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  • Cheryl Tan

Lenovo Legion 5i Review: No-Nonsense 17” Gaming Laptop

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Today, we’re taking a look at the bigger brother, the 17-inch variant of the Legion 5i from Lenovo. As usual with all our reviews, I’ve had roughly 2 weeks to play around with it, and in short, the 17-inch Legion 5i is a great no-nonsense laptop that’s great for both creative work and gaming, and I would say has one of the better designs and layout to be a desktop replacement.

For a gaming laptop, it’s really minimalist, all things considered. The entire lid of the display is almost bare, except for a small Lenovo logo at the bottom right corner, and the Legion motif on the opposite corner.

But even the vents at the back, the sides, just the overall design, is really simple and clean looking, which I think Lenovo has drawn some of that inspiration from their business line of laptops. The laptop is made up mostly of plastics, but it doesn’t feel cheap in any way. In fact, it’s sturdy and when using it, it feels great. It’s really well-built.

As mentioned, this is a 17-inch laptop, so you do get a 17.3-inch panel. Lenovo does have a few options, with the basic being a standard 1080p 60Hz panel. But what we have here is the upgraded option, which bumps the refresh rate up to 144Hz.

It’s honestly a great display, with good colour reproduction and viewing angles, making it great for binging on YouTube or gaming, especially with 144Hz. The display can also tilt back almost a full 180, should you want to do so. I do honestly like this display.

But like I mentioned, it is an upgrade option. However more important is that here, in Singapore, there actually isn’t an option to even select it. So, I scoured through Reddit, and found that quite a lot of people in other countries are also facing this weird problem. I do think Lenovo will ‘solve’ this issue in due time, but do take note.

You do have a 720p webcam up top, and I would say, it’s average. Image quality is of expected from 720p, and the microphones are somewhat decent, but it’s certainly not a good webcam in that sense. It simply gets the job done, as simple as that.

Moving down, we have the keyboard.

If you’re familiar with Lenovo, their keyboards have that signature concave design that they’ve been using and improving for years now. If you enjoy typing on a Lenovo keyboard, especially any of their ThinkPads, you’ll definitely like this one. It’s great, tactile, and despite being optimized for typing, it feels great for gaming as well. Being a 17-inch laptop, you do also get a full numpad at the side, full-sized arrow keys, as well as loads of space for your wrist to rest on.

It’s a fantastic keyboard, by all accounts.

The trackpad on the other hand, while it’s great, is kind of small for a 17-inch laptop. If I’m not mistaken, it’s the exact same size as the one on the 15-inch, and on that, I would say it’s fine. On a 17-inch however, it does look awfully small, especially given how much empty space surrounds it. If I have one gripe, it would be this. A bigger trackpad would be appreciated.

We then come to the reason why I feel this makes for a great desktop replacement, the ports, and it’s not just because there’s plenty, but also because of the layout. You do get a couple of standard USB 3.1 ports, one on each side, along with your 3.5mm headphone/mic combo, and for the 17-inch, an SD card reader as well.

But most of the ports are located at the back.

You get RJ45 Ethernet, USB Type-C that’s unfortunately not Thunderbolt 3 but does support DisplayPort, a couple more standard USB 3.1, HDMI and the proprietary power jack.

If you place the laptop at your side, you can have all the cables running from the back and tucked out of sight, be it just on the table or on a laptop stand or cooler. Having ports on the back makes routing of cables easier and cleaner, which is one reason why I do prefer such a layout for desktop replacements.

For specs, the Legion 5i can actually be customized with a wide variety of options, starting from an Intel Core i5 and a GTX 1650, all the way to what we have right here, which is rocking a Core i7-10750H, 16GB of RAM, an RTX 2060, along with a 512GB NVMe SSD and even a 1TB hard disk.

So those are the specs, but before we go into performance, I do have to mention that Lenovo does include 3 power profiles, Quiet, Balanced, and Performance, which you can choose using the Vantage software, but you can also quickly cycle through each using the Function and Q key shortcut. To that end, the LED indicator on the power button also changes depending on the mode, so that’s quite a nice touch.

All the testing was done on Performance mode, so first up, Cinebench R20.

The 6 core 12 thread CPU scored an average of 3000 on the Multi-Core, and 446 on the Single Core. To be honest, this is pretty high for this CPU, and for this laptop, has been one of the better performers thus far.

For DaVinci Resolve, it completed the 10 minute 1080p edit in about 7 and a half minutes, while the 15 minute 4K edit took about 22 minutes.

During those two tests, temperatures were also really well maintained, hovering around the mid-80s for the CPU, and about 73 degrees celsius for the GPU.

Moving on to games, we played a few games, and in general, the laptop performed admirably. You can expect frame rates that make full use of that 144Hz display in CSGO, and you can play triple-A titles like Shadow of the Tomb Raider really comfortably. It was a great gaming experience.

Temperatures, however, are slightly higher compared to doing creative work, with the CPU hitting 90 degrees Celsius and the GPU hovering around 83 degrees Celsius while playing PUBG. One thing to note is that the keyboard deck doesn’t get all that warm, so it was actually pretty comfortable to game for long periods of time.

With that said, if you’re willing to mess around with the profiles and do some undervolting on the CPU and/or the GPU, you’ll probably be able to achieve much better temperatures.

In terms of upgradability, you do get access to your RAM slots, so you can chuck in 64GB if you want to. As for the NVMe drive, which is pretty fast honestly, we doubt you’ll need to change that, along with WiFi 6, and also there’s also space for an HDD, in this case, there’s a 1TB 7200rpm.

Battery life is not the greatest. You can get about 4.5 hours of actual usage on the better battery mode, but then again, I doubt most people would lug a 17-inch laptop everywhere they go. If it’s just being used within the house, that might just be enough.

Overall though, the 17-inch variant of the Legion 5i has been pretty interesting. Personally, I feel that this laptop has actually performed better in creative applications, as compared to gaming, and in that regard, I feel that this might make for a great desktop replacement.

You can prop it up on a laptop stand on your desk, and connect an ultrawide monitor and use it that way. Bundle the cables together, hide it, and you’ll get a really clean workstation setup.

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