Lenovo’s Legion lineup of gaming laptops has proven to be a safe bet for most PC gamers over the years. You can always find a Legion model at a reasonable price with decent specifications and solid build quality. Moreover, Lenovo is one of the few brands that keeps updating its offerings with the latest Intel processor upgrades. While the world is moving to the newer and promising 11th gen Intel laptops, we happened to chance upon the 10th Gen based Legion 5i laptop. Also Read - Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i (2020) review: Great for work-from-home computing
Lenovo launched the updated Legion series back in August and the Legion 5i was among the few that got the Intel 10th Gen upgrades. Most of the Legion 5i models can be had for less than Rs 1 lakh, and the particular model I grabbed costs Rs 91,490, complete with an Intel 10th Gen Core i7 processor. That’s quite tempting for an entry-to-midrange gaming laptop, especially given the higher costs of components this year. Also Read - Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i 2020 review: Just right for casual gaming
So, should you spend on the Legion 5i with the 10th Gen processors now, or wait for Lenovo to update the lineup to 11th Gen processors in the next few months? Also Read - HP Pavilion Gaming 16 review: Bigger screen, better performance
Lenovo has not changed the design of the Legion laptops for a long time and that is not necessarily a bad thing. The legion 5i has the same Alienware-inspired clamshell form factor that is very practical for gamers on a daily basis. The 5i retains the same plastic shell and chassis from the previous models, which is good for durability. Unlike Asus’ ROG laptops, the Legion 5i looks understated but has subtle cues to hint at its gaming intentions. Hints such as the Legion logo stamped on the edge and the clear marking for all the ports at the back.
Unlike most modern-day gaming laptops that try to look slim, the Legion 5i is proud of its bulky proportions. This is a thick laptop that proudly flaunts its angular bulges and big vents. Surely, a bigger gaming laptop indicates a nicer cooling system. However, if you love carrying your gaming laptop with you every day, the 2.3Kg weight may not be kind on your shoulders.
Open the lid and you will immediately notice the firm hinge in action, trying to keep the display steady at an angle. Since there’s a 15.6-inch display, there’s enough space to squeeze a full-sized QWERTY keyboard and a fairly spacious trackpad. The Legion 5i seems to have borrowed its keyboard from the ThinkPad laptops, given that they have good feedback and make for a very comfortable typing experience.
When it comes to the connectivity, the Legion 5i has got gamers covered well enough. Around the edge of the laptop, you will find an array of USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 (always on) port, three USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, a USB-C 3.1 (DisplayPort), an HDMI 2.0 port, an RJ45 ethernet port, and a 3.5mm headphone jack. There’s no SD card slot, which is a bummer given that many users are bound to use this laptop for photo or video editing.
The Legion 5i is aimed to be affordable and hence, it compromises in the display section, like most other laptops in this category. My unit came equipped with a 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 display with a refresh rate of 120Hz. Lenovo rates the laptop’s color gamut support at 45 percent, which isn’t the best in the industry. On paper, this display is adequate for most casual gamers.
Since the Dell XPS 15 with is 4K UHD display spoilt my eyes, the Legion 5i’s display came across as dull. However, once I got used to it, the display delivered on the essentials. The brightness levels are fairly decent while the viewing angles are wide. The 120Hz refresh rate helps make smoother visuals. For what this laptop costs, I don’t find many reasons to complain. Moreover, you can upgrade to a better LCD panel with 100 percent sRGB colors.
One useful bit I found here was the webcam shutter that helped me game peacefully without worrying about the privacy woes. The webcam quality is poor though and I wish Lenovo found a way to use a better quality camera, given the WFH needs.
As I said, the Legion 5i is aimed at entry-level/casual gamers and sure enough, the performance is tamed accordingly. The unit I had came with an Intel core i7-10750H CPU with six cores and 12MB cache, which is a very capable chip by all means. This is paired to 8GB DDR4 RAM as well as a combination of a 256GB PCIe SSD storage and 1TB 7200RPM HDD. There’s also an NVIDIA GTX 1650 graphics card with 4GB of VRAM onboard. You get Windows 10 Home as standard on this machine.
This setup is capable to run the most recent gaming titles with ease, although with compromised quality. I fired up Watch Dogs: Legion on the Legion 5i (get the pun?) and it ran well in medium graphics with the resolution toned down to 720p. By well, I mean I was able to get a decent frame rate ranging between 30 fps to 50 fps. Assassin’s Creed Valhalla ran in the same medium graphics at a toned-down 720p resolution to deliver decent frame rates of 30-65 fps. The GTX 1050 graphics card does show its age here.
Codemaster’s F1 2020 ran in Ultra High Settings at the full 1080p resolution with frame rates upwards of 70 fps on an average. I tried Forza Horizon 4 as well and I was able to get high graphics settings with 1080p resolution while maintaining a frame rate of 60 fps. Older games, such as GTA 5 and Red Dead Redemption ran smoother in High settings, although I had to occasionally alter the settings to maintain the higher frame rates.
The Legion 5i’s thermal performance is great. Most of the time, HWInfo showed the laptop maxing out at 90 degrees Celsius while running Valhalla and Legion for over an hour. In fewer instances, I did see a drop in frame rates in sessions extending over 2 hours. Making for passive cooling arrangements (placing a box underneath the laptop) helped the temperatures go down and the performance used to go back to normal.
Audio through the dual speakers rated at 2W of output each is sufficient for most sessions. The quality is flat and there’s a lack of low-end details, similar to most gaming laptops in this price range. I found myself using an external speaker or a headphone to get better experiences.
The keyboard itself is great and offers amazing feedback while typing. I was able to write my daily news stories with minimum errors and mistypes on the Legion 5i. The trackpad is precise and I found it a breeze to get my work done quickly. I think there’s no other manufacturer that does such good keyboards and trackpads as Lenovo. Keep it up Lenovo!
The Legion 5i comes equipped with a 60Wh battery as standard. While Lenovo claims a battery life of up to 6.8 hours, I could only manage to crack it out at five hours at most on average. I used the Legion 5i for all my office work, which included writing on Google Docs, working with 7-8 Chrome tabs at a time, streaming music in the background, and hosting occasional video calls. Do note that I did not use the Battery Saver mode in ordre to attain the above figures. Gaming on battery power alone is decent although there’s a notiocable drop in frame rates. I ran out of battery while playing F1 2020 after just an hour on one occasion.
Verdict: Should you buy the Lenovo Legion 5i?
At a price of Rs 91,490, the Lenovo Legion 5i with the 10th Gen Core i7 processor is a great buy if you are restricted to a budget. The NVIDIA GTX 1650 on my variant isn’t recommended if you want to try out the latest games – you should at least settle for the GTX 1660Ti or higher, if possible. In fact, getting the Legion 5i with a 10th Gen Core i5 processor and a better GTX 1660Ti or higher graphics card won’t be a bad deal, especially if you aren’t willing to compromise on gaming performance. The Legion 7i with the RTX cards are perfect if you cannot compromise on performance at all as a laptop-based gamer.
If you are fixated on the Core i7 processor, then the Legion 5i is good enough as a high-performance laptop. The thermal performance is decent but if you plan to game for long hours, you should look elsewhere, or plan some kind of passive cooling efforts. The 120Hz display will surely appeal to the geeks but I would like Lenovo to offer better quality LCD displays now as standard. The battery life is decent for a gaming laptop and if you want to type documents or write code, you will be happy with the responsive keyboard as well as the trackpad.