Levovo Ideapad Slim 5 14 - Full Review with Pros and Cons
The Ideapad Slim 5 is the direct successor to the very-popular Ideapad S540. This time with a few cosmetic and performance improvements under the hood. It presents a good value proposition for people looking for a premium looking laptop which performs well in strenuous tasks.
The laptop is available in two major variants, the Slim 5 with the AMD Ryzen 4000 series APUs and the 5i with Intel’s 10th Gen Ice Lake CPUs. This review is focused on the Slim 5, specifically with the Ryzen 7 4700 U processor.
Build and Quality
The Ideapad Slim 5 has a predominantly plastic build with an aluminium lid weighing just 1.32 kgs. An all-metal build is available for higher end Intel models which weighs a little extra at 1.38 kgs. Compared to last year’s model which was all metal across all SKUs, this can be a downgrade for some. The plastic used however is of a premium quality and does not feel cheap whatsoever. The display has a bit of a reverse-notch at the top which protrudes out and houses the webcam. This also helps in opening the laptop with one hand which is certainly doable.
The hinge feels sturdy for a ultraportable laptop and can open up to 180 degrees like most Lenovo laptops. There is a little deck flex but that is something which is present even in models which cost twice as much.
Ports, I/O and Connectivity
The port selection on the Ideapad Slim 5 is decent for an ultraportable. On the left, there is the DC power input, USB 3.2 Gen-1 Type-C, HDMI and the audio combo jack. On the right there is 2X USB 3.1 Gen-1 Type A with one being always on and a SD card reader. The device supports Type-C charging as well as fast charging which is good to have for a ultraportable. There is no Thunderbolt 3 however, since it is not yet available for AMD laptops.
The wireless is handled by an Intel AX200 card which supports the latest WiFi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 standards.
Getting into the laptop is relatively easy. By just removing 11 screws from the bottom panel and popping it off, one gets access to the internals. There is not a lot of upgradability here with only the M.2 storage and the wireless module being user upgradable. It would have been nice to see the Ideapad Slim 5 14 AMD come with a 16 GB RAM variant in India instead of only 8 GB ones, as it can hamper performance in a lot of use cases.
Keyboard – The keyboard on the Ideapad Slim 5 14 is essentially the same as last year S540 14. Typing felt nice with the keys feeling tactile and having decent travel. The keyboard has white backlighting with two brightness levels, ON and OFF. Some keys like the Page Up and Page Down keys are bound as a secondary layer to the arrow keys because of the small form factor. Overall, the keyboard is good and one can easily type out long articles with this without much problems. There is a fingerprint sensor built into the power button which is reasonably accurate.
Touchpad – The touchpad comes with Windows Precision drivers and is of a click-pad style, meaning you can click down anywhere. It is plastic, so it won’t feel as premium as some higher-end laptops but the tracking is precise and responsive.
The display on the Ideapad Slim 5 is a mixed bag. On one hand the 14″ 1080p IPS panel is reasonably bright, going up to over 300 nits but it only covers 54% of the sRGB color gamut. This is a downgrade to last year’s models which had 90%+ sRGB coverage. The display may be good enough for productivity tasks like programming and writing but it is unsuitable for colour sensitive work like photo and video editing. This seems to be the brightest display so far in its price range with the latest processors so there’s no other options out there at the moment. Viewing angles are decent owing to the IPS technology.
It would also have been nice to see a taller aspect ratio but that may be too much to ask at this price range. There is webcam in its correct position with a privacy shutter built in.
The Ryzen 7 4700U is the MSP of this laptop. A 8-core/8-threaded processor at this price range is simply unbelievable. It absolutely destroys its Intel competition in multi threaded work loads and keeps up in single threaded ones. It is even faster than the 10th Gen 15W i7 processors in most workloads by a big margin so for power-users, this laptop is an excellent budget option.
The integrated Vega 7 graphics are also a huge improvement over the Iris Plus graphics on competing Intel models, being on par with Nvidia’s MX 150 discrete graphics. Keep in mind that the CPU + GPU package has a 15 W TDP while the Nvidia MX 150 consumes 25 W on its own. The processor can consume a bit more power under load but it is still way more efficient. While not ideal for gaming, this laptop is certainly capable of casual gaming and is more than enough if all you plan to play are lighter e-sports titles.
This particular configuration has a 512 GB NVMe Intel SSD. There is an additional M.2 slot for expanding storage. No 2.5 inch drive bay, however, but that is not commonly seen in this form factor anyways. Read/write speeds are upto NVMe standards and boot times are very fast.
The speakers on the Ideapad Slim 5 14 are front firing and are placed on the sides of the keyboard. This offers a better audio experience than most other ultraportables with downward firing speakers. It may not be as good as the Macbooks, particularly in terms of bass reproduction but it is still more than enough for watching videos and stuff.
This laptop is powered by a 57 Wh battery which may not seem much but can actually last around 10 hours on lighter workloads. This is decent for an ultraportable and is good for this price range. Type-C charging with fast-charging support makes this ideal for travellers on the go.