This year Derek covered the entire range of Lenovo Legion laptops in several in-depth reviews, but I finally got my hands on a couple of these Legions and I’ll pitch in with a couple of thoughts and performance tests on two mid-range configurations that we haven’t looked at before.
This article here goes over the AMD Ryzen 5 + RTX 3060 + FHD 165Hz configuration of the Lenovo Legion 5, and we’ll also go over a similar Legion 5 Pro variant in this article.
Unlike the 3050Ti variant we’ve already covered a few months ago, this 3060 is significantly more capable in games and GPU-intensive workloads, for roughly 200 EUR more over here in Europe.
Unfortunately, Lenovo doesn’t offer a 3060 configuration of the Legion 5 in all markets, but if that’s available in your region, if competitively priced and if the gaming performance sits high on your list of priorities, I’d surely consider going with this 3060 configuration over the 3050Ti. We’ll also discuss the choice between the Ryzen 5 and Ryzen 7 processors down below, as well as the Intel alternatives on the Legion 5i.
So let’s get into it.
Specs as reviewed– 2021 Lenovo Legion 5
||Lenovo Legion 5 15ACH6 2021
||15.6 inch, 1920×1080 px, IPS equivalent, 165 Hz, matte, 3ms
||AMD Ryzen 5 5600H, 6C/12T
||NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 with 6GB GDDR6 VRAM 115-130W,
with MUX and GSync, or Optimus
||16 GB DDR4 3200Mhz (2x8GB DIMMS) – 2X DIMMs
||512 GB M.2 NVMe – 2X M.2 SSD slots
||Realtek RTL8852ae Wifi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
||4x USB-A 3.2 gen2, 1x USB-C 3.2 DP 1.4, 1x USB-C with DP 1.4 and PD support, 1x HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, mic/earphone
||80Whr, 300 W charger
||363 mm or 14.3” (w) x 260 mm or 10.22” (d) x 23.57-26.1 mm or .93-1.03” (h)
||2.4 kg (5.3 lbs),+ 1.15 kg (2.54 lbs) for the charger+cables, EU version
||white backlit keyboard, HD webcam with kill switch, stereo speakers
Update: Our review of the updated 2022 Legion 5 (gen 7) is available here, while our review of the 2022 Legion 5 Pro is also available here.
Design and construction
Derek already covered the design, build quality, and ergonomics of the 2021 Legion 5 series in both this article that goes over the 15-inch model, and this one that looks at the larger 17-inch Legion 5 model.
There’s very little I could add. In just a few words, this 15-inch model is very well built and checks most of the practicality boxes I’d want in a modern computer.
It perhaps doesn’t feel as nice as the Legion 5 Pro or Legion 7 lineups as this is entirely made out of plastic, but with a rougher finishing that feels stronger than the kind used on the previous Legion 5 generation, which Id’ expect should age well. It does show smudges and fingerprints on this dark-blue variant that we have here.
The legion 5 doesn’t even try to be compact and portable by any means, either. The laptop weighs 2.4 kilos in this tested configuration with the 80Wh battery, and you must also consider the massive 300W charger included with this configuration, which weighs an extra 1.15 kilos. If you need a thin-and-light full-size laptop that would be easy to lug around every day to work and school, this is not it.
As far as ergonomics go, I appreciate the clean design, the slightly dulled edges and corners on the front-lip, the excellent grip of the rubbery bottom feet, the fact that the screen can go flat to 180-degrees and is held in place by what look like OK hinges, as well as how Lenovo smartly positioned the IO, hiding most ports on the rear-edge, out of the way.
The IO includes mostly everything you’ll need on this sort of a laptop, including USB-Cs with video and power delivery, a full-size HDMI 2.1 port, and LAN. The power plug is placed on the back edge, and it’s the reversible and easy-to-use rectangular shape offered with Legion laptops for the last many years.
The only thing missing here is an SD card reader, and of course, Thunderbolt support, since this is an AMD model. There’s no Thunderbolt on the Intel-based Legion 5i variants either, though.
