Review of the Lenovo Flex 5 (650 2 in 1 i5 at Costco)

StoleMyOwnCar

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I posted this on Reddit and decided that you guys may benefit some too. Used a converter to change the format.

So first of all, some pics of the internals that I got while I was looking to see its expansion options, and putting my SSD in:

http://imgur.com/a/fLhvt

The particular model I'm reviewing is available at Costco for 649.99 (or around 670 with S/H, and then some more for the tax)

Now then let's begin. I've divided my thoughts into a few sections depending on how much I give a crap about each aspects. From bad to good.

Wtf were you thinking, Lenovo?

* The power button juts out way too far, and it doesn't require much force. I've literally had to just disable it in the power settings lest I accidentally put my computer to sleep every other minute. Which still doesn't stop me from shutting it down on occasion because the hold down for X seconds override is in place.

* The SD card reader isn't a full depth reader. Once you insert an SD card into it, most of the SD card is jutting out. Great. That makes it practically useless as a permanent expansion slot. Sigh.

General cons

* The screen has a pattern on it from the digitizer. Not a big deal in lower light quantities and on darker backgrounds, but most definitely there. They're kind of like little rainbow lines going down, Matrix style.

* The diffuser on the monitor backlight is uneven. There are bright spots on black backgrounds.

* The bottom cover (that you take off to get to the insides) is made of plastic. You know what that means. It snaps into place, like with any of these plastic laptops. You also know what else that means. It will never fit fully flush again after you remove it once, having creaky areas.

* The monitor chassis appears to be plastic as well, which is worrisome for durability purposes.

Eh

* I didn't get a very close look, but looks like there's maybe only one slot of RAM. I didn't check very close because that wasn't my purpose in opening it anyway.

* The speakers are about as crappy as they are in every laptop like this (lol@HP's BANG AND OLFUSEN OR WHATEVER), though I'll say they sound better.

* No dedicated Page Up/Down and Home/End keys. Not a big deal to people who don't program but I tended to use these a lot, especially during SSH VIM sessions.

* These smooth keys are gonna rub off so damn fast...

* The USB ports are ridiculously tight. Like I'm always worried about using too much force and breaking my devices. On one hand it's good, on the other it's bad.

* Kind of a dearth of normal USB ports. Only two.

* The hinges don't really inspire confidence in me for wear and tear, but they are more than serviceable.

* The laptop takes quite a while to get into tablet orientation when switching (like a few seconds or more sometimes). Not sure if it's a Lenovo issue.

Pros

* My second monitor has no dead pixels, and the backlight bleed is among the best I've seen out of these laptops.

* The main body around the keyboard area is made of metal. It's quite sturdy.

* The keyboard has a pretty large amount of travel time for this form factor, and requires an unusually high amount of actuation force. It's kind of hit or miss. Personally I don't actually like the way it bottoms out and is a tad sticky... but--in terms of feel--I think the keyboard is much higher quality than I've found in a lot around this price range. So I'm putting this down as a pro...

* Not gonna say the monitor is perfect but it does the job. I don't have professional measuring tools so you'll have to way for reviews for some objectivity. I do like the way it looks personally.

* There exists a fingerprint reader. And it works, not that I plan to use it. Kind of surprising at this price point, I think?

* Thankfully the function keys can be turned back into the function keys via a bios setting.

* The headphone amp is serviceable. Not nearly as good as my AudioEngine D3, but serviceable. Not sure how the passive line noise will be in the long term, but it doesn't seem to be horrible (or there's a shutoff below certain volumes in the circuit).

* It has an Nvidia GPU for gaming. Shoddy as it may be, it's better than built in graphics.

* Keyboard backlight is excellent.

* The shift key on the right is normal. Guess they got rid of whoever made that screwup on the last one.

* It has pen support... apparently. I don't have one of those.

YAAAY

* The touchpad is among the least clacky I've experienced among all of the 2 in 1's I've tried. It's pretty solid, and Lenovo puts a line down the middle designating where right and left click is. Nice touch.

* This thing actually manages to fit in a dedicated 2.5" slot, and it's pretty high quality. It's not just shoved in there, the thing actually has a dedicated dummy HDD to keep the laptop from flexing in that area. It's clear Lenovo put some good amount of thought into this, and it's easily expandable. As you can see in my album above, I got my SSD in with no problems, and it was immediately picked up, even though the computer came out of hibernate.

* The RAM/extra SSD slot/SSD, etc... everything of value is very easy to get to in this. The bottom pops off pretty well, and you have everything right in front of you. Nicely executed.

* The fan is extremely quiet during standard operation. In fact during browsing and maybe even watching youtube, it's utterly inaudible. As expected of something that's in charge of cooling both the CPU and the GPU, the CPU alone doesn't even seem to give it a start.

* The ventilation area is well thought out, seems to be both intake and exhaust on both the underside and the back, just in case one or the other is being blocked.

* The CPU states are well thought out. While I'm typing this and viewing web content, the CPU is idling at a steading 40-ish degrees, with the fan completely inaudible (and I have good ears).

* The battery lasts a very good amount of time during light usage (probably around 10 hours or more from my estimate), and is actually ACCURATE in its time predictions, much unlike HP. There's also no phantom drain while it's in sleep or hibernate. With light sporadic usage, you could keep using this for days.

Notes

* I have not done any gaming yet, hard to say how good it'll hold up with both the CPU and GPU getting stressed. Maybe I'll post something when I find it.

* Don't run Tron script on this unless you want your tablet practically disabled.

* I don't have USB-c gear, so I can't test the USB C port.

* The WIFI chip in this is the Intel AC8265. The results CAN be good: http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/6380533502
Buuut the signal level's kinda eh...

Verdict

I think it's a great value at 650. This easily blows the Acer Spin 5 out of the water almost every way possible. Dedicated GPU, dedicated 2.5" port, much higher build quality, better keyboard, better touchpad (by far), better IO options, and just generally feels much more solid. I'd say the only thing the Acer has on it is the aluminum on the monitor, the extra inch or less that it's smaller by, and the fact that any dings or scratches won't show up as easily on its plastic. Which won't be a problem if you don't drop these in the first place.

For 650 I think it's worth a shot for anyone looking for a budget laptop. Lenovo really flipped a lot of switches for me, and I would have gotten it whether it had a dedicated GPU or not. Some compromises were made, but I think they're reasonable at the price range. The internal build quality is pretty well thought out.




Tbh I think I might should post that Costco deal on the HotDeals section, because it's only gonna be on for a bit longer.
 
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