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Thursday, May 6, 2021

A gaming laptop that nails the basics

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Lenovo’s Legion lineup of gaming laptops has some of the most impressive mobile gaming stations on offer in the market. While the high-end Legion 7i with the Core i7 as well as an NVIDIA RTX GPU we tried earlier was great in every way, there are cheaper versions (comparatively) with similar good build quality and decent performance for casual gamers and budding content creators. One of those is the Legion 5 AMD that Lenovo introduced a few weeks ago. Also Read – Today’s Tech News: Lenovo Tab P11 Pro launched in India, Samsung Galaxy F62 specs confirmed

The Legion 5 AMD makes it obvious of its reliance on the newer AMD Ryzen 4000 series mobile chips instead of the faster-than-lighting evolving Intel processors. On paper, there isn’t compromise on performance and the starting price of Rs 73,490 makes the entire package look reasonable. Also Read – Top five basic laptops for students and casual users under Rs 45,000

Is the Lenovo Legion 5 AMD then worth it? To find out, I picked up a middle variant decked up with a 3GHz Ryzen 5 4600H processor, an NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti GPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD + 1TB HDD storage, and a 15.6-inch 120Hz 1080p display. This model is currently selling on Lenovo’s website at a price of Rs 86,990. Also Read – Top 5 affordable laptops for basic video editing/casual gaming

Design

If you have followed Lenovo’s laptops for a while, the Legion 5 AMD doesn’t look any different from the previous entry-level Legion models. This recycled design still looks unmistakably like a gaming laptop, especially with its chubby deck extending beyond the hinges. Similar to the Legion 7i, Lenovo has stuffed most of the ports as well as heat vents here.

The I/O port collection in itself is impressive by all means. There are a total of four USB 3.1 Gen ports, a USB 3.1 Type C port, an HDMI port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, and one headphone/mic jack. Two of the USB-A ports are located on the rear while the other two are situated on either sides of the deck.

The deck itself is well laid out with a full-sized QWERTY keyboard and a dedicated Numpad, accompanied by a decently sized trackpad. Lenovo’s famous matte coating, termed as “durable anti-smudge polymer talcum-injected materials,” imparts a stealthy look but it attracts smudges as well as dirt easily. I found myself wiping the Legion 5 AMD frequently to keep the laptop clean. Same is the case for the lid, which is difficult to keep smudge-free.

Lenovo Legion 5 AMD

Lenovo’s TrueStrike keyboard returns and is as good as the previous Legion models have offered so far. The keys have travel of 1.5mm that makes for a satisfying typing experience. The feedback is good and the wider-spaced keys make for reduced key ghosting. I particularly like the enlarged arrow keys that help with the controls while gaming. My variant comes with the white backlighting and I wish Lenovo offered RGB backlighting as standard on all variants, given that this is meant for gamers and creators. The trackpad itself is responsive and works well with the Windows 10 multi-finger gestures.

I can’t seem to figure out what the Legion 5 is made out of but its well-designed; the build quality is impressive for a sub-Rs 1 lakh laptop. Lenovo’s understated design is dull for a gaming laptop and I wish Lenovo had gone for some ravishing RGB light shows. The overall weight of 2.3 kilos is certainly noticeable in the backpack and when you factor the heavy 170W charging adapter, you will need to pack lightly.

Display

Lenovo Legion 5 AMD

The Legion 5 AMD makes use of a 1920 x 1080 resolution IPS display with a refresh rate of 120Hz as standard. This isn’t the best kind of display Lenovo offers on the Legion lineup but it is for sure a “doable” display; doable in the sense that it is good enough for most purposes. It isn’t the most colour-accurate panel but unless you are comparing it to a MacBook Air’s display, there isn’t much to point at. I did most of my office work as well as my gaming sessions on the Legion 5 and never did feel something missing. 250 nits of brightness is adequate for indoor usage while the viewing angles are wide. The anti-glare coating gathers smudges easily and seeks a lot of maintenance.

