Those looking for a cheap Chromebook are absolutely spoiled for choice, but as mentioned in my guide, it can be difficult to get a proper Chromebook without immersing your laptop. Many budget models have weak processors, minimal RAM and standard displays.
Lenovo’s Chromebook Flex 5 is a 13-inch, 2-in-1 Chromebook that tries to outperform the cheapest systems without exaggerating the price. It basically succeeds in its efforts, but owners have to put up with occasional reminders about the system’s budget roots.
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 specifications and features
I reviewed the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 13ITL5, an individual configuration available only at Best Buy. This is similar to the simplest model available in Lenovo’s online store, but with a dual-core, quad-core processor and a maximum clock speed of 3.5 GHz, the Intel Pentium Gold is dual-core. Its listed MSRP is $ 419, but it currently sells for $ 389.
- CPU: Intel Pentium Gold 7505 @ 2GHz
- Memory: 4GB DDR4
- Graphics/GPU: Intel UHD
- Display: 13.3-inch 1080p IPS touchscreen
- Storage: 32GB eMMC
- Webcam: 720p
- Connectivity: 2x USB-C with DisplayPort, 1x USB-A, 3.5mm audio jack
- Networking: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5
- Biometrics: None
- Battery capacity: 51 watt-hour
- Dimensions: 0.67 x 8.43 x 12.2 inches
- Weight: 2.97 pounds
Buyers should note that a similar priced configuration is available on Amazon with an Intel Core i3-10110U processor and dual memory. I expect this model to perform better than my review section and make it a better value overall.
Quality design and construction
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is a surprisingly attractive and confident laptop. I especially like the look of Best Buy’s dark configuration. I’m always looking for alternative laptop colors, and I especially love how the gray buttons of the Flex 5 complement the blue body.
Thanks to the metal screen cover on the bottom of the laptop and textured plastic, it feels important in both hands. Some bends are noticeable when holding the laptop roughly, but not noticeable in normal daily use. The screen cover is especially tough for a budget laptop and shows only the smallest hint.
This is a good thing because, as they say, Chromebook Flex 5 2-in-1. You can rotate the screen 360 degrees to turn the laptop into a tablet. This is no longer a new concept, and unfortunately the Flex 5 has all the usual problems of this design.
It’s possible to work with a tablet, yes, but the Flex 5 weighs about 3 kilograms and is even bigger than the 12.9-inch iPad Pro. While supporting a laptop with one foot or arm, browsing websites is more awkward than enjoying it.
Tent and presentation modes that use the keyboard as a stand are more practical. You can rotate the hinge 270 degrees to place the 2-in-1 on your lap or desk. It’s perfect for watching Netflix or YouTube.
As with many 2-in-1 Chromebooks, the Flex 5 places the power and volume keys on the right side of the laptop, not on the keyboard (or both). This position makes sense when used in 2-in-1 tablet mode, but is awkward otherwise. I sometimes put the laptop to sleep or changed the volume while playing with the ports on the right.
Each Chromebook Flex 5 configuration has a 1080p IPS touch screen. This is one of the biggest advantages of a laptop. The 1080p display isn’t guaranteed to cost $ 350, but that’s a big plus and sets the machine apart from less attractive competitors, such as the entry-level options of the HP Chromebook x360 14a and the Asus Chromebook Flip line.
It is also a good screen. I measured a maximum brightness of 298 nits, which is more than the promised 250 nits and is high enough to please the bright screen when used indoors (but still used outdoors)
1080p video looks sharp and bright. The colors are noticeably weaker for any premium laptop, but it’s hard to complain at this price point. While watching the video in the dark rooms, in the dark room at the edges of the screen, I saw a few bright spots that could be distracting.
If I was satisfied with the screen, I was shocked by the speakers. The Flex 5 has a pair of upward-facing speakers on either side of the keyboard. This puts the speakers in front of most budget laptops, which often places them facing down, which can sound hoarse on your laptop. Better yet, the speakers are loud, clear, and have the slightest bass.
Need an excellent laptop for video conferencing? You will want to switch to Flex 5. It has a simple 720p webcam that handles all the faults that are common to laptops. Video quality is soft, blurry, grainy, pale and almost impossible to use in low light. Although the microphone rejects unwanted noise well enough, it sounds thin and dull.
There is good news: the camera has an internal physical privacy cover
Keyboard and trackpad
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 has an excellent keyboard. The feeling of the key is crisp and narrow, with significant key movement and a firm but not rigid bottom movement. While the keyboard certainly doesn’t use mechanical keys, it does have a confident, tactile feel that can appeal to mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.
