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Lenovo Legion 5i laptop review with pros and cons

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Lenovo’s Legion lineup is popular with users in both professional and casual gaming circles. I used the Legion 7i (review) for a considerable part of last year and it had become one of my staple recommendations in the premium category of gaming laptops. Now, Lenovo has sent its less powerful but more affordable Legion 5i laptop. Its pricing of Rs 1,19,990 makes it worth a look for casual gamers to partake while the design is appealing enough to entice users with more conventional requirements. In this review, let’s test how good the Legion 5i’s graphical capabilities are along with other aspects like display quality, general performance, and battery life.

Build, design and display

The Legion 5i’s design remains largely unchanged from the last iterations of the device. A unibody plastic chassis with its navy blue-like colour feels quite smooth. There is very little flex across the keyboard, and the hinge, like so many Legion devices, is placed slightly in front of the laptop’s back edge. There are quite a few ports and vents at the back and on both sides of the laptop, while the power button sits at the top of the keyboard. I wasn’t very impressed with the hinge’s ability to keep the lid from wobbling while typing though. The webcam is placed on the top with a slight indentation and a toggle switch on the right edge of the laptop covers the shutter to alleviate privacy concerns. In terms of thickness, the Legion 5i fits into my backpack without a lot of hassle although the 2.4kgs it weighs could make portability a slight issue. 

Lenovo is quite generous usually with the ports it offers on Legion devices. On the back, the Legion 5i has three USB 3.2 Gen A ports, an HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, and a Thunderbolt 4.0 port. The right side of the device offers yet another USB 3.2 Gen A port, while on the left there is a Headphone/microphone combo jack along with another Thunderbolt 4.0 port. Unfortunately, none of the USB C slots can be used to charge the device. As for wireless connectivity, you have the usual Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1 options.

On the display side of things, I do feel that Lenovo could do with a little brushing up on the features. You get a 120Hz FHD LCD panel measured 15-inch diagonally, but the experience is certainly lacking in terms of colour accuracy. The panel offers a dull look with high contrasts which are not helped by the sub-par viewing angles. The smooth refresh rate does provide a sense of visual relief but the 250nits of peak brightness is just not good enough for outdoor viewing. Textures on several AAA titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Cyberpunk 2077 looked quite washed out which soured the experience a bit. 

Keyboard and trackpad

One thing I can say for certain is that Lenovo simply makes some of the best keyboards on laptops. The Legion 5i takes cues from Lenovo’s business-focused Thinkpad lineup, and offers a full-sized keyboard complete with a numpad and regular-sized arrow keys. The chiclet-style scissor-switch keys on the Legion 5i are very comfortable to type on with good travel and minimal noise while typing. My only gripe is that using a single white backlight instead of an RGB combo diminishes the gamer-vibe that Legion laptops usually go for. The trackpad on the bottom is kind of small for the laptop’s size but I am satisfied with the responsiveness and haptics. Any gamer will naturally use an external mouse so the trackpad’s utility is limited anyways.

Performance and battery

As for the performance of the device, the Intel 11th-gen i7 11800H CPU based on the Tiger Lake architecture is more than sufficient to meet most of your processing needs without a hitch. There’s an AMD version of the laptop for the Legion 5 too, which makes use of the Ryzen 7 5800H. The vents placed on all sides of the chassis give a good thermal advantage to the 5i and I never felt the device getting too hot even under sustained load. My workflow is as basic as it can get with maximum utilisation of Google Chrome and a couple of other apps like Spotify or Microsoft’s Office suite. I did hog down a lot of the 16GB DDR4 RAM, clocked at 3,200MHz, with a dozen Chrome windows open at the same time but the system handled it all like a champ. Even switching between these windows and a heavy-duty game in the background was quite smooth. Benchmarks are a somewhat reliable indicator of a laptop’s performance and on Cinebench R23.2, the Legion 5i got a very good multi-core score of 12,605 which is about the highest I’ve seen on Intel laptops. On Geekbench the score was 8,105 which is again extremely impressive. For general workload, PCMark’s benchmark returned a healthy 5,610 score. I was particularly impressed with the 512GB of NVMe SSD which saw a 6,694MB/s and 4,4410MB/s read and write speeds respectively. 

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On the graphics front, the NVIDIA RTX 3050 is a capable GPU to get by some of the more popular FPS titles with its 95W power draw. Apex Legends and Valorant manage an easy 100fps at high settings. Some of the more graphically-demanding titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider run at a 77fps count at High graphics settings and Ray tracing turned off. Of course, the 4GB VRAM means that ray tracing is unavailable, and if you are looking for that added visual boost, the Legion 5i also offers an RTX 3060 variant for a higher price. With Cyberpunk 2077 and Far Cry 5, the fps count at medium and high settings was about 60-65fps respectively. The fans can rev up quite loudly so I recommend a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones while gaming. I think that the Legion 5i is a powerful machine that can sustain respectably high frame rates, but mainly with less graphically demanding titles. The speaker system on the device is not too shabby either and can be customised using Lenovo’s Vantage app. There are no biometric authentication methods though, which certainly is a bummer.

A gaming laptop isn’t really associated with great battery life and in the case of the Legion 5i, it is doubly true. The laptop boasts of a reasonably large 60Whr battery which Lenovo claims can provide up to 5 hours of continuous usage. In my experience, the number was about 2 hours, 3 if I kept the brightness to 50 percent. It doesn’t help that the only way to charge the Legion 5i is with the massive 230W charging brick that barely fits alongside the laptop in my bag.

Final verdict

The overall usability of the Legion 5i could definitely be made better by improving the display and the battery life. For the price of Rs 1,19,990 however, the Legion 5i looks a fairly good deal in terms of the raw performance output you can get along with decent graphical capabilities. The keyboard experience on the device meets Lenovo’s standards of excellent typing and the speakers are actually quite good for watching movies and listening to songs without bothering about headphones. Worth a look, especially for casual gaming.

Editor’s rating: 3.5 / 5

Pros

  • Excellent thermals
  • Great performance
  • Loads of connectivity options

Cons

  • Display quality could be improved
  • Hinge not sturdy enough
  • Sub-par battery life

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