The slim bezels help with the immersion. The webcam is just about enough for video calls but Lenovo could have used a better quality sensor on this one. The Privacy Shutter is a nice touch though and offers an extra peace of mind, especially if your work revolves around the online space.

Performance

The Ryzen 5 4600H is a highly capable processor for gaming as well as content creators. In the Legion 5 AMD, it does exactly as advertised. Daily computing tasks such as web browsing, dealing with word processors, basic Photoshop stuff, and surfing on Steam is a no-brainer for the Ryzen 5 chip. Sadly, I didn’t have access to synthetic benchmarks to get some scores but whatever I threw at Legion 5, it took all of it with ease.

Lenovo Legion 5 AMD

Gaming is, however, the primary duty the Legion 5 AMD was born to perform, and it does so in a great fashion. Helping the Ryzen 5 chip is the NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti graphics card with 4GB of onboard memory. This is an entry-level graphics card for casual gaming as well as basic video and photo editing purposes. I don’t practice video editing but gaming is my favorite pastime activity and the Legion 5 AMD does not disappoint.

I dished out Codemaster’s Formula 1 2020 at the Legion 5 and it gave me some memorable virtual track day moments. Hurtling down Silverstone in Charles LeClerc Ferrari chasing Vettel and Hamilton for a 50 percent Grand Prix race was a pleasant experience. To keep the frame rates above 60, I had to tone down display resolution as well as dial the graphics to Medium-High. The weird AMD driver issues for Codemasters games crept up again – F1 2020 kept crashing occasionally for no reason. A later update fixed it up to an extent.

Lenovo Legion 5 AMD

Once I got bored of F1 2020, I fired up Assasins Creed Valhalla and that had to be set at 720p resolution with Low-Medium graphics. Forza Horizon 4 ran at Medium settings to sustain the 60 fps frame rate. I had to also dial down the graphics to Medium for Wreckfest and Watch Dogs Legion, both with reduced resolution. Lighter games such Cricket 19, NFS Payback, and PUBG ran at high graphics with decent frame rates.

Lenovo’s Coldfront 2.0 cooling system kept the temperatures under control. Throughout my hour-long virtual Grand Prix sessions, the readings on HWInfo never showed temperatures surging past the 90 degrees Celsius mark. I never found the keyboard area warming up while playing as well.

Helping with the gaming experience was audio output from the Harman Kardon tuned speakers. Again, these aren’t the best speakers on a laptop but for the most part, these work well. They are decently loud in a closed room and offer some depth in the audio quality. However, for better results, I had to resort to a headphone or external speakers.

Battery

Lenovo Legion 5 AMD

The 80Wh battery in the Legion 5 AMD promises up to eight hours of battery life but in the real world, I could gather at most 4.5 hours at a stretch. This figure comes after I mostly used the laptop for office work, i.e. typing stories, browsing the web, attending virtual meetings, etc. The gaming performance on battery life in full performance is doesn’t affect the performance but it can last at most an hour. The 170W fast charging adapter fills up the battery in close to 70 minutes.

Verdict

At Rs 86,990, the Legion 5 AMD is a handsome package for an entry-level gaming laptop. The Ryzen 5 4000 series processor has plenty of performance overhead while the NVIDIA GTX 1650Ti ensures a decent gaming experience for a laptop of this price category. I also like Lenovo’s build quality as well as practical design, although it misses some razzmatazz that you get as standard from an Asus TUF and ROG laptop. The keyboard is another highlight on this PC, making typing a joyous experience.

Lenovo Legion 5 AMD

I wish Lenovo offers an option to equip a better display for content creators along with a pair of decent speakers. These, however, are issues that pale out when you look at what the competition has to offer. Compared to a Dell G3 15, HP Pavilion Gaming 15, and Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 5, the Legion 5 AMD is a superior choice.

On the whole, if you seek the raw power of an AMD processor fused into Lenovo’s reliable build quality (for Legion laptops) while not compromising on basics like a good keyboard, decent speakers, and webcam with a privacy shutter, the Lenovo Legion 5 AMD is a solid choice for casual gamers and budding content creators.





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