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The Lenovo Legion 7i review

  The Lenovo Legion 7i is an interesting gaminglaptop, let’s find out why and see if it lives up to the hype in this detailed review. I’ve got one of the higher tier configurationoptions, but it is available with quite a few different specs, you can find examplesand updated prices linked in the description. The 7i has an all metal build with slate grayfinish. Overall build quality felt nice, I’d sayit’s above average, and there were no sharp corners or edges. The 7i is listed at 2.1kg, though my configurationwas closer to 2.3kg, and with the 230w power brick and cables for charging we’re lookingat 3.1kg or 6.9lb. The size is fairly standard for a 15” gaminglaptop, it’s not too thick given the specs inside. I found the bezels just 7.5mm thin on thesides, though the bottom chin is larger. The 15.6” 1080p screen is available in afew different options, I’ve got the middle one here, 144Hz with 500 nit screen. Mine has G-Sync, but this isn’t availablewith all models so you’ll need to double check the specs. Advanced optimus also wasn’t available withmy panel, Stephen from Ownordisown noted that this feature is only available with the lowest300 nit panel option.

 I measured the screens average grey-to-greyresponse time at 7.6ms, there’s a link in the description if you need an explanationon these numbers. When we look at how this compares againstothers, it’s closer to the middle of the pack, so not super impressive but not as badas some others. The Lenovo Vantage software has an optionfor enabling overdrive, but I didn’t find this to change the screen response time sonot sure if it’s a bug or maybe it only works with certain panels. I’ve tested the screen with the Spyder 5,and got 100% of sRGB, 96% of NTSC, 100% of AdobeRGB and 90% of DCI-P3. At 100% brightness I measured the panel at475 nits in the center with an 970:1 contrast ratio, so very good results for a gaming laptop. Backlight bleed was fairly minor, I wasn’table to notice the glow spots when viewing darker content, but this will vary betweenlaptops and panels. There was some movement when intentionallyflexing the screen, but it felt quite solid due to the metal exterior. While doing this I noticed the machine wouldslide a bit on the desk, the feet underneath were hard and less grippy so it’s not thatdifficult to move it around with little effort.

 The hinges are found out towards the far corners,and these allow the screen to open right back by 180 degrees. There was some keyboard flex when pushingdown hard, but it mostly felt sturdy, again due to the metal build. Despite the screen bezels being quite thin,the 720p camera is above the screen in the center and it has a physically sliding privacyfilter, no Windows hello support though. This is what the camera and microphone lookand sound like on the Lenovo 7i, here’s what typing on the keyboard sounds like, andthis is what it looks like if we shut the privacy filter. The keyboard has bright RGB backlighting whichilluminates all keys and secondary key functions. It’s controlled through the included CorsairiCUE software, and there are a number of effects and customizations that can be made. There’s also RGB lighting that runs alongthe left, front, and right sides. It gives a subtle underglow effect and isn’tas obvious as say the ASUS Scar III. There’s more lighting from the air ventson the back, and there’s also the O in the Legion logo on the lid. All of these separate spots can be controlledtogether or independently through the iCUE software. Although you can customize it or turn it alloff, it still spews RGB during boot until the software loads, I didn’t find a wayof stopping this, and I only mention it because I had a few comments saying it was annoying. I suppose the fix would be to implement controlthrough the BIOS instead of software. Back to the keyboard though, I appreciatethat the arrow keys aren’t small and were moved down. Sometimes the backspace key felt a littlesmall but other than that no issues to note. It’s got 1.3mm of key travel, here’s howtyping sounds to give you an idea of what to expect. There are 3 levels of key brightness whichcan be controlled through software, or with the function plus up and down arrow keys. You can also quickly cycle between three differenteffects by pressing function and the space bar, there are far more options in softwarethough. The power button is above the keyboard inthe center and is surrounded by what appears to be small ventilation holes.

 The light of the power button changes basedon the performance mode that it’s currently in, so you can quickly visually tell, a nicetouch. The precision touchpad clicks down anywhere,feels nice to use and works well. Fingerprints were difficult to see on thematte finish, and as it’s smooth they’re easy to clean with a microfiber cloth. On the left from the back there’s an air exhaustvent, Type-C Thunderbolt 3 port with DisplayPort support, followed by USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-C portwith DisplayPort 1.4 and 3.5mm audio combo jack. On the right there’s just a USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-Aport and an air exhaust on this side too. The back has RGB lit air exhausts, then fromleft to right a HDMI 2.0 output, USB 3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, gigabit ethernet, second USB3.1 Gen2 Type-A port, the power input, and Kensington lock slot. As with many other Lenovo laptops, there areilluminated icons above the ports on the back so you can easily see where to plug the cablesin when in front of the machine, no need to turn it around or look over. The front just has a small lip in the middlethat sticks out so you can easily open it with your finger. Given we can disable optimus, all externaldisplay outputs are connected to the Nvidia graphics. Underneath there are air vents towards theback section above the intake fans. You need to remove 10 Phillips head screwsto get inside, and the 4 down the front are smaller than the rest. Inside we’ve got the battery down the bottom,two M.2 slots above that on the left and right, WiFi 6 on the left above the storage slot,and two memory slots in the middle with a vapor chamber cooler up the back. Not all models have the vapor chamber coolerthough, it’s not really specified but I think the 6 core CPU or 2060 GPU and belowoptions have standard heatpipes. The two 2 watt speakers are found down thefront on the left and right sides, they sounded alright, a solid average for a gaming laptopwith a little bass and remained clear enough at higher levels, though there was a littlevibration in the palm rest at maximum volume. The latencymon results were looking good. The 7i is powered by a 4-Cell 80Wh battery,and there’s a serious battery issue to be aware of. By default while just sitting there idle doingnothing, it was drawing about 50 watts from the wall in optimus mode with the RGB lightingoff. After some investigation, I found this highpower draw was due to the Corsair iCUE software. If I closed the software, the high power drawdidn’t change.

