Lenovo Flex 14 81SS0005US Review

Image of the Lenovo Flex 14 81SS0005US in tent mode

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The Lenovo Flex 14 81SS0005US received a good discount this shopping season. It’s now down to $449.00 – (save $130.99, 23%) at Amazon.

The Lenovo Flex 14 81SS0005US is a stylish and relatively powerful 2-in-1 laptop. To say the least, it’s a true study of what makes a good budget hybrid laptop for everyday productivity.  We easily recommend it as our Editor’s Choice for budget 2-in-1 laptops.

Pros

  • Simple but remarkable design
  • Strong performance
  • Above-average battery life
  • Fast SSD
  • Good audio quality
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Low-resolution display

From the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon, Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Yoga to the Lenovo Flex 11 Chromebook, Lenovo has outdone itself, curving itself as a premium brand in the laptop scene. The Lenovo Flex 14 81SS0005US falls very close to the tree. It comes into the computer market as a total package. For a budget price, this do-everything 2-in-1 laptop brings to the table a Full HD display, 2.1 GHz AMD R Series processor, 16GB memory, 256GB solid-state drive storage and AMD Radeon Vega 8. In this review, we try to figure out how it performs and how it stacks up against other laptops. Read on.

Lenovo Flex 14 81SS0005US Specs

Screen size14-inch
Display1920 x 1080 pixels
Processor2.1 GHz AMD R Series
Memory16GB DDR4
Storage256GB SSD
GraphicsAMD Radeon Vega 8
Operating SystemWindows 10
Dimensions12.9 x 9 x 0.7 inches
Weight3.52 pounds

Design and Features

If you’re looking for an over-the-top laptop with an impeccable design, then the Lenovo Flex 14 81SS0005US is not for you. The Lenovo Flex 14 81SS0005US flaunts a polished aluminum look which while looking sleek is a bit toned down. The understated look is thanks to the smooth dark finish used on the lid, logo, lid trim, ventilation and hinges. The built is overall strong and sturdy with little to no flex around the lid, keyboard deck or chassis.

The star of the show, however, is the hinges. The Lenovo Flex 14 hinges are flexible enough to allow the laptop to take up several different positions. With the 360 degree hinges, the laptop screen can lie flat against the base of the laptop for use as a keyboard-free slate tablet. You can also always use other modes on the laptop; stand, and tent mode. Additional features such as the speakers are located at the bottom of the laptop (downward-firing speakers muffle the sound hence aren’t great).

On the whole, the design is flawless, especially for its price bracket. However, the one gripe we had with the design is that it’s a bit of a challenge opening the machine with a single hand. The lid and bottom hold together a bit too tight such that you need both sides to pry the device open. Also, there’s a 720p webcam above the screen’s top bezel, which lets you capture fairly sharp pictures ad video, but the quality isn’t suited for anything outside Skype or video chats.

Feature

At 12.91 x 9.02 x 0.7 inches and weighing in at 3.52 pounds, the Lenovo Flex 14 screen is more significant than a typical 13.3 inches but without the heft of a 15.6-inch machine. The Acer Spin 3 (SP314-53N-77AJ) shares almost similar dimensions at 12.95 x 9.41 x 0.78 inches and 3.75 pounds. Overall, the Flex 14 laptop is sleek and highly portable so you can carry it around without breaking your back and that’s a welcome thought. Students and travelers can use it as a productivity laptop and as a travel buddy.

Display

Somewhat narrow screen bezels help the Flex 14 achieve its shape and sleek modern appeal. The slim bezel help reduce the laptop’s footprint, making it look better. The display itself measures 15.6 inches diagonally, and it supports Full HD (1920 x 1080) resolution viewing. The display also touches, and the laptop comes with an Active Pen that lets you draw, scribble, or take notes at any time. The 10-point touch screen allows us to perform gestures such as pinch-zoom, scroll, and switching between apps with aplomb. What we loved about the display is its modest viewing angles and crisp pictures while watching movies. The display is an added advantage for users with a knack for movies and multimedia.

Still, on display, there’s a 720p webcam above the screen’s top bezel, which let you capture fairly sharp pictures ad video, but the quality isn’t suited for anything outside Skype or video chats.

Ports

The port system on the Flex 14 is healthy. There’s a bit of everything on the laptop. The right side houses a pair of UB 2.0 ports, a 2-in-1 card reader, a headset jack, a power button Lenovo’s OneKey Recovery, and a volume rocker. Admittedly, when I first read about the power button on the right edge, I didn’t believe it. It’s a weird setup, certainly a first for me here. But it allows easy access in stand mode, which is honestly very efficient. Meanwhile, the left side is home to a single futuristic USB 3.0 port (USB Type-C), an HDMI port, an Ethernet port, and a proprietary power port. The HDMI port will help when you need to connect to an external monitor.

Performance

After a run of laptops using similar Intel Core components, it’s refreshing to know at the heart of this Lenovo laptop is a neat assembly of components, hardware courtesy of AMD. In addition to an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Processor, the Lenovo Flex 14 Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, 8GB DDR4 RAM, and 256GB NVMe SSD storage.

The AMD Ryzen 5 3500U is a mid-range processor for the mainstream-class laptop computers. The processor sports four cores with a base clock speed of 2.1GHz and a turbo clock speed of 3.8GHz. This CPU is a close competition of Intel’s Core i5-8250U processor. As such, it thrives at home and office computing tasks while still being able to run multiple apps simultaneously. If you’re one to tinkle with video editing, the AMD Ryzen 5 3500U should get you through it.

