Review Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 Notebook

Sascha Mölck (translated by Liala Stieglitz), 12/26/2013

Haswell Pentium. The screen of the IdeaPad Flex 15 can be turned by up to 300 degrees, and thus enables a more comfortable use of its touchscreen. Find out in our test report whether the IdeaPad has more to offer than this nifty gimmick, and whether it also convinces as a laptop.

Lenovo Flex 15

For the original German review, see here.

Lenovo already has many different laptops that offer wide opening angles in its product line, for example the IdeaPad Yoga models. We previously tested Lenovo's IdeaPad Yoga 13 (Core i5-3317U, HD Graphics 4000) model from this series. Now the company has expanded its range by a fairly affordable office laptop dubbed IdeaPad Flex 15. Besides the traditional laptop mode, the device also features a so-called Stand Mode that facilitates using the touchscreen. We have also tested the Flex 15's smaller brother IdeaPad Flex 14 (Core i5-4200U, HD Graphics 4400), and thus we are familiar with the Flex model's concept. Besides that, we reviewed a laptop from Lenovo's subsidiary Medion in form of the Akoya S6212T, which uses the same design. Our test report reveals whether the Flex 15 is convincing.

We used the Medion Akoya S6212T aka The Touch 300 (Core i3-4010U, HD Graphics 4400) and the Acer Aspire E1-572 (Core i3-4010U, HD Graphics 4400) to classify the laptop. The latter is a traditional office laptop without a touchscreen, but with a Full HD display.

Case

The IdeaPad Flex 15's basic form corresponds to Lenovo's current design. The laptop is quite slim with a wedge shape. Lenovo mostly uses plastic parts. Only the base unit's upper side is aluminum. The casings of the Aspire and Akoya are completely made of plastic. The display's back and the base unit's underside have a rubber touch. This reminds us of the laptops from the ThinkPad lines. With exception of the display bezel, all parts are made in matte black. An orange-colored plastic rim encloses both the base unit's upper side and the lid as a contrast. This does not look too extravagant, and it should not insult conservative eyes. The laptop is also available with a silver rim.

The base unit yields slightly underneath the touchpad. This causes the right foot to lift from the surface. Our review sample also generally does not stand evenly on the table. The front left foot hovers in the air. The stiffness makes a better impression. The aluminum element provides stability so that the base unit can only be warped marginally. However, the lid could be a bit more rigid. Also, it can be pressed to such an extent in some places that the image distorts. The hinges have a firm grip on the lid but wobble. Opening the lid with one hand is not possible.

The screen...
The screen...
...can be turned by up to 300 degrees.
...can be turned by up to 300 degrees.
The lid's back has a rubber feel.
The lid's back has a rubber feel.
There is no maintenance cover.
There is no maintenance cover.

Connectivity

All three comparison devices sport today's standard interfaces. The three laptops favorably feature at least one USB 3.0 port. While they also all supply an HDMI out, only the Akoya (mini DisplayPort) and the Aspire (VGA) come with a second video out. Owners of the IdeaPad could add a VGA port via an HDMI-to-VGA adapter when required (approx. 20 Euros, ~$27). The Flex 15 is also the only review sample that does not have an optical drive. The Akoya has another feature: It sports a modular bay that is furnished with a DVD burner by default. The slot can also be fitted with a second hard drive or a second battery. Medion offers corresponding modules in its product line. The interface positioning on the IdeaPad is good. The ports are mostly located in the rear area on both sides. Only one of the USB ports is found at the touchpad's upper edge.

Left: Power socket, Ethernet port, USB 3.0
Left: Power socket, Ethernet port, USB 3.0
Right: Volume rocker, audio combo jack, memory card reader, 2x USB 2.0, One Key Recovery button, power button
Right: Volume rocker, audio combo jack, memory card reader, 2x USB 2.0, One Key Recovery button, power button

Communication

Lenovo uses the AR9485 chip from Atheros for Wi-Fi. It supports the Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n standards. We did not experience any reception issues. The connection was not interrupted in a standard home range of up to 15 meters from the router. However, this is not a standardized test. Lenovo only installs a Fast Ethernet port in the laptop, although Gigabit Ethernet should be standard nowadays. The laptop also features a Bluetooth 4.0 module. The webcam shoots blurry pictures in a resolution of up to 1280x720 pixels.

