Lenovo's refreshed IdeaPad Flex 5 14 hasn't physically changed too much since the Flex 14 of last year. Instead, the big draw is the use of the latest AMD Ryzen mobile processors (CPU) to boost battery life, thermals, and performance. Considering these laptops are priced well within the budget range, they're no doubt going to appeal to those who want a well-built convertible without spending Yoga C-series prices. I've been using the Flex 5 14 for about a week to see how well it stands up to daily use and whether or not it's worth a buy.
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14
Bottom line: The IdeaPad Flex 5 14 takes a step forward thanks to AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs. Performance, battery life, and thermals are all outstanding. If you're looking for a budget convertible that can keep up to a rather intensive workload, this is it, but the single display option certainly won't appeal to everyone.
- Strong six-core performance from 7nm AMD Ryzen
- All-day battery life
- Comfortable keyboard
- Sturdy convertible design
- Priced in the budget range
- Display is still underwhelming
- Touchpad is a bit wobbly
- No Wi-Fi 6
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14 at a glance
Lenovo supplied Windows Central with a review unit of the IdeaPad Flex 5 14. It's equipped with a fourth-generation AMD Ryzen 5 4500U CPU with six cores, 16GB of soldered DDR4-3200MHz RAM, and a 256GB M.2 PCIe solid-state drive (SSD) that can be upgraded after purchase. It has a 14-inch 1920x1080 (FHD) touch display, and an active pen is included in the box. The exact price for this model from Lenovo is about $670, putting it well within the budget range.
Stepping things up, you can configure models with up to an AMD Ryzen 7 4700U CPU for better performance from eight cores, 16GB of RAM, and a larger 512GB SSD for more storage space. Unfortunately, there's no other display option above FHD.
Compared to the Flex 14 I reviewed last year, the new Flex 5 14 I have here now has slimmer chin bezel, top-firing speakers, lighter chassis with smaller footprint, and a larger 52.5Wh battery. Here are the exact specs as found in my review unit of the IdeaPad Flex 5 14.
|OS||Windows 10 Home|
|Processor||AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
2.38GHz up to 4.0GHz
AMD Radeon Vega 6
|Storage||256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
16:9 aspect ratio
Up to 250 nits
4,096 levels pressure sensitivity
Two USB-A 3.1
SD card reader
|Wireless||Realtek 802.11ac (2x2)
|Dimensions||12.65 x 8.56 x 0.70 - 0.82 inches
(321.5mm x 217.5mm x 17.9mm - 20.8mm)
|Weight||3.3 pounds (1.5kg)|
IdeaPad Flex 5 14 design and features
Like the 2019 Flex 14, the refreshed Flex 5 14 doesn't feel like a lot of other laptops in this price range. Its lid is made of plastic and the main portion is an ABS polycarbonate, but it's fairly rigid and feels great underhand. It feels like there's a slight bit of pebbling on the palmrest, which is a step away from the ThinkPad line with its soft-touch finish. The base and lid have some flex to them — if you're used to an aluminum build you will notice it — but nothing that's alarming. Compared to the previous model, the Flex 5 14 has a smaller footprint and weighs less.
The Flex 5 14's performance, battery life, and overall design don't necessarily suggest a budget price.
The convertible hinges grip enough to keep the display from moving around on its own, and converting to tent, stand, and tablet modes feels smooth. It measures 0.82 inches (20.4mm) at its thickest point. In tablet mode that measurement might take a bit of getting used to, especially if you're used to a Surface Pro or iPad with a much thinner body. Still, this is a laptop before a tablet.
New to the Flex 5 14 is a move to top-firing speakers that sit along the sides of the keyboard. You're still getting one 2W speaker on either side, but you won't experience muffled audio when the laptop is in your lap. In tablet mode there's a tendency to cover the speakers while gripping the device, but I still prefer the speakers next to the keyboard rather than along the bottom edges. The speakers include Dolby Atmos certification to give them a bit of a boost, and for the most part I didn't mind the sound. They're about what's expected from a laptop this price; loud audio that's a bit tinny and some bass.
The keyboard is sized the same despite the refresh, though key layout has been tweaked. In the top-right corner you now have a Print Screen key doubled up with a Snipping Tool where the Insert key used to be. Insert has moved to the left and is coupled with a Lenovo Vantage hotkey. Other Functions have been rearranged due to the addition of a physical camera shutter replacing the camera kill key. A Calculator shortcut and windows switcher shortcut have also been added. Key travel feels good but not as deep as you're going to get from a high-end ThinkPad. I had no issues typing thousands of words with a backlight to help while working after hours.
The Precision touchpad is relatively large compared to the laptop's chassis. Its mylar surface brings smooth pointing, though like the previous generation I noticed a slight rattle when tapping without fully clicking. It's not really a big deal but it's something to note if you're coming from a high-end laptop with a solid touchpad.
