Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?

Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?
18 min read
14 August 2020

The Lenovo Legion 7i is an interesting gaming laptop, let’s find out why and see if it lives up to the hype in this detailed review. I’ve got one of the higher tier configuration options, but it is available with quite a few different specs.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The 7i has an all metal build with slate gray finish.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?Overall build quality felt nice, I’d say it’s above average, and there were no sharp corners or edges. The 7i is listed at 2.1kg, though my configuration was closer to 2.3kg, and with the 230w power brick and cables for charging we’re looking at 3.1kg or 6.9lb.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The size is fairly standard for a 15” gaming laptop, it’s not too thick given the specs inside. I found the bezels just 7.5mm thin on the sides, though the bottom chin is larger. The 15.6” 1080p screen is available in a few different options, I’ve got the middle one here, 144Hz with 500 nit screen.

Mine has G-Sync, but this isn’t available with all models so you’ll need to double check the specs. Advanced optimus also wasn’t available with my panel, Stephen from Ownordisown noted that this feature is only available with the lowest 300 nit panel option.

I measured the screens average grey-to-grey response time at 7.6ms.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?When we look at how this compares against others, it’s closer to the middle of the pack, so not super impressive but not as bad as some others.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The Lenovo Vantage software has an option for enabling overdrive, but I didn’t find this to change the screen response time so not sure if it’s a bug or maybe it only works with certain panels.

I’ve tested the screen with the Spyder 5, and got 100% of sRGB, 96% of NTSC, 100% of AdobeRGB and 90% of DCI-P3. At 100% brightness I measured the panel at 475 nits in the center with an 970:1 contrast ratio, so very good results for a gaming laptop.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?Backlight bleed was fairly minor, I wasn’t able to notice the glow spots when viewing darker content, but this will vary between laptops and panels.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?There was some movement when intentionally flexing the screen, but it felt quite solid due to the metal exterior. While doing this I noticed the machine would slide a bit on the desk, the feet underneath were hard and less grippy so it’s not that difficult to move it around with little effort.

The hinges are found out towards the far corners, and these allow the screen to open right back by 180 degrees. There was some keyboard flex when pushing down hard, but it mostly felt sturdy, again due to the metal build. Despite the screen bezels being quite thin, the 720p camera is above the screen in the center and it has a physically sliding privacy filter, no Windows hello support though.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The keyboard has bright RGB backlighting which illuminates all keys and secondary key functions.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?It’s controlled through the included Corsair iCUE software, and there are a number of effects and customizations that can be made.

There’s also RGB lighting that runs along the left, front, and right sides. It gives a subtle underglow effect and isn’t as obvious as say the ASUS Scar III.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?There’s more lighting from the air vents on the back, and there’s also the O in the Legion logo on the lid. All of these separate spots can be controlled together or independently through the iCUE software. Although you can customize it or turn it all off, it still spews RGB during boot until the software loads, I didn’t find a way of stopping this, and I only mention it because I had a few comments saying it was annoying. I suppose the fix would be to implement control through the BIOS instead of software.

Back to the keyboard though, I appreciate that the arrow keys aren’t small and were moved down. Sometimes the backspace key felt a little small but other than that no issues to note. It’s got 1.3mm of key travel.

There are 3 levels of key brightness which can be controlled through software, or with the function plus up and down arrow keys. You can also quickly cycle between three different effects by pressing function and the space bar, there are far more options in software though.

The power button is above the keyboard in the center and is surrounded by what appears to be small ventilation holes.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The light of the power button changes based on the performance mode that it’s currently in, so you can quickly visually tell, a nice touch.

The precision touchpad clicks down anywhere, feels nice to use and works well. Fingerprints were difficult to see on the matte finish, and as it’s smooth they’re easy to clean with a microfiber cloth.

On the left from the back there's an air exhaust vent, Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port with DisplayPort support, followed by USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C port with DisplayPort 1.4 and 3.5mm audio combo jack.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?On the right there's just a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port and an air exhaust on this side too.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The back has RGB lit air exhausts, then from left to right a HDMI 2.0 output, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, gigabit ethernet, second USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, the power input, and Kensington lock slot.

As with many other Lenovo laptops, there are illuminated icons above the ports on the back so you can easily see where to plug the cables in when in front of the machine, no need to turn it around or look over.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The front just has a small lip in the middle that sticks out so you can easily open it with your finger. Given we can disable optimus, all external display outputs are connected to the Nvidia graphics.