Accessories

No accessories are included apart from the usual documents, i.e. warranty information, safety information and quick-start poster.

Operating System and Recovery

The IdeaPad Flex 15 comes to the user with Windows 8 (64-bit) installed. A Windows 8 DVD is not included. Lenovo's One Key Recovery system is on-board for repairing or resetting the system. This program is opened by pressing the One Key Recovery button when the laptop is off. The button is located on the casing's right, beside the power button. The laptop starts up after pressing the button, and displays a menu that, for example, enables accessing the BIOS. Here, the option "System Recovery" should be selected.

Maintenance

The IdeaPad does not feature a maintenance cover. The base unit's underside has to be taken off to access the innards. For this, all screws on the underside first have to be removed. Note: screws are also underneath both rear rubber feet. Then the underside can be lifted off with a putty knife. However, this should be done carefully because the underside is fixed with plastic hooks. Nevertheless, we have to point out that opening the casing is easier than is known from other Lenovo laptops. Users who want to open the casing should first read the Hardware Maintenance Manual of the Flex 15. A detailed description of how to open the laptop and what should be considered when replacing components is found here.

Only one working memory bank is found after opening the casing. It is fitted with a 4 GB module. Replacing the hard drive is easy. 2.5-inch hard drives with a height of 7 mm can be installed. There is also a slot for a solid state drive in an M.2 format. Conventional SSDs in an mSATA format do not fit in this slot. However, SSDs in an M.2 format are now available. We discovered corresponding SSDs from Intel (SSD 530) in various online shops at the time of this review. The IdeaPad's fan can be removed for cleaning.

The opened casing.
The opened casing.
There is only one working memory bank.
There is only one working memory bank.
Replacing the hard drive is easy.
Replacing the hard drive is easy.
The fan can be taken out for cleaning.
The fan can be taken out for cleaning.
An M.2 slot is available. A corresponding SSD can be inserted here.
An M.2 slot is available. A corresponding SSD can be inserted here.
Good: Two Wi-Fi antennas are installed.
Good: Two Wi-Fi antennas are installed.
The BIOS battery can be replaced.
The BIOS battery can be replaced.

Warranty

A two-year warranty is included on the IdeaPad, just like on the Aspire and Akoya. Users who bought the Akoya in late October 2013 at Aldi received a 36 month warranty. The IdeaPad's warranty period can also be upgraded to three years for approximately 60 Euros (~$82).

Input Devices

Keyboard

The IdeaPad sports an unlit chiclet keyboard. The main keys have a surface area of approximately 15 x 15 mm. The even, sleek keys feature a short drop, and clear pressure point. The keys' resistance is also satisfactory. The keyboard yields marginally while typing on it. This did not prove annoying though. As typical for Lenovo's keyboards: The enter, backspace and right shift key are a bit small. Basically, the IdeaPad provides a decent keyboard.

Touchpad

A generously sized, multi-touch capable clickpad (i.e. a touchpad without dedicated mouse buttons; the entire pad is a button) with a dimension of 10.5 x 7 cm is available as a mouse replacement. It features a sleek surface that makes it easy for the fingers to glide over it. Consequently, using multi-touch gestures is no problem. The single gestures can be disabled and enabled in the corresponding menu. The clickpad offers a short drop, and a clearly audible as well as palpable pressure point.

Touchscreen

Lenovo also installs a touchscreen in its IdeaPad. It is a model that supports 10 touch points. The screen's behavior is impeccable. It responds immediately to all inputs. The screen's accuracy is also beyond reproach. The more comfortable Stand Mode is recommendable for using the screen. A Windows Home button is below the screen so that Windows can be used conveniently in Stand Mode. A volume rocker is also on the casing's right.

