Lenovo Flex 5 15 review: The near perfect budget Windows 10 2-in-1
In our modern times, tuition is on the rise and other living expenses are also increasing. This means the bills pile up quickly, so not every parent, student, or professional has $1,000 to drop on a brand new laptop. With prices starting at $629, this is where the Lenovo Flex 5 15 changes the story.
Following my review of the Legion Y920, Lenovo sent me the Flex 5 15 Windows 2-in-1 for review. I’ve found it’s the perfect Windows 2-in-1 for those on a budget, packing an excellent display, awesome performance, and the versatility and multiple modes of use that one needs when buying a modern Windows 10 PC.
- The Flex 5 15 features a satisfying design, especially the way the side of the unit starts off square at .75 inches in thickness and slowly gets slimmer, evening out to a thin metal bezel as you make your way to the front of the device.
- No matter who you are, the Flex 5 15 will still offer up plenty of ports for your liking. There is no need for dongles thanks to the dedicated power port and HDMI port.
- The Flex 5 15 features a bright and vibrant display, one of the best ever seen on a 2-in-1, thanks to narrow bezels and a broader screen size.
- The keyboard on the Flex 5 15 is one of the best you can find on a 2-in-1. It’s cramped, but keys are soft when typing, and are all around comfortable.
- Featuring the latest 7th generation Kaby Lake Intel i5 or i7 processor, the Lenovo Flex 5 15 performs excellently for a device in its price point.
- Decent battery life of 3-5 hours, depending on what you’re using the device for.
The unit which was sent to me was powered by the Intel Core i7-7500U CPU, and NVIDIA Geoforce 940MX discrete graphics. It features 8GB of RAM, and a lightning fast 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD. It also weighs 4.4 pounds and is .75 inches thin. Lastly, the 15.6-inch FHD Anti-Glare LED Backlit IPS touch screen display is gorgeous. Prices on the unit start at $629, but my specific unit as configured costs $929.99.
Build & Design:
Although priced starting at $629, Lenovo did not make any design sacrifices with the Flex 5 15. As with most Lenovo laptops, the Black Onyx top of the unit is constructed of polycarbonate fiber and 30% glass fiber material. This makes the top of the Flex very smooth and cool to the touch.
The dark gray underside of the Flex 5 15 is also constructed out of similar polycarbonate and Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene plastic. With the weight coming in at just over 4 and a half pounds this material makes things very durable. Unlike the aluminum on the Surface Book or MacBook, it does not get warm enough to leave the heat on your desk or lap while you’re using it.
Of all things, my favorite part of the design is the way in which the Flex 5 15 is shaped. The side of the unit starts off square at .75 inches in thickness but slowly gets slimmer and evens out to a thin metal bezel as you make your way to the front. This is a very satisfying design and the bezel is very shiny, making for a cool dual-tone look.
Lastly, since this is a 2-in-1, the unit features Lenovo’s signature 360-degree hinges. Just like with the Yoga X1, the hinges are solid and sturdy and hold up well no matter how you choose to use the device. This durability and solid design will no doubt last over time, making the Flex 5 15 perfect for students and professionals who will put their device through a beating.
No matter who you are, the Flex 5 15 will still offer up plenty of ports for your liking. Best of all the Flex 5 features a both a dedicated power port for charging and a dedicated HDMI port. Both of these features are becoming less common in 2-in-1’s in favor of USB C, so the convenience is another reason why potential buyers are getting a big bang for their buck.
Anyway, on the right side of the unit is the power button, the reset button, a full sized SD Card Slot, a USB 2.0 port, and a Kensington Lock. Photographers and students will express extra appreciation for the full sized SD Card slot, as even the Surface Pro lineup does not offer this feature.
On the left side of the unit, things get busy. There is the power jack, HDMI output, a USB 3.0 port, and the headphone jack. Though the USB C port makes the Flex 5 15 future proof, it is data only and will not provide power to charge the unit. For me, this is a good thing, as it means I didn’t need to use any dongles to enjoy the Flex 5 15 with my external peripherals while charging the unit at the same time.
Again, with prices on the unit starting at $629, the display on the Flex 5 15 offers up a lot of bang for the buck. The Flex 5 15 features a bright and vibrant display, one of the best I’ve ever seen on a 2-in-1. Coming in at 15.6-inches in size, and 1920 x 1080 resolution, Lenovo says that the touch screen display is narrower and broader compared to previous generations. Indeed this is true, as the bezels on the right and left side of the display are roughly a quarter of an inch in length, even smaller than the bezel on the Surface Book.
While it’s not nearly as high of a resolution display as on the Surface Book or MacBook Pro, colors on the display are still vibrant, and the text is very sharp. And, thanks to the 15.6-inch screen size and narrow bezels, I was able to multitask in laptop mode with two windows open side by side with ease.
As a side note, the Lenovo Active pen is not included standard with the Flex 5 15. While this is rather disappointing, the touch screen display is very responsive in laptop mode. Using just my fingers, it accurately reflected my inputs when swiping for Windows 10 gestures, and I noticed no lag when using my fingers to paint in Fresh Paint.
Stand, Tent, and Tablet Modes:
Since the Flex 5 15 is a 2-in-1, it can be used in four different modes: Laptop, Stand, Tent, and Tablet. As I said in my review of the Yoga X1, each of these modes is designed for a specific purpose. I’ve already highlighted multitasking and laptop mode above so the focus in this section will be Stand, Tent, and Tablet modes. As a side note, I must mention that the keys on the keyboard will NOT retract into the Flex when you switch modes. This still remains a feature unique to the Yoga X1.
