Lenovo Legion 5 (2022) Review – Still Best Mid-Range Gaming Laptop?

Lenovo’s Legion 5 has been my favorite mid-range gaming laptop for the last couple of years now. But other brands are starting to catch up, so let’s find out what improvements this year’s model brings and if it’s still a laptop worth buying. I’ve got the storm grey finish, but there’s also cloud grey which is a lighter color. The lid is aluminum with a shiny mirrored Lenovo logo, while the keyboard deck and bottom panel are plastic, but the whole machine feels nice and well built. There is some flex to the keyboard if you’re pushing down hard, it’s

not a solid metal laptop afterall, but it felt perfectly fine during normal use. The screen goes the full way back for sharing, and it was easy to open with one finger as the middle part of the lid sticks out a little. The hinge seems sturdy even when ripping it open hard, but despite this, the lid still feels easy and smooth to open, though the screen can wobble a little when typing hard. This photo from Lenovo’s parts list site shows that the hinges are connected to the panel in multiple locations, so it’s probably fine just like

last gen, but only time will tell with long term use. It feels quite portable, and Lenovo says that it’s 15% thinner compared to last gen, but I’m not

a fan of the trend towards only listing the thinnest part on the spec sheet, because it’s closer to 2.5cm or an inch thick right at the back, not including the rubber feet. The laptop alone weighs 2.5kg or 5.5lb, increasing to 3.4kg or 7.4lb with the 230 watt power brick and cables for charging. Lenovo’s website notes that this year’s Legion 5 can come with either a 230 or 300

watt power brick, so either it varies by region, or this year they’re reserving the larger 300 watt option for the top spec RTX 3070 Ti. Or maybe the Intel Configs need it more than AMD. The configuration that I bought has AMD’s 8 core Ryzen 7 6800H CPU, Nvidia’s RTX 3060 graphics, 16 gigs of DDR5 memory, and a 15.6” 1440p 165Hz screen with G-Sync, but you can customize it how you like and check prices with the link below the video. There’s a 1080p camera above the screen in the middle, but there’s no Windows Hello face unlock.

Lenovo’s website only notes a 720p camera, but if we dive deeper into the spec sheet both are listed, so this probably varies by region. You can use the switch on the right hand side to physically disconnect the camera for privacy. Here’s how the camera and microphones look and sound, and here’s what it sounds like while typing on the keyboard, and as you can see the screen is wobbling a little bit while I’m doing this. My keyboard has 4-zones of RGB backlighting, but there’s also a white only option, and all keys and secondary functions get lit

up. There aren’t any keyboard shortcuts to change brightness, something I missed, but you can press the function and spacebar shortcut to swap between three lighting profiles. This year’s Legion 5 uses Spectrum to control the RGB lighting, which is managed through the Vantage software. We can also swap between the three profiles here, or customize them further with a few different basic effects. Brightness can be controlled through here with two levels, but I would have preferred keyboard shortcuts for this like most laptops have. The key lighting felt a little dim in a well lit room compared to

other laptops too. As for actually using the keyboard, personally I really like typing on Legion keyboards, to me they just feel great. That said, like I noted in the review of the Legion 7i, sometimes the top row of function keys needed to be pressed harder to trigger properly. The touchpad is mylar, so plastic. It clicks down anywhere, feels smooth to the touch, is a good size and is accurate to click with. The left side has an air exhaust vent and a couple of USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C ports. The right side has an air exhaust

too, as well as a 3.5mm audio combo jack, the camera disconnect switch, and a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port. The rest of the ports are on the back in between more air exhaust vents. From left to right we’ve got a gigabit ethernet port facing the preferred way so you don’t have to lift up the laptop to unplug, a third USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port, HDMI 2.1 output, 2 more USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A ports for 3 in total, and the rectangular power input on the far right. There are icons above the rear ports

so you can easily tell where you need to put a cable when sitting in front of the laptop without having to turn it around. It’s not as nice compared to the more expensive Legion 7 series which lights these up so you can see them in the dark, but it’s better than what most other laptops with rear ports are offering. All three of the Type-C ports have DisplayPort 1.4 support, however if you have Optimus on then the rear-most Type-C port on the left connects to the integrated Radeon graphics while everything else including HDMI connects directly to

the Nvidia discrete graphics. Now if you turn optimus off then that rear-most left Type-C port instead doesn’t have any display output at all. But all three of the other ports still connect to the Nvidia graphics. Now I think the rear-most left Type-C port also has USB 4 support. This wasn’t actually mentioned on the spec sheet on the Lenovo product page, but if you dig deeper into the PDF spec sheet, then it does list USB 4. So in theory, Thunderbolt devices should work. And I was able to connect my Razer Core X Chroma external GPU enclosure

