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Lenovo Miix 520 review: Blazing performance, sorely lacking features

As the mid-range option of Lenovo's Miix line, we're getting here some brand new hardware that's perfect for multi-tasking and productivity. It doesn't have as many features as the Miix 720, but it's certainly a fine 2-in-1. Here's our review.

About this review

Lenovo loaned Windows Central a review unit of the 12.2-inch Miix 520. This specific configuration has an eighth-generation Intel Core i5-8250U processor (CPU), 8GB of DDR4-2133MHz RAM, and a 256GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD). This exact configuration costs about $1,000.

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Lenovo Miix 520 hardware and specifications

CategoryXX
ProcessorIntel Core i5-8250U (up to 3.40GHz)
Quad-core
Storage256GB PCIe SSD
Samsung PM961
RAM8GB DDR4-2133MHz
Display12.2-inch FHD (1,920 x 1,200)
IPS, touch, glossy
GraphicsIntel UHD Graphics 620
PortsUSB-C
USB-A 3.0
3.5mm jack
Micro SIM
AudioDual stereo speakers
Dolby Audio
WirelessIntel Dual Band Wireless-AC 8265
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1
CameraFront-facing 5MP
Rear-facing 8MP
KeyboardMagnetic attachable
TouchpadPrecision touchpad
PenLenovo Active Pen 2
BatteryTwo-cell 39WHr
WeightTablet only: 1.98 pounds (0.9kg)
With keyboard: 2.65 pounds (1.2kg)
DimensionsTablet only: 11.8 inches x 8.1 inches x 0.4 inches
300mm x 205mm x 9.9mm
With keyboard: 11.8 inches x 8.1 inches x 0.6 inches
300mm x 205mm x 15.9mm
OSWindows 10 Home
PriceStarting at $1,000

Lenovo Miix 520 design

The Miix 520 is built from a sturdy aluminum-alloy chassis that weighs just under two pounds (0.9kg) and is less than a half-inch thick. It's got the weight of a tablet and is easy to hold, and it certainly fits into most bags quite easily, even with the keyboard attached adding an extra 0.2 inches to thickness and just over a half-pound of weight.

Borrowing from the Yoga-920, the kickstand on the back of the tablet has two small watchband hinges that offer a smooth action that will hold your device in place, even while using a pen with it laid out almost flat. You get about 150 degrees of kickstand range here, which is about 15 degrees less than found with the Surface Pro. Still, the angle is comfortable when using the Active Pen 2.

Radial vents along the side and top of the chassis provide cooling that doesn't get blocked by your lap, and a speaker is housed near the bottom edge on either side. They aren't placed in the indent that allows for easy kickstand deployment, but they nevertheless remain unmuffled most of the time. I don't expect much from tablet speakers, but these were surprisingly loud and full. On the back, hidden behind the kickstand, is a Micro SIM slot of you go with optional LTE connectivity.

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Lenovo Miix 520 review

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Lenovo Miix 520 review

The right side of the tablet has a physical power button, volume toggle, and 3.5mm audio jack. Set near the top corner, the power button isn't in a spot where you'll occasionally hit it accidentally when using the tablet. The left side has a charging port as well as a USB-A 3.0 and USB-C port. It's enough to plug in a mouse (and more with the right adapters), which you might be tempted to do once you try using the tiny touchpad.

Lenovo Miix 520 display

The 12.2-inch touch display doesn't have as high of a resolution as the Miix 720 — here it's 1,920 x 1,200 compared to 2,880 x 1,920 — but it's nevertheless a crisp picture with decent contrast. Testing color accuracy, we saw 91 percent sRGB and 72 percent AdobeRGB, both respectable results.

There's plenty to hold onto thanks to the chunky bezel around the display. If you're someone who likes the look of a screen that stretches edge to edge, you could do better elsewhere. There's plenty of room for a front-facing, 5MP webcam above the display; the picture is clear enough for video conferencing and doesn't take bad stills, but there's always the rear-facing, 8MP camera if you'd like higher quality shots.

