature of its chassis.

Connectivity is strong, with a proprietary energy connector (though my assessment unit got here with a USB-C charger), USB-C three.2 port, full-sized HDMI 1.4b port, and three.5mm audio jack on the left-hand facet, and two USB-A three.2 ports and a full-size SD card reader on the right-hand facet. Sadly, there’s no Thunderbolt four assist, which is disappointing even at a $735 value level. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.zero present wi-fi connectivity.

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Efficiency

We lauded the AMD model of the IdeaPad Flex 5 for its efficiency because of its Ryzen 5 4500U. On the time, that was spectacular, however what a distinction a 12 months makes. That’s now a previous-generation chip, and the brand new Ryzen 5000 collection processors are considerably sooner — and the delta between the earlier model and the present 11th-gen Intel model can also be much less vital. My assessment unit outfitted the Core i5-1135G7 to go along with 16GB of RAM and a 512GB solid-state drive (SSD), letting us examine not solely in opposition to the earlier AMD mannequin but in addition present laptops.

Don’t hassle with gaming.

In all circumstances, besides in opposition to the Acer Aspire 5 with its core i3-1115G4 that was included for some distinction, the IdeaPad Flex 5i didn’t impress. It was slower in all however the 3DMark Time Spy check than the earlier AMD mannequin, together with fairly a bit slower in our Handbrake check that encodes a 420MB video as H.265. In all our benchmarks, it was additionally slower than the opposite Core i5 laptops on our listing, significantly the Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Gen 2. The distinction isn’t big, nevertheless it’s sufficient to put the IdeaPad Flex 5i close to the underside of our comparability group.

In real-life use, I didn’t discover the IdeaPad Flex 5i being a gradual laptop computer. However then once more, just about all trendy laptops are quick sufficient to run Home windows 10 and fundamental productiveness duties like internet shopping, Workplace apps, and the like with out slowing down. It’s whenever you want an additional push of efficiency for heavy multitasking or extra intensive duties that you just would possibly discover a hiccup or two. I’d fee efficiency as acceptable for the value, however not something to write down residence about.

Geekbench (single/multi)
Handbrake
(seconds)
Cinebench R23 (single/multi)
PCMark 10
3DMark Time Spy
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5i 14
(Core i5-1135G7)
1397/4301
213
1325/4411
4550
1026
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 2020
(Ryzen 5 4500U)
1096/4543
160
n/a
n/a
957
Asus VivoBook Flip 14 (Ryzen 5 5500U)
1102/5432
131
1180/7579
5191
1099
Lenovo ThinkBook 13s Gen 2
(Core i5-1135G7)
1406/5379
178
1357/5502
4668
1511
HP Envy 14 (Core i5-1135G7)
1549 / 5431
204
1399 / 4585
n/a
1380
Acer Aspire 5 2021 (Core i3-1115G4)
1215/2544
300
1274/3128
3752
652

Don’t hassle with gaming. The IdeaPad Flex 5i is restricted to Intel Iris Xe graphics, and it didn’t carry out very impressively even for that chip. Its 3DMark Time Spy check wasn’t nice, and it solely hit 16 frames per second (fps) in Fortnite at 1080p and excessive graphics. You’ll need to look elsewhere to your gaming wants.

Show

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

The second I turned on the IdeaPad Flex 5i 14, I knew that the 14-inch Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) IPS show can be its main weak point. The colours appeared off, the display had an disagreeable yellow-green tint, and the distinction didn’t blow me away. I don’t usually react so badly to a show, however this one was disappointing. Notice that the show is within the old-school 16:9 side ratio, as taller shows haven’t but made a lot headway in price range laptops.

My colorimeter largely confirmed that subjective expertise. To start with, brightness was low at simply 231 nits, properly beneath our most well-liked 300-nit threshold. Which means the show may be laborious to learn with shiny overhead lighting. The distinction was higher than I anticipated at 800:1 (however once more beneath our most well-liked stage, 1000:1). Colours had been very slim at simply 49% of AdobeRGB and 65% of sRGB — midrange and premium laptops are round 72% and 95% or higher — and colour accuracy was simply OK at a DeltaE of two.37 (1.zero or much less is great).

Sure, price range laptops usually skimp on the show. The Asus VivoBook Flip 14, for instance, was remarkably related at 230 nits of brightness, a distinction ratio of 720:1, 50% of AdobeRGB and 66% of sRGB, and colour accuracy of two.62. However that doesn’t change the truth that these aren’t nice shows to make use of even for easy productiveness work, and so they’re nowhere close to what inventive varieties are on the lookout for.

The audio was higher, with upward-firing audio system flanking the keyboard on both sides. Quantity was greater than acceptable with zero distortion, and whereas bass was missing, mids and highs had been clear. You’ll have the ability to watch some Netflix and take heed to music with these audio system, which is healthier than most price range machines.