and the external graphics card was actually discovered by this laptop. It seemed to be working at first, but then after actually installing the Nvidia driver for it, the laptop just blue screened. And it kept on repeating that every time I turned it back on. I didn’t spend any time troubleshooting this, but in theory it should be possible to get Thunderbolt devices working. We also confirmed that the HDMI port could run a 4K external screen at up to 120Hz 8-bit with G-Sync. If you want 10 or 12 bit then you’re limited to 60Hz. Only the Type-C

port on the back could be used to charge the laptop, and Lenovo have updated it from 100 watts of charging from last year to 135 watts this year. But only if the charger supports 20 volts 6.75 amps, so it doesn’t seem like they’re supporting the PD 3.1 standard, meaning this 140 watt charger I’ve got from Ugreen maxes out at 100 watts when connected to the Legion 5, and I suspect that would be the case with most other modern chargers too. Lenovo do of course have their own 135 watt charger, so you might have to buy

that if you want to fully power this device over Type-C. Unfortunately I don’t have one of these, so any time I’ve tested with a Type-C power source connected it’s limited to 100 watts, just like last year. Getting inside requires unscrewing 10 Phillips head screws, and the 4 down the front are shorter than the rest, so don’t forget when putting them back in. I found it fairly easy to open with my usual pry tools, I’ll leave a link to them below the video. There are a few metal covers over the components inside which can be removed.

We’ve got the battery right down the front, two memory slots just above that, the installed M.2 SSD on the right with Wi-Fi 6 card just above, and the second empty M.2 storage slot on the left. Wi-Fi performance is rarely amazing with RealTek cards, but it should be possible to take this out and upgrade for like $20. It’s performing the same as last year’s Legion 5 which had the same Wi-Fi card. Lenovo’s website mentions that it comes with the newer 6E, but that wasn’t what I ended up with. Just like the camera difference, if we dive

into the full spec sheet some differences are listed. The memory that came in mine was single rank x16, though so far I haven’t found this to matter as much with DDR5 compared to DDR4. The installed 512GB NVMe M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD was performing quite well, and the second M.2 slot supports 4 lanes of Gen 4 as well. Unfortunately the primary M.2 slot that the SSD comes installed in has some limitations if you want to upgrade. It’s not possible to install an M.2 drive that has chips on both sides, like this 4TB SSD from Teamgroup.

The chips underneath come into contact with the cable connector underneath and prevent proper installation, but I confirmed this drive fits perfectly fine in the second M.2 slot. In terms of upgrades, it’s almost as good as it’s going to get for a 15 inch gaming laptop. We can swap both RAM sticks, Wi-Fi and both M.2 drives, just keep in mind the primary M.2 drive can’t take full capacity SSDs with chips on both sides. This is why it’s missing half a point compared to last year’s model. It’s a tight fit, but I was able to get the

double sided SSD in the 2021 model. The speakers are found underneath on the left and right corners towards the front. I didn’t think they sounded that good, a little below average for a gaming laptop. They’re ok, just not great, and they sound muffled at higher volume levels and are lacking bass. The latencymon results weren’t amazing, but not as bad compared to this year’s Legion 7i. My Legion 5 is powered by a 4-Cell 80Wh battery, but there’s also a smaller 60Wh option too, so expect less run time with that cheaper one. Unlike the higher tier Legion

5 Pro or Legion 7, the 5 doesn’t have the function and R shortcut to swap the refresh rate down to 60Hz, which is a shame as that can increase battery life. Battery life was quite good despite this, which is generally the case any time we’ve got an AMD based laptop, though this year’s model wasn’t quite as good compared to last year’s Legion 5. It’s lasting longer compared to last year’s Intel 5i model though. It lasted for more than 8 and a half hours, which of course could be improved if you’re willing to manually change the

screen’s refresh rate to 60Hz. You still get the option in vantage to limit the maximum charge level to 75 to 80%, which should help improve the lifespan of the battery by not keeping it fully charged all the time. This can’t be used with rapid charge at the same time, which charges the battery faster. Let’s check out thermals next. There’s one thick heatpipe shared between the CPU and GPU with lenovo’s standard thermal compound underneath. There are two fans which exhaust air out of both the left and right sides as well as out of the vents on

the back. We can see there are plenty of holes underneath where the fans are for air intake. The Vantage software lets us change between different performance modes, which from lowest to highest are quiet, balance and performance. Balance mode also has an optional AI setting which is meant to provide an optimal experience in supported games. Think best performance without the fans going too loud. You can also press the function and Q shortcut to change between the three performance modes, and the color of the power button will change so you can easily tell which is currently in

use, as noted here. Performance mode can’t be used when running on battery power. We’ve also got the option of turning on a GPU overclock through vantage too. You can do some customization through here, but we’ve left it at default any time we’ve tested with the overclock enabled. The overclock only works in balanced or performance modes when plugged in. At the time of recording in mid September 2022, there isn’t any manual fan control available with this laptop. However, there is the Legion Zone software which does offer some basic control. Unfortunately right now, it’s only available in

