Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) review: A great gaming laptop, but stay close to the charger

Lenovo's latest mid-range gaming laptop is still awesome, but only when it's plugged in.

Image of the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8).
(Image: © Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

Windows Central Verdict

The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) features more powerful hardware and a cleaner design than its predecessor, and continues to succeed at offering a great all-around mid-range PC gaming experience. Poor battery life and off-charger performance means this laptop is best used plugged in, though.

Pros

  • +

    Great thermals and performance while plugged in

  • +

    A large, pleasant 165Hz and 16:10 display

  • +

    Practical design with a good keyboard

  • +

    Solid pricing at every configuration

Cons

  • -

    Battery life is below average

  • -

    Performance takes a big hit on battery power

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Lenovo's Legion series of gaming laptops has offered surprisingly great value since the first iteration, and Lenovo has continued to improve the line of budget to premium mid-range laptops with every successive generation. The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) packs some of the latest and greatest hardware from Intel and NVIDIA alongside a massive 16-inch display and an appealing price tag.

I spent plenty of time with the Legion Pro 5i as my primary laptop to see how much has improved since the last generation, and if you should consider this as your next laptop. Spoiler alert: if you need a laptop that can do it all (especially when away from the charger), you might be better off looking elsewhere. For those needing a pure gaming beast on a budget, though, Lenovo has built another fantastic option.

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by a review unit provided by Lenovo. The company did not see the contents of the review before publishing.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Pricing and availability

The Legion Pro 5i is a chunky laptop, but it does look a bit cleaner this time around. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) follows in the footsteps of its predecessors in that it's a premium mid-range gaming laptop. That means it's not going to pack the most powerful internals or feature the flashiest design, but it does offer great all-around gaming performance while undercutting the biggest players in price.

To this end, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (available pretty much everywhere Lenovo is) starts at $1,479.99, which includes a 13th Gen Intel Core i5, the NVIDIA RTX 4050 GPU, 16GB of RAM, and 512GB of speedy SSD storage. Its most expensive configuration comes in at $2,329.99 with a Core i9, RTX 4070, 32GB of faster RAM, and 2TB of storage. Basically all of the Legion Pro 5i's configurations are subject to frequent discounts, though (up to $300 off that we've seen).

You can view a quick breakdown of this laptop's specs below.

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CategoryLenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8)
ProcessorIntel Core i5-13500HX / i7-13700HX / i9-13900HX
GraphicsNVIDIA RTX 4050 (6GB) / 4060 (8GB) / 4070 (8GB)
Memory16GB / 32GB DDR5 (4,800MHz for i5 & i7, 5,600MHz for i9)
Storage512GB / 1TB / 2x 1TB PCIe 4.0 SSD
Display16" 16:10 2560x1600, IPS, anti-glare, non-touch, 165Hz, 300 nits / 240Hz, 500 nits, HDR400
Ports4x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 2, 1x USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1, 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 w/ DisplayPort 1.4, 1x USB Type-C 3.2 Gen 2 w/ DisplayPort 1.4 & Power Delivery (140W), HDMI 2.1, Ethernet (4J45), headphone/mic combo
Audio2x 2W speakers
Camera1080p FHD front-facing w/ Tobii Horizon support, killswitch
Battery80Whr, Super Rapid Charge
Dimensions21.9-26.75mm x 363.4mm x 260.35mm (0.86-1.05in x 14.3in x 10.25in)
WeightStarting at 2.5kg (5.51lbs)

If you're looking to get a Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) for yourself, we recommend choosing one of Lenovo's preexisting configurations, which offer a range of options and specs. These recommended configurations tend to be quite a bit cheaper than building your own Legion Pro 5i, for some reason, and include 3 months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate with your purchase. Only the highest end options (the Intel Core i9, 32GB of RAM, or 2TB of storage) require you to configure your own laptop.

Out of those recommended configurations, we actually recommend the model that Lenovo sent to us to test, which you can see below.

