I review a lot of gaming laptops and it’s getting harder and harder for manufacturers to differentiate themselves in 2021; usually resorting to aesthetics or some other gimmick like a DJ partnership. For the Legion 5 Pro, Lenovo focused on what gamers would actually find useful and the result is the world’s first 16-inch, QHD display that supports G-Sync. FreeSync. VESA DisplayHDR 400 and Dolby Vision HDR.
QHD has long been the accepted sweet spot for high fidelity, high performance PC gaming and for the longest time, laptop manufacturers ignored this resolution. It’s easy to quote numbers and specs but how does the Legion 5 Pro perform in the real world?
Lenovo Legion 5 Pro Review
The answer to that question is, pretty darn good. As a designer and content creator I can say that the Legion 5 Pro has one of the best IPS displays on any gaming laptop bar the OLED Gigabyte Aero 15. With a color accuracy of 100% sRGB and a truly bright 500 nits, images pop and sizzle on the Legion 5 Pro. The 16:10 aspect ratio gives you a pin-sharp 2560 x 1600 resolution that looks crisp at all times, be it fonts on the desktop or games at ultra settings.
And don’t tell me you weren’t impressed that the Legion 5 Pro supports both Dolby Vision and HDR 400, something I’ve only seen on high end TV’s like the LG CX 48 OLED. Disney+ and Netflix subscribers will really enjoy streaming HDR content from both those platforms. Sadly, while the picture will stun you, the audio will shun you. The Legion 5 Pro’s 2W stereo speakers are your typical laptop affair that lack bass and depth to match the picture on screen. Stick to headphones.
Turning to games, HDR is still hit and miss thanks to Windows 10’s atrocious implementation but I suspect we’ll see a big improvement when Windows 11 comes out in late 2021. When it does work, games like Doom Eternal look amazing with punchy colors and clear, bright highlights. As an IPS panel, contrast isn’t great so the darker areas of the image suffer. But even without HDR, games look stunning in SDR(with some games looking better in SDR than HDR)
The taller 16:10 ratio might be a problem in some unsupported games resulting in a cinema style pillarboxing. That said, they still run beautifully at highest settings thanks to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070, 165Hz refresh. My unit came with a 130W version of the RTX 3070 and it easily ran games at native resolution above 60fps.
Beyond games, the Legion 5 Pro handles everyday tasks and intense rendering tasks very well indeed. The beating heart of the system is an 8-core, AMD Ryzen 7 5800H which is a beast of a processor and yet highly efficient. I ran a couple of benchmarks to stress the processor and came away with some impressive results that trumped even some full sized desktops.
So if you do a lot of CPU intensive workloads like software development, video editing or 3d animation, this processor will get the job done. Impressively, the Legion 5 Pro stays relatively cool and quiet when under load for extended periods. I saw the 5800H settle around 75C after prolonged sessions while the GPU peaked at 86C during intense gaming sessions.
Unfortunately, all this didn’t translate too well for the battery life which lasted just shy of 3 hours. Lenovo quotes upto 7 hours in Hybrid mode which essentially turns off the RTX 3070 to save battery life but my results were consistent between Hybrid and Discrete modes. Either my unit was a lemon or I just didn’t know how to do the right thing. If the latter, there’s a design flaw that regular people will struggle with and if it’s the former, it’s probably fixable with a firmware update.
However, since most of us are under strict stay-at-home orders these days, you’ll never be far from a power outlet and the Legion 5 Pro can fast charge as well. You’ll likely be more inclined to keep it tethered to the wall though since it’s wealth of ports make it a perfect centerpiece for a desk setup. Plug in external monitors using the HDMI 2.1 or the USB Type-C with DisplayPort 1.4. Your keyboard, mouse and other accessories connect to any of the four USB 3.2 ports.
I should note that you don’t necessarily need an external keyboard as the TrueStrike board on the laptop is very good. The curved dome caps look and feel great for typing and gaming. The keypad is also full size so you get a numpad for more mundane work things. It’s quite strange that it’s only 4-zone RGB and not per-key RGB like every other laptop in this price range. Your customization options are limited as such but it’s hardly a deal breaker.
And yes, Lenovo includes a webcam though at 720p, it’s really not that great. The picture can be blurry unless in perfect lighting conditions but at least it’s there so you can at least make video calls – something I can’t say for most Asus ROG laptops. The camera also has a handy electronic shutter which physically disables the camera hardware so no one can snoop on you.
I haven’t touched on the overall design of the Legion 5 Pro and for good reason – i’m not enamored by it at all. The dull grey colorway and business notebook look pale in comparison to most modern gaming laptops. I’d like to see Lenovo embrace a more modern, minimal design like Razer Blade 15 or even balls-to-the-wall like Alienware m15.
There’s no doubt that the Legion 5 Pro is a hell of a performer and if you aren’t particularly fussy about how your hardware looks, then great. But looking at the competition, the Legion 5 Pro has no excuse to look as good as it performs. And perform it does, as we’ve seen throughout this review.
The display is undoubtedly one of the best you can get on a laptop and is the sweet spot for high settings, high frame rate gaming with some great HDR as well. I also like that there’s quite a few configuration options to choose from that will fit many a budget with the bonus that all models get the same gorgeous screen.
The Legion 5 Pro is one of the best gaming laptops I’ve reviewed and great value for money but…it just doesn’t capture the heart. That’s obviously all very subjective but at the end of the day, you have to ask yourself “does this spark joy?” and for me, that answer is no.
Lenovo ANZ provided the Legion 5 Pro for the purpose of this review