All in all, the only thing that slightly bothers me on this Legion 5 design is the always-on light in the power button, but even that is just a small colored dot and not a big circle like on the Legion 7 Slim series, so not as annoying when using the laptop at night. Oh, and there are some stickers plastered on this out-of-the-box, but you can easily peel those off.
Keyboard and trackpad
Lenovo went with consistent inputs across their entire range of Legion laptops, and that means little has been sacrificed on what is the entry-level Legion 5 series.
Sure, the clickpad is only plastic and the keycaps feel a little different than the ones used in the Legion 7, but despite these, there’s little I can complain about here.
You should be aware that the feedback of this keyboard is rather on the softer, mushier side, so closer to ultrabook keyboards than to the kinds that other OEMs put in their gaming products. This will take some accommodation time if you’re not used to this sort of response, but the fair stroke depth and the overall shape of the keycaps add to the positive experience. For what is worth, this is also a very quiet type, except for the Space key, so potentially a good choice for class, library, or quiet office use.
The layout is one of the positives of this keyboard as well, with the main deck of keys properly sized and shaped, with full-size arrows spaced out from the keys around, and only the keys in the NumPad section being smaller in size. Still, I must add that because there’s a Numpad section here, the keyboard is slightly shifted towards the left side of the laptop and not centered. Based on what you’re coming from, this might also require some time to get used to.
This keyboard is backlit, and Lenovo offers either a white lit variant, the one that we have here, or a 4-zone RGB option. No complaints about the brightness and uniformity of this base-level white lighting system, but a fair bit of light does creep from underneath some of the keycaps when looked at from a regular-use angle. On top of it, a lot of light annoyingly reflects into the screen’s bottom bezel as well.
That aside, I’m not sure if there’s a way to set the illumination to timeout after 30-60 seconds, on my unit it just never timed out.
The clickpad is plastic, as I mentioned already, only average in size and centered under the Space key, towards the left side of the laptop. It worked fine during my time with this Legion 5. It’s also a sturdy implementation that doesn’t rattle with taps and the click buttons are OK, just a bit clunky.
Finally, as far as biometrics go, there aren’t any on this laptop.
There’s a regular 15.6-inch 16:9 matte display on the Legion 5 series, with a fair-quality FHD panel, the same we’ve already tested in the Legion Slim 7 series.
Lenovo kept their better panels for the 5 Pro and 7 lineups, and this Legion 5 only gets a FHD 1920 x 1080 px option with 300+ nits of brightness and 100% sRGB color coverage, as well as 165 Hz refresh rate and pretty good response times. All these make for a balanced panel, well suited for daily use, work, and gaming. And since there’s a MUX on this Legion 5 series, you’ll benefit from either FreeSync or GSync when running games.
On the other hand, this is only FHD resolution, it’s not a very bright panel, so it might not suffice outdoors or in brightness environments, and it’s not wide-gamut either, so might not do for certain color-accurate workloads. But it’s still a fair option for this sort of mid-tier laptop, even at the higher price tag of the 3060/3070 configurations.
Here’s what we got in our tests, with an X-Rite i1 Display Pro sensor:
- Panel HardwareID: BOE BOE0998 (NV156FHM-NY8);
- Coverage: 98.9% sRGB, 69.9% Adobe RGB, 72.6% DCI-P3;
- Measured gamma: 2.25;
- Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 325.27 cd/m2 on power;
- Min brightness in the middle of the screen: 1.88 cd/m2 on power;
- Contrast at max brightness: 1166:1;
- White point: 6700 K;
- Black on max brightness: 0.30 cd/m2;
- PWM: No.
The calibration is alright out of the box, with good uniformity and little light bleeding around the edges.
I’ll also add that Lenovo set a wide brightness range for this laptop, allowing the panel to dim down significantly at the lowest settings, something those of you that use your laptops in complete darkness will appreciate. The fact that no PWM is used here for brightness control comes as a final bonus for dark-room use.
So all in all there’s little to complain about here, but I’ll still remind you of the brighter and sharper WQHD panel available for the Legion 5 series in a few regions, as well as the WQHD+ 16:10 option on the Legion 5 Pro. I’d recommend opting for one of those if you can squeeze them within budget.
