Technology

Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: the 15-inch Chromebook to beat

It wasn’t too way back that the concept of paying $800 for a Chromebook would get you laughed out of a room. In some circles, it nonetheless will. I personally have criticized every kind of Chrome OS gadgets for being too costly for what they provide, and I preserve that the $259.99 Chromebook Duet is one in every of the finest bargains in at present’s laptop computer market.

So I opened up my evaluate unit of Asus’ $828 Chromebook CX5 ready to complain. Whereas that may be a midrange worth for a Home windows laptop computer, it’s excessive for a Chromebook (and most other reviewers have panned the thing for its price). However the CX5 has performed a terrific job of convincing me that my knee-jerk was misplaced — there’s virtually nothing, aside from the working system, separating this laptop computer from a superb midrange Home windows pocket book. Chromebooks have grown up, and so have their costs.

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Good Stuff

  • Distinctive easy texture
  • Good specs
  • Glorious battery life

Dangerous Stuff

  • 16:9 show
  • Dear as Chromebooks go
  • Touchpad is a bit stiff

Essentially the most distinctive characteristic of the CX5, even amongst latest Home windows laptops, is its end. The chassis is roofed in what Asus calls “electro-deposition coating.” I do not know what meaning particularly, however I do know I really like touching it.

Each the keyboard deck and the lid are virtually disconcertingly easy. “Velvety” is the finest descriptor I can provide you with. Except for the Dell XPS 13 (with its considerably controversial woven-glass texture), there’s not a laptop computer I’ve reviewed that feels this good. That smoothness extends to the touchpad as nicely, which is roomy and does a terrific job with palm rejection, although it’s considerably stiff such that I typically wanted two arms to function it.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 in tent mode, seen from the left side on a black table with a gray fabric bench in the background.

I used to be prepared to hate this, however I’m truly very happy.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 half open, seen from the back, angled to the left, with a white textured wall in the background.

Asus calls the coating “a chic, ceramic-like texture.”

Equally, the construct high quality is as good as any Chromebook I’ve used this 12 months and rivals lots of the finest laptops at this worth level. It’s fairly sturdy, with no flex in the display and just about none in the keyboard deck. The chassis barely picks up any fingerprints, and it got here out of being battered round in my backpack and not using a scratch.

The port choice is affordable as nicely, together with two USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 ports, an HDMI 2.0, a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Sort-A, an audio combo jack, and a microSD slot (no Thunderbolt help, although). The CX5 helps dual-band Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.0, and it contains numerous applied sciences which can be supposed to assist stabilize connectivity together with a “metamaterial filter” that’s meant to “isolate electromagnetic noise.”

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 laid out flat on a gray fabric bench. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

It’s an 81 % screen-to-body ratio.

I solely have two actual complaints about the chassis. The primary is the energy button — it’s situated on the left edge, and I by accident pressed it a number of instances when holding the gadget as a pill. The second, talking of pill mode, is the weight. At 4.17 kilos, the CX5 is heavy for a 15-inch Chromebook — it’s very shut in weight to the Asus Zephyrus G15 gaming laptop computer, for context, and over a pound heavier than Samsung’s 15-inch Galaxy Ebook Professional 360. I’d choose one thing else if I had been searching for a tool I might comfortably carry round as a pill.

The Asus Chromebook CX5’s keyboard angled to the right, seen from above on a black table.

Audio system are pushed by a “sensible amplifier” to forestall long-term injury.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 in tent mode, angled to the left on a black table. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

The CX5 has Asus’ ErgoLift hinge, which tilts the keyboard up by three levels in clamshell mode.

The ports on the left side of the Asus Chromebook Flip CD5.

That’s the energy button there, with the little LED.

Elsewhere, the CX5 works fairly nicely as an leisure and productiveness gadget. The downward-firing audio system, that are Harmon Kardon licensed, have first rate percussion and glorious quantity, although I did hear a tiny little bit of distortion at the prime finish. The keyboard is pretty comfy with first rate journey and click on; it’s additionally a bit loud, and the numpad is cramped even for my small fingers.

The 1920 x 1080 touchscreen is vivid and kicked again little glare (and the 16:9 facet ratio, whereas not perfect, is much less of against the law on a 15-inch display than it could be on a smaller gadget). The bezels are chunky sufficient to look a bit old style, however these are extra cheap to have on a 2-in-1 that you could be want to maintain from the sides.

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 webcam.

Oh look, an HD digicam.

