Lenovo’s Legion 5 gaming notebooks start from around £800 or $800 with an entry level spec and come in both 15.6” and 17” versions. The model I’m looking at here in Phantom Blue, has a 8 core AMD Ryzen 5800H CPU, an NVidia RTX 3070 graphics card, a 512GB NVMe SSD, 16GB of RAM and a full HD 15.6” IPS screen. Check the link down below for the current price.
It’s a very capable laptop both for gaming but also as a fast everyday computer, particularly useful for video editing. And unlike some gaming laptops it wouldn’t be out of place in an office environment.
You can pay a lot more for a laptop with far less impressive specs, but it’s not all good. I’ll run through its features pointing out its good and bad points, and I’ll test its performance for gaming, video and photo editing and office use to help you decide if this is the right laptop for you.
So let’s take a closer look.
Inside the box you get the laptop itself, a whopping 300W charger and a brief getting started guide. You can download a full user manual from Lenovo’s website.
The left side of the laptop has a cooling vent, a USB-C port and a combo audio jack.
The right side has a switch to turn the webcam on or off, the power light, a standard USB-A port and another vent. The 17” model also has an SD card slot, but that’s missing on this 15.6” version.
Around the back of the laptop next to the cooling vent is a Gigabit ethernet port, another USB-C port, two additional standard USB-A ports, a full size HDMI port, an always-on standard USB-A port, the proprietary charging port and another cooling vent. All these cooling vents expel hot air.
The bottom of the laptop has a large vent for air intake and there’s the stereo speakers.
The standard USB-A ports are all 5Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 1 and the USB-C ports are 10Gbps USB 3.2 Gen 2 ports. The USB-C ports both support USB Power Delivery for charging your tech at up to 15W or 3A at 5V. And both support Displayport 1.4 for connecting up external displays. The rear USB-C port can also be used to charge the laptop, in a limited fashion. I’ll discuss the USB-C ports’ full capabilities shortly.
The laptop lid opens with one hand revealing a full size chiclet style keyboard with a number pad and there’s four zone RGB backlighting.
The trackpad is offset to the left and measures 105mm x 70mm.
The laptop is mostly made of plastic – a mixture of polycarbonate and ABS, but feels quite robust apart from the lid which has a lot of flex towards the hinge.
This doesn’t look much like a gaming laptop, which I personally prefer over the usually overdone styling you often see with laptops like this. If you turn off the RGB lighting, there’s only really the huge power supply and Legion gaming logo that give it away. And perhaps its size.
It’s almost 32mm thick including its four rubber feet and measures 360mm x 260mm. It weighs a pretty hefty 2482g without the AC adapter. But the huge charger weighs 1069g bringing the total weight to over 3.5kg.
After plugging in the AC adapter and starting up the laptop, finishing off the Windows install was pretty quick with its fast NVMe SSD. There wasn’t much junkware to remove – all I uninstalled was the McAffee trial.
There’s a 8mm bezel around the sides and an 11mm bezel at the top that includes the 720p webcam, dual array microphones and webcam activity led.
The bottom bezel with the Legion lego measures 23mm.
The keyboard has just over 1.5mm of travel and is very pleasant to type on. There is a very small amount of flex in its middle, but it’s not noticeable in use. I still slightly prefer my Logitech’s MX Keys keyboard with its more positive key presses, but some might prefer the lighter touch of the Legion’s keyboard. It’s fairly quiet too – you can hear a sound test in the accompanying video.
You can switch between the keyboard hotkeys and the standard function keys with Function Esc, or in the Vantage software that I’ll discuss shortly.
The trackpad is plastic but has a Mylar coating and feels smooth with fairly positive clicks, but it is a little on the small side and I’ve still preferred using a mouse with this laptop.
Display and general performance
The laptop has a 15.6” full HD 1920×1080 IPS non-touch matte screen and can fold back completely flat. The hinges do flex a fair amount as you rotate them but still seem fairly solid.
The resolution might be comparatively low compared to other laptops at this price, but it’s still 144 ppi and at normal viewing distances it looks sharp and the IPS panel allows for good viewing angles, 170° according to Lenovo. This model has a 165Hz refresh rate which should let games run nice and smoothly if the graphics card is up to it, but it also makes scrolling and moving around Windows very slick
Lenovo doesn’t list a response time for this panel, but I did manage to identify the panel used in this laptop and it has a typical response time of 8ms which is on the high side and one disadvantage of a higher refresh rate screen like this. Having said that, I didn’t notice any issues with ghosting. And it supports variable refresh rates via G-SYNC and Freesync.
Using an X-Rite i1Display Pro monitor calibrator, I measured the maximum brightness at over 330 nits, a little higher than its spec’d 300 nits, which is enough for indoor use in most lighting and outdoors if it’s not too sunny.
