Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 6 14 (2019) review: A solid, bargain-priced 2-in-1 saddled with iffy battery life

Its battery and display could be better, but for just $500, you’re still getting a lot.

Credit: Ben Patterson/IDG

Performance

Overall, the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 6 14’s performance in our benchmarks was about as middling as we expected. Part of the challenge is its 2-in-1 form factor, which is tougher to keep cool than a traditional clamshell laptop. We were also somewhat disappointed by the Flex’s iffy battery life, especially given the size of said battery. On the other hand, the quad-core IdeaPad Flex 6 14 managed to put up some solid numbers when it came to multi-core performance.

PCMark 8 Work 2.0 Conventional

Our first benchmark measures how a given laptop performs when it comes to daily computing tasks. PCMark 8 Work 2.0 simulates such everyday desktop chores as online shopping, social network browsing, tinkering with spreadsheets, and video chatting. A laptop that gets a PCMark 8 score higher than 2,000 can typically run Office without skipping a beat.

lenovo ideapad flex 6 14ikb 81em pcmark8 Ben Patterson/IDG

The IdeaPad Flex 6 14’s solid PCMark 8 score promises buttery Office performance.

While our IdeaPad Flex 6 14 comes in sixth out of nine laptops in our comparison chart, they’re all more or less clumped together in the 3,100-to-3,500 range, which is well above the minimum needed.

HandBrake

Now things get a little tougher, with our HandBrake benchmark designed to see how a CPU performs under a crushing load—in this case, converting a 30GB MKV file into a format suitable for an Android tablet. Running HandBrake will turn up the heat on any laptop CPU, and it can take anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour and a half to complete. It therefore shows us how a laptop deals with thermal performance over a relatively long period of time.

lenovo ideapad flex 6 14ikb 81em handbrake Ben Patterson/IDG

The Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 6 14 turned in an impressive HandBrake performance given its $500 price tag.

As we can see from the chart, the Flex 6 14’s HandBrake score is pretty solid, beating out last year’s model while holding its own against an IdeaPad S340 with a quad-core Whiskey Lake Core i5 processor (which, to be fair, isn’t that much of an upgrade compared to the Kaby Lake Refresh chip in the Flex 6 14). Down at the bottom of the chart is an Acer Aspire 5 with a dual-core i3 processor, which goes to show what a difference a quad-core CPU makes when it comes to processor-intensive tasks such as video encoding.

Cinebench

Here’s another test of multi-core CPU performance. Our Cinebench test measures how long it takes for a laptop to render a 3D image in real time, and as with HandBrake, it’s a benchmark that favors multi-core processors. Unlike the lengthy HandBrake test, however, Cinebench only takes a few minutes to run, showing how a particular laptop handles a short burst of intense CPU activity.

lenovo ideapad flex 6 14ikb 81em cinebench Ben Patterson/IDG

We’ve seen better Cinebench scores from laptops in the Lenovo’s price range, but we’ve seen worse, too.

While the IdeaPad Flex 6 14’s Cinebench performance isn’t as impressive as its HandBrake score, it still manages to stay above the 500 mark, which is what we’d expect from a quad-core COre i5 CPU. That said, the Flex 6 14’s Cinebench result falls surprisingly short of last year’s Flex 6 14, and its single-thread performance is also a bit on the low side. Again, though, while we would have liked to see better Cinebench numbers, there’s nothing here that raises a red flag.

3DMark Sky Diver

Saddled with integrated graphics as it is, the IdeaPad Flex 6 14 is no gaming machine and doesn’t claim to be. Still, we run the graphics-oriented 3D Mark Sky Diver benchmark so you can see how different parts compare and decide for yourself. For most mainstream productivity, integrated graphics will suffice—just don’t expect to play anything beyond basic games.

lenovo ideapad flex 6 14ikb 81em 3dmark Ben Patterson/IDG

The Flex 6 14 and its integrated graphics core lands pretty much where we expected in our 3DMark Sky Diver test. Note the lone laptop with discrete graphics way at the top of the chart.

We won’t keep you in suspense: nothing to see here, with the Flex 6 14 landing in essentially the same blah territory as similar laptops with integrated graphics cores. The sole exception is the Acer E 15 at the top of the chart, which comes with a discrete Nvidia GeForce MX150 graphics card. Entry level though it is, the GeForce MX150 demonstrates just how big of a visual boost you can get with discrete graphics.

We should also note that last year’s IdeaPad Flex 6 14 comes in dead last despite having discrete GeForce MX130 graphics in its favor. We were surprised by that result then, and we’re still puzzled as to why the older Flex fell so far short given its discrete graphics card.

Battery life

We test battery life by looping a 4K video using the stock Windows Movies & TV app, with screen brightness set to about 250 nits (which, in the case of the IdeaPad Flex 6 14, meant dialing its brightness all the way up) and setting the volume to 50 percent, with headphones plugged in.

lenovo ideapad flex 6 14ikb 81em battery life Ben Patterson/IDG

We were disappointed by the Flex 6 14’s mediocre battery life, although at least it did better than last year’s model.

The Flex 6 14’s disappointingly mediocre, with its 48 watt-hour battery lasting an average of 473 minutes, or just shy of eight hours. Now, eight hours might sound pretty good, but that figure will fall once you start putting stress on the CPU, and we’ve also seen plenty of laptops with similar-sized batteries manage to make it well past the 500-minute mark.

Bottom line

Having ticked off all of the Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 6 14’s performance numbers—some good, some only so-so—there’s one more figure we should focus on: 500, as in dollars, which is a pretty inexpensive price tag for a polished quad-core convertible like this one. Sure, we would have preferred better battery life and a brighter display, but compromises are the name of the game when it comes to budget laptops. If you’re in the market for a bargain-priced yet productivity-focused 2-in-1 and you can live without all-day battery life, the IdeaPad Flex 6 14 is worth a look.

 

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Ben Patterson

PC World (US online)
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