Even the layout is perfect. Most Chromebooks have a similar key layout, but some models may find it a bit narrow. The 13-inch Flex 5 eliminates this problem to a large extent and also offers ample space in the palm of your hand. Professional NBA players may feel cramped, but most owners will be comfortable.
The touchpad is about four inches wide and three inches deep, which is average for a 13-inch laptop and responds well to touch. Although I’m not a fan of its simple plastic texture, as it creates a bit of friction when browsing documents on websites. At least it does its job. And don’t forget the touch screen. It offers a convenient alternative to convert or enlarge.
Lenovo’s USI Pen is compatible with the Chromebook Flex 5 and may be useful for those who want more precise touch input. But I couldn’t test it because it wasn’t included in the review section.
The connection of the Chromebook Flex 5 looks to the future. It has two USB-C ports, both of which support DisplayPort 1.2 and Power Delivery 2.0. The built-in charger is also connected via USB-C.
A single USB-A port provides the old connection. The 2-in-1 is connected to a 3.5mm integrated audio jack and a microSD card reader on the left side.
Wireless connection includes Bluetooth 5 and Wi-Fi 6. The Wi-Fi performance of the Chromebook Flex 5 was excellent. It has download speeds of up to 568Mbps when five feet away from a Wi-Fi 6 router and up to 87Mbps when placed 50 feet away from an independent office.
These are strong results for a laptop at any price point and much faster than the Internet speed found in most homes.
The Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 configuration I reviewed had a four-core Intel Pentium Gold 7505 dual-core processor, a 2GHz main clock frequency, and a maximum Turbo Boost speed of 3.5GHz. Although branded as a Pentium processor, Intel Core is based on the Tiger Lake architecture, which is common to 11th generation chips. The processor is combined with 4GB of DDR4 memory and less than 32GB of eMMC memory.
CrXPRT 2 performance scores: 124, 124
Speedometer 2.0: 78.84, 78.32
Basemark Web 3.0: 907.16, 947.66
Jet flow: 126,190, 131,741
The comparable results of the Chromebook Flex 5 are good, but not impressive. These scores are definitely lower than you would expect from an Intel Core i3 processor. However, they easily beat the entry-level Chromebook with a MediaTek chip or a generation-old Intel Pentium processor.
Real-world performance matched comparable results. Chromebook Flex 5 is fast enough to browse most websites, edit documents, or save PDFs in a web application, but it can be a daunting task. He blocked and sprayed a large Google Spreadsheet project and started breathing when my number of icons exceeded that.
The game is a struggle. I have tried many Android games including Genshin Impact, Alto’s Odyssey and Fallout Shelter. Each of them stuttered non-stop, and Genshi’s Effect crashed on the login screen (to be fair, it happened on every ChromeOS laptop I tested this year). I was able to enjoy at least a few Itch.io games running over WebGL, and the Stadia worked just like any other laptop.
A small 32 GB eMMC can be a problem. When I first started the machine, there was only more than 10 GB of memory in my review section. This is acceptable for the Chromebook because you can rely heavily on Google Drive, but a few large Android apps or video files can eat up this location in a hurry.
All of this can be frustrating, but as always, the price is important. The performance of the Flex 5 is affordable for laptops in its price range and will attract most people to everyday use without any problems. More powerful ChromeOS 2-in-1 computers, such as the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5, come with a higher price tag.
Each Chromebook Flex 5 configuration has a 51-watt battery. This resulted in an 8-hour, 22-minute battery life of 2 in-1 on the CrXPRT 2 battery indicator, which is an average result for a Chromebook.
Real-world battery life did not fully meet the criteria. In my typical use of browsing websites, browsing YouTube, and editing documents in Google Documents, Spreadsheets, and Microsoft Office web applications, Flex 5 took six to seven hours.
Overall, the battery performance of the Flex 5 is reasonable for the price. Most laptops under $ 400 have a smaller battery, and some have a larger screen, which results in less impressive durability. Do you really need all day carrying capacity? Spend more or buy an iPad.
Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5 is a solid mid-range Chromebook with a good screen, excellent speakers, beautiful keyboard and versatile connection. Its performance and battery life can’t stand it, but it’s acceptable at the $ 389 2-in-1 price point. The Flex 5 didn’t disappoint my expectations, but I enjoyed using it, and that alone makes it easy to recommend to buyers on a $ 400 budget.