For years now I’ve heard my PC gamer buddies boast to me how awesome gaming is on a PC than it is on any of the mainstream consoles out today. It continued on after the release of the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X/S. I begrudge paying in excess of £1,500 just to have a computer capable of playing games 120 frames-per-second at 4K resolution when I could just pay a third of that for a ready-made console. Even then, once you have your magnum opus in your grasp, it isn’t too long before a component goes out of date, causing you to have to upgrade. Technology advances so fast these days…
…but then something happened.
I reached out to the guys at Lenovo to see if I could test out a gaming rig and see how they really perform against the gaming powerhouses that are Microsoft and Sony. They agreed to send me the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro gaming laptop computer, and of course, I bit their hand off.
Once it arrived, I immediately was thrown back by how bloody heavy this thing was. 2.6kg is quite a weight for a portable computer. You’d need a hefty bag to carry it around. It is fair enough though. The weight is a small price to pay considering what this thing has inside it and what it can do (more on that later). Aesthetically, the Legion 5 Pro isn’t an attractive laptop. It has an aluminum steel grey lid with the three-pronged Lenovo logo emblazoned in the centre, the hinges exposed with the base of the laptop bulging at the back. There are no pretty RGB lights or pretty fascia making it pleasing to the eye, this thing is badass and it wants you to know that. Firing the Legion 5 Pro up illuminates the Lenovo logo, but that’s about as “pretty” as you’re gonna’ get here.
Looking around the edges of the laptop, there are four large and wide vents, two on the back and one on each side. These are required for sufficient airflow when playing anything graphics intense. On the back between the vents are seven ports: three USB 3.0 ports, a USB-PD port, which is used for USB-C devices to fast-charge, a unique port for the charger, Ethernet port, and finally, an HDMI port to connect monitors or TVs. On the left edge of the laptop is a USB-C and a headphone 3.5mm port, and on the right edge there is a USB 3.0 port and camera switch. Noticeably, there are no SD card slots or any ports allowing for backwards compatible peripherals.
Flipping the lid open gives way for the computer itself; it isn’t anything flash. Remember, you’re not paying £1,500 for what this thing looks like. There are no LEDs that illuminate the keys or anything of the sort. The touchpad was a big surprise. It felt cheap and flimsy compared to its surroundings. There is no indication of the left and right mouse buttons, but they are still in effect, and you’re able to click in the entire pad to select things on-screen. It just feels out of place compared to the rest of the laptop in terms of expense and build quality.
Down to the nitty-gritty, what this thing can do. The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is nothing short of a beast. Going from my old desktop PC with 8GB RAM, an FX 8000 series processor and MSI 560 Twin Frozr II 1GB graphics card, it felt like going from a Ford Fiesta to a Lamborghini. What my friends had been saying to me all these years about PC gaming and PC power had come to light, and having all that power on your lap just made things all the more special. The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro sports an AMD Ryzen 7 5800 processor clocking at 3.20GHZ, which can be dialled up to 4.40GHZ with a boost feature, 16GB of DDR4 RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 8GB GPU. In short, it is a frickin’ beast of biblical proportions. Now, I know there are more advanced laptops out there, and desktops can be equipped with way better components, but I’m coming from a PC capable of playing nothing more than Xbox 360 games at a push, as well as an Xbox Series X.
After the initial setup and updating process, which didn’t take that long considering how many updates were available, including the jump from Windows 10 to 11, I was ready to play some games and put this thing through its paces. I purchased a few major titles that I knew were graphically demanding. Okay, Legion 5 Pro, show me what you got!
First game I played was the most obvious: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. I know the next gen update isn’t out yet, but it was already a graphically rich game. A massive, vibrant world rich with detail plus long draw distances, it was an obvious choice. For the first time, I was able to crank all graphics settings up to max (albeit cautiously) and start a new game with my tail between my legs. Well, there was no need. My jaw hit the floor, especially when venturing out into the plains of Skellige. The vibrant foliage, flowing lakes and rivers and beautiful skies really popped on the 16-inch Wide Quad Extended Graphics Array (WQXGA) screen, which displays max up to 2560×1600 resolution. The brightness of the HDR really fizzled the retinas, and it looks stunning. What hit me more was how the frames never dropped below the target 60.
My next test was a more recent title: Resident Evil Village. This is a game I knew took some punch in the visual department, especially when stepping out into the village itself with Castle Dimitrescu in the distance. Again, there is no sweat from the Legion 5 Pro’s brow. Not even a flinch. Saying that, the graphics were not maxed out as Village was capable of going higher up the graphical scale, but I felt that the difference would have been so minor that I wouldn’t have noticed any enhancements graphically at the cost of performance. Immersion isn’t brought on by graphics, it’s the frames-per-second that keep you engaged, and it was important that those 60 frames were hit perfectly throughout my experience, especially since I know the Xbox Series X version hit it consistently. Even with Ambient Occlusion, Ray Tracing and V-Sync switched on (the 144hz refresh rate handled it like a dream), the Legion 5 Pro didn’t flinch. Let me tell you, this thing is intense.
I noticed in my play time, periodically the Legion 5 Pro’s fans blow so loud during the more demanding areas that it was drowning out some key sounds. Village is a horror game that relies on eerie sounds; rustling bushes, creaky doors and the odd couple of jump scares didn’t have the desired effect because of the loud fans. This can easily be nullified by using headphones though, which I recommend doing for any game you play. The Legion 5 Pro got hot too. Not so hot that I couldn’t rest it on my lap for long periods, but I was worried in case it started to burn me. It’s safe to say that it never gets that hot thanks to the aforementioned fans, they are loud, sure, but they are also essential.
Another title I tried was Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla. A huge game for sure with a lot going on. Cranked up to max….aced it. Not even a single stutter, even during the biggest battles. The camera zipped where it needed to be during the biggest fights, and although there were some occasional hiccups, I put this down to background tasks still working whilst the game was in motion, it wasn’t a concern. Yes, there is plenty of space for these games thanks to the 1TB SSD.
Outside of gaming, the Legion 5 Pro acts as a fantastic workstation too. My old PC struggled to do anything else when I was unzipping files with WinRAR, and multitasking while editing a video with Cyberlink’s PowerDirector software was but a pipe dream. Well, repeating those same scenarios using this thing allowed me to do so much alongside unzipping and editing videos, and although I didn’t think much of Windows 11, the Legion 5 Pro ran it without effort.
The Legion 5 Pro is a bonified gaming beast. It ran everything I threw at it without breaking a sweat and looked fantastic running them. The superb screen made the games look phenomenal whilst running like a dream thanks to the savage components confined to this piece of technological mastery. Lenovo, I bow to you, you have made owning a Legion 5 Pro an additional item on my bucket list.
Operating System: Windows OS
Release Date: 2021