Since Lenovo’s acquisition of the ThinkPad line of laptops, the IdeaPad brand has fallen into a bit of a hole. The IdeaPad name has been used for budget sub-notebooks and previously, ultra-portable notebooks, but most people don’t think of the IdeaPad name in the same breath as ThinkPad, and that’s a shame. The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 is proof of that. It’s a stylish 2-in-1 laptop that comes in a variety of CPU and storage configurations, with a comfortable keyboard that rivals the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga or the Lenovo IdeaPad Miix 720.
I have been a big fan of 2-in-1’s or at least laptops that can transform into tablets for years now. The main reason I like them over standard laptops is the added portability that they offer. While the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 may not be the best convertible 2-in-1 in the world, it is the best convertible 2-in-1 that I have used in a long time.
I bought the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 in the updated 2021 version about two weeks ago, used it during that time, and summarized my thoughts on it in this article.
It’s a 14-inch Flex 5 version 2021, codenamed 14ALC05 (also known as Lenovo 82H), and I bought it because it was one of the first Ultrabooks with Ryzen 5000 hardware available in this country, and because I found it at a great price.
My configuration is an AMD Lucienne Ryzen 7 5700U, an updated 8Core/16Threads version of the 2020 Ryzen 7 4800U, based on an updated Zen2+ architecture and with improved Vega graphics. Lenovo is also offering Ryzen 3 3500U and 5 5500U configurations for this laptop, but the Zen3 Cezanne platform will not be available on this chassis, at least as far as I can tell at the moment.
This shouldn’t be surprising though, as the IdeaPad Flex has always been and will continue to be a budget device. My setup comes with a Ryzen 7 processor, 16GB of RAM and a fast 512GB SSD, for an MSRP of around £800 here, but I actually got mine for just £620 as a re-sealed product in a local sale. That’s a good price for what I got, but the fact that it’s available in sealed form means someone bought it first and sent it back so the store could resell it to me at a discount.
Why did this person return a laptop with such features and performance, which is also one of the few of its kind available here (the ZenBook 13 OLED is one too, but that’s a higher-end product and at a higher price). Anyway, I’m sure it’s down to the screen, which is worse than the IdeaPad 5 Clamshell I bought in 2020 and eventually sent back because of the bad screen. The small laptop also tends to get hot under load, which is understandable given its specifications.
Anyway, while I can’t imagine using such a screen on my laptop, I think that in its price range the IdeaPad Flex 5 could be a good choice for those who value specs, performance and a well-built chassis more than a decent screen at the very least. I’ll cover that in more detail in the section on the screen below, as well as all the other important aspects you need to consider to decide if the IdeaPad Flex 5 is a good buy for you.
Tested specifications – Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ALC05
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ALC05|
|Screen||14 IPS 1920 x 1080 px 60Hz, 16:9, touch screen, glossy, Chi Mei N140HCA-E5B|
|Processor||AMD Lucienne Ryzen 7 5700U, 8C/16T|
|Video||AMD Radeon Vega 8, 8 processors, 1.9 GHz|
|Memory||16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz (soldered)|
|Storage||1x 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD (Micron MTFDHBA512QFD)|
|Link||Wireless 6 (Realtek 8822CE) 2×2, Bluetooth 5.0|
|Ports||2x USB-A 3.2 gen 1, 2x USB-C gen with DP and power, DC-IN port, HDMI 2.0, SD card reader, headphone/microphone|
|Battery||USB-C power adapter 52Wh, 65W|
|Size||321 mm or 12.62 (W) x 208 mm or 8.18 (D) x 14.9 mm or .58 (H)|
|Weight||1.53 kg (3.37 lb), .35 kg (76 lb) Power supply block and cable, EU version|
|Extras||White backlit keyboard, 2x 2W front speakers, HD shutter webcam|
Aside from the different CPU/RAM/memory options, all versions of the IdeaPad Flex 5 are identical and feature the same specs, screen and battery.
Unlike the IdeaPad 5 I reviewed last year, the Flex 5 is a convertible model with a touchscreen that opens 360 degrees at the back. This means it can be used as a laptop, tablet or anything in between, and supports touch and pen input.
