Lenovo Flex 5 Laptop Review
Powered by an AMD Ryzen processor, the Lenovo Ideapad Flex 5 operates, looks, and feels like a premium laptop, one that sports a budget price tag. From the design, flexibility, and performance of this convertible right down to the inclusion of a stylus, Lenovo got a lot right with this laptop. Marrying excellent performance with a price tag that won’t put so much strain on your pockets, the Lenovo Flex 5 is quite easily one of the best 14-inch laptops available on the market.
In addition to a superb build and generous port offerings, the Flex 5 counts outstanding battery life, thermals, keyboard, and performance among its list of qualities. A lot of credit for its excellent performance goes to the laptop’s Ryzen 5 4500U hexa-core processor, which transforms this convertible into a super-powered unit, well capable of handling whatever is thrown at it.
Our enthusiasm is dampened a bit by the Flex 5’s underwhelming screen, and we feel that it could do with less bulk. These are by no means dealbreakers, however. Even with these imperfections, the Lenovo Flex 5 is an absolute unit that we cannot recommend enough.
Design and Appearance
Lenovo has gone for a look of simple elegance for this laptop and the Flex 5 absolutely nails it. Made exclusively of plastic, with color options ranging from Graphite Gray to Platinum Gray, this convertible is nonetheless sturdy and well-built. The lid and base flex a little when you flip the lid (which can be done one-handed), giving an indication of the laptop’s budget status, but not enough to set alarm bells ringing in your mind. Speaking of this laptop’s lid, the paint tends to chip a bit if the lid isn’t handled with the utmost care. Lenovo included rubber feet on the laptop’s underside for an extra-secure grip when placed on the table.
The Flex 5 sports sturdy 360-degree hinges that support seamless transitions between laptop, tent, stand, and tablet modes for this convertible. When you flip the lid, you’ll be met by the laptop’s glossy 14-inch screen, enclosed by bezels that are moderately sized. The top bezel houses the laptop’s webcam. Pleasingly, this device’s chassis and palm rest are made of soft-touch plastic, which significantly improves the experience of working on the laptop. The keyboard deck is spacious and solid, with speaker grilles lined up along both sides of it. There’s also a largish Precision touchpad located under the keyboard deck.
Weighing 3.4 pounds, the Flex 5 is significantly heavier than a few other 2-in-1 laptops with similar specifications. On the flip side, those other convertibles cost significantly more.
Ports and Connection
Since this laptop is still essentially a budget laptop, and Thunderbolt is an Intel invention (and therefore more readily available to Intel-based laptops), the absence of Thunderbolt support is understandable. Apart from that, the Flex 5’s port offering is pretty decent, generous even.
Lined up along the laptop’s left flank are a barrel power port, an HDMI port, a USB Type-C port, and a combo audio jack. Although the USB-C port is good for charging the system (and Lenovo ships a USB-C AC adapter with the package), you should consider getting a corresponding AC adapter for the barrel plug and charge the laptop with that instead. That way, you can free up the USB-C port for other uses.
On the right side of the laptop, you’ll find two USB 3.1 Gen 1 Type-A ports, a full-size SD card reader, and the system’s power button. Wireless connection is supported by Bluetooth 4.2 and 802.11ac Wi-Fi.
Keyboard and Input Devices
Generally, Lenovo laptops boast good quality keyboards and this one is not an exception. While the Flex 5’s keyboard does not meet up to the standards set by those in the ThinkPad line, it’s still pretty decent. The keyboard is backlit (a definite plus in our books) and offers a good typing experience. The keys require a good level of actuation force to register, although they feel a bit mushy, which we put down to slightly short key travel. There’s a fingerprint reader mounted under the keyboard deck, which ironically spares you from having to type passwords when you want to sign in to the laptop.
The touchpad, placed underneath the keyboard deck, is smooth, tracks accurately, and responds well to preset Windows navigation gestures. We did notice a rattling sound when working with it sometimes, though. The laptop’s touchscreen is similarly responsive, quick, and accurate, although it accumulates fingerprints a fair bit.
The laptop’s active pen employs Wacom AES technology and has a pressure sensitivity range of 4,096 levels, making it good for taking notes and drawing pictures. Hardcore users may have their reservations about it, but it’s a lovely addition for most people. A clip can be inserted into the USB port. When the pen is not in use, it is stored in this port.
