Intel has been lately updating its chips more frequently than ever and it is up to OEMs to embrace the new chips for their popular models. Lenovo has been among the first few brands to update some of its offerings with the latest 11th Gen Intel power. One of its popular choices in the midrange segment is the IdeaPad Slim 5i and the 15-inch variant got the 11th Gen upgrade a while ago. The new Intel chip along with some solid on-paper specifications makes this a tempting buy for most.
But is it a good choice for a student or for those who seek a laptop for casual usage? To answer this query, I picked up the absolute base variant of the new IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 (instead of the top-end variant) to replace my work PC. After two weeks of exposure for this shiny new Lenovo to a journalist’s hectic work life, here are my overall impressions of this laptop.
I consider Lenovo’s ThinkPad series to be the absolute benchmark when it comes to productivity-oriented laptops. For the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15, Lenovo has tried to bring some of that robust and practical design to this meant-for-the-masses laptop. And safe to say, Lenovo makes this rather uninspiring laptop appeal in flesh. This has got a full metal body but with a luxurious “ThinkPad-esque” matte coat of paint for the deck.
That matte coat of paint is softer on the skin and it helps while working for long hours. I also found it resistant to dirt and debris build-up over the course of time. Sadly, the lid goes for a standard metallic paint and that attracts smudges unlike anything else. I found keeping the dirt and smudge off the lid a task. Maybe Lenovo could have used that same matte paint from the deck on the lid.
For a 15-inch laptop, the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 has a well laid-out keyboard with a dedicated NumPad. The trackpad is fairly large but I would have preferred slightly larger size. Whether you choose the base or top model, you get the power key-mounted fingerprint sensor as standard. The speakers are mounted above the keyboard, which does help with the audio experience.
The display itself is getting slim bezels along the sides while the top bezel has a small notch-kind of arrangement with Lenovo’s webcam shutter in place. I am also impressed with the slim bottom bezel – something that I have only seen in laptops costing a thousand more. The matte display goes a long way to cut down on the reflections.
The overall build quality is solid and I did not observe any flex on the deck or creaking panels. Despite the lightweight 1.6Kg body, Lenovo has managed to stuff all the necessary ports a regular laptop user would need. There are two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, USB-C Gen 1 (power delivery, display port), HDMI 1.4b, SD card reader, and a Headphone/mic combo. For wireless connectivity, there’s support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 onboard.
On the whole, I find the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 handsome, especially with its unique paint job for the deck and solid build quality.
The IdeaPad Slim 5i 15, as the name suggests, comes with a 15.6-inch IPS LCD display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels. There’s support for a 45 percent NTSC color gamut and it can go up to peak brightness levels of 300 nits. The refresh rate stays standard at 60Hz, which seems alright given that this isn’t a gaming PC.
For regular PC workloads, this is a nice display to look at. The 300 nits of brightness is plenty indoors and for most casual tasks, the color reproduction, as well as the contrast, is decent. For my daily writing and browsing needs, I found the display to be adequate, given the price Lenovo is asking. Viewing angles are wide, allowing for a mini YouTube binge session at the office with colleagues during lunch.
This is one of the primary, if not the primary, reasons to get the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15. On the base variant that I have, there’s an 11th Gen Intel Core i5-1135G7 processor clocked at 2.4GHz. This is paired with 8GB of 3200MHz DDR4 RAM as standard. You get a 256GB PCIe SSD storage for booting Windows 10 while there’s an additional 1TB of hard drive for storing files. For graphics, there’s just an onboard Iris Xe graphics, although the top-end model lets you go for an NVIDIA MX450 GPU.
For regular computing tasks, the base model with the above-mentioned specifications is more than enough. On average, I work on Google Chrome with 8-9 tabs opened simultaneously, with a Word document as well as Microsoft Teams opened in the background. With this workload, the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 did not shed sweat at all. It is always on its toes while dealing with resource-intensive websites as well as dealing with a little bit of Adobe Photoshop editing. The Core i5-1135G7 seems to have an overhead of performance on this laptop.
Sadly, the onboard Iris Xe graphics was unable to play any of my Codemasters F1 titles from Steam due to the lack of a dedicated GPU. It should be noted that this variant of the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 isn’t meant for gaming. Similarly, dealing with complex Photoshop files did showcase the struggle of the onboard graphics at the time. I was unable to run any of the benchmarks given the limitation in downloading files at the office network. However, it seems that you will be happy with the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 as long as you limit it to generic PC tasks. Gamers and content creators should look elsewhere.
Since this is a PC meant for work, I have to stress on the keyboard and trackpad. The keyboard layout is spacious thereby preventing ghosting but the feedback is average at best. There is sufficient key travel but the keys are soft to press and lack the responsivity I often adore on ThinkPad and Yoga laptops. The backlighting is of major help while working in dim rooms. I found the dedicated media control keys on top of the Numpad particularly useful while watching YouTube. The tiny up and down arrow keys are a struggle though.
The trackpad is decent with its responsiveness and key travel but this is an area where I felt Lenovo could have done better. I mostly relied on an external mouse to get work done effortlessly. The webcam quality is poor but the addition of the privacy shutter offers extra peace of mind for those concerned with privacy.
The pair of 2W stereo speakers are adequate for casual binge sessions on YouTube but for movies, it is always wise to plug in the headphones or external speakers. The audio output isn’t tinny but it sounded flat to my ears with no depth. These do get loud in silent rooms. The top-mounted position of the speakers means that you don’t get muffled audio while the laptop rests on your lap or on the bed.
With its 3-cell 57Wh battery, the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 is rated to last up to 11 hours at a stretch. In the real world though, I found the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 lasting on an average of 7-8 hours on a regular working day with my kinds of abovementioned workloads, i.e. 9-10 tabs on Chrome with a constant connection to Wi-Fi networks. The 65W adapter tops up the battery from 30 percent in under an hour. Additionally, I was also able to charge the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 using a 65W OnePlus USB-C power adapter.
Regardless of the price, the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 is a well-built laptop for work and basic entertainment purposes. The 11th Gen Core i5 processor is more than enough to handle regular computing tasks without bothering. The display is good enough and so is the battery life. The sleek design with the matte paint job for the deck could appeal to style-conscious buyers. Those looking for a comfortable working experience should look for investing in a ThinkPad machine as the keyboard experience isn’t great. Additionally, content creators should look for alternative options with dedicated graphics and better display.
However, given the starting price of Rs 63,990, the IdeaPad Slim 5i 15 earns our recommendation as one of the top choices for students as well as casual users with a budget of under Rs 70,000. Those planning to get a solid work-from-home laptop this year could also consider this option, provided your work involves dealing with documents, excel sheets, files, and web browsing.