At the same time, with a weight of nearly 3.4 pounds and a pretty impressive size, you should expect to use it mostly as a regular laptop on your desk or lap, as it’s quite heavy and uncomfortable to hold as a tablet. However, the marquee mode for video recording can be useful.
Other notable differences are in the color options, as the IdeaPad Flex 5 comes in standard silver, while the IdeaPad 5 comes in a unique blue, as well as in the choice of materials used to make the cover. For this 2021 Flex 5, Lenovo opted for an all-plastic design, with a smoother finish on the lid and bottom, and a more textured and durable finish on the inside. This is good news, because I think these materials will age well.
The plastic coating doesn’t peel off as easily as the painted metal of the IdeaPad 5 2020 I had, and the inside seems to be able to withstand exposure to light from my watchband without glowing even a little. The silver color is also ideal for hiding stains and fingerprints. So overall, this is a solid candidate if you’re looking for a durable, trouble-free laptop for work or school.
Lenovo didn’t skimp on build quality either: The case is sturdy and hardly bends under pressure, but the keyboard does have some play that you won’t notice in everyday use, but it does show a bit when you press the keys harder. I can live with that in this price range.
As for practicality, it sits well on a table thanks to the rubber feet and Lenovo has made sure that all the edges and corners have been dulled and sanded. The hinges also hold the screen in place well, but their stiffness combined with the lack of a notch or recess on the front edge to grip the screen means that you can’t easily lift the screen with one hand, and you may have to use both hands to do so.
The interior is spacious, with enough room for a full-size keyboard and a medium-size clickpad, with plenty of armrests all around. The keyboard is framed by speaker grilles on either side, while the status lights and power switch have been moved to the sides so as not to interfere with watching a movie in the dark. I really wish everyone would do that.
I also like that the thermal module has a wide open grille at the bottom and blows hot air behind the screen, away from the user, rather than over the screen and into the face like many other modern 14-inch ultraportables. At the same time, a higher back stand would have improved airflow under the laptop, as the air intakes in this design are cluttered.
However, since this is only an average-sized 14-inch laptop, there are still quite a few bezels around the screen, both top and bottom. On top is a camera with a physical flap, but you don’t get an IR portrait or finger sensor in this series.
Finally, the inputs and outputs are on either side, at the back of the laptop, and include just about everything you need except Thunderbolt support. That means 2 USB-A ports, 1 HDMI, a full-size SD card reader, a headphone jack, and a USB-C port with support for data, charging, and video.
Note that on the left side there is also a port for a charger with a spider plug, so the laptop can be charged in two ways. Our model came with a USB-C charger, which some of you will appreciate, but keep in mind that this way you can’t use the USB-C port to connect peripherals and charge your laptop at the same time (unless you connect an external dock or monitor that also lets you charge). It’s more economical to use a charger with a barrel connector, as it frees up the USB-C port for other uses.
The Flex 5 features the standard Lenovo IdeaPad keyboard we’ve seen on IdeaPads I’ve reviewed in the past, with plastic overlays that feel slightly cheaper than more expensive models.
Don’t worry, I still think it’s a good keyboard, fast, quiet and accurate once you get used to the slightly heavier feedback, which is what you should expect from a laptop with short-stroke keys.
The layout is also standard and simple, without the extra column of function keys that some other 14-inch devices offer these days, as the space on the sides is taken up by the upward-facing speakers. Instead, the PgUp/PgDn/Home and End functions are subordinate to the arrow keys in this case.
The keys are also easy to see: white letters on a dark grey background and backlit. The backlight is quite dim, and since there are LEDs under each key, the light falls under most keys, but at least the backlight is fairly uniform, and Lenovo has included dedicated LED indicators for CapsLock and Numlock.
The touchpad is made of plastic and is therefore not as smooth as the glass models. It’s also medium sized and a bit wobbly, and rattles under heavy pressure, especially in the lower half. Still, the device tracks movements well, handles all standard gestures, and offers a smooth and fairly quiet physical press.
As for biometrics, there is no finger sensor or IR camera.
