Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Lenovo Legion 5i

Two-minute review 

The Lenovo Legion 5i is a gaming laptop that just gets the job done. We got sent the mid-range model - which comes with a quad-core 10th generation Intel i5 processor, an Nvidia RTX 2060 GPU and a 144Hz, 1080p 15.6-inch screen - and our needs were more than met.

The exact model sent to us for review only appears to be available in the UK and comes in with a price tag of £999.99 ($1,394 / AU$1799) - discounted to £849.99 ($1184 / AU$1529) at the time of writing - and you’re more than getting what you pay for. With an Intel Core i5-10300H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GPU, 8GB of RAM and 1080p display, the only hardware we can find issue with is the measly 256GB SSD storage and the 720p webcam - which needs a lot of light to work well.

Those aside the Legion 5i otherwise excels. The design feels premium and not tacky like some gaming hardware out there - so you could get away with this in an office. There are also plenty of well-positioned ports for all your add ons. An SD card slot would have been nice, but we didn’t find ourselves missing it, as it’s not that important on a gaming laptop.

When it comes to performance, the Legion 5i is great. You might have to sacrifice a few frames to achieve Ultra quality graphics, but that’s to be expected with a gaming laptop at this price. However, headphones will be a boon, as the loud fans can ruin the immersion at times.

If you’re happy to make sacrifices on your quest for a great gaming laptop at a decent price, you won’t find yourself having to make too many with the Lenovo Legion 5i.

Lenovo Legion 5i

(Image credit: Future)
Specs

Here is the Lenovo Legion 5i laptop configuration sent to TechRadar for review:

CPU: 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-10300H (quad-core, 8MB cache, up to 4.5GHz)
Graphics: Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 Laptop GPU (6GB GDDR6 VRAM)
RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2,933MHz)
Screen: 15.6-inch, FHD (1,920 x 1,080) 144Hz display Storage: 256GB M.2 PCIe SSD
Ports: 1 x Thunderbolt 3 (USB Type-C), 4 x USB 3.2, 1 x HDMI 2.0b, headset jack, 1Gb Ethernet LAN
Connectivity: Intel Wi-Fi 6 (802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax), Bluetooth 5.0
Camera: HD webcam (720p)
Weight: 5.1 pounds (2.3kg)
Size: 14.3 x 10.2 x 0.95 inches (36.3 x 25.9 x 2.4cm; W x D x H)

Price and availability 

The Lenovo Legion 5i line of laptops occupies that lower-medium range of gaming options, with decent components at a decent price.

The model we’ve got to test - which seems to be exclusive to the UK - comes with an Intel Core i5-10300H processor, an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 6GB GPU, 8GB of RAM, a 144Hz 1080p 15.6-inch display and 256 GB of SSD. At £999.99 - currently discounted at £849.99 on the official site - this seems like a good price for what you’re getting.

You can also save a little with the cheapest version selling for £849.99 - discounted to £769.99 at the time of writing - that comes with identical specs to our laptop except for an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU instead of the RTX 2060. Alternatively you could splash out £1,299.99 and snag a Legion 5i has an RTX 2060 alongside 16GB of ram, an Intel Core i7-10750H Processor and 512 GB SSD storage.

However, if you’re after a higher-end model, you might want to look around. For that price we’ve seen a few laptops offering better specs, which you cand on our best gaming laptops list.

Unfortunately, if you’re in the US or Australia, the Lenovo website doesn’t offer you the same selection of Legion 5i laptops. In the US, the most similar version to the one we’ve been sent comes with the same RTX 2060 GPU but 16GB RAM, an Intel Core i7-10750H processor as well as 512GB SSD storage and a 1TB hard drive for $1,599.99 (£1,150 / AU$2065).

For those shopping in Australia, you can get a Legion 5i laptop with an RTX 2060, 16GB RAM, an Intel Core i7-10750H processor and 512GB SSD storage for AU$2,849 ($2,210 / £1,580)

Wherever you’re shopping, if you have your heart set on any of the Lenovo Legion 5i laptops you shouldn’t struggle too much to get one. It doesn’t sport a coveted RTX 3000 series GPU that is all the rage among cryptocurrency miners, so you shouldn’t have to fight off any bots to buy these laptops.

Lenovo Legion 5i

(Image credit: Future)

Design 

The Legion 5i is a fairly standard-looking laptop - this isn’t one from the likes of Razer with iconic features and colors - but the finish feels premium and everything is very well laid out. 

The keyboard lights up for those who want a little flair - giving you white and RGB backlight options - but the otherwise more subdued approach means this is a gaming laptop you wouldn’t be embarrassed to take into the office.

Any minimalism doesn’t carry over to the ports though, there are plenty for all your needs and they are well placed around the laptop.

You have a USB-A 3.1 port on the left and right side, as well as two more USB-A 3.1 ports at the back. These will be more than enough for any add-ons you’ll need to get that best gaming experience, such as external mice. 

