Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!

Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!
12 min read
05 January 2021

I’m going to show you how to upgrade the Lenovo Legion 5 gaming laptop, including battery, RAM, storage and WiFi. I’ll also run benchmark tests before and after the upgrades so we can get an idea of what the changes do in games and applications.

Legion 5 specs

Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!These are the specs that my Legion 5 laptop had when I bought it. Unfortunately the processor and graphics cannot be upgraded as these are soldered to the motherboard, the only way to change would be to swap the entire laptop. Pretty much everything else can be upgraded though.

How to open Legion 5

To open it up, simply remove 11 phillips head screws. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!The four screws down the front are shorter than the rest, so keep that in mind when you’re putting it back together at the end. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!Once inside we can see the 60Wh battery down the bottom and 2.5” drive space to the left of that. The WiFi 6 card and included M.2 SSD are found underneath this piece of metal on the right, you need to remove three phillips head screws to take it off, and these are smaller than the screws for opening the laptop so you might need a smaller bit. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!There’s a thermal pad by default for cooling the M.2 drive. The two memory slots are found underneath this square piece of metal.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! There aren’t any screws holding it in, I just use my pry tools to lift up the corner a little, being careful not to damage the motherboard, then lift the rest with my fingers.

Internal hardware layout

Alright so now that we’ve got access to everything, let’s upgrade. With the 60Wh battery that my unit has installed, there’s space towards the left down the front for a 2.5” SATA drive, this could be either a hard drive or SSD. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!This black piece of plastic mount holds the required SATA cable and four screws for drive mounting, so just remove it. The drive tray is held in with four screws, again like the metal plate above the WiFi card and SSD these are smaller. Once the four screws are removed, you can pull out the drive tray.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! The bottom right corner is stuck under the battery, so you also need to lift up the corner of the battery to remove the tray. With the tray removed, insert the 2.5” hard drive or SSD and screw it into the tray, using the four silver screws that were provided in the black piece of plastic. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!Next you need to connect the included SATA cable to the motherboard. It connects here, just below the left fan. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!There’s a little plastic tab which needs to be lifted up in order for the cable to be inserted. The cable has a little blue tab which you can use to hold it and move it. Once the cable is inserted with the pin side face down, push the plastic tab down to lock the cable in place.

Now simply connect the SATA cable to the drive and put the drive tray back in place and screw it in, remembering that to get the bottom right corner in place you’ll need to lift the battery slightly, like we did when removing it.

2.5” SSD/HDD upgrade / removing drive tray

With the 2.5” drive bay in use, it’s not possible to use the second M.2 slot, it’s one or the other. If you want to use the second M.2 slot, just take out the 2.5” drive tray and it’s ready to use.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! Insert the M.2 drive, and screw it in place using one of the smaller screws that was being used to hold in the 2.5” drive tray, as you won’t need that anymore. I’m using the AData XPG SX8200 Pro SSD which they sent over, and this was giving me 3.5gb/s read speed and 3.2gb/s write speed, nice results.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! With the M.2 SSD installed, to get it working in Windows you need to go to computer management, disk management, then initialize the disk and create a new volume, as I’m showing here. You could of course replace the default M.2 SSD with something better, you’ll just either have to clone Windows or do a fresh installation.

80Wh battery upgrade

With the 2.5” drive tray removed, there’s also now more space to upgrade the battery. My Legion 5 came with the smaller 60Wh battery, but you can also either buy it with 80Wh battery, or upgrade this yourself later. The Lenovo website lists the battery part numbers that are compatible with the laptop.

I found it difficult to buy the 80Wh battery as it was out of stock everywhere, I guess a lot of people seem to be doing this upgrade.

Now when I actually bought the battery, the company emailed me first to confirm my laptop model, which I think is pretty good customer service as it prevents me buying something that won’t work. But that said, after I mentioned I had the Lenovo Legion 5, they told me that this battery would not be compatible, so I told them that the Lenovo website said this one should be fine, but they still didn’t agree. In the end I told them to just send it over, because even if it doesn’t work that would still be useful to report, but I’m pleased to report that it’s been working perfectly fine.