But overall, Lenovo has done a good job with the IdeaPad Flex 5, which should satisfy those looking for a laptop in this category.
The screen is why I returned the IdeaPad 5 I got last year and, spoiler alert, it’s also why I’m returning this Flex 5.
Color coverage remains the sensitive point of this Chi Mei panel that Lenovo presents here with a coverage of the sRGB range of around 60%. Maybe you don’t care much, but to me the reds on this laptop are particularly inferior, to the point of looking like faded oranges. I have attached some pictures with two other panels available on cheap laptops these days. The left has ~90% sRGB and about 250 nits, the right has ~100% sRGB and about 400 nits, and in the middle is the IdeaPad Flex 5. See for yourself.
But that’s not all. This panel on my Flex 5 is also nearly impossible to use indoors in good light or outdoors due to the reduced brightness of the panel and the glare and reflections associated with the touch screen.
The default maximum brightness is just under 250 nits, but after we performed a calibration with DisplayCal, the brightness dropped to 200 nits. For these photos, however, I went back to the default settings.
I can’t remember if I tested a laptop that I had to keep at almost 100% brightness in the office, but that’s what I had to do here, and even at 100% it sometimes looked dull after calibration. I actually thought there was some sort of automatic light control that you could turn off in the settings, but Vari-Bright was off and I couldn’t figure out what else to change.
I also thought I might have been unlucky with this sample, but even the official specs mention a 250 nits 45% NTSC panel for this series, so you probably won’t get anything significantly different than what I got.
On the other hand, black levels and contrast are at least good here, and the panel didn’t show much fading around the edges, but we did notice some fluctuations in uniformity in our tests. Still, watching a movie in the dark becomes a pleasant experience. If you don’t mind muted, washed-out colors, yes.
These are the results of our tests with the X-Rite i1 Display Pro Sensor:
- The material designation of the panel : Chi Mei CMN1406 (N140HCA-E5B);
- Coverage: 59.5% sRGB, 42.1% AdobeRGB, 42.9% DCI P3 ;
- Measured Gamma : 2.23 ;
- Maximum luminance in the center of the screen: 242.51 cd/m2 when turned on ;
- Minimum brightness in the center of the screen: 9.89 cd/m2 when turned on ;
- Contrast at maximum brightness : 1477:1 ;
- Period: 6200 K ;
- Black at maximum brightness: 0.16 cd/m2 ;
- PWM: No.
If you don’t mind these colors and the low brightness, which should only be suitable for use in a dark room, then I think this panel will be fine. Or if you plan to connect an external monitor and use your closed laptop by placing it on a vertical stand.
For me, however, it’s the screen that kills the IdeaPad Flex 5, which is why I’ll be returning the laptop, even though it’s otherwise a very interesting product in its segment. To be honest, I might be a little biased because I’m used to much nicer screens in everyday life, but these days I wouldn’t consider such a screen acceptable for anything other than a laptop under €500, and even many laptops in this segment have improved. For me, it’s more important to have at least a half decent screen than to have the latest and greatest features, which we’ll talk about in the next section.
Our test model is the top-of-the-line configuration of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ALC05 with an AMD Ryzen 7 5700U processor, 16GB 3200MHz DDR4 RAM, 512GB Micron NVMe fast storage, and Radeon Vega 8 graphics integrated into the AMD APU.
Before we go any further, we should note that our test sample is a retail model on which the software will be available in mid-April 2021 (BIOS GJCN19WW, Lenovo Vantage 184.108.40.206).
In terms of specifications, this iteration of the IdeaPad Flex 5 is based on the AMD Ryzen 5000 U early 2021 hardware platform, with options ranging from the Ryzen 3 5300U 4C/8T processor to the Ryzen 7 5700U 8C/16T. As far as I know, only the Zen2+ Lucienne platforms will be available in this lineup, and the Zen3 Cezanne hardware will be reserved for other Lenovo models.
You shouldn’t worry about this despite the IPC improvements and various Zen3 optimizations, as the Lucienne hardware is still fast enough for everyday use, better optimized than the Ryzen 4000 Renoir 2020 platforms, GPU more capable with updated Vega graphics, and generally more affordable and widely available. In fact, Cezanne laptops are virtually unavailable at the moment, but you can get Lucienne specs in various models around the world.
