Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i Review: the 2-in-1 to Get

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Jupit3r

Senior Member
Aug 27, 2011
440
183
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Last year, I was the first person to review the YOGA Duet 7 2021, which was Lenovo’s alternative to the Microsoft Surface Pro lineup. This year, the Duet series 2-in-1 convertibles were moved to a different lineup, Meet the new Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i! This new model empoys the same form factor of the 2021 YOGA Duet, but its internals have been upgraded to 2022 standard. Lenovo has also adapted some necessary changes to make the new product more affordable.

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Design and build

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Inside the box I have found an IdeaPad 5i tablet, a magnetic keyboard cover, as well as a 65W portable power adapter. Unlike Microsoft, which always sells the keyboard of their Surface Pro tablets separately, Lenovo chooses to include the keyboard in the retail package of their 2-in-1 convertibles. However, the pressure-sensitive pen is not included in the box, you will have to pay extra if you need it. Fortunately, Lenovo’s pen, which is based on the Wacom technology, is much cheaper than an Apple Pencil. There are also many cheaper 3rd-party pens compatible with this 2-in-1.



The IdeaPad Duet 5i looks a lot smaller than last year’s YOGA Duet 7, since its screen has been trimmed down from 13.3 inches to 12.3 inches, and its bezels are also narrower. The storm grey finish isn’t anything we haven’t seen yet, but still has a lingering charm to it. The rounded edges make it more comfortable to hold for a long period of time, compared to the flat sides and sharper corners of last year’s YOGA Duet 7.

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On the front you will find a 5MP camera, which supports Windows Hello facial recognition. In my 2 week’s tests, the recognition rate was very high. But personally, I still prefer fingerprint unlock, which the IdeaPad Duet 5i doesn’t offer.

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The slate has two multi-function Type-C ports, both are hosted on the left side. They both support Power Delivery 3.0 up to 65 watts, and video output up to [email protected] Those Type-C ports are obviously no match for the dual Thunderbolt 4 ports on the Surface Pro 8, but for average consumers, it won’t really make much difference. As Thunderbolt certified hubs are extremely expensive, most of us are only using normal USB-C hubs on them. Also, not many people who buy an ultra slim laptop will want to get a bulky external graphics card enclosure.

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The 3.5mm headphone jack can be found on the right side, along with the power button and volume rocker. The IdeaPad Duet 5i also comes with dual speakers, which are Dolby Atmos certified.

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The 5-pin magenetic keyboard connector is on the bottom side.


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The entire system is actively cooled, and we can see lots of vents on the top side.

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The kickstand looks very similar to the one on the Microsoft Surface Pro series. It can open up to 150 degrees, making drawing and taking handwritten notes with a stylus more convenient.

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The keyboard cover is very thin, but the keys still have decent travel and the right amount of tactile feedback.

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The touchpad is quite large for such a small keyboard, so you have plenty of area to use all kinds of gestures. However, the keyboard won’t tilt up for a more comfortable typing angle like the Surface Type Cover does.


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The back of the keyboard is fabric, which obviously looks stunning, but can get dirty easily if you are a reckless user. I have been very careful with my Lenovo YOGA Duet 7, so its keyboard is still quite clean after more than a year.

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What’s special about the keyboard of the IdeaPad Duet 5i is that it has a battery inside and can connect to the tablet, or any other device via Bluetooth when it’s detached. As a result, the Duet 5i is more versatile than its competitors, and can fit into more scenarios. There are also 3 levels of backlighting, which can be turned on even when the keyboard is separated from the tablet.



Display and sound

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The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i sports a 12.4-inch IPS panel, with resolution of 2560*1600, and pixel density of 243 PPI. The screen also has 96% DIC-P3 color space, and supports Dolby Vision, so images look vivid and true to life, and movies, especially those with the Dolby Vision codec, have a stunning cinematic appeal to them. Unfortunately, the refresh rate is still only 60Hz, which is disappointing considering that Microsoft has already upgraded the Surface Pro 8 with a 120Hz display.


