Editor choice

Lenovo Flex 5 14 (81X20005US) Review

8.6 Total Score
EXCELLENT

The Lenovo Flex 5 14 (81X20005US) is an excellent 2-in-1 convertible, that delivers powerful Ryzen 5 performance and a slick, premium design all at a very good price.

PROS
  • Superb computing performance
  • Excellent value
  • Screen supports touch input
  • Webcam privacy shutter
CONS
  • Relatively heavy for a 14-inch ultraportable
  • Dim 250-nit display

The Lenovo Flex 5 14 is a 2-in-1 convertible that packs more power than its weight. And, it’s available in various configurations, meaning, you can’t miss a Flex for your need(s). Our review model, the Lenovo 81X20005US offers robust computing performance than many competitors that cost more than twice as much.

In addition to impressive performance, it’s also got good physical connectivity options, a well-designed chassis, and a comfortable keyboard. We only wish the Flex 5’s screen was brighter and could stand to lose a few ounces, it’s nonetheless a screaming-good value and a great mainstream laptop.

Design

In recent years, entry-level systems from bigger brands have stepped up their game in design and the Lenovo Flex 5 is no exception. Granted, it’s not attempting to compete with big-bangers on an Apple MacBook Pro platform. But it, surely is, a good-looking machine and it doesn’t feel cheap.

The main chassis is plastic, but it feels rigid and has a common textured finish. Being a 2-in-1 convertible laptop, it has a 360-degree hinge that feels robust and the keyboard is stable and firm with only traces of flex and a little bounce. It weighs 3.6 pounds and is 0.8 inches thick, not the most portable 2-in-1 around, but definitely not the worst either.

Port selection is excellent. On the left side of the chassis, there’s a full-sized HDMI socket, a power connector, headphone jack and a USB-C port. The latter supports charging the laptop itself, and it mitigates the disappointment of the barrel connector. The left side has a pair of USB-A ports, a 4-in-1 card reader that supports full sized SD cards, plus MMC, SDHC and SDXC card. Other features worth of mention are the 720p webcam located on the top bezel, complete with a physical shutter and support for an optional digital input pen.

Lenovo Flex 5 14 (81X20005US) design

Display

Apart from the rather heavy chassis, the Flex 5’s other notable flaw is its screen, which has a dim backlight rated at just 250 nits of brightness. You’ll have to turn the screen brightness to the maximum level if working in a daylight-lit room. For darker rooms, the display is fine, but heavily-lit rooms including offices might reduce its visibility.

The 15-inch panel is a full HD (1,920 x 1,080-pixel) IPS touch screen, with support for the Lenovo Digital Pen. The Lenovo pen, is an optional extra, offers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity and includes two customizable buttons. That makes it a full-fledged stylus, unlike the integrated digital pens included with premium 2-in-1s like the Samsung Galaxy Book Flex and the Lenovo Yoga C940.

Integrated pens tend to be much smaller and less comfortable when used for long sketching sessions, but are much less likely to get misplaced and can be charged via a slot built into the notebook.

Lenovo Flex 5 14 (81X20005US) screen

Keyboard & Touchpad

The backlit keyboard is comfortable, with stable key switches making for a satisfying typing experience. It’s the same experience you get from the Lenovo IdeaPad S145 – both, with good key travel, resistance and the space between the keys make for a lovely typing experience that’s won’t distract your neighbours at the office. The keyboard also boasts a set of dedicated media keys dedicated for browsing, volume, and screen brightness.

Below the keyboard is a trackpad that’s reliable enough, nice to the touch and has more give in the bottom left and the bottom right where the left and right buttons are. It feels sturdy, just like what you have on the Apple MacBook Pro 13, but a little stiff and not always accurate.

Lenovo Flex 5 14 (81X20005US) ports

Performance

It’s not often that an ultraportable laptop has computing performance as its core strengths, especially on a moderate price. Even the most expensive ones typically offer enough oomph to get through basic tasks like web browsing, but they struggle with complex tasks like 3D gaming and rendering videos. Thanks to its AMD Ryzen 5 processor, 16GB RAM, 256SSD and Radeon graphics, the Flex 5 is an exception.

Most of its similarly priced competitors use intel’s Core i3 or Core i5 CPUs, including the HP Pavilion x360 (14-dh2011nr), Acer Spin 5 and the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5. The Microsoft Surface Go 2 (MHM-00001), a 10-inch detachable hybrid tablet, uses an even less-powerful Intel Core m3, meaning it delivers less power than the alternatives mentioned above.

When it comes to performance, all these competitors are simply no match for the Flex 81X20005US, when it comes to day-to-day performance on basic tasks like productivity and web browsing, as well as gaming and multimedia content creation. Additionally, the Radeon graphics helps when creating content that requires a strong graphics driver, but it may not be a distinguishing factor when running Adobe Photoshop projects.

The same applies when running modern games, where most games will run below 40 frames per second at 720p and low-quality settings, suggesting you expect even lower fps at high settings. Afterall, the Flex 5 is no gaming laptop, but you could eke out some play at the lowest settings.

Battery Life

At this price point, battery life can sometimes be a victim of cost cutting. With the Flex 5, however, Asus packs a fairly large 52.5Wh battery. That translates to nearly 12 hours of video playback and nearly 10 hours on more demanding tasks. That’s enough juice for a full-day at work or the office, or plenty of movies on a long-haul flight.

On the side, though, with support for charging via USB-C makes it to ‘borrow’ some power should you run low in the middle of project.

Bottom Line

The Lenovo Flex 5 is an excellent 2-in-1 convertible, that can be had at a very good price. Granted, you don’t expect a sub-$700 ultraportable laptop to have the graphics capabilities of a $2,000 gaming rig like the Razer Blade 15, nor the content creation capabilities of a mobile workstation. But until recently, there has been a middle ground, with hordes of Core i3 and Core i5 ultraportables in the $500 range.

The Flex 5, once again, proves it’s possible to deliver performance acceptable for light gaming or occasional number-crunching and multimedia editing in a laptop that costs less that category flagships like the Dell XPS 13 or the Apple MacBook.

While the chassis would be lighter and the screen a bit brighter, the capabilities of the Ryzen 5 processor outweigh these defines. As such, the Lenovo Flex 5 14 (81X20005US) is easily our new top pick in the crowded field of midrange 2-in-1 convertible laptops.

OUR PICK

Lenovo Flex 5 14" 2-in-1 Laptop, 14.0" FHD (1920 x 1080) Touch Display, AMD Ryzen 5 4500U Processor, 16GB DDR4, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Graphics, Digital Pen Included, Win 10, 81X20005US, Graphite Grey

$696.00  in stock
64 new from $685.00
12 used from $501.40
Amazon.com
as of October 14, 2021 1:40 pm
Lenovo Flex 5 14 (81X20005US) Review
Lenovo Flex 5 14 (81X20005US) Review
$696.00
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