Let’s get back to our test device: The Ryzen 7 5700U is based on last year’s Ryzen U 4800U processor. It is an 8C/16T APU based on the Zen2+ architecture, coupled with the Vega 8 graphics card and 8CUs running at up to 1.9 GHz. The processor is also paired with 16GB of DDR4 memory (soldered to the MB) and a fast SSD in our setup.
The memory can be upgraded if desired, but everything else is soldered to the motherboard. To access the interior, remove the rear panel, which is held in place by only a few visible screws on the sides.
As far as software goes, everything can be controlled with the Lenovo Vantage application, which provides access to power profiles, keyboard settings, system updates, battery settings and more. I consider this unified implementation to be one of the best system management applications in this segment.
You can choose from three power/thermal mode profiles, which can be changed by pressing Fn+Q:
- Battery saver – limits processor power to approximately 6W and reduces fan noise to an inaudible level;
- Smart cooling – reduces processor power to 21 W and increases fan power to 40 dB at head height for extended workloads;
- Extreme performance – increases the continuous power of the CPU to 24-25 W, with a fan noise of about 40 dB.
I left the machine in Intelligent Cooling mode most of the time, only switching to Extreme Performance mode for benchmarks and games. The internal fan is quiet in Smart Cooling mode during daily use and rarely comes on during more intense multitasking. However, it is not completely inactive, so it can be heard even in a completely silent room.
The next part of the article will focus on the performance of the Ryzen 7 5700U in demanding workloads, benchmarks and games.
First, we test CPU performance on heavy tasks by running the Cinebench R15 benchmark over 15 times in a loop, with a 2-3 second delay between each execution.
In extreme performance mode, the Ryzen 7 5700U stabilizes at 3.1+GHz and 24+W of power, but the temperature is very high at 90+ degrees Celsius. The system runs the processor at 45+W at around 100C for a minute, after which the power is gradually reduced and stabilizes at around 24W, so that fast and intensive loads benefit from even higher processor power and clock speed.
In this mode, the fans run at around 40dB and the laptop reaches speeds of around 1500, which only a few mobile platforms (namely the Ryzen 7 4800U and 5800U) can keep up with.
Switching to smart cooling limits processor performance to 21+W and slightly lower temperatures in the 84-86 degree Celsius range.
Switching to battery saver mode limits the CPU’s constant power consumption to 6 watts and exceeds it, but without significant fan noise and with a very low internal temperature, in the mid-50s.
Finally, the laptop shows unstable performance in this test when not plugged in: The processor changes clock speed and performance. This drops the score to 800+ points, which is still more than adequate for a mobile platform under this load.
To put these results in perspective, here’s how other ultraportable laptops from AMD and Intel fared in the same test.
As mentioned earlier, only the Ryzen 7 4800U can hold its own against the 5700U in such high CPU load tests, which is not surprising since both processors are almost identical. Intel’s latest variants are several orders of magnitude behind, as they only have 4C/8T and can’t compete in this test, but their IPC makes them a decent alternative for everyday use and multitasking, as well as for certain workloads that benefit from specific Intel design features like Quick Sync support.
We tested our results with the more demanding Cinebench R23 test and the dreaded Prime 95. As in the previous test, the Ryzen 7 5700U processor stabilizes at 24+W after an initially higher overclock, and the temperature is 90+ C.
We also ran combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this laptop with the same extreme performance profile. The 3DMark stress test runs the same test 20 times per cycle and looks at changes and deterioration in performance over time. This unit passed without issue, demonstrating its potential to deliver consistent long-term performance under this combined load.
The following are some of the results of the comparative analysis. We ran the full range of tests and benchmarks with the Extreme Performance profile, which allows the APU to run at 24+ watts of constant power under longer loads, but with a higher power gain of 45+ watts under shorter peak loads. Here’s what we got.