The keyboard does not feature a backlight.
The keyboard does not feature a backlight.
The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures.
The touchpad supports multi-touch gestures.

Display

A glossy, 15.6-inch screen is installed in the Flex 15. Like the Akoya screen, it works with a native resolution of 1366x768 pixels. The Aspire features a matte Full HD screen. The average brightness of 202.7 cd/m² is in the midfield. The Akoya (193.6 cd/m²) and the Aspire (198.1 cd/m²) fall behind that marginally. The same screen is used in both the Akoya and IdeaPad. The measurements differ because two identical screens are never absolutely equivalent.

217
cd/m²
216
cd/m²
223
cd/m²
195
cd/m²
209
cd/m²
200
cd/m²
180
cd/m²
195
cd/m²
189
cd/m²
Information
X-Rite i1Pro 2
Maximum: 223 cd/m²
Average: 202.7 cd/m²
Brightness Distribution: 81 %
Center on Battery: 130 cd/m²
Black: 0.3 cd/m²
Contrast: 697:1
Distribution of brightness
IdeaPad Flex 15 vs. sRGB
IdeaPad Flex 15 vs. sRGB
IdeaPad Flex 15 vs. AdobeRGB
IdeaPad Flex 15 vs. AdobeRGB

The IdeaPad's screen supplies satisfying rates with a contrast of 697:1 and black level of 0.3 cd/m². The Akoya (722:1; 0.27 cd/m²) is virtually on par with that; the Aspire (344:1; 0.54 cd/m²) provides poorer rates. The IdeaPad's screen cannot reproduce either the AdobeRGB or the sRGB color space. The coverage rate is 51.3% in sRGB and 35.8% in AdobeRGB. These color spaces are important, for example, in professional image editing.

The average DeltaE 2000 deviation is 9.6 in state of delivery. No color achieves the target range of DeltaE smaller than 3. The screen exhibits a visible bluish cast.

CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - ColorChecker
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Grayscale
CalMAN - Saturation
CalMAN - Saturation

Outdoor use is possible in not overly bright surroundings. Otherwise, the screen's brightness would not suffice. The screen should also be placed in a position that prevents reflections.

The viewing angle stability does not reveal any surprises. The image quickly distorts when the vertical view on the screen is altered. The angles are more generous horizontally. The content remains legible from the sides, but the picture darkens the wider the angle gets.

The IdeaPad Flex 15 in outdoor use
The IdeaPad Flex 15 in outdoor use
Viewing angles: Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15
Viewing angles: Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15

Performance

The Ideapad Flex 15 is a 15.6-inch office laptop. The device is suitable for managing everyday application scenarios, such as browsing, Skype calls, writing, etc. Users who want more should look at one of the innumerable other Flex 15 models. The laptops differ in terms of CPU, working memory capacity, hard drive capacity and type. Some models also sport a GeForce GT 720M GPU. Our review sample is currently the lowest priced model in the series sold for approximately 500 Euros (~$684). Users who prefer smaller devices can look at one of the 14-inch laptops from the IdeaPad Flex 14 line. We tested a laptop from this series with Lenovo's IdeaPad Flex 14-59395501 (Core i5-4200U, HD Graphics 4400).

CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
CPU-Z
GPU-Z
HWInfo
System information: Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15

Processor

The IdeaPad is powered by Intel's Pentium 3556U dual-core processor that comes from the latest Haswell generation. It clocks with a speed of 1.7 GHz, and does not feature a Turbo. It is a low-voltage ULV CPU. Intel specifies it with a TDP of 15 watts.

The processor always performed the CPU tests of the Cinebench benchmarks at full speed (1.7 GHz). All three laptops are on par in the single-thread tests. This is unsurprising since their CPUs are based on the Haswell architecture, and they all clock with 1.7 GHz. The Akoya (Core i3-4010U, HD Graphics 4400) and the Aspire (Core i3-4010U, HD Graphics 4400) can first take a lead in the multi-thread test because their processors support Hyper-Threading. The Akoya has a clear lead although both the Akoya and Aspire sport the same GPU. Apparently the Aspire's GPU does not run this test with full speed.