Oh, and there’s another FHD 120Hz screen option available for the lower-tier configurations of the Legion 5. Stay away from it, it’s the older-gen panel with 250-nits of brightness and washed-out colors at only 45% NTSC.
Hardware and performance
Our test model is an interestingly balanced configuration of the Lenovo Legion 5 15ACH6 series, with an AMD Ryzen 5 5600H processor, an Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics chip, 16 GB of DDR4-3200 MHz memory, and a fast Samsung PM981 PCIe x4 gen3 SSD.
This is a retail unit offered for review by the local Lenovo PR reps. We tested it many months after the series was launched, with the mature software available as of mid-November 2021 (BIOS GKCN46WW, Lenovo Vantage 18.104.22.168 app, GeForce Game Ready 496.76 drivers).
As far as the hardware goes, this series is built on a full-power AMD Ryzen Cezanne platform, with either 6Core Ryzen 5 5600H or 8Core Ryzen 7 5800H processors. My unit is the lower-specced Ryzen 5, which runs at around 56W sustained in CPU-heavy workloads on the highest power profile. The Ryzen 7 variants run at 75+W sustained in our tests.
For GPUs, the RTX 3060 that we have here is the mid-option for this 15-inch model, as 3050/3050Ti GPUs are available in the lower-specced models, and 3070 configurations are available as well in some markets. Both the 3060 and the 3070 are full power dGPUs, able to go up to 130W with Dynamic Boost.
The laptop offers a MUX, but no Advanced Optimus. This means you can opt for a Hybrid mode that enables Optimus (in the Vantage control app or in the BIOS ), which actively switches between the Vega and Nvidia chips, or disable the Hybrid mode and only keep the Nvidia dGPU active, which directly links the dGPU to the internal display and enables GSync in the settings. Switching between the two modes requires a restart.
This series allows full control over the RAM, storage slots, and WiFi module. There are 2x RAM slots and 2x SSD slots on the Legion 5, both on the 60 and 80 Wh configurations. Our review unit comes with 16 GB of RAM in dual-channel; the included memory is SR, but the kind with faster latencies, as shown above.
For storage, our unit came with a fast Samsung PM981 drive and an extra slot ready for upgrades. Both M.2 slots are 2280 PCIe x4 gen3.
Getting to the components requires you to remove a few Philips screws, all visible around the back, and then pull up the D-panel. Use a plastic pin and work your way slowly, so you won’t break any of the stiff plastic clips that hold the back panel attached. Inside, everything is covered by radiator shields, so you’ll have to take those out as well to get to the RAM and M.2 slots.
For the software, I put a clean Windows 10 install on my unit and the Lenovo Vantage app, which then took care of all the updates. I do like this centralized control app that gives access to the various power profiles and settings.
The power profiles are Quiet, Balanced, and Performance, and you can select them from Vantage or switch between them with Fn+Q. Performance is only available with the laptop plugged into the wall. These profiles apply different power settings to the CPU/GPU and different fan profiles, as well as switch the color of the LED in the power button. Here’s a table that shows what each mode does:
There’s also an option to overclock the GPU in the BIOS on this model/configuration. By default, it applies a +100 MHz Clock +200 MHz Memory overclock, but you can fiddle more with the settings if you want to.
Before we jump to the performance section, here’s how this laptop handles everyday use and multitasking while running silent most of the time on the Quiet/Balanced profiles, unplugged from the wall.
Performance tests and benchmarks
Ok, let’s talk performance. We start by testing the CPU by running the Cinebench R15 test for 15+ times in a loop, with 1-2 seconds delay between each run.
The Ryzen 5 processor stabilizes at ~60W of sustained power on the Performance setting, with full clocks of 4.0 GHz and temperatures in the low 90s, corroborated with the fans spinning at 49-50 dBA at head-level. This design ensures the maximum performance that the Ryzen 5 5600H processor is capable of in this test.
Based on our previous reviews, the Ryzen 7 CPU options score 25-30% higher in this benchmark, as 8C/16T processors running at higher clocks. Definitely worth the upgrade if you plan to use the computer for CPU-intensive loads.
Switching over to the Balanced profile leads to the Ryzen 5 stabilizing at 45W of power. The fans spin at 43-44 dB in this case, and temperatures stabilize in the low-80s.
