Lenovo IdeaPad 5 Pro Review – Zen3, 90Hz and not pay the grand prize

Spread the love

The IdeaPad 5 Pro offers great value for money. The laptop has a sturdy metal casing and Lenovo manages to get a lot out of the Zen3 architecture thanks to good cooling, which allows for high clock speeds. The screen has a high resolution and a refresh rate of 90Hz, which makes the laptop seem to work just a bit smoother than standard 60Hz laptops. However, it could have been calibrated a bit better. The battery life is not bad at ten hours while browsing, given the high resolution and refresh rate. If you are looking for a 14″ laptop, the only reason not to choose this model is the weight (1450g) and the battery life. They could be even better, but if you don’t think weight and battery life are important, it is this model is definitely worth considering.


  • Fast Zen3 CPU
  • High resolution
  • 90Hz refresh rate
  • Sturdy metal casing
  • Great value for money


  • HDMI 1.4 connection
  • Screen calibration is disappointing

2020 was the year AMD was able to slowly wrest market share from Intel after its long hold on the laptop market. AMD did that by force by putting as many as eight CPU cores in a 15W package, while Intel then, and still does not go further than four cores, barring a rare 14nm CPU. The fastest CPU AMD released at the time was the Ryzen 7 4800U, and we have come across it almost exclusively in Lenovo laptops, including the popular Yoga Slim 7.

Also this year, the first laptop with a 15W Zen 3 processor is a Lenovo, namely the IdeaPad 5 Pro. That took a while because Zen 3 was already announced in January. Our test model is equipped with a Ryzen 5 5600U processor with six cores. In addition, the screen stands out, because the resolution of the 14″ panel is 2880×1800 pixels and the refresh rate is 90Hz instead of the usual 60Hz. In this review we look at the IdeaPad 5 Pro and in particular the new CPU and the screen.

Casing and connections

The IdeaPad 5 Pro is the successor to Lenovo’s S540 , which the company briefly sold in the Netherlands. Compared to the S540, the IdeaPad 5 Pro is a bit bigger and the design is more in line with the Slim 7. The casing is made almost entirely of metal; only the screen edges are made of plastic. A lot of metal does not guarantee solid casing, but it is the case here. Overall it feels solid. Only in the middle of the keyboard does the casingwant to compress when the keys are pressed.

The IdeaPad 5 Pro isn’t a particularly light or compact laptop either. It weighs about 1450 grams and if you consider that there are 14″ laptops that weigh about a kilogram, the IdeaPad is not particularly light. The case is quite thick, leaving regular HDMI and USB-A connections on the side The laptop also stands fairly high on its rubber feet, which is presumably to suck in enough cooling air, because the CPU is able to burn quite a bit of energy.

Although Lenovo has not tried to make the laptop as thin as possible, the edges around the screen have been made as narrow as possible. We have seen the top bezel thinner on other laptops, but in this case there is not only a webcam – resolution 1280×720 pixels – but also a face scanner and a time-of-flight sensor. The speakers appear to be on either side of the keyboard, but are actually placed on the underside of the casing. The ‘bass reflex port’ of the speakers does come out under the grilles next to the keyboard, but the sound would probably have been even clearer if it hadn’t been bounced off a desk. The keyboard has a backlight that can be dimmed in two positions and the flat keys have a fair amount of travel. The surface of the touchpad appears to be made of plastic. It therefore feels a bit cheaper and slides less pleasantly than that of glass competitors.

The IdeaPad 5 Pro has quite a few connectivity options, but we’re disappointed that the HDMI port supports a maximum of version 1.4 of the protocol, so you can’t connect a 4k screen at 60Hz without problems. The HDMI connection is flanked by two USB-C ports that you can use for connecting screens and with which the laptop is also charged. On the right are two regular USB-A connections, which support a maximum speed of 5Gbit/s, and a full-size SD card reader is also present.

Benchmarks – Zen 3 at 15W

The IdeaPad 5 Pro is the first 15W processor laptop with AMD’s Zen 3 architecture we tested. Earlier we already tested the ASUS Zenbook 13 OLED, but it has a Ryzen 5 5500U processor, which still has Zen 2 cores. The distinction is easy to see; if the second digit in the processor designation is even, then it is a Zen 3 processor. So the 5600U is Zen 3 and the 5500U is Zen 2. The Zen 3 architecture is not new. On desktops, the new processors already made their appearance in November 2020 and in a gaming laptopwe already came across the 45W version. Like Zen 2, the Zen 3 architecture was built at 7nm, but AMD has made the new architecture faster than its predecessor, allowing it to process more instructions per clock tick. In addition, the clock speeds of the new CPUs are slightly higher than their predecessors.

