Lenovo has been a prominent player in the gaming laptop arena, with its Legion 5 garnering praise as one of the best gaming laptops in recent years. However, in 2023, Lenovo introduced a new contender into the mix - the Legion Slim 5. While the name suggests a leaner design, does this laptop live up to its predecessor's legacy? In this comprehensive review, we'll delve into the Legion Slim 5's features, performance, and overall value.
Design and Build Quality
The Legion Slim 5 boasts a sleek Storm Grey finish, with a sturdy metal aluminum lid adorned with an anodized finish. However, it's worth noting that the interior and bottom panels are constructed from plastic. The overall build quality is decent, reminiscent of the previous Legion 5. During regular use, it feels solid, but there is some keyboard flex when subjected to significant pressure.
The metal lid is robust, and the hinge provides smooth operation, even when opened quickly. The lid's center protrudes slightly, making it easy to open, and the screen can be tilted all the way back for versatile use. While opening the lid might feel a bit stiffer compared to some laptops, it's a worthwhile trade-off for a more stable screen.
In terms of size, the Legion Slim 5 adheres to the standard dimensions for a 16-inch gaming laptop. However, despite its name, it doesn't exactly qualify as "slim." The lower-spec options are indeed thinner, but the laptop alone still weighs a hefty 5.2 pounds (2.4 kg), which increases to 7.1 pounds (3.2 kg) when the 230-watt charger is included. This weight may feel substantial for its size.
The configuration under review boasts an AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS processor, Nvidia RTX 4060 graphics, 16GB of RAM, and a 16-inch 165Hz display. It's important to note that the Legion Slim 5 is available in various configurations to cater to different needs and budgets.
The keyboard features four zones of RGB backlighting, with an option for an all-white backlight. While all keys and secondary functions are illuminated, the lighting may appear somewhat dim. Customization of these settings is possible through Lenovo's Vantage software. However, unlike most laptops, there are no dedicated shortcut keys for adjusting brightness.
Typing on the keyboard provides a satisfying experience, with a subtle clicky feel. The plastic touchpad functions adequately but feels slightly loose in comparison to similar laptops.
Connectivity and Ports
The Legion Slim 5 offers a variety of ports for connectivity. On the left side, you'll find two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports and a 3.5mm audio combo jack. Unfortunately, there's no mention of USB 4 here. The right side houses an SD card slot and a switch for disconnecting the camera. Most of the ports are located at the back, including two USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.1, and the power input. While port icons above the rear ports aid in cable connection, they lack the illumination seen in higher-tier models.
Lenovo's spec sheet indicates that one of the Type-C ports can be used to charge the laptop with up to 140 watts. However, compatibility issues were noted with a standard 100-watt charger. Both Type-C ports support DisplayPort, and the one closest to the front directly connects to the Nvidia discrete graphics. HDMI also connects to Nvidia graphics and supports high-resolution displays.
Internal Components and Upgradeability
Accessing the internals of the Legion Slim 5 is straightforward, requiring the removal of 10 Phillips head screws. Inside, you'll find the battery at the front, two memory slots above the middle, the primary SSD on the right, and a spare M.2 slot on the left, accompanied by the Wi-Fi 6E card below it. The Wi-Fi performance, while using a MediaTek card, is respectable, on par with Intel's offerings.
The installed 512GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD performs admirably for both read and write operations. However, the SD card slot proved to be disappointingly slow. It's important to note that the SD card does not click in securely and protrudes, so caution is needed to prevent accidental bumps. The upgradeability score is impressive for a laptop of this size. Unlike the slimmer Legion Slim 7, there is no soldered memory, and both M.2 slots accommodate double-sided 4TB SSDs.
Audio and Battery Life
The Legion Slim 5 features speakers located towards the front on the left and right sides. While they produce acceptable sound quality, they tend to muffle at higher volume levels, with minimal bass. There was some initial speaker popping, which subsequently disappeared and could not be replicated.
Battery life is respectable, thanks to the 4-Cell 80Wh battery in this configuration. It lasted an impressive 8 hours and 8 minutes in the YouTube video playback test. AMD Ryzen processors generally excel in battery life, although it was slightly outperformed by the previous Legion 5 with a similar battery size. However, both laptops trail behind Apple's MacBook in terms of endurance.
The Legion Slim 5 employs two fans with shared heatpipes for the CPU and GPU, along with a phase-change thermal compound. Air intake vents are situated directly above the fans, and vents at the back facilitate heat dissipation. The laptop's cooling design helps maintain moderate temperatures during use. Performance mode, which utilizes faster and louder fans, offers slight temperature reductions. The addition of a cooling pad further enhances cooling performance.
One notable feature of the Legion Slim 5 is its 16:10 display, which boasts more vertical pixels, reducing the bottom chin. While this change is appreciated by many, some regions may have limited resolution options. The laptop's 2560 x 1600 resolution screen offers good color vibrancy for gaming but may not meet the demands of content creators. It's rated at 300 nits brightness, though actual performance may vary.
The Legion Slim 5's gaming performance is solid, with an AMD Ryzen processor and Nvidia RTX 4060 graphics. In tests, it performed on par with other laptops sporting the same GPU, with slight variations depending on the game and resolution. It's worth noting that the GPU power of the RTX 4060 appears to be higher than initially advertised, delivering commendable results.
Software and Additional Features
The laptop comes with Lenovo's Vantage software, providing access to performance modes, RGB lighting customization, and more. The Legion Slim 5 also features a MUX switch, allowing users to select between integrated and discrete graphics modes without the need for a reboot. It offers advanced optimus and supports G-Sync when optimus is disabled.
Pricing and Conclusion
Pricing for the Legion Slim 5 varies, so it's advisable to check for current deals and configurations. At the time of this review, the tested configuration retailed for $1530 USD, with occasional discounts offering significant savings.
In conclusion, Lenovo's Legion Slim 5 proves to be a compelling mid-range gaming laptop. Despite some minor drawbacks, it delivers on core gaming features, such as a MUX switch, advanced optimus, and G
-Sync, at a more budget-friendly price compared to its higher-tier sibling, the Slim 7. It's an excellent choice for gamers who prioritize performance and value.
The Legion Slim 5 might not live up to its "Slim" moniker, but it certainly lives up to its legacy of delivering a robust gaming experience. As with any tech purchase, be sure to keep an eye on sales and deals, as they can significantly impact the overall value proposition of this gaming laptop.