Cinebench R10 Rendering Single CPUs 64Bit
3297 Points
Cinebench R10 Shading 64Bit
4361 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 64Bit
6168 Points
Cinebench R10 Rendering Single 32Bit
2515
Cinebench R10 Rendering Multiple CPUs 32Bit
4854
Cinebench R10 Shading 32Bit
4642
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Single 64Bit
0.75 Points
Cinebench R11.5 OpenGL 64Bit
10.14 fps
Cinebench R11.5 CPU Multi 64Bit
1.45 Points
Cinebench R15 OpenGL 64Bit
10.28 fps
Cinebench R15 Ref. Match 64Bit
98 %
Cinebench R15 CPU Multi 64Bit
129 Points
Cinebench R15 CPU Single 64Bit
67 Points
Help
Cinebench R11.5 - OpenGL 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15
HD Graphics (Haswell), 3556U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPCX-24C6HT0
10.14 fps ∼9%
Samsung ATIV Book 2 - 270E5E
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
9.14 fps ∼8% -10%
Toshiba Satellite C50D-A-10E
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
12.19 fps ∼11% +20%
Acer Aspire E1-572-34014G50Dnkk
HD Graphics 4400, 4010U, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
12.82 fps ∼12% +26%
HP Pavilion 15-n005sg
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
14.49 fps ∼13% +43%
Medion Akoya S6212T
HD Graphics 4400, 4010U, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
16.15 fps ∼15% +59%
Lenovo G505s-20255
Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics, A10-5750M, Seagate ST1000LM014 Solid State Hybrid Drive
29.44 fps ∼27% +190%
Cinebench R11.5 - CPU Multi 64Bit
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15
HD Graphics (Haswell), 3556U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPCX-24C6HT0
1.45 Points ∼12%
Lenovo G505s-20255
Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics, A10-5750M, Seagate ST1000LM014 Solid State Hybrid Drive
2.31 Points ∼19% +59%
Samsung ATIV Book 2 - 270E5E
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
1.39 Points ∼12% -4%
Toshiba Satellite C50D-A-10E
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
1.49 Points ∼12% +3%
Medion Akoya S6212T
HD Graphics 4400, 4010U, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
1.84 Points ∼15% +27%
Acer Aspire E1-572-34014G50Dnkk
HD Graphics 4400, 4010U, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
1.87 Points ∼16% +29%
HP Pavilion 15-n005sg
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
2.51 Points ∼21% +73%

System Performance

The system runs smoothly. There is no reason for complaint. The scores in PCMark are also good. The Aspire (Core i3-4010U, HD Graphics 4400) is slightly before the IdeaPad due to its stronger processor. The Akoya (Core i3-4010U, HD Graphics 4400) has a clear lead owing to its hybrid hard drive.

The IdeaPad's system speed can be increased considerably by installing a solid state drive. We tested this. Windows booted faster, and the system was overall swifter. At the same time, the PCMark benchmark scores increased. Our 64 GB Crucial RealSSD C300 SSD boosted the PCMark 7 score by approximately 67% to 3601 points.