Chinese, so hopefully we see these features integrated into the Vantage software in future. The internal temperatures were cool when just sitting there idle. The rest of the results are from combined CPU and GPU stress tests which aim to represent a worst case full load scenario. The CPU temperatures are perfectly fine and not getting anywhere near too hot, however Nvidia’s thermal throttle limit of 86 degrees Celsius was being reached with the highest performance mode enabled. The cooling pad I test with, linked below the video, was able to remove this though by lowering the GPU temperature by

almost 9 degrees Celsius. These are the clock speeds being reached during the same stress tests. Higher modes equal higher performance, as you’d expect, but as we just saw, also higher temperatures – that’s the tradeoff. The cooling pad was able to boost the GPU clock speed by over 70MHz as it’s removing the GPU thermal throttle, but honestly 70MHz isn’t that much of a deal, so I don’t think the throttle was that bad, at least with my cool ambient room temperature, but as you’ll see soon, gaming performance is still great for a 3060. We can see why

the CPU wasn’t running hot when looking at the power levels being reached, the 6800H is running with just 33 watts in performance mode. Now to be fair, the all core clock speed was 3.7GHz, which is still decent. For comparison, the ASUS TUF A15 runs its 6800H at 45 watts in this test and hits 4GHz, but the tradeoff is its 95 degrees Celsius for 300MHz more speed. We can see that the 130 watt RTX 3060 wasn’t running at 130 watts without the cooling pad due to the thermal throttle. Most games aren’t actually going to max out

both the CPU and GPU at the same time like this, and based on the game benchmarks we’ll look at later, it doesn’t seem to be negatively affecting performance under normal circumstances. Here’s how a game performs with the different performance modes in use. Balance mode with a 100 watt Type-C charger was a little behind quiet mode with the larger 230 watt power brick, while balance mode with full power was quite a bit better. The Type-C charger could still run the game at 62 FPS if you’re happy to lower the resolution to 1080p, and of course expect

a bigger improvement with a 135 watt charger. Balance mode with the AI setting enabled boosted frame rate, despite the fans not being noticeably louder, while performance mode with the GPU overclock option enabled in Vantage gave the best result, but wasn’t much higher than without it. Although CPU performance wasn’t running above 34 watts with the GPU going hard at the same time, a CPU only workload like Cinebench was able to boost it much higher. Testing with a 100 watt Type-C charger connected resulted in the CPU running with a 51 watt TDP in this test, so not

too far behind compared to using the larger 230 watt brick, but again expect better results if you’ve got one that can support the new 135 watt maximum. CPU performance was good when compared against other AMD laptops. It’s the second best result that I’ve got from the Ryzen 7 6800H so far, and the one ahead of it was liquid cooled, so that’s kind of expected. Intel’s 12th gen laptops are objectively faster in both single and multi threaded performance compared to AMD though, so if you need maximum processor performance then you might want to look at the

Legion 5i instead, which is basically the same laptop, just with an Intel CPU. Performance drops back quite a lot when we unplug the charger and instead run purely off of battery power. AMD generally does better than Intel here, however there are a number of Intel 12th gen machines that are ahead of the Legion 5. The cheaper TUF A15 from ASUS with the same 6800H CPU was performing quite a bit better on battery. Most laptops I test are in the low 30 degrees Celsius range on the keyboard at idle, and the Legion 5 was well below

this and felt cool. It’s warmer in the low 40s with the stress test going in the lowest quiet mode. It’s not hot, but it definitely feels warm. The higher balanced mode was a bit cooler despite performing better because the fans are going faster now, and then the highest performance mode was fairly similar. The wrist rest is cool and the WASD area felt ok, let’s have a listen to the fans. The fans were always audible even while just sitting there idle in quiet mode, so don’t expect complete silence. It gets louder in the higher performance modes,