After which there’s the efficiency. My check unit has a Core i5-1135G7 and 16GB of LPDDR4X SDRAM, that are hefty specs for a client Chromebook. It blew by no matter I wanted it to, and I used to be typically working in over a dozen Chrome tabs alongside just a few Android apps, with often a Zoom name or a YouTube video over prime. I by no means felt any warmth or noise from the fan inside. I had one concern the place working Spotify for lengthy intervals of time often made the pc crash, however I’m unsure whether or not that’s on Spotify or Asus; I’ve requested the latter and can report again in the event that they determine something out.

Battery life can be cheap, given the energy of the chips inside. I averaged eight hours and 31 minutes of steady use with the CX5’s display at medium brightness, and simply broke 9 hours on some trials. Whereas that’s not an distinctive outcome by any stretch, it’s going to enable you to go a full day of use and not using a charger in case your workload is analogous to mine. The gadget additionally charged rapidly sufficient for a Chromebook, juicing up to 60 % in 57 minutes.

The CX5 can be out there in 14-inch fashions. You may get a 14-incher with a Core i3 (at present $724.99 on Amazon) and a Core i7 (currently $1,049.99 from Asus). Given how effortlessly the i5 is performing in my testing, I’d be hard-pressed to suggest the latter mannequin to anybody with a Chrome-heavy workload. Individuals who want that sort of energy seemingly know who they’re. The i3, on the different hand, could also be a good choice for people who’re balking at my check unit’s worth and are okay with a smaller display. An i3 has usually been highly effective sufficient to fly by Chrome OS duties in my testing. (That unit additionally has 8GB of RAM, which remains to be unusual in lower-tier Chromebooks.)

The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 open on a black table, angled to the left, with a gray fabric bench and white textured wall in the background. The screen displays The Verge homepage.

The smaller i3 mannequin could also be a greater worth for many individuals.

All of that is to say that the CX5 rivals many Home windows laptops at its worth level in the areas that matter — it’s not sluggish, flimsy, or cheaply constructed the manner Chromebooks stereotypically have been in years previous. The primary consideration, for those who’re contemplating the CX5 as a main driver, is whether or not Chrome OS will give you the results you want.

I’ve been reviewing Chromebooks for nearly two years, and I’ve watched Chrome OS mature earlier than my eyes in that point. It’s grown from an working system stuffed with glitches and holes to one which doesn’t really feel a lot completely different from Home windows most of the time (particularly since the latter simply moved its icons to the heart of its taskbar).

However there are nonetheless just a few issues that get you — even for those who’re somebody like me, who works virtually completely in Chrome. Some apps nonetheless take some time to resize. Slack is now not out there in app type, so it’s yet another factor I’ve to maintain in my bottomless heap of Chrome tabs. Messenger nonetheless bombards me each morning with notifications for each message I acquired over the earlier evening. Whereas it’s good that many Android apps have gotten extra usable on Chrome OS over the years, there nonetheless aren’t too many who I discover extra helpful than their browser counterparts — most of the ones I take advantage of are equal at finest. (And, in fact, you possibly can overlook about every kind of desktop apps to which Home windows offers you entry.)

However for some customers, the simplicity and different advantages of Chrome OS outweigh these drawbacks. If that’s you, extra energy to you.

The Asus logo on the bottom bezel of the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5.

Chrome OS supplies automated updates and built-in safety — each large promoting factors for a lot of of us.

The elephant in the room to all of that is the CX5’s worth: $828.99 is nicely outdoors of what most would possibly take into account to be Chromebook territory. However that projection is commonly, partly, based mostly on the assumption that Chromebooks are low cost {hardware}, and I’d remind those who this worth isn’t egregious when it comes to well-built Chromebooks — and I do assume this one is nicely constructed.

Contemplate the Pixelbook Go. A Pixelbook Go together with an identical specs to my check unit is $999. Google’s gadget is thinner and lighter than the CX5, however it additionally has a smaller display, fewer ports, and an older processor, and it doesn’t flip round. It’s not clearly a greater buy for everybody — it’s actually not $170 higher for everybody.

I believe for those who’re somebody who prefers Chrome OS to Home windows, and that the former will fit your wants, the CX5 isn’t egregiously priced. It’s a strong performer with a novel design — there are legit causes to desire it over a midrange Home windows laptop computer, no matter the working system it’s working.

Most significantly, it loudly and clearly sends the message that numerous laptop computer producers have been making an attempt to push over the years: Premium Chromebooks are a factor now. They’re not only a novelty that Google exhibits off sometimes — they’re on cabinets, they’re sensible, they usually’re focusing on on a regular basis laptop computer patrons. Simply prepare to pay a bit extra.

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