lenovo IdeaPad 5 14” – The haptic tip for budget fans? | Tech Reviews
Lenovo’s IdeaPads tech reviews cannot really be classified. They cover everything from the inexpensive IdeaPad 1 to high-quality models. The IdeaPad 5 is definitely one of the highest quality of its kind. With a modern Intel Core i5, 16 GB of RAM and a damn chic aluminum case, it wants to shake up the price range under €700. We tested it, were confused – and in the end we were pleasantly surprised.
Lenovo’s IdeaPad series is actually the model series for media fans in the Chinese manufacturer’s product universe, while the ThinkPads are aimed at professional users and ThinkBooks should be in between. But what exactly does the IdeaPad 5 want to be?
Judging from the data sheet, it doesn’t have to hide from ThinkBooks or ThinkPads. 16 GB of RAM should be sufficient for the foreseeable future and the Intel Core i5-1135G7 can also score with the same number of threads and cores as the more expensive i7 models.
In addition, Intel has installed a really good integrated GPU with the Iris® Xe Graphics, which should make even simple AAA titles playable on the 14″ full HD screen. Of course, this uses the IPS design and should offer nice and wide viewing angles.
Alternatively, you can also get the IdeaPad 5 with AMD Ryzen processors, which offer more CPU cores but weaker graphics units. If you are primarily concerned with the latter, then it is also worth taking a look at models with a dedicated Nvidia MX GPU.
The other specs of the test device can be found in the table.
|Display||35 cm (14“) Display (IPS-Panel) with LED Backlight in 16:9-Format with max. 300 nits|
|Resolution||1920 x 1080 Pixel (Full-HD)|
|Processor||Intel® Core™ i5-1135G7
4x 2,40 GHz
Turbo Boost up to 4,20 GHz
4 MB Cache
|Graphics||Intel Iris® Xe Graphics|
|RAM||16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz (soldered)|
|Hard Disk||512 GB SSD|
WiFi 6 (802.11ax)
|Ports||2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1 x USB-C (PD + USB 3.0)
4-in-1 SD-Card reader (MMC, SDHC, SDXC, SD)
|Battery Pack||Li-Ion (57 Wh)|
|Input Devices||TrackPad, Backlit Keyboard, Fingerprint reader|
|Sound||Audio system with two speakers and Dolby® certification|
|Camera||HD webcam with physical shutter|
|OS||Windows 10 Home (Windows 11 Home Update is free)|
|Dimensions||32,16 x 21,16x 1,69 cm|
Design & input devices: Chic aluminum case and very good keyboard
Oh no, another IdeaPad. Something like this was the first thought when the IdeaPad 5 fluttered into my house. After all my tech reviews, the motto used to be that once you’ve seen one, you know them all. But the surprise was big when I unpacked the device. “Damn, that’s really high quality. Are you sure that’s an IdeaPad?” – Not so long ago, the Chinese manufacturer would have sold a laptop of this look under the more expensive Yoga or Thinkbook mantle. But Lenovo seems to want to significantly pimp its IdeaPad line for media fans. After the very good IdeaPad 5 Pro, I actually expected a little more uniformity in the non-Pro model.
The opposite is the case: matt black aluminum surface with a really good feel, which you would have recently only found in notebooks that were twice as expensive. Enormously narrow display edges – everything really fits here. The matt black surface in particular is pleasantly velvety and the entire notebook does not have to hide from a MacBook Air in terms of torsional rigidity – which is still the gold standard for high-quality haptics under €1000.
The only small flaw of the velvety, matte black outer skin: you can see fingerprints after a while. Luckily, it’s also easy to clean with a cloth. With a little practice, you can also open the display hinge with one hand. So Lenovo’s engineers got it well balanced. It sounds irrelevant at first, but it makes a difference whether you can open your laptop in the morning with a coffee cup in your hand or whether you have to use both arms to do it. Unfortunately, the knobs on the underside weren’t particularly stable on my desk. Despite the well-designed hinge, it took a few attempts to open the IdeaPad with one hand.
Once opened, the input devices look at you. The fingerprint reader in the power button is particularly noticeable here. It worked right away without any problems and led me straight to Windows to continue working on the really well done keyboard. Lenovo has now really mastered the key drop and typing feel. I was already impressed by the IdeaPad 5 Pro and the “normal” model is not far behind. Both the key travel and the key spacing of the black keyboard are pleasing. The former is slightly higher than many competitors. I personally like this as it feels more like typing on a dedicated keyboard.
