Asus Chromebook Flip CM5 review: A stealthy, sturdy AMD laptop with a big display
The Asus Chromebook Flip CM5 is different than what you might be used to seeing in the world of Chromebooks. It's not bland gray and plasticky like entry-level models, but it's also not slim and silver aluminum like most premium Chromebooks. The Flip CM5 has a 15.6-inch touch display and it's a USI-pen-enabled two-in-one.
The body is topped with an anodized dark gray aluminum-alloy lid and inside, when you lift the lid, is all black with a soft-touch finish. Asus also color-blocked the WASD keys in orange and the power and volume buttons on the left side are colored to match. It's something you might find on one of the company's entry-level gaming laptops, but definitely not a Chromebook.8.0
Asus Chromebook Flip CM5$500 at Newegg
For years, people were told to stay away from Chromebooks if they wanted to play games, and rightfully so. The most you could do was play simple browser-based games -- fine if you're killing time between classes but not what most people are after in a gaming laptop. But then came Google Play support and with it a whole bunch of mobile games. Then the addition of Linux support opened up more game options (including Minecraft).
Now, with cloud gaming services like Stadia, GeForce Now and Xbox Game Pass being able to run on Chromebooks, all you need is a strong internet connection and you can have a good gaming experience. You still can't easily play demanding, graphics-intensive games directly on a Chromebook, but you certainly have more options. And that's where the Asus Chromebook Flip CM5 comes in.
Although the Flip CM5 doesn't have the graphics performance of a Windows gaming laptop, it does have solid performance for a Chromebook. Plus, with fast 802.11ax (Wi-Fi 6) wireless, you get a lag-free streaming experience. It's Asus' first Chromebook with an AMD processor and graphics with performance that falls between models we've tested with 10th-gen Intel Core i3 and Core i5 processors. The configuration I tested will first be available from Costco sometime in August for $600. That price converts to about £434 and AU$813.
A $500 configuration of the CM5 is available, but it drops to a slightly slower Ryzen 3 processor, 4GB of memory and 64GB of slower eMMC flash memory for storage. That configuration would still be fine for general use, but spending the extra $100 if you can gets you a much better Chromebook.
Chromebooks have a reputation for being lightweight and having long battery life. The CM5 is a little less travel-friendly because it is larger and a touch more than 4 pounds (1.9 kilograms). The 15.6-inch display is nice to have, though, and while it's a bit too big and heavy to use on your arm or in your hands as a tablet, it's fine on your lap or a table. Also, the two-in-one design means you can tent it or stand the display up with the keyboard behind it. Both positions get the keyboard out of the way, which is nice for gaming with a Bluetooth controller.
Battery life was decent on our streaming video test, reaching 10 hours, 2 minutes, which lines up with Asus' claims. However, our test backs the display's 250-nit brightness down to 50%, which is fairly dim. Even at its full brightness, you'll struggle to see past reflections on the glossy display.
Just about everything else with the Flip CM5 is pretty great, though. The keyboard is comfortable and backlit. And if you are cloud gaming with a mouse, the highlighted WASD keys are nice to have. The glass touchpad is smooth and responsive, too. If you want to write or draw on the display, you can. It supports USI active pens and while Asus doesn't include a pen, it will sell you one for $70. I tested with a $33 Lenovo pen that worked fine, however.
The webcam and built-in mics are mediocre at best. There's a lot of image artifacts even with good lighting and you'll have to really speak up to be heard by others on your Zoom or Meet chats. On the upside, the speakers can get loud without distorting and sound good, too.
The Asus Chromebook Flip CM5 looks good, it's well built and the 15.6-inch display gives you room for work and a better entertainment experience -- whether or not you plan to game on it. It is bigger and heavier than your average Chromebook. And the dim, glossy display might make working outdoors a bit of a pain, and cranking up the brightness to battle reflections is going to shorten your battery life. It is nice to see something a little different in the category, though, and the CM5 stands out in more ways than one.Now playing:Watch this: Here's why a Chromebook might be all the laptop you need 5:26CNET Deals & Promotions
Be the first to know the newest hot deals from CNET.ComputingNotification on Notification off Laptops