Lenovo Ideapad Slim 5i - 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 11th Gen Tiger Lake CPUs. This review is focused on the Slim 5i, specifically with the Core i5 1135-G7 processor.
Build and Quality
The Ideapad Slim 5i has an all-metal build with an alumininum finish similar to its predecessor, the Ideapad S540. It is also fairly lightweight and thin, weighing only 1.66 kgs and measuring only 17.9mm thick which is impressive for a 15 inch laptop. The display has a bit of a reverse-notch at the top which protrudes out and houses the webcam with a built-in privacy shutter. 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 5i 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.
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. Unlike the 14 inch variant, this one comes with an extra SODIMM slot for memory upgrades with the factory-provided 8GB module being soldered on to the motherboard. Thus it can upgraded to upto 24GB of memory which is more than enough for most use cases. There is also the option to replace the M.2 SSD, 2.5 inch drive and the wireless module.
Keyboard – The keyboard on the Ideapad Slim 5i is essentially the same as last year S540 15. 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. The integrated numpad may feel a bit cramped but that is due to the small footprint of the laptop. 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 is similar to that on the 14 inch model, just bigger in size. The 15.6″ 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.
Intel’s 11th gen Tiger Lake Core i5-1135G7 powers with laptop. The 4-core/8-thread processor is a step up from previous U-series chips but it simply cannot compete with AMD’s Ryzen 4000 series. Single-core performance may be comparable but it gets decimated in multi-core scenarios. Nonetheless it will be more than enough for casual tasks and can play light games quite well due to the Nvidia Geforce MX450 dedicated graphics. Lighter esports titles can easily reach 60+ fps at native resolutions while AAA games from a few years back can be played at low-medium settings. Keep in mind that gaming is not the designed use case for this laptop so it will heat up during long sessions. Same goes to say for video editing.
This particular configuration has a 256 GB NVMe SSD + 1 TB 5400 RPM HDD configuration. Read/write speeds are upto NVMe standards and load times for games are very fast.
The speakers on the Ideapad Slim 5i are front firing and are placed on the top 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 8 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.