In addition, all keys sit firmly in the case and nothing bends even when typing harder – thanks to the torsional rigidity of the IdeaPad 5. Another nice feature is the operation of the key illumination. You can easily control the three-stage function via the Fn key and the space bar. This is easy to do with your left hand while typing fast. With the assembled competition, however, you have to look for a small F key.
Also very good: the touchpad. Although it is a bit small for my taste, Lenovo still uses the available space of the compact 16:9 case. It also doesn’t clatter (like the IdeaPad 5 Pro) and also has a pleasantly velvety plastic surface. You don’t have a dead zone at the edges either – so it still reacts to inputs.
The webcam, on the other hand, is less good – unfortunately, it has to be mentioned negatively (almost) every time with Windows laptops. Because while there are solid front cameras even in inexpensive entry-level smartphones, recordings with the built-in webcam quickly degenerate into pixel mush. Especially in poor light conditions, there is more noise than a broken VHS cassette on a tube TV. So it’s best to get a frontal light source to put yourself in the limelight. At least the IdeaPad 5 has a built-in camera shutter. So you don’t have to use tape or the like to protect yourself against any camera hackers.
Overall, the IdeaPad 5 offers an outstanding feel and really good input devices for its price range. In a direct comparison, the torsional rigidity is even slightly higher than that of the more expensive IdeaPad 5 Pro.
Connection selection: Almost everything and a welcome acquaintance
Comparing our tech reviews, Lenovo hasn’t skimped on the ports either. In addition to a USB-C port, there are also two USB-A ports that are ideal for peripheral devices.
The USB-C port is also used for charging and has a DisplayPort 1.4 function. So you can operate the IdeaPad 5 on compatible monitors with just one cable. I was particularly pleased with the SD card reader. And yes: I didn’t forget a “micro” here, you can actually insert a normal-sized SD card and easily transfer photos from your camera to the laptop.
Only one Thunderbolt capability is prominently missing, after all the installed Core i5-1135G7 is a processor that could in principle support Intel’s fast interface. Due to the other connection options, such as DisplayPort and PowerDelivery via USB-C, this can be gotten over.
Display: Very high contrast and wide viewing angles meet meager color reproduction
First impressions of the screen were like the rest of the laptop. Positive. The colors seem to be right and it’s pleasantly matte, so you don’t have to worry about excessive reflections in brighter environments. The 14-inch form factor is also very pleasant in 16:9.
A little more space above and below would be nice, which is why I would recommend the Pro model with 16:10 format for productive work. You get most of the media content displayed on the IdeaPad 5 in full screen. If this is one of your main uses, then you might be better advised to use it.
When consuming media content, you should also not make any major compromises. The displayed colors are also mostly accurate due to the good color fidelity. Only the overall brightness remains slightly below the manufacturer’s specification. However, the matte coating mentioned at the beginning still brings out a good deal of visibility. In addition, the display is illuminated nicely and evenly and colors are mostly represented homogeneously.
A rock-solid panel for average consumers, which is more than sufficient for Netflix and Co.
Windows 10 is still pre-installed on the IdeaPad 5, but you will be asked during the first start-up whether you would rather have the new Windows 11. It will then be downloaded in the background and can be installed immediately. Otherwise, of course, there is still a certain amount of bloatware in the Lenovo laptop.
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As is so often the case, the biggest culprit we find in our tech reviews, is McAfee. The antivirus solution is pre-installed on the notebook as a time-limited demo version and would like to make the payment option via pop-ups palatable to you every few days. My tip: Uninstall it and use the (then automatically active) Windows Defender. This has now become really good and works discreetly in the background.
Otherwise, Spotify, Disney+ and a few other apps are preinstalled, which are less annoying and can all be removed.
Performance and emissions: Tiger Lake has teeth – and a solid graphics unit
With the Tiger Lake processors of the 11th core generation, the CPU giant Intel has found its way back on track. The entire line-up delivers fast processors with good endurance. The Intel Core i5-1135G7 represents the upper middle class of CPUs up to 28W power consumption. The G7 stands for the integrated graphics unit. It is significantly higher than the previous generation, but still cannot completely convince.
