Lenovo Legion Pro 7i review

The best gaming laptops have their work cut out for them. They must provide the portability you expect from a laptop, both in terms of size and at least a minimum of battery power. But they also need to deliver respectable performance that doesn’t leave you wishing you’d just gotten one desktop gaming PC instead. The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i tries to strike the right balance with a substantial but not dominant form factor that lets you bring some gaming power with you. Even better, it’s on the affordable side of the premium gaming laptop segment. The system can come with an Intel Core i9-13900HX or Core i7-13700HX and an RTX 4070, 4080 or 4090. I was sent a mid-range configuration with a Core i9 and RTX 4080 that costs $2,649. With impressive specs and smart design, it feels like a warning shot on $3000+ laptops.

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i – Design and Features

The Legion Pro 7i is an all-black aluminum machine, but aside from Legion badges on the lid and a wonderfully well-executed RGB keyboard, it’s not an obvious gaming monster like the MSI Titan GTs and Asus ROG Swift Scars of the world. It’s thicker and boxier than your everyday ultrabook, but that’s to accommodate a large battery and a substantial cooling system. A significant portion of the rear half of the laptop’s base is dedicated to cooling, with side and rear vents revealing the fin arrays. There’s a strip of ports in the middle of the back edge, which allows for desktop setups that don’t have a ton of wires sticking out the side of the laptop.

The rear ports include Ethernet, USB-C (which supports charging but not at system full power), HDMI 2.1 and two USB-A ports. The power adapter also plugs into the back of the laptop, and a headset jack is available on the right side. Lenovo includes two additional USB-A ports on each side of the laptop, hidden on the cover of the cooling vents. There’s also a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port on the left side, although it’s so close to the case that some wider plugs may struggle to fully plug in, and it doesn’t support charging. This is a solid group of port options, and Thunderbolt 4 also increases the potential for pairing the laptop with a hub for tidy desktop setups.

While the aluminum case has a finish that makes it feel a bit like plastic in some areas, the machine feels completely solid. There is some flex to the keyboard deck, but nothing worrying or annoying. The system sits stably on strong rubber feet that not only ensure good traction, but also lift the machine up to give the bottom intake valves better air flow. Even the screen’s hinge stays under control and does not twist in daily use

The display part looks a bit funny, with plastic bezels wedged around the aluminum frame, but the display itself is a beauty. It’s not a stunning OLED and Mini-LED model, but it’s a substantial 16-incher that packs in 2560×1600 pixels and delivers plenty of frames for gaming with a 240Hz refresh rate and variable refresh rate support. The panel has a quality matte coating that effectively cuts out glare while leaving it sharp. I measured the display for a bright 532-nit peak brightness in HDR, though combined with a fairly high black level of around 0.4 nits, it just barely edges out other IPS panels for superior contrast.

The speakers even hold up decently for gaming and entertainment. They’re not hideous, and the bass is quite tame, but they offer good clarity at high volume levels without being grating and can do the job in a small room.

The usability of the Pro 7i is great. The keyboard is a joy to type on, with semi-phased keys that give a good deal of confidence that my fingers are on the right keys as I type. There is some resistance to each key press, but the pop when the keys are pressed is about as good as low-profile membrane keys can get. Lenovo makes efficient use of the space on top of the laptop, squeezing in a narrow number pad next to the main keyboard. Best of all, the arrow keys are full-sized and offset from the rest of the keys, so they’re both easy to use and hard to accidentally hit. Only the trackpad caused occasional trouble, as it’s off-centre, meaning I’d often click on the wrong side and end up getting a right-click where I meant a left-click – that’s a small matter of familiarity, though.

Lenovo has surprisingly paid some attention to the webcam, which can be an afterthought on far too many laptops. It’s an upgraded 1080p camera, and looks reasonably sharp even in low light. The wide viewing angle also gives a nice profile. There’s even a hardware switch on the right side of the laptop to disable the camera.

Despite all the packaging, the Legion Pro 7i weighs just 5.88 pounds and is only an inch thick. It’s not exactly small, but it’s impressively thin for the high-end components packed inside, and only a few grams heavier than the Razer Blade 16.

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i – Software

The Legion Pro 7i runs Windows 11 Home, with little in the way of excessive customization applied. Lenovo includes a couple of software, one of which is essential for controlling the hardware – Lenovo Vantage.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many gaming units seem to suffer from having too many chefs in the kitchen. To ensure you get the best performance or battery life, you’ll need to jump through Lenovo Vantage, Nvidia Control Panel, Intel Graphics Command Center, and more Windows settings. This problem is not unique to Lenovo, but it is still annoying to have to bounce between several programs to configure the system. That said, if you’re happy to just stick to a single profile – say, all performance, all the time – you can pretty much just set it and forget it.

