- Editor's Rating
- Attractive design
- Strong performance
- Sensitive to light
- Weak battery life
The Lenovo Miix 510 stands out with an attractive design and reliable performance, but it’s ultimately undermined by strong competition and lackluster battery life
It’s been over a year since Microsoft has released its Surface Pro 4, and the lack of a 2016 refresh means there’s room for a new king of detachable two-in-one laptops. The Lenovo Miix 510 looks like a worthy successor to the crown. The durable aluminum design is understated, yet attractive. The display is colorful with a clear picture, and under the hood is a competitive collection of specs at nearly half the price of the Surface Pro 4.
With all of that, you’d expect the Lenovo Miix 510 to be a shoo-in for the next must buy detachable. Unfortunately, all of that is held back by lackluster battery life. The Lenovo Miix 510 runs incredibly well, but it doesn’t run for very long.
Lenovo Miix 510 Build and Design
The Lenovo Miix 510 offers a premium look and feel, with a beautiful silver magnesium-alloy unibody design. The tablet is rounded at the corners and slants outward towards the screen. The silver on silver “Lenovo” lettering adds a nice understated look to the back panel. Below that sits a pair of mechanical watchband hinges. The hinges provide consistent reliable resistance while remaining easy to maneuver. This makes it possible to prop the tablet up at virtually any angle you want.
In addition to the tablet, the Miix 510 ships with a detachable keyboard. The back of the keyboard is coated with a synthetic faux leather finish. The material won’t fool onlookers, but it’s still pleasing to senses and helps to create a clean complete aesthetic when the keyboard is closed up against the display.
Along the bottom of the tablet is a magnetic dock, that guides the prongs of the keyboard to quickly lock into place. This makes connecting and disconnecting the keyboard a breeze. No guiding is necessary, simply hover the device over the metal prongs and the magnets will do all the heavy lifting.
Measuring 11.8 x 8.1 x 0.6-inches and weighing 2.68 pounds with the keyboard attachment the Lenovo Miix is relatively lightweight and portable for a two-in-one. The device comfortably fits on your lap, and hardly takes up any space in a bag. With the detached tablet weighing close to a full two pounds the device can feel a bit unwieldy for a tablet, but that’s the norm, as both the Acer Switch Alpha 12 and HP Spectre x360 weigh in at 2.8 pounds and 2.7 pounds respectively.
Lenovo Miix 510 Ports and Features
With its limited real-estate, the Lenovo Miix 510 doesn’t offer an extensive suite of ports, but it does manage to cover the bare essentials. The left side of the device houses a USB 3.0, a USB Type-C port, and a power connector. The right side features the power button, independent volume controls, and an audio combo jack.
The Lenovo Miix 510 also offers an optional Lenovo Active Pen stylus, which is sold at a $40 premium. The stylus itself is battery powered and offers 2,048 levels of pressure sensitivity. Unfortunately, the unit that NBR tested did not come outfitted with the stylus, but it’s easy to see how the device’s watchband design is conducive to creatives. Even at wide angles, the hinge holds its tension, allowing you to apply pressure without moving the display.
Lenovo Miix 510 Screen and Speakers
The Lenovo Miix features a 12.2-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) resolution IPS touch display. The first thing I noticed when looking at the Miix were the chunky bezels, they are a bit thicker than the ones on Microsoft Surface Pro 4. It’s not unseemly by any means, but I couldn’t help but wish Lenovo found a way to access more of that valuable screen real estate.
It’s not all bad news, the Miix 510 boasts excellent color contrast and a clear picture. NBR was impressed by how well the device captured the grit and grime of the red sand metropolis in the opening shot of the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer. Viewing angles are also surprisingly flexible, with images holding up well past 100 degrees without any noticeable color loss or distortion.
There is one caveat, the screen doesn’t perform all that great in heavily lit areas. The panel’s reflective nature is in large part due to its limited brightness. Measuring at 307 nits the Lenovo Miix 510 falls well behind the Acer Switch Alpha 12 (432 nits) and the Microsoft Surface Pro 4 (382 nits). Typically 307 nits brightness isn’t all that bad, but as a tablet and a drawing device the Miix 510 will often find itself at a flat orientation with its screen pointing upwards towards the ceiling. With overhead lighting, the Miix 510 produced a noticeable glossy sheen and colors appeared slightly washed out. This is a relatively small gripe, but it does separate the Miix 510 from the higher-end two-in-one tablets.
The Lenovo Miix 510 doesn’t produce much in the way of sound. The two-in-one tablet is suitable for filling a small sized room with audio but will struggle to do much else. While the device does struggle with amplitude, it does manage to capture sound accurately. NBR was impressed how clear the dueling guitar and violin combo of Duo Sonidos rang out in the piece Histoire du Tango – Nightclub 1960.
Lenovo Miix 510 Keyboard and Touchpad
The Lenovo Folio keyboard isn’t all that bad, as far as detachable two-in-one keyboards go. The peripheral pales in comparison to standard clamshell keyboards, but it’s still more than serviceable. Along the top edge the keyboard there’s a magnetic strip, that lets you lock the keyboard at an incline if you want. The miix features large plastic Chiclet-style keys with an impressive 1.34mm of travel. That certainly makes it one of the deeper key travels that we’ve seen from a detachable. Feedback is also pretty solid. Within a few minutes of using the device, I found myself able to get into a comfortable typing groove.