Intel Core i7 | RTX 4060 (8GB) | 16GB RAM | 512GB SSD

Intel Core i7 | RTX 4060 (8GB) | 16GB RAM | 512GB SSD

Our recommended Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) configuration is actually the one we reviewed, as it's a middle-of-the-road offering that should be perfect for most people. This model only has 512GB of storage, but its compelling price tag of $1,699.99 (that is often discounted to $1,449.99) makes up for it.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Design and build quality

Most of the body is made of plastic, but the lid is metal and loves fingerprints. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

The latest Legion Pro 5i will look pretty familiar to any owners of previous entries in the franchise, but Lenovo did update the design this time around. This year's laptop features a cleaner design that I far prefer over the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 7), although it's still pretty mundane for a laptop (and not as flashy as some of the best gaming laptops). Some excess lines have been trimmed, and the lid is now completely flat and only adorned with a tasteful Legion logo in the corner.

It's a thick laptop primarily constructed out of solid grey plastic, a metal lid, and a mix of sharp lines and chunky curves. Not a particularly attractive design, but very practical. Most of the ports are situated at the back of the laptop, which is perfect for a device that knows it'll spend most of its time plugged in and on a desk. There are two USB Type-A ports, a USB Type-C port, a headphone jack, and a webcam kill switch along the sides for convenience.

Overall, this laptop is built very well, which isn't always a given with a large, thick gaming machine. There is some flexing along the bottom of the keyboard deck and above the touchpad, as well as the bottom of the laptop (especially near the intake vent), but nothing that I would describe as concerning. Lenovo has been building these laptops for years, and it knows how to construct a quality device.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Display

The display on the Legion Pro 5i won't win any awards, but it's still pretty good. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) is a beastly 16-inch laptop, so you're getting plenty of screen real estate here. Thankfully, Lenovo opted for a 16:10 aspect ratio, which makes the display feel much roomier (even if there might be black bars above and below the display when consuming some content or playing some games). There are also pretty thin bezels around the display and a helpful lip at the top to both hold the front-facing camera and make it easier to open the laptop.

The display itself is QHD at 165Hz and surprised me with how good it looks. It's not the most color accurate display, as you can see from our display testing, but it gets surprisingly bright (nearly 400 nits, well above Lenovo's promised 300 nits), offers great viewing angles and solid contrast for a mid-range IPS display, and it feels very responsive. It's even anti-glare, which looks fantastic and works as advertised. I didn't notice any backlight bleeding, either, which is a common affliction for IPS panels (especially larger ones)

The Legion Pro 5i doesn't have the most color accurate display, but it still looks great in use. (Image credit: Windows Central)
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SettingBrightnessBlackContrastWhite point
0%2.90.000:16,200 (0.319, 0.317)
25%18.30.011340:16,200 (0.320, 0.317)
50%46.70.041140:16,200 (0.320, 0.318)
75%156.10.141140:16,300 (0.318, 0.318)
100%391.90.361100:16,400 (0.316, 0.317)

This display gets staggeringly dim, which is always great to see for those who prefer to use their laptop in the dark. However, I don't like the brightness intervals of the Legion Pro 5i's display, with the display always feeling too dim until the last 80-100% of the brightness slider. At 75% brightness the display was at 150nits, which would be 50% on most laptops, but 100% was over twice as bright at nearly 400nits. An oddity, but it didn't hugely affect my experience using this device.

Lenovo also has an option to increase the refresh rate to 240Hz, raise the rated brightness to 500nits, and bake in HDR400 support for a little extra dough. Honestly, the cost to upgrade the display feels negligible, especially if you're already configuring your own device, but only the Legion Pro 5i's higher end configurations will be able to take advantage of the higher refresh rate.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Performance

When it comes to a good gaming laptop, two things are most important: performance and thermal management. Fortunately, Lenovo absolutely nails both of these core pillars, with one notable caveat. The 13th Gen Core i7 inside this device provides the expected boost in processing power over comparable 12th Gen CPUs (and can even compare to a last gen i9), while the RTX 4060 often beats the RTX 3070 from last year (but falls just short of the beefier 3070 Ti).

An incredibly fast PCIe 4.0 SSD that can compete with the best of them, combined with the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) being able to consistently and reliably pull the best performance out of these components, means this laptop runs like a dream most of the time. I'll get to the rest of the time later, but first let's talk about thermals.

