Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i: two minute review
“Mini but mighty” is the catchphrase for the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i, and it's fairly accurate. Lenovo has long made some of the best computers around, and this mini PC is more proof.
By “mighty” though, we’re not talking about the kinds of performance you'd get from an Apple Mac mini (M1). Apple’s offering can play graphically intensive games on high settings and handle Final Cut Pro workloads like a pro.
Meanwhile, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i is best for office and home use where a typical user would utilize it for sending emails, typing up documents, doing research, and streaming movies or shows.
Still, for those, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i is certainly up to task, giving users on a budget a compelling option with very few sacrifices. In fact, it comes with a lot of ports and storage for the price, which makes it more than worth your money.
Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i: price and availability
Here are the full specs of the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i:
CPU: Intel Core i5-10400T 2.00GHz (6-core, 12MB cache, up to 3.60GHz w/ Turbo Boost)
Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 630
RAM: 12GB DDR4 (2,667MHz)
Storage: 1TB 5400 HDD + 256GB PCIe SSD
Ports: 1 x USB 3.2 Type-C, 5 x USB 3.2 Type-A, Headphone/mic jack, RJ45 Ethernet, HDMI, DisplayPort
Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6 802.11AX, Bluetooth 5.1
Weight: 3.26lbs (1.48kg)
Size: 1.57 x 7.64 x 7.18 inches (40 x 194 x 182.4 mm; W x D x H)
At $509 and $629 for its low-end and mid-range configurations in the US, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i definitely sits in the budget market. However, there’s plenty of value to be had here.
The basic configuration, for example, gives you a 10th-gen Intel Core i3, Intel UHD Graphics 630, and 8GB RAM with 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD storage for just a little over $500. Meanwhile, something like the HP EliteDesk 805 G6 Desktop Mini will set you back $817 for an AMD Ryzen 3 PRO 4350G, integrated Radeon graphics, half the RAM, and much less storage space.
And, although the Apple Mac mini’s base configuration is much more powerful with an M1 chip and 8GB RAM, you’re also paying a lot more at $699. Upgrade to a 1TB SSD storage, and you’re already paying a whopping $1,099.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i, therefore, is the most economical choice, especially if you won’t fully utilize all the power that Apple’s M1 chip delivers.
None of the US configurations are available in the UK at the time of writing, however. UK customers do have a 10th-gen Intel Core i3, Intel UHD Graphics 630, 8GB RAM configuration on hand for £359. However, they’re only getting 512GB SSD storage. Sadly, this mini PC isn’t available in Australia.
Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i: design
Slightly smaller, thicker and heavier than the Apple Mac mini, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i is just the ticket if you’re looking for something that won’t take up your whole desk space or if you need a PC you can take anywhere with you – though if it’s the latter, you should probably just invest in a budget laptop.
With a plastic gray chassis speckled in white and topped with a Mineral Grey textile panel, this mini PC boasts a business casual look that makes it just as fitting in an office setting as it is in someone’s home. This top panel pops off easily to reveal a metal panel that hides the innards, some of which may be upgraded for future-proofing.
There are a lot of ports on hand here – namely, a USB-C, five USB 3.2 Type-A ports, an HDMI port, and a DisplayPort, as well as a headphone/mic jack and a RJ45 Ethernet jack. And, this should give you a whole bunch of options to connect accessories and peripherals, just as all desktop computers should.
Finally, there’s an air intake underneath as well as an exhaust on the back of the PC for circulation and keeping those components inside nice and cool.
Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i: performance
Here is how the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i fared in our suite of benchmark tests:
3DMark: Night Raid: 5,935; Fire Strike: 996; Time Spy: 451
Cinebench R20 Multi-core: 2,416 points
GeekBench 5: 924 (single-core); 4,585 (multi-core)
PCMark 10 (Home Test): 4,602 points
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i is a very capable mini PC. Our review configuration boasts an Intel Core i5-10400T, an Intel UHD Graphics 630, and 8GB of memory. That will see you through most common productivity tasks, from browsing and sending emails to streaming your favorite movies and shows. You can even get some light gaming done – titles like Sayonara Wild Hearts play fairly smoothly, despite occasional choppy gameplay.
Multi-tasking is a breeze on this mini PC as well, even when you have 20 or more browser tabs open at the same time. We’ve done work on this computer with not just one but three streaming services running at the same time, and we haven’t really experienced any glaring slowdowns that might affect productivity.
Nor have we experienced the fan inside being overly loud. In a quiet room, you’ll hear it working but not to the point of distraction. In a noisy room, you’ll hardly notice it at all.
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i might not knock it out of the park, yielding only a score of 451 in Time Spy, 2,416 points in Cinebench R20, and 4,585 in GeekBench, which means it’s never going to see you through complicated workloads like video editing and gaming. However, it should be more than enough for most tasks, and it does so without burning a PC-shaped hole in your pocket.
Should I buy a Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i?
Buy it if…
You’re looking for a budget PC for work or home use
The Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i is extremely affordable yet highly capable, seeing you through most workloads and tasks while setting you back less than $700. That makes it the best option for most people, especially those on a budget.
You need a portable PC for your small desk setup
At 1.57 x 7.64 x 7.18 inches, this PC is small enough to travel with, which means it’s definitely ideal for those with small desk setups. If you’re short on space, this is the PC for you.
You don’t need anything super powerful
Why spend a lot of money on something you won’t utilize to its full potential. If you don’t need something that powerful, get this one. You’ll have enough money leftover to spend on high-quality peripherals.
Don’t buy it if…
You need something for gaming or photo/video editing
If, on the other hand, you do need something powerful, the Lenovo IdeaCentre Mini 5i is definitely not for you. It won’t see you through graphically demanding games that are a few years old, and it definitely won’t get you through editing and rendering 4K videos.
You want more configurations to choose from
With only two available configurations on hand for US customers, neither of which may be customized, there aren’t a lot of options here to choose from. If you like to pick and choose your specs before you hit buy, this isn’t going to be the mini PC for you.
Apple Mac Mini (M1)
When it comes to mini PCs, the Apple Mac Mini is pretty much the gold standard. It's affordably priced and with the Apple M1 chip, it is surprisingly powerful. If you aren't committed to a Windows PC, this is definitely an excellent alternative.
See our full Apple Mac Mini (M1) review