Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower review: The budget sibling of the Legion line

The Legion Y520 Tower (Y520T) is the entry-level model of Lenovo's Legion gaming line of pre-built PCs — I also reviewed the Y720T and the Y920T — aimed to cut the price down significantly while also delivering a solid gaming experience. Let's take a look at how it all comes together, and how it compares not only to its larger siblings, but to some other popular pre-built PCs on the market.

About this review

Lenovo loaned Windows Central a review unit of the Legion Y520T. This specific configuration has inside a seventh-gen Intel Core i7-7400 processor (CPU), 8GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1TB hard-disk drive (HDD) coupled with a 128GB PCIe solid-state drive (SSD), and an NVIDIA GTX 1060 graphics card (GPU) with 3GB of GDDR5 VRAM. This specific configuration costs about $970.

See at Lenovo

Lenovo Legion Y520T hardware and specifications

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CategoryXX
ProcessorQuad-core
Seventh-gen Intel Core i7-7700 (up to 3.5GHz)
RAM8GB DDR4-2400MHz
Storage1TB 7,200RPM HDD
128GB PCIe SSD
GraphicsNVIDIA GTX 1060 (3GB GDDR5 VRAM)
Intel HD Graphics 630
PortsFront:
Two USB-A 3.0
Two 3.5mm jacks (audio and mic)
Rear:Two USB-A 2.0
Two USB-A 3.0
RJ-45 Ethernet
Three 3.5mm jacks (two audio, one mic)
WirelessRealtek 8821CE
802.11ac (1 x 1)
Bluetooth 4.1
KeyboardIncluded
MouseIncluded
Optical driveDVD recordable
Power supply450W
Weight19.2 pounds (8.71 kg)
Dimensions7.16 in x 18.42 in x 15.84 in
(182 mm x 467.8 mm x 402.4 mm)
OSWindows 10 Home

Lenovo Legion Y520T design

Whereas the Y720T and Y920T have practically the same design, the Y520T is made up of a much smaller chassis (25 liters) with a few different features. The top doesn't have the same venting, though the handle remains for easy carrying, and there's still an angled portion that holds two USB-A 3.0 ports and 3.5mm jacks for headphones and a mic.

Most of the front of the PC is a tinted window that looks onto a fan and some red LED lights, with two vents framing the scene. There's also a red Lenovo visor that flashes red, which you can change the frequency of within the Nerve Center App. Above the window, a compartment swings open for access to the single DVD drive.

The rest of the case is your standard rectangular look, and while the front does seem to have an aggressive appearance, I think I prefer it over the Y720T and Y920T. It might toe the line if you like something understated, but if you'd rather show off what you've got, this does a nice job.

However, there's no cutout window on the side to show off your hardware, and removing the side panel isn't as easy as a push of a button like on the larger siblings. Here you have two classic hand screws on each side. Once you get them loosened — I had pliers out for the first few turns — it takes about 10 seconds to get into your PC.

Because of the smaller case size, there's not nearly as much room for future upgrades. You can't add a second GPU to the mix, and there's one extra slot for RAM. Likewise, there's one extra bay to fit another 3.5-inch drive. If you were looking to buy budget to start, with planned additions in the near future, you might want something with a bit more space. Still, this isn't a bad gaming PC based on what it comes with, and fully swapping out hardware in a couple of years shouldn't be much hassle.

Finally, the wireless keyboard and mouse are of a generic variety, and while they work well enough for productivity, you'll want to grab something different for gaming.

Lenovo Legion Y520T gaming and VR

Lenovo has labeled this gaming PC as VR-ready, and indeed the Microsoft Store is even selling a model with a GTX 1050 Ti (opens in new tab) to go along with Windows Mixed Reality. You could certainly do better performance-wise, but the price is not too far off compared to the competitors.

There are enough ports even to connect an Oculus Rift and its sensors, and the GTX 1060 gives you a few options for display hookups.

3DMark

Time Spy (Higher is better)

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PCGPUScore
Lenovo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3GB)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
Razer Blade 2017GTX 10603,639
Dell XPS 15 (9560)GTX 10501,789
Surface BookGTX 965M1,531
Spectre x360GT 940m613

Compared to the Y920T with a GTX 1080 GPU, the Y520T achieves about half the score. Here you're looking at performance about on par with Lenovo's Y720 gaming laptop and the 2017 Razer Blade.

3DMark

Fire Strike (Higher is better)

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PCGPUScore
Lenovo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3GB)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
Razer Blade ProGTX 108012,976
Dell XPS Tower SEGTX 107012,315
Razer Blade 2017GTX 10609,278

An average Fire Strike score from a VR PC sits somewhere around 9,200, so the Y520T doesn't do too bad here. It's not going to deliver the same performance as a GTX 1070 or GTX 1080, but it can still certainly game.