The Legion Pro 5i pulls in cool air through a large vent on the bottom of the laptop (large rubber feet help keep the laptop elevated on a flat surface) and blows out hot air at the sides and back of the laptop. These fans can move a lot of air, and they get as loud as you expect, too. Fortunately, the fans aren't obnoxious, producing a stable low hum rather than a high-pitched whine. There's no rattling, either. Most importantly, this thermal system is able to keep the Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) perfectly cool for hours of nonstop work.

Lenovo made good use of all the space here, and the thermal performance shows it. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

Some parts of the keyboard deck and the areas around the exhaust vents can get warm to the touch, but never hot. I also never noticed any significant performance degradation or thermal throttling. This laptop is perfectly suited to its components, and it runs awesome... As long as you're plugged in.

When you're plugged in, Auto mode (bolstered by Lenovo's "AI engine") keeps things running smoothly, while Performance mode gives you a significant boost to power for when you're gaming. When you're away from the charger, though, Performance mode is unavailable and Auto mode massively throttles components, drastically reducing the Legion Pro 5i's performance. On top of this, all of Lenovo's built-in apps take a chunk out of the available RAM on the laptop by default, to the point where, after setting up my normal programs (which never stressed less powerful systems like the Dell XPS 13 2-in-1), I was constantly sitting at over 80% RAM usage with no open apps.

When it's plugged in, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i has the performance and thermal management to do it all.

Unfortunately, this translates to frankly bad performance when on battery power. I encountered frequent hangs, stutters, and long loading times for apps, more than I expected just looking at the benchmark scores for its throttled components. I was able to improve things by disabling a ton of background processes to free up RAM, but never to the point where the Legion Pro 5i performed even as well as the 12th Gen U-series i5 inside the XPS 13 2-in-1 I mentioned earlier. It'd be one thing if Lenovo was seeking an acceptable battery life with this throttling, but the Legion Pro 5i still suffers from below-average endurance.

All in all, the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) delivers killer performance and thermal management when it's plugged in, as most users are liable to do the majority of the time, but it just isn't consistent enough off the charger. If you need a laptop that can perform as well on and off the charger, this just isn't it.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Gaming

The mobile 4060 couldn't quite best the 3070 Ti in last year's Legion Pro 5i, but it was a close battle. (Image credit: Windows Central)

So, how does this gaming laptop fare when used for... Gaming? Well, it's great (when plugged in). The Legion Pro 5i handled absolutely everything I threw at it and was a blast to use. It's not going to play every game at max settings, max resolution, and max framerates, but it will play basically all the latest and greatest games and do an awesome job at it. Here are some of the games I tested with the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8):

  • Cyberpunk 2077: Ray Tracing Ultra preset, native resolution, NVIDIA DLSS enabled — 39fps average
  • Forza Horizon 5: Ultra preset, native resolution, ray tracing enabled — 85fps average
  • Valorant: All settings maxed, uncapped framerate — 155fps average (stable 144fps when locked)

Gaming isn't as pleasant when on battery power thanks to Auto modes hesitancy to run the fans and intense component throttling, but the battery wouldn't last long enough to get any gaming done, anyways. When the laptop is plugged in, though, it's a truly great gaming machine at this price point, as its thermal management means it can game for hours on end without struggling.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Battery life

With default settings, the latest Legion Pro 5i struggled to stay away from the bottom of the board. (Image credit: Windows Central)

Gaming laptops are not designed for great battery life, so no one really expects it of them. The average is around 4-5 hours of general usage, which is consistently hit by the most popular laptops from Razer and even some of Lenovo's other Legion devices. However, the Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) doesn't quite hit this average. It's not the worst Windows Central has ever seen, but it could certainly be better.

In the PCMark Modern Office test, the Legion Pro 5i clocked in just 2 hours and 33 minutes before dying. The test was performed with the Legion Pro 5i's default settings, approximately 150nits of brightness, and the Auto performance mode. The display was also set to the default 165Hz, but you could squeeze more life out of the machine by lowering the display refresh rate to 60Hz.

The Lenovo Legion 5 series has never been known for great battery life, but the latest generation is particularly mediocre.