Lenovo's Active Pen 2 comes included with the Miix 520, delivering a satisfactory inking experience at 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. The pen is a great size to fit in your hand comfortably and, while there's still no tilt support for shading, I didn't have a problem jotting down notes and marking up articles. My main gripe, and one that I've pointed out before is the plastic attachment piece that makes you use a USB-A port to store your pen.

Lenovo Miix 520 keyboard and touchpad

The removable keyboard attaches magnetically with a snap and gives the device a dossier look thanks to a fabric-y rubber coating on the outside. It looks like it should stand up to the wear of being carried around and used, and in the two weeks I've had it there haven't been any noticeable marks. The exterior material gives way to solid alloy plate, finished with a soft-touch paint that houses the keys. This definitely seems like a device aimed at professionals.

The keys are a good size, nicely spaced, and have a lot of travel, and you won't mind typing for lengthy periods of time. A backlight — either on or off — comes in handy when working in the dark. The Precision touchpad, which does track well, is small and I found my fingers going over the edge quite frequently. If you're often pointing, you'll likely ditch the touchpad for the touch display or an external mouse.

Lenovo Miix 520 performance

The eighth-generation Intel CPU delivers four-core performance with just a 15W thermal design point (TDP), but the two-cell 39WHr battery still ran from full to depleted in about five hours when under a regular workload. You can likely get six hours from it if you're careful, but this still isn't enough to get through a workday or even a long flight.

The fan kicks on when you're multi-tasking, but it isn't so loud that it becomes bothersome. There's plenty of venting along the edges, and I didn't find it get very hot at all.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Lenovo Miix 520i5-8250U4,27712,742
Lenovo Miix 720i7-7500U3,8707,322
Lenovo Yoga 720 15i7-7700HQ3,78410,255
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2nd Gen)i5-7200U3,9117,549
Surface Proi7-7660U4,5129,346
Surface Laptopi5-7200U3,7257,523
Lenovo ThinkPad T470i5-7300U vPro4,3948,580
Dell Latitude 5285i7-7600U4,6359,289
Lenovo ThinkPad X270i7-7600U4,5128,566
Lenovo ThinkPad T470si5-7300U vPro3,9196,077
Lenovo Yoga 720 13i5-7200U3,8817,509
Lenovo X1 Carboni5-7300U4,1398,311
HP EliteBook x360 G2i7-7600U4,4968,435
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Exti7-7500U4,3168,320
Dell Latitude 7280i7-7600U4,3817,935
Dell XPS 13 (9360)i7-6560U4,1207,829
HP Spectre 13i7-7500U4,1007,469
Surface Booki7-6600U3,9487,415

The eighth-generation Intel Core i5-8250U delivers a lot of power without sucking up much battery. The single-core score competes with most seventh-generation Core i7 CPUs, and when all four cores kick in, this thing can really perform. If you need a device for multi-tasking, the Miix 520 has the hardware.

GPU

Geekbench 4.0 Graphics OpenCL (Higher is better)

DeviceScore
Lenovo Miix 52020,548
Lenovo Miix 72019,688
Lenovo Yoga 720 1513,727
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2nd Gen)19,738
Surface Pro 201730,678
Surface Laptop19,256
Lenovo ThinkPad T47021,276
Dell Latitude 528521,921
Lenovo ThinkPad X27017,376
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s16,635
Lenovo Yoga 720 1318,185
Lenovo X1 Carbon20,932
Dell Latitude 548021,616
Dell XPS 13 (9360)19,410
Surface Book18,197
Dell Latitude 728017,827

Integrated Intel UHD Graphics 620 (a rebrand of HD Graphics 620 for the eighth-generation CPUs) handles medium-duty multimedia editing and even some decent gaming. Don't expect a powerhouse in the graphics department and you won't be disappointed.

