Lenovo Legion 5i Gaming Laptop Review – Entry-Level Gaming With Premium Business Looks
How much can you game with an entry-level gaming laptop? By entry-level, we mean a gaming laptop priced from RM4000-RM4500.
On a 2020 laptop, you can do that a lot.
Enter the Lenovo Legion 5i. Think of it as the Legion Y550- the successor from last year’s awesome Legion Y540. This time, it’s geared more for the entry-level price point, and a design shift- it’s an evolution from last year’s Legion Y740.
Lenovo continues to hold true to Legion brand mantra: sleek on the outside, savage on the inside. The Legion 5i has squeezed in even more features to make it look like a premium work laptop, married with just enough gaming features that gamers are looking for. Now starting at a cheaper price.
Here’s the spec of the review unit we used, the Lenovo Legion 5i 15IMH05 (82AU006NMJ):
- CPU: Intel Core i5-10300H
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 4GB GDDR6
- RAM: 8GB DDR4
- Storage: 512GB SSD M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe
- Display: 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) IPS 250nits Anti-glare, 120Hz
- Price: starts at RM4,199
At first glance, it doesn’t look like there’s much change from the Y740. But I have my current daily driver, the 2019 17-inch Y740 here to do some side-by-side comparison.
For one, the branding is a bit more pronounced. The Lenovo logo is now seen at the top of the lid as well as on the keyboard surface. Not only that, but it’s been changed from normal paint to something etched in recessed metal. It’s classy and a bit showier as it reflects light well so people can see the logo. But it’s small, so it’s still subtle. The not-so-subtle Legion logo on the top of the lid thankfully still doesn’t reflect light as much, and there’s no RGB at the back.
The Legion logo just below the monitor bezel, however, now reflects light.
Another slight change is the way air vents are designed. Instead of horizontal lines we now have vertical slits for both the sides and the back.
As you would expect from Lenovo, the chassis feels solid. A bit hefty, but in a good way. It feels that its pricetag is justified.
I’m glad that they made the power button better. The Y740 has it so sunk in deep that you would think it was a factory defect or you must’ve pressed it too hard one time. The button is no longer concave and sits at the same level as the rest of the surface, and pleasant to press on.
The Legion 5i has a redesigned keyboard. Gone are the weird layout of the Y740, and the dedicated record button (which is too easy to accidentally hit). Now you have a more standard layout, with home, delete, page and page down sitting in a row on top of the numpad. The arrow keys are bigger and at an offset.
Also, Lenovo upgraded the keyboard keys for the Legion 5i. The TrueStrike gaming keyboard is a bit more clicky and has less travel time (less mushy). It’s much better than last year’s keyboard. It’s not a mechanical keyboard, still a membrane keyboard and you know by how sometimes it can still feel slightly mushy. But overall, it’s a big improvement. Very useful for those that want to use it for work, or type a lot.
The keyboard surface has this coat of soft-touch texture. It’s something you might expect on a premium ultrabook but here it is. It’s a nice feel, though I worry about wear and tear, how long until the surface rubs off?
The touchpad also got better. No dedicated keys for left and right clicks, but still works well to use, especially when using gestures.
There is now a big angular shape at the top of the bezel that makes opening the lid up easier. On there sits a webcam which, interestingly, has a physical switch to turn it on or off.
The I/O is also a bit of an upgrade. You have one USB port on each side and two USB ports at the back- four instead of the regular three. Here’s the full list of the available ports for this model:
- 4x USB 3.1 ports
- 1x USB 3.1 Type-C port (Display 1.2 support)
- 1 HDMI 2.0
- 3.5mm headphone/mic combo jack
- Security keyhole
- AC power adapter jack
Usually, that’s not much to talk about in the software side. But there’s something bugging us on this one.
There is the Lenovo Vantage app that housed a quick way to update hardware drivers like the BIOS, and some simple monitoring and diagnostic tools. It’s similar to previous models.
The keyboard’s 4-zone RGB is customisable. Though the option is kind of a bit buried under the Vantage app.The RGB isn’t as bright or vibrant for some colours, but the preset colours are decent, albeit a bit muted.
I like that power button colour now shows what power mode the laptop is in- you see it shine red when it’s in performance mode, blasting the fans at full speeds.
