This is one of the most anticipated affordable gaming laptops of the moment, the AMD Ryzen 4000 version of the Lenovo Legion 5.
I’ve bought this locally about two weeks ago and have been using it since, and you’ll find my thoughts and impressions down below, with the strong-points and the quirks that will help you decide whether this is the right buy for you or not.
Spoiler alert: In many ways, this is even better than I was expected based on all the hype and my past experience with Legion products, but it’s not without issues.
My configuration is the Ryzen 7 4800H processor with 16 GB of dual-channel DDR4 3200 MHz RAM, 512 GB of SSD storage, and the Nvidia GTX 1650Ti graphics chip. Unfortunately, that’s the most powerful GPU option available for this laptop right now, and also its major bottleneck when it comes to GPU heavy loads and games.
My unit also gets a 60 Hz 300-nits panel with 100% sRGB coverage, the RGB keyboard, and the 80 Wh battery, and all these for a total of a little under 1000 EUR over here. That’s a good deal and what convinced me to go with it in the first place, however, the Legion 5 goes for significantly more in other regions, at least for now.
Video review- Lenovo Legion 5
Specs as reviewed – Lenovo Legion 5
||Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05
||15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 px IPS 60 Hz, 16:9, non-touch, matte, BOE NV156FHM-N6A panel
||AMD Ryzen 7 4800H, 8C/16T
||Radeon Vega + Nvidia GTX 1650Ti 4 GB GDDR6 (50W, GeForce 446.14) – switchable mode
||16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz (2x DIMMs)
||1x 512 GB SSD (SK Hynix HFM512GDHTNI-87A0B) – 2x M.2 NVMe 80 mm slots on this variant
||Wireless 6 (Intel AX200), Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
||3x USB-A 3.1 gen 1, 1x USB-C with Data and DP, HDMI 2.0, LAN, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock
||80 Wh, 170 W power adapter, no USB-C charging
||363 mm or 14.29” (w) x 260 mm or 10.23” (d) x 26.1 mm or 1.03” (h)
||2.29 kg (5.05 lb), .55 kg (1.21 lbs) power brick, EU version
||optional 4-zone RGB backlit keyboard with NumPad, 2x 2W stereo speakers, HD webcam
Lenovo offer this laptop in a couple of other configurations, with various amounts of RAM and storage, Ryzen 5 4600H or 7 4800H processors, GTX 1650 or 1650Ti graphics, and several screen variants. We’ll touch on all these options in the article.
Higher tier GTX 1660Ti and RTX 2060 models are also announced for sometimes later this year, and those are a much better match for the competent AMD processors in this lineup. They are also already available for the Intel-based Legion 5i model.
Update: In the meantime, Lenovo updated this laptop, and our review of the 2021 Lenovo Legion 5 15 with 3050Ti graphics is available here, our review of the Legion 5 with mid-tier RTX 3060 graphics is available here, while our review of the Legion 5 17-inch RTX 3070 model is available here.
Design and build
The Legion 5 is entirely built out of plastic, and it hasn’t changed much in terms of design language from the previous Legion Y540 generation.
Aesthetically, this is a dark gray laptop without any gaming accents or RGB lights. Lenovo went a bit heavy on the stickers and branding though, with LEGION branded on the lid and under the screen, LENOVO plaques on the lid and on the arm-rest, as well as audio by Harman writing under the keyboard, at the left. As for the multitude of stickers, you can easily peel those off.
The build quality is pretty solid, with a well-made screen and limited flex in the main-deck. A smooth kind of plastic is used for the lid, a rougher kind for the bottom, and a rubbery coated one for the interior, but they blend well together and actually do a good job at fending off smudges and finger oil.
However, I’m afraid the rubbery coating might chip way too easily. I’ve only had my unit for about 10 days, and I’m already seeing some small scuffs and dents on the front lip, despite the fact that I’ve pampered it during this time. I do have my watch on all the time, and looks like the soft coating is not strong enough to handle the buckle, which is not something that I’d want to be concerned with on my daily driver, and a potential deal-breaker for me.