On Quiet, the processor runs at ~25W sustained with only slightly audible fans (<32 dB) and temperatures in the 70s. The scores are roughly 75% of what the system delivers on Performance, despite the limited power.
Finally, the CPUs run at ~25 W on battery as well, on the Balanced profile, with the fans still at <32 dB. The CPU performance on the battery is roughly what the system delivers on the Quiet mode when plugged in.
You’ll find more details about all these profiles and scenarios in the logs down below.
Here’s how this Ryzen 5 Legion 5 configuration scores in comparison to other Ryzen and Intel platforms available on similar products. I’ve mostly added the 8C/16T options, for a comparison of what you’d get upgrading to the Ryzen 7 5800H on this laptop.
We then ran the 3DMark CPU profile test on this Ryzen 5 5600H configuration.
We then went ahead and further verified our findings with the more taxing Cinebench R23 loop test, Blender – CPU, and the gruesome Prime 95, on the Performance profile.
Finally, we ran our combined CPU+GPU stress tests on this notebook. 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 fine, which suggests there are no significant performance losses that might be caused by thermal throttling on this laptop.
Next, we ran the entire suite of tests and benchmarks on the stock Performance profile in Vantage, the system set on dGPU mode (with GSync deactivated), and the screen set on its native FHD resolution. Here’s what we got:
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 18993 (Graphics – 21401, Physics – 20275, Combined – 9799);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 5134;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 8405 (Graphics – 8730, CPU – 6942);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 14549;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5178;
- Handbrake 1.3.3 (4K to 1080p encode): 34.25 average fps;
- PassMark10: Rating: 6746 (CPU mark: 18427, 3D Graphics Mark: 14560, Disk Mark: 23610);
- PCMark 10: 6405 (Essentials – 10299 , Productivity – 7812 , Digital Content Creation – 8865);
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1383, Multi-core: 6247;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1653 cb, CPU Single Core 223 cb;
- CineBench R20 (best run): CPU 3837 cb, CPU Single Core 531 cb;
- CineBench R23 (best run): CPU 9960 cb, CPU Single Core 1358 cb;
- x265 HD Benchmark 64-bit: 35.66 s.
We then ran some Workstation related loads on this Ryzen 5 5600H + RTX 3060 configuration, on the stock Performance profile:
- Blender 2.90 – BMW Car scene- CPU Compute: 4m 14s;
- Blender 2.90 – BMW Car scene- GPU Compute: 40s (CUDA), 23s (Optix);
- Blender 2.90 – Classroom scene – CPU Compute: 11m 12s;
- Blender 2.90 – Classroom scene – GPU Compute: 3m 13s (CUDA), 1m 25s (Optix);
- Pugetbench – DaVinvi Resolve: 887 points;
- Pugetbench – Adobe Photoshop: 711 points;
- Pugetbench – After Effects: 615 points;
- Pugetbench – Adobe Premiere: 532 points;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – 3DSMax: 73.03;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Catia: 49.45;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Creo: 66.85;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Energy: 21.06;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Maya: 286.08;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – Medical: 26.87;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SNX: 15.32;
- SPECviewerf 2020 – SW: 185.27.
- V-Ray Benchmark: CPU – 6956 vsamples, GPU CUDA – 798 vpaths.
These are some solid results across the board. It pays to have a full-power Ryzen processor in here and a full-power RTX 3060. In theory, this RTX 3060 should go up to 130W of power, but in our tests, it only averaged up to 125W and rarely surpassed that level. Still, compared to the more limited 80-100W 3060s available in other mid-tier laptops, this option scores 7-12% higher in the GPU benchmarks.
The only downside is the fairly noisy fans on this configuration, which often ramp up to 50 dB on the Performance mode in the combined tests. You can always opt for the Balanced and Quiet modes if you want to, and we’ll get to that in a bit, but even those are not as quiet as I was expecting.