- 3DMark 13 – Firestrike: 3244 (Graphics – 3540, Physics – 19375, Combined – 1129);
- 3DMark 13 – Night Raid: 14142 (Graphics – 14723, CPU – 11561);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy : 1266 (Graphics – 1121, CPU – 4755);
- 3DMark 13 – Wilf Life : 7167 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – Medium 1080p : 2332 ;
- Uniengine Overlay – 1080p Extreme: 707 ;
- Handbrake 1.3.3 (encoding 4K to 1080p): 26.89 frames per second on average;
- PassMark10: Rating: 4802 (processor brand: 18506, 3D graphics brand: 2442, hard drive brand: 9144);
- PCMark 10 : 5410 (Fundamentals – 9387, Productivity – 8071, Digital content creation – 5672) ;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit : Mononuclear: 1125, multi-core: 6000 ;
- CineBench R15 (best execution): CPU 1802 cb, Single Core CPU 190 cb ;
- CineBench R20 (best execution): CPU 3327 cb, Single Core CPU 489 cb ;
- CineBench R23 (best execution): CPU 9009 cb, Single Core CPU 1244 cb ;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 45.22 sec.
We also ran some workstation-related loads with the same extreme performance profile:
- Blender 2.90 – BMW car scene – CPU calculation: 4m 19s (Extreme) ;
- Blender 2.90 – Classroom scene – CPU calculation: 11m 31s (extreme) ;
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL Evaluation CPU + GPU : The CPU is not detected correctly;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – 3DSMax: 14.29 (Extreme);
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Catia : 10.82 (Extreme);
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Creo : 25.42 (Extreme);
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Energy: 0.83 (extreme);
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Maya: 45.64 (Extreme) ;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Medicine: 9.12 (Extreme);
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SNX: 32.95 (extreme);
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SW : 22.74 (Extreme).
These are excellent results for a U-type mobile platform, especially on the processor side, where the 5700U is still one of the most powerful mobile platforms currently available, and in some cases only surpassed by the Ryzen 7 5800U, especially in single core and IPC tests.
On the other hand, the GPU performance is slightly lower than the Ryzen 7 4800U tested in the IdeaPad Slim 7, which had higher power consumption settings and a more powerful thermal design. This result is also slightly lower than the performance of the Irix Xe GPU available in this generation of Intel Tiger Lake Core i7 processors, which can achieve 15-40% higher results in 3DMark and Uniengine. Keep in mind that performance is highly dependent on the TDP settings and thermal capabilities of these ultraportables, whether they are based on AMD or Intel hardware.
We then ran several DX11, DX12 and Vulkan games with the performance profile, FHD resolution and Low/Low graphics settings. Here’s what we got:
|Ryzen 7 5700U + Vega||IdeaPad Flex 5,
Ryzen 7 5500U 24W
Ryzen 5 5500U 15W
Core i7-1165G7 19W
|ZenBook Duo UX482,
Core i7-1165G7 25W
Ryzen 5 4600U 25W
Ryzen 7 4800U 26W
Ryzen 7 4700U 13W
|Bioshock Infinite (DX 11, low preset)||75 frames per second (56 frames per second, 1% less)||70 frames per second (52 frames per second – 1% low)||70 frames per second (40 frames per second is 1% too low)||83 fps (58 fps – 1% low)||63 fps (50 fps – 1% low)||81 fps (58 fps – 1% low)||66 frames per second (50 frames per second is 1% less)|
|Dota 2 (DX 11, best display by default)||53 fps (41 fps – 1% low)||49 frames per second (33 frames per second – 1% low)||56 frames per second (44 frames per second, 1% lower)||64 fps (56 fps – 1% low)||–||53 fps (40 fps – 1% low)||39 frames per second (28 frames per second, 1% less)|
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, low preset, no AA)||24 fps (21 fps – 1% low)||23 fps (18 fps – 1% low)||26 frames per second (18 frames per second, 1% less)||32 fps (26 fps – 1% low)||21 fps (18 fps is 1% less)||28 frames per second (24 frames per second, 1% less)||21 fps (17 fps is 1% less)|
|Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, lowest preset)||47 frames per second (38 frames per second, 1% less)||48 frames per second (38 frames per second is 1% too low)||65 frames per second (47 frames per second – 1% low)||83 fps (65 fps – 1% low)||41 fps (30 fps is 1% less)||33 fps (24 fps – 1% low)||45 frames per second (36 frames per second, 1% less)|
