- 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.