First, though, I mentioned you can overclock the GPU in the BIOS. The default setting is +100 MHz Clock +200 MHz Memory, and that leads to a 2-5% increase in GPU scores, without significantly impacting the noise levels or temperatures.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 20037 (Graphics – 23125, Physics – 20159, Combined – 9799);
- 3DMark 13 – Port Royal: 5372;
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 8687 (Graphics – 9195, CPU – 6619);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 5514;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 16193;
The CPU performance is not significantly impacted by the GPU overclock, yet the CPU scores tend to drop a little bit in our tests, so I’d suggest opting for the overclock if you’re primarily looking to maximize the GPU performance on your system. In fact, this is the whole purpose of the Ryzen 5 + 3060 configuration that we have here, which opts for a slightly more limited CPU so it allows for extra headroom for the GPU, especially when overclocked.
Now, if 50 dB fans are too loud for you, and I can see how that can be the case in many situations, the Quiet profile is also very competitive on this laptop with the current BIOS settings. The fans average between sub 30 dBA noise levels with light use and up to 44 dB with combined taxing loads on this Quiet profile, and the performance takes a slight toll, but not a significant one, as you can tell based on these results down below.
- 3DMark 13 – Fire Strike: 17325 (Graphics – 19167, Physics – 19719, Combined – 9107);
- 3DMark 13 – Time Spy: 7238 (Graphics – 7396, CPU – 6458);
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Extreme: 4513;
- Uniengine Superposition – 1080p Medium: 13581;
- GeekBench 5.0.1 64-bit: Single-Core: 1366, Multi-core: 5883;
- CineBench R15 (best run): CPU 1389 cb, CPU Single Core 215 cb.
The CPU holds on very well in shorter duration loads, and only lags behind when the power-limit kicks in after a minute or two of sustained multi-core loads. As for the GPU, this mode limits it at around 80W of power, which translates to roughly 80-85% of its capabilities on the Performance mode. Up to you if these trade-offs are worth it for the reduction in noise. To me, they are, although I would have preferred a Quiet profile that would have kept the fans under 40 dB.
I also planned on adding a few of my thoughts here about the choice between the Ryzen 5/Ryzen 7 CPU options, as well as what you should expect in terms of performance between the 3050Ti, 3060, and 3070 configurations of this Legion 5 series, since we’ve already reviewed all these models. I’ll have that in a separate post, though, in the very near future, and in the meantime, you can check all the reviews yourselves and draw your own conclusions.
Let’s look at some games.
As mentioned before, this Ryzen 5 + 3060 configuration favors GPU performance, and thus, it makes a lot of sense for gaming. Sure, the 8Core Ryzen 7 5800H might be the better long-term option and runs at marginally higher clocks, so I would get that if within your budget. But if you’re on a limited budget, I’d probably look at this Ryzen 5 model instead and maybe even consider upgrading the RAM that comes in by default with the remaining funds, which is the SR kind that is known to slightly impact framerates in a negative way in some titles.
Anyway, back to our review unit. We tested on the Performance + GPU OC mode and on Quiet, at FHD resolution and in the dGPU mode, with Hybrid disabled. On the dGPU mode, the internal display hooks straight into the Nvidia chip via the MUX, so the iGPU lag does not interfere in any way with the performance. Here’s what we got:
|AMD Rzyen 5 5600H +
RTX 3060 Laptop 125W
|Performance + OC,
|Performance + OC,
QHD, external monitor
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|112 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
||104 fps (46 fps – 1% low)
||102 fps (52 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|59 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
||46 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
|Far Cry 5
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, SMAA)
|101 fps (72 fps – 1% low)
||94 fps (66 fps – 1% low)
||90 fps (58 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX OFF)
|60 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
||51 fps (34 fps – 1% low)
|Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor
(DX 11, Ultra Preset)
|161 fps (98 fps – 1% low)
||139 fps (93 fps – 1% low)
||123 fps (88 fps – 1% low)
|Red Dead Redemption 2
(DX 12, Ultra Optimized, TAA)
|86 fps (62 fps – 1% low)
||72 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA)
|97 fps (54 fps – 1% low)
||86 fps (46 fps – 1% low)
||54 fps (37 fps – 1% low)
(Vulkan, Ultra Preset)
|173 fps (128 fps – 1% low)
||142 fps (94 fps – 1% low)
||127 fps (103 fps – 1% low)
|The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
(DX 11, Ultra Preset, Hairworks On 4)
|104 fps (72 fps – 1% low)
||89 fps (72 fps – 1% low)
||84 fps (64 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 2, Tomb Raider games – recorded with the included Benchmark utilities;
- Red Dead Redemption 2 Optimized profile based on these settings.
