The Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook is a solid all-round Chromebook with good looks, a sturdy chassis and a great performance for the price. Just watch out for its meagre port selection and the fact that it’s quite heavy.
- Good looks
- Solid performance
- Fantastic battery life
- Meagre port selection
- Speedy processor:The IdeaPad 5i Chromebook is powered by an 12th Gen Intel Core i3 processor which offers solid relative performance.
- Long-lasting battery:Its large 71Whr battery is good to last for between one and two days.
- Large 16-inch screen:It also comes with a larger 16-inch panel, complete with 1920×1200 resolution.
Lenovo’s long-standing IdeaPad lineup of laptops has oftentimes made some excellent affordable candidates, and hopefully, that can extend into their lineup of Chromebooks with their latest fusion – the aptly-named Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook.
At £550/$550, it sits well among the sea of Chromebooks available at this price, but instead of offering clever features such as 2-in-1 functionality of the HP Chromebook x2 11, or a flip screen like that of the Acer Chromebook Spin 514, Lenovo’s choice is more conventional.
Whether that all-rounder approach can help the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook along with being one of the best Chromebooks we’ve tested remains to be seen, though. I’ve been doing some testing to find out.
Design and Keyboard
- Good looks
- Excellent keyboard, and a large trackpad
- Heavy chassis
The Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook, at first glance, carries the same appearance as the non-ChromeOS variant of this laptop, with a good-looking grey chassis. It’s a two-tone grey, with a distinct line on the laptop’s lid also offering a thinly-striped finish, which gives it a little bit of pizzazz compared to the sea of solid black and grey at this price. For a business-looking laptop, it’s nice to have something a bit more funky.
A weight of 1.85kg makes this quite a heavy laptop for its size though, making it a little bit more of a pain to carry around. Similarly-priced competitors can lose an inch or two in screen size, but also lose anything from 300 to 500 grams of mass, making them a better choice for those on the go. As much as that extra weight can make it a tad cumbersome to carry, it’s reflective of how well built the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook is. The chassis feels solid and isn’t hollow.
The 16-inch screen on offer makes this one of the larger Chromebooks out there, but it’s a screen whose bezels are relatively thin on the sides and around the top. The top also houses a 1080p webcam, which is a nice touch, as some Chromebooks and Windows laptops are still lumbered with a 720p one, even in this day and age.
Compared to other big-screen Chromebooks, the port selection on the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook is meagre. It ships with a pair of USB-C 3.2 Gen ports, one of which is used for charging, as well as two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, a headphone/mic combo jack and a Micro SD card reader. This is okay for modern workflows, although it would have been nice to see a dedicated display output such as an HDMI port, which is present on most other similarly-priced units I’ve tested.
The advantage of this being a Chromebook with a larger chassis is that it comes with a virtually full-size keyboard layout, a dedicated number pad and all. It’s a relatively comfortable keyboard to type on, with excellent tactility and a snappy travel across all keys. The fact it isn’t backlit is a shame, though, as this Chromebook won’t be too suitable for after-dark working.
There’s a large trackpad to boot, too. It provides plenty of real estate for your fingers and the buttons on offer provide good tactility. Besides this, there isn’t much to report on – there isn’t a fingerprint sensor, for instance. The only real flourish is the Lenovo logo plate present in the bottom right corner.
Display and Sound
- Good detail and screen-size
- Colours can look washed out
- Okay speakers
With a Chromebook at this price, the display is usually where things get skimped on. For the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook, this is partially the case. Lenovo has bundled in an adequate panel for the price, but with one notable short fall.
As a 16-inch screen with a 1920×1200 resolution, it gives you a lot of space for day-to-day working and provides solid detail on displayed images, too. It’s also an IPS panel, which provided some good viewing angles in testing while watching the latest Grand Tour special, while its 300 nits of brightness meets our target for adequate vibrancy.
