There’s something a bit counter-revolutionary about high-end gaming machines made by suit-and-tie PC businesses. The idea of Lenovo, makers of the ThinkPad, building a gaming machine worthy of comment feels a little weird, yet the Legion 5 Pro is just that. The Walmart-exclusive model I’m testing costs, pairing AMD’s Ryzen 7 5800H with NVIDIA’s GeForce RTX 3070 graphics. Powerful and affordable? That’s almost revolutionary.
That spec list is about 16GB RAM and a 512GB SSD. Mercifully, both components are user-upgradeable. That piddly drive will barely hold more than a couple of Calls worth of Duty before you reach for an external drive. But these are the intelligent compromises that Lenovo opted for to keep the price down, letting you add more RAM and storage as needed.
- Ryzen 7 and RTX 3070 for $1530
- Quick and great for gaming
- Buckets of I/O
- Gets too hot under heavy load
And then there’s the screen, a 16-inch, 165Hz QHD, X-Rite Pantone-validated IPS display with the new, taller 16:10 aspect ratio. At 500 nits, the panel can hold its own in bright light compared to many of its rivals, and the matte screenof glare. Watching a 4K video on this thing is an enjoyable experience, and I’ve enjoyed working from this device the past or so that I’ve been using it. It certainly makes you want to spend hours staring at gigapixel images of Paris, which I didn’t spend a long time doing this week (cough).
Lenovo wasn’t looking to pull up any trees with this design, which is little more than a refinement of what went before. It’s not as thin or light as its rivals and looks better in a dark room lit only by the glow of an RGB keyboard and the odd Nanoleaf panel. Oh, and the aluminum chassis is rock solid, giving you confidence when you need to take it somewhere. That matte gray paint job, while very business-forward, hides a multitude of palm sweat-based sins but will attract every speck of dust in a three-mile zone. But it’s okay if you’re buying it as a desktop replacement that’ll spend 90 percent of its time plopped on the same desk.
The Legion 5 Pro’s chunky chassis also means you’ll find an excellent supply of I/O around its deck. You get four USB-A (3.2 Gen 1) ports, two USB-C (3.2 Gen 2), HDMI, Ethernet, a 3.5mm headphone/microphone jack, and the proprietary power jack. You’ll also find a hardware camera mute button on the right side, replacing the dedicated hardware shutter from previous versions.
Even after several days of use, using Lenovo’s TrueStrike keyboard remains a. Every time you hit a key, you expect the hard jerk of a mechanical keyboard, only to find a pillowy end and up. The keys have a depth of 1.5mm, but Lenovo uses “soft landing” switches to make each actuation feel a little deeper than that. It’s like filling your shoes with water on a hot day and then stepping into them, it’s beneficial, but your brain is telling you that something’s amiss here.
One thing worthy of comment is that Lenovoof the Legion 5’s bigger deck size to include a numerical keypad. The that the Numpad is full size, but it feels squashed compared to a regular external PC keyboard to my eyes and fingers. The trackpad, meanwhile, is perfectly functional, but the bigger size is welcome, given how tight previous models have been. The RGB backlighting is perhaps appropriately muted but can be set to four lighting zones when required.
I have less to say about the machine’s 720p camera, which is serviceable or valuable in a pinch. Light blooms, everything’s uncomfortably fuzzy, and the overall effect is that of most ’60s TV shows when they’d get the Vaseline-smeared lens for close-ups. Poor webcam aside, Lenovo gets props for offering a dedicated camera disconnect button since there wasn’t room in the space-starved lid for its traditional shutter. If you’re looking to make a living from streaming, or you’re a professional Zoom call haver, buy an external device, please.
|None||PCMark 10||3DMark (TimeSpy Extreme)||Geekbench 5||ATTO (top reads/writes)|
|Lenovo Legion 5 Pro 16 (AMD Ryzen 7 5800H 3.2GHz,3070 8GB, 140Watt TDP)||6,871||4,899||1,411 / 7,416||3.19 GB/s // 2.54 GB/s|
|Strix G15 Advantage Edition (AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX, AMD Radeon RX 6800M)||6,992||5,189||1,457 / 7,691||2.8 GB/s // 1.5 GB/s|
|4 15 (AMD Ryzen 7 “Surface Edition’ 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, Radeon Graphics)||6,620||512||1,048 / 6,551||1.9 GB/s // 985 MB/s|
|MSI GS66 (2021) (Intel Core i7-10870H, 16GB RAM, 1TB SSD, NVIDIA RTX 3080)||5,639||4,538||1,247 / 6,505||3.1 GB/s // 2.9 GB/s|
Benchmarks don’t tell the whole story, but the Legion 5 Pro comes close enough to machines priced a couple hundred bucks more. Whenlike Cyberpunk and Shadow of the Tomb Raider, I got between 50-60fps with appropriately tweaked settings. You’ll lose some of that when you enable ray tracing, but it can handle hard work relatively well. The Legion 5 Pro has three pre-set performance modes which can be set inside the Vantage utility or cycled through when you hit Fn+Q. One neat addition is that the power button will change color depending on your mode: Auto offers a white glow, Quiet a cool blue, and Performance an angry red.