This is due to the current graphics drivers. In some games, such as Battlefield, you can get playable frame rates in 1080p resolution and low details. For our benchmark, however, we grabbed Shadow of the Tomb Raider – and unfortunately the actually stronger Iris Xe graphics falls short of their potential here. Only “cinematic” 24 fps were possible in Full HD resolution.
The multiplayer classic CS:GO, on the other hand, runs on the Lenovo laptop with very good 50-70 frames per second – mind you in high details. So it still depends heavily on the game how the performance turns out in the end. AAA titles like Tomb Raider rarely do well, though. If you really want to gamble, but are also impressed by the form factor of the IdeaPad, then it’s worth taking a look at the model with the dedicated Nvidia MX GPU. Although this doesn’t rip out trees either, it should be able to handle most games in low and medium settings.
Thanks to eight threads and high single-core performance, the quad-core processor easily plows through everyday tasks. It doesn’t matter if you throw lots of tabs with 4k videos or photo editing in Photoshop, it never stutters or freezes. Even during our stress test, where really every component in the system is put under strain.
In contrast to the IdeaPad 5 Pro, which is as quiet as a mouse, the fan of the non-Pro model makes itself felt more often. It then begins to rustle slightly, but never becomes high-frequency.
The Intel processor only reaches a maximum of 73 degrees under load – a really good value. It then levels off at 62 to 64 degrees by downclocking. On the other hand, it usually fluctuates between 35 and 44 degrees in idle mode.
The Samsung SSD delivers solid rates, but both the IdeaPad 5 Pro and the Acer Swift 3 are significantly faster here. But you won’t notice much of it in everyday life. Programs always open quickly and even large files are moved quickly. For my taste it gets a bit too warm at 82 degrees.
Battery: No Evo-Siegel – but persistent
One of the most important points for a portable laptop has always been endurance. Of course, in the modern world of work and study, you don’t want to do without computing power on the train, in the library or on the beach. Intel usually considers the particularly enduring Ultrabooks with an “Evo” certificate.
This should normally offer you particularly fast start-up and at least ten hours of battery life. In the case of the IdeaPad 5, the missing Evo seal could be explained by the price. Because such a license also costs the manufacturer a certain amount of money. In practice, the IdeaPad 5 achieves very good endurance rates despite the Evo lack.
For our everyday test, we set the screen brightness to 70% and worked productively on the laptop for a day. “Balanced” was used as the energy-saving profile.
After almost nine hours, there was still 6% battery charge left – a very good value. If you are mainly busy with image processing, then you should reckon with the fact that it can be over after just under six hours.
Sound: Nothing for audiophiles, but ok for in between
Notebooks don’t sound good. Nevertheless, they are littered with all sorts of hi-fi labels. The IdeaPad 5 is no exception. Our CTRL key advertises it with a “Dolby Audio” lettering.
The volume is enough to fill a medium-sized room with about 25 square meters. The sound isn’t really great or voluminous, but the IdeaPad does a good job for a laptop. The loudspeakers radiate to the side of the keyboard and thus even provide a slight stereo image. In addition, music hardly distorts at a normal volume. Only from about 80% high tones drift into screeching positions.
The instruments are also neatly separated from each other. No comparison to cheap headphones or entry-level speakers – but really solid for a notebook.
Series and films also benefit from the IdeaPad 5’s clear, tidy sound. Voices are easy to understand and don’t get lost in the rest of the soundscape. All in all, a solid audio performance that doesn’t have to hide from higher-priced laptops.
Conclusion Lenovo IdeaPad 5:
If you are looking for a high-quality laptop in a 16:9 form factor, then you won’t go wrong with the IdeaPad 5. Although the IdeaPad 5 Pro offers a better display in a 16:10 form factor, it is currently priced significantly higher at over 800 euros*.
The recommendation is ultimately based on the price, because at the time* of the test the IdeaPad 5 was reduced to just 679 euros* – and for that it is an excellent choice. If the price were closer to the IdeaPad 5 Pro, I would go for the latter.
The IdeaPad 5 could also be worthwhile in comparison if you want to gamble occasionally. The Intel model has an advantage here because the integrated graphics unit is stronger. For real gaming fans, however, we recommend looking in the direction of a model with a dedicated graphics unit.
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Thus, the IdeaPad 5 is a good all-rounder that shines above all peer tech reviews with its haptics, but doesn’t really fall behind in any other discipline. And there is almost no competition that – for currently less than 700 euros* – can play haptically in the price range over 1000 euros.