The Lenovo Legion 5 is one of the best Ryzen gaming laptops I’ve tested, and you guys requested it so much that I had to import it from the US, so let’s find out what all the hype is about in this review.
Legion 5 got basically everything you’d want in a mid range gaming laptop, including 8 core Ryzen processor, Nvidia GTX 1660 Ti graphics and 144Hz screen, all for around $1000 USD.
It’s got a plastic build with black finish. The interior is a sort of soft rubberised material, though it seems a bit nicer compared to the older Y540. In any case the build quality was decent with no sharp corners or edges. Lenovo lists the starting weight as 2.5kg, though mine was under 2.3 or about 5lb, then with the 230w power brick and cables we’re looking at over 3.1kg or almost 7lb total.
The size is pretty average for a 15” gaming laptop at this price point, so not thin by any means but not big.
It’s got a 15.6” 1080p 144Hz display with a 60Hz to 144Hz FreeSync range. Lenovo gives us the option of disabling optimus aka hybrid mode after a reboot, through the Vantage software, which will give a performance boost in games at the expense of battery life.
The vantage software also lets us enable overdrive mode which affects screen response time. With overdrive off, we’re looking at an average grey-to-grey response time of 7.4ms then with overdrive enabled this lowers to 4.66ms with a little overshoot and undershoot.When we look at how it compares against other laptops tested, well it’s the fastest 144Hz laptop panel that I’ve ever tested, an excellent result.
I’ve tested the screen with the Spyder 5, and got 99% of sRGB, 70% of NTSC, 75% of AdobeRGB and 75% of DCI-P3, so decent results for a gaming laptop. My panel was 370 nits at 100% brightness with a 750:1 contrast ratio, so decent brightness but a bit lower on the contrast. Backlight bleed wasn’t too bad in my unit, I never noticed the small imperfections when viewing darker content, but this will vary between panels.
There’s a 720p camera above the display in the middle with a physically sliding privacy shutter, no Windows Hello support.
My keyboard just has a single zone of white backlighting which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions, but there’s also a 4-zone RGB option too. The keys have two levels of brightness or can be turned off with the function and space keys. I thought typing on it was great, it’s got 1.5mm of key travel and it just feels nice and clicky. I like that the arrow keys aren’t small and instead are pushed down a little to make space. The power button is separate from the keyboard, and it lights up to reflect the performance mode in use which makes it easy to quickly visually see which mode you’re in.
The precision touchpad is smooth, clicks down anywhere, and it worked fine. Fingerprints and dirt show up but aren’t super obvious, it could be a little hard to clean due to the textured finish. The weight distribution felt good, allowing for one finger opening, and the screen goes the full 180 degrees back. There’s a little keyboard flex due to the plastic finish, but only when pushing hard, it was quite sturdy. There’s some flex to the lid, but not as much as say the Omen 15.
On the left we’ve got an air exhaust vent, USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A port, and 3.5mm audio combo jack. The right has another USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A port and there’s an air exhaust vent on this side too, the larger 17” version also has an SD card slot here. The back has more air exhausts towards the corners, then from left to right there’s a gigabit ethernet port, USB 3.2 Type-C port with DisplayPort output, no Thunderbolt though, two more USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports for 4 in total, HDMI 2.0 output, power input and Kensington lock. There’s some subtle icons above the rear ports so you can see where to plug in a cable without looking behind the machine. Both the HDMI and Type-C ports connect directly to the Nvidia graphics rather than the iGPU, so VR should be possible, but Type-C can’t be used to charge the machine.
Underneath has a big air vent towards the back, but there’s a dust filter covering all but the sections directly above the fans, so far better than say the TUF A15. Getting inside involves removing 11 Phillips head screws, and the 4 down the front are shorter than the rest. Once inside we’ve got the battery down the front, a 2.5” drive bay, two memory slots in the middle, and WiFi 6 card and SSD on the right. The 2.5” drive space was quite interesting, it comes with a little mount that has the cable and four screws required for mounting a drive which is great to see as others from Lenovo in the past like the L340 require you to buy this separately. There’s also a second M.2 slot, but it can only be used if you aren’t using a 2.5” drive and remove this stock mount. The RAM, SSD and WiFi are all covered by metal heat shields as well.
The two 2w speakers are on the left and right sides towards the front. They sounded decent, not amazing but above average with some bass, though they weren’t too loud at max volume, and the latencymon results looked good.
My legion 5 is powered by a 60Wh battery, but you can also get it with a larger 80wh option without the 2.5” drive bay, it’s great to have choices.
I’ve tested it with keyboard lighting off, background apps disabled and screen at 50% brightness. The results were decent for a gaming laptop, lasting for almost 6 and a half hours in the YouTube playback test. That’s with hybrid mode enabled though, if we disable it we’re looking at under 4 hours in the same test as the Nvidia graphics uses more power than the iGPU.
Let’s check out thermals next. The Lenovo Vantage software lets you pick between three performance modes, which from lowest to highest are quiet, balanced and performance, but there’s no user fan controls. The highest performance mode also lets you optionally check to enable GPU overclocking. The UI only lets you adjust the core clock, but it boosts the memory by the amount noted here. Ryzen controller software wasn’t used as I didn’t find it to make a performance difference.