as you’d expect, and maxed out in performance mode wasn’t as loud compared to most other laptops I’ve tested. But that said, I’d still prefer headphones to hear properly over the fan noise. Now I’ve been sitting here for about 15 or 20 minutes recording this video, and this laptop has been completely silent while just sitting here idle on battery. That wasn’t the case when I had it plugged in with the charger, so maybe it’s just different when on battery, because right now I can’t hear it. Just before we get into the game benchmarks, let’s check out

the screen, given that’s what you’re actually going to be looking at when playing games. It’s got a MUX switch which can be toggled through the Vantage software by changing the GPU working mode to dGPU mode and rebooting, but you probably won’t need to use that because it’s also got advanced optimus, which means you can turn optimus on or off without rebooting. The Legion 5 is available with these different screen options. I’ve got the 1440p screen here with G-Sync, but the 1080p 165Hz screen also offers G-Sync. The cheaper 144Hz and 60Hz options don’t have G-Sync, but

you’re still able to use FreeSync as long as optimus is on. G-Sync is only available when optimus isn’t in use. My 1440p screen has decent color gamut for a gaming laptop, but I’d want more if you’re also doing professional content creation. Don’t get me wrong, the screen looks nice, but this is a gaming panel first and foremost. The 1440p screen is advertised at 300 nits, but ours was able to get to 358 nits at full brightness. It dips down fairly fast as you lower the brightness, and it’s able to get extremely dim. The Vantage software

lets you enable or disable overdrive mode, which affects screen response time. Overdrive is enabled by default, which results in a 4.34ms average grey-to-grey response time, lower than the 6ms needed for transitions to occur within the 165Hz refresh window. This introduces some overshoot and undershoot though, which you can remove by disabling overdrive mode, but this increases the response time a little to 6.91ms. It’s a great result when compared to other laptops, within the margin of error range to last year’s Legion 7 and this year’s Legion 5i Pro, both of which are higher end, more expensive models

from Lenovo. It’s quite a bit faster compared to last year’s Legion 5, though that one doesn’t seem to have a working overdrive mode. The total system latency is the amount of time between a mouse click and when a gunshot fire appears on the screen in CS:GO. Again a decent result here considering we’re right next to the more expensive Legion 5i Pro, and 7ms faster when compared against last year’s Legion 5. Backlight bleed was fine, there are some lighter patches, but I never noticed these during normal use, though this will vary between panels. Now let’s find

out how well this year’s Legion 5 compares against other laptops in games.. Cyberpunk 2077 was tested the same on all laptops, and I’ve got this year’s Legion 5 shown by the red highlight. It’s not actually too different compared to last year’s Legion 5 which was just a couple of FPS behind. This year’s Legion 5 isn’t quite the best 3060 that we’ve tested, that goes to the Vapor 15X aka Eluktronics MAX-15 just above it, likely because Intel generally beats AMD when it comes to gaming, but also the 3060 in that one has a higher GPU power

limit despite it being in a thinner laptop. We’ve got a different selection of laptops at the higher 1440p resolution as we just haven’t tested as many, and the difference between this year’s Legion 5 and last year’s is even smaller here. The best 3060 tested so far is only 1 frame ahead of this year’s Legion 5, which isn’t going to be a difference that anyone actually notices when playing. The gaming performance is looking decent from this year’s Legion 5, so that thermal throttling noted earlier in the stress tests doesn’t appear to be causing us any problems

here. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested with the games benchmark tool. Again it’s not the best 3060 tested, that goes to the Intel based machine just above it with higher GPU power limit. It’s scoring basically the same as a number of other 3060 laptops though, including this year’s TUF A15 from ASUS, and last year’s Legion 5. At 1440p there’s less than a 1 FPS difference with last year’s Legion 5, which is well within the margin of error range, so let’s just say they perform the same here, and the other higher 140 watt 3060s weren’t too

much further ahead. Again it’s only a very small difference and not something you’d be able to notice when playing, other differences like thermals, price and build quality will be more important. Control is a GPU heavy game, and there’s a bit more of a gap between this year’s Legion 5 and last year’s, but again we’re talking about less than 3 FPS, so it really doesn’t matter at all. There are other higher 3060s here, but again with a 1 to 2 FPS gap they’re all basically performing the same, not counting the lower wattage 3060 machines of course

which are notably lower. At 1440p the higher 140 watt 3060 in the TUF A15 was ahead of the Legion 5, but the Legion 5 is basically tied with that higher powered 3060 in the machine just below it, and again these were doing better compared to lower powered 3060s, which are typically found in thinner or cheaper laptops. I’ve retested Cyberpunk while also streaming to YouTube at 1080p at the same time with OBS. There’s some performance loss while streaming, but the game’s still running well. At 1080p, it’s still above 60 FPS while streaming, but without streaming it’s

almost 10% faster. Here are the 3DMark results for those that find them useful, now for some content creator tests. Adobe Premiere was tested with the Puget Systems benchmark tool, and although it’s not as good compared to Intel 12th gen 3060 laptops, it’s still better compared to other Ryzen based laptops with 3060 graphics. Adobe Photoshop likes single threaded performance, and we saw earlier that Ryzen 6000 just can’t compete with Intel 12th gen, which is why our Ryzen 7 and 3060 combination is close to Lenovo’s cheaper IdeaPad with an i5 and 3050 Ti. Even the thinner Slim