My other complaint so far is the fact that Lenovo still implement an always-on light in the power button, rather annoying when using the laptop at night, since it is placed just under the screen, in the middle of the chassis. This also doubles as a status LED, lighting up in different colors based on the active power profile.
That aside, the Legion 5 is a full-size laptop, so it’s a bit thicker than the ultraportables I’m normally spending my time with, but still fairly light at just a little over 5 pounds. Not bad for a 15-inch laptop with an 80 Wh battery inside. This configuration comes with a compact 170Wh power brick that adds about 1.2 extra lbs to the backpack.
As far as practicality goes, this Legion 5 raises the bar high for other manufacturers. First off, Lenovo put some large and very grippy rubber feet on the bottom that do an excellent job at keeping this anchored on the desk. They’ve also implemented what look like sturdy hinges that keep the screen in place without any wobbling, while at the same time allowing to easily pick it up and adjust it with a single hand. The hinge design is similar to their Y530 and Y540 models from previous years, and I haven’t heard complaints about them breaking.
The screen can also go back flat to 180 degrees, which very few other laptops offer in this class. The bezels are plastic and about averagely sized for a 2020 product, and compared to the 2019 Legions, this update gets a webcam at the top, with a physical privacy cover. The image quality isn’t much, and that’s no surprise.
They also haven’t skimped on the thermal solution, with large and wide-open intakes on the bottom, and proper exhausts on the back and the sides, accompanied by a complex internal thermal module. And that despite the fact that this only gets a 50W GTX 1650Ti GPU. As far as I can tell, Lenovo use the same thermal design on all the Legion 5 models, unlike other OEMs that cut on the number of heatpipes on the lower variants.
Finally, the IO is mostly placed on the back edge, out fo the way, with only the status LEDs, the headphone jack, and two USB-A slots on the sides. There’s no card-reader or USB-C charging support, but otherwise, this offers pretty much everything you’ll want on a laptop, and that rear-placement makes for one of the most clutter-free setups in the niche when connecting peripherals. Well done.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard has been redesigned from the 2019 Legions, and it’s one of the better layouts in this segment, with a full-size main deck of keys, a smaller NumPad section, and ma favorite aspect, large and well-spaced directional keys. This, this is what I’d want on any gaming laptop!
That aside, the implementation uses the slightly concave keycaps characteristic to Lenovo laptops, but they feel a bit cheap and not as nice to the touch as on their higher-tier models. The feedback isn’t amazing either, rather on the mushier side, and that took a toll on my overall accuracy. At the same time, this is a quick and fairly quiet typer.
As far as the illumination goes, Lenovo offers either a white-backlit keyboard option, or a 4-zone RGB variant as a $30 extra upgrade. Mine is the RGB model, with bright and uniform lighting, but a lot of the light creeps from under the keycaps with this design.
The clickpad is a mid-sized plastic surface, fairly smooth, and just fine with daily use. It’s once more a step up from the previous Legion generation, but don’t expect it to perform or feel the same as a premium glass clickpad.
As for biometrics, there aren’t any on this notebook.
There are currently three-panel options available for the Legion 5 series:
- FHD IPS with 250-nits, 120 Hz refresh;
- FHD IPS with 300-nits, 60 Hz refresh, 100% sRGB coverage, for +$50;
- FHD IPS with 300-nits, 144 Hz refresh, 100% sRGB coverage, for +$100.
If given the option, definitely go with the latter, the 144 Hz variant. I’d also stay away from the former, it’s dimmer and fro what I found out, a 60% sRGB panel with more washed colors. I wasn’t given any choice, so my unit gets the 60 Hz option with the 300-nits and 100% sRGB coverage.
This might not suffice if you’re looking to play fast-paced games, with a 60 Hz refresh and what look like middling response times. I don’t have the right tool to measure the response times, so you’ll have to look into other reviews for more details on this matter, but ghosting is noticeable on this panel. I should also add that there’s no Freesync support in the Radeon settings.