 If I killed the processes in task managerthe power draw would dip to 10 to 20 watts from the wall, but it would rise back up shortlyafter as the processes would start back up. In the end I uninstalled the software to domy testing, but later found you can just disable the “Corsair Service” which has the sameeffect, and you can even still control the lighting with iCUE. I’ve tested with the screen brightness at50%, background apps disabled and all lighting off. I was getting almost 5 hours more batterylife in optimus mode just by ensuring the corsair software wasn’t running. Even running with the higher power Nvidiagraphics only was doing better than optimus with iCUE. Given iCUE is installed and running by default,I think this is a pretty poor out of box experience, but as it’s software related in theory theycould improve it in future updates. Let’s check out thermals next. I’ve updated the results from my previousthermal testing video to include undervolting, as this can be enabled by accessing the advancedBIOS, I’ve got a link in the description outlining how to do this. There are plenty of extra options for tuningpower limits and more. The Lenovo Vantage software lets you selectbetween different performance modes, which from lowest to highest are quiet, balancedand performance. Unfortunately it’s not possible to changefan speed manually, it’s controlled automatically in these three modes. You can also swap between these by pressingfunction and Q, either changes the power button light to reflect. Although the RTX 2070 is Max-Q, it’s usingNvidia’s new Dynamic Boost, which means the power limit can boost higher dependingon if there is power available. I saw a 105 watt average in a GPU only stresstest, but it will be less with the CPU active. I’ve got a whole video comparing dynamicboost on and off with the 7i coming soon, so make sure you’re subscribed for thatone. Thermals were tested with a 21 degree Celsiusambient room temperature. Idle results are down the bottom, worst casestress tests with the Aida64 CPU stress test with CPU only checked and Heaven GPU benchmark,followed by gaming tests done with Watch Dogs 2. The CPU was thermal throttling any time it’slisted at 94 degrees Celsius, so this was still happening in most cases even with acooling pad and undervolting. These are the clock speeds for the same tests. Not too much difference to the GPU speeds,while CPU speeds would vary more. As thermals are the limit we see a boost fromundervolting or using a cooling pad, best case I was at 4.0GHz over all 8 cores, butI’d expect the lower 6 core i7 to hit higher speeds due to having fewer cores. The GPU power level would vary a bit due tomax-q dynamic boost, while the CPU power level would just raise up as we improve thermals,as the 94 degree default cap was being hit in my testing. Here’s how a game actually performs withthe different modes in use, so we could get more than a 5% boost with all tweaks applied,and due to the high GPU power limits observed in quiet mode, it’s possible to get decentgaming performance with quieter fans. Here’s how a CPU only workload performswith the different modes in use, so the undervolt was just able to boost us above 4000 points. When we look at how this compares againstother laptops, well it’s the second lowest result I’ve recorded for an 8 core processorso far, so not too impressive. As for the external temperatures where you’llactually be putting your hands, at idle in quiet mode it was in the low 30s, pretty standard. With the stress tests running it gets to themid 40s in the center, wasd was still cool though. Stepping up to balanced mode and the middleis now just a little warmer.

 In performance mode it’s similar but justa little cooler, and this is due to the fans getting louder, let’s have a listen. At idle the fans were just audible. With the stress tests running in quiet mode,it’s not too loud when compared to other gaming laptops. Balanced mode was a little louder, then thehighest performance mode increased the fans more, putting total system noise close tomost others I test in their maximum performance mode. Now let’s check out how well this configurationof 7i performs in games and compare it with some other laptops. I’ve tested with performance mode enabledand optimus disabled for best results. In Battlefield 5 I’ve got the 7i highlightedin red. It’s giving a great result for a 2070 Max-Q,most likely due to that higher power limit, and of course we’re also seeing a boostfrom the ability to disable optimus too. These are the results from Far Cry 5 withultra settings in the built in benchmark. The 7i is a bit higher in the stack now, whichmakes sense as this test is more dependent on processor power, and there’s an 8 core16 thread chip here. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was also testedwith the games benchmark tool, and the results were quite decent here too, with the 2070Max-Q giving good results and hanging in there with higher tier options. I’ve also tested the 7i in 20 differentgames at all setting levels, you can check the card in the top right or link in the descriptionfor more benchmarks. Now for the benchmarking tools, I’ve testedHeaven, Valley, and Superposition from Unigine, as well as Firestrike, Timespy and Port Royalfrom 3DMark, just pause the video if you want a detailed look at these results. I’ve used Adobe Premiere to export one ofmy laptop review videos at 4K, and the 7i was giving one of the better results out ofthe machines I’ve tested, completing the task in just under 10 minutes. I’ve also tested Premiere but with the Pugetsystems benchmark which also accounts for things like live playback rather than justexport times. The 7i was still doing quite well, thoughis beaten by cheaper Ryzen based laptops here. In the Adobe Photoshop test it’s rankedin the same position, and then in the more GPU heavy DaVinci Resolve test it’s doingeven better now. I’ve also tested SPECviewperf which testsout various professional 3D workloads. I’ve used the OpenVR benchmark to test theHTC Vive Cosmos Elite, and the 7i was doing quite well, only those two machines at thebottom struggle with games like half life alyx, so no issues playing VR with these specs. I’ve used Crystal Disk Mark to test the512gb NVMe M.2 SSD, and the results were quite good, but this may vary between regions ifdifferent drive models are used. For updated prices, check the links in thedescription, as prices will change over time. .  

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