With the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE in the configuration as we have tested it, you are definitely getting a bargain. For 700 euros you get a fast Ryzen hexacore processor, a smooth 512GB SSD, no less than 16GB of RAM and excellent battery life. The color reproduction of the screen could be better, but compared to laptops in the same price range, the IdeaPad 5 also performs well in that area. Moreover, the contrast is very good for an IPS screen.

 

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE Pros:

  • Fast hexacore processor
  • Excellent battery life
  • Fast 512GB SSD and 16GB ram
  • High contrast IPS screen

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE Cons:

  • Moderate color rendering

 

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE Review

In last January, AMD announced its Ryzen 4000 processors for laptops. They are made at 7nm and feature the Zen2 cores that have already proven their success in the Ryzen 3000 series desktop processors. Notably, those desktop CPUs are much more efficient than their Intel counterparts, which is promising for use in laptops.

In April we were able to get started with Asus laptops with Ryzen 4000H CPU. Those 45W processors are intended for powerful laptops, such as gaming laptops. In that review we saw that the Ryzen 4000H CPUs are very fast, but because those laptops have power-hungry video cards, there was not much to say about the battery life. We were therefore very curious about the economical Ryzen 4000U variants. These are 15W processors with up to eight cores, which end up in thin and light laptops.

Half a year has passed since the announcement and finally the first laptops with those Ryzen 4000U processors are for sale. The first model that made its way to our test lab is the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE, which we will discuss in this review. This is not a particularly thin and light model, but a midrange laptop with a 15.6 “screen.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE Housing and connections

The IdeaPad 5 has a screen lid made of aluminum; the rest of the laptop is made of plastic. The plastic has a matte coating, so the laptop does not feel cheap. There are three color versions: light gray, and dark gray and dark blue. Our test sample is the dark gray variant.

The housing is neatly finished and also feels quite sturdy. You can press the screen a bit and twist it a bit if you apply force, but with normal use that should not cause any problems. With a weight of about 1.7kg and a thickness of 18mm, this IdeaPad 5 15ARE is a fairly compact 15.6 “laptop.

There are not many connections on the laptop, but nothing is actually missing. On the right you will find two USB 3.0 ports and a card reader that fits full-size SD cards. On the left are a power connection, an HDMI 1.4b port and a 3.5mm jack. You will also find a USB-C connection here. It works on USB 3.1 Gen1 speed and has support for the displayport alt mode.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE webcam photoThere is a small tab on the top edge of the screen that allows you to grab the lid to open the laptop. There is also a webcam on that spot. That’s a camera with a 720p sensor that delivers photos and videos with little detail. The image quality is therefore disappointing. What we do appreciate is the slide that allows you to physically cover the camera when you are not using the webcam.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE Keyboard and touchpad

Lenovo opts for a keyboard with a numeric keypad. The keys are backlit with two brightness levels. When pressing the keys you feel clear feedback, which makes typing comfortable. The amount of travel is not very great, but sufficient.

Under the keyboard is a touchpad with a fine, smooth surface, which is easy to operate. Pressing the touchpad to click with the mouse also feels good. It is a Precision Touchpad, the drivers of which are integrated in Windows 10. This makes the multi-touch gestures for that operating system work smoothly. The power button also doubles as a fingerprint scanner. Despite the fact that it is quite narrow, the recognition works quickly.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE Hardware and Benchmarks

The IdeaPad 5 15ARE is especially interesting because of the Ryzen 5 4500U processor. Before we move on to the benchmarks, let’s take a look at the line-up of Ryzen 4000U processors. The 4500U falls in the middle segment. The processor has six cores, without simultaneous multithreading. AMD also makes a variant with SMT and there are also Ryzen 7 versions with eight cores, and there are also with and without SMT.

AMD Ryzen 4000 U Laptop Processors    
AMD Ryzen 7 4800U 8C / 16T 1.8GHz 4.2GHz 8 1750MHz 15W
AMD Ryzen 7 4700U 8C / 8T 2.0GHz 4.1GHz 7 1600MHz 15W
AMD Ryzen 5 4600U 6C / 12T 2.1GHz 4.0GHz 6 1500MHz 15W
AMD Ryzen 5 4500U 6C / 6T 2.3GHz 4.0GHz 6 1500MHz 15W
AMD Ryzen 3 4300U 4C / 4T 2.7GHz 3.7GHz 5 1400MHz 15W

The Ryzen 5 4500U is therefore far from the top model, but for a 15W processor it has a lot to offer. Until recently, quadcores were commonplace in this segment. Intel has one 15W processor with six cores, the Core i7-10710U, but it is hardly found in laptops and not at all in laptops that are in the same price range as the IdeaPad 5.

