With the higher price of the new Yoga 520, compared to the older Yoga 510, we get not only apparent visual improvement but also a much better chassis, more comfortable input devices, improved portability and, of course, more powerful hardware. This is the stepping stone to the Yoga 720 and sells for roughly $150 less with the same processor. Interestingly, though, the trade-offs that come with the lower price tag aren’t as many as you might think and maybe not that important to some users.
While the Yoga 520 is offered in a variety of configurations, we got the most affordable one with the Core i3-7100U CPU. We also have an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD support on board, 8GB of DDR4-2400 memory, a 14-inch touch Full HD IPS panel with reasonably thick bezels and the sides accommodate pretty much all the interfaces you’d want from a laptop including a full-sized HDMI port. Surely there must be some drawbacks so continue reading to find out more about the Yoga 520.
You can find the available models here: Buy from Amazon.com
The laptop comes with the usual user manuals, AC adapter, power cord and a stylus pen.
Design and construction
The first thing we’ve noticed when holding the Yoga 520 is the plastic used for exterior and how noticeably heavier it is compared to the Yoga 720 (1.74 kg vs 1.3 kg). However, this hasn’t reflected on the overall sturdiness in a bad way. We found the build quite firm, rigid and solid. Another proof that you don’t always need metal to make the chassis look and feel good at the same time.
Starting with the lid – it’s made of plastic that imitates anodized aluminum and it’s incredibly resistant to torsion and pressure. Even when strong pressure is applied, the panel just doesn’t give in. The hinges also feel pretty tight – in fact, a little bit too tight to our liking because you can’t open it without using both hands and even if you do use both of your hands, there isn’t some sort of indentation to help you lift the lid up. This has eliminated the unnecessary sway when using the touchscreen in laptop mode to some extent but it’s still there and you can see it. Speaking of the screen, its bezels aren’t so thin as the ones on the Yoga 720 but still admirable – probably the lower chin could have been a bit smaller. As for the bottom, it uses the same plastic as the lid and has one long grill used for cool air intake.
The sides are just below the 20 mm mark (19.9 mm to be exact) and offer more than we could ask for in terms of I/O. The left side comes with the DC charging port, full-sized HDMI, one USB 3.0 connector, another USB-C 3.1 (Gen 1) port and a 3.5 mm audio jack. On the right, you will find another regular USB 3.0 port, the SD card reader and the power button.
As we move to the interior, the device starts to give the impression of a premium ultrabook. The interior uses a slightly roughened anodized aluminum sheet – a lot like the one used for the Yoga 720. It’s really rigid and doesn’t give in when pressed at all – all areas around the keyboard and touchpad feel rock-solid. As far as the keyboard and the touchpad are concerned – they are just excellent. We are pretty sure that Lenovo used the same ones in the Yoga 720 and that’s definitely a good thing. The keyboard is clicky, comfortable and offers decent key travel while the touchpad’s surface is silky-smooth and produces light clicks. All swipes and gestures are registered correctly as well.
To be honest, we didn’t find anything to complain about the laptop’s build and design. It’s so good that we could have been easily fooled by the price tag – the notebook’s overall appearance and design are inherent to a much more expensive 2-in-1s – sturdy construction, aluminum interior with chamfered edges and excellent input devices.
Disassembly, maintenance and upgrade options
We have only good news about the Flex 5 – it’s super easy to disassemble and offers a fair amount of upgrade options. You just need to remove all the screws around the bottom and gently pry it up.
Storage upgrades – 2.5-inch HDD/SSD, M.2 SSD
We were pretty surprised by the fact that the notebook comes with an M.2 SSD slot and a 2.5-inch HDD bay. Our unit, however, had only one 256GB Intel M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD installed but we are not sure that all regions will come with a PCIe NVMe-enabled drive. Probably the budget-oriented configurations will ship with SATA.
|M.2 slot||256GB Intel M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (2280)||Upgrade options|
|2.5-inch HDD/SSD slot||Free||Upgrade options|
The motherboard holds just one RAM chip slot, which in our case is taken by an SK Hynix 4GB DDR4-2400 chip.
The Wi-Fi card is placed near one of the hinges and it’s Qualcomm QCNFA435.
The battery is placed under the wrist rest area and it’s rated at 35Wh.
The cooling design is quite simple – it consists of just one short heat pipe and a small heat sink.
The laptop uses a 14-inch Full HD (1920×1080) IPS touchscreen manufactured by AU Optronics with model number B140HAN04.2. The pixel density is 157 ppi and a pixel pitch of 0.161 x 0.161 mm, which means that the screen can be considered as “Retina” when viewed from a distance equal or greater than 56 cm.
The screen has excellent viewing angles.
We were able to measure a maximum brightness of 270 cd/m2 in the center of the screen and 253 cd/m2 as average across the surface with just 10% deviation. This means that the display is just bright enough for work in the office but due to the glossy finish, it won’t be very comfortable for outdoor use. The color temperature at maximum brightness is 6720K making it pretty close to the optimal 6500K. But as we go along the grayscale, the color temperature becomes a bit warmer – 6360K. You can see how values change at 140 cd/m2 (85% brightness).