|NFS: Most Wanted (DX 11, lowest preset)||60 frames per second (52 frames per second – 1% low)||60 frames per second (49 frames per second – 1% low)||60 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% low)||60 frames per second (56 frames per second, 1% less)||33 fps (20 fps – 1% low)||60 frames per second (46 frames per second – 1% low)||56 frames per second (34 frames per second – 1% low)|
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (Volcano, lowest preset, no AA)||28 frames per second (22 frames per second – 1% low)||26 frames per second (15 frames per second, 1% less)||28 frames per second (16 frames per second, 1% less)||35 frames per second (22 frames per second – 1% low)||28 frames per second (20 frames per second is 1% less)||38 frames per second (22 frames per second – 1% low)||27 frames per second (16 frames per second, 1% less)|
|Strange Brigade (Volcano, preselection bass)||36 frames per second (31 frames per second – 1% low)||36 frames per second (31 frames per second – 1% low)||44 fps (28 fps – 1% low)||56 frames per second (46 frames per second, 1% lower)||33 fps (27 fps – 1% low)||41 fps (36 fps – 1% low)||37 frames per second (32 frames per second – 1% low)|
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, low preset, hair work off)||24 fps (18 fps – 1% low)||22 fps (12 fps – 1% low)||–||–||21 frames per second (16 frames per second, 1% less)||28 frames per second (22 frames per second – 1% low)||21 fps (14 fps – 1% low)|
- Dota 2, NFS – recorded with MSI Afterburner in game mode;
- Bioshock, Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Tomb Raider games – registered with benchmark programs included;
We see 60+ frame rates in older games, but barely 30fps or even less in the more demanding AAA games released in recent years. In addition, the Iris Xe chip, which offers similar performance, performs 10-30% better in the games tested. So if you need an ultraportable computer that can handle light gaming, you’ll get better results in this area, though it’s not much better if you choose a dGPU, even the entry-level Nvidia MX450.
Also, in this case, the AMD APU gets very hot in Extreme Performance mode when the laptop is placed on the table. The games we tested averaged between 85 and 98 degrees. Ouch! Performance, on the other hand, remains stable and consistent, with the GPU running at a nominal 1.9 GHz in all tests.
Switching to smart cooling limits the processor power to 19-21W between games tested, allowing the temperature to rise slightly, but still in the mid-80s or above. The fan continues to run at 40+ dB in both cases and does not accelerate to the limit.
I mentioned earlier that there is little room for fresh air under the laptop, as the rubber feet are on the back. Therefore, you should raise the back of the laptop or use a cooling pad when working with heavy loads.
During our gaming tests, we measured 15 to 25 degrees Celsius in Extreme Performance mode with the back panel raised an inch. The first picture below clearly shows how quickly the CPU and GPU temperatures drop as soon as I lift the back of the laptop off the table.
Overall, the Ryzen 7 5700U performs well in the multi-threaded and combined CPU+GPU loads we tested on this IdeaPad Flex 5. However, in all these tests, it also operates at very high temperatures, which can lead to reliability issues and even long-term performance problems if the thermal paste dries out and the cooling module fills with dust.
So, if you’re looking for a powerful implementation of the Ryzen 5000 U that you want to push to the limit and fully perform, you’re better off going for a more mature design with a more powerful thermal module, like the IdeaPad Slim 7. At the same time, I would have expected the Ryzen 5 5500U 6C processor to fit this chassis better, for an even lower price, and that’s the processor I would most recommend for this Flex 5.
Lenovo uses a dual-tube cooling module with a large fan in this configuration, which is a slightly more advanced solution than what is typically used at this level, and is identical to the cooling module tested in the IdeaPad 5 enclosure.
This design allows the Ryzen 7 5700U APU to run smoothly at 24+W under demanding loads and tests, while still providing decent cooling for everyday use, with the fan remaining silent most of the time while the outside temperature just stays warm.
The APU heats up to 80 and 90 degrees during demanding tasks and games, and much of this heat spreads outside the case as well.