The screen can display 95% of the sRGB colour space, the spectrum of colours that most devices conform to, from phones to TVs to monitors, and not far off 70% of the Adobe RGB and P3 colour space. It’s a little less than the quoted 100% but still very nice to have on a gaming laptop, particularly if you want to use it for graphics and video work.
I also measured the colour accuracy or Delta E of the screen. Delta E is a metric for understanding how the human eye perceives colour difference with a value of less than 1 being not perceptible to the human eye. And a value between 1 and 2 being barely perceptible. I measured a very impressive average Delta E of 0.48 after calibration. Out of the box without calibration I measured a Delta E of 1.75 which is still very usable.
The brightness was pretty uniform across the screen divided into a 5 by 5 grid, in the final screen uniformity test.
The laptop has a 80Wh battery and charges with the supplied 300W, 20V, 15A AC adapter with its proprietary Lenovo 3 pin slim tip. The laptop supports fast charging and completed a full charge in around an hour, and can bring the charge to 50% in just 30 minutes which is a feature I really like on this laptop, but does come at the expense of a large heavy charger.
In my testing charging the laptop with fast charge or rapid charge as Lenovo call it turned off only used around 120W with the laptop running, compared to more than double that – around 250W with it on.
Gaming with rapid charging turned on pulled the full 300W from the charger, so whilst you could probably get away with a smaller less powerful AC adapter, you’d mostly likely lose some of the fast charging benefits.
The laptop will also charge via the rear USB-C port with a powerful enough USB power delivery charger, if you don’t want to carry the AC adapter. This is a great feature, but it’s rather limited. The user manual states that you’ll need at least a 45W, 20V, 2.25A USB Power Delivery charger to charge the laptop in sleep or powered off state. But even plugging in a mains 65W 20V, 3.25A USB power delivery charger this still wouldn’t charge the laptop when it was running even though the user manual states it should.
I had to step up to a 100W USB power delivery charger to both charge and run the laptop, which worked ok, but you’ll get a warning from Windows about slow charging.
Still it’s still useful being able to top up the battery albeit slowly, when you’re away from home and don’t want to carry the AC adapter. I’ll come back to gaming, but for more demanding games you’ll need the AC adapter for the best performance and anything but the shortest gaming sessions.
Maximum battery life is quoted at 9.2 hours, but there’s no details describing how this is achieved. I ran PCMark 10’s range of battery tests which simulate real life usage scenarios. For the gaming and video battery drain tests I had the screen at maximum brightness – over 330 nits. For the idle test I reduced the screen down to 50% brightness which is quite dim at only 40 nits. And for the other test I had the brightness at 70% which is just over 90 nits.
I had the default Hybrid mode turned on for all the tests, which chooses between the integrated and discrete graphics card as it sees fit to save battery life when the discrete graphics card isn’t required.
For the idle test I used the Function key together with the Q key to set the performance mode to Legion Quiet Mode and made sure “battery saver” was on. For the gaming and video test I had the laptop in Legion Performance mode which I set manually since by default this isn’t allowed in battery mode, and for the other test I left the mode as the default Legion Balanced Mode. The power button lights according to the mode you’re in which is a nice touch – white for balance mode, red for performance mode and blue for quiet mode.
You can see in the Idle test, the laptop lasted just over 7 hours – a fair bit less than the quoted 9 hours. In the Gaming test the laptop achieved 1 hour 16 minutes and in the more typical usage Modern Office test it managed 3 hours 44 minutes. You can also see how it fared in the Applications and Video tests. I also conducted a few real life tests. I ran Forza Horizon 4 in benchmark mode continuously at maximum brightness and got just over 1 hour off the battery. Watching a looping YouTube video at Full HD with brightness set to 70% I got just under 3 hours of usage.
And in general use, browsing the web, watching YouTube videos and writing documents I typically got 4-5 hours of usage. The results are all fairly underwhelming, but not really that surprising. The 165Hz refresh rate of the screen doesn’t help battery life either. I did try using the CRU display utility to force a lower resolution since I couldn’t find any other way of doing this. But in my initial tests even at 60Hz refresh rate I didn’t get much longer battery life.
I tried running the laptop off various portable power stations to extend battery life, but the laptop overloaded the compact Ravpower Power House even with Rapid charge turned off. The Jackery Explorer 240 could power the laptop but again I need to turn Rapid charge off when gaming, otherwise the laptop would exceed the Jackery’s 200W limit. Only the Jackery Explorer 500 I reviewed recently could power the laptop gaming and with Rapid charge enabled, but it’s not a very practical solution at over 6kg!