Inside the IdeaPad 5 Pro is a Ryzen 5 5600U, a CPU with six cores, which can work on twelve threads simultaneously. The clock speed is 2.3GHz, but a boost clock can of course be used, which runs up to 4.2GHz with this CPU. Compared to its predecessor, the 4600U, the clock speeds are 200MHz higher. Beforehand, we expected the 5600U to be faster than its predecessor. The clock speed is slightly higher and the IPC of Zen 3 is up to 19 percent higher than that of Zen 2. However, the result in Cinebench is even better than we initially expected.

If we look at the score in Cinebench 20 Multi, we see that the 5600U with six cores is significantly faster than the 4800U processor in the Slim 7, which has eight cores. We see the same excellent score in Cinebench 23 Multi, which we were unable to run on the Slim 7 with 4800U, but that we did run on a MacBook Air with eight cores. How does the 5600U get so fast? The higher clock speed and more efficient architecture help of course, but if we keep an eye on the consumption while running Cinebench, it also appears that the laptop gives the CPU all the freedom to increase the clock speeds. The consumption of the cpu packagegoes up to 38 watts and the laptop can sustain that throughout the Cinebench render. The laptop knows how to properly dissipate the 38 watts that are generated in heat. Further on in the review is a photo of the inside and it shows that the laptop is equipped with a large fan. We wouldn’t call it noisy though. This is probably because the air displacement, thanks to the relatively large diameter, is already sufficient at low speeds to keep the hardware cool.

So we’re impressed with the Cinebench Multi results, but if only one core is loaded, the 5600U loses out to most laptops with a Tiger Lake-generation Core i7 processor. That also applies to the graphical power of the built-in GPU. AMD provides the 5600U with a Vega 7 GPU, which means there is an extra compute unit available compared to the Vega 6 GPU of the 4600U. The clock speed of the GPU can now also reach 1800MHz and that was still 1500MHz with the GPU of the 4600U.

Nevertheless, we see few impressive results in the graphical benchmark of 3DMark Night Raid. Yes, Vega 7 is faster than Vega 6, but it remains Vega, the architecture that has been around since 2017 and has already been followed on the desktop by Navi and Navi 2. Now you usually don’t buy a compact 14″ laptop for gaming , so you should not overestimate the importance of a smooth GPU, but on the other hand, more and more (graphics) software uses the power of the GPU. In general, we would consider the multicore performance as the most important aspect of the CPU, but It should be clear that AMD is not the fastest in all areas.

We then run DaVinci Resolve, a video editor, in which we render a movie. That render takes a lot longer than Cinebench and in this way it becomes clear whether the laptop still performs well under prolonged load. The IdeaPad 5 Pro is slower in this situation than the Slim 7 with eight cores, but faster than most other comparable laptops. The Intel laptops with a maximum of four cores are given the check here.

Finally, we render an image in Blender. We do this repeatedly, noting the render time of each image. With laptops with poor cooling, the render time will continue to increase or the line will show a yo-yo effect due to throttling, after which the CPU slows down, cools and then clocks up again, only to get too hot again. You can clearly see the latter with the LG Gram 14. The IdeaPad 5 Pro is not bothered by this. After the fifth render, the cpu runs a little slower, but after that the line remains nicely flat and the render time remains shorter than with the Slim 7 laptop with 4600U processor. In short, the laptop remains fast and does not suffer from throttling in this scenario.

Image quality

Not only the processor but also the screen of the IdeaPad 5 Pro is new. The screen has a diagonal of 14″ and a resolution of no less than 2880×1800 pixels. We have not seen that combination before. Apple used that resolution for the 15.4″ MacBook Pro, but Lenovo applies it to 14″, with a slightly higher pixel density as a result. In addition, the screen has a refresh rate of 90 Hz instead of the usual 60 Hz. Because your eyes are presented with 90 frames per second instead of 60, the image should also look smoother.