Speakers on the IdeaPad Flex 5 deliver good sound quality when compared to the laptop’s volume. Basses are clearly hindered from being accurately reproduced because of a lack of resonance space. Mids and trebles, on the other hand, are clearly reproduced. Unfortunately, the speakers are not designed to play music or movies with a wide frequency dynamic range. Even so, they’re well suited to the device’s intended use. Additionally, even in noisy surroundings, the maximum volume is sufficient for watching movies and television programs.
The one big chink in the Lenovo Flex 5’s armor is its touch screen. Regular users may not mind or even notice, but creatives will find the Flex 5’s panel’s lack of adequate color rendition a bit underwhelming. This is made a lot more desperate by the laptop’s shortage of upgradeability options.
The Flex 5’s FHD panel reproduces 62% of the sRGB color spectrum and 46% of the AdobeRGB spectrum which are not thoroughly impressive results, particularly if you have picture and video editing in mind. Further, at 271 nits, the screen isn’t terribly bright, which will pose a major functionality challenge in brightly lit rooms.
Having said all of that, contrast is pretty good, and stable viewing angles make content on this screen visible from any angle. And this brings us right back to our initial estimation, that this screen is near perfect for regular computing tasks but falls short for content-creation tasks.
Graphics and Gaming
It’s such a shame that the Flex 5’s panel isn’t the best for content creation because this laptop’s AMD Radeon RX Vega GPU would have made any and all photo editing, video editing, and 3D image rendering tasks a breeze. Frankly, this GPU makes this convertible overpowered for basic computing tasks, and since both the graphics card and processor improve battery performance, you can expect to create multimedia content all day with this laptop without fuss.
The AMD Radeon RX Vega 7 integrated into the processor in the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 surpasses the current Intel iGPUs by a wide margin. When details are set appropriately low, this iGPU is more than capable of keeping up with newer games in terms of performance. Although the Lenovo Flex 5 is not advertised as a gaming laptop, it’ll easily run older titles without breaking a sweat. And with a little creative tweaking, you can enjoy a decent gaming experience from modern titles as well.
Lenovo advertises 10 hours of battery life for the Flex 5’s 52 Wh battery. That estimation is correct, but only when the laptop is engaged in those tasks that require minimal battery consumption, such as playing multimedia and web surfing. When used for tougher tasks consistently, expect to get about 8 to 9 hours of use from the laptop on a single charge. All of which shows that this laptop is a solid all-day option.
Cooling and Noise Emission
The Lenovo Flex 5 remains calm and quiet during regular usage. The Lenovo Vantage program offers full control of the laptop’s fans with three different settings: “intelligent cooling”, “battery saving”, and “high-performance mode”. The fans are barely noticeable in the first two modes, but since they lead to thermal throttling, they’re inadequate for the more taxing programs. Switching to “high-performance mode” unlocks the full power of APU, but also seems to activate the fans, which can get really loud at times. Also, we noticed a bit of coil whine when the laptop is plugged into a power outlet.
This laptop mostly remains cool during regular and even prolonged usage. It tends to get a bit warm when it reaches maximum performance, but even then, it doesn’t get so hot that things start to become uncomfortable.
The Lenovo Flex 5 is offered in a number of configurations. Our review model packs an AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB NVMe SSD. Apart from this one, there are other models with an AMD Ryzen 7 CPU or Intel Core i3 or i5 processor, up to 16GB of RAM, and up to 512GB SSD.
Fully specced up, the Lenovo Flex 5 is frankly overpowered for regular computing tasks. Our review model with the Ryzen 5 4500U processor breezed through our benchmark tests, scoring impressive results and leaving most of its competitors in the dust. For regular home and office applications, this convertible is a performance monster, and when we tried out more demanding applications, such as image and video editing, 3D image rendering, gaming, and video transcoding, we were more than satisfied with its output and performance.
All things considered, the Lenovo Flex 5 can consider its performance as one of its strongest points, and it’s pretty rare to find a laptop that can make this claim. Applications launch quickly, multitasking is a cinch, and remarkably, this laptop manages to maintain its cool most of the time.
A hexa-core AMD Ryzen 5 CPU raises the performance of this laptop out of the realms of the ordinary and simultaneously increases its appeal. Powerful, fast, flexible, and portable, the Lenovo Flex 5 closely apes premium laptops in terms of capabilities, and it does this at a much-reduced price. There’s precious little to dislike about this convertible.
We’ll count its unimpressive screen among the few things we don’t like about this laptop, and while we’re at it, we’ll also include its bulk. The Flex 5’s dim panel holds back the laptop a bit and we think it’s weird that Lenovo does not offer an upgrade across all its configurations.
Even accounting for this imperfection, the Lenovo Flex 5 is an excellent, high-value laptop, one that we think most users will be happy with.