This laptop scored lower than the last generation Pro 5i (which did 3 hours and 17 minutes), and considerably lower than the average for a good gaming laptop. At least the latest Legion Pro 5i charges impressively quick, with Lenovo quoting just 1 hour for a 0-100% charge (and I believe it). You can get back online almost immediately, but don't expect this laptop to last when away from the charger.

I could at least understand if the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) was prioritizing performance over battery life, but the aggressive throttling when on battery power that I mentioned above means the Legion Pro 5i can actually perform quite poorly even when doing mundane tasks. It's something to keep in mind when considering this device — the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i is a powerful gaming PC that happens to be portable, not a portable laptop that happens to play games.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Keyboard and touchpad

This keyboard is very similar to last year's model, but that doesn't make it any less great. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

Lenovo is no stranger to designing a great keyboard, and the Legion Pro 5i seems to benefit from that. I have very few complaints about the keyboard here, as it's spacious, comfortable, and well laid out. The key action feels great and responsive, even if it's not a mechanical keyboard. I appreciate the full-sized arrow keys, too, which I feel are a must for any gaming-focused laptop (I'm looking at you, Razer). The function row gives you plenty of extra controls, too, although I'm not sure I need a dedicated key just to access Window's Alt+Tab multitasking screen.

Being a 16-inch laptop, Lenovo also had space to include a number pad. I personally enjoy having a number pad, but I understand this may annoy some people, as it does mean the keyboard is not centered. The number pad isn't full-size either, so it feels a little cramped versus what can be squeezed into a 17 or 18-inch laptop.

Lenovo once again shows it builds some of the best keyboards in the business.

My only major complaint is one that applies to most thick and powerful gaming laptops — because the Legion Pro 5i sits so high up compared to more svelte laptops, it's difficult to find a comfortable position for typing, with my wrists constantly trying to rest along the hard edge of the laptop. I wrote this review on this laptop, and typing for long periods of time was not the most pleasant.

The entire keyboard is lit with Lenovo's Spectrum RGB lighting, which can be customized through Lenovo Vantage, with the keyboard divided into four separate areas. It looks good and functions well as backlighting, but it's not particularly vivid. Every color you select in the software will look considerably more faded in real life. If you want more and better RGB, that's a perk that only comes with the much more expensive Lenovo Legion 7 series of laptops.

Finally, there's the touchpad, which is... Fine. It's a decent size with a smooth texture, it doesn't rattle, and the clicking mechanism is tactile and consistent. It's not haptic, but does it really need to be? Most people will use a mouse whenever they can with this laptop, but the touchpad is perfectly functional for when you need it.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Camera and audio

These fans can make a lot of noise, but it's fortunately not an obnoxious sound. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

This is another major area where the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i makes it known that it's a gaming laptop first and second, everything else a distant third. While it does have a 720p front-facing camera, it looks flat, undetailed, and struggles in anything other than perfect lighting. It also lacks Windows Hello support, as this laptop once again does not feature any biometric authentication. At least there's a dedicated kill switch for the camera.

The camera does include support for Tobii Experience, though, letting you take advantage of the unique eye-tracking software inside compatible games and programs. It's an admittedly niche feature addition, but it's nice to have if you want it.

The dual 2W speakers are also average at best. They get plenty loud, enough to drown out the sound of the fans running at full blast, at least, but they lack low end definition and clarity. You're much better off using one of the best gaming headsets, like the incredible Razer BlackShark V2 Pro (2023). In both camera and audio departments, the Legion Pro 5i is nothing more than "okay," but at least it's functional for when you're in a pinch.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Software

The Legion Pro 5i handled everything I threw at it, but I could do with a bit less preinstalled software. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

The Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) is unfortunately loaded with plenty of preinstalled software, which may have contributed to the on-battery performance issues I mentioned earlier. Most of it comes from Lenovo, but most of it also just doesn't feel necessary for this kind of device.

On the Lenovo side of things, you have: Hotkeys, Voice, Now, Vantage, and Arena. There's also Tobii Experience for the laptop's eye-tracking features, X-Rite to... help keep the display calibrated (no, this isn't really needed), Nahimic for in-depth audio settings (it doesn't help the speaker quality), and, yes, the dreaded McAfee suite of programs no one wants. Out of all of this, only Lenovo Vantage feels like a truly useful addition, but other programs like Hotkeys and Tobii may find use with some people.