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The brightness of the IdeaPad Duet 5i’s screen can emit up to 450 nits of brightness, making it even visible outdoors.


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The capacitive touchscreen is also compatible with Lenovo’s active pen, which supports 4096 levels of pressure. Lenovo didn’t reveal the exact number in regard to how responsive the pen is, so I assume the latency should be more than the Galaxy Pen and Apple Pencil’s 9ms. Still, drawing and writing with the pen still feels instantaneous enough for average consumers like myself.

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The IdeaPad Duet 5i houses its speakers on the two sides. Even though these speakers are Dolby Atmos certified, the audio coming from them is still not mind-blowing, even by tablet standards. In terms of volume, they are in many ways comparable with the dual speakers on my Xiaomi 12 Pro smartphone. can be easily blown away by the quad JBL speakers on my Lenovo Xiaoxin Pad Pro 2021 (also known as the Lenovo Tab P11 Pro 2021).

In terms of quality, there is a decent amount of bass, so the Duet 5i doesn’t sound too tinny or flat, and I didn’t really hear any significant distortion while the speakers are set to maximum volume. They are generally okay for YouTube Content and casual gaming in a quiet room, but for music and movies, I am still much more comfortable with headphones and external speakers.
 

Jupit3r

Senior Member
Aug 27, 2011
440
183
Performance

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With tablet/ultrabook convertibles, the balance of portability and performance is always a difficult task for PC manufacturers. We want them to be as fast and able to last a full working day without the power adapter, but we don’t want extra weight and thickness.

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The review unit that I received is powered by the 12th-gen Intel Core i7-1255U processor and 8GB of dual-channel LPDDR4x memory, but Lenovo also offers other configurations for consumers to choose. To better understand where the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i stands in terms of performance, I have run some benchmarking on it and compared the results to its competitors.

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On the Geekbench 5.4.1 performance test, the IdeaPad Duet 5i scored in 1,696 single core, 7,463 in multi core, and 18,220 in OpenCL. These numbers are significantly higher than the numbers put up by the top variant of the Microsoft Surface Pro 8, and the Dell Latitude 7320 2-in-1.

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In the Cinebench R23 CPU-crunching test, the IdeaPad Duet 5i had the Microsoft Surface Pro 8 beaten again, in both single core and multi-core.

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PCMark 10 simulates different real-world productivity and content-creation workflows. We often use it to assess overall system performance for office-centric tasks. The IdeaPad Duet 5i scored 4792 in the standard PCMark 10 test, indicating that it should do well in a variety of heavy productivity tasks.

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The SSD inside the IdeaPad Duet 5i has been upgraded to PCIe4.0x4 this year, and it is a standard M.2 2242 unit, which means you can replace it any time you want to. In the CrystalDiskMark performance test, the SSD puts up some respectable numbers.

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This slate comes with the Intel Iris Xe EU96 iGPU, which is a significant improvement over Intel UHD graphics and Iris Plus iGPUs from years prior, and could even outperform some entry-level discrete graphics cards. In the graphics-focused 3DMark test, the IdeaPad Duet 5i scored 1412 in Time Spy (Graphics score: 1268), 3658 in Fire Strike (Graphics Score: 4037), and 11574 in Sky Diver (Graphics score: 12027). These results are significantly better than the numbers snatched by last year’s YOGA Duet 7, which features less GPU execution units and single-channel memory. The Microsoft Surface Pro 8 did slightly better than the IdeaPad Duet 5i in all 3DMark subtests, even though it features an older CPU and the exact same iGPU.


Productivity Workflows

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Whether it was browsing the web, video chatting with friends or working with Microsoft Office apps, the IdeaPad Duet 5i never buckled during my testing — all programs ran smoothly. The built-in Windows 11 operating system is no doubt a contributing factor to the 2-on-1’s solid performance.

Even 4K video editing, which should be challenging for the ultra-portables, was surprisingly smooth on the IdeaPad Duet 5i. But adding complex layers to a long video footage will take a lot more time on the IdeaPad Duet 5i, than on my workstation PC, which features an Nvidia RTX2060 graphics card.


