The Lenovo Legion 7i is the quintessential Lenovo notebook. Lenovo is renown world over for their business laptops — usually skinny all black or grey affairs perfect for any boardroom. The new Lenovo Legion 7i looks very much like a business notebook but that facade hides a very powerful gaming laptop.
Lenovo have a Clark Kent habit of clothing superior strength in plaid that you’d never guess that the man of steel was underneath all that. Our AUD $3,700 review unit is one of the only laptops with a display that is both VESA HDR400 and Dolby Vision capable. It also has one of the best keyboards on a laptop, fantastic 1080p HDR gaming performance and a long lasting battery. Shall we continue?
Lenovo Legion 7i Review
As I’ve already alluded to, the Legion 7i looks nothing like the gaming laptops you are used to. In fact, while it’s powered off, it looks like a bog standard laptop Deloitte or Accenture consultants carry around for their tax consults. The metal chassis is a Slate Grey(a decidedly ungamery color choice) with no additional color accents anywhere.
It feels very sturdy and durable with sharp clean lines and hard edges. Angled grills on the sides and back are the only hints to the gaming nature hidden within. It’s not the lightest, coming in at 2.1Kg and bulking out at 20mm at that back but I wouldn’t call it chunky. The Razer Blade 15 Advanced and MSI GS66 Stealth feel significantly thinner, if that’s your thing.
The lid is clean except for the Legion logo etched on one side and the base is equally void save for a large vent towards the back and rubber feet. Opening the lid reveals a classic book-hinge design which is really sturdy and holds the display without wobbling. The keyboard deck includes a number pad and full size arrow keys.
Lenovo has thankfully included an HD webcam, something too many gaming laptops seem to think is unnecessary. The Legion even has a privacy shutter to prevent unauthorised snooping in case someone hacks your camera.
For ports, the Legion 7i has plenty with the majority found at the back which is great for cable management. You get your USB, Ethernet, HDMI and AC power ports. There are also Audio jack, ThunderBolt 3 and USB Type-C 3.1 with DisplayPort on the left side, again awesome for cable management.
Turn on the lights
So overall, the Legion 7i looks all business and no play but all that changes the minute you power it up. Lenovo wisely avoided physical gamer tropes associated with laptops and chose instead to use a stunning array of customisable RGB lighting to transform this grey slate into a magical wonder box.
The first thing you notice is the RGB light strip runs across the front of the chassis and ends half-way on either side. We’ve seen this sort of thing before with the Asus ROG Strix Scar and it’s just as stunning here. On the back, the two massive rear vents also light up like some glowing spaceship thrusters.
The signature Y in the Lenovo logo also lights up and all three lights can be synced or independently customized for an eclectic lightshow. All these lights get hella bright and bathe any desk and walls behind the laptop in a colorful light show.
The keyboard backlighting also impresses, rivaling even the Razer Blade. Lenovo collaborated with Corsair and incorporated iCUE RGB support on the Legion 7i. The lighting is bright and punchy and thanks to Lenovo’s choice of keycap materials, light shines through with a disturbing precision and zero light bleed.
Speaking of keycaps, this is also a great keyboard to type and game on. The keys are chiclet style and feel firm and crisp. Travel is short but not uncomfortably so, registering my taps with ease and speed. They keys have a nice gentle curve at the bottom that makes the keyboard look pretty slick.
Beneath is a decent touchpad that’s smooth and responsive. It’s about average size which means it’s not big enough. In my opinion, Apple and Razer have the best touchpads in terms of size and performance. But as always, for any gaming you’ll be using an external mouse anyways.
The Legion 7i comes with 15.6-inch FullHD or 1080p display and it’s one of the best money can buy after OLED. While it can’t trump OLED, it has great color accuracy and contrast covering 100% sRGB spectrum. Not only that, but it can get pretty darn bright at 500Nits.
This brightness is of course for HDR and the Legion 7i has both VESA HDR400 certification and Dolby Vision HDR — a first for any laptop I’ve come across. This makes the Legion 7i an exceptional media consumption device. Disney+ is one service that supports Dolby Vision and watching The Mandalorian’s Beskar armour glint in the dark as he kicks but is stunning.
