Lenovo’s latest lineup of Legion gaming laptops is a compelling option for anyone in the market for high quality gaming at a reasonable price. But before I dive into this review, there are several things to take note regarding this laptop.
Firstly, there are two screen sizes available, 15.6” and 17.3”. The review unit that I tested is the larger size, but I’d recommend getting the smaller one for the sake of portability.
Secondly, there is actually an AMD version of this device, named the Legion 5 (sans ‘i’). If the AMD variant has a similar configuration to what you want, I would definitely recommend you pick that up over the Intel variant. The external hardware is the same, but internally it should have better thermal performance while also costing a bit less.
With that out of the way, let’s begin the review, starting with the specs.
Lenovo Legion 5i Specifications (as tested)
- 144Hz 17.2″ 1920×1080 300nits 5ms 100% sRGB
- i7-10750H 2.6GHz up to 5.0GHz, 6 Cores
- Nvidia RTX 2060
- 16GB DDR4 RAM
- 512GB SSD, 1TB HDD
- 80Wh battery
- 3.2kg, 398.6mm x 290mm x 26.6mm
- 4 x USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 (one of which is always-on)
- USB-C 3.1 (no Thunderbolt support)
- HDMI 2.0
- RJ45 ethernet
- SD card reader
- Mic / headphone combo
- Kensington lock slot
Of course, there are many different configurations available, with the graphics starting with a GTX 1650 and going up to an RTX 2060, and the display starting at a 60Hz panel and going up to a 144Hz panel.
I’d say spring for at least a GTX 1660Ti and the 144Hz display (the latter is only S$80 more than the default 60Hz screen); this is a gaming laptop after all. But do keep in mind that depending on when you read this review, certain configurations may not be available.
Most of the ports are on the back, which keeps the device looking clean. On the right we have a USB-A and an SD reader, and on the left we have an always-on USB-A and a headphone jack.
Design & Build
The Legion 5i has a very muted design for a gaming laptop, perhaps the most muted I’ve seen. The device is a matte black plastic all around; there are no flashy RGB lights or red gamer accents. On the back there is a very slightly iridescent Legion logo and the Lenovo logo.
Despite being made of plastic, the device doesn’t feel cheap. The construction is solid, and the soft touch material on the palmrest is comfortable for long gaming sessions. From what I’ve heard of last year’s version of this device, the soft touch material holds up well in the long run.
The device is rather bulky at 398.6mm x 290mm x 26.6mm (15.84″ x 11.41″ x 1.05″) and my unit weighs approximately 3.2kg. But this is to be expected for a device of this calibre and display size. For what it’s worth, it still fits comfortably in my backpack.
As an aside, there is also a physical cover on the front-facing camera to cater to the more privacy-focused audience.
Overall, I am a fan of the design of this device, though it may be too plain-looking for some gamers.
Keyboard & Trackpad
I was very impressed by the keyboard on the Legion 5i. The 1.5mm travel and clicky key switches provide a very enjoyable typing experience.
The only downside to the keyboard is you’d have to get used to the off-center layout thanks to the presence of a number pad. But this is a non-issue if you’re already accustomed to such layouts.
Consistent with the muted chassis design, the keyboard lighting on my review unit is simply white. There is an RGB option, however, should you choose to gamer things up a little.
The trackpad feels solid as well. It’s clicky and responsive, and I have no issues with it. I do feel like they could’ve made it larger given how much room there is on the palmrest though. Still, the trackpad isn’t a major focus given that the people purchasing this laptop will likely have a good mouse on hand.
Performance on this device is excellent. My particular unit had an i7-10750H and RTX 2060. Note that this is the full RTX 2060, so performance should be slightly better than competitors running the Max-Q variant of the same GPU.
Thermal performance is also very good, and the cooling system is able to keep temperatures well under control. There are no issues with thermal throttling whatsoever with this device.
The chart below shows the frame rates that I was able to get on various games set to the highest graphical settings. Most titles are well above 60 FPS, and you can expect competitive titles like Overwatch and Fortnite to run extremely smoothly.
In terms of software, Lenovo has a dedicated panel for adjusting settings such as thermal modes and advanced battery options. There is a keyboard shortcut (Fn+Q) for cycling between the 3 thermal modes — Quiet, Auto and Performance. In my testing, I actually found no discernible difference in fan noise between the 3 options. I wish Lenovo gave the option for manual control over the fan speed.
Speaking of the fans, they get rather loud when gaming but not excessively so. They are completely silent when doing light tasks like Chrome.
The speakers (which are decent but not fantastic despite their Harmon Kardon branding) are loud enough to be more than audible over the noise. If you game on headphones and in a private setting, fan noise won’t be an issue.
This will be a device that’s plugged in most of the time, since it needs to be plugged in to fully power the GPU. In fact, Performance mode can only be enabled when the device is plugged in. I tried playing some games off the battery but the frame rates were less than ideal.
Even when you’re not gaming, the device won’t last very long off the charger. My particular unit has the upgraded 80Wh battery, and this gave me roughly 3.5 hours of web browsing and some photo editing on Lightroom.
Interestingly, there is also an option to cap the max battery charging level to 60% in order to preserve battery longevity.
Pricing & Conclusion
The Lenovo Legion 5i is an excellent performer with solid build quality, a clean design and an wonderful keyboard. The main considerations that you should have when purchasing this device is size, price, and battery life.
If you’d like to game on something a little more portable, perhaps look at the Razer Blade Stealth or ASUS ROG Zephyrus G14. The same can be said if you need a laptop that lasts longer than 4 hours off the charger.
The 17” version of the Legion 5i starts at S$1,679, but that configuration has an i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, a 60Hz screen, and a GTX 1650.
My review unit’s specific configuration isn’t available to consumers at the moment, but a representative told me that if it were, it would cost around S$3,000, which is reasonable but not a great deal either.
Perhaps the most important thing to take note is whether or not the configuration that you want is available. As of this writing, the Legion 5i only has up to a GTX 1660Ti available; the Legion 5 (AMD variant) only has up to a 1650Ti. For those kinds of specs you’re looking at roughly S$2.4k and S$2k respectively. Once again, decent, but not a steal.
I thoroughly recommend the Legion 5i, that is if you can find the configuration that you want, preferably on sale, and preferably with an AMD processor.
You can purchase the Legion 5i on Lenovo’s online store.
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