The thing with gaming laptops is, there seems to be a concerted effort by laptop makers to make them agreeable with a much wider audience. And not just gamers. Rightly or not. But this does open up a much wider demographic who will find these powerful rigs relevant for them. What’s helped along the way is that gaming laptops have also become more affordable, from a time when you had to spend upwards of $ 2,700 to get something half decent for gaming. Now, they cost significantly lesser. Case in point, the Lenovo Legion 5 which is powered by the AMD Ryzen 5 4000 series mobile processor and costs around $ 1,250 or lower, depending on what deals and offers you can take advantage of.
The Lenovo Legion 5 gaming laptop has an aluminum chassis and what emerges after everything that includes anodization and sand blasting, is the very cool looking slate grey colour. It doesn’t look like a typical shouty gaming laptop. Why I say cool for a shade of grey is mostly because it genuinely looks nothing like the typical boring greys you may be visualizing. At some points when light reflects off it, there is a hint of blue in there somewhere. Maybe my eyes are playing tricks on me, but it is all very pleasing. The Legion logo on the lid is laser engraved, and you may not immediately realize it, but a part of it illuminates too. As it is to be expected, there are a lot of integrated lighting accents all through the length and breadth of the Lenovo Legion 5. I have already mentioned the one on the lid. There is a strip near the bottom, the cooling vents get the illumination too and of course, the keyboard. Basically, play on this in the dark and you’ll get a nice illumination on the table as well.
All the ports are behind the display, in what seems like a dock extension, but isn’t. I remember laptops used to feature this sort of port placement as standard many years ago, though now, gaming laptops find this the most relevant. Cool, because it hides away the clutter of peripheral wires. Helpfully, accompanying each port is a visual indicator light that comes on whenever you plug something into any of the ports. There are a few changes compared with the Lenovo Legion 7 though as far as the connectivity is concerned, and the one that stands out is there is no USB-C port on the Legion 5. A lot has to do with the style and the colour choice, as well as how the laptop looks completely sedate when all the lighting elements are turned off—and that’s how non-gamers or casual gamers, who otherwise want a powerful Windows 10 laptop, will be able to consider this.
Under the hood is where all the fun is, and this is also AMD’s big push in the territory that Intel had bossed all this while. Purely because of the lack of any genuine alternatives for buyers. This specific configuration runs the AMD Ryzen 5 4600H mobile processor with 8GB RAM. To be fair, I would have expected at least 16GB RAM, purely for extra headroom and futureproofing. Graphics are handled by the Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650Ti (4GB) and you get the combination of the 1TB hard drive and the much faster 256GB SSD—this is where Windows 10 resides, for best possible performance. These aren’t flagship-esque specs, but what the Lenovo Legion 5 manages to bring to the table is solid gaming performance without really having to compromise on refresh rate or resolution. This is true for the Forza Horizon 4 game in particular, which looks gorgeous with the very detailed landscape, but also doesn’t need you to turn down the resolution and quality settings. This will be largely true for a lot of other games as well, though a lot will depend on optimizations and patches.
It is hard to ignore that the Lenovo Legion 5 does heat up a bit during gaming, irrespective of the power settings. And the laptop does a lot to stay cool. Inside are two fans. Not any ordinary fans, but they apparently total up to 67 liquid-crystal polymer fan blades. This, including the 6 thermal sensors placed inside the Lenovo Legion 7i, are all a part of what Lenovo calls the CoolFront 2.0 cooling system.
I quite like the controls in the Lenovo Vantage app that lets you choose between Performance, Balanced and a Quiet Mode—this manages how much the CPU and GPU have to work, depending on the apps you are using at the time, in order to maintain the level of performance you have chosen. Neatly enough, irrespective of the mode you are in the rest of the time, the system can be set to switch to the high-performance mode as soon as a game starts to load. This does have a significant bearing on the overall experience. I noticed that even for simple enough tasks that include lots of Microsoft Edge tabs and some Microsoft Word docs open, the Lenovo Legion 5 still had fans whirring up at regular intervals—in the Balanced mode. However, switch to the Quiet mode, and things calm down significantly for that sort of work requirement. Load a game, and the mode switches instantly.
But why does it happen almost instantaneously, you may ask? The cooling system is proactive and not reactive. The longer the delay in aggressive cooling while gaming, the more the chances of temperatures peaking sooner and the inevitable throttling back of performance to protect the innards.
The Lenovo Legion 5 has a pretty vibrant display. This is Full HD, and for me, that really hits the sweet spot on a laptop. This ticks off the HDR requirements, so all the Netflix content in Dolby Vision, will look gorgeous. Same for the games that support HDR too. The moment you switch this on and set it up, the richness of the colour and the very good brightness levels really get your attention. This is rated at 300nits brightness, which is lower than the Legion 7i, but for most intents and purposes, this is just spot on. The IPS display advantages in terms of colour are very apparent. Reflections don’t really get in the way either.
Above the display sits the webcam and as is now a standard fixture in most recent Lenovo laptops, the Lenovo Legion 5 also gets the physical privacy shutter slider to block off the webcam. This is in addition to the Privacy Mode software option, but this physical slider is great if you don’t easily trust software. It is just a 720p resolution webcam though and believe me when I say this—you’ll be seen in poor light on video calls with colleagues and friends and family, if you don’t have adequate lighting around you.
It is perhaps a bit outlandish to expect strong battery life from a gaming laptop. That being said, the Legion 5 does last around 4.5 hours when used in the Quiet Mode with the display brightness at 30%. Best state is plugged in, for gaming or otherwise. There is the Lenovo Rapid Charge feature though, which juices up this battery to 50% from the full discharge state, in 30 minutes. All said and done, you shouldn’t really forget the massive 230-watt charging adapter brick at home.
THE LAST WORD: IT IS NOT JUST A GAMING LAPTOP, IT IS MORE VERSATILE THAN THAT
Not everyone has a lot of money to splurge on a gaming laptop, quite contrary to the general perception about gamers. At this price and for what it offers, the Lenovo Legion 5 does bring a lot of value to the proposition of a gaming laptop that doesn’t demand you pay for an outlandish price tag. And the AMD Ryzen 5 proposition also works nicely all through. The spec sheet gets the basics right, including some cooling tech smarts and a very interesting system management software that bolts on a lot of tweaks that Windows 10 otherwise wouldn’t offer. If you are in the market for a gaming laptop on a limited budget, or purely a powerful laptop in the Microsoft Windows 10 platform, the Lenovo Legion 5 appeals to more fronts than one.