Friday, July 24, 2020

Lenovo Flex 5 14" Ryzen 4500U Review


I've spent the last week with the Lenovo flex 5 during that time I've discovered a number of things folks looking to buy the Flex 5 should be aware of before purchasing. So in the box you'll find a Lenovo digital pen which is a $32 pen comes with the pen holder that slots into the USB type a port on the side of the laptop and the pen works pretty great considering that it came with a flex 5. I really can't complain too much about it, also found the box is a 65 watt Lenovo USBC charger similar to the ones provided with ThinkPad's.

The Flex 5 has an all plastic build the lid is pretty smooth and it's a pretty premium feeling plastic and the plastic is the same one that's used on the bottom cover on the back. There's a big open vent which allows for plenty of airflow for cooling down the processor ,the keyboard deck has a grippy plastic finish, it feels cheaper than the outside plastic but it provides for some grip when using it in tablet mode. Along the sides there's dual two want upward facing speakers that sound really good. There's a fingerprint sensor on the lower right that is very responsive. I never really had any issues signing into Windows with it. The touchpad is a precision touchpad, it's very smooth even though it's not a glass touchpad it's pretty great using the keyboard it felt about right for the price point honestly I'd prefer it over the XPS 13's keyboard but it's clearly not as great as the typing experience on let's say a think pad the screen is rated at 250 nits and the screen specifications are pretty much better than any other competitors offerings at this price point such as the Acer Swift 3 or the Inspiron 7405 2 + 1 both of those machines have screens that are a lot worse and offer a lot less for the price than what you get here on the Flex 5.

Now on to the ports I'd advise you don't skip this section as there are a number of things that Lenovo says you can't do that you actually can with the ports on this machine it'll be going over them though there are two type a USB 3.1 genuine port on the right side of the device there's also a full-sized Realtek PCIe SD card reader that's very quick I was able to pretty much max out my 90 megabyte per second read sixty megabyte per second write SD card and it's pretty close to my USB 3.0 external reader that I use all the time SD card is inserted into the SD card reader stick out about halfway so you won't be able to use it for additional storage if that's what you were intending to do there's a 3.5 millimeter combo jack on the side capable of doing mic and headset the USB C port doesn't do display port alt mode which I'm sure a lot of you are aware of and if you weren't now you are but it can do USB 3.1 gen2 on and charging Lenovo says that you can only charge with this port that's not true is I've transferred data through that port using a USB C dongle as noted in one of my other videos with an adapter you could use a type a to HDMI adapter to have to display outs from this machine not just the internal HDMI port and speaking of the internal HDMI port that HDMI port is capable of doing 4k 60fps despite specification saying that it can only do 24 I was able to test this on my family's 4k LG TV which can do 4k 60 and via the HDMI port plugging that in via a high speed HDMI cable yielded an obvious 60 FPS experience.

If you want to see that in action you can check out the link in the description for my testing of that it's a very brief video just showing it's working now let's take a look inside of this laptop things are pretty tightly packed there's not a lot of empty room in this machine which was pretty surprising to me when I open most budget machines tend to have a lot of empty room so this was a nice first impression the SSD is a socketed SSD it's an m2 nvme SSD specifically at 20 to 40 to 1 from hynix it's upgradeable to a 20 to 80 SSD if you're interested such as a saber intricate I have Amazon links in description to some SSDs I'll recommend and any purchases made through those links will support the channel with a small cut of whatever you pay for the SSD there's a real tech 88 22 C Wi-Fi card which is not Wi-Fi 6 capable but easily upgradable and you'd be able to swap it out with an Intel ax 200 which is Wi-Fi 6 capable if needed you can pick one up for $15 off eBay or you can spend the extra on Amazon I'd suggest you buy one off eBay for 15 bucks they can be had on Amazon for closer to 20 to 25 dollars more often but it's a bit of a ripoff however if you're just looking to support my channel in my content then feel free to buy it off Amazon with my link in the description I'd still discourage you from doing so because it's just a waste of money but if you're looking to just do that to help the channel out then then feel free to do so moving on there's the 52 watt aware battery which fills up the whole bottom of the laptop surprisingly not leaving any room for any additional expansion or anything like you'd see on other budget machines.

Moving on to specifically the cooler it's a beefy dual pipe cooler with four mounting points often budget machines are just poorly designed hardware will have three mounting points which results in less pressure being put on the processor and can result in poor thermal performance luckily since this has four mounting points we don't have to worry about that this cooler is also pretty great capable so standing up to 35 watts under load at the low 90s without even needing a tree paste there is a large gap between the fan and the cooler grille and you could possibly improve temps somewhat by improving the seal by like taping off the hole or just trying to seal it up a little better between the fan and thinner a bio on the right side of the laptop is a modular board so in case you managed to break one of the USB ports or the SD card slot stops working or even the power button stops responding you should be able to easily replace that board now we can see the hinge mounting points here on the left and right side are pretty much on top of some internal components well this is good for just mounting structural integrity this puts the internals of the laptop at somewhat risk so if the laptop ever falls onto its screen while it's open and there's some kind of pressure that pushes inward towards internals with laptop the motherboard could get damaged in your system could just pretty much break as a result so just be sure to be careful with this machine as it's not designed to be the most durable thing in the world.