VRMark

Orange Room (Higher is better)

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PCGPUScore
Lenogo Legion Y520 TowerGTX 1060 (3GB)6,234
Lenovo Legion Y720 TowerGTX 10709,028
Lenovo Legion Y920 TowerGTX 108010,688

Premium gaming PCs usually hit an average score of about 10,390 in the Orange Room test, so it's apparent that the 3GB GTX 1060 won't quite keep up with higher-end rigs. This is expected, and while you won't have an optimal experience, you'll undoubtedly still be able to enjoy what VR has to offer.

For real-world frames-per-second (FPS) tests, I used PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (opens in new tab) (PUBG) and DOOM (opens in new tab) to get some averages. With PUBG at 1440p and High settings across the board, I saw an average of about 50FPS. For DOOM, with Ultra settings across the board and again at 1440p, I averaged about 63FPS. The 3GB GTX 1060 is definitely more geared toward a 1080p experience, and lowering the resolution would certainly have delivered better results here.

Lenovo Legion Y520T general performance

You won't be able to live out your overclocking dreams here — the CPU is lacking the "K" designation that allows you to push it — but four cores still deliver some decent performance. Likewise, DDR4 RAM and a Samsung PCIe SSD help keep things running smoothly.

CPU

Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)

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DeviceCPUSingle coreMulti core
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
Surface Laptopi5-7200U3,7257,523
Lenovo Legion Y520i7-7700HQ4,59614,903
Razer Blade 2017i7-7700HQ4,27713,597
Dell XPS 15i7-7700HQ4,50313,587
Razer Blade Proi7-6700HQ3,66012,325
Dell XPS 13 (9360)i7-6560U4,1207,829
HP Spectre 13i7-7500U4,1007,469
Surface Booki7-6600U3,9487,415

There's a filthy rumor you might sometimes hear in the PC gaming community, and it goes like this: "You only need a Core i5 for gaming." Indeed, an i7 would deliver better performance, but it's more the GPU you should be concerned about. This i5-7700 performs as expected and I had no issues with it in everyday use.

PCMark

PCMark Home Conventional 3.0

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DeviceScore
Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower3,688
Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower4,296
Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower4,682
Lenovo Legion Y7203,599
Lenovo Yoga 720 152,993
Surface Pro 20173,055
Surface Laptop2,494
Lenovo Legion Y5203,475
Razer Blade 20173,448
Dell XPS 153,534

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 Y520 can't compete with pricier gaming rigs, but that's not surprising. This score is expected.

SSD

CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)

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DeviceReadWrite
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
Lenovo Yoga 720 151,839 MB/s1,238 MB/s
Surface Laptop423 MB/s237 MB/s
Lenovo ThinkPad T4701,079 MB/s716.1 MB/s
Lenovo Legion Y5201,838 MB/s1,151 MB/s
Lenovo Yoga 7201,904 MB/s1,169 MB/s
Lenovo X1 Carbon1,518 MB/s1,188 MB/s
Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext1,365 MB/s1,213 MB/s
Razer Blade Pro2,571 MB/s2,467 MB/s
Dell XPS 15 (9560)2,207 MB/s1,628 MB/s
Dell XPS 13 (9360)1,287 MB/s794 MB/s
HP Spectre x360 151,128 MB/s862 MB/s

Most pre-built PCs these days are shipping with a smaller SSD coupled with a big HDD. You get quick Windows 10 boots with the former, and plenty of room for your library of games on the latter. Lenovo has stuck with a Samsung SSD here, offering up blazing speeds. The HDD is, as you'd expect, much slower, with a read speed of 184.5 MB/s and a write speed of 179.2 MB/s.

Lenovo Legion Y520T review: Conclusion

The budget gaming PC market is pretty stiff, with most manufacturers understanding that people can't drop a couple thousand on a device that, with a few tutorials or help from a friend, can be built at home for much less with parts purchased separately.

The Legion Y520T goes as low as about $630 for a model with a Core i3-7100, 8GB of RAM, and an AMD Radeon RX 560 GPU, with the model I reviewed here sitting second-highest next to one with a Core i7 CPU (about $1,060) and otherwise similar hardware.

Sure, you can find something a bit cheaper with similar specs — Dell's new Inspiron Gaming lineup (opens in new tab) has some interesting stuff — but I do have to award points for style. The Legion Y520T has a great-looking chassis, and performance is right where it should be for this class of device.

See at Lenovo

Pros:

  • Nice style.
  • VR-ready.
  • Entry-level model is cheap.
  • Runs quietly under load.

Cons:

  • Pricier than alternatives.
  • Mouse and keyboard not for gaming.
Cale Hunt
Senior Editor, Laptop Reviews

Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.