With Stand mode, I find it best for watching movies. During my time with the unit, I often set up the Flex in Stand mode to watch my favorite new series, Road to Race Day. Using the Flex 5 15, when new episodes went live on Wednesday, I was able to immerse myself in the world of the series. The Keyboard was flexed out of the way and I was only looking directly at the beautiful screen. This mode made for a great experience where colors and the finest details on the display popped right out before my eyes.
Even though I am not the best artist, tent mode is what I found best for inking and drawing. Some may prefer tablet mode for drawing but I’ll touch on why I don’t prefer tablet mode later. Anyway, In this mode, the display is held down very solid to the desk and will not drag around mainly due to a solid size of the top lip on the screen. The 360-degree hinges also do their work and keep the display locked in preventing the device from wobbling down into an undesired angle.
Lastly, Tablet mode is the mode I least preferred. In this mode, the display is brought all the way down to the back of the Flex 5 15. Unfortunately, this means that a portion of the touch screen portion gets a bit too wobbly for my liking. This is mainly due to the way that the Flex is designed. Although there are solid rubber feet which try to hold the screen solid to the back of the Flex, the thin bezels in the front of the flex create a slight gap. It’s not too wobbly, and some may not even notice it, but it proved slightly annoying for me.
Keyboard & Trackpad:
Just like the large display, the Keyboard on the Flex 5 15 is one of the best you can find on a 2 in 1. It’s all around comfortable and perfect for students and professionals who will be spending late nights diving through Word Docs and Excel spread sheets.
Now although the keys are relatively close together, they’re all housed in towards the middle of the device in an island style layout. It’s fitting, and my fingers were able to travel in between keys with ease. The keys are also backlit with 2 different brightness settings, perfect for late-night work shifts. These keys do also have a nice soft feeling when you tap them down into the chassis to type, and it definitely helped me in my typing accuracy.
Coming in at 4.1 x 2.8-inches, the buttonless glass trackpad is what you can expect for a 2-in-1 in this price range. It’s nearly as fancy as the one on the Surface Book, but it’s still very smooth and easy to navigate with. I was able to use Windows 10’s gestures with ease but most times I preferred using an external mouse. I must also mention the fingerprint reader which is directly near the keyboard. It’s a nice added feature, making sign in on the Flex very secure. Again, perfect for students and professionals who may be keeping sensitive and personal information locked away on their hard drive.
Featuring the latest 7th generation Kaby Lake Intel i5 or i7 processor, the Lenovo Flex 5 15 performs excellently for a device in its price point. This processor brings 10-15% performance improvements over previous Intel chips and is perfect for power users. I was easily able to work on the Flex 5 15 and use Google Chrome with up to 12-15 tabs open without any lag. When not working, I was even able to handle basic photo editing in Photoshop CS4 without any noticeable drop in performance. The GeForce 940MX discrete graphics also makes a huge difference, helping free up that precious RAM for the operating system to use.
Now, although the performance is great, the Flex 5 15 does heat up a bit when under heavy loads and when doing processor intense tasks. It also gets a bit noisy, as fans will kick in to keep things cool. But this is all for the good, as the last thing anyone wants is a laptop overheating.
On the 64-bit Geekbench 4 tests, the Flex 5 15 picks up a 4103 Single-Core score, and a 7972 Multi-Core Score. The Open CL Score was 30977, and you can explore the specific scoring areas by clicking here.
For comparison sake, my year old Surface Pro 4 with an Intel Core i5-6300 U CPU, 8 GB of RAM, and integrated Intel HD 520 graphics received a 3565 Single-Core Score, and a 7165 Multi-Core Score. The OpenCL Score on the Surface Pro 4 was 18418. This just shows you how much of a difference the i7 processor and the discrete Nvidia Geoforce on the Flex 5 15 makes. Although these options will kick up the price on the Flex 5 15 by a good $250, they will definitely help with performance and will keep the device future proof.
Given that my Flex 5 15 came with a Geoforce NVIDIA Geoforce 940MX discrete graphics card, I also tried some light gaming. I was shocked to see that the unit was still able to handle Forza Horizon 3. Although the game looked rough and felt very slow it was still playable, but with very low frame rates of around 18-20 frames per second. This is obviously NOT a gaming laptop, but it will handle Windows Store games and less demanding titles with ease.
You may recall my review of the Legion Y920, I touched on the awesome speakers included on the gaming laptop. Well, this time around the awesome speakers make a return on the Flex 5 15.
The Flex 5 15 features two stereo speakers that offer Harman speakers and sound tuned by Dolby Audio for the best possible sound experience. I think the speakers make for the perfect entertainment experience for a college dorm, or for Skyping in the office.
My favorite songs were crisp and clear when playing from the speakers on the Flex 5 15, and I often found myself jamming to music more than I was working. The same can be said for when I watched movies on the Flex. And, even if things are not to your liking, you can dive into the Lenovo Settings app, and adjust the sound profiles to your pleasure.
As with most two-in-ones, the battery life on the Flex 5 15 falls in between 3 to 5 hours. I was able to work in Firefox for 5 hours straight without having to recharge. And, I was able to stream three hours worth of my favorite show before I needed to head to a power outlet. All in all, with a power hungry beautiful 15.6-inch touch screen display, and a discrete graphics card, you should keep your charger handy for long days at the office or in the classroom.
At the end of the day, the Lenovo Flex 5 15 is one of the most affordable and well balanced Windows 2-in-1. You can customize the unit for more expensive options, but with prices starting at $629, and you still get an awesome display, great audio, and the versatility of many modes of use. You can buy the same model I received from Amazon, and you can also explore other models by purchasing directly from Lenovo.Further reading: Flex 5, Lenovo, Windows 10 Devices