Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Gen 6 review: Great for school or work

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Chromebooks are still in a niche category but are gaining traction nonetheless within the laptop market. And that’s partially thanks to how easy Chrome OS is to use while also being an affordable option compared to some other PC brands. Lenovo has been using Chrome OS in some of its laptops for years, and we’re taking a look at their latest offering.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

The Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Gen 6 Chromebook comes with an Intel Pentium Gold 7505 processor with a core clock speed of 2.00GHz with a Turbo Boost of up to 3.50GHz, integrated Intel UHD graphics, 4GB of RAM, up to 10 hours of battery life, and more. Let’s see how it does when used in day-to-day life.

Specifications

OSChrome OS
Display14″ FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS, anti-glare, 300 nits
ProcessorIntel® Pentium® Gold 7505 (2.00 GHz, up to 3.50 GHz with Turbo Boost, 2 Cores, 4 Threads, 4 MB Cache) (up to Intel Core i5 available)
GraphicsIntegrated Intel® UHD Graphics
Storage128GB PCIe SSD
Memory4GB LPDDR4X 3733MHz (Soldered)
Camera720p HD
Connectivity802.11AX (2 x 2) & Bluetooth® 5.1
Ports• 2x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
• USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
• MicroSD card reader
• Headphone/mic combo jack
BatteryUp to 10 hours
Audio2 x 2W stereo speakers with Waves Audio
ColorStorm Gray
WeightStarting at 1.42kg / 3.13lbs
Dimensions
(H x W x D)
16.6mm x 324mm x 221mm (0.65″ x 8.7″ x 12.75″)

What’s in the box

  • Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Gen 6
  • 51Wh internal battery
  • 45W AC adapter
  • Quick starter guide

Design

Lenovo’s design on the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Gen 6 is a bit of a different take but familiar. The top of the Chromebook has a two-tone color scheme of Storm Gray filling two-thirds of the surface, while the other one-third is a darker Storm Gray. The Chromebook logo is placed within the darker portion, while Lenovo’s logo is on the opposite side at the edge. Switching to the bottom of the IdeaPad 5i, two long nubs are placed in the front and back, which raises the unit off a flat surface for heat to pass through vents.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook six row keyboard
A six-row keyboard with each key spaced out nicely with low travel.

When you open up the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook, you’re greeted with a 14″ display with some thin but noticeable side bezels, thicker bottom bezels, and a top bezel with a webcam that includes a built-in privacy shutter. Moving down to the rest of the Chromebook, you’ll see a six-row keyboard with keys that are a nice size for anyone’s fingers to touch. Each key is clicky and doesn’t take much force to press down. At the same time, there isn’t much travel between each key, so fast typers will be pleased.

The speaker grills are on both sides of the keyboard, just like the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga Gen 6 we reviewed last month. As for the TrackPad, it’s a tad bit on the smaller side, but that’s also because this Chromebook is more compact than some other laptops out there. It does pretty well with recognizing when palms are being placed on the side of the TrackPad. Never once were there any accidental presses or scrolling, so that’s a plus. Lenovo’s logo is also placed on the bottom right below the speaker grill. One other nice addition Lenovo has added to the IdeaPad 5i Gen 6 is an LED strip below the TrackPad that changes color, allowing you to track the remaining battery life quickly. The light also indicates if the Chromebook is turned on or off.

There isn’t much when it comes to ports on this Chromebook, but more than enough for what most users may need. The left side is home to the USB-C charging port, a USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 port, a headphone/microphone combo jack, and a Micro SD card slot. As for the right side, it’s pretty bare with the second USB-C port. If you frequently use more than a mouse and a USB drive, you’ll want to pick up a USB-C hub to expand the ports on this laptop.

Frankly, the design is sleek, especially with the two-tone Storm Gray color scheme.

Display

As far as the screen size goes, the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook has a 14″ IPS display with an FHD resolution of 1920×1080. It’s not a 2K or 4K resolution like some other laptops offer, but 1080p resolution on a screen this size will suit most users.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook 14 inch IPS display
The nice 14-inch IPS display on the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook by Lenovo.

Thanks to the IPS panel, you’re getting as close to true colors as possible. So, reds, blues, greens, and other colors are great, even through the anti-glare coating layer. However, colors have a flat tone to them because of this. Peak brightness is 300 nits which can be good and bad depending on what a user needs. For a Chromebook like this, it’s plenty as the screen does get bright and not overbearing. However, if you work in brightly lit rooms or near a window, you may not find it bright enough. Blacks are nice and dark with no gray tone to them.

Overall, the display on this Chromebook isn’t too bad considering it is Full HD, but the anti-glare screen and 300 nits of brightness may be a drawback for some users.

Software

Chrome OS has grown over the years since its first release. With each update, something new is added to make a feature better or have Chrome OS in general run much smoother. At the time of this review being published, the current OS version was 93.0.4577.107. This update doesn’t compare to new features as Chrome OS 92 does, but some bug fixes and minor additions make the operating system run smoother.