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i – Gaming and Performance

My expectations for the Legion Pro weren’t low given the combination of an Intel Core i9-13900HX, one of the most expensive laptop CPU options available, and the Nvidia RTX 4080 mobile GPU. Having tested two systems running slightly higher-end variants of that Intel CPU alongside higher-end RTX 4090 GPUs, I had at least tempered my expectations. But the Pro 7i shook things up in some really exciting ways—at least exciting for potential buyers, not so exciting for Lenovo’s competitors (looking at you, Razer).

In everyday applications, the Pro 7i won’t break a sweat. It puts its 24-core processor to work and feeds it with a generous supply of memory, 32 GB DDR5-5600 in the case of this configuration. The machine proves it too, scoring 9,065 points in PCMark 10’s office benchmark. That’s an exceptional score, but proves even more impressive with some perspective: the new Razer Blade 16 with an Intel Core i9-13950HX and RTX 4090 scored just 8121 points and it’s more than 50% more expensive.

This is a story that continues through much of my testing. The Pro 7i seems to just let the hardware run to its core. In 3DMark’s Time Spy, Fire Strike, and Night Raid tests, the Legion Pro 7i demonstrated the prowess of the latest hardware, easily outperforming last-generation Core i9 processors and RTX 30-series GPUs. But so did the Razer Blade 16. The Razer only had the edge in the Port Royale ray tracing test, where it scored 13,463 points to the Legion’s 12,234.

It would be one thing if Lenovo only won in synthetic benchmarks, but the Legion Pro 7i even showed better gaming benchmark performance. Across our 1080p benchmarks, whether ray-tracing and DLSS were involved or not, the Pro 7i came out ahead of the Blade 16 by a hair. It spit out 113 fps in Hitman 3’s Dubai benchmark and reached 176 fps with the new DLSS 3 Frame Generation technology. Those scores drop to 91 fps and 124 fps at the laptop’s native 2560 x 1600 resolution, but they’re still respectable given all the ray tracing going on.

Balance is essential to taming these powerful components.

The Lenovo comes out ahead again in Total War: Warhamer III’s combat benchmark, where it landed an average of 147 fps to the Razer Blade 16’s 135 fps. The Pro 7i went up to native resolution and dropped to 93 fps.

The hits keep rolling at 126 fps to Razer’s 112 fps in Forza Horizon 5 and 84 fps to Razer’s 76 fps in Cyberpunk 2077. Frame Generation didn’t even let Razer regain ground, as it effectively multiplied the original scores, flipping Lenovo’s 8 fps lead to a 17 fps lead.

The RTX 4080 bumps up to 4K and starts slowing down next to the RTX 4090. It was able to achieve almost 54 fps in Hitman 3’s benchmark, but the Razer Blade 16 manages 58 fps in the same benchmark while running at a slightly higher resolution of 3840 x 2400. Frame Generation helps close the gap, bringing the Pro 7i up to 70 fps. In Cyberpunk 2077, the Legion Pro managed 43 fps at 4K and 62 fps with Frame Generation, a near-perfect result for the Razer Blade 16 results at 3840 x 2400.

The performance win over the Razer Blade 16 goes a long way in showing that balance is essential in taming these powerful components when they have to share the same small space. What I saw with the Razer Blade 16 was CPU thermals holding it back, which obviously became less of an issue when pushing in higher resolutions that are more GPU bound. As the Pro 7i keeps CPU thermals in check, the RTX 4080 can effectively keep up with the hoarded RTX 4090 in the Razer Blade 16.

Lenovo manages this by controlling the heat well. It has plenty of ventilation to pump out the heat and manages to keep the GPU around 75C even under full load. Crucially, it also keeps the CPU in the mid-70s during GPU-bound scenarios, where the Razer Blade 16 would see higher CPU peaks. The Legion Pro 7i has rock-solid sustain, passing both 3DMark’s Port Royale and Time Spy stress tests, each running the benchmark 20 times in a row to see if performance will drop.

As for temperature in terms of comfort, I measured as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit on the keyboard while running tests, although the WASD keys stayed just under 100 degrees and the palm stayed around 75 degrees. The fans kick up a racket, but they’re not terribly loud.

As you might expect, this much power comes with a trade-off for battery life. Gaming will burn through the battery, and the system’s full performance isn’t even available on battery power. But for general use away from the power outlet, it’s not terrible. I’ve seen just over four hours of battery life, and it managed 5:18 in PCMark 10’s battery test. But just as it requires flipping all the right switches to get maximum performance, it also requires flipping all the right switches to get maximum efficiency, or you’ll be looking at less than three hours of battery life. It’s far from the worst gaming laptop in this regard, but the Razer Blade 16 has the edge here, if only by a few minutes.

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