Lenovo Legion 5i Gen 6
from $2499 AUD
As the portable space grows thinner, lighter, and smaller we often forget about the ultimate goal of the all-in-one box capable of meeting all your productivity and gaming needs. Doing exactly that, wherever you go. As a statement, that's a round-about way of saying that it’s been a minute since we’ve opened the lid on a gaming laptop featuring a large 17.3-inch display. Sure it might seem small when stacked up against a modern TV or UltraWide desktop display, but 17-inches is the big-screen energy of the laptop world.
As long as you’ve got the backpack or carry-bag to match, the 17-inch option can be ideal in not only providing larger display real-estate but adding room for, well, room. The larger form factor of 17-inch laptops can mean a larger battery, better airflow, more robust cooling, additional ports, and a keyboard that doesn’t feel squished together. Of course that’s the potential, a gaming laptop still has to prove itself in all the areas that matter.
That said, heading into the review of the Lenovo Legion 5i Gen 6
for 2021 we weren’t all that concerned or worried about the latter. That’s on the account of how great the Lenovo Legion 5Pi
performed in our review around this time last year. Fast-forward to 2021 and the overall look and feel of the Legion hasn’t changed all that much, but the addition of the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060
does present something of a game changer. When paired with great build quality and overall design, it brings the mid-range and affordable side of the gaming laptop space to the next level.
Look and Feel
Gen 6 of Lenovo’s Legion range continues the angular, stylish, and modular look that we’ve seen over the past couple of years -- albeit with some minor refinements here and there. In 17-inch form the Lenovo Legion 5i weighs in at just under 3 kg’s with a width of around 2.5cm at its thickest. Compared to the higher end Legion 7 range it’s a little chunkier and maybe not as sleek but for a mid-level range from Lenovo it’s a definite statement of intent by the way of quality.
The overall look and feel of the Legion hasn’t changed all that much, but the addition of the new NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 does present something of a game changer.
In terms of, you know, sitting on an actual lap the 5i is probably a little large -- but 17-inches has always been better when placed onto a desk or table or another makeshift surface-meets-pop-up-studio-or-office.
And for that the Legion 5i excels, with a sturdy and robust build and great feel thanks to the inclusion of the rightfully plauded Legion TrueStrike keyboard. Plus there’s the impressive 144Hz display, which is becoming the norm across the entire Legion range -- with a peak brightness of around 300-nits and 72% of the NTSC colour-space. That last bit basically means you’re getting 99% sRGB out of the box, meaning the Legion can double as an entry level studio laptop in addition to something that’s good to game on.
Under the Lid
As an affordable 17-inch laptop the Lenovo Legion 5i is something of a surprise across the board. That is, if you’re of the type to look at hardware spec sheets and sit there nodding fully aware of what all the strange numbers and words mean. When it comes to gaming laptops you’d find from the big brands the 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400H and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 combo is what you’d see in the affordable sweet spot. That realm where, frankly, most of us reside. And it’s where you get the most value for money.
As an affordable 17-inch laptop the Lenovo Legion 5i is something of a surprise across the board.
On that note the tail-end of last year and 2021 has seen some pretty major under-the-hood advancements when it comes to the bits and pieces that let games take full advantage of a 144 Hz display. The arrival of the 11th Gen of Intel CPUs, at least in the laptop space, has seen across the board improvements and specific bumps to game performance no matter if it’s an i5, i7, or high-end i9. The Legion 5i we’re testing here features the Core i5-11400H -- which proves to be great for standard desktop use and 1080p gaming.
Processor: 11th Gen Intel Core i5-11400H
Display: 17.3" FHD (1920x1080) IPS 300nits Anti-glare, 144Hz, 72% NTSC, Dolby Vision, DC dimmer
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6, Boost Clock 1425 / 1702MHz, TGP 130W
Memory: 16GB DDR4-3200
Storage: 512 GB SSD M.2 2242 PCIe 3.0x4 NVMe
OS: Windows 10
Interfaces: 1 x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On), 3 x USB 3.2 Gen 1, 1 x Thunderbolt 4/USB4 40Gbps (support data transfer and DisplayPort 1.4), 1 x Thunderbolt 4 / USB4 40Gbps (support data transfer, Power Delivery and DisplayPort 1.4), 1 x HDMI 2.1, 1 x card reader, 1 x Ethernet (RJ-45), 1 x headphone / mic, 1 x power connector
The second and perhaps most important part of the gaming picture comes from the addition of the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 Laptop GPU, which the Legion features in the fully unlocked 130W revision. Built on NVIDIA’s Ampere architecture it benefits from advances we’ve seen from RTX and GeForce that improves overall noise, cooling, and efficiency. The Max-Q suite that also includes NVIDIA’s impressive AI-powered DLSS rendering.
Going back to the size of the Legion 5i, and the larger display, it’s worth highlighting that the cooling is phenomenal. Even under load the noise levels stay within reason and the overall GPU and CPU temperatures remain at the desktop-level of about 70-degrees. Partly due to the bigger size but more-so Lenovo’s own proprietary cooling -- it seems that the hardware maker is hitting its cooling stride. ‘How loud is it when gaming?’ is perhaps as important a question to ask as any, so it’s great to see that the Legion doesn’t turn into a makeshift leaf blower when under load.
As alluded to earlier the 11th Gen Intel CPU and RTX 3060 combo is something to take note of. When looking at price, affordability, and performance, you’re basically getting near desktop-like numbers in a form factor that can fit in a backpack. Although the VRAM is limited to 6GB, the Lenovo Legion 5i has no real issue running any games in 1080p with detail settings cranked. And that includes turning on things like ray-tracing.
The 11th Gen Intel CPU and GeForce RTX 3060 combo is something to take note of. When looking at price, affordability, and performance, you’re basically getting near desktop-like numbers in a form factor that can fit in a backpack.
But, you’ll probably notice the two Assassin’s Creed
outliers in the numbers below. And well, the AC series has unfortunately been something of a problem with PC hardware -- especially with entry level NVIDIA GPUs. Perhaps it comes from being designed to run at 30fps, but for the RTX 3060 at 1080p, it’s a game you’d need to lower from Ultra to High to hit 60fps. Which, coincidentally, is the detail setting you’d find when playing the PlayStation 5 or Xbox Series X versions.
Other than that though the performance is pretty impressive -- Horizon Zero Dawn
hitting 90+ fps, DOOM Eternal
sitting at around 150fps with ray-tracing enabled.
A lot of the credit goes to the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060, where compared to the RTX 2060 you’re looking at a generational leap at around 35% with no real change in pricing. And when you put that in the formidable form of the Lenovo Legion 5i, with its excellent hardware, expansion options, and great display -- the result is a rather big jump over something that's seemingly the exact same thing that you could have bought a year ago.
In the end as a 1080p performer with an affordable price-point it’s hard to look past the Lenovo Legion 5i. It brings the excellent features of the range without any of the compromise. From the ability to connect multiple displays to Thunderbolt to excellent WiFi and the return of the webcam, this Legion is an all-in-one that’s also one-for-all.