The idle temperatures were good with a 21 degree Celsius room, stress tests were done with the Aida64 CPU stress test with stress CPU only checked and the Heaven GPU benchmark run at the same time, while gaming was tested playing Watch Dogs 2. Even worst case in these long term loads we’re not averaging above 90 degrees Celsius on the processor, and the GPU wasn’t even getting to 70, great results there, and a cooling pad could be used to lower temps a bit more.
These are the clock speeds for the same tests, again excellent results. Even in the lowest quiet mode we’re still seeing great performance, and above 4.1GHz over all 8 cores in these tests was possible. The GPU clock speeds increase in performance mode due to the overclocks applied by the Vantage software.
The GTX 1660 Ti had no problems maintaining its 80 watt power limit, and the processor didn’t pass 35 watts long term, which is fine, as we just saw 4.1GHz over all 8 cores is a great result in these tests, especially for the temperatures that were seen. The processor can of course burst higher than this in shorter workloads as needed.
Here’s how CPU only performance looks in Cinebench with the GPU now idle so not really a noteworthy difference to single core performance, but multicore performance was affected.
When we compare it against other laptops, it’s a three way tie with the XMG Core 17 aka Eluktronics RP-17, and 3700X in the Clevo, though the single core score was a little behind, but either way still excellent results compared to more expensive Intel options.
When idling the keyboard was around the low 30 degree Celsius point which is pretty normal. With the stress tests running in the lowest quiet mode it’s in the mid 40s in the center. Balanced and performance were quite similar, so just warm in the middle WASD was a bit cooler, and the wrist rest was quite cool.
The fans were still audible when idling in the lowest quiet mode, then with a stress test going it’s only a little louder stepping up from quiet to balanced mode, then a bit more still and similar to many other gaming laptops in the highest performance mode.
Now let’s check out how well the Legion 5 performs in games and see how it compares with other laptops.
I’ve tested Battlefield 5 in campaign mode at ultra settings, and the Legion 5 is highlighted in red. In this test the average frame rate is one of the better results out of all 1660 Ti laptops I’ve tested, basically the same as the vapor 15 aka mag-15 and just 1 FPS behind the Helios 300. The 1% lows from the Legion were also the highest out of the Ryzen based laptops with 80 watt 1660 Ti like the TUF A15 or Omen 15.
These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. This time the Legion 5 is the second best result out of the 1660 Ti laptops, and again the highest out of those tested with a Ryzen processor. It’s not too far behind the Helios 300, and realistically it’s not going to be a noticeable difference above the other 1660 Ti laptops anyway.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider was also tested with the games benchmark tool with the highest setting preset. This is a great result for a GTX 1660 Ti laptop, it’s at least 3 FPS ahead of the next best 1660 Ti result and interestingly it was scoring the same as the higher wattage RTX 2060 in the Eluktronics RP-15, so yeah the Legion 5 is doing quite well for the hardware it’s got.
I’ve also tested the Legion 5 in 20 games at all setting levels, check it out if you want more benchmarks.
Now for the benchmarking tools.
I’ve used Adobe Premiere to export one of my laptop review videos at 4K. This is the fastest export time I’ve ever recorded for a Ryzen based gaming laptop, just a little ahead of the RP-15 with the same CPU but higher tier GPU. I’ve also tested Premiere but with the Puget systems benchmark which also accounts for things like live playback rather than just export times. In these tests a higher score is better, the Legion 5 is still up there though the RP-15 was a little better now. The results were similar in Adobe Photoshop, this tends to be more of a CPU focussed test, and it’s the second fastest 4800H result I’ve got, only beaten by the RP-15 with better graphics. DaVinci Resolve is more GPU heavy, but despite that this is the highest score I’ve ever had from any 1660 Ti laptop, and it’s beating some of the higher wattage options like the 2060 in the RP-15, and even the 2070 in the Dell G7. I’ve also tested SPECviewperf which tests out various professional 3D workloads. I’ve used Crystal disk mark to test the 512gb NVMe M.2 SSD, the read speeds were great but the writes were much power comparatively.
As for pricing, in the US it’s available for $1000, and that’s how much I got mine for, and all things considered I think that’s a great price for what’s on offer, but let’s properly summarise by covering both the good and bad aspects to help you decide if the Legion 5 is worth it. Honestly there’s not too much here to hate.
The camera is crap but that’s not too surprising, it would have been nice to have some user fan control, and the SSD write speed is lower compared to some other NVMe options, but otherwise no other problems come to mind which is saying something.
The screen has the best response time tested out of all Ryzen gaming laptops I’ve looked at, the brightness is above average, colour gamut is decent, and it’s got a nice FreeSync range. The contrast ratio is a bit low, but I can forgive that as Lenovo are giving us the option to disable optimus and enable overdrive. As we saw in games, it’s doing very well for a 1660 Ti laptop, and outside of games, the CPU performance is right up there with some of the best Ryzen results I’ve recorded, and this is all without running hot under heavy long term workloads.
The upgrade options inside are great as you’ve got a fair bit of choice, you can take a larger battery instead of 2.5” drive if you prefer, and get a 2nd M.2 slot if you don’t need the 2.5” drive, user choice is always best in my opinion rather than being forced one way or the other. The keyboard was great, and there’s an RGB option for those that want higher FPS. The touchpad was fine, speakers better than average, build quality was fair for a plastic machine, there’s a good selection of I/O, and battery life was decent for the size, but expect more with the larger battery option.
Basically for $1000 USD, I think this is a great gaming laptop, it’s going to be very interesting when I compare it with others that have reviewed highly like HP’s Omen 15, let me know what others you want to see compared down in the comments.