To get the smaller battery out, you need to first remove that 2.5” drive tray as shown earlier, then there are three more small phillips head screws holding the battery in. One is hiding under the M.2 SSD that the laptop ships with, so you’ll have to temporarily remove the SSD in order to remove the battery.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! I removed the battery cable from the laptop by using my fingernails on both the left and right side of the cable at the same time and pulling. Putting the new 80Wh battery in is basically the same process in reverse.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! Connect the cable, put the battery in place, then screw the battery in. You’ll need to use some of the screws that were holding the 2.5” drive tray in, then finally don’t forget to put the M.2 SSD back in afterwards.

The cables of the new battery were a little longer than the original battery, I just tried to push them down as much as possible, but it looks like you can also buy a shorter cable option.

These are the battery life differences with the smaller 60Wh battery and the newer larger 80Wh battery. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!As we can see there are some excellent improvements possible with the larger battery, which allows the Legion 5 to become one of the best results I’ve seen from this test, lasting for more than 10 hours in the youtube playback test.

RAM upgrade

Next up we’ll upgrade the RAM. Mine came with two 8 gig sticks for 16 gig in dual channel at DDR4-3200. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!You always want to have two sticks installed for dual channel, as this will give the best performance, one stick will be slower. We could go to two 16 gig sticks for 32 gig in dual channel, but instead I’m going with two 32 gig sticks from AData for 64 gig in total, so probably overkill for most people.

When you’re picking memory for this laptop, ideally just make sure you get two DDR4-3200 sticks the same size. Don’t forget to stick the metal plate back over the memory, just look for the clips it sits into.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! I’ve just retested a few games with the 64 gig of memory installed to see what sort of a performance difference we’re looking at, and in games there’s basically no change, which makes sense, 16 gigabytes is still a good sweet spot for gaming that many titles are still fine with.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! In Adobe Photoshop tested with the Puget Systems benchmark though, we’re looking at an 8% higher score with the 64 gig memory configuration. Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance!Adobe Premiere was also a little better with more memory, though just a 2% higher score this time, so not really a major change, at least in this test.

Wi-Fi upgrade

Next we’re going to upgrade the Wi-Fi card. Now the Legion 5 already comes with Wi-Fi 6 by default, which is pretty good, but Wi-Fi 6e did just come out, and this is a newer version that uses 6GHz for increased bandwidth, but you’re not actually going to get any improvements unless the access point you’re connecting to also supports 6e, so this is kind of a pointless upgrade at the moment but will be more useful in the future.Lenovo Legion 5 Upgrade Guide - Boost Performance! To remove the Wi-Fi card, we need to take off the two antenna cables, but take note of which color goes where, as you need to put them back in the same position with the new card. The cables are fairly easy to pull off with your fingers. Take out the single phillips head screw, then pull the Wi-Fi card out. Insert the new Wi-Fi card, screw it in place and reattach the antenna cables in the same spots as before. If you’re done here, you can screw the metal plate back on.

After this the Wi-Fi card was automatically recognized in Windows, and it connected to my network without issue, you could run a Windows update if in doubt to check for newer drivers, or download the latest from Intel directly, but mine just worked, at least I think, I don’t have a 6e capable access point so can’t test the 6GHz capabilities.

Thermal paste upgrade

I’m not going to cover thermal paste changes here as I’m happy with the stock results, but if you want to do this all you need to do is unplug both of the fans from the motherboard, then unscrew the heatsink, pull it off and clean off the existing paste.

Which upgrades were worth it?

Anyway that’s basically it, we’ve now upgraded the Lenovo legion 5 gaming laptop’s battery, WiFi, RAM and storage, basically pushing this machine to the limits of what it’s capable of. The increased memory didn’t really help in games, but for content creator workloads it was more useful.

Extra SSD space on the other hand is always welcome, especially with how big games are getting. I’d suggest sticking to M.2 slots instead of the 2.5” drive bay, as this also gives you the option to upgrade to the larger battery, which as we saw could greatly improve run time. If you do want bulk space though, you could always install a 2.5” drive SSD or hard drive.

Anyway those are my upgrades for the Lenovo Legion 5 gaming laptop. If you want more information on this machine you can check out my full review over here for all the details. I’ve also tested it in a bunch of different games and compared it with other laptops in this one.

JT 1.6K
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