The problem here is its 45% rated coverage of the NTSC gamut, which left colours feeling quite washed out and not necessarily as punchy as other displays I’ve seen on Chromebooks. For the most part, it’s decent enough, but not the best option if watching video is a priority.
The top-firing speakers were decent in testing with good volume, and little in the way of distortion. They carry with them a fair amount of mids, and not much in the way of low-end, but are still decent enough for day-to-day work and relaxing with content on Disney+ or Prime Video after you’re done. The fact they’re also top-firing is also handy if you use your laptop on a soft surface such as a bed, where downwards-firing units would be muffled.
- Snappy processor for light computing tasks
- More generous storage, and solid headroom
- ChromeOS is still quite restricted
In day-to-day tasks and in a suite of synthetic benchmarks, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook proved to be a nippy performer. This is because of the combination of a lightweight OS in ChromeOS and its snappy Intel Core i3-1215U chip. This provides a total of six cores, split between two P-cores and four E-cores, helping to give the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook an excellent all-round performance.
For the light computing tasks it’s designed for, it felt fantastic to use, with the total of six cores allowing the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook to power ahead in the benchmark tests, especially for multi-core performance. It’s here where Lenovo’s offering shines the brightest against the competition.
The 8GB of RAM on offer provides enough headroom for general computing, and even opening a load of Chrome tabs didn’t make the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook falter. Combined with this, the 256GB SSD is more generous than a lot of other Chromebooks, where some will still feature either 32GB or 64GB of eMMC storage.
The only issue here is arguably the operating system itself. ChromeOS still doesn’t support certain apps that Windows does, or offer as wide functionality, meaning you are limited on what you can do. It’s fine for light computing, but not for anything more than this.
- Lasted 13 hours and 33 minutes in the battery test
- Capable of lasting between one and two working days
The Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook also packs in some serious endurance, with it lasting for just over 13 and a half hours in our battery test after dialling the brightness down to half and running a video loop.
This is one of the best results I’ve seen from any laptop, let alone a mid-range Chromebook, and means you’ll be able to get between one and two working days out of the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook before you need to plug it in.
Of course, whacking the brightness up is going to drain the battery quicker, but that’s a trade-off that’s wider than with just this laptop.
Should you buy it?
You want snappy performance
The IdeaPad 5i Chromebook offers some comparably excellent performance for the price, making it ideal for ChromeOS.
You want a lightweight device
The Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Chromebook has a heavy chassis, and so if portability is your top priority, you may want to look elsewhere such as the Lenovo Chromebook Duet.
As opposed to offering any extras such as a touchscreen or two-in-one functionality, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook serves up a conventional laptop experience with a lot to like about it. It’s a good looking machine, although it is quite heavy. On the plus side, the keyboard is fantastic, and the trackpad gives you a lot of room.
Inside, the Intel Core i3-1215U packs a major punch, and makes the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook one of the nippiest performers for the price, while its combination of 8GB RAM and a 256GB SSD give some great headroom for multi-tasking and storage respectively. The display on offer is largely okay if you’re after a big-screen Chromebook, but colours can look a little washed out and lack that punch you get from similarly priced alternatives such as the Acer Chromebook Spin 514.
Recommending the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook is pretty easy if you’re after an all-round Chromebook that gets the basics right. It doesn’t have a touchscreen or the 2-in-1 functionality of the HP Chromebook x2 11, but for those wanting a conventional laptop for a good price, this is one to consider. Check out our Best Chromebook guide for more options.
How we test
Every laptop we review goes through a series of uniform checks designed to gauge key things including build quality, performance, screen quality and battery life.
These include formal synthetic benchmarks and scripted tests, plus a series of real-world checks, such as how well it runs popular apps.
We used as our main laptop for at least a week.
Tested the performance via both benchmark tests and real-world use.
We tested the battery with a benchmark test and real-world use.
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The 5 refers to the model variant, and the small i refers to the fact this Chromebook runs an Intel processor.