The Legion 5 is available in a number of configurations and this model comes well spec’d with a 8-core Ryzen 7 5800H, an Nvidia RTX 3070, 16GB RAM and a 512GB NVMe SSD.
The SSD makes it feel very quick in everyday use. Using CrystalDiskMark to test the speed of the drive, I measured 3607MB/s read and 3075MB/s write speed which is very quick.
Windows boots to the login screen in less than 10 seconds and Adobe Premiere loads in 11 seconds.
Running the PCMark 10 benchmark which measures the computer’s overall performance for a range of office and productivity tasks, gave a score of 6723 which compares well against similar machines in the benchmark’s database.
Gaming laptops like this also make very good photo and video editing machines. I ran UL’s Procyon Photo and Video Editing benchmarks which are real life tests using Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Premiere Pro. You can see how the laptop fared.
The USB-C ports, whilst they don’t support Thunderbolt on this laptop variant, are still fast enough to use for video editing.
I attached a 500GB Sandisk Extreme Pro drive and measured a 967MB/s read speed and 833MB/s write speed.
Not quite the spec’d 1050MB/s of the drive but fast enough to edit a complex sequence in Adobe Premiere Pro without dropping frames – even with proxies turned off. The 16GB of RAM really helped here too.
As I mentioned earlier the USB-C ports also support DisplayPort 1.4 and can output upto 5120 x 3200 pixels at 60Hz and worked well connected up to my 35” LG ultrawide. But I also tried it with an interesting option I’ve found for editing videos on the move.
I plugged the tiny Luna Display into one of the USB-C ports and could then use my iPad as a second display wirelessly and it works very well.
If you want me to do a full review of the Luna Display for Windows please let me know in the comments below.
The laptop is pleasantly quiet in general use – you can hardly hear any fan noise. It’s only when you start stressing the machine – gaming or encoding video for example where they really kick in and you’ll definitely hear them. You don’t have any direct control over the fan speeds like on some laptops, but the performance modes I covered earlier can reduce fan noise, at the expense of performance. It may be disappointing if you like to tinker, but it’s very straightforward and quite effective. Encoding a video in Premiere you can quite clearly hear the difference as you switch performance modes – watch the accompanying video to hear fan the fan noise.
The 720p webcam is just about acceptable for video chats, but I’d hoped for better on a laptop at this price. It’s quite grainy even with decent office lighting, and it’s blurred in the corners. The microphone quality is ok. Again you can see the webcam quality and hear the microphone quality in the accompanying video.
The stereo speakers just underneath the front of the laptop, like most laptop speakers, don’t sound great with very little bass. Listen to how the sound in the accompanying video.
You can load the Nahamic app via the Vantage app or directly, to adjust how they sound, but this is only really worthwhile if you have headphones attached. You can check Echo Cancellation is turned on under Microphone if you’re using the built in mic for video calls – it works quite well.
Back in the Vantage software, which you can also access from the function key, lets you configure various laptop settings. I’ve already covered Thermal and Hybrid mode and Rapid Charge. Network Boosts lets you prioritise custom apps, which might be useful gaming. Auto Close lets you automatically close added apps when you’re gaming to free up resources. And Over Drive is meant to make your screen response faster. You can also customise RGB keyboard lighting with three profiles and two brightness levels or you can turn lighting off. There are various lighting effects and you can divide the keyboard into four lighting zones, but the software doesn’t let you configure individual keys so you can’t change just your WASD keys to red for example.
The Vantage software also lets you easily apply any driver and BIOS updates and there’s a nice feature to record up to 10 macros with the number pad keys.
The laptop supports the latest WiFi 6 which can provide speeds up to 2.4Gbps if your router or wireless access points support it. In my tests around the house with Unifi WiFi 5 access points I got a good connection with decent speeds. There’s also the latest Bluetooth 5.1 support.
The Nvidia RTX 3070 has enough power to play almost any current game at the native resolution of the screen and at a decent frame rate.
It got a very respectable 3DMark score of 10031 in the Timespy benchmark. You can see how it compares to other systems in 3DMark’s database and also 3DMark’s prediction of how the laptop will fare in real games.
Fortnite played very smoothly, averaging around 80-100fps with its maximum Epic settings.
Forza Horizon with Ultra graphics settings played at a silky smooth almost 150fps.
The RTX 3070 card supports ray tracing for even more realistic lighting effects. In the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark I turned ray tracing on and also checked DLSS was turned off. DLSS uses AI to increase the frame rate and could affect the score. With Ultra settings the demo looks very impressive with a very playable 69fps.
Finally I played Doom Eternal again with ray tracing on and with its highest graphical settings. The frame rate barely dropped below 100fps.