Those above are rasterization-only tests, and here are some results for RTX titles.
|AMD Rzyen 5 5600H +
RTX 3060 Laptop 125W
|Performance + OC,
|Performance + OC,
QHD, external monitor
(DX 12, Ultra Preset, RTX ON, DLSS OFF)
|85 fps (60 fps – 1% low)
||72 fps (40 fps – 1% low)
||62 fps (42 fps – 1% low)
(DX 12, Ultra Preset + RTX, DLSS Auto)
|50 fps (36 fps – 1% low)
||42 fps (31 fps – 1% low)
|Shadow of Tomb Raider
(DX 12, Highest Preset, TAA, RTX Ultra)
|56 fps (28 fps – 1% low)
||49 fps (22 fps – 1% low)
||29 fps (18 fps – 1% low)
There are a lot of numbers here, so let’s get into some context.
First off, these are excellent gaming results for a 3060 Laptop configuration, enabled by the MUX and the high GPU power settings available on this notebook. We haven’t tested gaming performance on the Hybrid mode, but based on our past reviews, the impact can be significant in some titles, especially at FHD resolution.
As far as the available profiles go, the performance is constant and consistent in all settings. The Performance mode ramps up to fans to loud levels of 49-50 dB, but also delivers the best framerates and keeps the CPU/GPU temperatures in check, in the high 70s for both in most titles. Some games still don’t scale well with Dynamic Boost 2.0, though, and in those cases, the CPU does run hotter, at 90+ Celsius. Far Cry 5 or Battlefield V are examples of such titles.
Overclocking the GPU leads to a slight increase in GPU sustained speeds and framerates, without a noticeable impact over the GPU temperatures.
The design of this laptop with only some slim rubber feet underneath does choke the fan intakes a fair bit, and lighting up the back of the laptop helps shed 5-8 degrees of both the CPU and the GPU in our tests. It also amplifies the fans’ perceived noise, though, which now ramp up to 52 dB in some games.
The Balanced profile seems a bit off to me with the current BIOS. In most games, the laptop performs just the same as on Performance, with similar internal temperatures and fan noise. I was hoping for a reduction in noise and slight power limitations, like on other Legion laptops tested in the past, but that was not the case for this sample.
The Quiet profile limits the CPU at around 25W and the GPU at around 80W, as well as ramps down the fans. Still, in most games these still ramp up to 43-44 dB at head-level with the laptop sitting on the desk, which I still find loud for this sort of a Quiet profile. Once more, lifting the back of the laptop from the desk helps lower the internal temperatures and in most cases keeps the fans at a quieter level as well, around that desired 40 dB limit.
One thing I wanted to add is that you can also consider running games on an external monitor with this laptop. Since there’s a MUX, don’t expect improved framerates from what we registered in our tests. Also, just like above, temperatures are lower if you’re using the laptop with the lid closed and proper-up in a vertical stand, than when having it standing on the desk.
Finally, I’ll add that gaming on battery mode is somewhat possible here, but the CPU and GPU are limited at a 50W combined power, so the performance takes a massive toll in comparison to even the Quiet plugged-in mode. Also, don’t expect more than an hour and a bit of runtime with gaming on the battery.
Noise, Heat, Connectivity, speakers, and others
This Legion 5 series gets an efficient thermal module, with two fans, four radiators, and three heatsinks that spread over the components. The big thermal plates also cover up the VBRMS and the Chipset, and Lenovo put thermal radiators over the RAM and SSDs as well. Heck, there’s even a radiator over the WiFi chip.
You’re not getting this sort of attention to detail with most of the other mid-range lineups.
As shown above, this cooling module works well and keeps the hardware at bay.
However, most of the fresh air comes in through the bottom intakes into the fans, and these intakes are chocked by the small-profile rubber feet while the laptop sits on a desk, as shown in the previous section. That’s why lifting up the back of the laptop in order to improve the airflow into the fans leads to a significant decrease in internal temperatures.
