We knew it was only a matter of time before Lenovo began introducing new configurations of its very-popular, low-priced Flex 5 Chromebook. I honestly thought the first new configuration to go on sale here in the US would likely be the even lower-cost Celeron 5205U version, but it seems smaller config changes are out there in the wild that don’t show up on Lenovo’s own landing page for the Flex 5 Chromebook, and one of those variants has landed at Costco.
This particular version is equipped with most of the same stuff our review unit was, including a backlit keyboard, upward-firing speakers, convertible form factor, solid build, and a good screen. The big change in the Costco version is the upgraded internal storage. Instead of the 64GB of eMMC storage the $409 model comes with, you get double that in the form of NVMe – a much faster alternative to the more entry-level eMMC storage currently available on the standard model. The upgrade comes at a price hike, but only by $70 ($479) for a much faster, higher-quality storage solution that also happens to double your space. Oh, and it isn’t just for Costco members, but you’ll have about a $25 fee slapped on if you are not one, so take that into consideration.
While I, for one, would love to see this accompanied by a RAM upgrade as well, it currently looks like Lenovo is keeping the 4GB across the board on the US variants of this Chromebook for now. I can’t for the life of me understand why that is the case, but I think 8GB of RAM with 128GB of eMMC (not a ton of need for the faster, more-expensive NVMe for most users) storage would be feasible for $499 and would make this Chromebook even more formidable than it already is. While we’re asking for things, I’d also love to see the proper 300-nit screen that is supposed to ship with the i5 model we’ve yet to see here in the US show up in one of these upgraded versions. A brighter screen, double the RAM and double the storage for around $499 and I think Lenovo would have a complete flagship killer on its hands.
As it sits now, the $409 Flex 5 is still a better deal for the majority of users over this $479 version at Costco. Unless you need faster storage and more of it for some particular task, the 64GB of eMMC on the $409 model is more than sufficient for nearly anything you’ll need from a Chromebook. When storage gets this sort of upgrade, you expect other things to step up with it, but that isn’t the case with this particular upgrade.
Either way, it is exciting to see other configurations of this Chromebook begin shipping as I’m still holding out hope that either the i5 model with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of NVMe storage is headed to the US at some point in the future or they choose to simply add those upgrades to current i3 model. With the better display panel that they clearly have available for this device and a board with 8GB of RAM, the Core i3 holds its own and pairing it up with more RAM, more storage, and a brighter screen could easily make the case for one of the best Chromebooks on the market regardless of price.