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Review: Lenovo Legion 5

by Parm Mann on 24 June 2021, 14:01


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Lenovo's gaming laptops are on a hot streak. We recently deemed the award-winning Legion 5 Pro a stand-out choice at the £1,500 price point, yet if your budget doesn't extend quite that far, you might be wondering whether or not the regular Legion 5 is a worthwhile alternative.

There's certainly more choice in the non-Pro variant, as Lenovo already offers AMD 5000-series processors in the popular 15in format, with 17in models expected to follow in the near future. Drilling into the 15in range reveals that pricing starts at just £1,000 with the laptop outfitted with a Ryzen 7 5800H processor, 8GB of memory and dedicated GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop graphics.

Our review unit is a little more meaty in the specification department and aligns almost perfectly with the comparison Legion 5 Pro. That means the same eight-core AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor, 16GB of dual-channel DDR4-3200 memory and a potent Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU.

Such specs lift pricing to £1,300, but that's still a £200 saving over the Pro, so what sets the two models apart? Dimensions are similar at 363mm x 261mm x 25.8mm and Legion 5 remains a hefty unit at 2.4kg, but overall build quality isn't quite as robust. Everything still feels well-knitted together and the lid opens effortlessly with one hand, but the Pro does exhibit less flex, particularly in the display lid, comprises more metal throughout its construction, and features upgraded hinges that do a better job of minimising unwanted wobble.

On the flip side, there's an argument to be had over which is the better-looking laptop. We're quite keen on the Pro's 'storm grey' paintwork and impressive screen-to-body ratio, yet the Legion 5's 'phantom blue' is attractive in its own right and equally adept at keeping fingerprints at bay. Better yet, we prefer the understated Legion badge on the lid; it's more subtle than the large backlit logo on the Pro, giving the laptop a sleeker, business-like aesthetic.

They're both attractive pieces of kit, but it is in the display department that the Legion 5 and Legion 5 Pro diverge. A key attraction of the latter is a 16in WQXGA Dolby Vision display that is nothing short of excellent. The taller aspect ratio, slim bezels and high brightness make it a thoroughly enjoyable panel deserving of the Pro designation, and in contrast, the Legion 5's 15.6in FHD offering isn't anywhere near as spectacular.

That isn't to say the 1080p IPS panel isn't satisfying, mind you. On the contrary, brightness is decent, out-the-box colour accuracy is excellent, and much like the 16in Pro, there's G-Sync support at up to 165Hz, making it a fine choice for silky, tear-free gaming at the native resolution. Gamers will find plenty to appreciate, however I'm personally a big proponent of taller aspect ratios, and if you're after a laptop for both work and play, the 16in Pro is a worthwhile upgrade for the extra £200.

Outside of the display there are a couple of other subtle tweaks to be aware of. Comparing these specific RTX 3070 models reveals the Pro laptop has double the storage - 1TB vs. 512GB - as well as a 20 per cent larger trackpad, and though both ship with the same Nvidia GPU, maximum TGP is set to 130W for the regular model and 140W for the Pro. Don't expect dramatic shifts in gaming performance, but that little bit of extra headroom is worth knowing about if every last drop is important.

Elsewhere, it's the same package we've come to know and appreciate. That means a TrueStrike keyboard that's arguably the best we've seen on a gaming laptop, acceptable stereo speakers, a basic 720p webcam and comprehensive connectivity. In addition to Wi-Fi 6, there's USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C and a combination audio jack on the laptop's left, plus USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A and a camera shutter switch on the right. Around back is a tidy arrangement of Gigabit Ethernet, USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C with DisplayPort, three more USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, HDMI output and a connector for the large 300W external power supply.

While the Pro has a handful of useful upgrades, our first impression is that the regular Legion 5 still packs a lot of firepower at the £1,300 price point. Let's see if performance is where it ought to be, and whether or not the 1080p display can improve on the Pro's disappointing battery life.