Price: $872 as reviewed
Processor: Intel Core i5-1135G7
Graphics Card: Intel IrisXe Integrated Graphics
Storage: 128GB SSD
Ports: 2x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C, USB Type-A, HDMI 2.0a, microSD card reader
Size: 14.08 x 9.48 x 0.73 inches
Weight: 4.3 pounds
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 joins the realm of Chromebooks that break through the assumption that a Chromebook has to be a staid, basic laptop alternative.
As its name implies, the Chromebook Flip has a screen that not only flips around to a tent formation, but can flip all the way around to transform into a tablet, too (sort of).
With its bright display, solid performance and variety of ports, the Flip CX5 is a decent Chromebook for getting things done. If configured correctly, it's even capable of running games via Steam for Chromebooks. However, a few weaknesses keep it from a place among the best Chromebooks on the market.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Price and configurations
- Our review unit costs ~$872
- Cheaper models with smaller screens and weaker specs are available
Our Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 (CX5500) review unit is (at time of review) the top-tier configuration of the Flip CX5 series, with its 15.6-inch display and an Intel 11th gen Core i5-1135G7 processor, 16GB of memory and 128GB of storage. You can buy this model for $872 via retailers Insight and Staples, though it's out of stock at Staples as of publication.
If you like the general design but want something cheaper, there are lower-cost options in the Flip CX5 line that come with a 14-inch display, a Core i3-1110G4 processor, and half the memory.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Design
- 360-degree hinged design feels sturdy and comfortable
- Striking black-and-white design
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5’s 360-degree hinge is its big differentiator compared to most Chromebooks. The 360-degree hinge feels sturdy and durable, and our review unit had no issue holding form in a tent position, presentation position, or flipped around as a tablet. The hinge gives the unit a mild tilt angle for comfortable typing in standard laptop mode, a tilt that also provides improved airflow under the laptop. Air vents are on the underside, as are the speakers.
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 has an attractive black and white design that is as eye-catching as it is stylish. The cover and underside are matte white and fingerprint-resistant, with embossed silver lettering that matches the silver hinge. The white also runs around the edges, keeping a consistent design.
Inside, the keyboard deck and touchpad are black. The surface finish is smooth to the touch, which in turn meant my fingers and wrists could effortlessly glide as I touch-typed on the chiclet backlit keyboard or scrolled using the touchpad. Some light escapes from under the keys, but this is not unlike many other laptops and is just a minor annoyance.
More of an annoyance was the key travel of this low-profile keyboard: I found the 1.4mm keys particularly low in a way that initially impeded my touch-typing. Over time, I got more accustomed to the design, but I’d still occasionally miss a keystroke. I did appreciate the presence of a full-size number pad at right, as well as the row of shortcut keys above the number row for quick access to settings like brightness and volume, and to one-touch buttons to go back, refresh a page, or expand a window to fit the screen.
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 weighs 4.3 pounds and measures 14.08 x 9.48 x 0.73 inches. Its weight and size are competitive with other current touchscreen Chromebooks with the same display size.
Since a stylus is optional, and the touchscreen works with the USI (Universal Stylus Initiative), I can understand why Asus doesn’t have a built-in garage for a stylus. But it would be nice to see a design that finds a way to accommodate a stylus in a meaningful way, to make the stylus an extension of the unit.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Display
- 15.6-inch 1080p touchscreen gets pretty bright, for a Chromebook
- Color accuracy leaves something to be desired
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5's 15.6-inch FHD 1920 x 1080 touchscreen is responsive, and supports the use of a USI (Universal Stylus Initiative) stylus if you own one or choose to purchase one separately. The 16:9 aspect ratio display has a minimal bezel edge and is rated at 250 nits.
Our tests confirmed that brightness, making this a highly competitive screen and one of the brighter models we’ve tested. When we pointed our Klein K10-A colorimeter at the display and measured the brightness, we discovered the center actually gets slightly brighter than advertised, up to 274 nits, though the rest of the screen is dim enough to make the average brightness level out around 250 nits.
That’s brighter than many Chromebook displays we’ve tested, including the cheaper Acer Chromebook 514, which achieved an average brightness of 223.5 nits. However its larger sibling the Acer Chromebook 515 has a slightly brighter screen (260 nits) than our Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review unit.
I found the Flip CX5's brightness pleasing while I played videos on YouTube and when I compared test images. I did tend to keep the laptop on the maximum brightness level to get the most out of the screen.
Our colorimeter reports that the CX5's screen is capable of displaying 67.2% of the sRGB color gamut (100% is most accurate) with a Delta-E value of 0.28 (closer to 0 is better). Those are decent scores for a Chromebook display, and they're a smidge better than a competitor like the Acer Chromebook 515, which displays just 65.8% of the sRGB color gamut. However, the Flip CX5's display can't match the brightness or color accuracy of the (admittedly smaller) Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2, which launched last year for roughly the same price as the Flip CX5 yet can achieve 118.4% of the sRGB color spectrum with an average maximum brightness of 390 nits.
When the Flip CX5's display is flipped around to tablet mode, the keyboard stops working, but you don’t get an on-screen keyboard, either (as on Windows laptops with a 360-degree hinge). The screen did automatically split to show the Chrome browser and the YouTube movie I had playing behind the partially-sized browser screen.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Ports
- Plenty of ports, including USB-C, USB-A, HDMI 2.0 and a microSD card reader
- Dual USB-C ports, one on either side, for easier charging
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 is jam-packed with useful ports. The dual USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports are split, with one on each side of the unit.
Both can support display and power delivery, a convenience that gives added flexibility as to which side you use to charge the laptop.
