Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 is a new 360 ° rotating convertible, with a pen included in the box, and equipped with the new AMD Ryzen 4000 chips. Available in two configurations, this model is a serious candidate for the best all rounder of 2021 – let’s find out why!
Lenovo IdeaPad flex 5
Lenovo IdeaPad flex 5G
Lenovo IdeaPad flex 3
· Powerful AMD Ryzen mobile processors
· World’s first 5G Laptop
· Intel® Pentium® processing & Integrated Intel® UHD Graphics
Lenovo has long accustomed us to the quality of its spinning convertibles, and this is also seen in this IdeaPad Flex 5, although it is not its most successful machine in this respect. It’s not so much about the rotation, which is always stable at any angle, with the monitor unlikely to wobble due to some excessive vibration.
We speak rather of the materials chosen, not up to the height of the more premium models, and of some possible audible creaking by twisting the notebook a bit.
Even the frame surrounding the screen is not immovable: both in the center, near the webcam flap, and in the corners, you can see it rise again if apply the right force. Yes, we have tortured it a bit, but then that’s how you notice some weaknesses, and the adhesion of the frame to the screen is not flawless.
But basically, that’s okay: IdeaPad Flex 5 is not top of the range and something you have to give up to keep the price down a bit. In short, Lenovo has made the right choices in this area, and only those who know the quality of its most premium products will be able to notice the difference. Others will probably have nothing to complain about.
Then there is a good set of ports, which also include the much-maligned full size SD slot, old and new USB, and even an HDMI. A curious detail: there is the port for the proprietary power supply, but the one supplied in the package is type C.
Keyboard and touchpad
We could repeat the same things just said about the build quality, even for the keyboard and touchpad. Not the best Lenovo has ever made, but still satisfying most users.
The keys are rounded downwards, now a trademark of the Chinese manufacturer, but do not offer much feedback. On the other hand, they do not hesitate, they have a short stroke, and in a short time you will pick up speed on this keyboard, certainly reaching a good number of beats per minute. It won’t be the most comfortable or enjoyable typing experience ever, but it doesn’t have any penalizing flaws either. The backlight is also good: adjustable on only two levels, quite visible even during the day at maximum brightness, and rather uniform.
The touchpad is on average large, not sliding like the glass ones, but it still recognizes the Windows gestures well, has a sharp click, and does not have particular smudges. Even in his case: it’s not the best, but there are no compromising weaknesses.
Hardware and benchmark
On their official website until a few weeks ago there was also a variant with Ryzen 5. At the moment, however, there is only the one being tested, equipped with the Ryzen 7 4700U, one of the most successful AMD processors among those we have tried lately.
- Primary screen: 14″ FHD IPS touch
- CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4700U
- RAM: 8GB DDR4
- Internal memory: 512 GB PCI-e NVMe SSD
- Connectivity: Dual band ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2
- Ports: 2x USB 3.1 Gen1, USB-C with power delivery, HDMI 1.4b, SD reader, combo jack
- Webcam : 720p
- Battery: 52 Wh
- Weight: 1.6 Kg
- OS: Windows 10
To what is reported above, we add the presence of a stylus included in the package. There is no compartment to house it inside the notebook, even if only for reasons of space, but there is plastic support that attaches to one of the USB-A and which can be useful for not forgetting the pen and carrying. It can be easily running around with the rest of the laptop.
Too bad for HDMI 1.4, whose 4K output is limited to 30Hz, and there isn’t even a Thunderbolt, but that was more obvious being on the AMD platform. There is also no version with 16 GB of RAM, which is probably too much for the average use you will make of this IdeaPad Flex 5, but which would probably have tempted more than one buyer (and raised the price a bit). . On the other hand, the storage space is generous, with its 512 GB available.
The weakest point of this IdeaPad Flex 5 is probably the display. It is a full HD IPS with a maximum brightness of around 230 nits. The panel is touch, glossy, and reflections are the order of the day if in proximity to a strong light source. The calibration is also not the best, as the CalMAN analysis shows, and above all, the sRGB coverage is really poor. It is by no means a panel for precision work, and in general, the color rendering is a bit dull.
The viewing angles, on the other hand, are quite good, and the panel proved to be not very energy-intensive, to the advantage of autonomy, but we often found ourselves using it near maximum brightness to have an acceptable visual comfort.
The autonomy of IdeaPad Flex 5 is good. There is no drain on standby, and this is certainly good news. You can also set the lid to behave like a power button: lifting it starts the laptop. And the instant-on recovery from rest is one of its strengths. The values found by PCMark 10 are, as always, a bit generous in office use: 8-9 hours seem to us a more realistic estimate, perhaps considering a higher brightness precisely in the light of what was said in the previous paragraph.
There are also 3 custom modes from Lenovo for managing energy expenditure, which actually makes a certain difference, so be careful to always use the one that best suits the purpose.