As with most detachable keyboards, there is a substantial amount of give. When resting your hands on the keyboard it’s not uncommon to feel the entire thing give, especially when striking the center keys. This really only proves to be a mild discomfort. The reduced size and placement of the “right shift” key next to the “upward arrow” key also proved a bit awkward. It took me a few days to get comfortable with that layout, as I’d often find myself striking the arrow key instead of the intended right shift when typing.
A small touchpad is located directly below the keyboard’s spacebar. The small hard plastic pad left me feeling a bit claustrophobic. The limited travel and small size mean that you’ll need to employ several swipes to cross the page. In terms of performance, the Lenovo Miix 510 excels. Swipes, clicks, and multi-finger gestures all read consistently without delay.
Lenovo Miix 510 Performance
Armed with a 2.3GHz sixth generation Intel Core i5-6200U CPU, Intel HD Graphics 520, 8GB of DDR4, and a 256GB PCIe SSD the Lenovo Miix 510 offers competitive performance for it’s $750 price tag. If you’re looking for a more affordable option you may want to consider the base model, which sports a 2.3GHz sixth generation Intel Core i3-6100U, 4GB of DDR4, and a smaller 128GB PCIe SSD and is currently listed for $600.
Similar to other high-end two-in-ones the Miix primarily focuses on productivity. In that arena the Miix 510 accells. The machine’s responsive PCIe SSD allows the device to boot in seconds and programs and files load in a near instant. The powerful processor and ample RAM storage also make the Miix a great multi-tasking tool. While testing the device NBR was able to run 10 active Google Chrome tabs along with two HD video streams without any lag or drop in performance. The integrated graphics are suitable for simpler visual tasks, such as video playback and HD video streaming. More demanding processes such as gaming and 4K video streaming will prove to be too much for this device.
The Lenovo Miix 510 review unit that NBR tested had the following specifications:
- Windows 10
- 12.2-inch FHD (1920 x 1200) resolution touch display
- Intel Core i5 6200U 2.3GHz
- Intel HD Graphics 520
- 8GB DDR4
- 256GB PCIe SSD
- Bluetooth 4.0
- Dimensions: 11.8 x 8.1 x 0.4 inches (0.6-inches with keyboard)
- Weight: 1.98 pounds (2.65 pounds with keyboard)
- Price: $750
Lenovo Miix 510 Benchmarks
PCMark8 Home (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for general activities from web browsing and video streaming to typing documents and playing games (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark8 Work (Accelerated) measures overall system performance in Windows 8 for work-related productivity tasks (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 measures the overall gaming performance of the GPU (higher scores mean better performance):
CrystalDiskMark storage drive performance test:
Lenovo Miix 510 Heat and Noise
The Lenovo Miix 510 remains relatively cool even under duress. After streaming HD video for a full 45 minutes the back panel of the Miix was still only slightly warm. NBR believes this has a lot to do with the fact that there is throttling going on under the hood. Depending on your performance needs that may be a deal breaker, but with most productivity apps NBR didn’t notice any real world significant performance drops. However, if you need to eek out every ounce of performance it’s something to consider.
Lenovo Miix 510 Battery Life
To test battery life, we used Futuremark’s PowerMark benchmark in balanced mode. The test consists of a combination of automated web browsing, word processing, gaming and video playback workloads. The test is far more strenuous than typical web browsing alone, measuring the machine under a litany of scenarios to better simulate high-stress usage. With the test being far more demanding the scores are understandably lower than what you’ll experience just checking Facebook or watching Netflix.
PowerMark “Balanced” battery life test results listed in minutes (higher scores mean better life):
Here we have the Achilles heel of the Lenovo Miix 510. The Miix ran for 2 hours and 58 minutes before shutting down. With our tests being a bit more strenuous than general use you can expect to get upwards of 5 hours of battery life on a single charge, putting it well below Lenovo’s estimated 8 hours of battery life. While the Miix’s battery life isn’t atrocious it’s clearly a step back from its predecessors. One of the main draws of this category is its portability. Ultimately all of that is moot if you need to be tethered to a power cord.
Lenovo Miix 510 Final Thoughts
If Lenovo had hit their battery life projections this would likely be the best detachable two-in-one on the market. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. The Lenovo Miix 510 is still a great device it’s own right. Save for the somewhat thick bezel, NBR absolutely loved the design. The unibody aluminum chassis and faux leather keyboard both look and feel great, and no one in the industry designs better hinges than Lenovo. The specs to price range are also on point, though the clear throttling issues may dissuade some users.
However, the biggest hurdle for the Lenovo Miix 510 is the Acer Switch Alpha 12. Both laptops hit that $750 price point, but the Alpha has a brighter display with higher resolution and slightly more consistent performance. It’s worth noting that the Alpha actually has even worse battery life than the Miix 510, but the difference isn’t all that much.
Still, if you’re looking to eek out a few extra minutes of battery life and want something more affordable than the Microsoft Surface Pro 4, than the Lenovo Miix 510 is a solid choice.
- Attractive design
- Strong performance
- Sensitive to light
- Weak battery life