We’ve had to wait a while, but we’re finally reviewing Lenovo’s flagship gaming laptop. It follows in the footsteps of some amazing gaming laptops including the all-conquering behemoth, Asus Strix Scar 17 SE and the great-value MSI Vector GP66. But the Lenovo Legion 7i has the credentials to potentially beat all of them. Will we get another new number 1 laptop in less than a week?
Related: Check out our Lenovo Legion 7i Pro review (Gen 8)
Table of Contents
- Specs of the Lenovo Legion 7i
- Design, Features & Ergonomics
- Connectivity and Ports
- Price and availability
- Alternatives to the Lenovo Legion 7i
Specs of the Lenovo Legion 7i
|Screen||16-inch, matte, 165Hz, 2,560 x 1,600, IPS display|
|Processor||3.6–5GHz Intel Core i9-12900HX CPU|
|Memory||32GB DDR5-4800 RAM|
|Graphics||Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti 16GB GDDR6 RAM|
|Hard drive||1TB PCIe NVMe|
2 x Thunderbolt 4
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1
2 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
3.5mm audio jack
|Security features||Fingerprint reader, Webcam privacy switch|
|Dimensions||357 x 262 x 22mm|
Design, Features & Ergonomics
Lenovo says its Legion gaming laptops are designed to look both awesome in the office but sober enough to blend into a work environment and we’re inclined to agree. At a glance, with the RGB lights turned off, the Lenovo Legion 7i is a dark-grey, corporate machine with some classy detailing. Turn the lights on, however, and you’ve got yourself the envy of any LAN.
The lid is thin and sports a multi-zone, RGB-backlit Legion logo on the front. There are plenty of more-brash gaming laptop lids on the market, but this still maintains a high degree of cool.
Opening it up reveals the same full-size keyboard we’ve seen on previous generations, with a (reduced-width) number pad and full-size arrow keys. Despite the 16-inch chassis being used in full, nothing feels crammed. The keys are Lenovo’s bespoke, low-travel, lozenge-shaped tiles and they’re very well weighted. It’s well laid out and comfortable and accurate to type upon and game with.
The Legion Spectrum RGB lighting is per-key and pre-set (and custom) patterns can be adjusted in the Lenovo Vantage PC management app.
Interestingly, the Lenovo Legion 7i also comes with a key-cap replacement tool that can fix and replace key caps and the actuators beneath. While replacing the WASD keys might make sense for some gamers, we’re not this gives us much faith in the longevity of the keyboard. That said, we’ve experienced nothing to suggest that they won’t last as long as any other rival.
The Lenovo Legion 7i’s trackpad is smooth and accurate and the integrated buttons are (like the keyboard) quiet and accurate to actuate.
Above the screen is a Full HD webcam and microphone array which capture very crisp and clear audio (and video) for web conferencing and streaming.
The Lenovo Legion 7i’s matte, 16-inch, IPS screen has a UHD, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution that runs at a speedy 165Hz. It displays a bright and clear Windows Desktop with decent colour accuracy. For multimedia, it’s very good. There can be some light banding in colourful and monochromatic gradients and, although contrast is generally very good, some detail can get lost in very dark shadows or very bright areas. Colours might not be the most vibrant but they are very good.
Related: Best laptop November 2023
Related: Best Business Laptop
Related: Best Gaming Laptops
Related: Best Portable Laptop
Related: The Coolest Laptops ever
Related: Acer Black Friday Laptop Sale
Related: MSI Black Friday Laptop Sale
For gaming, the 165Hz refresh rate keeps everything smooth, but fast-and-frantic FPS players may feel slightly compromised by the very slight motion blur that this and a slightly slow pixel refresh rate, produce.
It sounds like we’re slamming the screen, but the Lenovo Legion 7i has aspirations for being the number one laptop on the market so we’re going overboard. Indeed, it’s one of the best gaming screens on the market as getting any kind of speed into such a high-resolution UHD screen is always difficult.
Lenovo doesn’t publish the tech specs of its speakers but does say that audio is by Harman (formerly known as Harman Kardon). Whatever the case, they’re excellent. There’s great fidelity from top to bottom, plus some impressive bass while vocal clarity is impressive for both music and spoken word.
Other features include a Windows Hello-compatible fingerprint reader that’s housed within the power button beneath the screen. We’re also very impressed with Lenovo’s green credentials which go way beyond green-washing claims. The company isn’t alone in reducing packaging waste, but it also factors in the carbon footprint involved in manufacturing, shipping and lifecycle management (including safe safe-waste disposal) to a higher degree than any other laptop manufacturer, other than Venom. Lenovo even includes carbon off-set with the Lenovo Legion 7i which is based upon the amount of electricity buyers are expected to use with it, over the following five years.
Ultimately, we love interacting with the Lenovo Legion 7i, as all of its ergonomics are great and it looks fantastic. However, be well aware that it (as with its predecessors) runs hot. We like that it’s not noisy (unlike its predecessor) but the keyboard is always warm and the chassis underneath the screen can literally get too hot to the touch. Still, you can just about rest it on your lap when doing office work as the base is more luke-warm than roasting.