The laptop also has a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type–A port, a volume rocker and a combo audio jack on the left side, and a full-size HDMI 2.0a and microSD card slot at the right.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Performance
- Great performance for a Chromebook
- One of few Chromebooks beefy enough to play Steam games
As more and more of our computing tasks are done entirely in a browser, speed becomes ever more important. The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 has that in spades. It netted 4,534 on Geekbench 5.4’s multi-core general performance test, more than double the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook 2.
That’s great performance for a Chromebook, and it beats out both the Acer Chromebook 515 (with its Geekbench 5.4 score of 3,761) and its smaller sibling the Acer Chromebook 514 (2,219). Plus, the Intel Core i5-1135G7 CPU and 16GB of RAM make this Flip CX5 one of the few Chromebooks which supports the alpha version of Steam on Chromebooks. That's a rare differentiator right now (don't miss our guide on how to play Steam games on Chromebook if you're curious), though as Chromebooks improve and Valve fine-tunes Steam on ChromeOS we'll likely see this feature become much more common.
Compared with similarly-priced Windows and Mac laptops, the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 showed reasonable oomph, but still fell short ofthe 13-inch Asus Zenbook 13 OLED (6,411) and the 13-inch MacBook Air with M1 (5,962). If you’re a macOS or Windows devotee, the use case for a Chromebook remains limited. Its best proposition is for those who rely primarily on browser-based services and sites, and who need limited or managed system access.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Chrome OS and Android
- Android app access is nice to have
- Google needs to do a better job of surfacing apps optimized for Chrome OS
The Flip CX5 comes with Chrome OS pre-installed, and that means your default way of accessing new apps is via the Google Play Store.
The ability to download Android apps from the Play Store is helpful, but Google still doesn’t help surface Chrome OS-optimized content. When I searched for apps, I found some had a separate Chrome OS version (ie. Zoom for Chrome OS), while others, like Canva presented as if optimized for Chrome OS without stating as much. When looking for Chrome-optimized games, I found some under the Premium tab. Other Chrome apps are via the Chrome Store for extensions, but again, Google doesn’t make discovery easy.
Some apps work well (not surprisingly, Google Drive and YouTube, for example), even if they’re still presented in the center of the screen in vertical, phone-optimized orientation. Some are functional but lacked features I was accustomed to in Windows (Zoom for Chrome OS lacked the ability to save a chat, for example). And some just crashed entirely; I tried playing Asphalt9, a racing game from Gameloft, and it crashed during the initial orientation and I had to go through steps to access the Chrome OS task manager via the Chrome browser to force end the program.
Remember, the Chromebook Flip CX5 is one of seven Chromebooks that support the current alpha-quality version of Steam for Chromebook. To install this, you have to enable the Dev channel and go through a specific and non-standard installation process–an obvious indication that Steam for Chrome OS isn’t ready for the general consumer market.
Another software curiosity: When looking at the same images side-by-side in the Chrome browser and in the pre-installed Google Photos app, I noticed the color and sharpness rendered better in the Photos app than it did in the Chrome browser (the same thing happened with Canva, specifically with respect to the colors). It’s unclear if that’s an oddity unique to this particular Chromebook model, but it did raise the question of color management overall in Chrome OS, and what types of image or graphic creation tasks I’d want to do on a Chromebook if color accuracy was mission critical.
Ultimately, I’d say the app experience on Chrome OS remains a mixed bag at best.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Audio and webcam
- Harmon/Kardon speakers deliver decent sound quality, when they work
- 720p webcam captures muddy, disappointing video
The Harman/Kardon speakers built into the Flip CX5 are downward and side-facing thanks to the laptop's beveled shape along the bottom. Unfortunately, my test unit had an issue with the audio. Across multiple apps–including YouTube and Amazon Prime Video–audio would start out sounding robust, then become softer and switch at will between the left and right speakers, eventually cycling around to getting louder again. Based on small snippets, I can say the audio had body and bass, but the way it was on this unit makes it impossible to judge fully.
The 720p webcam sits centered above the display. The webcam rendered reasonable looking images while on a Zoom app call, but the video looked muddy and disappointing during a Google Meet call.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Heat
- Stays relatively cool under pressure
- Hottest point is on the bottom, near the center
While I tested the Asus Chromebook Flip CX5, I was pleased that my lap didn’t get overly warm, in spite of the fact that air vents from the underside of the unit.
When our lab team swept the laptop with a heat gun after having it stream HD video for 15 minutes, they found the laptop to be quite cool. The hottest area was in the center of the underside, near the vent, which topped out at 86.7 degrees Fahrenheit.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Battery life
- Lasted 7 hours and 12 minutes in our Tom's Guide battery test
- That's not bad for most laptops, but pretty bad for a Chromebook
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 lasted an average of 7 hours, 12 minutes across three passes. Our web-surfing based battery test sets the display at 150 nits of brightness.
That’s unimpressive for a Chromebook. Both the Asus Chromebook 514 and 515 performed better in the same test, lasting an average of 14 hours 8 minutes and 8 hours 1 minutes respectively. The smaller 1080p Pixelbook Go churned through 11 hours and 29 minutes before shutting down, and of course the similarly-priced MacBook Air with M1 lasted an amazing 14 hours and 41 minutes.
This Asus Chromebook’s battery is okay, but don’t expect to get through a day of computing–especially at full brightness.
Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 review: Verdict
The Asus Chromebook Flip CX5 is a speedy Chromebook that’s thoughtfully designed, with a robust complement of ports and a touchscreen display that supports an optional stylus. But it is pricey for what you get, and is hard to recommend to any but those who want to experiment with playing Steam games on Chrome OS.