But while not ideal for fast games, this is otherwise a fine choice for a mid-tier laptop. Here’s what we got in our tests, with a X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: BOE BOE090D (BOE CQ NV156FHM-N6A);
- Coverage: 95.7% sRGB, 69.7% AdobeRGB, 73.1% DCI P3;
- Measured gamma: 2.51;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 332.62 cd/m2 on power;
- Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 9.61 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1064:1;
- White point: 7600 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.31 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
- Response: -.
Our unit came poorly calibrated out of the box, with a skewed White Point and Gamma. Once calibrated, it still ended up at around 320-nits of max brightness, with average variations towards the margins, but a slightly dimmer area in the lower-left corner. Color uniformity also ended up better than I expected, with minimal DeltaE variations, which combined with the 70% AdobeRGB coverage, makes for a versatile panel for everyday use and some occasional professional work.
I’ll look into the other panel options and update this section once I found out more about them.
Hardware and performance
Our Legion 5 is the higher specced variant available as of right now, with a Ryzen 7 4800H processor 16 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM in dual channel, 512 GB of SSD storage and dual graphics: the Nvidia GTX 1650Ti dGPU and the Radeon Vega iGPU within the AMD platform, and the ability to seamlessly commute between them based on load. You can disable the Vega GPU from the Vantage app by disabling Hybrid mode, and that links the internal display straight to the Nvidia GPU, minimizing input lag.
Before we proceed, keep in mind that our review unit is a retail model that I bought from locally, running on the software available as of late-June 2020 (BIOS EUCN19WW from 03.Jun.2020, Lenovo Vantage 18.104.22.168, GeForce Game Ready 446.14 drivers).
Spec-wise, the Ryzen 7 4800H is an 8C/16T processor with a TDP of 45W, but able to run at higher TDP and clocks if supplied with enough power and properly cooled. Lenovo also offers the Ryzen 5 4600H processor option for this series, for $100 less in the configurator, and that’s a better match for the kind of GPU available here, at least for now. And that’s either a GTX 1650 or a 1650Ti, both entry-level grade dedicated graphics chips. GTX 1660Ti and RTX 2060 are announced at “a later date”, but there are no exact details on when and where these will be available.
Our configuration also shipped with 16 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM out of the box, with two sticks in dual-channel, and a mid-level SK Hynix 512 GB SSD, which is fast enough for everyday use. This can be replaced with a faster drive, though, and accessing the components is a fairly simple task, you just need to take out the bottom panel.
This configuration gets the larger 80Wh battery, so it doesn’t offer a HDD cage, just two M.2 SSD slots, two memory slots and the WiFi module. Most of these are hidden behind these aluminum shrouds on the right side.
As far as software goes, everything can be controlled through the Lenovo Vantage app, which offers access to the power profiles, keyboard customization options, system updates, battery settings, etc. I find this unified implementation one of the better system control apps in the business.
There are three performance/thermal profiles to choose from, and you can switch between them by pressing Fn+Q:
- Quiet – limits the CPU at 25W and keeps the fans noise at very low levels;
- Balance – limits the CPU at 45W and middling fan-noise;
- Performance – full power CPU running at 69+W and full-blat fans.
None of these modes directly affect the GPU in any way, and the performance mode doesn’t apply any GPU overclocking either, something most other OEMs provide on the higher-performance profile. No worries, though, we’ll touch on that in a bit.
First, though, you should know that this Legion 5 handles everyday activities smoothly, while running quietly and cooly. The fans are always active, but spin slowly and you’ll only hear their very slight humming in a completely silent environment.
OK, on to more demanding loads, and we start by testing the CPU’s performance in taxing chores by running the Cinebench R15 benchmark for 15+ times in a loop, with 2-3 seconds delay between each run.
