Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 in the test: Fast, but too expensive
RRP $ 830.00
“The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 is fast and well made. It's a shame it's so expensive. "
Solid build quality
Good keyboard and touchpad
Battery life is only sufficient
Chassis is big and heavy
Too expensive in the CX5 configuration
When it comes to budget laptops, price is of the utmost importance. Compromises are inevitable, but a cheap laptop can strike a nice balance at the right price.
The Asus Chromebook Flip C536 is a good example of such a device. Despite some weaknesses, I liked the 14-inch 360-degree convertible 2-in-1 at its attractive price. Asus has a larger model, the Chromebook Flip CX5, which is similar but has a 15.6-inch display. Sometimes you just want more screen real estate, so we decided to see if the larger model offered the same value.
My test device was the high-end Chromebook Flip CX5 with a Core i5-1135G7 CPU and 16 GB of RAM at a price of $ 830, which is just outside the budget range. You can also configure a C536 version (yes, the same model number as the 14-incher) with a Core i3 and 8GB of RAM for a much tastier $ 569. While the Core i5 version is extremely fast, the Core i3 14-inch model is a much more solid value. So apart from some significant discounts, this Chromebook is hard to recommend.
The Chromebook Flip CX5 is the counterpart of the 14-inch Chromebook Flip C536 – and that's a good thing. It features an "immersive white" aluminum lid that has been treated with an electrostatic coating to give it a ceramic-like look and feel, and a white plastic case bottom, both of which contrast nicely with the black interior. The Obsidian Black keyboard deck uses an in-mold roller process that gives it a soft feel that is comfortable to type on.
The angles are minimalist, but the color scheme is bang and gives the laptop its own, unmistakable look. I find the Chromebook Flip CX5 more attractive than some other 15-inch Chromebooks, like the Acer Chromebook 15, which has a more traditional silver aesthetic.
Build quality is mixed, with a keyboard deck and lower chassis that don't sag, but a lid that bends a little too easily under pressure. It's a bit more solid than the Chromebook Flip C536, which wasn't as stiff all around. The Chromebook Flip CX5 is on other budget 15-inch laptops, including the Acer Chromebook 15 and the Windows 10-based Acer Aspire 5.
The hinge is a bit tight, two hands are required to open it.
In my test configuration it is also more expensive. Asus even went to the trouble of subjecting the Chromebook to the MIL-STD-810H series of tests for military reliability, which demonstrates some confidence in the laptop's build quality.
The hinge is a bit tight and requires two hands to open, but it supports the Asus ErgoLift function, which supports the back of the laptop for a better typing angle and increased airflow. The hinge holds the display firmly in place with its four 2-in-1 modes – clamshell, tent, media and tablet.
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 is a large laptop – 14.08 inches x 9.48 inches x 0.73 inches – due in part to its thicker top display bezel and massive lower chin. However, it isn't as big compared to the competition, such as the HP Chromebook 15, which is 14.11 "x 9.69" x 0.7 ". The Flip CX5 is slightly heavier at 4.3 pounds compared to the HP's 3.99 pounds. This is a laptop that fits in your backpack, but you know it's there and it will be a hassle to use in tablet mode with the optional Asus active pen.
Connectivity is sufficient. On the left side there is a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, a USB-A 3.2 Gen 2 port and a 3.5 mm audio jack as well as a USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, an HDMI connection and microSD card reader on the right. Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0 perform wireless tasks.
Chrome OS isn't a very sophisticated operating system, and so the Intel Core i5-1135G7 was the 11th. In fact, it might be a little over the top.
In the Android Geekbench 5 app, the Chromebook Flip CX5 managed 1,190 in single-core mode and 4,151 in multi-core mode. That beats many Chromebooks, including the Asus Chromebook Flip C536 14-inch, which scored 1209 and 2849 points with its Core i3-1115G4. I ran the Speedometer 2.0 web benchmark and the Chromebook Flip CX5 scored 163, more than the Chromebook Flip's 158 and the fastest overall Chromebook we tested.
The Chromebook Flip CX5 mastered everything I threw at it. I was able to open as many Chrome tabs as I wanted and run as many Android apps in the background as I needed without anything slowing down. This is due to the combination of CPU speed and a lot of RAM. I doubt I'll ever have to put the Chromebook Flip CX5 to a task it couldn't handle. I even tried Asphalt 9 in the very bulky tablet mode, and although it was unwieldy, it ran smoothly.
The 15.6-inch display has a full HD resolution, which I find less sharp than I would like. And the traditional 16: 9 aspect ratio isn't as good for productivity as today's taller displays. I couldn't use my colorimeter to test the display and Asus didn't provide any specs, so all of my opinions here are subjective.