PC Mark
PCMark Vantage3538 points
PCMark 72156 points
PCMark 8 Home1962 points
PCMark 8 Creative1609 points
PCMark 8 Work3734 points
Help
PCMark 7 - Score
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15
HD Graphics (Haswell), 3556U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPCX-24C6HT0
2156 Points ∼33%
Toshiba Satellite C50D-A-10E
Radeon HD 8330, A4-5000, Toshiba MQ01ABF050
1417 Points ∼21% -34%
Samsung ATIV Book 2 - 270E5E
HD Graphics (Ivy Bridge), 2117U, Hitachi Travelstar Z5K500 HTS545050A7E380
2053 Points ∼31% -5%
Acer Aspire E1-572-34014G50Dnkk
HD Graphics 4400, 4010U, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
2385 Points ∼36% +11%
Lenovo G505s-20255
Radeon HD 8650G + HD 8570M Dual Graphics, A10-5750M, Seagate ST1000LM014 Solid State Hybrid Drive
3062 Points ∼46% +42%
HP Pavilion 15-n005sg
HD Graphics 4400, 4200U, Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPVT
2680 Points ∼40% +24%
Medion Akoya S6212T
HD Graphics 4400, 4010U, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
3213 Points ∼49% +49%

Storage Devices

HD Tune
HD Tune
CrystalDiskMark
CrystalDiskMark

A hard drive from Western Digital's Scorpio Blue series is inside the laptop. It spins with 5400 revolutions per minute, and has a capacity of 500 GB. CrystalDiskMark recorded a read speed of 102.8 MB/s. HD Tune delivered an average transfer rate of 83.2 MB/s. These rates are normal for a 5400 rpm hard drive.

Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPCX-24C6HT0
Transfer Rate Minimum: 42.2 MB/s
Transfer Rate Maximum: 114 MB/s
Transfer Rate Average: 82.3 MB/s
Access Time: 17.9 ms
Burst Rate: 229.9 MB/s
CPU Usage: 4.5 %

Graphics Card

The laptop's GPU is dubbed HD Graphics, and comes from Intel. The graphics core supports DirectX 11.1, and works with speeds ranging from 200 MHz to 1000 MHz. Intel uses the name HD Graphics for the GPU models in its Sandy Bridge and Ivy Bridge generation. The Haswell version is stronger than its precursors. It is roughly on the level of the HD Graphics 4000 graphics core.

The IdeaPad clearly lags behind both the Aspire (Core i3-4010U, HD Graphics 4400) and Akoya (Core i3-4010U, HD Graphics 4400) in the 3DMark benchmarks because it sports the weakest GPU. Although the Akoya and Aspire rely on the same GPU, the Aspire is consistently behind the Akoya. The only difference that we found in the two laptops was the driver versions.

3D Mark
3DMark 06
 1280x1024
3358 points
3DMark Vantage2180 points
3DMark 11527 points
3DMark Ice Storm23231 points
3DMark Cloud Gate2305 points
3DMark Fire Strike328 points
Help
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15
Intel Pentium 3556U, Intel HD Graphics (Haswell), Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPCX-24C6HT0
Medion Akoya S6212T
Intel Core i3-4010U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
Acer Aspire E1-572-34014G50Dnkk
Intel Core i3-4010U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
3DMark (2013)
52%
37%
1280x720 Ice Storm Standard Score2323131985
38%
25080
8%
1280x720 Cloud Gate Standard Score23053550
54%
3339
45%
1920x1080 Fire Strike Standard Score328541
65%
514
57%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
52% / 52%
37% / 37%

Gaming Performance

None of the three devices are laptops made for enthusiastic gamers. The IdeaPad can, however, render a few current computer games in a low resolution and quality settings smoothly. The GPU would theoretically be able to reproduce higher frame rates. The working memory would operate in dual-channel mode with a second working memory module. Then, the GPU would be maxed out better, and could supply up to 20% higher frame rates, depending on the game. This option is prevented because the laptop only has one working memory bank though.