The maximum color deviation dE2000 compared to the center of the screen at 85% brightness is 2.3, which just fine since values above 4.0 are usually unwanted. The contrast ratio is 1350:1.
To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction of the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.
Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.
Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.
As expected, the sRGB color gamut coverage is rather limited – 50% so it won’t be able to reproduca practically half of the color that appear on the web and movies.
Below you will see practically the same image but with the color circles representing the reference colors and the white circles being the result. You can see main and additional colors with 25%, 50%, 75% and 100% saturation inside the sRGB gamut pre and post calibration.
The “Design and Gaming” profile is created at 140 cd/m2 brightness, D65 (6500K) white point and optimal gamma in sRGB mode.
We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.
The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.
The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle and the surrounding light conditions.
We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and reverse.
We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 24 ms.
PWM (Screen flickering)
Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.
Fortunately, the display doesn’t use PWM at any brightness level making it virtually harmless in this regard. It shouldn’t cause any discomfort during long hours of work.
Blue light emissions
Installing of our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.
You can see the levels of emitted blue light on the spectral power distribution (SPD) graph.
Although the display quality isn’t perfect – rather limited sRGB coverage and relatively low maximum brightness – the panel will do just fine for work and general web browsing. In fact, the high contrast and the absence of PWM are things worth considering, especially at this price range. They are like an added bonus.
Buy our display profiles
Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package is meant for Lenovo Yoga 520 (Flex 5) configurations with 14.0″ AUO B140HAN04.2 (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS screen and the laptop can be found at Amazon: Buy from Amazon.com
*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]
Read more about the profiles HERE.
In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.
Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.
Design and Gaming
This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.
THealth-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.
The sound quality is decent – there are not apparent distortions in the low, mid and high frequencies.
The current specs sheet is for this particular model and configurations may differ depending on your region
|Processor||Intel Core i3-7100U (2-core, 2.40 GHz, 3MB cache)|
|RAM||4GB (1x 4096MB) – DDR4, 2400MHz|
|Graphics card||Intel HD Graphics 620 (integrated GPU)|
|HDD/SSD||256 M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD (2280)|
|Display||14.0-inch – FHD (1920×1080) IPS touchscreen, glossy|
|Connectivity||Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Bluetooth 4.0|
|Thickness||19.9 mm (0.78″)|
|Weight||1.74 kg (3.84 lbs)|
Lenovo Flex 5 configurations
We used the pre-installed Windows 10 (64-bit) for the writing of this review but if you wish to perform a clean install without all the bloatware, we suggest downloading all of the latest drivers from Lenovo’s official support page.
Compared to the Yoga 720, the Yoga 520 has considerably less battery capacity (35Wh vs 48Wh) so it’s only logical that the latter drags behind in terms of endurance. But unfortunately, more than we expected – the Yoga 520 scored way under the average for its price range.
All tests were performed with the usual settings – Wi-Fi turned on, screen brightness set to 120 cd/m2 and Windows battery saving feature turned on.
In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
Less than average web browsing score – 319 minutes (5 hours and 19 minutes).
For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
Surprisingly higher result than the web browsing one but still not enough – 352 minutes (5 hours and 52 minutes).
We recently started using F1 2015’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.
Of course, the laptop isn’t made for gaming but it’s good to know that it can handle a little over hour and a half – 105 minutes (1 hour and 45 minutes).
CPU – Intel Core i3-7100U
The Core i3-7100U is a dual-core mobile CPU from Intel’s Kaby Lake family of chips. It’s a direct successor to the Intel’s Skylake generation Core i3-6100U but since the difference between the Kaby Lake and Skylake architectures isn’t big, the expected performance jump is marginal. Both, the Core i3-6100U and Core i3-7100U, are built using 14nm FinFET manufacturing process.
The Core i3-7100U retains the same features as before, such as the so-called Hyper-Threading technology allowing the CPU to work with 4 threads instead of using just the two physical cores. The newer alteration of the CPU is also rated at 15W TDP but offers a small 100 MHz clock jump compared to its predecessor. Now the base frequency is 2.4 GHz and still no support for Turbo Boost.
You can browse through our top CPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-cpu-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook we’ve tested with this processor: http://laptopmedia.com/processor/intel-core-i3-7100u/
Results are from the Cinebench 11 test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo Flex 5 (14″) Intel Core i3-7100U (2-cores, 2.4 GHz)||2.81|
|Acer Swift 5 Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||3.63||+29.18%|
|Lenovo ideapad 720S Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||3.24||+15.3%|
|ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||3.81||+35.59%|
Results are from the NovaBench CPU test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo Flex 5 (14″) Intel Core i3-7100U (2-cores, 2.4 GHz)||405|
|Acer Swift 5 Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||522||+28.89%|
|Lenovo ideapad 720S Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||440||+8.64%|
|ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||525||+29.63%|
Results are from the Photoshop test (lower the score, the better)
|Lenovo Flex 5 (14″) Intel Core i3-7100U (2-cores, 2.4 GHz)||23.01|
|Acer Swift 5 Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||17.88||-22.29%|
|Lenovo ideapad 720S Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||18.98||-17.51%|
|ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ Intel Core i7-7500U (2-cores, 2.7 - 3.5 GHz)||17.49||-23.99%|
Fritz is a chess benchmark that tests the computing capabilities of the CPU with various chess moves. The Intel Core i3-7100U scored 4.952 million moves per second. In comparison, one of the most powerful chess computers, Deep(er) Blue, was able to squeeze out 200 million moves per second. In 1997 Deep(er) Blue even beat the famous Garry Kasparov with 3.5 to 2.5.