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

Keyboard and touchpad

The IdeaPad Flex 5i has the standard Lenovo keyboard that you just’ll discover on all the things however the ThinkPad line. It’s shallower than I like, nevertheless it has sufficient of a click on and a cushty sufficient bottoming motion to permit for exact contact typing. The beneficiant key spacing and key dimension assist make this a superb price range keyboard that’s solely a few steps behind glorious keyboards like HP’s Spectre line and the Apple Magic Keyboard. Quick typists ought to regulate to this keyboard rapidly sufficient and rise up to hurry briefly order.

The touchpad can also be good, with a good dimension and a easy and cozy floor. The Microsoft Precision Touchpad drivers allow the total suite of Home windows 10 multitouch gestures, all of which labored properly. I’ve no complaints.

The contact show was responsive, and Lenovo contains an energetic pen with four,096 ranges of strain sensitivity. I discovered it fairly good for sketching (not that I’m an artist) and handwriting on the show, though the 14-inch show and total bulk of the 2-in-1 made it uncomfortable in pill mode. Nonetheless, together with the pen within the field is a plus that few price range laptops can match. As an added bonus, look carefully on the in-box supplies and also you’ll discover slightly pen holder that slips right into a USB-A port and retains the pen helpful. In fact, that blocks each ports and so that you’ll must take away the pen to plug in a peripheral.

Lastly, Home windows 10 Good day assist is supplied by a fingerprint reader on the upper-right nook of the keyboard deck. It was quick and dependable. Lenovo additionally outfitted the IdeaPad Flex 5i with its ThinkShutter privateness display for the webcam — simply slide it over and the lens is bodily blocked, supplying you with a contact of privateness.

Battery life

Mark Coppock/Digital Developments

The IdeaPad Flex 5i retains the 52.5 watt-hour battery of its predecessor, which, when mixed with the Core i5 and the 14-inch Full HD show, left me questioning what sort of longevity to anticipate. The AMD mannequin was simply OK by way of battery life, in a position to possibly eke out a full day’s work on a cost when you didn’t push it too laborious.

General, the IdeaPad Flex 5i’s battery life is disappointing.

In keeping with our benchmarks, the Intel model dropped just under that threshold of all-day battery life. It lasted simply 7.25 hours in our web-browsing check, in comparison with the AMD model’s eight hours, and 11.5 hours in looping our native Avengers check video, the place the AMD model lasted for 11 hours. In order that’s a toss-up, though the online check provides a greater thought of productiveness efficiency. The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 made it to 9 hours of shopping the online and 12 hours within the video check — stronger scores for positive.

I additionally ran the PCMark 10 Purposes battery check, the place the IdeaPad Flex 5i managed 9 hours. That’s simply seven minutes lower than the AMD model, however beneath the 10 or extra hours we’ve seen at the least with most different laptops we’ve examined. That is the perfect check of productiveness battery life, and the IdeaPad Flex 5i didn’t do all that properly. Within the PCMark 10 Gaming battery check, it lasted for just below two minutes, which is about common for this check.

General, the IdeaPad Flex 5i’s battery life is disappointing. Just like the AMD model, it would take you thru a day’s work in case your workflow is gentle, however getting actual work accomplished with out plugging in may be a problem.

Our take

At $600, the AMD model of the IdeaPad Flex 5 14 was a well-performing discount. At $735, with the principle distinction being a 512GB SSD versus a 256GB SSD, the newest IdeaPad Flex 5i isn’t fairly so engaging. It doesn’t carry out as properly, and it doesn’t sustain with another laptops working the identical CPU. Its battery life doesn’t impress, and its show — though equally dangerous because the earlier model — is an actual letdown.

There are different laptops on this value vary which can be extra value your cash. The IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 misplaced its luster within the change to Intel, and I can’t discover a lot to advocate it.

Are there any alternate options?

The Asus VivoBook Flip 14 is across the similar value and provides considerably higher efficiency. The show and battery life aren’t any higher, however at the very least you’ll get a sooner laptop computer that may deal with extra demanding workloads.

When you don’t want a 2-in-1, then the Asus ZenBook 13 OLED UM325UA is a superb selection. It’s inside a few hundred of the IdeaPad Flex 5i, nevertheless it provides a lot better efficiency, a stunning and color-accurate OLED show, and a 1TB PCIe SSD. In case your price range can deal with it, then the ZenBook 13 must be in your listing.

One other 2-in-1 to think about is the HP Envy x360 13. It’s additionally an AMD machine and a lot sooner, and it has a a lot better show. It’s additionally a bit dearer, nevertheless it’s value the additional money.

How lengthy will it final?

The IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 provides strong building that ought to evoke confidence in years of service. Its parts are updated, if not the quickest, so it ought to maintain you productive for simply as lengthy. You gained’t just like the industry-standard one-year guarantee.

Do you have to purchase it?

No. Take away the efficiency of the AMD processor from its predecessor and add on greater than $100 to the value, and the IdeaPad Flex 5i 14 isn’t a lot of a discount.

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