Lenovo Legion 7 Review: Too much for the chassis?

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The Lenovo Legion 7 is aimed at the top end of the spectrum, targeting gaming enthusiasts wanting no sacrifices with their machine. It comes with all the bells and whistles of a typical gaming laptop. But priced starting at Dh7,599, how much does it do to justify that price tag?

Design and build quality

Starting with the Legion 7 chassis, it screams premium and high-quality. The aluminium build gives the laptop a sturdy feel and in its Slate Gray colour, it oozes class. You find a lot of attention to detail, ranging from speaker perforations on the chassis to the fan cut-outs. Something you should keep in mind though is that the sharp edges, while good to look at can be a bit uncomfortable when carrying the laptop around.

The Slate Gray colour of the Legion 7 is extremely classy

At 2.1kg and 20mm thick, the Legion 7 is not particularly lightweight on paper. But Lenovo has done a good job with weight distribution which makes it feel a bit lighter than it is. As for ports, once again, Lenovo has gone the extra mile to include the machine’s main ports at the back. Here, you find the Kensington lock, Lenovo’s proprietary power port, 2x Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 2 ports, an Ethernet port as well as an HDMI 2.0 port. This makes cable management a lot easier for people who intend on using the laptop without moving it around. But for people constantly changing setups, reaching for the rear ports may be a slight issue.

Having the majority of the ports on the back of the device can help with cable management

There are also some more accessible ports on the left and right of the machine. The left houses a Thunderbolt 3 Type-C USB port, a Type-C USB Gen 3.1 port and the 3.5mm headphone jack whereas on the right, you find a single Type-A USB 3.1 Gen 1 port. With a variety of ports, I/O is not a concern on the Legion 7. And for ports such as the SD-card slot and extra ones if required, a Type-C USB dongle works great.

You can easily expand on the available ports using the Type-C ports available on the machine

Talking about the inside of the machine, it carries over the clean look from the exterior. You find the power button in the centre and of course, the keyboard and track-pad which we will discuss at a later stage. We just wish Lenovo included a fingerprint scanner here for authentication. As a substitute, you can use Windows Hello facial authentication via the laptop’s 720p web-camera, found on the top bezel of the display. The quality of the camera is average at best although it does give you the option of an in-built camera cover for privacy. This way, you will not need to cover the camera up with a permanent sticker.

Display and multimedia

For work and play, you find a 15.6-inch Full-HD IPS LCD panel on the Legion 7. In our review variant, it comes with a 144Hz refresh rate and a 3ms response time, both ideal for gaming. The relatively small bezels around the panel help maintain a reasonable level of immersion. But what is more useful is the tilt angle of the display. It can open up to a flat 180-degree angle which is ideal for a lot of more demanding setups. Being an IPS panel, both viewing angles and sharpness are more than adequate. And using the display for multimedia is also great, something Lenovo has been known for a while. Instead of just making the display usable for games, it is usable for movies, work and everything in between. And we think the way Lenovo has bundled display colour profiles in the settings is neat, helping users choose the best fit for them.

Watching content on the 1080p display is good in addition to its high-refresh rate ideal for gaming performance

Moving to the speakers, these caught us by surprise. They are loud, have good bass and can easily be used for videos. If your surroundings are relatively quiet, you can use them for gaming too. They are still not as good as Apple’s 16-inch MacBook speakers although they are one of the better offerings in the Windows space. I often found myself using them to listen to podcasts as well as music.

Keyboard and track-pad

Given the Legion 7’s slightly larger chassis, it is no surprise to find a well-spaced keyboard on it. The typing experience is comfortable for a chiclet-style keyboard and you will not take that long to get used to it. It is also nice of Lenovo to bundle in full-sized dedicated arrow keys as well as the number-pad so there is nothing too much to complain about. The keys however do feel less tactile than previous Lenovo experiences which is a slight drawback.

The Legion 7 has slightly less tactile keys compared to previous Lenovo experiences

Paired with the keyboard of course is the machine’s RGB experience. Here, you can use the in-built iCUE software to change up the appearance of the laptop. Each key can be configured individually and the venting on the rear of the machine can also be customised. In essence, this small change takes the laptop from a classy one to a full-fledged gaming one, which definitely helps to get into the mood.

Using the track-pad is intuitive with us having no complaints whatsoever

The track-pad too sits nicely underneath the keyboard, and is one of the better experiences on a Windows PC. It is extremely responsive thanks to Windows precision touch drivers but is tactile feeling as well. Often, manufacturers skimp out here opting for less premium feeling options which bring down the experience of using a laptop quite significantly. But it is nice to see Lenovo not doing so. Even at the edges of the track-pad, the response is uniform and I am extremely pleased with the track-pad on the machine. While it is not a substitute for a mouse by any means when gaming, if you find yourself in dire need, you can just about get by.