Users looking for a laptop that allows gaming on a regular basis will find a few alternatives in the 500-Euros (~$684) price range. For example, a Flex 15 model with a GeForce GT 720M GPU is available. Our review sample is also offered with the corresponding GPU and hybrid hard drive (i.e. hard drive with integrated SSD cache) for approximately 550 Euros (~$753). More gaming power is found in the Aspire E1-572G (Core i5-4200U, Radeon 8750M), which is a sister model of the E1-572. It is currently sold for about 500 Euros (~$684).

low med.high ultra
Resident Evil 5 (2009) 42.617.8fps
Battlefield: Bad Company 2 (2010) 2821.2fps
Deus Ex Human Revolution (2011) 36.816.7fps
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (2011) 22.211.36.8fps
Risen 2: Dark Waters (2012) 12.5fps
Dirt Showdown (2012) 3118.811.7fps
Dishonored (2012) 22.316.8fps
Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012) 25.617.6fps
Tomb Raider (2013) 28.913.88.2fps
Metro: Last Light (2013) 11.2fps
GRID 2 (2013) 38.518.613.2fps
Company of Heroes 2 (2013) 7.2fps
Dota 2 (2013) 36.924.2fps
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15
Intel Pentium 3556U, Intel HD Graphics (Haswell), Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPCX-24C6HT0
Medion Akoya S6212T
Intel Core i3-4010U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Seagate ST500LM000 Solid State Hybrid Drive
Acer Aspire E1-572-34014G50Dnkk
Intel Core i3-4010U, Intel HD Graphics 4400, Seagate Momentus Thin ST500LT0 12-9WS142
Tomb Raider
37%
31%
1024x768 Low Preset28.938.8
34%
37.1
28%
1366x768 Normal Preset AA:FX AF:4x13.819.3
40%
18.3
33%
1366x768 High Preset AA:FX AF:8x8.211.2
37%
Total Average (Program / Settings)
37% / 37%
31% / 31%

Emissions

System Noise

A look at the hardware configuration already hints that the IdeaPad does not belong to the noisiest laptops. The low-voltage processor does not require sophisticated cooling. Thus, the fan can stay at a low speed. Nothing is heard apart from a quiet noise. The fan is also occasionally disabled. We ascertained an idle noise level of 30.7 to 32.1 dB. The Akoya (30.5 to 31.1 dB) is on par with that. The Aspire (30 to 30.1 dB) makes even less noise. The IdeaPad's noise only increased to 33.2 dB in medium load via 3DMark06, and 33.7 dB during full load in the stress test (via Prime95 and Furmark). Both the Akoya (32.7 and 33.1 dB) and the Aspire (31.3 and 32.6 dB) achieved slightly better rates.

Noise Level

Idle 30.7 / 32.1 / 32.1 dB(A)
HDD 30.9 dB(A)
Load 33.2 / 33.7 dB(A)
 
    30 dB
silent
40 dB
audible
50 dB
loud
 
min: , med: , max:    Voltcraft sl-320 (15 cm distance)

Temperature

The IdeaPad Flex 15 in the stress test
The IdeaPad Flex 15 in the stress test

All three laptops sport ULV hardware. In line with that, their exterior temperatures are always within an acceptable range. The CPU performed the stress test (Prime95 and Furmark run for at least one hour) with 1.2 to 1.3 GHz in AC mode; the GPU ran with 900 to 950 MHz. The CPU stably worked with 1.6 GHz when the stress test was performed in battery mode, and the GPU clocked with 800 to 900 MHz. Although neither the CPU nor the GPU perform the stress test with full power, their computing performance is always available in routine use, as our benchmarks show. The CPU's temperature settled to approximately 60 °C in AC mode.

 26.4 °C25.1 °C23.2 °C 
 26.2 °C26.4 °C23 °C 
 25.2 °C24.7 °C25.6 °C 
 
30.5 °C26.3 °C28.4 °C
29.4 °C26 °C30 °C
25.1 °C24.5 °C27.2 °C
Maximum: 26.4 °C
Average: 25.1 °C
 Maximum: 30.5 °C
Average: 27.5 °C
Power Supply (max.)  28.7 °C | Room Temperature 23 °C | Voltcraft IR-360

Speakers

The IdeaPad's stereo speakers are located on the casing's underside in the front edge. They produce a rich sound that lacks bass. Speech is clearly intelligible. A better sound experience can be achieved with external speakers or headphones.