Port selection is rather generous if lacking Thunderbolt 3. On the left of the laptop is HDMI, USB-C, a 3.5mm audio jack, and a small barrel charging port. The right side has two USB-A, a full-size SD card reader, and an embedded power button that does a good job of not being pressed when the laptop is being used like a tablet. The review unit shipped with an AC adapter using a USB-C end, which is a bit unfortunate. Since the barrel charging port is there no matter what, I would rather see an AC adapter to match and leave the USB-C port free for other connectivity. At least a lot of hubs and docks are including power passthrough these days if you decide to carry a dongle with you.
For some added security, there's a touch fingerprint reader for Windows Hello embedded in the right palmrest. It's well out of the way of your hand, meaning it won't rub against your palm while typing. There's also a privacy shutter for the 720p front-facing camera above the display. It's an average camera that is there for video conferencing, but don't expect anything special. Note there's no IR camera option for facial recognition.
IdeaPad Flex 5 14 display and inking
The Flex 5 14's touch display is undoubtedly its weakest feature. While the performance hardware and ports would make this a great laptop for most people's photo or video editing needs — excluding professional work — the display suffers from poor color reproduction and low brightness. Contrast is good and the display doesn't appear washed out, but I measured just 62% sRGB, 46% AdobeRGB, and 46% DCI-P3 color reproduction with a SpyderX Pro colorimeter. Brightness also reached just 271 nits. Along with a glossy display finish, this makes it almost impossible to work under bright lights or in a sunlit room.
The Flex 5 14's display is its weakest feature.
If there was an upgrade option this wouldn't really matter, but this is the only 14-inch display Lenovo offers. It's a shame because I imagine some casual photo and video editors would pay a bit more for a better display, especially with the performance hardware available. Bottom line is that a lot of people will find the display to be just fine for their needs, especially at the asking price, but others will want something brighter and more colorful.
An active pen is included with the laptop, making the value climb even higher. It uses Wacom AES tech and delivers 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Inking and palm rejection are good, and it works well for taking notes and sketching pictures. It's probably not what an artist has in mind, but for most people it's a nice addition. A clip fits into the USB-A port to hold the pen when not in use, but I find it best to avoid it out of fear of damaging the port.
IdeaPad Flex 5 14 performance and battery
The move to 7nm AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs allows Lenovo to keep its Flex laptops affordable while also boosting performance. To compare, an Intel-based Flex 5 14 with a dual-core Core i3-1005G1 (10nm) CPU, 4GB of RAM, and 128GB SSD costs about $560, only about $175 less than the Flex 5 14 review unit with hexa-core Ryzen 5, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB SSD. There should be Flex 5 14 models with 10th Gen Intel Core i5 and Core i7 CPUs available at some point, but so far it seems like only the Core i3 models are ready to buy. And considering the performance difference, AMD should be the first choice for most people.
I ran some benchmarks to see where the Flex 5 14 with AMD Ryzen 5 4500U sits among a lot of other laptops we've recently reviewed.
Geekbench 5.0 (CPU) (Higher is better)
|Device||CPU||Single core||Multi core|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14||Ryzen 5 4500U||1,087||4,570|
|Surface Laptop 3 15||Ryzen 5 3580U||769||2,720|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga||i5-10210U||1,069||3,754|
|Lenovo Yoga C640||i3-10110U||1,015||2,111|
|Lenovo Yoga C740 14||i5-10210U||1,094||3,767|
|Samsung Galaxy Book Flex||i7-1065G7||1,317||4,780|
|Dell XPS 13 (9300)||i7-1065G7||1,284||4,848|
|Surface Laptop 3 15||i7-1065G7||1,336||4,893|
|HP Elite Dragonfly||i7-8665U||1,125||2,942|
|Surface Laptop 3 13.5||i5-1035G7||1,177||4,413|
|HP Spectre x360 13||i7-1065G7||1,006||3,402|
|Surface Pro X||SQ1||725||2,819|
|Galaxy Book S||SD 8cx||685||2,681|
The Ryzen 5 4500U puts up good numbers in both tests. Thanks to having six cores, its multi-core score is excellent, rivaling 10th Gen Intel Core i7 "Ice Lake" and "Comet Lake" quad-core performance. Also note the difference in performance from the third-gen Ryzen 5 CPU in the Surface Laptop 3 15. Running the OpenCL benchmark on integrated AMD Radeon Vega 6 graphics put up a score of 6,163. To compare, a Core i5-10510U with integrated Intel UHD Graphics scored 3,633.
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14||4,759|
|Surface Laptop 3 15 (AMD)||4,006|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14||3,202|
|Surface Book 3 15||4,393|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga||4,899|
|Lenovo Yoga C640||4,008|
|Lenovo Yoga C740||4,941|
|Samsung Galaxy Book Flex||3,924|
|Dell XPS 13 (9300)||4,524|
|Surface Laptop 3 15 (Intel)||4,604|
|Dell XPS 13 2-in-1||4,554|
|HP Spectre x360 13||4,261|
|HP Elite Dragonfly||3,716|
|LG gram 17||4,157|
|Surface Pro 7 (i5)||3,992|
PCMark 10 measures how well the PC's hardware works together to perform everyday tasks. Compared to the previous Flex 14 model using an Intel Core i5-8265U CPU, the AMD Ryzen 5 4500U absolutely blows it away. It also tested better than a bunch of the other laptops we've recently reviewed.