On Performance, the Ryzen 7 4800H unleashes its potential in this chassis, constantly running at its maximum 4.1 GHz frequency and a TDP of 69+ W, with the fans only ramping up to about 40-42 dB at head-level. That’s impressive, but there’s a catch: the system allows the CPU to run at high temperatures in the 90-92 degrees during this test, while other Ryzen 7 4800H implementation that we’ve tested limited the power and thermals at lower levels.
Switching over to the Balance profile operates those exact limitations, causing the CPU to drop to around 45W of power in more demanding loads. This only happens after about 10+ Cinebench R15 runs, yet much quickly with the more demanding Cinebench R20 test. Balance is also the highest performance profile available when using the laptop unplugged, and in this case, the CPU is limited at 25+W.
Further dropping to Quiet also sets the same aggressive TDP limit of 25W regardless of whether the laptop is plugged into the wall or it runs on battery, with the expected drop in scores and performance. Even so, though, the 25+W Ryzen 7 4800H returns scores of 1500+ points in Cinebench R15, pretty much smoking the Intel competition at much higher power. Details below.
Speaking of the competition, I’ve added a few other Ryzen 7 and Intel i7 and i9 configurations next to this Legion 5 in the following chart. The Legion 5 tops our Cinebench loop test at the moment, and also runs significantly quieter than any of the other rivals in this test. In fact, you can hardly hear the fans in this laptop in a full-blast 100% CPU load, while with most others you’ll need headphones to cover up the fan noise. Impressive!
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the longer Cinebench R20 loop test and the gruesome Prime 95, on the Performance profile.
With Prime, the Ryzen 7 CPU alternates between 50W and 70W. It does end up running hot at 70 and temperatures in the 93-96 degrees, with fans still at around 42 dB at head-level. I do prefer this running at lower power and temperatures, which is what happens for the first 5-6 minutes of the Prime95 test.
We also ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook, on the same Performance profile.
3DMark stress runs the same test for 20 times in a loop and looks for performance variation and degradation over time, and this unit passed it without a problem. Luxmark 3.1 fully loads both the CPU and GPU at the same time, but it’s not properly supported by the Ryzen platform. That’s why the log only shows the CPU running at 16W and temperatures in the mid-60s, while the GPU is capped at 50W and full-frequency. In real-life combined loads the CPU is going to run faster and hotter, and impact the GPU’s performance and thermals.
With that in mind, here are some benchmark results. We ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks on the standard Performance profile, and here’s what we got.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 9532 (Graphics – 10221, Physics – 23050, Combined – 3997);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 4138 (Graphics – 3758, CPU – 9720);
- AIDA64 Memory test: —Write: Read: 43016 MB/s, Read: 45588 MB/s, Latency: 55.8 ns;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 1974;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 7226;
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 48.04 average fps;
- PassMark: Rating: 5621 (CPU mark: 20286, 3D Graphics Mark: 7655, Disk mark: 10690);
- PCMark 10: 5795 (Essentials – 9605, Productivity – 7353, Digital Content Creation – 7429);
- GeekBench 4.4.2 64-bit: Single-Core: 5312, Multi-core: 31411;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1205, Multi-core: 8099;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 2005 cb, CPU Single Core 189 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 4650 cb, CPU Single Core 482 cb;
- x264 HD Benchmark 4.0 32-bit: Pass 1 – 223.53 fps, Pass 2 – 112.43 fps;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 30.89 s.
As expected, these are some excellent CPU scores, but the combined results are dragged down by the entry-level Nvidia dGPU.
I reran some of these tests on the Quiet profile as well, a reference if you’re looking to run demanding loads while keeping the fan noise at a minimum.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 9274 (Graphics – 9938, Physics – 21626, Combined – 3934);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 4036 (Graphics – 3685, CPU – 8789);
- Handbrake 1.3.1 (4K to 1080p encode): 41.29 average fps;
- PCMark 10: 5733 (Essentials – 9490, Productivity – 8044, Digital Content Creation – 6698);
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1200, Multi-core: 7734;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1737 cb, CPU Single Core 189 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 3496 cb, CPU Single Core 478 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 37.23 s.
