Lenovo Legion 7i 2020 review
Quick verdict: Lenovo's gaming laptop has a design that doesn't shout out its gaming roots, because this is a nicely configured gaming laptop by stealth instead.
- Doesn't have the garishness of most gaming laptops
- Great gaming performance
- Lots of port choice including Thunderbolt 3
- Doesn't have the bling of some gaming laptops
- Most of the ports are located at the rear
- Average battery life, even for a gaming laptop
Lenovo's not a brand that many might associate heavily with gaming laptops, given it's arguably better known for its Yoga and ThinkPad lines for more regular everyday consumers. The Chinese laptop maker has been producing gaming-centric laptops under its Legion sub-brand for years now, and the Lenovo Legion 7i provides a solid and fun gaming experience, wrapped in a shell that you could also easily use as a work machine.
- 15.6-inch FHD+ display with minimal bezels
- RGB keyboard with quiet actuation
From the outside, there's actually not a lot that gives away the fact that the Lenovo Legion 7i is a gaming laptop. It's finished in a dark grey aluminium casing, with just a hint of colour peeking through via the RGB lighting in the "O" of the Legion logo. Still, it wouldn't be too hard to sneak this one past your boss as a pure work machine, at least from the outside.
Open it up and power it on and the illusion would be shattered – not so much from the 15.6-inch FHD 144Hz display, which features minimal bezels, but from the RGB keyboard, which by default fires up a swirling rainbow pattern. Gaming laptops aren't really gaming laptops without lots of RGB silliness, and the Lenovo Legion 7i has it over the keyboard, the vents, the logo – and there's even a USB port with its own RGB backlighting for that extra degree of exuberance. You can change up the RGB settings via the iCue app, which I very quickly did to avoid those classic swirling RGB headaches.
The level of response and noise on the keyboard and trackpad were fine during testing, although I'm not superbly fond of Lenovo's use of keys with curves at the bottom. It's totally an aesthetic thing, but I always look at them and figure they're sad little keys. Cheer up, little key buddies – there are games to play!
The Lenovo Legion 7i features a good assortment of ports, including two USB Gen 2 A type ports, one USB Gen 1 A type port, ethernet, HDMI, headphones and two USB C ports, one of which is also Thunderbolt 3 compatible. If I've got a complaint about the Lenovo Legion 7i, it's that most of the ports are located at the rear of the laptop, where they're slightly harder to reach. Lenovo does at least label them at the top so you don't have to put too much guesswork into adding peripherals.
- Great gaming performance
- Can handle most AAA titles
- 144Hz refresh rate is adequate
Like so many gaming laptops, the Lenovo Legion 7i ships in a variety of configurations.
The model as tested ran on a 10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H "Comet Lake" processor with 16GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD configured by default in a single partition and Windows 10 Pro. The model tested utilising an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2070 with Max-Q, meaning it works at lower thermal temperatures than its desktop equivalent – which you very much want on a laptop unless you also need a pizza oven on your legs.
Internationally Lenovo has options for a lower-spec 2060 or higher-end 2070 SUPER Max-Q or the 2080 SUPER Max-Q GPU, but in Australia at the time of writing, the only models on sale all ran on the 2070 Max-Q model, with the key differences being in an anti-glare screen coating, Window 10 Pro or Home and storage capacities.
In combination, that's a recipe for some very solid gaming action, and it's reflected in the way that the Lenovo Legion 7i ran through our benchmark tests. It's essentially running second to the recently tested Alienware Area 51 M17 R2, and that's a laptop in a very different kind of price bracket.
What that equates to in gaming terms is a rig that can rather nicely handle most AAA titles you're likely to throw at it, although in an era where incredibly fast refresh rate screens are becoming the norm, the 144Hz refresh rate merely feels adequate, rather than exciting. I ran the Lenovo Legion 7i through a range of games titles from various eras with no real issues, although as with most gaming laptops, you're more likely to use an external controller and/or mouse rather than rely on the trackpad unless you really have to.
- Moderate battery life for a gaming laptop
- Custom charging cable
Lenovo drops a 4-cell, 80Wh battery inside the Lenovo Legion 7i, with a claim of up to 8 hours of battery life.
As with any "up to" figure there's a lot of room for interpretation. Using the Lenovo Legion 7i to bash out a few articles and tootle around the web, I could well imagine it lasting to or near that 8-hour figure, but this is a gaming laptop first and foremost.
I ran it through our standard video test, playing full HD video at maximum brightness and moderate volume with battery-saving measures disabled, as well as through PCMark 10's more specific gaming battery test to give a comparative view of how well its battery is likely to manage across multiple use scenarios. Here's how it compared:
"Exceptional battery life" isn't a statement that gets applied to all that many gaming laptops, and I'm certainly not going to apply it here. The power draw of the Lenovo Legion 7i means it's not really feasible to use USB C charging, so it does require its own custom charging cable, although to its credit the actual charging brick is only moderately sized.
Should you buy the Lenovo Legion 7i 2020?
- Buy it if you want a gaming laptop that doesn't entirely look like a gaming laptop.
- Don't buy it if you want higher refresh rates, a 4K display or high battery life.
The Lenovo Legion 7i is an entirely serviceable laptop for general use and also a pretty tasty little gaming number in the one casing. That might not appeal quite as much to the direct gaming crowd that might want something distinctly more show-offish, but it does give it wider appeal as a result.