Hardware and performance

In our review variant of the Legion 7, we find an Intel Core i7-10875H processor with a base clock-speed of 2.30GHz. Alongside, there is 16GB of DDR4 RAM, up to 1TB of PCIe SSD storage and NVIDIA’s RTX 2070 Max-Q GPU. On paper, the laptop is a powerhouse of a machine, if you ignore that NVIDIA’s RTX 30-series on laptops may be just around the corner. The Legion 7 can handle tasks ranging from playing high-end games, video rendering and day to day video watching. Playback of 4K and even 8K footage on YouTube was fine and I was able to use the machine on a daily basis, hooked up with a dual-monitor setup. At times though, I could feel the machine being stressed and on one occasion during a critical use case, I did have the blue screen of death, which is unfortunate.

For video performance too, the laptop’s internals are more than good enough

Given that the machine comes with decent power, it can very well be used for other high-end tasks too. Typically, we also like to test laptops of this calibre with a default 5-minute 4K video render and here, the machine was able to complete the task in roughly 4 minutes, which is on par with other Intel based laptops equipped with NVIDIA RTX graphics and 4x as fast as a Ryzen 7 4800H laptop. While we do not believe that synthetic benchmarks tell you the full story, we did run CineBench R20, which gave us a score of roughly 3,600

Gaming performance

Of course, daily performance and gaming performance are two different beasts altogether. And here is where the Legion 7 encounters a few problems. We tested a decent sample size of games, where each required different processing capacities. Fall Guys was the candidate for low-end gaming and it did fine to run at 144fps, however it was already pushing the laptop’s temperatures. We noticed that the CPU’s average temperatures were at 80C with the GPU at 78C, both significantly higher than other laptops we have tested when running the same game.

There are some thermal throttling issues that you may face with the Legion 7 if you are pushing it to the maximum

Next up was Call of Duty: Warzone, where we used maximum settings for testing performance, so our results could serve as a benchmark for the maximum power you can get from the machine. Unfortunately, in this instance, we saw evidence of thermal throttling from the Legion 7. Temperatures touched the 85C average with the GPU staying at 80C. But while these temperatures are natural, every now and again, we could notice slight drops in performance especially when in busy environments. The average FPS throughout gaming stayed at 90fps.

Some of the hardware readings we got on the Lenovo Legion 7 when playing Gears 5

The experience did not get any better when testing Gears 5, a triple-A game which demands a lot of power from your machine. Once again, the game stayed above the 60fps threshold and even the 90fps at times threshold but as soon demanding phases of the game came about, this dropped to 70fps in some cases. The game also pushed CPU temperatures up to a 95C average with the GPU staying at 83C. But here, performance issues were noticeable on multiple occasions.

While a lot has been said of the Legion 7’s cooling experience, it does not deliver the best at all times

While we tested all of these titles on maximum settings, you could perhaps tone things down to get a higher frame rate. And maybe that way, you can take full advantage of the 144Hz refresh rate panel at 1080p resolution. But given this the highest-end gaming laptop from Lenovo, it is disappointing to see thermal issues on the machine, which occur even when game settings are toned down. If users intend to run a 2K external monitor and game at that resolution, the issues may be even more pronounced. And with gaming getting demanding by the day, future high-end titles may struggle on the Legion 7, which is not something that gaming enthusiasts paying a premium would like to experience.

Battery life

Inside the Legion 7, you find an 80Whr cell which is more than capable of powering your experience. Lenovo claims it can deliver 8-hours of usage but in the real world, battery endurance will vary. When gaming, the battery dissipated much quicker, giving me about 1-1.5 hours of usage. But if you manage to tone down the display’s brightness, a mixed use case can get you 5 hours of battery usage. This is not bad by any means especially considering gaming enthusiasts often use their laptops plugged in. The charging brick provided by Lenovo is also not too big, adopting a larger area but a slimmer profile.

Conclusion

Packing everything a gaming enthusiast would want, the Lenovo Legion 7 is the easiest machine to recommend on paper. Going beyond the specifications, it gets everything spot on when it comes to daily laptop usage. But being a gaming-focused machine, it is important it gets that aspect right. And unfortunately, this is a stumbling block for it. More than 80 per-cent of the time, its issues with respect to thermal throttling may not phase your experience. But being a gaming-focused machine, it is important it gets that aspect right. Unfortunately, this is where the laptop stumbles a bit. While 80% of your usage will be unfazed by the thermal throttling issues of the system, it is the rest 20% you need to consider before picking up the Legion 7i.

At Dh 7599, the laptop isn’t ‘premium gaming pricing’ but it is definitely a hole in the pocket and when it comes to gaming the margin of error is low. Over the longevity of use, we hope that Lenovo makes sensible updates to tackle these issues but as of this moment, as a user, you need to take the thermal throlling into consideration for your usage.