This profile limits the CPU at 25W in longer loads such as Handbrake or X265 bench, but returns solid performance in shorter tests, such as 3DMark and Geekbench. Furthermore, while this keeps the fan noise at around 35 to 39 dB, that’s not a lot quieter than the standard Performance profile, in which case the fans ramp up to a maximum of 43 dB.
Then we went to what we’ll call the Performance Tweaked profile, with the CPU on Performance and the GPU overclocked with MSI Afterburner at + 120 MHz Core, +200 MHz Memory. Here’s what we got in this case.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 9697 (Graphics – 10402, Physics – 22526, Combined – 4105);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 4218 (Graphics – 3848, CPU – 9284);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 2046;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 7513.
We’re looking at a roughly 2-5% increase in GPU scores. Not much, but every bit helps with this sort of an unbalanced configuration, and you could pursue further tweaking.
Finally, we also ran some Workstation related loads, on the Performance and Quiet profiles:
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 2m 58s (Performance), 3m 59s (Quiet);
- Blender 2.82 – BMW Car scene- GPU Compute: 2m 20 (CUDA – Performance);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 8m 51s (Performance), 12m 2s (Quiet);
- Blender 2.82 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 8m 12s (CUDA – Performance);
- Luxmark 3.1 – Luxball HDR – OpenCL CPUs + GPUs score: CPU not properly recognized;
- SPECviewerf 13 – 3DSMax: 87.29 (Performance);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Catia: 65.68 (Performance);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Creo: 94.29 (Performance);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Energy: 8.11 (Performance);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Maya: 144.08 (Performance);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Medical: 29.32 (Performance);
- SPECviewerf 13 – Showcase: 52.31 (Performance);
- SPECviewerf 13 – SW: 66.52 (Performance).
Once more, this scores excellently in the CPU heavy tasks and poorly in the combined subsections of Specviewperf.
Here’s how it fares overall against other notebooks in this category.
As far as gaming goes on this laptop, you shouldn’t expect much, this is where the GTX 1650Ti once more shows its limits. We ran a couple of DX11, DX12, and Vulkan titles on the default Performance and the Performance Tweaked modes, at maximum graphics settings. Here’s what we got:
|R7-4800H + GTX 1650Ti
|Battlefield V (DX 12, Ultra Preset, Ray-Tracing OFF)
||57 fps (28 fps – 1% low)
||59 fps (29 fps – 1% low)
|Far Cry 5 (DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)
||59 fps (52 fps – 1% low)
||62 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
||59 fps (48 fps – 1% low)
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor (DX 11, Ultra Preset)
||78 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
||81 fps (59 fps – 1% low)
||78 fps (56 fps – 1% low)
|Red Dead Redemption 2 (DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA)
||41 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
||42 fps (29 fps – 1% low)
||39 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
|Rise of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Very High Preset, FXAA)
||63 fps (29 fps – 1% low)
||66 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
||63 fps (26 fps – 1% low)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider (DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)
||47 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
||50 fps (38 fps – 1% low)
||47 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
|Strange Brigade (Vulkan, Ultra Preset)
||70 fps (55 fps – 1% low)
||74 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
||70 fps (55 fps – 1% low)
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt (DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)
||48 fps (32 fps – 1% low)
||51 fps (35 fps – 1% low)
||46 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
- Battlefield V, The Witcher 3 – recorded with Fraps/in-game FPS counter in campaign mode;
- Far Cry 5, Middle Earth, Strange Brigade, Red Dead Redemption, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
- Red Dead Optimized profile based on these settings.
In all fairness, while most of these titles run well even on Ultra settings, you’ll most likely want to trim those down to High or Medium on the latest AAA titles for constant 60+ fps counts.
The HWinfo logs below show the CPU and GPU speeds and temperatures in Farcry 5, Red Dead Redemptions 2, and Witcher 3 on the stock Performance profile.