Memory and storage

Like we earlier mentioned, the system rocks 16GB of memory, which is adequate for running simultaneous tasks at once. For the most part, 8GB memory is considered the baseline for modern laptops. So having 16GB is undoubtedly enough for running all demanding workloads such as video editing and light gaming. With such amounts of memory, the system easily handles office productivity, web browsing, media streaming, photo-editing, and gaming at medium to high settings. At this point, I would like to point out that how much RAM one user needs vary from what another user might need. It all depends on specific use cases. However, the rule of thumb here is more memory is better, which means 16GB is a go-to-choice.

As for storage, we appreciate that Lenovo included 256GB solid-state drive storage for this laptop. Thankfully, that means the operating system runs from the SSD storage, and that translates to fast boot times, loading of software, and loading of games. The only challenge is that you’ll have to find other storage options for your games, data files, and multimedia. With 256GB, you will also have to prioritize what to store, but it filled up pretty quickly.

Gaming Capacity

For graphics, the Lenovo Flex 14 sports a Radeon Vega 8 discrete graphics card. The AMD Radeon Vega 8 GPU is an integrated GPU made for notebooks. While the integrated graphics isn’t enough for heavy graphics-intensive workloads such as gaming, it easily supports some editing and light gaming. The bright-side is that it helps some latest gaming titles such as F1 2019 46 fps on low 1280 x 720 resolution settings.

Here are some more games and how they performed:

Game TitleFrames per Second
League of Legends70 fps on high 1920 x 1080 settings
Dirt Rally 2.0 (2019)41.2 fps on medium 1920 x 1080 settings
Far Cry New Dawn 201937 fps on low 1280 x 720 settings

From the results, it’s easy to conclude that the AMD Radeon Vega 8 isn’t strong enough to support modern AAA gaming titles. But it can find its way around some less competitive gaming alternatives. So, if you have to game, look for less competitive titles and drop the settings down to a minimum and you’ll be fine.

Battery life

It’s a strong showing for a laptop when it has a good battery life. So with 8 hours, 38 minutes of battery life tagged to its belt, the Lenovo Flex 14 has a right name. Ideally, that’s more than enough time to last you through almost a whole day of work at the office or class. And also quite impressive for a laptop with such bright display and touchscreen support. Overall, that’s plenty enough juice for anyone considering this laptop for all-day productivity. Fortunately, you can squeeze in a good two hours of usage from charging for 15 minutes, with the fast charging 6W power adapter. The battery is a none-removable battery so you will have to get used to it that way.

Compared to competition in the industry, the Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1,  a beast of a business laptop still holds the title. It can last a whopping 13 hours and 8 minutes on a single charge. But of course, it is much more expensive.

Keyboard

Like the rest of the laptop, the keyboard is black. But the main difference is the rest of the deck is black brushed aluminum while the keyboard is built with plastic. The keyboard is great. It offers relatively short travel. That is how far down you must depress the key before keystroke registers, making it easy to use for long hours of typing and daily use. The layout also works, and there is backlighting for use in dimly lit rooms. One of the keyboard’s defining features is the concave keys and tactile bump, half-way of each keystroke. The keys are also concave keys and sport a tactile bump half-way of each keystroke.

Tucked still on the right corner of the keyboard deck is a fingerprint reader that supports Windows Hello apps. The fingerprint scanner brings to the table biometric logins, a safe a secure way of logging in if security is high on your list. The same feature is available in the Lenovo Flex 6 2-in-1 laptop as well.

The touchpad is also very responsive and easy to use. Still, if both the keyboard and touchpad don’t please you, you can switch to the touch display and Active pen. Users prone to using a mouse can always go for a wireless mouse; it should work just as well.

Related: Best mice under 20 dollars

Conclusion

The Lenovo Flex 14 is a robust offering for those who don’t have the budget to spend on an expensive productivity laptop but still require the efficiency and power of a dependable 2-in-1 notebook.

The Flex 14 has fewer faults than it has positives. The physical build is appealing and feels sturdy. The battery life is impressive at almost a whole day of work and aligns with its lightweight nature to make it portable. In terms of performance, the system feels snappy even on heavy tasks and light gaming. Also, while it falls behind in high-end graphic-intensive gaming, the Lenovo Flex 14 holds its own in some modern AAA titles and 1080p gaming.

To sum it all up, while the Lenovo Flex 14 doesn’t earn our Editor’s Choice award for best 2-in-1 laptop, it packs an excellent combination of price, power and portability. AS a result, we recommend it for budget users looking for an affordable 2-in-1 powerhouse laptop.

Is there another alternative?

The Flex 14 is a great hybrid laptop and there are more than few 2-in-1s that can kick its ass around all day. But there’s only one problem; they’ll cost you an arm. I’m talking about some of the best 2-in-1’s in the industry right now. For instance Microsoft Surface Book 2, HP Envy X2 and the Lenovo Yoga C930. For budget users, the Lenovo Flex 6 14 a close cousin to the Flex 14 and the Microsoft Surface Go (the cheapest Surface) might be the only alternatives at this price.

Even so, the Flex 14 remains as the best option for striking the better price among the three options.

Should you buy it?

Yes, Between the Lenovo Flex 14’s sleek sturdy chassis, ridiculously gorgeous 14-inch display and powerful performance, it’s practically a miracle that the Flex has long battery life and budget price. You will be hard-pressed finding another 2-in-1 laptop with this bundle of features and price point.

About Mark Hyde

Mark is an Editor and writer with a deep passion for tech. His primary focus is on laptops, desktops, home appliances, and gadgets. He also supports the idea of a worry-free-life through technology. At his free time, you'll find him in the comfort of hearty food, movies or traveling. His most recent obsession is cooking.

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