On paper, the Ryzen 7 4800U in particular seems like an interesting processor. It combines eight cores with SMT and a Vega 8 GPU at 1750MHz. We have not yet come across laptops with that CPU and at the time of writing they are not available through the Pricewatch. How that eight-headed 15W processor performs will be revealed later. For now we can get started with the Ryzen 5 4500U, which, despite its relatively low positioning in the line-up, is by no means modestly equipped.

  Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE
Processor AMD Ryzen 5 4500U
Cores / threads 6/6
Clock frequency (turbo) 2.3GHz (4.0GHz)
GPU Radeon RX Vega 6 @ 1500MHz (integrated)
Random access memory 16GB ddr4-3200, dual channel (soldered)
Ssd 512GB, SK Hynix BC511, pci-e 3.0 x4
Wifi Intel wifi 6 AX200
Screen 15.6 “, 1920×1080, ips, matte
Screen panel Chi Mei CMN151E, N156HCA-EAC
Weight 1.7kg
Dimensions 233x347x18mm
Battery 70Wh
Operating system Windows 10 Home

Lenovo combines the Ryzen processor with 16GB ram and a 512GB SSD. The IdeaPad 5 15ARE does not have many upgrade options. If you unscrew the bottom, you will not find any memory strips, but the memory is soldered to the motherboard. The downside is that you can’t replace or expand it, but it’s 16GB ddr4-3200 in a dual channel setup, so both capacity and speed are fine. You can, however, replace the m2-nvme-ssd if necessary. There is no room for an extra SSD.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE CPU Benchmarks

We are particularly curious about the performance of the Ryzen 4000U processor, so in this review we compare the IdeaPad 5 with quite a few laptops. We include tested models with Ryzen 3000U processors as well as laptops with Ryzen 3000H and 4000H (S) processors. Those H (S) CPUs have a tdp of 35 or 45W and therefore fall into a completely different category. Basically, however, they use the same technology as the Ryzen 4000U processors. With their tdp of 15W, they are only limited to how long they can run at a high clock speed.

Of course, the comparison with Intel processors is also interesting. In most cases, those are quadcores from the Comet Lake and Ice Lake generations, made at 14 and 10nm respectively. Intel has one economical hexacore: the Core i7-10710U with a maximum speed of 4.7 GHz. It also has HyperThreading, so it can work on twelve threads at the same time. It’s in the MSI Prestige 14, which we reviewed earlier, so we can compare the performance.

At the start of the test, the IdeaPad 5 finishes the render in 47 seconds. This makes the Ryzen 5 4500U faster than AMD quadcores of the previous generation and the current Intel quadcores. Given the number of cores, that was to be expected; but more surprising is that there is no throttling at all. For half an hour, the IdeaPad delivers 5 renders in about 47 seconds. The IdeaPad 5 is a 15.6 “laptop, so there is quite a bit of room for cooling, but it also fares better than other laptops of the same size in this comparison, which makes it clear that the Ryzen 4000U processor scores very well on this plane.

The IdeaPad 5 15ARE is generally quiet. The fans will only blow hard if you put a heavy load on the laptop for a longer period of time. While running our intensive Blender test, that happened after about ten minutes. After about eight minutes of blowing hard, it stopped for a few minutes, and then continued. This is striking, because the CPU load is constant during the test. So even with heavy loads, the cooling does not have to run continuously at full speed. The temperature of the CPU cores was seventy to eighty degrees during the running of the Blender test. That is relatively low when such an intensive benchmark is performed on a laptop.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE GPU Benchmarks

The IdeaPad 5 15ARE does not have a separate video card, but uses the integrated GPU of the Ryzen 5 4500U processor. That is a Vega 6 GPU. The number indicates the number of compute units. In name, the Vega 6 seems to be a decline compared to, for example, the Vega 8 GPU of the Ryzen 5 3500U, but that is not the case. In the Ryzen 4000U series, the GPUs are clocked higher; for example, at the 4500U the GPU goes up to 1500MHz, the Vega 8 GPU of the 3500U goes up to 1200MHz.

In 3DMark Cloud Gate and Night Raid, the Ryzen 4500U scores very well. Thanks to the higher clock speed, the Vega 6 GPU is even faster than Vega 10 GPUs from Ryzen 3000U processors, and laptops with MX150 and MX250 video cards are also outperformed. However, that doesn’t tell the whole story; Cloud Gate is a benchmark that makes few demands. We also ran GTA V on Medium settings, but that is too much to ask for the IdeaPad 5. Suddenly laptops with the MX GPUs are faster again. This is probably due to the speed of the video memory. The IdeaPad 5 uses RAM as vram and although the ddr4-3200 is in dual channel setup, it has much less bandwidth than the dedicatedvram of MX video cards. The game works, but the performance is not over. If you turn the settings all the way down, higher frame rates are achievable. With the lowest possible settings, we arrive at an average of 57fps at the full HD resolution.