The fans run loud on this laptop, though, ramping up to 50 dB at head-level on performance with the laptop sitting on the desk and 52 dB with it pushed up. You’ll need a good pair of headphones to cover that up.
The Balanced profile barely impacts the fan noise with combined loads, and the Quiet mode is the most usable option here, as it keeps the fans at around 43-44 dB with the laptop on the desk and around 40 dB with it pushed up, as the lower temperatures somehow allow for quieter fans in this case.
That aside, the fans keep active with daily use all the time and never idle on any of the profiles, regardless of the laptop runs on battery or is plugged in. That’s surely unnecessary and you will notice them in a quiet room, but they do keep at around 30-32 dB, so won’t bother you in a regular environment.
External temperatures are fine with this laptop, both with daily use and with games. It’s unusual though that the hotspots are placed just around the arrows keys and the Enter key, but the chassis never gets uncomfortable to the touch, as even those are only in the low to mid-40s Celsius. Still, I didn’t notice the same king of hotspots on Derek’s review units, so I’m not sure if this is normal or some sort of an issue with my unit. Internally, these hotspots seem to be placed over the chipset and SSD, which do not overheat based on our HWinfo logs.
*Daily Use – streaming Netflix in EDGE for 30 minutes, Quiet profile, fans idle
*Gaming – Quiet– playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at ~43-44 dB
*Gaming – Performance – playing Far Cry 5 for 30 minutes, fans at ~48-50 dB
For connectivity, there’s Wireless 6 and Bluetooth 5 through a Realtek chip on this laptop. This has been known to be buggy, and I ran into hiccups with it as well, when the wireless speeds dropped to abnormally low levels or the laptop just refused to connect to the network and required a restart. WiFi performance seems to be a matter of luck on this chip, so consider upgrading it with something better, such as an Intel AX201 or similar. It’s about 30 bucks or so.
Audio is handled by two speakers placed on the bottom of this laptop, and firing through the grills on the angled laterals, which prevents them from being easily covered and muffled. These can get fairly loud, at 80+ dBA at ear-level, but the quality isn’t much, especially on the lower end. I was expecting these to be both pretty crap quality and quiet, based on Derek’s findings in his reviews, but these that I got here were not that quiet. For what is worth, I didn’t install the Nahimic app on my unit.
Finally, I’ll mention that camera at the top of the screen. It’s HD-only and washed-out quality even in good light, but at least it’s there and can do that job when needed. This comes with an electronic shutter on the left side of the laptop, which electronically kills both the camera and the microphones, and not just covers the lens with a piece of plastic.
There’s an 80Wh battery inside this Legion 5 configuration, which is fair-sized for a mid-range 15-inch laptop. Careful that Lenovo also offers a 60Wh option that leaves a fair bit of unused space inside – and no, that doesn’t include a 2.5″ cradle instead, unlike other mid-tier laptops offered in the past when opting for the lower-capacity battery. So get the 80Wh battery option if possible.
Now, based on my past experience with other recent Ryzen configurations, I was expecting this laptop to be efficient and run for a fair while on a charge, but it did not. Not sure exactly what’s going on, because Optimus seems to work fine and the CPU scales down in frequency and power as expected, yet somehow the efficiency with light use left plenty to be desired. And no, I don’t have the iCUE software installed on this unit. As far as I can tell there’s some sort of an issue with the AMD Radeon iGPU driver, as the panel is shown as a 10-bit 165 Hz model in the Advanced Display Settings tab. That aside, there’s also no option to manually switch to a 60 Hz refresh rate.
The screen on this Legion 5 series doesn’t automatically commute from 165 Hz to 60 Hz when you unplug the laptop, as other devices do, but you should, in theory, be able to cycle between 60 and 165 Hz refresh by hitting Fn+R. The shortcut doesn’t do anything on this unit.
Anyway, here’s what we got on our unit, with the screen’s brightness set at around 120 nits (~60 brightness) and 165 Hz refresh.
