A Handheld Gaming PC with ‘Joy-Con’ Controller | Lenovo Legion Go Review
Updated: Dec 18, 2023
If you are looking for a handheld gaming PC that combines the best features of the Steam Deck and the ROG Ally, look no further than the Lenovo Legion Go. It boasts a larger and superior display than the Steam Deck and the ROG Ally, with a remarkable QHD+ resolution and 144Hz refresh rate, impressive gaming performance, and a standout feature that I personally love: detachable controllers.
Let's dive into the hardware specifications of the Legion Go. It features an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor, paired with RDNA graphics, and supported by 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM, which is pretty similar to the ROG Ally.
The Legion Go allows configurations with up to 1TB of SSD storage. However, if you choose a more budget-friendly model initially but plan to upgrade later, there's good news – the storage is upgradeable. But, Lenovo uses a distinct size for its SSDs, opting for the M.2 2242 form factor, unlike the M.2 2230 of the Steam Deck’s SSD. So do make sure to choose a compatible SSD drive that fits inside the Legion Go.
Design & Ergonomics:
On the top, you'll find the volume control, USB-C port, microSD port, 3.5mm audio jack, and the power button. Meanwhile, at the bottom, there's another USB-C port. I appreciate the thoughtful design, especially the two convenient placements for the USB-C ports, allowing for a more comfortable charging experience. Moreover, there's a built-in kickstand on the back, enabling you to place Legion Go on any surface to create a mini TV-like experience without the need to hold it during play.
Despite opting for a plastic construction to enhance portability, the device still feels surprisingly heavy at 854g. The weight is definitely noticeable when holding the device with the controllers attached. I tried playing the console this way, but after just 15 minutes, my hands started to feel tired.
The Legion Go features an impressive 8.8-inch 2560 x 1600 QHD+ LCD panel, boasting a peak brightness of 500 nits and a swift 144Hz refresh rate. Its wide 16:10 aspect ratio ensures an expansive viewport, and the added 10-point multi-touch support enhances the overall experience. I have to say, the screen on this handheld gaming PC exceeded my expectations. The contrast is good and the colours are vibrant right out of the box. No further adjustments needed.
I was also particularly impressed by the Legion Go’s detachable controller design. With a simple button press on the back, you can easily disconnect the controllers and use them wirelessly. However, I couldn't help but wonder if they can provide a controller holder, similar to what comes bundled with the Nintendo Switch, which I think is a fantastic addition.
The controllers come equipped with precision hall-effect joysticks, multi-functional trigger locks, and a generously sized touchpad that provides haptic feedback. The joysticks are incredibly smooth and comfortable to use, and the tactile feedback when pressing down the keys is quite satisfying. Furthermore, the device features six additional mappable grip buttons and well-designed triggers, contributing to an ergonomic layout that ensured hours of comfortable gameplay during my testing.
When it comes to gaming performance, the Legion Go is simply amazing. I’ve been using it for around one week now, and I have been enjoying it.
To test its FPS capabilities, we pushed all graphics settings to the lowest, activated performance mode for both thermal and OS power, and engaged full fan speed. Alternatively, you can optimise for longer battery life by switching to balanced mode for thermal and OS power, and turning off full fan speed. This trade-off allows the device to last longer, though at the expense of lower frame rates.
lowest graphics settings, thermal & OS power - PERFORMANCE mode, full fan speed ON
Forza Horizon 5
lowest graphics settings, thermal & OS power - BALANCED mode, full fan speed OFF
Forza Horizon 5
For those prioritising high FPS over graphics, I suggest sticking to 1280x800 resolution. While visuals remain acceptable here, the significant boost in FPS enhances the overall gaming experience, making games more enjoyable to play.
CPU Single-Core Score
CPU Multi-Core Score
GPU OpenCL Score
The Legion Go offers a unique game mode that sets it apart from the previously mentioned handheld consoles – an first-person shooter mode. Activating the mode from the bottom of the right controller transforms it into a mouse when docked in a magnetic circle, allowing you to enhance aiming accuracy in first-person-shooters, while streamlining regular cursor movements.
The Legion Go is equipped with 2x2W speakers and a Dual-array near-field microphone. During our speaker performance test with music playback, we observed that the sound profile appeared somewhat flat, lacking distinct bass and treble. The audio quality was not optimal, sounding a bit muffled and unclear. Additionally, the maximum volume did not reach high levels. Don't expect too much from this device when used for music or video playback. For gaming, however, the audio is fine.
Software & Connectivity:
Legion Space is like your one-stop gaming command centre, making it easy to launch your favourite titles from platforms like Steam, Epic, and Xbox.
For connectivity, It comes with Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. It also includes a 65W USB-C charger out of the box.
Here's the cool part – it supports dock mode. So, if you feel like gaming on a bigger screen, just connect it to your monitor, and the handheld turns into a mini PC.
With default settings, meaning the full fan speed was off, and all power settings were in balanced mode, the Legion Go managed to last around 2 hours. This falls within the average range when compared to other handheld PCs but could be improved, in my opinion.
In a specific test with Cyberpunk 2077, where the fan speed was at maximum, thermal and OS power modes were set to performance, the battery dropped from 85% to 10% after approximately 1 hour and 8 minutes. Playing Forza Horizon 5 with the exact same setting resulted in a 50% battery drain after 1 hour.
On the flip side, the controllers performed decently well, using only 10% of battery after 1 hour of gaming.
Pricing and Conclusion:
With a price tag of 700 USD for the 512GB version and 750 USD for the 1TB version, the Lenovo Legion Go positions itself on the premium side in comparison to other handheld gaming PCs. Despite the higher cost, the device comes packed with numerous nifty features compared to previous generations of handheld PCs. The question remains: does it live up to the hype? If weight is not a significant concern for you, it could be your best option in the market right now.