Here’s a rundown of the full Chrome OS 93 release:

  • With the new Google Meet app you’ll get imporved performance and easy-to-access features, like video backgrounds, that make meetings more inclusive and fun. Google Meet is also now pre-installed on all new Chromebooks, so it’s easy to search for the app by pressing the Everything button key.
  • It’s even easier to express yourself with emoji on Chromebooks. The new keyboard shortcut (Everything button or key + Shift + Space) brings up a compact emoji picker. You’ll be able to see your recently used emoji, search and scroll for others. With a click, insert the perfect emoji into a conversation, document, or any text field on your Chromebook.
  • Personalize your desktop with new wallpapers designed by Aurelia Durand, Sabrena Khadija, and Meech Boakye, inspired by the concept of togetherness. Try them now by right-clicking your desktop, choosing “Set wallpaper,” then “Togetherness.”
  • You might already use Tote for quick access to your ecent downloads, screen captures, or any files you’ve pinned. Now completeed csans from the Files App and reports from the Diagnostics App will lso show up in Tote. So once you save a scanned document it will be easier to find, right from your Chromebook shelf.

Chrome OS is still just as simple to use as ever. The operating system loads almost as soon as the IdeaPad 5i powers on, and the search button gives you the ability to search just about anything. However, whether pre-installed or downloaded from the Google Play Store, applications still can’t be arranged in alphabetical order without dragging each icon. But overall, anyone will be able to understand this operating system. I still wish Google would add the ability to set applications in alphabetical order, but that’s something they could be working on for a future update.

Performace

Now, when it comes to the performance of a Chromebook, or in this case Lenovo’s IdeaPad 5i, it’s not going to win any medals. But before I explain why, let’s go over the internals first. There’s a two Core, four-thread Intel Pentium Gold 7505 CPU with a base clock of 2.00 GHz that clocks up to 3.50 GHz with Turbo Boost. Also included is soldered 4GB of LPDDR4X running at 3733MHz.

Besides the cost factor, you may wonder why there’s a Pentium processor in this Chromebook in the first place. Lenovo could easily use a 10th or an 11th gen Intel i3 or i5 processor with around the same clock speeds. For laptops running any other OS, a Pentium CPU is outdated with its two-core count. In the case of this Chromebook, it does the job nicely. Applications run just fine, and that includes some low-end games from the Play Store.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Intel Pentium SoC sticker
Intel’s Pentium SoC sticker is in the bottom left.

The laptop has 4GB of RAM, which is plenty for a Chromebook. Depending on what you are running, though, it can also throttle the system at times. I found this especially true when trying to update applications from the Play Store and switching between them. There were a few times where some websites would stutter when attempting to load or typing something up.

An Intel Pentium processor and 4GB of LPDDR4X RAM should be enough for students at school or used in the workplace. If you’re not looking to do some high-end tasks, you’ll be more than happy with the results on performance. If you are, you can also configure this Chromebook with up to an Intel Core i5 processor.

Sound

The sound quality on the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Gen 6 is decent. It’s not the greatest but does offer plenty no matter what you’re playing. Since the speakers are front-facing, you’re getting the most out of the sound quality versus what you would if the speakers were at the bottom of the laptop.

While listening to music playback, you can hear each instrument and vocals, but there’s barely any bass. It’s expected as most Chromebooks and Windows laptops suffer from a lack of bass due to their size. Regardless, I didn’t have any issues when it came to the sound sounding distorted, tinny, or muffled.

Camera

The webcam has a standard 720p resolution and offers enough clarity for a video call, whether via Zoom or Google Meet.

Battery Life

Lenovo states you can get up to 10 hours of usage off of one charge in terms of battery life. While all that is based on use, I achieved over eight hours before needing to charge the battery back up. All this was over a few days with the brightness at max, working on reviews, watching and listening to videos or music on some of my favorite streaming platforms.

As for charging, it comes with a 45W AC adapter that can recharge the battery from low battery to full in about two and a half hours. It’s not the longest wait time, but if you’re near an outlet doing work, you won’t even notice a thing.

I can genuinely say that the battery life on Lenovo’s IdeaPad 5i Gen 6 is superb and will be able to get you through multiple days of usage from one charge. Keep in mind that everyone’s battery usage will vary depending on what users are doing.

Price

Lenovo has set the price tag (as reviewed) for the IdeaPad 5i Gen 6 Chromebook at US$439.99. While the price feels higher than the value you are getting, the Chromebook uses Intel’s latest Pentium chipset, and the clock speeds for the LPDDR4x are high. On the other hand, you’re also only getting two USB-C ports (one used for power), one USB-A port, a full-sized SD card slot, and an audio-mic combo jack.

If you’re a school or business giving these out to students or employees, it may not make a difference for you on pricing. Regardless, I still believe that Lenovo could have dropped the price a bit.

Photo gallery

Wrap Up

Overall, Lenovo used some great parts for constructing the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook, including the internals, but I can’t get past the price. If the price were dropped down by, say $50 with Intel’s 11th Gen i3 processor, I’d recommend this Chromebook to those who need something at a reasonable price.

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Last Updated on October 15, 2021.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Gen 6

US$439.99+

Design

9.0/10

Display

9.0/10

Software

9.0/10

Performance

9.0/10

Sound

8.5/10

Camera

9.0/10

Battery Life

10.0/10

Price

8.5/10

Nailed it

  • Sleek design
  • IPS display
  • Easy to use OS

Needs work

  • Pentium processor (up to Intel Core i5 available)
  • Overpriced given internals as shipped
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