Underneath there are air vents towards the back section above the intake fans.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?You need to remove 10 Phillips head screws to get inside, and the 4 down the front are smaller than the rest.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?Inside we’ve got the battery down the bottom, two M.2 slots above that on the left and right, WiFi 6 on the left above the storage slot, and two memory slots in the middle with a vapor chamber cooler up the back. Not all models have the vapor chamber cooler though, it’s not really specified but I think the 6 core CPU or 2060 GPU and below options have standard heatpipes.

The two 2 watt speakers are found down the front on the left and right sides, they sounded alright, a solid average for a gaming laptop with a little bass and remained clear enough at higher levels, though there was a little vibration in the palm rest at maximum volume. The latencymon results were looking good.

The 7i is powered by a 4-Cell 80Wh battery, and there’s a serious battery issue to be aware of. By default while just sitting there idle doing nothing, it was drawing about 50 watts from the wall in optimus mode with the RGB lighting off. After some investigation, I found this high power draw was due to the Corsair iCUE software. If I closed the software, the high power draw didn’t change. If I killed the processes in task manager the power draw would dip to 10 to 20 watts from the wall, but it would rise back up shortly after as the processes would start back up. In the end I uninstalled the software to do my testing, but later found you can just disable the “Corsair Service” which has the same effect, and you can even still control the lighting with iCUE.

I’ve tested with the screen brightness at 50%, background apps disabled and all lighting off.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?I was getting almost 5 hours more battery life in optimus mode just by ensuring the corsair software wasn’t running. Even running with the higher power Nvidia graphics only was doing better than optimus with iCUE.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?Given iCUE is installed and running by default, I think this is a pretty poor out of box experience, but as it’s software related in theory they could improve it in future updates. 

Let’s check out thermals next. I’ve updated the results from my previous thermal testing video to include undervolting, as this can be enabled by accessing the advanced BIOS. There are plenty of extra options for tuning power limits and more.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The Lenovo Vantage software lets you select between different performance modes, which from lowest to highest are quiet, balanced and performance. Unfortunately it’s not possible to change fan speed manually, it’s controlled automatically in these three modes. You can also swap between these by pressing function and Q, either changes the power button light to reflect. Although the RTX 2070 is Max-Q, it’s using Nvidia’s new Dynamic Boost, which means the power limit can boost higher depending on if there is power available. I saw a 105 watt average in a GPU only stress test, but it will be less with the CPU active.

Thermals were tested with a 21 degree Celsius ambient room temperature.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?Idle results are down the bottom, worst case stress tests with the Aida64 CPU stress test with CPU only checked and Heaven GPU benchmark, followed by gaming tests done with Watch Dogs 2. The CPU was thermal throttling any time it’s listed at 94 degrees Celsius, so this was still happening in most cases even with a cooling pad and undervolting.

These are the clock speeds for the same tests.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?Not too much difference to the GPU speeds, while CPU speeds would vary more. As thermals are the limit we see a boost from undervolting or using a cooling pad, best case I was at 4.0GHz over all 8 cores, but I’d expect the lower 6 core i7 to hit higher speeds due to having fewer cores.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The GPU power level would vary a bit due to max-q dynamic boost, while the CPU power level would just raise up as we improve thermals, as the 94 degree default cap was being hit in my testing.

Here’s how a game actually performs with the different modes in useLenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? so we could get more than a 5% boost with all tweaks applied, and due to the high GPU power limits observed in quiet mode, it’s possible to get decent gaming performance with quieter fans.

Here’s how a CPU only workload performs with the different modes in useLenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? so the undervolt was just able to boost us above 4000 points.

When we look at how this compares against other laptopsLenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? well it’s the second lowest result I’ve recorded for an 8 core processor so far, so not too impressive.

As for the external temperatures where you’ll actually be putting your hands, at idle in quiet mode it was in the low 30s, pretty standard.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? With the stress tests running it gets to the mid 40s in the center, wasd was still cool though.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? Stepping up to balanced mode and the middle is now just a little warmer.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? In performance mode it’s similar but just a little cooler, and this is due to the fans getting louder. Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?At idle the fans were just audible. With the stress tests running in quiet mode, it’s not too loud when compared to other gaming laptops. Balanced mode was a little louder, then the highest performance mode increased the fans more, putting total system noise close to most others I test in their maximum performance mode.