Using a machine like this for general productivity work is like taking an F-150 to buy a cereal box, but it’s more than possible. After all, if all you’re doing is crunching documents, writing term papers, poking at spreadsheets, and using Slack, this has more than enough. When transcoding a 28.2GB UHD H.265 video file to 1080p, Handbrake could crunch through it at over 40 fps, making it sturdy enough for even halfwayeditors. The Legion 5 Pro uses a dual-fan system that pushes out of its chassis through a quartet of exhausts. Two vents at the back complement one on each side, and if you’re not blessed with vast amounts of room, beware. Leave your hand, mouse, gamepad, or drink next to one of those vents for too long, and they will become uncomfortably warm. Playing Cyberpunk and Shadow of the Tomb Raider was kicking out enough heat that I wondered if I could make s’mores.
This problem is exacerbated by the aluminum underside of the chassis, which gets too hot to touch. After a couple of hours of gaming, I picked up the machine to move it somewhere else, and damn. I thought I’d picked up a baking sheet straight out of the oven and nearly dropped the thing through muscle memory. It’s not hot enough to burn you, but it’s not something you want to touch if you value not being in pain. It’s impossible to sugarcoat this machine’s sheer noise when the fans spin up, either. This thing is noisy enough thatto dial your speakers up to drown it out or grab a pair of headphones to claw back some of that immersion. This is an occupational hazard of , but it’s worth noting that this is loud. Another tick in the “not ideal” column is battery life, and despite , it will not last long when divorced from an outlet. Our standard battery rundown until the computer dies, with the brightness set to 65 percent and all battery-saving tech disabled. It lasted while using the integrated Radeon graphics, which is fine in the gritted-teeth sense of the word. Indeed, while you can handle a few emails or some light browsing while sitting on your couch, this is not a device you can take away from a socket for a full working day without fuss.
One of the reasons that the Legion 5 Pro is compelling despite some of its flaws is its price, which is something. If you want a machine from Alienware with similar specs (the romantically-named), it’ll cost you $1,899.99. For that, you’ll get a Ryzen R7 5800H (same as here), RTX 3070 with 8GB RAM (same as here), 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD (same as… you get the idea). Lenovo has managed to undercut several of its competitors here, and there’s no wonder it’s only intermittently on sale right now.
If getting RTX 3070 graphics is a dealbreaker, you could opt for thewith a 15.6-inch FHD display, 10th-generation Intel Core i7-10750H, 16GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. You will, however, have to pay $1,999.99 for the privilege, which may be something of a dealbreaker. ASUS also offers the ROG Strix G15 — an all-AMD version — with an RTX 3070, priced at . If you were looking for a machine in that $1,500-or-so bracket, you could get the $1,599.99 with a Core i7-1165G7 and Intel Iris Xe Graphics. Alternatively, for $1,499.99, packs a Core i7-11375H and NVIDIA’s RTX 3060 GPU, which seems like a pretty good deal. Despite all the chaos that has made up the ’20s, we’re seeing a new dawn of AMD’s high-er-end chips winding up in gaming laptops. This Ryzen 7 5800H can beat (select) Intel chips in several benchmarks, and you can expect to see it crop up in several other machines this . And while wealthier buyers may be tempted by far pricier machines with RTX 3080 graphics, the 3070 here shouldn’t make you feel like a second-class citizen. There are lots to like about this machine, although the snips made to get its price to this level will rankle. The battery life is well below par, the thermals could do with refinement, and the webcam would look retrograde on a machine five years its senior. But, if you’re going to stick this on a desk, keep it constantly plugged into power, and never do more than the odd Zoom, does that matter? Our editorial team, independent of our parent company, selects all products Engadget recommends. Some of our stories include affiliate links. We may earn an affiliate commission if you buy something through one of these links.