Yes, you notice that, but the difference is not huge. If you’ve just worked on a regular laptop with a 60Hz screen and you sit down behind the IdeaPad, it feels like everything works a bit smoother than on your regular laptop. It’s like sitting behind a new, faster laptop than the one you were working on before. You are also so used to the higher refresh rate. If you switch back to the 60Hz laptop, you feel it works a bit more ‘viscous’ than the IdeaPad, but that feeling doesn’t last long and you get used to the 60Hz again in no time. So do we need 90Hz screens on regular laptops? That is the question, 90Hz works nicely, but it does not seem indispensable. It also generally leads to a shorter battery life than a screen with a lower refresh rate. In the bundled Lenovo software, and in Windows of course, you can easily lower the refresh rate to 60Hz. If you work a lot on the battery, then that is a wise choice. If the laptop is often on the charger, it is a nice experience that everything feels just a bit smoother than on a 60Hz screen.

What about the other screen features? The panel has a matte coating and a high resolution. That resolution of 2880×1800 pixels is a nice compromise between full hd and 4k. It provides a clearer sharper image than the standard 14 “full HD screens, but at a normal viewing distance, it is not visible that you have fewer pixels than with a 4k screen. Controlling fewer pixels costs less energy and that is more favorable for battery life.

When we look at the quality of the screen with our colorimeter and Calman software, we see at first that we are dealing with a good screen. The brightness of 400cd/m² and the contrast of about 1500:1 are as we expect from good screens on this type of high-end laptop. If we look further, the calibration turns out to be disappointing. The color temperature is too low at 6300 Kelvin, because red is better represented in the gray balance than blue. Worse, green is underrepresented, leading to a high deviation of 8ΔE. You can see this, for example, in Windows Explorer screens, which appear to have a somewhat pink background instead of a white one.

The good news is that the screen can display the full sRGB gamut and the gray balance can probably be straightened out by calibrating. If you do not include the deviation of the gray values, the deviation of the primary and secondary colors even comes out at 2.6ΔE. However, for a laptop that focuses on the screen, we expected that the color reproduction would be good out of the box.

Battery life and upgrades

A screen with a high resolution and a high refresh rate usually does not provide the best battery life. Lenovo provides the IdeaPad 5 Pro with a battery with a capacity of 56.5Wh, which is common for a 14″ laptop, but not particularly large. The Yoga Slim 7 with 14″ screen, for example, received a 60.7Wh battery and LG puts a battery of no less than 72.2Wh in a 14″ casing.

If you include the high resolution and refresh rate in your expectations, then a battery life of more than ten hours during web browsing is fine. On the other hand, if a long working time on the battery is really important to you, then the IdeaPad 5 Pro is not the best choice and you can go longer without a socket with, for example, an LG Gram. In the PCMark battery test, which gives a greater load than the browse test, we get a good battery life of more than five and a half hours, but the IdeaPad is a bit more ‘squeezed’ than an LG Gram, for example; the performance score is much lower.

Finally, we take a look under the hood and there you will find, as we mentioned earlier, a large fan. To the right of that fan, under the black sticker, is the working memory, which is unfortunately soldered. You can replace the SSD, and possibly the wireless network card, just like the battery. There is no space to build in an extra SSD.


The IdeaPad 5 Pro is the first laptop we tested built around a 15W Zen3 processor, and the performance of that CPU doesn’t disappoint. The new architecture is fast, but a large part of the speed also comes from the high consumption that the cpu can sustain for a long time, so that the clock speed remains high. So the benchmark results are not necessarily a good reference for the performance of the 5600U, but rather for how the IdeaPad 5 Pro is configured.

Another point where the IdeaPad stands out is its high-resolution 90Hz display. That resolution works nicely and so does the high refresh rate, although we don’t really see the need for it. It is a pity that the calibration of the screen is disappointing; we would have liked to have seen it better. The high resolution and refresh rate are also not good for the battery life. It’s not bad, but the IdeaPad 5 Pro isn’t the best in that area either.

Despite the 14″ screen diagonal, the IdeaPad 5 Pro is not a portable laptop. There are plenty of alternatives that are lighter and have a longer battery life. What is advantage of the thick casing is the cooling and the number of connection options. USB-A and C. HDMI is not missing either, but only support version 1.4 of the protocol.

To be fair, we didn’t look at the price of this laptop beforehand and assumed it was around $1,000. From that point of view, the laptop already offers great value for money. The Zescore CPU is smooth, there is 16GB of memory and the SSD is 512GB in size. In addition, the screen has a high resolution and the unique 90Hz feature. The whole is in a sturdy metal casing, with enough connections. At the time of writing, however, the price is 850 euros and that makes the laptop very attractive considering the hardware you get for that money. Then you can also use an adapter cable to connect your 4k TV to USB-C.

You might also like