7i with lower GPU power limit is ahead due to the Intel CPU. GPU power matters more in DaVinci Resolve, but clearly CPU power still matters, because again the thinner Slim 7i was scoring better despite having its RTX 3060 limited to 100 watts. The Blender score was close to other 3060s, but last year’s Legion 5 was slightly ahead, granted the difference is extremely small, margin of error stuff. We’ve also tested SPECviewperf which tests out various professional 3D workloads. The BIOS has more options compared to other gaming laptops like ASUS, but not quite as much customization as

MSI’s advanced BIOS. Many of the options in here can also be modified through the Vantage software anyway, such as overclocking or flip to start, which automatically powers on the laptop when you open the lid. Linux support was tested with an Ubuntu 22.04 live CD. By default the keyboard, touchpad, speakers, camera, Wi-Fi and ethernet all worked out of the box. The keyboard shortcuts to change keyboard lighting effect and performance modes still work as they’re baked into firmware and not software dependent. You can’t change keyboard brightness though as that required software. The shortcuts to adjust volume work,

but screen brightness didn’t, but that might be because I had to use safe graphics mode in order to get it to boot. Let’s discuss pricing and availability next. This will change over time, so refer to the link below the video as Lenovo are known to frequently run sales. At the time of recording, in the US the Legion 5 starts at $1150 USD, but with the Ryzen 5 and 3050 Ti graphics. $150 more gets you the RTX 3060, which honestly is probably worth it as it performs so much better, but to get the Ryzen 7 CPU

like I’ve got is fairly pricey right now for the power you get. There are also more expensive options if you’re after more GPU power, but right now in the US at least, it doesn’t seem like they have the 1440p option that I’ve got, just 1080p. Alright so with all of that in mind, is it actually worth buying this year’s Legion 5? Well I don’t think it’s gotten any worse since last year’s version, there are some improvements. But the competition has also gotten tougher at this price point. This year’s version did have some thermal throttling on

the GPU, but I only noticed that in a heavy CPU and GPU stress test. And that kind of just seems to be a result of the increased GPU power limit this year. Now technically speaking, both the 2021 and 2022 Legion 5 had an RTX 3060 that boosted up to 130 watts. The difference is with last year’s version, it would run down to 115 watts if the CPU was also active at the same time. But this year’s version on the other hand always tries to run at 130 watts when it’s in performance mode. Honestly this isn’t

really something I’m concerned about, because the actual performance in games was still good and where we’d expect it to be relative to other 3060 laptops. Outside of gaming, the 6800H gets about 10% more performance compared to last year’s 5800H. So there are some improvements with this year’s Legion 5, but ultimately for the tasks that you’d actually be using it for like gaming, the differences just aren’t all that big compared to last year’s version. And to be fair, that’s not really Lenovo’s fault. I mean they’re kind of limited to using the RTX 3060 graphics in this

thing just like they had last year. Because Nvidia hasn’t refreshed that yet. Now Nvidia does also have an RTX 3070 Ti configuration, and that’s something that didn’t exist last year. So if I was instead sitting here comparing the 3070 2021 model against the 3070 Ti 2022 model, then the performance gap would obviously be bigger. There’s also the fact that AMD’s Ryzen 6000 just hasn’t given us a whole lot of performance gain compared to last year’s 5000. Again it could be a completely different story if we’re instead looking at the Intel based Legion 5i, as that’s

basically the same laptop but with an Intel 12th gen CPU. And the fact is, 12th gen is a pretty big step up compared to last year’s 11th gen. So yeah, I guess what I’m trying to say is if I had a 2021 model that was Intel 11th gen and RTX 3070 based, then yeah going to a 3070 Ti with 12th gen would probably be a bigger performance increase. But going from Ryzen 5000 with 3060 to Ryzen 6000 with 3060, you’re not really going to notice the difference in most games. Now if you are after a

big performance gain, then it might be worth waiting for next gen models in 2023. I’ve covered all the reasons why in this video over here next, so check that one to find out if you should buy now or if it’s worth waiting!

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