- 15 W (~5-6 h of use) – text editing in Google Drive, Quiet Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 12 W (~6-7 h of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Edge, Quiet Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 11 W (~6-7 h of use) – Netflix fullscreen in Edge, Quiet Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 15 W (~4-5 h of use) – browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON;
- 65 W (~1+ h of use) – gaming – Witcher 3, Balanced Mode, screen at 60%, Wi-Fi ON.
Take these with a lump of salt, and check out our reviews of the Legion 5 3050Ti and 3070 configurations for a broader picture of what you should expect in terms of battery life. And if you have any idea how to address the issue on my unit, please let me know in the comment sections at the end.
That aside, Lenovo pairs this configuration of the Legion 5 with a bulky and heavy 300W power brick. At 1.15 kilos, this is a sore to lug around, and it still requires more than 2 hours to fill up the battery. At least you can also charge this laptop via USB-C, so I’d suggest opting for that method with an appropriate charger. You can’t use it at full-blast on USB-C charging, though.
For what is worth, the 3050 or 3050Ti variants on this laptop come with a mid-sized and lighter 230W charger.
Price and availability- Legion 5
The Legion 5 is available in most areas of the world at the time of this article, but the prices seem to differ significantly from region to region.
Over here, this tested Ryzen 5 + RTX 3060 configuration is available in stores for around 1000-1100 EUR, which is very competitive for what you’re getting. The same goes for under 1000 GBP in the UK, but with a 60Wh battery. Upgrading to a Ryzen 7 is a 50 EUR extra, while upgrading to an RTX 3070 dGPU would cost around 200 EUR on top.
The RTX 3060 model goes for significantly more in the US, at around 1400-1500 USD at this point. Over there, the 3050Ti configurations are aggressively priced at around 1000 USD, but that’s also for the 60Wh options. Lenovo offers options for an RX6600 dGPU in some markets, or for a QHD 165 Hz display.
Overall, I’d recommend checking your local Lenovo site if available and carefully configure your model of choice, or look at one of the preconfigured units available on sale. Third-party stores will offer aggressively priced pre-configured models, so you should follow this link for updated configurations and prices in your region at the time you’re reading this article.
That aside, there are also Intel-based versions of Legion 5i, built on Tiger Lake H45 hardware. Over here, those are more expensive than the AMD versions.
Final thoughts- Lenovo Legion 5
All in all, the Legion 5 is one of the best-value mid-tier laptops of this generation, and a potential recommendation in this 3060 configuration over here in Europe where it’s very aggressively priced. That’s not the case everywhere, though, as the same configuration is expensive in other regions.
What you’re getting here is rugged and reliable build quality, fair inputs, IO and screen, as well as excellent performance across the board in all sorts of demanding loads and games. Paired with the clean design, this Legion 5 is an excellent choice for all-around use, for school, work, or gaming in your spare time.
On the other hand, there are some drawbacks that you’ll have to accept when going with this series, such as the plastic-only construction, the poor audio and camera quality, and the lack of a better than FHD panel in most regions (with a few exceptions where a QHD screen option is also available).
Still, I can accept those in this budget range; instead, what bothers me is the inconsistency in quality control with the unit that I have, even many months after this series was launched, with the buggy wifi connection and video drivers that eat into the battery life, as well as what I still consider to be unproperly polished fan/power profiles.
If Lenovo addresses these and updates the series with a fan profile that lowers the noise limit in Quiet mode to sub 40 dB and allows the fans to idle with light everyday use, then the Legion 5 would earn my full recommendation. As it is, I would still consider this legion 5 lineup, but make sure to understand and accept the potential quirks before taking the plunge on it.
There are a fair bit of alternatives for the Legion 5 lineup in the mid-tier class of 15-inch laptops, such as the Acer Nitro 5, Asus TUF Gaming A15, Dell G15, and the HP Omen 15. Each has its advantages and quirks, so look into reviews for more details, as well as consider their overall pricing and value in your region. As mentioned, over here in Europe few other options can beat the overall value of the Legion 5, but that’s not the case everywhere.
This wraps out my time with this 2021 Lenovo Legion 5 series, but I’d love to hear your thoughts on the series and feedback on my review, so get in touch in the comments section down below.
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