At first, the display was just bright enough to use in my moderately bright office environment. I certainly wouldn't use it outside, and it might even struggle with brightly lit rooms. The contrast was just OK, black text looked a bit gray against a white background. The colors were bright and natural, and photos and videos were similar to other laptops when I held them next to each other. I found the color temperature a little off, with a greenish hue that I didn't like. The Chromebook Flip C536 14-inch display struck me as better in this regard.
The color temperature of the display was switched off, with a green cast that I didn't like.
Overall, I found the display good enough for general productivity use. I didn't like the green cast, but I got used to it and was especially noticeable when switching to a different laptop. The Chromebook Flip CX5's display can get your work done and the occasional video recording, but creatives won't love it. And I'll note that it's a more attractive display on the 15-inch Chromebook Flip C536 for $ 569 than the CX5 for $ 830.
The sound was loud and clear, with no distortion at maximum volume. The mids and highs were pleasant, but there was a clear lack of bass. It's good enough for YouTube videos and solo Netflix shows, but everything else requires headphones.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Chromebook Flip CX5 keyboard takes up a good chunk of the available deck and offers a lot of clearance, although I thought the keys were just a tiny bit small. I found the switches light and snappy, but the ground movement was a bit abrupt and made the experience less comfortable. This was a good keyboard for a (relatively) inexpensive device, but it didn't rank among the best offerings in HP's Specter line or the Apple MacBook.
There's the usual wide range of backlights that Chrome offers that most Windows 10 laptops don't, and it's been consistent across the board. The keyboard was similar to the 14-inch Chromebook Flip C536, although I thought it felt a bit more comfortable.
The touchpad is big enough and in a wide format. I found it responsive and precise, with a comfortable interface and a solid click that wasn't too loud. It easily supported the full range of Chrome OS multitouch gestures. Like all other devices, the display is 2-in-1 touch capable and supports the optional Asus Active Pen with 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity. Again, this is a great laptop for tablet mode, but prop it up on a surface and you can colorize it.
There is no way to log into the Chromebook Flip CX5 without a password or PIN. It's a shame, but not unexpected.
The Chromebook Flip CX5 only has 57 watt hours of battery, which is not much for a 15.6-inch display, even with Full HD resolution. I wasn't expecting great battery life.
During my test, the laptop split the difference. It lasted almost 9.5 hours in our web browsing test, around three hours more than the 14-inch Chromebook Flip 536. It's almost hit our preferred 10 hours and promises you can spend a full day on the machine. In our video test, it reached 8.8 hours, which is less than I expected. The Asus Chromebook Flip C536 14-inch lasted around 10 hours and shows the effect of the larger display.
Overall, I would rate the Chromebook Flip CX5's battery life as acceptable. It's not the best we've seen, but it's not the worst either, and going through a day's work without a plug-in should be considered an accomplishment.
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 takes what we liked about the 14-inch Chromebook Flip C536 and makes it bigger and faster. It's built a little better and offers better battery life, making it a significant improvement over its smaller brother.
The only problem is the price. At $ 830, the Chromebook Flip CX5 is less convincing. You can buy many other laptops, both Chromebooks and Windows 10 machines, for about the same money and get as good or better out of them. The Chromebook Flip CX5 gains in size and performance, but loses value. You're better off buying the $ 569 version and accepting the lower – but still more than acceptable – performance of the Core i3.
Are there alternatives?
The smaller Asus Chromebook Flip C536 14 inch is a viable alternative if you don't necessarily need a 15 inch display. You get the same attractive looks, almost the same build quality, and spend less money.
The current selection of 15-inch Chromebooks has not kept up with the Chromebook Flip CX5. I couldn't find a large Chromebook that can compete with the Asus in its 2-in-1 flexibility and 11th generation CPU. In fact, the best alternative to the CX5 is the 15-inch configuration of the C536.
When you're ready to consider a Windows 10 computer, you have more options. For example, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 offers a 15.6-inch display with AMD Ryzen 5000 H processors for a few hundred dollars less than the CX5.
How long it will take?
The Chromebook Flip CX5 is built well enough to last for several years, or at least as long as you plan to keep using the laptop before upgrading. Its components should let Chrome OS hum along for just as long. The one-year warranty is typical and acceptable for a budget device.
Should you buy it?
No, not for the average Chromebook buyer. The $ 569 Core i3 C536 model offers more value. The only exception would be someone who is dedicated to the Chrome OS platform but needs a bigger screen and better performance – like a developer, for example. Due to the lack of 15-inch options, the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 would be a viable option.