It comes to no surprise that this configuration returns excellent thermals. We’re looking at around 70-80 degrees on the CPU and 57-62 degrees on the GPU between the tested titles. However, I’ve noticed that the CPU fluctuates between Turbo and Stock speeds, and while that hasn’t translated in noticeable stuttering, I think it does have an overall negative impact on the 1% lows. That’s weird behavior and not something I’ve encountered on other Ryzen laptops tested in the past.
Overclocking the GPU allows it to run at slightly higher clocks, with fps gains in the 2-5% between the tested titles. Not much, but it’s a welcome extra at this level.
Dropping over to the Balance mode doesn’t have any noticeable impact over the gaming experience. However, Quiet mode limits the CPU at 25W and caps the fans at about 39 dB, and that results in a slight increase of internal GPU temperatures, with a minor impact over the average gaming results. I did notice a further drop in 1% lows in this mode, though, and some very rare stuttering, but for the most part, the Legion 5 performs well even on Quiet.
Running games on battery is also somewhat possible here, but the experience tends to get choppy time and again, due to a variation in both the CPU and GPU frequencies. Older and simpler titles should run fine, but recent AAA won’t perform well.
Overall, the Legion 5 ends up a mixed bag. The AMD Ryzen implementation is impressive, performing excellently across the board and keeping the fan noise low, but the laptop suffers in games and combined loads that would greatly benefit from a higher-tier GPU, and I’m looking forward to at least a GTX 1660Ti 80W implementation of this chassis. For now, that’s only available on the Intel-based Legion 5i, yet that’s a completely different story.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
There’s a complex thermal module on this Legion 5, with two fans, four radiators, three heatpipes, and ample thermal plates on top of the CPU, GPU and VRMs. This is further complemented by proper intakes and exhausts, so Lenovo didn’t skimp on the thermal design here, not even on this lower GPU configuration.
We already concluded on the excellent interior temperatures of this Legion 5 model, combined with quiet fans. They only ramp up to about 43 dB while playing games on the Performance mode, and under 40 dB on the Quiet mode.
- Performance Mode – 42-43 dB with games, 40-42 dB with Cinebench loop test;
- Quiet Mode – 38-39 dB with games, 32-35 dB with Cinebench loop test, 30-33 dB with Daily use.
The two fans remain constantly active with daily use, but they spin quietly, yet you’ll hear them in a silent room. I haven’t’ noticed any electronics noises or coil winning on our sample, though.
At the same time, the plastic chassis only reaches temperatures in low 30s with daily use, or mid-40s in the hottest parts in the middle of the keyboard, and high-40s on the back, on top of the heatpipes, while running games. The WASD and arrows keys rest cooler, in the high 30s and low 40s, so longer gaming sessions are perfectly comfortable on this laptop.
However, things will change with the higher GPU options, which would either run hotter, noisier or both, so make sure to look into detailed reviews if interested in those options.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Silent Profile, fans at 30-33 dB
*Gaming – Performance mode – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at 42-43 dB
*Gaming – Quiet mode– playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at 38-39 dB
For connectivity, there’s an Intel AX200 2×2 Wireless 6 implementation inside this laptop, with Bluetooth 5.0, as well as Gigabit Lan through a Realtek module. We’ve mostly used our sample on wireless, and it performed flawlessly both near the router and at 30+ feet away, with obstacles in between.
Audio is handled by a set of speakers firing through cuts on the lateral sides of the underbelly. They sounded distorted out-of-the-box, but once the laptop finished up updating the software, the audio ended up cleaner. These are still small laptop-class speakers, but overall they sound somewhat nicer than the average implementations in $1000 gaming laptops. On top of that, not having to deal with loud fans definitely helps their cause in games.
Finally, there’s a 720p webcam on this laptop, placed at the top of the screen, and flanked by microphones. It’s there for when you’ll really need it, but the image quality is washed out and muddy.
