We rounded off 2022 with the Lenovo Legion 7i taking top spot on our Best Laptops list and, ever since, we’ve been looking forward to seeing what the new generation of premium gaming laptops can do. While the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i isn’t quite the company’s flagship laptop, it’s not very far off. It’s got Intel’s top, 13th-gen, consumer processor inside plus an almost-top-tier Nvidia RTX 4070 gaming chip. We raved about its predecessor. Could the 2023 version be even better?
Related: Check out our Lenovo Legion Pro 7i review (Gen 8)
Table of Contents
|Screen||16-inch, matte, 240Hz, 2,560 x 1,600, IPS, HDR display|
|Processor||3.9-5.4GHz Intel Core i9-13900HX CPU|
|Memory||32GB DDR5-5600 RAM|
|Graphics||8GB Nvidia RTX 4070 GPU|
|Hard drive||1TB PCIe NVMe|
1 x Gigabit Ethernet
4 x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2
1 x HDMI 2.1
|Speakers||2 × 2 Watt|
|Security||E-Shutter cover for webcam|
|Dimensions||363 x 260 x 27mm|
Features, Ergonomics and Design
Our Lenovo Legion Pro 5i has the ‘Onyx Grey’ livery although it’s also available in ‘Abyss Blue.’ Both are very corporate colours but then it needs to be noted that this range is largely about hiding super powers beneath an office-friendly suit. The sharp lines are stylish in every type of setting although the large, ‘Legion’ moniker on the front will raise some eyebrows in a stuffy boardroom.
Note, however, that despite the classy, corporate looks, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i is all plastic and, despite feeling like very high quality plastic, in a premium laptop world that’s constructed of magnesium and aluminium-based constructions, it’s still plastic.
The RGB ridiculousness of its more-minted sibling is missing but not everyone wants to draw attention to themselves with disco lights. The keyboard is RGB-lit but, in zones. At least there is some there!
The Legion Pro 5i’s ‘TrueStrike’ keyboard itself is, as usual for Lenovo, excellent. The lozenge-shaped keys are well-weighted, accurate and comfortable to type and game upon for extended periods. There are full-sized arrow keys and even reduced-width number pad. It’s excellent.
The trackpad is large, smooth and accurate and the buttons are comfortably actuated. Our unit also came with a low-rent, plastic Lenovo Legion M300 gaming mouse which might not feel high quality but it’s lightweight, accurate for gaming and even has an RGB Legion logo.
Importantly, a feature that blighted the Gen 7 version of the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i, has been fixed – the sharp wrist-rest. That design flaw left marks in your wrist after only modest use and was very uncomfortable.
The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i’s “PureSight” screen is arguably the best we’ve ever seen on a laptop. The 16-inch IPS display has a UHD, 2,560 x 1,600 resolution, it gets bright (500-nit rating) and displays a very crisp and clear desktop. Colours are vibrant, although they can’t match OLED. However, it makes up for this with its matte coating for the following reasons…
The screen is HDR-capable and flicking the switch in Windows’ Display Settings is picked up by the likes of YouTube (many HDR laptops don’t get recognised, despite claiming HDR compatibility). This, married with the brightness means that contrast is outstanding and HDR content looks phenomenal. Many fine details become visible in both bright and dark areas and while true blacks can’t rival OLED, the lack of glossy reflections, inherent with OLED in dark scenes, means you can actually see even more detail.
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On top of this, both colourful and monochromatic gradients are incredibly smooth with no banding visible. That’s very rare on a gaming laptop and only the best Creator models can beat it. However, what makes this achievement jaw-dropping is the fact that it’s achieved on a fast gaming screen. Gaming screens are so often riddled with blocky artefacts, when it comes to fine, graphical reproductions, that it’s become a normality for which, until now, we’ve been very forgiving. It’s also why Creator laptops’ screens are often slow. But this, achieves what it does with a 240Hz refresh rate! That’s extraordinary.
The pixel response time is very impressive too. There’s very little motion blur, even in very fast and frantic games. Only the most super-picky, competitive FPS players might grumble. There’s no motion tearing either because it’s Nvidia G-Sync compatible.
Ultimately, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i’s screen excels when it comes to resolution, speed, HDR, contrast and brightness. Only the vibrancy and true-blacks of OLED are missing but those former features, plus not having a glossy mirror for a screen, more than make up for it.
Above the screen is an impressive, Full HD webcam which can be deactivated with an E-Shutter switch on the side, for privacy. It is capable of impressive clarity, even in low light. There’s no Windows Hello functionality, though. The array microphones are adept at capturing audio even in noisy environments, meaning it’s very good for web-conferencing and streaming.
As before, the twin, two-Watt speakers remind you of why this isn’t treated as a tier-1 laptop by Lenovo. There’s good fidelity from top to bottom and even some bass. But, volume is good, not great, and they just lack a little punch compared to the best rivals. We’re nitpicking though.
All in all, it might not look spectacular, but it’s one of the very best laptops we’ve ever interacted with.
Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Review: Photo Flourish
The images in our Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Gen 8 review feature a Kookaburra from Woolworths’ ‘Not Lego’ Bricks Farm.
Internally, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i wields Intel’s very best laptop processor, the Core i9-13900HX. This is capable of desktop-levels of power-draw which it wields across 8 Power cores, 16 Efficiency cores and 32 threads. It typically utilises between 45 and 157 Watts and operates across a speedy range of 3.9 and 5.4GHz.
It’s partnered with a generous 32GB of fast DDR5-5600 RAM and a 1TB NVMe hard drive. We expected greatness.
In the general-computing PCMark 10 test it scored, 8,591. That’s only beaten by the 12th-Gen Legion 7i which managed 8,686. We suspect that the CPU and RAM are held back a little bit by the rest of the system.