The i in 7i stands for Intel. When it’s not there, it denotes that a Legion laptop is AMD-based. Inside our SKU of the Lenovo Legion 7i is a mighty, 3.6–5GHz Intel Core i9-12900HX CPU with eight Performance cores and eight Efficiency cores and 24 threads of operation. The HX suffix denotes the higher-power consumption of the CPU – theoretically it can approach desktop performance.
It’s flanked by a generous 32GB of DDR5-4800 RAM and a 1TB NVMe hard drive. These combined to score 8,686 in the general-computing PCMark 10 test. That’s the fastest score we’ve ever seen – even more than the massive, well-cooled, Asus ROG Strix SCAR 17 SE with its beefier CPU and power supply. Extraordinary!
In the Cinebench CPU-based rendering tests it scored 3,542 in R15 and 19,884 in the longer R23 test. Both are a whisker behind the slightly-faster MSI Raider GE77 HX which has better cooling and a similar CPU. Still, this is still a 5-Star effort from the Lenovo Legion 7i, it offers the fastest 2D performance we’ve seen on this site.
3D grunt comes from the top-end, Nvidia RTX 3080 Ti with a whopping 16GB of GDDR6 RAM. The latter ensures it can handle things like the 12GB HD texture pack in Far Cry 6. We ran our difficult, 3DMark ray-tracing tests and it scored 3,435 (average 34.4fps) in the new Speed Way test and 8,576 (39.7fps) in Port Roayl. Both of these scores are only a whisker behind the pack-leading ROG SCAR.
In the triple-AAA-gaming-title-emulating tests it scored 13,510 (average 83fps) in Time Spy and 16,263 (74.2fps) in Fire Strike Extreme. Those are 2nd and 1st place scores, respectively. In the simple Night Raid test, which looks at cross-platform, casual and competitive games, it managed 66,174 (average 616.6fps) which is, again, just behind the SCAR.
In our new CS:GO tests it averaged 440fps in the main test, but this dropped to an average of 73fps in the lowest one per cent of frames (the 1% Low test) when the going got tough. That’s still an excellent result, but it’s some way behind the SCAR whose extra system power saw its 1% Low score only drop to 123fps.
Indeed, the SCAR comes with a large, 330W power supply which can supply more power to both its CPU and GPU simultaneously which is why it leaves rivals trailing. However, it’s not by much. The Lenovo Legion 7i’s 3D Performance score of 4.6 Stars shows it’s the second fastest gaming laptop we’ve seen.
We should add that, while the Lenovo Legion 7i runs hot, it doesn’t get particularly noisy and it showed in many torture tests that performance doesn’t degrade with thermal throttling over time.
Connectivity and Ports
Inside there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2. All in all, it’s got the lot.
The Lenovo Legion 7i weighs 2.57KG which isn’t light but isn’t half bad for top-tier, 16-inch gaming laptop. The thin, 230-Watt power supply and cables add 0.87KG more to the mix which is also not light, but relatively small compared to rivals.
Build quality is robust although the thin screen and hinges aren’t the toughest. We recommend taking extra care when carting it around.
Meanwhile, the maximum-size, 99.9Wh battery ran our 3DMark 10 Modern Office test for an impressive 7 hours 50 minutes, which is, essentially, a full day out of the office.
Price and availability
As we went to press, Lenovo was offering our SKU of the Lenovo Legion 7i for a massive, 25% discount of $5,317. That’s way down on the RRP of $7,089.
Alternatives to the Lenovo Legion 7i
Asus ROG Strix Scar 17 SE: Larger, 17-inch screen; bigger and less portable; consistently low price; the 360Hz, low-resolution screen of our review unit is more-suited to very fast FPS games.
MSI Raider GE67 HX: 15-inch gaming monster; similar design school (RGB for LAN, grey for the office); stunning, 240Hz, OLED screen; less portable.
MSI Vector GP66: Much cheaper gaming laptop; minimal RGB bling; still powerful where it counts; awful battery life.
Acer Predator Helios 300: Much cheaper gaming laptop; very hard to find at the moment; excellent value; gamer-focused styling.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14: Gaming ultraportable; much cheaper; brash design that won’t work in a stuffy office; gets even hotter than the Lenovo Legion 7i.
It’s done it! But, not without some photo-finish controversy. When you factor in the RRP, the Lenovo Legion 7i finishes just a smidge behind the ROG Strix SCAR but with the current discount, it’s our new Number 1 Best Laptop. However, what sold it for us was that the Lenovo Legion 7i is very much a fantastic all-rounder that excels at every task you throw at it. It’s as good in the office as it is at a LAN. The massive SCAR, meanwhile, is all about gaming and offers a fair few compromises that will hinder adoption by the mass market. Ultimately, few people wouldn’t love to own this laptop.
Lenovo Legion 7i Scores
It’s fitting that the Lenovo Legion 7i is probably the last great 12th Gen laptop we’ll review before the 13th Gen models appear. It’s the best of its generation and, with many stunning rivals available, that’s a seriously impressive achievement.