Energy Management

Power Consumption

Owing to the low-voltage ULV CPU, the IdeaPad is energy efficient. The IdeaPad's idle power consumption ranges from 4.2 to 7.5 watts. This places it between the Akoya (3.6 to 5.9 watts) and Aspire (5.6 to 9.2 watts). The IdeaPad consumes up to 24.8 watts in medium load via 3DMark06, and up to 25.3 watts during full load in the stress test, via Prime95 and Furmark. The rates from both the Aspire (24.2 and 26 watts) and the Akoya (27.1 and 24.8 watts) are identical. This is not very surprising since the processors in the three laptops are based on the Haswell architecture, and they all clock with 1.7 GHz. The Akoya consumes a bit less power during full load because its CPU and GPU are throttled slightly.

Power consumption

Off / Standby 0.1 / 0.2 Watt
Idle 4.2 / 7.5 / 7.5 Watt
Load 24.8 / 25.3 Watt
 
Key: min: , med: , max:         Voltcraft VC 940

Battery Runtime

The battery in the IdeaPad lasted for 6:52 h in idle mode. The Aspire (6:22 h) is drained a bit sooner, and the Akoya (13:04 h) shuts down much later. The idle mode runtime is ascertained via Battery Eater's Reader's test. The screen is set to minimum brightness, the energy-savings profile is enabled, and the wireless modules are off. The IdeaPad achieved a load runtime of 1:21 h. Both the Aspire (1:31 h) and the Akoya (2:03 h) last longer. The load runtime is ascertained using Battery Eater's Classic test. The screen is set to maximum brightness, the high-performance mode is enabled, and the wireless modules are on in this test scenario.

The IdeaPad stopped the Wi-Fi test after 3:38 h. The Aspire (3:55 h) runs longer. Since the Aspire's Wi-Fi module was defect, we performed the test with a LAN connection. Neither contender achieves the runtime of the Akoya (6:17 h). In this test, websites are opened automatically every 40 seconds, the energy-saving mode is enabled, and the screen's brightness is set to approximately 150 cd/m². To determine the video runtime in battery mode, we played the well-known clip Big Buck Bunny (H.264 codec, 1920x1080 pixels) in a loop. The energy-saving profile is enabled, the wireless modules are off, and the screen's brightness is set to 150 cd/m². The IdeaPad managed a runtime of 3:41 h here. We did not perform this test with either of the contenders.

It is no surprise that the Akoya achieves the best runtimes. Its battery has the highest capacity (Lenovo: 32 Wh; Medion: 45 Wh; Acer: 37 Wh), and the device has the lowest idle power consumption.

Battery runtime
Idle (without WLAN, min brightness)
6h 52min
WiFi Surfing
3h 38min
Big Buck Bunny H.264 1080p
3h 41min
Load (maximum brightness)
1h 21min

Verdict

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15
Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15

Lenovo supplies a basic 15.6-inch office laptop with its IdeaPad Flex 15. The laptop's computing power is absolutely sufficient for everyday applications. What's more, the laptop operates quietly, does not get exceedingly hot, and is energy-efficient. The slim casing proves to be very handy, and the Stand Mode facilitates using the touchscreen. The IdeaPad's screen has a high contrast, but is not too bright at the same time. It also has a bluish cast. The buyer does not get a VGA out, and Lenovo also only installs a Fast Ethernet chip.

Medion's Akoya S6212T uses the same design as the Flex 15. Therefore, a direct comparison was only natural, and in our opinion, the clear winner is the Akoya. Why? It has the stronger processor, better battery runtimes, better equipment, and better accessories. However, the Akoya also costs 100 Euros (~$136) more than the IdeaPad with 600 Euros (~$821). Medion now also has an Akoya version with a GeForce GT 745M graphics core in its product line for approximately 600 Euros (~$821). The Aspire would be interesting for buyers who put value on a matte Full HD screen.