Lenovo offers the Legion 5 with either a 60 or an 80 Wh battery, and we have the latter version here. Combined with an efficient hardware implementation, this notebook lasts for a long while on a charge.
Here’s what we got on our review unit, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness).
- 12 W (~7+ h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Quiet Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 7.5 W (~10 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Quiet Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 7 W (~11 h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Quiet Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 15 W (~5-6 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Balance Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON.
The laptop comes with a compact and fairly light 170W charger that plugs-in via their proprietary rectangular plug. A full charge takes about 2 hours if you enable Quick charging from the Vantage app, or 2+ hours otherwise. USB-C charging is not supported.
Price and availability- Lenovo Legion 5
We’re looking at a starting price of under $900 for the base-level Lenovo Legion 5 at this point, but there are at least a few extras you’ll want here: one of the 300-nits screens, and preferably the 144 Hz option if you’re playing games, dual-channel memory and at least 512 GB of storage, although that’s something you can add yourselves later on (without impacting warranty in most regions).
Our review configuration ends up at around $1350 at the time of this post, and that’s expensive for what it is, but you’ll most likely find it for less later on. In fact, the competition offers GTX 1660Ti configurations for under $1000 these days (details in here), with RTX 2060 models going for around $1200 to $1300 (more details).
As I mentioned in the beginning, I paid less than 1000 EUR for my configuration over here. That was an early-launch deal on a pre-configured unit, but you should expect to get yours for under 1000 USD/EUR as well later in the year.
Follow this link for updated prices and configurations in your region.
Final thoughts- Lenovo Legion 5 review
This Legion 5 notebook is in some ways better than I was expecting.
Sure, I knew the AMD Ryzen platform is an excellent performer in CPU heavy tasks and efficient in everyday use, and I also knew that Lenovo offer a clean utilitarian design, good inputs, good screens, and overall a multitude of configuration options.
However, I wasn’t expecting this to run as cooly and quietly as it does with demanding loads and games. I haven’t reviewed all the Ryzen notebooks out there, but I don’t think any can match it at these ends, which makes the Legion 5 an excellent work/school notebook for those of you who plan to run demanding loads that would benefit from this Ryzen platform.
At the same time, this only tops at a GTX 1650Ti GPU, at least for now, which greatly limits its gaming performance and overall potential with GPU-heavy loads. Furthermore, although I got my unit for a good price, this seems to be fairly expensive in most regions for a GTX 1650Ti notebook, and I feel that it needs to drop in price to compensate for the limited GPU option. Furthermore, I hope Lenovo can come to their senses and offer at least a 1660Ti dGPU choice in most regions. Right now, 1660Ti and 2060 configurations are announced for later in the year, but those might not be available worldwide and we don’t know when we’ll be able to actually buy them. They are already available on the Intel-based Legion 5i variant of this laptop, though.
I’ll also add that I’m disappointed by the rubbery interior coating on this laptop, it doesn’t seem durable and I don’t think it will age well, which is something you should be aware of. Maybe that’s just an issue with these first-batch models, but this is a retail product, and having that front lip dent that easily is unacceptable to me. In fact, it might be just enough reason to send this back.
In conclusion, while excellent on many levels, I feel you should hold off on this Legion 5 for now, unless you’re primarily getting it for its CPU prowess and Lenovo offers it for a good deal in your region (which should be at around 1000 USD/EUR for a configuration such as mine). Otherwise, ~$1000 can already get you 1660Ti notebooks with both AMD and Intel hardware, such as Asus TUF Gaming A15 or the 2019 Acer Predator Helios 300, among others. And while not without their flaws, the higher-tier GPU makes those better overall laptops.
This wraps up our review of the Lenovo Legion 5, but I’d like to know what you heard about it, so get in touch in the comments section down below.
Update: In the meantime, Lenovo updated this laptop, and our review of the 2021 Lenovo Legion 5 15 is available here, while our review of the Legion 5 17-inch model is available here.
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