PCMark

PCMark Home Conventional 3.0

DeviceScoreComparison
Lenovo Miix 5203,314Better than 66 percent of all results
Lenovo Miix 7202,695Better than 46 percent of all results
Lenovo Yoga 720 152,993Better than 57 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2nd Gen)2,773Better than 46 percent of all results
Surface Pro 20173,055Better than 57 percent of all results
Surface Laptop2,494Better than 40 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad T4703,103Better than 62 percent of all results
Dell Latitude 52853,079Better than 57 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad X2703,009Better than 57 percent of all results
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s2,576Better than 40 percent of all results
Lenovo Yoga 720 132,717Better than 46 percent of all results
Lenovo X1 Carbon Core i52,965Better than 57 percent of all results
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext2,998Better than 57 percent of all results
Dell XPS 15 (9560)3,534Better than 71 percent of all results
Dell Latitude 72802,829Better than 52 percent of all results
HP Spectre x360 152,472Better than 41 percent of all results

The PCMark Home Conventional test measures how well a bunch of your hardware works together while performing everyday tasks. The latest CPU, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a blazing SSD all contribute to a great score. It will tear through everyday tasks, and might even be at the doorstep of some specialized tasks because of the four cores.

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

DeviceReadWrite
Lenovo Miix 5201,845 MB/s1,236.2 MB/s
Lenovo Miix 7201,183 MB/s595.1 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 720 151,839 MB/s1,238 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga (2nd Gen)1,253 MB/s763.6 MB/s
Surface Pro1,284 MB/s963 MB/s
Surface Laptop423 MB/s237 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T4701,079 MB/s716.1 MB/s
Dell Latitude 52851,300 MB/s1,113 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad X270 PCIe1,049 MB/s636.9 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T470s1,557 MB/s1,333 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 7201,904 MB/s1,169 MB/s
Lenovo X1 Carbon1,518 MB/s1,188 MB/s
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext1,365 MB/s1,213 MB/s
Razer Blade Pro2,571 MB/s2,467 MB/s
Dell XPS 15 (9560)2,207 MB/s1,628 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (9360)1,287 MB/s794 MB/s
HP Spectre x360 151,128 MB/s862 MB/s

Lenovo has gone with a 256GB Samsung PM961 SSD, bringing excellent read and write speeds. Booting Windows, unzipping files, and loading apps should all be noticeably quick. The only issue here is that 25GB of space is partitioned to hold about 1GB of Lenovo drivers. Not a deal breaker, but still an inconvenience when working with just 256GB.

Lenovo Miix 520 review: Conclusion

The Miix 520 starts at about $1,000, which isn't a bad price for something with this kind of performance. However, if you can swing an extra $250 and don't need LTE or a quad-core CPU, the Miix 720 has a larger battery, an IR camera for Windows Hello, a higher-resolution display, the same amount of RAM, same size SSD (albeit slower), a Thunderbolt 3 port, and a seventh-generation Core i7 CPU.

While the Miix 520 undoubtedly performs very well in benchmark testing and can chew through most productivity tasks you toss at it, there's not much that really sticks out. The touch display is high-res but has a large bezel and OK color accuracy, the attachable keyboard is comfortable to type on but has too small of a touchpad, and the battery doesn't have enough life to get through a workday.

See at Lenovo

Pros

  • Blazing performance.
  • Quality build.
  • Comfortable typing.
  • Slick watchband hinges.

Cons:

  • Poor battery life.
  • Small touchpad.
  • Hate the pen USB attachment.
  • No Windows Hello.
Cale Hunt
Cale Hunt

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.

6 Comments
  • Wow, that i5 is a beast
  • Quite disappointed that it only lasts 5 hours. Website states 7.5hours. This is the only flaw that concerns me. 
  • Yes, that's disappointing. I like if my device brings me trough a workday without power. So 10 hours with "office style workload" like my XPS13 9365 does.
  • I was eyeing the i7 variant. But since battery with the i5 is already 5 hours, can't imagine how it will be with the i7.
  • Wasn't this supposed to have a fingerprint reader? All the hands-ons from August said so.
  • Yes, it has one. Mine comes with a micro-SD card reader. Battery lasts for a little more than five hours. My only problem so far is that the paint at the back can get scratched easily. I suggest you use a protective sticker cover or buy a case. The case also has a loop where you can store the pen. Otherwise, I'm happy with it as I use it to mark work that students submit so I use the pen a lot.