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Chromebooks are an interesting breed of laptops and have developed quite a following over their decade-plus run. What started as a low-cost option in the laptop market has ballooned to cover every price point and include many of the same features as a Windows laptop or MacBook.

Large displays that offer increased real estate to get your work done have been rare in the Chromebook world. While manufacturers such as Acer have released 16-inch Chromebooks over the years, they have been few and far between.

Lenovo looks to help close that gap with its Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook and its 16-inch display. I spent the past month with this Chromebook to determine if it can hang with the best Chromebooks available today. While Lenovo did a good job in developing this laptop, I can’t help but feel it made one too many tradeoffs in getting the price down.

With a 16-inch display and a 1920 x 1200 resolution, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i has plenty of screen real estate for serious work. Luckily, the 12th Gen Intel Core i3-1215U and its 8GB of RAM are up to the same challenge. Add a battery that can easily last a typical workday, and you have a road warrior's dream Chromebook. It is on the heavy side and doesn't have the brightest display, but if you want a large Chromebook, you can't do better than this.

  • Brand: Lenovo
  • Color: Storm Grey
  • Storage: 128GB eMMC 5.1
  • CPU: 12th Gen Intel Core i3-1215U Processor (E-cores up to 3.30 GHz P-cores up to 4.40 GHz)
  • Memory: 8 GB LPDDR4X-4266MHz (Soldered)
  • Operating System: Chrome OS
  • Battery: 71Whr
  • Ports: 2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, Headphone / mic combo, and a MicroSD card slot
  • Camera: FHD 1080p with webcam privacy cover
  • Display (Size, Resolution): 16″ WUXGA (1920 x 1200) IPS, anti-glare, 16:10, 300 nits, 45% NTSC, 60Hz
  • Weight: 4.10lbs
  • Dimension: 356.5 x 253 x 19.95mm
  • Price: $549.99
  • Adaptor and Battery: 45W AC adapter
  • 16 inch display provides a lot of desktop real estate
  • The 12th Gen i3 CPU makes this Chromebook fly
  • Battery will get you through a work day and then some
  • Keyboard and touchpad are roomy
  • At 4.10 pounds, this Chromebook is heavy
  • Keyboard is not backlit
  • Display colors look washed out
  • May not fit in your current laptop bag
Buy This Product

Price & availability

With an MSRP of $550, the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook is well-positioned with its size and included specs. At the time of writing, it is available for $410 from Lenovo and Newegg in the configuration tested in this review. It's available in only one color, storm gray.

Design, hardware, & what’s in the box

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Back-1

The Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook doesn’t stray very far from Lenovo’s standard design language and overall look and feels pretty utilitarian. The top cover is made from two-toned aluminum, while the bottom of the laptop is made from plastic.

While it uses lighter materials for the build, at 4.17 pounds, this laptop is a bit on the heavy side. With many laptops weighing three pounds or less, it’s something that you are going to notice immediately upon picking it up. The Lenovo 5i is on the larger side, measuring 356.5 x 253 x 19.9 mm.

The extra size gives it ample space for plenty of ports, as well as top-firing speakers. The left side houses a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port, a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. The right side has a Kensington Nano Security Lock, a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 port. There are a pair of Waves MaxxAudio two-watt speakers located above the keyboard. I was pleasantly surprised to find the audio quality to be relatively good. The audio got more than loud enough, and I heard no distortion. They don’t produce a ton of bass, but they are more than adequate for media consumption.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Bottom

Above the display is where you will find the fixed-focus 1080p front-facing camera. Video quality is sufficient for business calls, but not for much else. I was happy to see the inclusion of a privacy shutter, allowing you to close the camera lens when you aren’t actively using it.

There isn’t much in terms of what you get in the box. Outside of the Chromebook, all that comes in the box is a 45W USB-C charger. It’s a no-frills unboxing experience, but it gets the job done.

Display, keyboard, and trackpad

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Display

During my time with the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook, the 16-inch 16:10 display was a mixed bag. With 16 inches of usable area and a resolution of 1920 x 1200, you get plenty of screen real estate to work with. While the display is adequate, especially at this price point, it was just average.