Indeed, in our processor-based rendering tests, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i scored 4,719 in Cinebench R15 and 26,122 in Cinebench R23. These are the fastest scores we’ve ever seen. Not only that, they’re a full, one-third faster than their 12th-Gen equivalent, the i9-12900HX, can produce. That’s an extraordinary generational increase.
3D performance comes from the new Nvidia GeForce RTX 4070 and we were keen to see how it performed. In the difficult 3DMark ray-tracing tests, it scored 3,003 in Speed Way which is an average of 30fps. It also scored 7,605 in Port Royal (average 35.2fps). Few games are currently as complex as these tests, so it shows that this will be able to play just about every AAA title at top resolution with Settings dialled up.
In the 3DMark Time Spy and Fire Strike Extreme tests – which ape the requirements of many, current, AAA-title games – the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i scored 13,142 (average 77.8fps) and 13,702 (average 63fps) respectively.
All of these scores are generally comparable with last generation’s 3070 Ti GPU.
However, in the 3DMark Night Raid test, which replicates the performance of casual and competitive games, it scored 71,984 which is an average of 745.3fps. That’s the highest score we’ve ever seen and five per cent more than a 3080 Ti. Interesting.
Ultimately, it’s the fifth fastest laptop we’ve seen when it comes to 3D performance. If that sounds disappointing, remember that this is a tier-two laptop that’s competing with super-premium, highly-overclockable, very expensive flagships which are equipped with even-more-powerful, last-gen GPUs. There’s little that it won’t play very well indeed.
Also worth noting is the updated ‘Coldfront 5.0’ cooling system (which features curved fan blades and enlarged intake and exhaust ports) does not get loud (for a gaming laptop). Sure, the fans can ramp up to a modest swoosh, but it takes some serious graphical gymnastics to get them to that point. As such, it’s neither hot nor noisy.
Inside the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i there’s Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2.
It’s a bit surprising that there’s no Thunderbolt 4 port. Even if Lenovo plans to use the same chassis for its AMD variants USB 4 would have been nice. We suspect that connectivity has been dialled back for political reasons relating to making the 7i look better. Still, few people are going to feel enormously limited.
The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i weighs 2.56KG, which isn’t light, but it’s on par with a 16-inch gaming beast. The slim PSU is refreshingly stylish and, even though it weighs two-grams-shy of 1KG, we’re used to seeing equivalents that are much bigger and heavier.
It’s solidly built, including the relatively thin lid, which barely flexes when a twisting force is applied. The hinge is solid too and it even lies down flat. It should survive life on the road.
This Legion has an 80Wh battery that ran our PCMark10 Modern Office test for a mediocre five hours. We’re going to run this test a few more times as battery testing after performance testing, in a condensed time frame, sometimes causes issues due to the warm start. Either way, Lenovo itself says the optimistic limit is eight hours. This is an area where a Lenovo 7i reminds people who’s boss.
Nonetheless, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i has a Super Rapid Charge mode which can reach 80 per cent in just 30 minutes and 100 per cent in 60 minutes. That’s impressive and will help with peace of mind when away from a wall socket for a few hours.
Price and Availability
Our review unit of the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i has the top-end spec. Variants are available with lesser, 13th-Gen HX processors and GPUs stretching down to an Nvidia RTX 3050.
Our unit is so new in the country that it’s not available yet. If you’re quick, you can buy a version with an i7-13700HX, 4060 and 16GB of RAM with a 20% discount for just $2,799. That’s impressive.
Alternatives to the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i
Lenovo Legion 7i – We haven’t seen the updated version of the 7i yet, but it’s going to be good. It normally comes in at a hefty premium, but physically it’s likely to be similar yet better to this.
MSI Raider GE67 HX – We’ve seen the new model, but we haven’t tested it yet. It’s going to give the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i a very good run for its money. But, it will also likely cost more.
Asus ROG Zephyrus G14 – We had a glimpse at the updated G14 a few days ago and can’t wait to test it. The genuinely ultraportable gaming powerhouse is incredible. Hopefully, the update stays a little cooler.
MSI Vector GP66 – MSI’s other premium gaming laptop is also slim, corporate and capable. We hope that the updated version can give this a good run for its money.
Acer Predator Triton 500 SE – Acer also has a corporate-looking gaming laptop. Availability has been an issue but, at its best, it could be a good value rival when the update appears.
Conclusion: Should you buy the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i?
Without a definitive price it’s hard to be precise on an exact score for the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i. However, even if we use an inflated $4,599 price tag as a guide (the launch price of its predecessor) it’s our new Number 1 Best Laptop.
Its 2D performance redefines the market thanks to its top-notch Intel chip. Its gaming prowess is very good indeed and the screen and keyboard are sensational. Those are all of the key boxes ticked for any high performance laptop, right there. But there’s more…
In a world of green washing, Lenovo is different. It doesn’t just offset the carbon used to fabricate its laptops, it offsets the carbon it predicts you’ll use to power them over the next five years.
Ultimately, Lenovo’s brand-spanking-new, second-tier laptop easily deserves our Best Laptop award. It will face some serious competition in the coming weeks, but many rivals (including the Gen 8 Legion 7i) will cost considerably more. They’ll all have to do a great deal of work to make this look second-rate: it could be that, when the race is run, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i remains the perfect sweet spot of price vs performance that everyone seeks in a high performance laptop.
Unrivalled 2D performance
Excellent 3D performance
Mediocre battery life
Problems with availability
Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Scores
Lenovo Legion Pro 5i Review Summary
The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i might nominally be a second-tier laptop, but judicious (and political) choices have created a combination of performance and value that will be hard for any premium gaming laptop to beat.