Now let’s check out how well this configuration of 7i performs in games and compare it with some other laptops. I’ve tested with performance mode enabled and optimus disabled for best results.

In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the 7i highlighted in red.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? It’s giving a great result for a 2070 Max-Q, most likely due to that higher power limit, and of course we’re also seeing a boost from the ability to disable optimus too.

These are the results from Far Cry 5 with ultra settings in the built in benchmark. Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?The 7i is a bit higher in the stack now, which makes sense as this test is more dependent on processor power, and there’s an 8 core 16 thread chip here.

Shadow of the Tomb Raider was also tested with the games benchmark toolLenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? and the results were quite decent here too, with the 2070 Max-Q giving good results and hanging in there with higher tier options.

I’ve also tested the 7i in 20 different games at all setting levels, you can check it out for more benchmarks.

For the benchmarking tools, I’ve tested Heaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy and Port Royal from 3DMark.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? I’ve used Adobe Premiere to export video at 4K, and the 7i was giving one of the better results out of the machines I’ve tested, completing the task in just under 10 minutes. Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?I’ve also tested Premiere but with the Puget systems benchmark which also accounts for things like live playback rather than just export times.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? The 7i was still doing quite well, though is beaten by cheaper Ryzen based laptops here. Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?In the Adobe Photoshop test it’s ranked in the same position, and then in the more GPU heavy DaVinci Resolve test it’s doing even better now.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? I’ve also tested SPECviewperf which tests out various professional 3D workloads.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? I’ve used the OpenVR benchmark to test the HTC Vive Cosmos Elite, and the 7i was doing quite wellLenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? only those two machines at the bottom struggle with games like half life alyx, so no issues playing VR with these specs.

I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the 512gb NVMe M.2 SSDLenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype? and the results were quite good, but this may vary between regions if different drive models are used.

In the US the 7i seems to start for above $1500 USD for the i5 and 1660 Ti configuration, so pretty expensive for that level of specs given we can get the same combination for $900 or so elsewhere. You’re really paying more for the extras like metal build, bigger battery, better screen, G-Sync, thunderbolt and more.Lenovo Legion 7i Review - Worth The Hype?

The configuration I’ve tested isn’t listed here, but after customizing one to a similar spec we’re looking at around $2200 USD. Meanwhile here in Australia the higher spec I’ve tested with we’re looking at over $4000 AUD.

Alright with everything tested let’s conclude by summarising the good and bad aspects of the Lenovo 7i gaming laptop to help you decide if it’s worthwhile. The vapor chamber cooler didn’t seem that impressive, granted I do have a higher specced 7i here, but still fact is I’ve had other machines that outperform it under heavy load.

That said though, the 7i was still doing quite nicely in games, and this would be due to the combination of Nvidia’s new Max-Q dynamic boost, DDR4-3200 memory, and option of disabling optimus. Further tweaks such as undervolting can be enabled through the advanced BIOS, and this is something many others don’t offer, even if it isn’t exactly intuitive to access.

Battery life was quite good for a gaming laptop once you stop the Corsair service from running, hopefully they update this in the future, as it’s honestly a suboptimal configuration if battery life suffers out of the box by default.

There’s some confusion as the 7i is available with so many configurations, for instance only the higher end options have the vapor chamber, and not all panels offer G-Sync or advanced optimus, so you’ve really got to pay attention to the specs you’re buying to make sure you’re going to get what’s expected, and even then in many cases their site isn’t clear. Don’t get me wrong, I love having options, I just don’t think these things are that clear when ordering.

The screen in particular is quite impressive and would work well for someone that is a content creator and gamer, as it’s got excellent colour gamut and brightness, but also good refresh rate options with G-Sync and ok enough response time. There’s plenty of RGB, but that’s obviously going to be a subjective thing, but there is a fair bit of customization available.

Overall the 7i is quite a nice machine, the key issues were lower CPU performance due to thermal throttling when the GPU is active, but gaming performance was still good, and the battery issue is easy enough to fix by manually stopping the Corsair service, but I hope Lenovo continue to improve the device and fix whatever is causing the battery to drain. Let me know what you thought about the Lenovo Legion 7i gaming laptop down in the comments.

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JT 1.5K
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