I was most disappointed with the lack of a touchscreen, 300 nits of brightness, and a color gamut of only 45%. A 45% color gamut essentially means that colors will not be very accurate. The colors produced by this display weren’t punchy and often looked washed out. The 300 nits of brightness worked well enough indoors but quickly becomes a hindrance if you work outside or in a bright environment.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Keyboard and Trackpad-1

The keyboard shares this adequate-but-not-great feeling. You get a full-sized keyboard equipped with a numeric keypad to the right. The keys offer plenty of travel, but are on the mushy side. Coming from a keyboard that doesn’t include a numeric keyboard, I had a tendency to hit the DEL key instead of backspace while typing, which got frustrating in a hurry. What hurts this keyboard the most is the lack of any kind of backlighting.

It’s not a huge issue during the day, but if you frequently work in dimly lit areas or at night, be prepared to spend extra time seeing the correct keys.

On the other hand, the 75 x 120 mm trackpad felt much better. It was large enough that it never felt cramped and was pretty responsive. There wasn’t a hint of rattle when clicking, and it accurately registered all of my gestures and multi-finger navigation.

Performance & software

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Right Edge

The Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook is an awesome performer for the price. It includes a very capable Intel 12th-gen Core i3-1215 CPU with two performance cores and four efficiency cores, for eight threads. On top of that, it has 8GB of RAM and 128GB of eMMC storage. This Chromebook easily took on whatever I needed it to.

Granted, my typical use case is browsing the web for research and writing, but I argue that is what most people need a laptop of this caliber for. I never ran into any slowdowns and rarely had to reload my tabs when flicking between them. I thought the eMMC storage would slow things down, but never noticed any issues.

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Left Edge

Chrome OS continues to be a mixed bag, and your experience will vary based on your individual use case. App support can be limited, and you may have to settle on using an Android app to cover all your bases, which may or may not be ideal. Most of what I use is available as a web app, which works perfectly fine.

If you can’t find what you need as a web app or Android application, you can always enable the Linux container and install applications that way. Enabling Linux is easy and opens up further possibilities, such as installing Visual Studio for programming or Audacity for music and podcast recording.

Battery Life

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook With Charger

At 71Whr, the battery life on the Lenovo 5i Chromebook was quite good during my testing. Depending on how hard I pushed the 5i and how high I had set the brightness settings, I routinely saw anywhere from 10.5 hours to 12 hours of use. As my typical use case is running Chrome and a few web apps, my battery results are probably on the higher end of what to expect. If you push your laptop to do more, such as play games, you can expect shorter battery life. The battery life is quite good, and it should be good enough to get you through a full workday and quite possibly more.


Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Lid Closed

While the Lenovo 5i is a solid value for the price and has a big 16-inch display, it has quite a bit of competition in the marketplace, depending on your needs. If you are a student looking for a Chromebook to take to school, the Lenovo Chromebook Flex 5i is a tough competitor, especially if you can find it on sale for $300. It gives you 128GB of SSD storage and 8GB of RAM. It does come with an inferior 11th-gen Intel i3 CPU, but it is still a capable performer. It has a 13.3-inch display for even more portability.

If you want to stay in the same price range, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5 is a fantastic 2-in-1 option that retails for $500. It has a 13.3-inch 1080p OLED display, 8GB of RAM, and 128GB of storage. The included Snapdragon processor won’t be as punch as the 12th Gen i3 in the Lenovo 5i, but it will provide excellent battery life. Being a 2-in-1, this laptop doubles as a tablet and will be lighter to carry.

If you are willing to stretch your budget a bit, the Acer Chromebook Spin 714 is an absolute beast. You get a 12th-gen Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. It has a gorgeous 14-inch IPS display and is a great Chromebook for just about anyone. It typically retails for $729 but can be found as low as $499 when it's on sale.

A large display with some tradeoffs

Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Hero

Whether this is the right Chromebook for you boils down to your needs. If you are looking for a Chromebook with a large 16-inch display at a budget price, then the Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook checks many boxes. While its display doesn’t offer punchy colors or eye-searing brightness, it makes up for it with a lot of screen real estate. Add the fantastic performance and great battery life, and you have a solid overall Chromebook for a tad more than $400.

If you don’t need a 16-inch display or find the four pounds of weight to be too much, there are better alternatives on the market. This is especially true if you are willing to spend a bit more, as Lenovo made a few too many sacrifices to get the price down, and those tradeoffs start to add up when you look at them. If you want something on the less expensive side, many budget Chromebook options are available. If you prefer a large display and solid performance over everything else, the Lenovo Chromebook 5i will suit you well.