In games, we measured temperatures around WER keys at the top of the AMD processor near the heatsink and 60+ at the bottom near the thermal module. This is despite the fact that the laptop was on a table, the ambient temperature was around 24°C and the fans were running at around 39-40 dB during our tests. At least the hot air is blown behind the screen and not on it.
However, raising the laptop to improve airflow at the bottom has a significant effect on the internal temperature, which can drop by 15-25 degrees on some games, and also saves 2-7 degrees on the external temperature, so it’s something to consider if you’re playing games or performing demanding tasks on this machine.
*Daily use – 30 minutes watching Netflix on EDGE, silent mode, fan on 0-35dB
*Games – extreme power mode – 30 minutes playing Far Cry 5, fan on 39-40dB.
The laptop features the latest generation WiFi 6 2×2 with a Realtek module for connectivity. He did great with our setup, signal and power remained high at 30 feet with obstructions in between.
A set of stereo speakers is responsible for the sound coming through the grilles around the keyboard, at least the lower part of the grille, the rest is just decoration. Lenovo installs slightly larger internal speakers on this Flex than on the standard IdeaPad 5. So expect decent volume, in the range of 78-80dB at head height, and no distortion at higher volumes, but still not much in terms of sound quality, with some bass.
Don’t expect much from the HD camera at the top of the screen either. It’s fine for occasional calls, but the quality is fuzzy and bleached out.
The IdeaPad Flex 5 has a battery of 52.5 Wh, which is quite normal for a laptop in this price segment, but below the average available for 14-inch devices today. Still, thanks to the efficient implementation of AMD hardware and the display, this laptop lasts long enough without needing to be charged.
This is what it looked like on our test device when the screen brightness was set to around 120 nits (~80 brightness).
- 7.5W (~7-8 hours of use)– Text editing on Google Drive, sleep mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi on ;
- 5.5W (~8-9 hours of use)– Full screen 1080p video on Youtube in Edge, silent mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled ;
- 4.8W (~10-11 hours of use)– Netflix full screen in Edge, sleep mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled;
- 8.5W (~5-6 hours of operation)– Edge mode display, smart cooling mode, 60% screen, Wi-Fi enabled.
Our model comes with a compact 65W charger that connects via USB-C. It consists of two parts – a compact brick and a long cable, and a full charge takes about 2 hours.
As already mentioned, the laptop also offers a conventional DC connection. In some regions, Lenovo will offer a barrel charger instead. I would choose this option if you plan to connect peripherals via USB-C to this laptop, because in that case you will have the only available USB-C port on the laptop and it will not be blocked for charging.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14ALC05, is available in different variants at selected stores worldwide.
Here the tested configuration with the Ryzen 7-5700U processor, 16 GB RAM and 512 GB SSD costs about 800 euros, discounts not included. The same one, but with Ryzen 5 5500, costs around 700 euros, and I believe the Ryzen 3 5300U models will follow soon.
This updated version of the IdeaPad Flex 5 is not currently available on Lenovo’s US site, but you can find the 2020 model with the Ryzen 7 4700U processor for just over $600, which is a competitive price. The 4700U is still a competitive 8C processor, but without HyperThreading and the updated graphics available in the Ryzen 5/7 5000 hardware.
Plus, you can find them at a discount here and there, which is how I found my unit. Reminder: I paid €620 for the refurbished Ryzen 7 5700U/16GB RAM/512GB SSD variant tested here, which is less than the MSRP of €800.
Follow this link for current prices and configurations in your area.
I doubt I could find a comparable 14-inch laptop with such performance, design and battery life for the £620 I paid for the IdeaPad Flex 5. But it comes back because of the screen. It’s just too dim and bleached out for me to use in my everyday laptop, and for my use, a half decent screen with 300+ brightness and 100% sRGB is the minimum I can live with.
Anyway, if you can live with this panel that Lenovo put in the IdeaPad Flex 5, and if you can find it for the kind of price I bought mine for, feel free to go ahead and buy it. Yes, this budget chassis hardware runs hot under demanding loads and games, and yes, it’s not as compact or feature-rich as other 14-inch options, but it makes up for those aspects with its aggressive pricing and the performance it offers under multi-threaded loads that the Ryzen 7 8C processor inside can put to good use.
