Today, we’re taking a look at the new ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5601, a clear successor to the well-received Flip CX5 from last year that looks to take the stuff that 15.6-inch Chromebook did well and simply expand upon it. I’ve spent a couple days with it so far and I wanted to share some early observations with you before I get into the full review process.
There are some things the new Flip CX5601 brings to the table for sure, and I’ll need the standard review period to really get my thoughts together. For today, we’ll talk about a few things I like and a few things I don’t. From a sheer specs perspective, the Flip CX5601 isn’t doing anything wildly out of the ordinary in 2022. Let’s have a look real quick.
ASUS Chromebook Flip CX5601 Key Specs
- 12th Gen Intel Core i3-1215U
- 8GB LPDDR4X RAM
- 128GB M.2 NVMe™ PCIe® 3.0 SSD
- 1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C support display / power delivery
- 2x Thunderbolt™ 4 supports display/power delivery
- 1x HDMI 1.4
- 1x 3.5mm Combo Audio Jack
- Micro SD 4.0 card reader
- 1080p FHD camera with privacy shutter
- Built-in 4-way stereo speakers
- Wi-Fi 6/Bluetooth 5.2
- 4.74 pounds
- Backlit keyboard
This list likely checks most boxes for most people, and even though there are some parts of this device that outperform that impressive spec sheet, there are also some that simply fall flat. So let’s talk about some of the stuff I like so far, and some that I don’t.
Things I like so far
Let’s start with the likes. I really like the speed of this Chromebook. Right away I could tell it was fast, and running some benchmarks only further confirmed my suspicions. It’s the first 12th-gen Core i3 we’ve had in a Chromebook here in the office, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. With Octane scores over 80,000 and Speedometer 2.0 results coming in over 250, it turns out this is one of the fastest Chromebooks I’ve ever used. We put it up against the 12th-gen Core i5 and i7 and got similar numbers across the board, many times with the Core i3 scoring higher.
The GPU that is integrated in this Core i3 isn’t quite on par with the Iris Xe graphics in the Core i5 and Core i7, but for most of you, that won’t matter much. If heavy video editing and Steam gaming aren’t in your future desires for a Chromebook, the GPU that is integrated into this Core i3 will perform just fine. So far, there’s nothing in the standard range of Chromebook tasks that I’ve thrown at it that it can’t handle with absolute ease, and I don’t foresee that changing at all down the road. With plenty of RAM and fast NVMe storage, this Chromebook feels SO fast. I love that.
I am also loving the keyboard. It has great travel, it’s full size, and makes typing long emails or posts a comfy, enjoyable task. It’s backlit and comes with the small numeric keypad on the right if you need it, too. Overall, it has been a delight to use and just like last year’s Flip CX5, it feels like ASUS has really found their stride with keyframes on their Chromebooks. This one is just fantastic.
Finally, I’ll comment on the screen as I both like and dislike. With the 16-inch measure and 16:10 aspect ratio, the canvas here is so large that I love it. It makes for a HUGE Chromebook, sure, but I’ve loved having all this space and openness on the built-in display without feeling the need to extend things to an external monitor. It’s a great feature, especially if this is a Chromebook that will be used around the house for many different users. From web browsing to document creation to content consumption, the screen size and layout is really nice to have.
Things I don’t like so far
But I’ll use the screen to also transition to the stuff I don’t like about this Chromebook so far. If any screen screams for a QHD resolution, it is this one. With this much screen real estate, FHD just doesn’t quite cut it. Pixels are noticeable and though this resolution isn’t a deal breaker, it is a bit of a letdown. But not nearly as much of a disappointment as the screen colors and brightness are.
The display is quite warm in color temperature, and though we did measure the screen at the 300 nits of brightness ASUS claims, it never feels quite that bright. Don’t get me wrong, 300 nits isn’t wildly bright to begin with, but with the whites of this screen having such a warm, yellowish tendency, it makes everything appear a bit dimmer in actual use. For me it’s been set at 100% screen brightness the entire time, and that’s just a bummer. If ASUS had gone with a high-res, bright, color-accurate display, this Chromebook could be an absolute standout. Instead, the screen becomes a bit of a hindrance where it should be an absolute strength.
The trackpad is a bit of this same love/hate, too. The size is great and the material, though I don’t think it is glass, is smooth and very responsive. However, the click mechanism is very hollow and cheap-feeling: as in, sub-$300 Chromebook cheap-feeling. That could just be our device and you may have better luck with a fresh one out of the box, but I was a bit disappointed in the feel of the click. It does perform just fine, so I can’t say it’s a ding against this Chromebook. It just feels a bit cheap.
Finally, I don’t love the materials used for the bottom half of the chassis. The lid is metal, so it adds firmness when things are closed down, but combined with the glass of the screen and the all-plastic bottom section, this already-large Chromebook feels a bit clumsy and top-heavy when opened up. The plastic on the bottom is surprisingly rigid and good enough from a structural standpoint, but the weight distribution is just a little off and I don’t love the feel of this particular plastic under my palms. Last year’s CX5 had a special velvety plastic around the keyboard that had a great texture, but this Flip CX5601 isn’t that same feel.
There’s more to test on this Chromebook, but the port selection, 1080p camera and speaker setup are nice additions to a big, bold device that could be a solid choice for the right user. I need to spend some more time with it for sure to really get my head around all of that, but I know I’m loving the performance and keyboard quite a bit so far. Will the battery severely suffer from the basically-required 100% screen brightness? Will the performance hold up to extended use? Will the hollow-feel of the trackpad give way to usability issues? Those questions and more will get covered in the review down the road a little bit.