- Idle: 18 hours and 50 mins (minimum brightness, maximum energy saving)
- Gaming: 1 hour 44 min (maximum brightness, maximum performance)
- Office (writing, browsing, video conferencing): 12 hours (25 brightness, improved battery)
- Netflix: -10% every hour (25 brightness and sound, improved battery)
Side note: The charger I tested is a Type-C, but there is clearly a proprietary power port on the notebook. So I don’t know if it was included by mistake (or even voluntarily) in the test package I received, and I cannot exclude that you will find a traditional charger on sale.
Experience of use
IdeaPad Flex 5, with another “suit”, would have sold for double its price. It is a notebook capable of doing everything, including coping with (and exceeding) the many ultrabooks with i7 Ice / Comet Lake that are on the market for over 1,500 euros. The goodness of the Ryzen 7 4700U is really beyond question. 8 cores, 8 threads, 7nm production process, high energy efficiency, and integrated graphics that do not fear comparison with Intel’s Iris Plus.
The 10th generation of the Santa Clara company has in fact been divided into two, with characteristics that are also quite different from each other; AMD’s 4000 series, on the other hand, do not compromise and satisfies everyone, from workers to gamers, from those who want a lot of multi-core performance to those looking for simple daily responsiveness.
The benchmarks above speak for themselves, and we won’t comment on them further. However, there is a clarification to be made regarding the software. If the numbers are in fact on the side of AMD, the practical yield does not necessarily show a big difference compared to the competition.
This is because, especially at the graphics level, the Radeon GPU is not always exploited to the fullest. The Premiere is a prime example. While we have compared the performance of AMD’s GPU to that of an MX150 / 250, the latter is faster in encoding, with the same files of course, by several minutes.
There isn’t much to do about it, other than wait for an update from Adobe. More generally, the sense is that yes, AMD’s solution is powerful, on average more than the competition of the same range, but this does not necessarily mean that this always translates into a real advantage.
The fault is certainly not AMD, but it is also difficult to accurately measure the extent of the problem, considering the amount of software there is for Windows. In any case, at least for the most famous solutions, with the passage of time, things should smooth out.
On the other hand, we did not have any problems on the playful side. Fortnite, Overwatch, GTA V: they are all playable titles in full HD, with a framerate around 60 fps, obviously with graphic details closer to the minimum than the maximum.
It is not a PC Gaming properly said, but for those who do not have excessive demands and want to relax every now and then, IdeaPad Flex 5 does not disappoint. It certainly manages to do much better than Intel has accustomed us to over the years.
All this in the face of temperatures that are always under control. Even under the AIDA stress test, the 100 ° degrees are barely touched. When fully operational, the system settles at around 90 °, with an average clock just above the base frequency of 2 GHz, without thermal throttling. And this is the worst case.
Playing or exporting a movie on Premiere, the temperatures are even 10 degrees lower, and the frequencies constantly exceed 3 GHz. The system is therefore stable in any situation, can be stressed for a long time without problems, and even the surface temperatures are not they never get annoying. And all this in a less than $ 1,000 machine that can stand up to ultrabooks that cost twice as much. What a time to be alive!
A few more notes on the software front to briefly talk about Lenovo Vantage, the management software of the company that deals with updates, guarantees, and regulating energy expenditure. In this case, we can choose between 3 different states: maximum performance, balanced, and maximum autonomy.
They are not just names, there is really a difference between one and the other, even in terms of noise. Not that the fans are too annoying, but in performance mode, you will hear them activate much longer, and autonomy will also suffer as a result. So ignore the Windows management, which can always remain on medium-low values, and instead switch the modes made available by Lenovo depending on what you want to get.
The final comment for the audio ( Dolby ), quite powerful, even if a little lacking in the bass. The position of the speakers is lucky in notebook mode, much less in tablet or stand configuration, since they will be directed towards the desk. In fact, in the most modern solutions, Lenovo has inserted the speakers inside the hinge itself, so that they are audible in all modes of use.
$979 is the price list of IdeaPad Flex 5. A fair amount, considering how “all round” this convertible is. Now then it is even more attractive, given that promotion is underway, on the Lenovo website itself, which discounts the laptop for $759 with 256GB PCIe SSD. But Amazon does even better, with its 979$, making it the best buy in this price range, for those looking for a PC ready for anything.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 Verdict
IdeaPad Flex 5 is one of those rare notebooks able to please anyone: from the student to the worker, to those who simply want to have fun, even with little video games. The merit of his being all-rounder is to be found in the excellent AMD Ryzen 7 4700U, a processor capable of holding up to the 10th generation Intel i7s, be they Comet Lake or Ice Lake. And to make everything even more complete, Lenovo has also included a stylus in the package, ideal for taking notes and underlining, rather than for drawing.
Last but not least, an autonomy that will take you to the end of the working day and a price that is half of what certain Intel Inside ultrabooks of the same range cost. Of course, there is some sacrifice here and there, especially in the display; otherwise, we would be talking about the perfect convertible.