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Lenovo Miix 520 review: This Surface Pro clone runs faster and longer

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The Good The Lenovo Miix 520 looks identical to the Miix 510, but its new processor and components help get you better performance and battery life. Far-field microphones have been added for better use of Microsoft's Cortana digital assistant. Keyboard cover and Active Pen are included.

The Bad The pen holder completely blocks the USB-A port and, when it's holding the pen, partially blocks the power jack and USB-C port. The fans can get a little too loud for quiet environments. Battery life is unimpressive.

The Bottom Line Intel's eighth-gen Core i5 processor breathes new life into Lenovo's midrange detachable two-in-one to make the Miix 520 an excellent choice for home office and students.

8.2 Overall
  • Design 9
  • Features 9
  • Performance 8
  • Battery 7

There are a number of Surface Pro ($640 at Amazon) clones on the market such as the Acer Switch 5, Samsung Galaxy Book and HP Spectre x2, but Lenovo's Miix series continues to impress us the most with its design, features and included accessories. 

The midrange Miix 520 sticks to that script and also doesn't change much from 2016's excellent Miix 510 ($799 at Amazon). At a glance, it's still a dead ringer for Microsoft's tablet PC and also looks just like its predecessor. Centered around a 12.2-inch, 1,920 by 1,200-pixel responsive touchscreen, the detachable two-in-one is updated on the inside with an eighth-generation Intel 1.6GHz Core i5-8250U processor that gives it a performance boost above the 510's sixth-gen i5 and even the seventh-generation Core i7 in the Miix 720, the line's premium model.

There is currently only one configuration for the Miix 520 priced at $999, which includes the company's backlit keyboard cover and Active Pen 2 with 4,096 levels of sensitivity. The combo isn't readily available in the UK or Australia at the moment, but you can find it for around £1,000 in the UK. The cost roughly converts to AU$1,260. It's a good price for what you're getting and, as long as you don't need all-day battery life, the Miix would make a fine pick for a student, home office or other undemanding work use. 

Lenovo Miix 520

PC Geekbox Lenovo Miix 520
Price as reviewed $999
Display size/resolution 12.2-inch, 1,920x1,200 touch-display
PC CPU 1.6GHz Intel Core i5-8250U
PC Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,133MHz
Graphics 128MB (dedicated) Intel UHD Graphics 620
Storage 256GB PCIe SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 4.1
Operating system Windows 10 Home (64-bit)
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The built-in kickstand gives you a lot of positioning flexibility. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The complete package

One of our biggest issues with the Surface Pro (and the iPad Pro ($632 at Amazon), too, for that matter) is that the keyboard and pen don't come bundled with the tablets. That's not the case with the Miix 520, which includes its magnetic keyboard and its Active Pen 2 so you're ready to go out of the box. Both are nice to use, too. 

With 1.5 millimeters of key travel, typing on the Miix 520's backlit keyboard feels more like a regular laptop than you might expect. It's impressive considering how thin the cover is, but depending on how hard you hit the keys you might feel some bounce. Also, if you've read past complaints about Lenovo using a small right shift key, it's a normal size on this model's keyboard. Its touchpad is on the small side, though, which can be frustrating. 

The built-in kickstand gives plenty of range for positioning and the attractive, strong and sturdy watchband hinges keep it in place. You might still find it awkward to use on your lap, but I generally throw it over a crossed leg to balance it out. 

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The Miix 520 is ready to write on. 

Sarah Tew/CNET

The kickstand also means you don't have to rely on the cover to keep the screen upright for watching video. And since the keyboard is magnetically attached, it's easy enough to remove it when you want to use the 520 as a tablet. For casual sketching or taking notes, the bundled Active Pen 2 is great, but creatives who need a screen with accurate colors will probably want to pass. Also, while the display gets reasonably bright, you'll probably have trouble using it outside. 

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