Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i Review: Slim in its Name, Strong at its Game
Lenovo has been doing a great job with its Legion series of gaming laptops that we reviewed a couple of months back. The Legion 5 and the Legion 7i both offer powerful internals and are solid options to consider at their respective price points. However, gaming laptops attract a specific set of consumers looking for powerful and beefy specifications on the go without worrying too much about portability, aesthetics, battery life, etc.
A lot of consumers, however, want a machine that does not have flashy RGB accents, has just enough power to get basic tasks done, does not feel like a dumbbell when in a backpack, and has enough battery power to last when they’re out and about. The IdeaPad Slim 5i from Lenovo aims to do just that, but in an overcrowded market space, it’s important to find out how well it does it and that’s what we have been trying to do for the past two weeks with IdeaPad Slim 5i.
Slim, but not by much
The IdeaPad Slim 5i’s moniker might indicate a sleek chassis with an ultra-portable design but it is far from it. The “slim” here might be indicative of the slimmed-down internals compared to the Legion series gaming laptops and certainly not the moderately chunky exterior frame that may even pass off as a thin and light gaming laptop.
The IdeaPad Slim 5i is no Ultrabook but that’s not saying that it is bulky. At a little shy of 1.7Kg, the IdeaPad Slim 5i still qualifies as a portable machine compared to 2.4-2.8Kg gaming laptops. However, if you are specifically looking for a laptop that is portable and lightweight, there are plenty of other options out there albeit with a smaller display.
The IdeaPad Slim 5i comes in two chassis options – A polycarbonate one that was sent to us, and one with a metallic body that weighs slightly more. The quality of polycarbonate seems sturdy as there is little to no deck flex even when pressure is applied on the palm rest, and the display too, is not wobbly. In terms of looks, the IdeaPad Slim 5i might be unappealing to a lot of consumers due to its rather plain exterior, but it might also appeal to some due to this very reason.
The IdeaPad Slim 5i has bare minimal branding on the front with a small Lenovo badge on the bottom right and that is about it. The rest of the exterior is clean and feels good to touch thanks to a matte coating instead of glossy. This gives the IdeaPad Slim 5i a very rugged and industrial look that a lot of folks especially in office environments may prefer. There are more modern-looking, better-feeling, and more portable laptops out there, so this might not be the best choice if you want a machine that catches attention.
Solid and Reliable I/O
Before we get to the main components of this section, we would like to take a moment to appreciate the webcam on the IdeaPad Slim 5i. No, not the quality of video output, which is by the way above average. But the sliding cover that acts as a privacy shield that we saw even on the Legion 5 and 7i. Privacy is a growing concern and a small addition like this can help users block out the camera when not in use.
Anyhow, coming back to the usuals, the keyboard on the IdeaPad Slim 5i offers excellent key travel and is a pleasure to type on. It is a full-size keyboard with a Numpad which is rare to see in this category, but as a result, the size of the up and down arrow keys had to be compromised which is not that big of a deal if you are not going to game on your laptop. The keyboard is backlit which means you can work even in dark environments. If your work involves a lot of typing as mine does, you are surely going to enjoy the experience on the IdeaPad Slim 5i.
The trackpad too on the IdeaPad Slim 5i managed to surprise us with its tactile feedback while clicking although it is not as smooth as the glass trackpads found on a MacBook or a Dell XPS. Give that both those laptops cost twice as much as the Slim 5i, the trackpad is not something we can complain about. There is an optional fingerprint scanner that can be included at the time of order but our variant does not have it.
Along with a good keyboard and trackpad combo, the IdeaPad Slim 5i also manages to provide a usable array of ports that keep dongles at bay. The laptop primarily charges through a DC-in barrel connector but the onboard USB-C port also supports PD charging which according to us is a must-have on laptops that do not require a lot of wattage like the Slim 5i. There’s a full-size HDMI port, a 3.5mm audio jack, 2 USB-A 3.1 ports, and an SD card reader that photographers and videographers are going to appreciate.
Nice and large display, but not for everybody
The IdeaPad Slim 5i has a 15.6-inch Full HD display with narrow bezels giving it a modern look. Our variant has an anti-reflective matte coating which we prefer as it is easier to work on in harsh lighting conditions. There are multiple variants of the display to choose from, with the base model getting a TN panel with 250 nits of brightness covering 45% of the NTSC color gamut. Even if you opt for the IPS variant with 300 nits of brightness, you still get only 45% of the NTSC color gamut which is not the best if your work involves clour grading or anything that requires a color-accurate display.
