Lenovo dove into the growing market segment of handheld gaming when it released the Lenovo Legion Go in October 2023. This device is specifically a portable personal computer running on Windows 11 and was designed for handheld PC gaming. It competes with similar devices such as the Steam Deck from Valve, ROG Ally from Asus, and the various products and models under the Ayaneo and OneXPlayer brands. It is also a substitute for other handheld consoles such as the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Switch Lite and the various emulation-inspired brands of gaming consoles. This article reviews the pros and cons of Lenovo Legion Go and how it sets itself apart from other handheld PC gaming devices.
Pros of Lenovo Legion Go: Advantages and Notable Features
At the heart of this device is an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip. The specific CPU has 8 cores and 16 threads with a base clock speed of 3.30 GHz that boosts to 5.10 GHz. There is an 8MB of L2 cache and a 16MB of L3 cache. The thermal power design or TDP is rated between 9 watts and up to 30 watts depending on the use case or in-game situations.
The AMD Ryzen chip comes with an integrated 12-core AMD Radeon Graphics processor based on the RDNA architecture. This integrated GPU supports proprietary AMD technologies. Such as Super Resolution for in-driver upscaling, Boost for dynamic resolution adjusting, Anti-Lag for reducing input lags, and Chill for dynamic framerate regulation.
Nevertheless, based on the CPU and GPU that power this device, one of the obvious advantages of Lenovo Legion Go is that it is built for PC gaming on a handheld form factor. This device also features several hardware specifications and other capabilities for improving the overall gaming experience. Below are the specific advantages and features:
1. Capable Specifications for Handheld PC Gaming
The AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme chip is specifically designed for handheld PC gaming. The Zen 4 architecture of the CPU and the RDNA 3 architecture of the GPU provide an equipped device both with general-purpose computing capabilities and average-level gaming performance on a full-scale desktop operating system such as Microsoft Windows.
2. Large and Durable Screen with 144Hz Refresh Rate
Another advantage of Lenovo Legion Go is its 8.8-inch IPS LCD screen with support for 144Hz refresh rate, support for 10-point touch, and QHD resolutions. The screen is bright at 500 nits. It is also protected with a Corning Gorilla Glass 5. Note that IPS LCD is the superior display tech compared to OLED display in terms of lifespan and color accuracy.
3. Solid and Full-Bodied Dual Stereo Speaker System
The device is equipped with a dual speaker system. The system fires sound at 2 watts. The sound it produces is loud and clear device the size of the device. There is also an optional Smart AMP feature that can be turned on for boosting volume across the audio spectrum for a full-bodied and rounder sound experience that feels spacious and well-rounded.
4. Removable Game Controllers and Dockable Unit
Another notable feature of Lenovo Legion Go is its fully functional joysticks with an ergonomic design for a comfortable grip and lots of buttons and toggles for controlling the game. These are also removable and the right pair can be mounted. The unit can also be docked using HDMI to an external monitor. It also works with an external graphics processor.
5. Equipped With ColdFront Thermal Technology
Lenovo has a specific heat management and cooling system for its range of gaming devices. It is called the Lenovo ColdFront Thermal Technology. Nevertheless, for the Lenovo Legion Go, the device is equipped with ultrathin heatsink fins and a 79-blade cooling fan made of liquid-crystal polymer material for effective and lower-vibration fan operations.
6. Support for Cloud Gaming and Android Emulation
The Legion Space is a one-stop gaming dashboard that serves as a portal for users to access all of their game titles in their in-device and digital libraries. This same app also has access to gaming stores and cloud gaming services such as Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now. Take note that this device has native support for running Android games.
Cons of Lenovo Legion Go: Disadvantages and Main Issues
The fact remains that PC gaming on a handheld device will never compare to PC gaming on an actual desktop computer or even a laptop computer. The physical real estate is too small to fit in more advanced hardware components such as processors and adequate heat management system to maximize overall and more specific gaming performance.
Lenovo Legion Go suffers from the same general drawbacks. The same is true for other handheld PC gaming devices. It is important to underscore the fact that the core problem of these devices is heat management. The processors can still have decent capabilities to run PC games at average to above-average settings but thermal throttling limits their performance.
Another problem is battery life. It is impossible to run graphics-intensive games for an extended period and at above-average and maximum settings using the batteries alone. It is in this regard that substitute handheld gaming consoles such as the Nintendo Switch have better overall battery and gaming performance. Below are more details of the disadvantages:
1. Notable Limitations in PC Gaming Performance
One of the main disadvantages of Lenovo Legion Go is that it tends to struggle to run games at ultra-high definition resolution and higher frame rates. There are unbearable stutters based on testing Triple-A game titles. It also does not perform well when unplugged from a power source because the chip runs effectively on a higher power draw.
2. Appalling Battery Performance and Battery Life
It is important to highlight the fact that it is impossible to run intensive games at above-average to maximum settings using the battery alone. The AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme works when it can maximize power to draw. The battery life is also unimpressive. A user can have gameplay of 3 hours for average game titles and 1 hour for more intensive game titles.
3. Disadvantage of Windows 11 Operating System
Windows 11 runs well on this device. But remember that this is a desktop operating system. This adds a considerable amount of strain on the CPU and system RAM. It is also worth noting that the version of Windows used in this device is the same x86 version found in desktop and laptop computers. This version is not well-suited to run on a mobile platform.
4. Bulkier Physical Profile Compared to Alternatives
The unit with controllers attached measures 40.7mm x 298.833mm x 1.60. It also weighs at 854 grams. It is bulkier and heavier than Steam Deck. The controllers have a comfortable grip but an extensive handheld gametime can be straining due to the weight of the unit. Users can choose to use the kickstand and detach the controllers for tabletop gaming.
5. Less Unitive Controls and Overall User Experience
It is also worth mentioning that the buttons and toggles in the controllers can confuse some users both because of their placements and their functionalities. The Legion Space app does provide a one-stop dashboard but it is cluttered and can be buggy at times. These translate to less intuitive gaming experience and challenging overall user experience.
6. Expensive Handheld Device for Playing PC Games
Another disadvantage of Lenovo Legion Go is its price. The base model retails for USD 699.00. This makes it the most expensive handheld gaming device. The starting price of Steam Deck is around USD 399.00 while Nintendo Switch OLED retails for USD 349.00. The price of Lenovo Legion Go is equivalent to a mid-range gaming laptop or desktop.
Verdict: Advantages and Disadvantages of Lenovo Legion Go
It is important to underscore the fact that some of the disadvantages of Lenovo Legion Go are the same as the disadvantages of other handheld PC gaming devices. The fact remains that the form factor of such devices is not enough to bring in a high-level gaming performance. This particular device is also more expensive than its competitors. Then there is the issue about its dimensions which make it less of a true handheld. Nevertheless, for those with bucks to spare and want one of the best handheld gaming devices in the market, the advantages of Lenovo Legion Go center on its decent hardware specifications that make it ideal for average-level gaming.