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Lenovo Legion C530 Cube review: Budget gaming in an unusual case

Lenovo's Legion C530 Cube is a less expensive counterpart to the C730 Cube, coming at you with a similar design and construction but with fewer features and with some different hardware options. If you're looking to spend less than $1,000 on a pre-built gaming PC, the C530 can be had in a couple of different configurations, with AMD RX 570 or NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti graphics card (GPU) and Intel Core i5 processor (CPU). There are more expensive configs also available, with up to an Intel Core i7 CPU and NVIDIA GTX 1060 GPU. I used the Legion C530 Cube for about a week to determine whether it's the right PC for you and whether it's worth the money.

About this review

Lenovo supplied Windows Central with a review unit of the Legion C530 Cube. This specific configuration has inside an 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8400 CPU, 8 GB of DDR4-2666MHz RAM, a NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti GPU, and a 1 TB 7,200 RPM hard-disk drive (HDD) coupled with 16 GB of Intel Optane memory. Expect to pay about $880 for this basic configuration, with prices rising to about $1,250 for a model with Core i7 CPU and GTX 1060 GPU.

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Lenovo Legion C530 Cube technical specifications

CategorySpec
OSWindows 10 Home
Processor8th Gen
Intel Core i5-8400
Up to 4.0 GHz
Six cores
RAM8 GB DDR4-2666MHz
Storage1 TB 7,200 RPM HDD
16 GB Intel Optane
GraphicsNVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti
4 GB GDDR5 VRAM
MotherboardB360 chipset
PortsFront:
Two USB-A 3.0
3.5 mm headset jack
3.5 mm mic in
Rear:
Two USB-A 3.1 (Gen 1)
Two USB-A 3.1 (Gen 2)
Two USB-A 2.0
HDMI
DisplayPort
DVI
RJ45 Ethernet
3.5 mm audio
WirelessRealtek 8822BE
802.11ac (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.2
KeyboardIncluded
MouseIncluded
Power supply450 watts
WeightFrom 19.8 pounds (8.9 kg)
Dimensions9.09 inches x 13.07 inches x 9.53 inches
(231 mm x 332 mm x 242 mm)

Lenovo Legion C530 Cube design and features

Lenovo calls its Cube PCs "mini," though they do have a relatively large footprint and 19-liter capacity. The squat shape makes it look a bit less out of place compared to a standard tower when sitting on top of a desk, but it won't seem off if you'd rather keep it below instead. Hardware is slotted on either side of the central motherboard, with a power supply and two bays for HDDs on the left (only one is in use), with everything else, including GPU and CPU, on the right. The right panel has a pull-release that lets you easily and quickly get inside, and the left panel has a couple of handscrews that take only a few seconds more to get by. If you like to tinker inside, checking on hardware and replacing parts, Lenovo made it about as easy as possible.

The C530 is using a motherboard with B360 chipset, a cheaper alternative to the Z370 motherboard found in the C730. There's no option for overclocking even with an appropriate CPU and it lacks some PCIe and SATA RAID support, but it does support USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports for 10 Gbps transfer speeds. There are two USB-A 3.1 Gen 2 ports on the back of the PC, accompanied by two USB-A 3.1 Gen 1 ports, two USB-A 2.0, HDMI, DisplayPort, DVI, RJ45 Ethernet, and a 3.5 mm audio jack. Ports are easy to reach and are spaced appropriately so that there's no interference when using multiple peripherals. For added convenience, the bottom front edge of the PC has two extra USB-A 3.0 ports and two 3.5 mm jacks for audio out and voice in. I just wish these PCs has some modern ports, like Thunderbolt 3 or USB-C, for my newer peripherals.

I can see no difference between this case and the C730's case. It has an iron color finish to the metal, there is circular grating on the front accompanied by a large Lenovo logo, and the top is clear plastic that helps show off the internal hardware. There's a chunky handle up top as well that makes carrying this 20-pound block around much easier, and like the C730, it still looks very much like a deep fryer. The sides are solid metal, but the rear is mostly venting to help with airflow. While gaming, the rear fan, GPU fan, and CPU fan didn't get obnoxiously loud, and I could feel air moving through the PC and out the front grating.

There is some built-in lighting here, but instead of fully customizable RGB through the Lenovo Vantage app, it's stuck on red. As long as you don't mind the lack of customization, the lighting is bright and fills the case, with the effect amplified by the top window and front grating.

Lenovo Legion C530 Cube gaming and VR

Lenovo gives you a few GPUs to choose from, starting with the budget NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti and continuing with mid-range AMD Radeon RX 570 and NVIDIA GTX 1060 options. You can get a GTX 1060 model for less money here than you would with the C730, but it does come with a standard, non-K Intel i7-8700 CPU, less RAM, and a smaller SSD accompanying the main HDD. There's also the budget B360 motherboard that might get in the way of RAID enthusiasts and those into overclocking their hardware.

The baseline model I have with GTX 1050 Ti, Intel Core i5-8400 CPU, and 8 GB of RAM puts up average benchmark scores, coming in right about where it should. Those looking for a comfortable 1080p gaming experience with most popular esports titles can get it here but don't expect to get close to maxing out video settings for most modern games. For example, even with all settings on low, Battlefield V was relatively clunky during action sequences and often dipped below an acceptable framerate.

