Today, Lenovo has taken the wraps off of the new 16-inch IdeaPad 5i Chromebook, and this one has a very special feature up its sleeve that we’ve never seen in a Chromebook up to this point: a 120hz screen. I suppose it was a matter of time as ChromeOS has supported high-refresh screens for quite a while at this point, but I am personally excited to see this development in the hopes that other manufacturers are lining up to follow down the road as well.
Lenovo IdeaPad 5i Chromebook Key Specs
- Intel® Core™ i3-1215U or Intel® Pentium® 8505
- Up to 8GB of RAM
- Up to 512GB of SSD storage (eMMC up to 128GB)
- 16-inch 16:10 QHD screen at 350 nits, 100% SRGB, and 120hz (or)
- 16-inch 16:10 FHD screen at 300 nits, 45% NTSC, and 60hz
- 1080p webcam
- 12-hour battery
- 356.5mm x 253mm x 19.95mm
- 4.1 lbs
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C
- 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A
- MicroSD card slot
- headphone/mic jack
- Wi-Fi 6E
- Bluetooth 5.0
The overall spec sheet on this one is pretty impressive, and Lenovo is generally great at delivering excellent keyboards and trackpads on their devices. The addition of a large, 16:10 display that is bright and has that silky-smooth refresh rate should only add to their overall-solid equation.
We don’t yet have our hands on this particular Chromebook, but I like what I’m seeing. If the build quality is sturdy and the price is reasonable, this could be a great family Chromebook for many users. Larger Chromebooks can easily fall prey to flimsiness if the build quality isn’t top of mind for the manufacturer, and Lenovo has put out some larger, low-priced Chromebooks in the past that felt wobbly and unbalanced. With a small price tag, that is easier to forgive. If the IdeaPad 51 creeps up in the $600-$700 range, that won’t be well received by most consumers.
For now, the IdeaPad 5i Chromebook doesn’t have US pricing, but Lenovo is announcing availability in September for €549 in the EMEA. I’d assume a Q4 release would make sense in the US, but with this Chromebook sporting a standout screen and decent internals, I’d doubt it will be less than $599 with the 120hz screen. As long as it feels well made, however, I think $599-$699 would be a fine price point.
120hz is for gaming, right?
The oddity here is the fact that Lenovo isn’t making a version of this with a Core i5 or Core i7 inside. As we all know, Steam gaming for Chromebooks is just around the corner, but the upgraded GPU present in the Core i5 and i7 is a necessary part of that equation. With this 120hz screen, you’d think Lenovo would have a version available with gaming-ready processors, but they don’t at this point.
For what its worth, I run my secondary monitor on my desk at 120hz every day and really enjoy it for the day-to-day tasks, too. At this point, I’m not really doing any gaming on my Chromebook and I still thoroughly enjoy the smooth animations of the entire OS when available. Though the IdeaPad 5i won’t be using that sweet refresh rate for Steam games, there are other advantages to having it around.
We obviously have to get one of these in-hand before we pass judgement on it, but I’m really excited to see what working on a Chromebook with a high-refresh screen feels like. I notice the drop in smoothness when I go back and forth between my Chromebook’s internal screen and my extended display on a pretty regular basis. Having a Chromebook with a big, bright, smooth screen will be a very nice option for sure when it becomes available. As soon as it does, you know we’ll have a look at it. Stay tuned.