Gaming in HDR however is still hit and miss, in most part due to Windows 10 atrocious handling of HDR and developers’ varying implementations. But make no mistake, games like Ori & the WIll of Wisps amaze while The Division 2 suffers blown highlights. I’ve talked about how the lack of Full Array Local Dimming zones in a display makes HDR far less impactful than it should be and I don’t expect to see a laptop with FALD anytime ever.
Nevertheless, HDR is here if you want it but SDR gaming is just as good on the Legion 7i. This is bolstered by the 144Hz refresh and NVIDIA G-Sync to keep everything playing nicely with the GeForce RTX 2070 Super Max-Q. I know other laptops are flogging 300Hz displays like it’s the antidote to the pandemic but no laptop I’ve reviewed can run AAA games above 150FPS at 1080p anyway. So 144Hz with G-Sync is perfectly fine.
And Lenovo hasn’t stopped at the display tech. Included in the Legion 7i is a Dolby Atmos Speaker System. Don’t get too excited though – it’s only 2 speakers with a fancy sound chamber. You get some interesting sound separation but nowhere near as immersive as a full speaker array setup. However, if you have Dolby Atmos headsets, you can get some pretty great media sound.
And how does the Legion 7i run games you ask? Pretty darn good actually. Everything in my test suite ran above 100FPS with only Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Gears 5 running under 100FPS at ultra settings. They still were well above the sweet 60fps mark and of course, turning ray-tracing on quickly brought the framerate to just under the magical 60FPS.
Outside of gaming, the Legion 7i is also extremely capable of crunching large Excel files or video editing thanks to the Core i7-10875H 8-core processor paired with 16GB of DDR4-3200 RAM and a fast 1TB M.2 SSD. As you can see below, the Legion 7i posted some decent scores in our synthetic benchmarks.
Daily activities for me included Adobe Creative Suite, Web browsing with a billion tabs and windows, Spotify, Emails and a ton of game apps in the background downloading all manner of stuff. The Legion never hiccuped or stuttered, running everything smoothly and quietly.
It’s not always quiet of course, ramping up that fan noise when under stress. It’s not a grating jet noise but more of a loud whine. Despite some fancy features like a vapor chamber and liquid-crystal polymer fan blades, the Legion 7i is still a thin laptop which means it can get pretty hot.
I saw temperatures reach a max of 96C on the CPU when under constant heavy threading tasks. However, in lengthy gaming sessions it remained closer to 63C. Still, don’t try gaming on your laps if you value your health.
Lenovo claims that the 80WHr battery in the Legion 7i will last you 8 hour workday but my testing was more like half. Of course, these advertised figures have to be taken with more than a pinch of salt as manufacturers often heavily tweak the power configuration settings to get the maximum battery life. These settings aren’t the way most of us would ever use our laptops though.
So a more realistic figure for you, depending on your use case would be 4 -5 hours on a charge. But thankfully, Lenovo has also included fast charging on the Legion 7i. Rapid Charge Pro will get you from 0-50% in just 30mins and I gotta tell you, that’s an awesome feature to have.
The Lenovo Vantage control center app gives you some quick access to different battery saving and performance profiles. It’s my favorite of the big brands control software thanks to how simple, clean and intuitive the interface is. Everything is clear with large buttons and graphs that are easy to read. You can even dabble in some simple overclocking and adjust your lighting, download updates and monitor the entire system.
The Lenovo Legion 7i defied my expectations to become one of the best if not underrated gaming laptops available to date. When I opened it, I saw a boring business machine but at the end of my time with it, I saw a fantastic gaming and work package that is competitively priced and packs a ton of cutting edge tech.
It’s great for gaming and media consumption and given that competitors like the Razer Blade 15 and MSI GS66 Stealth in similar configurations cost $500 more, it’s hard to argue with the value proposition that Lenovo offers. This is a great laptop that you really shouldn’t dismiss.
Lenovo Australia loaned the Legion 7i to PowerUp! for the purpose of this review