The fans do get pretty noisy in Performance mode as I discussed earlier, and you really want this mode enabled for gaming. But they do keep the laptop quite cool. I measured the temperature of the laptop with a Flir thermal imaging camera with the laptop under a heavy graphics and processor load for 20 minutes. The surface of the laptop felt slightly warm in places, but nothing over around 40C° and that was only in a few hot spots. The temperature of the hot air from the exhaust fans around the sides and back got up to around 45C° – occasionally up to 50°.
I did find that the frame rate reduced significantly when the laptop wasn’t connected to the supplied mains charger. Even forcing the laptop into Performance mode, I had to reduce graphical settings for smooth gameplay on battery. And connecting the laptop to the 100W USB-PD charger didn’t help. I tried various tricks to force the laptop to run at its full potential on battery, including disabling Hybrid mode, enabling Maximum Performance Power in the Nvidia control panel, and forcing 100% CPU in advanced power management settings. But in the end concluded that you’ll need a mains socket and the AC adapter to use the full capabilities of this laptop.
This Legion 5 already comes with a pretty decent spec, but there are still a lot of upgrade options if you’re comfortable removing the bottom cover.
And Lenovo even lets you download a Hardware Maintenance Manual from their website that describes in detail how to replace everything from the battery, to the LCD screen to the DC-in bracket. Even if you’re not planning to do this yourself, it’s reassuring that Lenovo has made this publicly available. I’ll provide a link down below.
Unplug the AC adapter, turn the laptop upside down and remove the 10 screws from the bottom cover. Note the 4 screws at the front are shorter 4mm screws compared to the other 6 11.5mm screws.
It’s not particularly easy removing the bottom cover, so even if you’ve done this before I’d suggest taking your time. Use a spudger or pick to unclip the base cover from the laptop.
Take particular care around the side vents. You can refer to this illustration in the service manual for the location of the clips which may help.
This laptop already comes with the 80Wh battery, but if yours comes with the smaller 60Wh battery, or if your battery starts losing its capacity it is replaceable if you can get hold of one.
You should really disconnect the battery pack before continuing by pulling the connector plug from both sides with your finger nail.
To get to the NVMe SSD drive, remove the SSD plate which also reveals the replaceable wireless module. This laptop comes with a 512GB NVMe M.2 2280 SSD from Hynix.
You could upgrade this drive, or you could add a second SSD in the empty slot on the other side of the laptop. I’d recommend this option for video editing.
Underneath the memory module shielding, which needs gently prying up with your fingernail or a spudger, sits two 8GB DDR4 3200Mhz memory modules from Samsung. You could upgrade this to a maximum of 32GB, again a nice option to have if you’re using this laptop for video editing.
This laptop also comes with Windows 10, but it supports Windows 11 and the upgrade was painless.
There’s an awful lot to like about the Legion 5, especially with the spec included with this model I’m testing. You’ll have to jump up to the Legion 5 Pro for a higher resolution screen, but I found the full HD panel quite adequate for gaming, video editing and general use in most situations. It’s sharp, with good viewing angles and even before calibration has pretty accurate colours.
And at this resolution the NVidia RTX 3070 is plenty to play even more demanding games, and the 165Hz refresh rate of the screen provided silky smooth gameplay with games like Forza Horizon. The fact that you can enable very graphically demanding ray tracing and still achieve playable frame rates in games like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Doom Eternal is also impressive.
Battery life is always an issue for gaming laptops like this, and even with Hybrid mode enabled and this model coming with the larger 80Wh battery option, battery life was still far from ideal. On top of that, there’s a massive performance hit running on battery which together with the 3.5kg weight of the laptop and charger combined makes this more of a desktop replacement than a truly portable laptop. You can of course still use it out and about without its charger, and it’s very convenient that you can charge it via USB-C power delivery on the go, but you’ll have to accept that you’ll be missing out on the full potential of the laptop.
Apart from a little flex in its lid, the build quality of the laptop is good as are the numerous selection of ports and their capabilities – no less than 6 USB ports, two of those USB-C and both of them supporting data transfer and display output.
Overall, the Legion 5 is a very appealing laptop for its price and would definitely make it on my shortlist if I was after a laptop for gaming, video editing and all-round performance.
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Lenovo Legion 5: https://www.box.co.uk/gaming-laptops | https://amzn.to/2Z7kAqh
Fixit Essentials Electronics Toolkit: https://amzn.to/3jjXqnT (to take apart laptop)
100W USB-C charger: https://amzn.to/3naFFsp
LG 35 monitor: https://amzn.to/3pm3i3Y
Jackery Explorer 500: https://amzn.to/3DUzek3
Jackery Explorer 240: https://amzn.to/3nsqM55
Screen colour calibration device: https://amzn.to/2XucKH3