Several months ago I bought the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 knowing it was one of the better-value mid-range ultrabooks of the year, and while I ended up returning it because of the rather poor screen option available over here, I still consider it the almost-perfect budget ultraportable.
Quick forward to early 2021, Lenovo are updating the mainstream IdeaPad 5 series with a couple of Pro models, built on either Intel Core H 11th-gen or AMD Ryzen H 5000 hardware and Nvidia MX/RTX graphics, paired with improved cooling designs and screens with 16:10 aspect ratio, 90/120 Hz refresh rates and up to 400-nits of brightness, as well as large batteries and compact, clean builds.
We’re going to touch on the Intel-based models in this article, code-named IdeaPad 5i Pro, with the “i” as the special designator for the Intel hardware, much like with the previous Lenovo products. These are expected in stores from around March 2021, and we’ll follow-up with extended coverage and reviews in the weeks and months to come.
We’ve also covered the AMD-based IdeaPad 5 Pro lineup in this separate article, and I’d recommend especially checking out the 16-inch model with the higher-tier graphics options not available for now with the Intel model.
|Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Pro 14-inch||Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Pro 16-inch|
|Screen||14-inch 2.8K 2880 x 1800 px display, 16:10 aspect ratio, IPS 90 Hz, 400-nits and 100% sRGB color coverage
14-inch 2.2K 2240 x 1400 px display, 16:10 aspect ratio, IPS 60 Hz, 300-nits and 100% sRGB color coverage
|16-inch 2.5K 2560 x 1600 px display, 16:10 aspect ratio, IPS 120 Hz, 350-nits and 100% sRGB color coverage
16-inch 2.5K 2560 x 1600 px display, 16:10 aspect ratio, IPS 60 Hz, 350-nits and 100% sRGB color coverage
|Processor||Intel Tiger Lake 11th-gen Core H – up to Core i7-11370H||Intel Tiger Lake 11th-gen – up to Core i7-11370H|
|Video||Intel Iris Xe + optional up to Nvidia MX450||Intel Iris Xe + optional up to Nvidia MX450|
|Memory||up to 16 GB DDR4||up to 16 GB DDR4|
|Storage||M.2 PCIe SSD||M.2 PCIe SSD|
|Connectivity||Wireless 6, Bluetooth 5.1||Wireless 6, Bluetooth 5.1|
|Ports||2x USB-A 3.1 gen1, 2x USB-C, HDMI 1.4b, SD card reader, headphone/mic||2x USB-A 3.1 gen1, 1x USB-C with Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C with PD and data, HDMI 1.4b, SD card reader, headphone/mic|
|Battery||56.5 Wh, USB-C charger||75 Wh, USB-C charger|
|Size||312 mm or 12.3” (w) x 221 mm or 8.7” (d) x 17.9 mm or .7” (h)||356 mm or 14” (w) x 251 mm or 9.9” (d) x 18.4 mm or .72” (h)|
|Weight||1.45 kg (3.2 lb) + charger||2 kg (4.4 lb) + charger|
|Extras||white backlit keyboard without NumPad, stereo 2x 2W up-firing speakers (??), HD + IR webcam, 163-degree hinge, available in Cloud Grey and Slate Grey||white backlit keyboard with NumPad, stereo 2x 2W up-firing speakers (??), HD + IR webcam, 160-degree hinge, available in Cloud Grey and Slate Grey|
Based on what we know so far, these IdeaPad Pros are mid-tier productivity laptops with mid-tier specs, but compact designs, long battery life, and sharp 16:10 displays.
Specs-wise, we’re looking at the first batch of 11th gen Tiger Lake Core H, which are quad-core processors running at 35W, and most likely variable power between different profiles. Expect snappy every-day performance and high single-core Turbo clocks, but only middling multi-core abilities, as these are still 4C/8T and not on par with the 6C and 8C options available from AMD in these sort of loads. 6C/8C higher-power Tiger Lake H processors are also coming later this year, but not on these IdeaPad 5 Pros.
Furthermore, these systems only get up to 16 GB of DDR4 memory and up to Nvidia MX450 graphics, so don’t expect much in terms of GPU prowess or gaming abilities. Not sure whether these will implement the efficient MX450 variant meant for thinner ultrabooks, or the more powerful variant meant for full-size laptops.
Lenovo does pair these with some unique screen options: 2.8K with 90 Hz refresh for the 14-inch model and 2.5K with 120 Hz refresh on the 16-inch variants, both with 350-400 nits of peak brightness and 100% sRGB color coverage. I’d expect them to be excellent options for productivity and daily use, even if the resolution and refresh rate will take a toll on the battery life. Gaming, on the other hand, especially at the full-resolution, will be challenging with only the MX450 graphics, and we should closely look into these panels’ response times once we get to test them.
Of course, don’t jump to any conclusions yet and wait for the final reviews for a detailed look at the performance, thermals, and acoustics. Speaking of thermals, based on the little we know so far there’s only a single-fan cooling design in these laptops, similar to the 2020 IdeaPad 5, but with what Lenovo notes as the “possibly the largest fan in a mainstream ultraslim”. Will this properly cool a 35W processor and that GPU? We’ll see.
Specs aside, these IdeaPad 5i Pro models seem to borrow plenty from the non-Pro IdeaPad 5 and 7 series, with the standard chiclet IdeaPad keyboards (with Numpad on the 16-inch model, without on the smaller variant) and clickpads, up-firing speakers flanking the keyboard on the 14-inch model and possibly above the keyboard on the 15-inch variant (to be confirmed, I’m also seeing speaker cuts on the underside based on these early pictures available so far), and the IO lined on the sides. The larger screens with slimmer bezels and the IR cameras at the top are the novelties here, though.
No mention of whether the construction is plastic or metal, something we’ll look into and update momentarily; could be a metal top and plastic main-chassis. We do know that both lineups will be sold in two colors, darker and lighter shades of Gray.
As for the IO, both the 14 and 16-inch models get USB-A and USB-C slots, a full-size HDMI connector, a full-size SD card reader, and a 3.5 mm audio jack. Both also charge via USB-C, but only the 16-inch model supports Thunderbolt 4, while the 14-inch model does not. Not sure why, since Thunderbolt 4 is now baked into the Tiger Lake chip.
Anyway, not much to add right now, look forward to our in-depth impressions once we get to review these, and get in touch in the comments section down below with any feedback and questions. Lenovo scheduled these Intel-based IdeaPad 5i Pro models for availability around March 2021, with the 14-inch model starting at 699 EUR in Europe, and the 16-inch model starting at 899 EUR. However, from what we know so far, looks like none of these will be available on the North American market, at least at launch.