LENOVO Miix 510
The Miix 510 is attractively priced, but battery life is mediocre, and the screen could be sharper
THE LENOVO MIIX 510 is a 2-in-1 hybrid to rival the Microsoft Surface Pro (Shopper 355). On paper, the Miix 510 appears to be a much better deal – unlike the Surface Pro, Lenovo provides a keyboard attachment and stylus in the very same box, and most importantly, the Miix 510 is an awful lot cheaper.
An Intel Core i3-6100U model with 4GB of RAM will set you back £650, while an upgraded Core i5-6200U version with 8GB of RAM is £850 (we tested the latter). While these are previous-generation Skylake chips, not newer Kaby Lake processors, the roughly equivalent Surface Pro models cost £799 and an enormous £1,249 respectively. Even going back to the old Surface Pro 4, a Core i5 model with 8GB of RAM still costs £1,099, and remember that none of these prices includes a keyboard or stylus.
This is no cheap-and-cheerful piece of tat, either. The Miix 510 is solidly built with a commendably durable aluminium unibody design, and the attention to detail is impressive. The rear kickstand, for instance, is attached with Lenovo’s signature Watchband Hinge, made up of 280 individual pieces of stainless steel and providing 150 degrees of flexibility. Unfortunately, the bottom of the kickstand isn’t rubberised, so it can be prone to sliding around on top of a desk.
WEIGHT ONE MINUTE
At 900g, the Miix 510 is rather heavy without its detachable keyboard, and attaching it pushes the weight up to 1.25kg. By comparison, the Microsoft Surface Pro weighs only 910g with its Type Cover attached, and 786g without – something to consider if you’re regularly on the move. Lenovo’s hybrid has speakers on both edges for true stereo. These have a limited power output, but you can improve matters by enabling Dolby Audio through Windows 10’s Sound settings. If you’re looking to play music or movies through the laptop, consider investing in a separate Bluetooth speaker instead. At the right-hand side of the tablet component sit a power button, volume rocker and a 3.5mm audio jack. On the left, there’s a full-size USB3 port and a Type-C port – a useful combination for both older and newer peripherals. Neither is ever taken up by a power cable, either, as the Miix 510’s battery is fed its juice through Lenovo’s proprietary charger. Completing the feature set are the 2-megapixel front and 5-megapixel rear cameras, making the Miix 510 ideal for Skype calls and casual snaps.
One of the Miix 510’s key selling points is the inclusion of a keyboard. Unfortunately, this is also where the hybrid begins to show some of its weaknesses.
To be fair, it’s a good size, and the keys have a good travel distance before being actuated. Even so, it’s just not that pleasant to type on. There’s noticeable flex, so if you’re a heavy typist it will cave under pressure. We also found the built-in trackpad would inconsistently jump about while we were navigating web pages, or even completely fail to respond to finger movements and clicks.
It’s almost worth looking into other wireless keyboards to use instead, if you want to use the Miix 510 for regular typing. We’d suggest the £25 Logitech K400 Plus Wireless Touch Keyboard as an alternative to the bundled keyboard. It might not fold up neatly over the Miix 510, but it will give you a much better typing experience.
The Miix 510 is solidly built with a durable aluminium design, and the attention to detail is impressive
As well as the keyboard, you also get the Lenovo Active Pen. This, conversely, works very well: it’s great for 3D Paint and Windows Ink, two features that have been a focus of Microsoft’s recent Windows 10 updates.
OLD DOG, NEW MIIX
Although the spec we were sent is the more expensive option, it’s justified by the inclusion of a 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-6200U, as well as 8GB of 2,133MHz DDR4 RAM. That’s plenty for all your multitasking needs on Windows 10 – which is just as well, as there’s no option to upgrade the RAM further.
All that said, we were rather disappointed by the Miix 510’s benchmark scores. It achieved a measly 30 overall in our 4K benchmarks, putting it effectively on par with the £900 Asus Transformer 3 Pro (Shopper 348), which scored 31. It wouldn’t be fair to compare the Miix to the high-spec Surface Pro we tested, but the Surface Pro 4’s Intel Core i5-6300U model did manage a much stronger 44 overall. In the cross-platform Geekbench 4 benchmarks, the Miix 510 achieved a single-core score of 2,892 and 5,682 for multicore operations. To put that in context, the Huawei MateBook X, a nonconvertible laptop with the newer, Kaby Lake 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-7200U, produced respective scores of 3,806 and 7,371. We imagine that using Skylake did help keep costs (and thus prices) down, but it’s hard not to wonder what the Miix 510 could have done with more up-to-date hardware. Still, although the Miix 510 didn’t excel in our benchmarks, it has enough power to churn through daily tasks, and browsing, watching movies and typing documents don’t pose any problems. It’s when you’re looking to do any video editing or push the processor to its limits that you’ll find the Miix 510 unable to keep up.
It’s a similar story with the integrated GPU. Intel’s HD Graphics 520 is fine for watching movies and very light gaming, but if you start gaming on the laptop, its limitations immediately become apparent. Hitting just 30.6fps in GFXBench Manhattan and 21.5fps in GFXBench Car Chase, this isn’t a hybrid that’s made for games.
It gets a little hot around the top of the casing, too, although actual CPU core temperatures stay low at around 65°C, which is well within its thermal threshold.
For storage, meanwhile, you get a blisteringly fast 256GB PCI-E Samsung SSD. With disk write caching disabled, the Miix 510 delivers 1,325MB/s sequential read and 1,068MB/s write rates. Copying files to and from the laptop is a swift and painless process.
At only 5h 40m in our video playback test, the Miix 510’s battery life falls short of many rivals. It does beat the Asus Transformer 3 Pro by over an hour, but overall it’s pretty underwhelming, especially next to the 2017 Surface Pro’s 11h 33m. If you’re looking to take this computer on a long flight, you’ll need to make sure you have access to a power socket.
The Miix 510’s 12.2in multitouch display works flawlessly on Windows 10. It’s not as sharp as the Surface Pro’s, however. That system’s stunning 2,736x1,824 resolution delivers 267ppi across its 12.3in screen. The Lenovo’s much lower 1,920x1,200 resolution translates to just 185ppi, meaning text doesn’t look as sharp.
The screen is also rather dull for a tablet 2-in-1, with only 89.6% sRGB gamut coverage compared to the Surface Pro’s 94.3%. An average Delta E of 2.73 also means the laptop’s screen isn’t particularly accurate. If you’re planning on editing images or videos with the Miix 510, consider using an external calibrated monitor.
On the plus side, the screen is nice and bright. We measured a maximum brightness of 334cd/m2, which is more than enough to stay legible in direct sunlight. What’s more, with a 0.16cd/m2 black level and 1,006:1 contrast ratio, dark scenes in movies are accurately reproduced.
JOB FOR A PRO
The price remains tempting, but the Lenovo Miix 510 trips over in a few areas. It doesn’t have particularly good battery life, its screen is rather drab, it’s far from the fastest laptop in its class, and its detachable keyboard isn’t pleasant to type on either.
If you’re looking for 2-in-1 computing on a budget, you’ll be better off with the Asus Transformer Pro 3 – true, its battery life is even shorter than the Miix 510’s, but it makes up for it with a far superior display and bundled keyboard. Christopher Minasians