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In Review: Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15 59394106, courtesy of:
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Specifications

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15

:: Processor
:: Mainboard
Intel Lynx Point-LP
:: Memory
4096 MB, DDR3, single-channel, one memory bank
:: Graphics adapter
Intel HD Graphics (Haswell), Core: 200-1000 MHz, 10.18.10.3277
:: Display
15.6 inch 16:9, 1366x768 pixel, 10 point, AU Optronics B156XTT01, TN LED, glossy: yes
:: Harddisk
Western Digital Scorpio Blue WD5000LPCX-24C6HT0, 500 GB 5400 rpm , 405 GB free
:: Soundcard
Intel Lynx Point-LP - High Definition Audio Controller
:: Connections
2 USB 2.0, 1 USB 3.0, 1 HDMI, Audio Connections: audio combo jack, Card Reader: SD, MMC, Sensors: brightness sensor,
:: Networking
Realtek PCIe FE Family Controller 10/100 (10MBit), Atheros AR9485 WiFi Adapter (b g n ), 4.0 Bluetooth
:: Size
height x width x depth (in mm): 22 x 380 x 272
:: Weight
2.3 kg Power Supply: 0.184 kg
:: Battery
32 Wh Lithium-Ion, 14.4 V, 2200 mAh
:: Price
499 Euro
:: Operating System
Microsoft Windows 8 64 Bit
:: Additional features
Webcam: HD Webcam (1280 x 720), Speakers: stereo, Keyboard: chiclet, Keyboard Light: no, Cyberlink YouCam, McAfee Internet Security, MS Office 365 (trial), Nitro Pro 8 (trial), 24 Months Warranty

 

The base unit's upper side is aluminum.
The base unit's upper side is aluminum.
A number pad is installed.
A number pad is installed.
The hinges...
The hinges...
..keep the lid firmly in position.
..keep the lid firmly in position.
The battery almost weighs 209 grams...
The battery almost weighs 209 grams...
...and has a capacity of 32 Wh.
...and has a capacity of 32 Wh.
The power supply has a weight of 184 grams...
The power supply has a weight of 184 grams...
...and a power output of 45 watts.
...and a power output of 45 watts.
The laptop's basic form...
The laptop's basic form...
...is in line with Lenovo's current design.
...is in line with Lenovo's current design.
The speakers are located on the laptop's underside.
The speakers are located on the laptop's underside.
A Pentium from the Haswell generation is inside the laptop.
A Pentium from the Haswell generation is inside the laptop.
The IdeaPad Flex 15 outdoors.
The IdeaPad Flex 15 outdoors.

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Pro

+Quiet operation
+Low consumption
+Low temperatures
+Empty SSD slot (M.2 format)
 

Contra

-Screen w/ bluish cast
-Fast Ethernet only
-No VGA out

Shortcut

What we like

We find the slim casing appealing, just like the low power consumption, and low operating noise.

What we'd like to see

A maintenance cover. The user can't be expected to open the casing, and risk damaging it. The battery runtimes could also be better in such an energy-efficient device. The relatively low-capacity battery takes its toll here.

What surprises us

Lenovo is getting more and more tightfisted with interfaces. The Flex 15 only features a Fast Ethernet port, and the VGA out has been completely omitted.

The competition

Medion The Touch 300 (Akoya S6212T), Acer Aspire E1-572, HP Pavilion 15-n050sg, Lenovo G500s, Lenovo G505s, Acer Aspire E1-532, HP Pavilion 15-n005sg, Asus F550DP-XX022H, Asus F550CA-XX078D, Acer Aspire E1-522, HP Pavilion 15-e052sg, Toshiba Satellite C50D-A-10E, Samsung ATIV Book 2 - 270E5E, Fujitsu LifeBook AH502.

Rating

Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 15
04/14/2014 v4
Sascha Mölck

Chassis
72 / 98 → 73%
Keyboard
65%
Pointing Device
78%
Connectivity
59%
Weight
61 / 67 → 87%
Battery
80%
Display
72%
Games Performance
50 / 85 → 59%
Application Performance
52%
Temperature
87%
Noise
92%
Audio
50%