Playing less graphically demanding games will benefit the Vega 6 GPU better. It is possible that the Ryzen 5 4500U’s igpu also outperforms Nvidia MX video cards in certain games. In any case, gamers are better off investing in a laptop with a separate video card, such as the GTX 1650 or higher, because they are significantly faster.

SSDs with a storage capacity of 512GB are starting to become common in laptops around 700 euros, but budget models are often used. Lenovo does not cut back on the SSD. The IdeaPad 5 contains an SK Hynix BC511, an m2 NVME SSD that uses four PCI-E 3.0 lanes and delivers excellent performance.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE Screen and Battery life

The Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE has a 15.6 “panel with IPS-like properties. That means that the viewing angles are good and the contrast looks good. It is a panel from Chi Mei, with a matte finish and resolution 1920×1080 pixels To see how it compares to other laptops, we measured the screen with our colorimeter and Calman software.

The maximum brightness of about 300cd / m² is common in laptops in this price range. It is more than enough to enjoy working indoors, but if you also want to work outside in the sun, then it is not enough. You have to dig deeper for a higher screen brightness. The contrast ratio of over 1400: 1 is very good for an IPS panel.

The panel used can only display about 64 percent of the sRGB color space. The brightest shades of red, blue and green cannot be touched by the screen. These types of panels are also common with laptops up to 700 euros, although with a little luck you can also find a screen that can display better colors. Due to the low srgb coverage, the average color error is quite high. For graphic design or serious photo editing where accurate color reproduction is required, this screen is not recommended, but the picture certainly doesn’t look bad.

Battery life

Intel laptops generally scored best in our battery tests, although AMD came closer and closer with its Ryzen 3000U processors. We had high hopes for the Ryzen 4000U series, because we already knew that desktop processors with the same Zen2 cores are much more efficient than Intel counterparts.

In our browser test, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 with Ryzen 5 4500U tops the list by a significant margin. The battery life is therefore excellent, but it also helps that Lenovo puts a battery with a fairly high capacity of 70Wh in the laptop. Interesting is the comparison with the 15 “version of the Surface Laptop 3. After all, it has the same screen size and an AMD processor of the previous generation. The Lenovo laptop has a battery capacity that is 55 percent higher, but the battery life is 66 percent. There are many more things that affect the battery life, such as the screen resolution, which is higher with the Microsoft laptop, so a direct comparison cannot be made, although this indicates that the Ryzen 4000U processors are doing better. than their predecessors.

The new Ryzen processor also scores very well in the PCMark battery test, which simulates light tasks such as text, image and video editing. The battery life is longer than comparable laptops with Intel and older AMD processors, while the score is also relatively high. This score indicates how much work has been done in the elapsed time.

Conclusion and alternatives

If you can find the Lenovo IdeaPad 5 15ARE in the configuration as tested by us, you are definitely getting a bargain. For 700 euros you get a fast hexacore processor, a smooth 512GB SSD, no less than 16GB ram and excellent battery life. The color reproduction of the screen could be better, but compared to laptops in the same price range, the IdeaPad 5 does well in that area. Moreover, the contrast is very good for an IPS screen.

Especially the processor stands out positively; the Ryzen 5 4500U is the first of AMD’s new Ryzen 4000U series that we have been able to put to the test and that makes us want more. As expected, AMD Zen2 architecture, combined with the 7nm process on which the processors are baked, is a success in laptops. Not only is the performance good, the battery life is also excellent. This is evident from the browser test, in which this IdeaPad 5 can last for more than fourteen hours. For years Intel was a leader when it came to battery life in laptops, but that era is over.

However, the availability of Ryzen 4000U processors appears to be an issue. The CPUs were announced at the beginning of this year, but can still only be found in laptops. In addition, it seems that only small batches of those laptops with the new AMD CPUs are available. In any case, that would explain the rapid disappearance of this IdeaPad 5 from the Pricewatch. The laptop was on sale for a number of weeks in May and June, but can no longer be found in the price lists at the time of publication. So it is hoping for a return or for a comparable model with the same price and specifications. Lenovo has informed us that the configuration we tested will be back in stock soon.

Alternatives

At the time of writing, there is one other IdeaPad 5 15ARE version in the Pricewatch that is available. That is a variant with Ryzen 7 4700U processor. That CPU has two extra cores and will therefore perform better; otherwise the specifications of the laptop are the same. However, the price is a lot higher at 900 euros. Lenovo has a few more laptops with Ryzen 4000U processors listed on its websiteincluding a 14 “variant of the IdeaPad 5, with the same processor and a price of 739 euros. However, the delivery time for this and the other Ryzen 4000U laptops is ‘more than six weeks’. Because the reviewed IdeaPad 5 15ARE on the is not available at the time of writing, we list below two alternatives with largely comparable hardware. We have not yet tested these laptops ourselves, so we cannot give a final judgment.

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