Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower review: The budget sibling of the Legion line
A smaller case and lesser hardware keep the Legion Y520T's price down.
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.
Lenovo Legion Y520T hardware and specifications
Seventh-gen Intel Core i7-7700 (up to 3.5GHz)
|Storage||1TB 7,200RPM HDD|
128GB PCIe SSD
|Graphics||NVIDIA GTX 1060 (3GB GDDR5 VRAM)|
Intel HD Graphics 630
Two USB-A 3.0
Two 3.5mm jacks (audio and mic)
Rear:Two USB-A 2.0
Two USB-A 3.0
Three 3.5mm jacks (two audio, one mic)
802.11ac (1 x 1)
|Optical drive||DVD recordable|
|Weight||19.2 pounds (8.71 kg)|
|Dimensions||7.16 in x 18.42 in x 15.84 in|
(182 mm x 467.8 mm x 402.4 mm)
|OS||Windows 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 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.
Time Spy (Higher is better)
|Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower||GTX 1060 (3GB)||3,621|
|Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower||GTX 1070||5,520|
|Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower||GTX 1080||6,774|
|Lenovo Legion Y720||GTX 1060||3,469|
|Lenovo Legion Y520||GTX 1050 Ti||2,491|
|Razer Blade 2017||GTX 1060||3,639|
|Dell XPS 15 (9560)||GTX 1050||1,789|
|Surface Book||GTX 965M||1,531|
|Spectre x360||GT 940m||613|
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.
Fire Strike (Higher is better)
|Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower||GTX 1060 (3GB)||9,078|
|Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower||GTX 1070||13,172|
|Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower||GTX 1080||16,996|
|Lenovo Legion Y720||GTX 1060||9,017|
|Lenovo Legion Y520||GTX 1050 Ti||6,623|
|Razer Blade Pro||GTX 1080||12,976|
|Dell XPS Tower SE||GTX 1070||12,315|
|Razer Blade 2017||GTX 1060||9,278|
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.
Orange Room (Higher is better)
|Lenogo Legion Y520 Tower||GTX 1060 (3GB)||6,234|
|Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower||GTX 1070||9,028|
|Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower||GTX 1080||10,688|
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 (PUBG) and DOOM 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.
Geekbench 4.0 Benchmarks (Higher is better)
|Device||CPU||Single core||Multi core|
|Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower||i5-7700||4,064||11,525|
|Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower||i7-7700||4,988||16,784|
|Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower||i7-7700K||5,484||18,438|
|Lenovo Legion Y720||i7-7700HQ||4,697||14,810|
|Lenovo Yoga 720 15||i7-7700HQ||3,784||10,255|
|Lenovo Legion Y520||i7-7700HQ||4,596||14,903|
|Razer Blade 2017||i7-7700HQ||4,277||13,597|
|Dell XPS 15||i7-7700HQ||4,503||13,587|
|Razer Blade Pro||i7-6700HQ||3,660||12,325|
|Dell XPS 13 (9360)||i7-6560U||4,120||7,829|
|HP Spectre 13||i7-7500U||4,100||7,469|
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 Home Conventional 3.0
|Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower||3,688|
|Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower||4,296|
|Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower||4,682|
|Lenovo Legion Y720||3,599|
|Lenovo Yoga 720 15||2,993|
|Surface Pro 2017||3,055|
|Lenovo Legion Y520||3,475|
|Razer Blade 2017||3,448|
|Dell XPS 15||3,534|
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.
CrystalDiskMark (Higher is better)
|Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower||3,248.1 MB/s||772.6 MB/s|
|Lenovo Legion Y720 Tower||3,326.9 MB/s||1,225.6 MB/s|
|Lenovo Legion Y920 Tower||3,291.6 MB/s||1,226.6 MB/s|
|Lenovo Legion Y720||1,642 MB/s||789.7 MB/s|
|Lenovo Yoga 720 15||1,839 MB/s||1,238 MB/s|
|Surface Laptop||423 MB/s||237 MB/s|
|Lenovo ThinkPad T470||1,079 MB/s||716.1 MB/s|
|Lenovo Legion Y520||1,838 MB/s||1,151 MB/s|
|Lenovo Yoga 720||1,904 MB/s||1,169 MB/s|
|Lenovo X1 Carbon||1,518 MB/s||1,188 MB/s|
|Samsung Notebook 9 15 Ext||1,365 MB/s||1,213 MB/s|
|Razer Blade Pro||2,571 MB/s||2,467 MB/s|
|Dell XPS 15 (9560)||2,207 MB/s||1,628 MB/s|
|Dell XPS 13 (9360)||1,287 MB/s||794 MB/s|
|HP Spectre x360 15||1,128 MB/s||862 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 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.
- Nice style.
- Entry-level model is cheap.
- Runs quietly under load.
- Pricier than alternatives.
- Mouse and keyboard not for gaming.
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Cale Hunt is formerly 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.