I’d still recommend going for the Ryzen 5-5500U configuration, which is still fast enough for everyday multitasking and some business tasks, and is easier to find for around £600. On the other hand, with an $800 price tag, the Flex 5 might not be that appealing if you don’t need Ryzen hardware, as the market offers more portable and nicer models with better screens for this price point.
So much for my opinion on this Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 2021, but I’d love to hear what you think of it and whether or not you agree with my assessment of the screen. Please, no fanboyism, be honest and tell me what is more important to you in a mid-range laptop: the performance of the Ryzen platform or a nicer screen that doesn’t make you indignant every time you look at those distorted colors?
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Andrei Girbea, Editor-in-Chief of Ultrabookreview.com. I’ve been involved in mobile computing since the 2000s, and you’ll find detailed reviews and tutorials written by me on the site.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Lenovo Flex 14 A good laptop?
The Lenovo Flex 14 is a great laptop for anyone looking for a well-built laptop with a great screen and good performance. With an AMD A6-9220 APU and AMD Radeon R4 graphics card, it’s not meant for gaming, but it will run most games at medium settings. It has a 14-inch IPS screen with a full 1920×1080 resolution and a low-glare coating, and the screen is great for everything from movies to browsing the web. The Lenovo Flex 14 is a 14-inch, mid-range laptop that comes with a built-in kickstand and a 360-degree hinge. Its spacious keyboard provides a comfortable typing experience, and its aluminum build feels sturdy. The Flex 14’s 1920 x 1080 display is crisp and colorful, but its viewing angles are somewhat limited. (With a laptop this size, you’ll want to watch movies with someone else.) The Flex 14 offers good performance for the price, but its battery life is disappointing. It has a fast solid-state drive that boots Windows and launches apps quickly, and it has enough power to handle everyday tasks. However, its integrated graphics card isn’t powerful enough for more demanding tasks such as gaming.
Is Lenovo Flex 5 a good laptop?
The Lenovo Flex 5 14-inch laptop comes in two models: one that runs on Windows 10 and one that runs on the Linux-based Chrome OS. The Windows 10 model is a bit cheaper and comes with more storage, so that’s the one we’ll focus on here. This is a versatile computer that can do just about anything you need. It’s great for taking notes in class, watching movies, or surfing the web. The 2-in-1 design allows you to use it like a laptop or flip the screen to use it as a tablet. The 14-inch touchscreen has a full HD resolution and makes it easy to work, watch, and play. The Intel Core i5 processor has enough power Lenovo’s Flex 5 is a solid 2-in-1 laptop for business and productivity, but it isn’t the best option for gaming or media viewing. The Flex 5 comes with a 14-inch touch display with DVD-R drive and a webcam, and offers a full-sized keyboard and trackpad. It weighs in at 6.4 pounds, which makes it lighter than other 14-inch laptops. The Flex 5 is a good choice for business-minded individuals and families looking for a 2-in-1 laptop that doesn’t compromise on workstation capabilities.
How good is the Ryzen 7 4700U?
AMD’s Ryzen Mobile lineup has received a lot of praise from reviewers and consumers alike, thanks to their incredible performance for the price. One thing that’s often left out of the equation, though, is the performance of the integrated Vega graphics. Fortunately for us, AMD has released a new Ryzen Mobile APU with dedicated graphics and a promise of even better performance. The Ryzen 7 4700U promises to be a great gaming laptop solution, and it might even be able to replace your desktop graphics card, thanks to its Radeon Vega 8 iGPU. As a laptop, the Lenovo Flex 5 14 is a pretty decent value. It has a 14-inch, 1080p screen, a quad-core AMD Ryzen 5 4500U processor, and a 256GB solid state drive. On the other hand, it doesn’t have a big battery, so its endurance is only average. (It lasted 7 hours and 37 minutes on our battery test.) And if you want a lighter laptop, you can find one with a smaller screen and lighter weight. (The Dell Latitude 3390 convertible lasts 7 hours and 49 minutes on a charge.)
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