ASUS has come out swinging in 2021. With already-great devices like the ASUS Flip CX5 (15-inch) already impressing us, the high-end CX9 on the way and the detachable CM3 all being great options for consumers at this point in the year, it could be argued that ASUS doesn’t really need to add yet another Chromebook to the mix at this stage in the game. While I would somewhat agree with that opinion, I’m glad ASUS clearly doesn’t. The introduction of the ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5400 was a great surprise and, as it turns out, a great inclusion to the stellar ASUS Chromebook portfolio in 2021.
While we were excited right after CES 2021 about ASUS Chromebook in general, that excitement didn’t come from any prior knowledge of this particular device. Between the CX9, Flip CX5/CM3 and the CM3 (Flip and Detachable), we had all the reasons we needed to feel like ASUS had fully fleshed out their Chromebook lineup for this year. When the Flip CX5400 was announced, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that ASUS wasn’t really done with the convertible 14-inch Chromebook segment and as I’ve now had some hands-on time with it, I think we may have the best ASUS Flip ever made on our hands.
From the all-aluminum build to the improved screen to the fantastic keyboard/trackpad combo, this Chromebook is seriously impressive right out of the box. The blueish, brushed aluminum frame is precise, the inclusion of a stowed USI pen is a great addition, and the overall package feels 100% premium through-and-through. Sure, the high-end spec of this will run $1049, but for an 11th-gen Core i7, 16GB of RAM and 512GB of NVMe storage, you expect those sorts of prices. Thankfully, ASUS is also offering lower-end configurations that bring the price down to $699 for a Core i3, 8GB of RAM and 128GB of NVMe storage.
Regardless of the configuration, however, you still get the same 300 nit screen, the same backlit keyboard, glass trackpad and firm chassis. If you can’t tell, I’m impressed by the overall package on offer by ASUS this time around. For the same $699, you can get Acer’s excellent Spin 713, but there’s no denying the advantages offered by ASUS for the same money. While not as bright as Acer’s 400 nit 3:2 panel, the screen on the Flip CX5400 is a tad larger with smaller bezels and the brightness and colors have been seriously impressive so far. ASUS also wins in build quality, keyboard feel, aesthetics, and with the inclusion of the stowed stylus. While Acer’s $699 offering does come in with a bit more processing power (Core i5 versus the Core i3) and more storage (256GB versus 128GB), I’d recon many users will prefer the overall attention to detail on offer by ASUS, here.
For those who want a bit more under the hood, the model we’re testing comes with the Core i5 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of NVMe storage for $899. I’d say for general users, the entry-level config is plenty. For those looking for a bit more power, RAM and storage, this $899 model is the sweet spot. Sure, you can get the Core i7 with double the storage for only $150 more, but only a fraction of users would need either of those perks in a Chromebook.
As we always do, we’ll put this Chromebook through the paces and get into more details in the full review. For now I can say that I’m extremely impressed with what ASUS is offering up in the higher-end Chromebook space this year. I’m still swooning a bit over the insane ASUS CX9, but I think this Flip CX5400 will be the right device for a ton of users as we come into the later parts of 2021. As we continue getting more devices in this price range, manufacturers need to put together more compelling packages to stand out, and ASUS looks to be doing just that with this latest Chromebook. Color me impressed.