Taking a look at the inside of the lid this is a photo from the hardware maintenance manual you can see that there's not much for load balancing arms which you can see I'll show this is the t4 80s internal dead design you can see those bars going up the side those help the street with the load on the hinges across the whole height of the lid so that you don't have to worry about the hinges breaking out of the litter or anything you guys have a little bit of a history of hinge failure due to poor hinge mounting inside of the lid that can result in pretty much the screen breaking on yoga's often after the warranty period is over so just watch for any sort of deterioration of your hinge and make sure to get in contact with Lenovo for them to replace your lid or hinge or whatever if it starts to go bad however there's no evidence at the moment suggesting that the Flex 5 will have a similar fate to these yoga's so I wouldn't worry about it too much and it probably won't happen within the first year or so of ownership it's something to keep in mind though overall the flux 5 is pretty great using it for YouTube browsing the web watching TV shows another casual test yields a rather pleasant snappy experience despite the screens low brightness it was never too difficult to see inside however in sunnier spots or even outdoors the screen will likely be too dim for viewing moving on DPC latency is very low on this machine.

When all power saving measures are turned off this means you can expect a stutter less smooth video viewing experience on the Flex 5 without audio pops or distortions do keep in mind that I've heard reports of stuttering and pops on the Flex 5 from folks in the comments if you're running into that I'd recommend reinstalling a stock version of Windows and manually installing the drivers to see if that helps let me know in the comments if you do run into this issue on your own as I want to try and narrow down what the cause is game performance is incredible for how small the device is let alone how cheap it is Minecraft 1.15 without Optifine was running above 100 FPS consistently at very high graphics setting even with even more FPS possible with Optifine installed Grand Theft Auto 5 was plenty playable with the built-in keyboard and external Mouse averaging at 60fps during my testing at 50% frame scaling in the lowest possible settings The Sims 4 ran great - averaging around 100 FPS across the board at medium settings dipping into the 80s to mid 90s and more intensive environments fortnight whoever is a bit of a mixed bag at the lowest settings possible I was only getting an average about 53 fps dipping down to the 30s and the 1% lows in 20s and the 0.1% lows updating the drivers to adrenaline 2020 drivers did resolve many of the visual glitches I had during my original round of testing but the performance didn't improve at all if you're looking to play fortnight you might want to get the 4700 you version of this machine as it'll have much better graphics performance compared to this one.

I'll go more into detail on that later from once one battery wood has a pretty big problem and that problem is how Lenovo's power management works whenever the skin temperature sensor on this laptop reaches 47 degrees Celsius the processor acts like it's overheating and things lock up for a moment or two this results in pretty poor performance on battery and a lot of stuttering in the system I reached out to Lenovo and they told me they're investigating so let you know when I hear back for them in an update in the description or comments sticking with intelligent cooling while gaming on battery might be the best for a snappy consistent experience however I have had some luck with extreme performance just lowering down the settings and locking things at 60 that does tend to prevent the stuttering I mentioned earlier over performance an AC power is really good the cooler inside the Flex 5 can sustain 35 watts which is especially great for the rise divide 4500 you that it has as most machines around this price point can only handle 15 watts or less than half the power draw on their coolers this puts the Flex 5 with the risin 5 4500 you well ahead of its competition even with the better Rison processor outside of the extreme performance profile this device still dishes out some competitive performance sustaining 25 watts with ease while collecting benchmark data for notebook check.

A bunch our 20 multi-core score at 35 Watts ended up being 5 percent better than the 8 core rise in 4700 u Acer Swift 3 score at 15 watt keep in mind this was during a boost period of likely 25 watts on the user's swift 3 and it would not even be close to the maintain performance of the Flex five now benchmarking the Flex five of the 4700 year would likely yield a much larger margin against the Swift 3 but at this time I can't test for that I'm likely getting my hands on one soon however so be sure to get subscribed if you want to see me test the Flex 5 with that processor graphics performance is where the 4500 u version of the Flex 5 falls short while the Swift 3 scores 3000 hundred and thirty-four points on three marks firestrike benchmark the Flex 5 score is only two thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight points or about 10 percent worse in time spy the Flex 5 scores eight hundred and forty-one points in graphics whereas the Swift three scored nine hundred and seventy-three points 14% worse than the Acer Swift if you're looking to game picking up the 4700 u variant from Costco might be the best bet well Swift 3 is getting better graphics performance the CPU will be seriously limited by the low thermal capacity of its single pipe cooler you're much more likely to have a good consistent gaming experience on the 4700 you flex 5 as a result overall my experience with the Flex 5 has been pretty good $600 I was expecting things to be a lot worse but this two-in-one has ended up being one of my favorite laptops.

The battery life you get out of this thing is really impressive to say the least at low screen brightness airplane mode and all the power saving features turned on the Flex five was only consuming on average three point three watts at the battery that is really low the next possible battery life you can see on this machine would be around 16 hours in a more reasonable idle scenario moderate brightness intelligent cooling and better battery set in Windows the system was only consuming around 3.7 watts putting the estimate closer to 14 hours streaming 1080p 60fps content off YouTube is one of the most realistic low intensity tasks I could see everyday users performing on this laptop while testing that the system was averaging power draw around 6.8 watts pushing the battery life estimate at around 7 hours give or take keep in mind that this estimate is from 100% to 0% so it's likely you'll see an hour or so less if you consider 15% to be out of battery.

There is one potential issue with this laptop specifically the one key battery feature when this feature is enabled it's possible for your laptop to accidentally turn on and stay on while in your bag I'd recommend turning it off if you'd like to see how I have a card up on the right showing you how to do that or just using the link in the description for my early findings video overall I don't have a lot of bad things to say about the Flex 5 at the moment keep in mind that I've only spent a week with the device so I can't say for sure if there'll be any nasty issues further down the road however if you can get around the poor hinge to design and don't mind the buggy thermal throttling behavior on battery at the moment the Flex 5 is just about the best laptop you can get for $600 at this time.