The top-end variant gets 100% sRGB coverage but you will, of course, have to pay a lot more for it. In terms of consuming content, the IdeaPad Slim 5i provides an immersive experience along with good viewing angles. Colors look punchy and there is little to no color shift when viewed from offset angles. If you are only going to be using the laptop for watching YouTube videos and Netflix shows along with working on documents, spreadsheets, and browsing the web, the display on the IdeaPad Slim 5i should be sufficient. Also, if you do watch a lot of content, the speakers on the laptop are quite loud but not very clear, so a pair of earphones are recommended.
Power that is adequate for most
A lot of the decisions when buying a laptop boils down to its performance and the kind of tasks you are going to be doing on the laptop. While it is already clear that the IdeaPad Slim 5i is not meant for gaming, we were surprised by its ability to handle 1080p video editing on Adobe Premiere Pro. The 11th-gen Intel i5-1135G7 coupled with 8GB of RAM and 256GB of PCIe SSD does a good job at being snappy when running multiple tabs of Google Chrome, Premiere Pro, MS Word, WhatsApp Web, and a few instances of File Explorer. If you are going to be using the laptop for school projects, or office work that involves MS Office majorly, the performance will feel snappy for the most part.
If you edit photos, you will also have a pleasant experience with the IdeaPad Slim 5i as long as you keep the layer count on Photoshop in check. As far as video editing is concerned, the IdeaPad Slim 5i can handle 1080p 60fps footage at 1/2 resolution without any issues or frame drops while scrolling through the timeline. Render times, however, are slightly on the higher side and 4K video editing is not a pleasant experience at all. Given that the laptop does not pack a discrete GPU and instead opts for the Iris Xe graphics from Intel on the base variant, even light gaming may not be a smooth affair on the IdeaPad Slim 5i.
If you plan on gaming or work on animations or Adobe After Effects, we would suggest opting for the higher-end 16GB RAM variant along with the Nvidia MX350 or 450 dedicated GPU which will surely give you an advantage in terms of graphic performance. The 256GB PCIe SSD is accompanied by a 1TB SATA HDD. The Laptop comes with Windows 10 and a free copy of Microsoft Office Home and Student edition.
Thermals on the IdeaPad Slim 5i were under control and while the fans did shoot up to noisy speeds when under heavy load like rendering a video, we did not notice any signs of overheating or throttling. There was the occasional slowdown, but that is something we observe on a lot of Windows laptops which might indicate that it is more to do with Windows optimization and not the hardware in particular.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i may not stick to its name in terms of thickness, but that is for good reason. The battery packed into this machine can easily last you about 8-10 hours on a single charge depending on the kind of work that you do and this can be handy if your job involves staying away from your desk for long hours or if you are a student and you carry your laptop to school/college. As we mentioned earlier, the laptop can be charged via both the supplied DC-in adaptor and a USB-PD charger which is great. Do note that if you decide to game or edit videos, the battery life drops drastically but for browsing and work-related tasks, it should last you a good while.
Should you buy the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i?
Starting at a price of Rs. 63,990, the IdeaPad Slim 5i already starts creeping into the territory of some gaming laptops that offer far superior CPU and GPU performance, and maybe even a better display. However, battery life is not going to be as good and the weight + portability factor does come into the picture. On the other hand, for a similar price, there are Ultrabooks that are more portable, lightweight, and offer similar performance but with a smaller 13 or 14-inch display.
The IdeaPad Slim 5i slots right in between these two. If you want reliable day-to-day performance, a large display, a good keyboard, and all-day endurance, the IdeaPad Slim 5i is a good pick. You can look at other options like the Mi NoteBook 14 Horizon Edition for better graphics performance and a smaller chassis, or the Asus VivoBook 14 for slightly worse thermal performance but a smaller and better display. If you do not care about how light/heavy your laptop is going to be, and you are going to be plugged into the wall all day, there are a plethora of gaming laptops in this price range from Asus, Acer, HP, MSI that will offer much better performance for both gaming and video editing.
If you are a student and are looking for your first laptop, or if you are an office-goer and are looking for a workstation, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i fits the bill perfectly.