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The Flex 14 won't win too many flat-out sprints, but it packs quite decent performance for the price tag. Here are the relevant numbers:
- Cinebench - 9,943 (4,977 with 1x core)
- 3DMark - Ice Storm: 33,819 // Cloud Gate: 3,794 // Firestrike: 513
- PC Mark - Home: 2,026 // Work: 3,150
- PC Mark Battery test: 202 minutes
- Battery Eater: 146 minutes
While the Flex 14 pales in comparison to higher-end laptops - particularly those with discreet mobile graphics adapters, these are impressive results for a budget-range laptop.
In real-life, the combination of Windows 8, an SSD, and the Haswell processor make for one snappy portable computing experience. The system starts up fast, quickly moves between apps, and provides enough pop that it can play low-end Steam games, strategy games like Banner Saga, and even shooters like Call of Duty with the graphics options relaxed.
An important consideration for laptop performance is how much heat they throw off during normal operations. True laptop users will be grateful that the Flex 14's single exhaust vent on the left-side puts out very little heat while being used in a regular fashion.
Budget price = mediocre display
The only real downside here is screen quality. The specifications don't lie: The 1366 x 768 display feels like a throwback in every regard. Not only does the Flex 14 not allow for full HD video, the screen quality itself is average at best. The screen is not very bright, and off-plane viewing angles are poor. Truthfully, at this price point, this is to be expected, even if it is disappointing.
The upside to such a mediocre display is that since the processor doesn't have to push as many pixels around the screen, the Flex 14 boasts top-notch battery life. Both of TechRadar's synthetic tests hammer away at the CPU, graphics, and hard drive; this system was up to the task, putting out power for over three hours in PC Mark's battery test, and over two hours in Battery Eater's even more grueling benchmark.
Lenovo claims that this translates into nine full hours of computing time. Our hands-on experiences with battery life came quite close to this boast. When used for standard computing tasks and online access, we saw upwards of 6-7 hours on a single charge.
In classic Lenovo style, the keyboard is responsive and comfortable to type on, although the absence of a backlight will disappoint users who work in low-light conditions.
The mousing experience is similarly great. Lenovo has been hit or miss with its trackpads lately, but I'm happy to report that we experienced no phantom clicks, accidental text selections, or general unresponsiveness. The pad itself is surprisingly clunky when clicking, but supports more gentle touch gestures as well.
One final note: The Flex 14 boasts surprisingly solid sound quality thanks to the stereo speakers located on its front underside. While light drum sounds can feel a little too snare-y and high-end notes a little bright, the mid-range and bass effects are excellent. In total, this laptop sounds much better than most other laptops on the market today, especially in its price range.