There's a lot of excess software on the Legion Pro 5i, but at least the Vantage app is genuinely useful.

Lenovo Hotkeys is a very simple program just to manage some keyboard shortcuts for different functions like changing performance modes or switching the function row defaults (there's also a dedicated button in the function row for this app). Lenovo Voice includes a bunch of random features like a translator, voice recorder, and more, but feels rather out of place on this device. Lenovo Arena wants to be your all-in-one launcher that pulls all your games in from multiple sources but is very barebones and is better replaced with a third-party option like GOG Galaxy 2.0. Lenovo Now is here to tell you about all the "exclusive" offers and promotions you won't use.

Lenovo Vantage is genuinely useful, though, as it's where you go to customize all the gaming-specific features of your Legion Pro 5i. Here's where you can change performance profiles (and configure your own custom profile), change the RGB lighting, check the status of your device's internals, and more. You can also overclock the GPU in Vantage (or the CPU, if you enable overclocking in the BIOS first). The app is a little clunky, but it works and is relatively easy to use. It's the only must-have program that comes preinstalled on the Legion Pro 5i, and I'm glad it's here.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Competition

My preferred arrangement for a gaming laptop, most of the Legion Pro 5i's ports are situated on the back. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

Much of the Lenovo Legion Pro 5i's best competition are more expensive laptops. The Razer Blade 16 & 18 are incredible laptops in practically every aspect, but you're looking at a whole lot more cash to pick one up, for example. Honestly, one of the best competitors to this laptop is the last generation, the Legion Pro 5i (Gen 7), as it still provides an awesome experience with last year's hardware (and you get a nice discount, too).

You can also consider the Lenovo Legion Pro 7i (Gen 8), which is Lenovo's premium offering with more powerful hardware, better battery life, and some additional features like more RGB lighting. If you're looking to stay in the same price range, HP's OMEN lineup is a great place to start. ASUS' ROG laptops (like the Strix G16) are also solid options. Lenovo has one of the better 16-inch gaming laptops in this price bracket right now, though, so it'll be tough to cross this one off the list unless you're willing to spend more to get more.

Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8): Should you buy it?

This is a fantastic mid-range laptop, but you should probably try to use it mostly when it's plugged in. (Image credit: Windows Central | Zachary Boddy)

You should buy this if ...

  • You want a fantastic mid-range gaming laptop with reliable performance
  • You plan to mostly use the laptop when plugged in
  • You want a gaming laptop with a larger screen without paying a premium

You should not buy this if ...

  • You need an all-around laptop that can handle work and play
  • You need a laptop that you can use away from the charger for long periods

I really like the latest Lenovo Legion Pro 5i. The improvements to the design, the latest internals from Intel and NVIDIA, an attractive price point, and a roomy display make this a genuinely great premium mid-range gaming laptop. It's not the fanciest or most powerful, but it can play all the best PC games with few issues. For those not wanting to splash the cash on an exorbitant high-end gaming laptop, I strongly urge you to consider this one.

However, disappointing battery life (even for a gaming laptop) and pretty aggressive throttling when on battery power means the Legion Pro 5i isn't nearly as useful when it's away from the charger. A poor camera and mediocre speakers drive home the fact that this is meant to be a portable gaming PC, not the all-around laptop that can handle everything you throw at it all day when away at school or work. For those people, you're better off investing in something that doesn't focus so completely on pure gaming (even if those laptops may not be quite as good at gaming as the Legion Pro 5i).

Lenovo may not be the first company you think of when considering the best place to go for a great gaming laptop, but the Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) once again proves that Lenovo knows how to game.

Intel Core i7 | RTX 4060 (8GB) | 16GB RAM | 512GB SSD

Intel Core i7 | RTX 4060 (8GB) | 16GB RAM | 512GB SSD

Our recommended Lenovo Legion Pro 5i (Gen 8) configuration is actually the one we reviewed, as it's a middle-of-the-road offering that should be perfect for most people. This model only has 512GB of storage, but its compelling price tag of $1,699.99 (that is often discounted to $1,449.99) makes up for it.