Lenovo Legion 5i

(Image credit: Future)

At the back you’ll also find a HDMI 2.0 port - perfect for attaching a second monitor - an Ethernet port - to maximize the internet speeds your laptop can achieve - and a USB-C 3.1 port - you won’t be able to charge the laptop with it but you could connect and charge another device.

Not forgetting, there’s a headphone/mic aux port on the left side too if you need to plug in a headset to speak to teammates on your next multiplayer adventure.

We particularly like the back ports, which not only feel like they are in a more practical position, but help the laptop maintain its clean look - and you won’t have to deal with a mass of wires extending from the side.

Lenovo Legion 5i

(Image credit: Future)

With the screen, the 15.6-inch 1080p display looks great, with only thin bezels on the sides and a slightly thicker one along the top edge to house the webcam.

Looking at the overall dimensions, the Legion 5i is 14.3 x 10.2 x 0.95 inches (36.3 x 25.9 x 2.4cm) with a weight of 5.1 lbs (2.3 kg), so it isn’t too cumbersome to take on the go. We were able to carry the Legion 5i with one hand without much effort.

A built-in privacy shutter for the webcam is another good touch. It’s especially great that it has to be toggled manually - adding an extra assurance that no one can spy on us when we don’t want them to.

Lenovo Legion 5i

(Image credit: Future)
Benchmarks

Here’s how the  Lenovo Legion 5i performed in our suite of benchmark tests:

3DMark Night Raid: 27,582; Fire Strike: 13,829; Time Spy: 5,706
Cinebench R20 CPU: 2,160
Geekbench 5 Single-Core: 1,197; Multi-Core: 4,135
PCMark 10 Home: 5,051
PCMark 10 Battery Life: 5 hours 3 minutes
Battery Life (TechRadar movie test): 6 hours 25 minutes Metro Exodus: 115.8 fps; (1080p, Lowest); 50.6 fps (1080p, Highest)
Total War: Three Kingdoms: 85.13 fps; (1080p, Low); 47.08 fps (1080p, Ultra)

Performance 

When it comes to gaming, or doing about anything on the Lenovo Legion 5i, we don’t have many complaints.

For day-to-day use, the Legion 5i was able to keep up with everything we wanted it to. Windows 10 boots up nice and quickly, and that speed is carried over to its programs.

Gaming-wise, this machine held its own even on Ultra settings for some of our favorite titles - like Horizon Zero Dawn and Destiny 2. You might only be getting 1080p gaming, but the Legion 5i does it so well you won’t find yourself longing for 4K often. 

As you can see in the benchmarks, the FPS does drop below 60 at the highest settings but you’re still getting around 50 FPS, and at this price point a little give and take is absolutely fine. You won’t have to drop the settings far either if you’re wanting an FPS boost.

However the Legion 5i doesn’t excel everywhere. The webcam is a let down for sure - the picture is more blurry than we’d like unless you’re in a very bright space- and the 256GB of storage is filled up very quickly.

Lenovo Legion 5i

(Image credit: Future)

We found we could have about three decently-sized games downloaded at once, so unless you like playing only a couple at a time, you’ll want to invest in a model with more storage or look at upgrading its internal hardware yourself.

Fan noise can be a problem too. The cooling system definitely works - we could game late into the evening with the Legion 5i on our laps with no discomfort - but the noise can break the immersion at times. If you aren’t gaming though, the laptop makes next to no noise.

Lenovo Legion 5i

(Image credit: Future)

Battery

The Lenovo Legion 5i also suffers from low battery life. It’s not as bad as some gaming laptops out there, but you will still want to carry your charging cable around with you if you’re on the go.

On our movie test we got just under six and a half hours, and on the PC Mark 10 test - which simulates intensive day-to-day tasks - we got just over 5 hours. These are both fairly disappointing, and we would have liked more out of a device that’s meant to be used when out and about.

However, as this is an affordable gaming laptop with reasonably power-hungry components, this short battery life was to be expected. However, it is always nice to get a little more juice out of your gadgets.

Lenovo Legion 5i

(Image credit: Future)

Buy it if… 

You want a cheaper gaming laptop
At just under a grand, the Lenovo Legion 5i isn’t cheap, but by comparison to other gaming laptops you’ll be saving a fair amount with only a few sacrifices to performance.

You’re okay gaming at 1080p
If lacking 4K isn’t an immediate deal-breaker for you, then the Lenovo Legion 5i will deliver you a great 1080p experience.

You want a premium look
The design of the Lenovo Legion 5i feels and looks top notch. Sure, it’s more minimal than some gaming laptops but we like the cool, premium vibe this laptop gives off.

Don't buy it if...

You like playing lots of games at a time
The inbuilt storage isn’t huge on the Lenovo Legion 5i model we were sent. You’ll either have to keep deleting and downloading games or get one with more storage.

You need a great webcam
The inbuilt webcam on the Lenovo Legion 5i isn’t good unless you’ve in a very bright room, otherwise you’ll have to put up with a fuzzy image.

You want a compromise-free gaming experience
The Lenovo Legion 5i is good, but you’ll have to balance graphics and performance. If you want both, this won’t be for you.

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