There is one issue in regards to software. The review unit we received had an unfortunate bug where the screen flickers from time to time. Reinstalling graphic drivers didn’t work.
The solution was to find the Lenovo support site, and download a BIOS driver from there. After flashing that BIOS driver, the laptop finally behaves properly.
This is speaking from experience of using a recent Lenovo product more than the Legion 5i specifically. But the software drivers Lenovo is providing have been iffy. Using the Vantage app to update to the latest drivers adds weird issues. And it’s hard to roll back to a previous driver, which is disappointing.
Something needs to change in that Lenovo Vantage app. At the very least, why not have the app link to the support page and make it easier to roll back to a previous driver should an issue arise.
Thankfully, that’s the worst that it can get. The Legion 5i, despite its looks, is still a gaming laptop. And good news: it’s very good at running games.
Our usual collection of benchmark games run pretty well on the Legion 5i. With some surprise performances. Playing the latest games on medium settings, or high at 30fps is plausible on this entry-level machine.
Red Dead Redemption II stays a steady 40fps on balanced settings, but can be tweaked to play at 60fps while texture settings maintain on ultra. Forza Horizon 4 nails the 60fps mark on high settings across the board, and could actually do more. The Division 2 could only float on the high 40s on high settings, however, but should be playable at 60 on medium settings.
Similar to the last laptop we reviewed, the differences in gaming performance of the 10th-gen Intel Core to the last one is marginal. Though you’ll get more out of it on productivity tools, or content creation like video rendering.
Interestingly, the lower-end Nvidia GTX 1650 is pretty maxed out when used with this spec combo. So it doesn’t feel like it’s bottlenecked or underused by the lack of RAM. But as usual, you might need to consider another 1TB of hard disk or another stick of 8GB RAM upgrade to comfortably install and run more games. 512GB storage and 8GB RAM seems sufficient for now… but for how long?
Thanks to the improved cooling Lenovo added for this year (and also the relatively low specs for this model), the Legion 5i has no thermal issues that we can see and feel. The cooling does its job, surface temperatures are perfectly fine, with noticeable heat on the numpad side of the keyboard. Less so on the WASD keys.
In fact, it’s so cool it’s perfectly comfortable to be gaming on full performance while putting the laptop on the lap. Not that we recommend doing that as it may block ventilation. But the thermal performance is that good.
For battery life, the Legion 5i can run a video playback of 720p fullscreen for around3 hours and 40 minutes. Not AMD Ryzen levels of battery life, but definitely better than usual Intel Core offerings. This one has Nvidia Advanced Optimus, which helped it squeak a bit more juice and last a bit longer.
Value And Price
The review unit spec is the lowest spec you can get in stock, with the lowest price starting at RM4,199. It’s pretty much entry-level for a gaming laptop.
As we’ve explained previously, the Legion 5i runs games well. It’s amazing that entry-level gaming PC these days are good enough for new games. But we shall see if these can still handle next-gen games that we shall see cropping up next year.
As always, we recommend that you get extra RAM and storage should you be able to afford it. There are specs sold on Lenovo’s official site that offers more, as well as other retailers. Another 8GB of RAM and another 1TB of HDD should do the job.
For its price, you’re also getting a laptop good enough to for work or study. It’s hard to find a laptop looking this sleek and subtle with all the bells and whistles you’d expect from a business notebook but still strong enough to play video games. But Lenovo is here to fill that niche.
However, there is another cheaper option for the 2020 Legion laptops. Lenovo also has the Legion 5 running on AMD Ryzen instead of Intel Core, and that’s even more cheaper. Ryzen is a good CPU from what we tested of the previous-gen versions, and the new one should still be as beefy for gaming, and presumably has less heat. So if you’re on an even tighter budget, you might want to consider that too.
The Legion 5i continues the Lenovo’s great track record of decent gaming laptops that don’t look like the usual gaming laptops. It’s for those who wanted a gaming laptop but thinks gamer-centric aesthetic is cringe, and/or for those that prefer simple, sleek slates.
For around RM4,000, you can comfortably play the latest video games, and still use it for work and study. The Legion 5i exudes moderation. And who can fault that virtue?
If you’re looking for the best gaming laptop in this price range for all-round normal use, this is the one.
Review unit provided by Lenovo Malaysia