Video Playback

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One area where Intel-based ultrabooks generally do better than AMD-based ultrabooks is video playback. Thanks to the impeccable video codec support of the Intel Iris Xe Graphics iGPU, the IdeaPad Duet 5i could hardware-decode most video formats up to 8K. If you have a collection of high-res movies and shows, you are in for a treat. The tablet form factor and included kickstand simply make it more convenient for media consumption than any ordinary tablet or notebook PC.

Not only was the IdeaPad Duet 5i good at decoding local video, but it was also excellent in streaming videos online, even [email protected] YouTube videos could play smoothly in the Chrome browser.


Gaming

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Like all 2-in-1 convertibles, the IdeaPad Duet 5i is ideal for intensive gaming. But if you are willing to run less GPU demanding titles, or switch to lower resolution and quality settings, this slate can give you a smooth ride.

League of Legends averaged 103 fps at 1080P and medium quality settings on the IdeaPad Duet 5i, even in those intensive battle scenes, it remained smooth and perfectly responsive.

Running Genshin Impact at 1920 x 1080 and medium quality settings saw an average of 34 fps, not great, but still playable. I did notice frame drops in some of the more complex scenes, but there were no real delays. After switching the quality settings to the lowest, the frame rate stayed at 60fps.


Noise, heat dissipation and stability

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The cooling fan under the hood will spin up when the IdeaPad Duet 5i’s CPU is under heavy workloads, e.g., Windows Update, compiling, rendering, or gaming. The fan itself is quiet, with only the whooshing of air being pushed through the chassis being audible. It's not loud, and there is no whine, but you will hear it. Compared to most Ultrabooks, however, I'd classify the Duet 5i as very quiet. During regular light use like web browsing, email, etc., it's almost completely silent.
The back panel of the slate could get a little hot during gaming and other intensive duties, but never to a point that it became untouchable.

The IdeaPad Duet 5i only scored 80.6% in the 3DMark Fire Strike stress test, but the benchmark requires devices to score more than 97% to pass the test. The report indicated that the CPU frequency was constantly fluctuating from its base clock to the turbo clock during the test. But in real world use, I didn’t notice any big fluctuation, as the laptop stayed fairly responsive in all intensive tasks I threw at it.


Battery life

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One of the biggest drawbacks of 2-in-1 convertibles is the battery life, as they generally last shorter than average laptops. The IdeaPad Duet 5i boasts a 50Wh 4-cell battery, which is a significant upgrade from the 42Wh battery. In our standard battery test, we set the brightness of the screen to 50%, kept WiFi and notifications on, and played a 1080P video on loop, the IdeaPad Duet 5i lasted 10 hours and 7 minutes.

In normal day-to-day mixed use, this slate noirmally lasted 6-7 hours after a full charge. But CPU-intensive duties such as video editing, benchmarking and gaming could drain the battery rather quickly.

Fortunately, the 65W portable power adaptor charges the battery quicky, a full charge normally takes aound 2 hours, and you can get a decent amount of refill during a lunch break.


Price and availability

The Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i was just released in China, under the name of “Xiaoxin Duet 2022”. The Chinese variant, which features an Intel Core i5-1235U, 16GB memory and 512GB SSD, is priced at RMB5,999 ($890).

By the time I finished writing this article, this model hasn’t been publicly released in other regions, and prices are also not revealed. But we can assume the IdeaPad Duet 5i be a lot cheaper than the top variant of the Surface Pro 8, or the upcoming Surface Pro 9.


Verdict

Without nifty features like the 120Hz refresh rate, or Thunderbolt 4 ports, the Lenovo IdeaPad Duet 5i clearly isn’t trying to be the best convertible in the world, and there are certainly areas where Lenovo could have done better. However, this product does get most of the essential things right. It has a chic and ultra-thin design, a gorgeous 2.5K IPS display, a powerful processor, a fast SSD, and a beautiful backlit keyboard that can even work when detached. If you are planning on getting the best bang-for-the-buck 2-in-1 convertible, this might just be your best bet.