Cinebench (R20) (Higher is better)
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14||Ryzen 5 4500U||2,388 to 2,397|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga||Core i5-10210U||1,137 to 1,442|
|Lenovo Yoga C640||Core i3-10110U||924 to 929|
|Lenovo Yoga C740 15||Core i7-10510U||1,415 to 1,613|
|Lenovo Yoga C740 14||Core i5-10210U||1,450 to 1,535|
|LG gram 17||i7-1065G7||1,079 to 1,199|
|Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T)||Core i7-1065G7||1,361 to 1,400|
|Lenovo ThinkPad P53||Xeon E-2276M||2,686 to 2,701|
|Surface Laptop 3 13.5||Core i5-1035G4||1,584 to 1,606|
|Surface Laptop 3 15||Core i7-1065G7||1,703 to 1,745|
Running the Cinebench R20 render test multiple times in a row can show how well a laptop deals with heat and thermal throttling. Scores actually got better as I ran sequential tests, no doubt due to the fan kicking up to high speed. Unlike the 2019 Flex 14, fan noise is not nearly as loud even at its maximum speed. It only took about 15 seconds for the fan to become inaudible again following the tests.
CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5 14||2,199.10 MB/s||1,017.07 MB/s|
|Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 14||3,405 MB/s||1,512 MB/s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad L13 Yoga||3,188.82 MB/s||1,685.61 MB/s|
|Lenovo Yoga C640||1,906.78 MB/s||970.69 MB/s|
|Samsung Galaxy Book Flex||3,376 MB/s||2,983 MB/s|
|Dell XPS 13 (9300)||3,000 MB/s||1,217 MB/s|
|HP Spectre x360 (Optane)||2,092 MB/s||515 MB/s|
|Dell XPS 13 2-in-1||2,400 MB/s||1,228 MB/s|
|HP Elite Dragonfly (Optane)||2,124 MB/s||548 MB/s|
|Lenovo Yoga C740||3,408 MB/s||2,982 MB/s|
|LG gram 17 (2020)||3,477 MB/s||2,900 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop 3 15||2,028 MB/s||806 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop 3 13.5||2,338 MB/s||1,583 MB/s|
|Acer Swift 5 (SF514-54T)||1,641 MB/s||1,025 MB/s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Extreme (Gen 2)||3,416 MB/s||3,016 MB/s|
The SK hynix SSD isn't the fastest stock storage we've seen — the Samsung SSD in the 2019 Flex 14 was considerably faster — but it still puts up decent numbers and can be upgraded after purchase.
Altogether, performance from the Flex 5 14 is outstanding. I had no trouble handling a lot of browser windows and tabs, Photoshop, Slack, and email, and the laptop remained cool under load. The sizable fan kicks on only when needed and doesn't get too loud, and it turns off shortly after the laptop is done being stressed.
Using the "Better Performance" Windows 10 power setting and with brightness cranked up almost to maximum I got just more than eight hours of life from a charge while going about general productivity work. This will no doubt vary based on what you're using the laptop for, but you should expect to get a full workday out of a charge. That's a lot better than the four to five hours from the 45WH battery in the 2019 Flex 14.
The PCMark 10 Battery test, which runs common office applications at regular intervals, registered 9 hours and 7 minutes from a charge with 5% remaining at shutdown.
Should you buy the IdeaPad Flex 5 14?
The upgrade to AMD Ryzen 4000 mobile CPUs in the Flex 5 14 is a definite win. The significant boost to performance compared to 10th Gen Intel "Comet Lake" and the price difference between Intel "Ice Lake" CPUs means you're going to get more or similar performance for less. And the AMD-powered Flex 5 14 is a performer, both in terms of raw processing and integrated graphics.
A Flex 5 14 with Intel Core i3-1005G1 with four less cores, a quarter of the RAM, and half the storage space compared to my review model costs only about $175 less. If you drop down to 8GB of RAM for the AMD Ryzen 5 model, that difference shifts to only about $100.
It's a shame Lenovo doesn't offer a display upgrade for this laptop. The sole FHD touch option has poor color reproduction and brightness, making it really only suitable for standard office work or casual use. If you're into photo or video work, you will want to do much better. An external display will fix the problem — and the Flex has the native ports to handle it — but having a complete package is preferred.
All things considered, though, Lenovo has this priced in the budget range and there it excels. Typing is comfortable, battery life has essentially doubled compared to the last generation (a mix of Ryzen and a larger 52.5Wh battery), and an active pen is included to emphasize the touch display and convertible design. Ultimately, if you're shopping for an affordable convertible and don't mind the underwhelming display or can work around it, the Flex 5 14 is a (mostly) enjoyable device.
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