3DMark

Time Spy (Higher is better)

PCGPUScore
Lenovo Legion C530 CubeGTX 1050 Ti2,536
Lenovo Legion T730 TowerGTX 1060 (6 GB)4,081
Lenovo Legion C730 CubeGTX 1060 (6 GB)3,971
Lenovo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3 GB)3,621
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 10705,520
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 10806,774
Lenovo Legion Y720GTX 10603,469
Lenovo Legion Y520GTX 1050 Ti2,491

Last year's Legion Y520 with GTX 1050 Ti hit about the same score here, which is no surprise. Notice the difference between the 1050 Ti and 1060 with 6 GB of VRAM.

3DMark

Fire Strike (Higher is better)

PCGPUScore
Lenovo Legion C530 CubeGTX 1050 Ti6,773
Lenovo Legion T730 TowerGTX 1060 (6 GB)10,694
Lenovo Legion C730 CubeGTX 1060 (6 GB)10,564
Razer Blade 15GTX 107013,560
Lenovo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3 GB)9,078
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 107013,172
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 108016,996
Lenovo Legion Y720GTX 10609,017
Lenovo Legion Y520GTX 1050 Ti6,623

VRMark

Orange Room (Higher is better)

PCGPUScore
Lenovo Legion C530 CubeGTX 1050 Ti3,947
Lenovo Legion T730 TowerGTX 1060 (6 GB)7,023
Lenovo Legion C730 CubeGTX 1060 (6 GB)6,979
Lenogo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3 GB)6,234
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 10709,028
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 108010,688

This PC is not marketed as being VR-ready, but I ran the benchmark anyway. You'll get away with some low-end action on Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and HTC Vive, but for a true VR PC, look elsewhere.

Lenovo Legion C530 Cube general performance

Lenovo has limited its solid-state storage options to a 128 GB PCIe SSD, which is only available in the upper configurations alongside a 1 TB 7,200 RPM HDD. Basic models come with the slow HDD coupled with 16 GB of Intel Optane memory, which can be replaced with an SSD post-purchase (the stick is easily accessible with right panel removed). It would be nice to have more storage options at checkout, as I don't think many people would mind paying a bit more for the performance of an SSD in the baseline models.

The six-core 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8400 puts up impressive numbers, and if you're not into overclocking I don't think you need to go any higher than this to keep up with even a GTX 1060. This is certainly a gaming PC, but if you need something capable of handling a day's work when you need to pay some bills, you'll have no issues.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
Lenovo Legion C530 Cube4,75817,409
Lenovo Legion T730 Toweri7-8700K5,39621,918
Lenovo Legion C730 Cubei7-8700K5,38122,015
Razer Blade 15i7-8750H4,87217,910
Lenovo Legion Y520 Toweri5-77004,06411,525
Lenovo Legion Y720 Toweri7-77004,98816,784
Lenovo Legion Y920 Toweri7-7700K5,48418,438
Lenovo Legion Y720i7-7700HQ4,69714,810
Lenovo Yoga 720 15i7-7700HQ3,78410,255

This 8th Gen Core i5 CPU offers about the same performance as 7th Gen Core i7 CPUs put up. I didn't have any problems multitasking and going about daily work, including web browsing, word processing, and watching videos.

PCMark

PCMark Home Conventional 3.0

DeviceScore
Lenovo Legion C530 Cube4,560
Lenovo Legion T730 Tower5,000
Lenovo Legion C730 Cube5,004
Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower3,688
Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower4,296
Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower4,682
Lenovo Legion Y7203,599

The PCMark Home Conventional test takes a bunch of your hardware and determines how well it works together while performing a number of everyday tasks. The C530 put up a respectable score here, nearly reaching last year's high-end Legion Y920 Tower.

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

DeviceReadWrite
Lenovo Legion C530 Cube931.0 MB/s159.9 MB/s
Lenovo Legion T730 Tower1,604 MB/s235.0 MB/s
Lenovo Legion C730 Cube1,552.9 MB/s258.9 MB/s
Razer Blade 152,722 MB/s1,217 MB/s
Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower3,248.1 MB/s772.6 MB/s
Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower3,326.9 MB/s1,225.6 MB/s
Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower3,291.6 MB/s1,226.6 MB/s
Lenovo Legion Y7201,642 MB/s789.7 MB/s

The 7,200 RPM HDD did better than expected, but it doesn't come near other gaming PCs with performance SSDs. Intel Optane memory also gives it a boost, and I noticed fast Windows 10 boots.

Should you buy Lenovo's Legion C530 Cube?

The Legion C530 Cube is Lenovo's attempt at reaching a wider audience with a bit less money to burn, and in that respect, it succeeds. You can pay hundreds less than the C730 for a PC that is physically identical, and you'll still get the performance needed to run most popular modern titles at 1080p. It's stocked with ports (though it would be nice to see USB-C), it stays cool and quiet while running, and it looks great when lit up. You can get inside without any tools, there's room for extra storage, and you can replace most parts without much issue. If you need a budget pre-built, definitely consider the C530.

On the other hand, non-customizable RGB lighting and a motherboard without RAID or overclocking support is no doubt a letdown for some, and the higher-end hardware configurations might leave some scratching their heads (why does RAM drop down to 8 GB in the top model?). If you need better performance than the baseline Legion C530, consider jumping to the C730. The price difference isn't huge, and the extra features, like Z370 chipset motherboard, overclockable hardware, and customizable RGB lighting, will undoubtedly make it a better choice for many people.