GPU – Intel HD Graphics 620
Intel’s HD Graphics 620 integrated iGPU can be found in various ULV (ultra-low voltage) processors from the Kaby Lake generation. The GT2 version of the graphics chip uses 24 EUs (Execution Units) that can be clocked up to 1050 MHz and it has a base frequency of 300 MHz but the former can vary depending on the CPU. Since the iGPU doesn’t have a dedicated memory of its own – or eDRAM for that matter – it uses the available RAM on the system which is 2x 64-bit DDR3 or DDR4.
The TDP depends on the CPU model but it’s usually equipped with a SoC rated at 15W including the memory controller.
You can browse through our top GPUs ranking: http://laptopmedia.com/top-laptop-graphics-ranking/
Here you will find other useful information and every notebook with this GPU that we’ve tested: http://laptopmedia.com/video-card/intel-hd-graphics-620/
Results are from the 3DMark Cloud Gate (G) test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo Flex 5 (14″) Intel HD Graphics 620||5237|
|Acer Swift 5 Intel HD Graphics 620||8257||+57.67%|
|Lenovo ideapad 720S NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)||13137||+150.85%|
|ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB DDR3)||8468||+61.7%|
Results are from the 3DMark Fire Strike (G) test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo Flex 5 (14″) Intel HD Graphics 620||564|
|Acer Swift 5 Intel HD Graphics 620||998||+76.95%|
|Lenovo ideapad 720S NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)||2095||+271.45%|
|ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB DDR3)||1597||+183.16%|
Results are from the 3DMark (Sky Diver) test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo Flex 5 (14″) Intel HD Graphics 620||-|
|Acer Swift 5 Intel HD Graphics 620||3674||-|
|Lenovo ideapad 720S NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)||-|
|ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB DDR3)||5220||-|
Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 test (higher the score, the better)
|Lenovo Flex 5 (14″) Intel HD Graphics 620||176|
|Acer Swift 5 Intel HD Graphics 620||305||+73.3%|
|Lenovo ideapad 720S NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB GDDR5)||634||+260.23%|
|ASUS ZenBook UX410UQ NVIDIA GeForce 940MX (2GB DDR3)||432||+145.45%|
The usual stress tests don’t represent real-life usage because the general user won’t be able to ramp up the CPU and GPU use all the way up to 100% but it still the best way to determine the overall effectiveness and stability of the cooling system.
Starting with the CPU stress test – the chip reached its maximum clock speeds of 2.4 GHz while maintaining reasonable temperatures.
Switching on the GPU stress test didn’t result in CPU throttling and the iGPU added a few more degrees.
Of course, the interior didn’t heat up at all and stayed cool throughout the whole test.
The Yoga 520, or also known as the Flex 5 in the US, is an excellent budget convertible with less compromises than we expected. It has excellently built chassis that has the premium looks and feel at the same time, the input devices are great and pretty much all the I/O is right there, despite the smaller 14-inch form factor.
Also, the Full HD IPS screen isn’t bad – it has high contrast ratio and doesn’t use PWM at any brightness level making it suitable for long working hours. However, as you go up the configurations, the screen becomes rather “dull” for the asking price. Models with Core i5-7200U and Core i7-7500U will drag behind some of its competitors when it comes to image quality due to the limited sRGB coverage – just 50% – and the relatively low maximum brightness, which isn’t enough for comfortable outdoor use. Also, battery life can be considered as subpar as there are plenty of other 14-inch laptops with better endurance.
In the end, if you are not strictly looking for a convertible, you’d be better off with the similarly-priced Lenovo Ideapad 720s, ASUS ZenBook UX410 or the Acer Aspire Swift 5 as they all outperform the Yoga 520 in terms of image quality and endurance. But if you are looking for a more affordable alternative, you might want to consider the Ideapad 520s as well. In any case, the Flex 5 is an adequate choice as long as you are willing to make a small compromise with the screen and a big one with the battery life.
You can find the available models here: Buy from Amazon.com
- Good build quality
- Great input devices
- Decent IPS display for the more budget-oriented configurations
- The panel doesn’t use PWM for regulating screen brightness
- A lot of upgradability options for a 14-inch device (2.5-inch HDD + M.2 SSD slot + RAM slot)
- Subpar battery life
- The display appears to be a bit dim and color-deficient for the more expensive configurations with Core i5 and i7