As predicted when I took the Legion Y720 for a test drive last month, Lenovo brought us a new suite of gaming hardware at E3, equipped with Intel’s 8th generation processors. Also is a new and fresh design, as a departure from the what we’ve seen from older generations of the Y-series and early Legion line.
The first one I got to try out was the Legion Y530, the 15″ entry level model in the new line of Legions.
Before we start, here are the specs of the unit I had to demo:
- OS: Windows 10 Home x64
- Proc: Intel 8th generation Core i5-8300H, 4-core, 2.30 GHz
- Memory: 8GB DD4 RAM
- Graphics: nVidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB
- Screen: FHD (1920×1080)
- Storage: 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
- Wireless: Lenovo 802.11 (2 x 2), Bluetooth 4.1
The design of the Legion Y530 is a huge change from what we are used to with previous generations of Lenovo laptops. Immediately taking this out of the box it was lighter and trimmer than what I was expecting. Weighing in at just about 5 lbs (2.3kg) and at 24mm thick, I instantly felt like Legion took a page from the book of their enterprise X-series cousins – coming in a sleek and thin package that was still lightweight enough to travel.
Just on that it’s already scoring points. “Gone are the days for bulky gaming laptops and teenage boy designs” says Lenovo, and I am 100% on board with that sentiment.
The new design doesn’t just stop at being thinner and lighter. The entire hinge for the display has been moved about an inch to the front from the back of the machine, leaving space to tilt the display back to a full 180°, another great pull from Lenovo’s X-series. The display itself is nearly edge to edge with very little bezel showing around the border, and has the capability to go brighter than the older Lenovos I’ve used before. Check out the image on the right – it compares this model to Lenovo’s Y700 from their previous gaming line. As you can see a lot of the screen has been seriously trimmed.
Powering on the machine the Legion “Y” logo lights up on the lid, which is a really cool and subtle touch to bring some lighting to the outside of the machine without being overpowering or distracting like some other gaming laptops go with. With the cool lid accent though comes my one gripe about the new design – the texture of the lid. It has tiny ridges through the entire area instead of being a smooth surface. In itself it’s not an issue but personally for me when my hands run across it feels very weird, and is my own personal “nails on a chalkboard” sound and feeling. I’m sure many of you will not have this problem, but for me I would have preferred a smooth lid surface.
Opening it up shows us the full-size keyboard with number pad on the right, again as with previous models crunching it down to make room for a full size set of arrow keys. The keyboard is illuminated with subtle white LED lighting, which feels much calmer than other models that have RGB arrays in different shades and patterns. The Y530 doesn’t feature the Nerve Sense UI with customizable RGB, but frankly that’s a bit extra for gamers that absolutely demand it. It definitely isn’t a detractor for me.
The port layout was the biggest surprise in the redesign. Instead of one side being flanked with the majority of the ports, the left and right sides feature only one USB port each, with a headphone jack on the left. Taking a look at the back of the machine reveals the rest. Everything other port has been moved to the rear, which is a great design idea. I’ve been annoyed and struggled so many times rearranging things on my desk to accommodate a power or HDMI port on the “wrong” side of that laptop, and this alleviates all of that. On the rear of the machine is power, USB-C, USB 3.0, mini DisplayPort, HDMI, Ethernet RJ-45, and a lock slot. Again, no SD card slot like in the previous generation of Legions. I don’t know if they’re going to be gone forever, but I still would get great use out of one if it existed.
Like all gaming laptops, the Y530 is prone to get a little warm when gaming or doing anything that has high impact on the GPU. For those situations the cooling and airflow systems have been retooled to minimize and dissipate heat. The new model has a dual-channel thermal system with individual CPU and GPU cooling. The bottom and sides of the laptop are basically all fan and vent, and is still comparatively low on fan noise when the cooling kicks in. When it doesn’t have to, the system is nearly silent and doesn’t distract from other audio at all. The fans can be kicked into high gear using the Lenovo Vantage app, which seems to have replaced Nerve Sense from the previous generation. What was surprising to me was the speed at which the system cooled, and for how short a time the cooling boost had to actually be on to be effective. Vantage also provides a single spot for maintenance, driver and system updates, and handy things like turning on key lock to prevent unwanted or mistaken inputs that may, oh I don’t know, take you out of a game and back into Windows during what could possibly be a critical moment.
Unlike the previous generation, the speakers don’t take center stage in the design, and while the sound is good there is a minor fidelity issue. When the volume is turned up using the laptop speakers, there is some minor clipping and buzz for higher frequencies in the upper end. The clipping wasn’t their with either office or gaming headset or streaming through Chromecast, but on the laptop itself it is a noticible thing.
Test 1 – The Regular Day
As always, I put the laptop through its paces as if it were my everyday primary machine. With the battery in balanced mode and the screen at 30-50% brightness, I worked off of my home wifi with the keyboard lighting on, after downloading and installing all the things I would normally be using. This was mainly doing some work using Microsoft Office – typing up documents in Word and brushing up on some presentations in PowerPoint. Of course is the normal Facebooking, Twittering, and keeping up with both my work and personal emails. I took some breaks for YouTube and watched an episode of Game of Thrones on HBO Go as well, even streaming it from Chrome to the big TV in my living room. The wifi held up without having to turn up the performance during the stream, and held up in perfect 1080p the entire way through while I browsed otherwise on the interwebs. I did have to eventually increase the brightness closer to max – and while it did look good I wish it would go just a smidge brighter on the scale.
For those curious, it was the season 7 finale, “The Dragon and the Wolf” at 1 hour and 22 minutes long
Now comes the really impressive part – At this point of the test I usually start running low enough on battery life to start wrapping things up and setting it back up to charge. But after 3 hours of use (that’s solid in-use time over the course of the day, not counting times when it was in sleep mode), the battery meter said I was still at over 60% battery life, with an estimated five and a half hours left. So I was actually able to download Battle.net, Steam, World of Warcraft and Rise of the Tomb Raider with battery life still to spare.
Test 2 – Game Testing
First up was going to Blizzard land with World of Warcraft and tuning everything up to 10 (max setting). No issues whatsoever. Even areas where many things were rendering at once were free of problems. The first test areas of course were leisurely strolls through Dalaran and Stormwind, where the sheer number of player models being rendered simultaneously caused absolutely no clip or load issues. Flying around the open world and running quests with full distance view happened without any chop, and while providing a steady framerate of 75-85 fps. At its low point it dropped to 59 fps momentarily and peaked around 97 fps throughout playing, with closer to 85 fps during instances and raids.
Rise of the Tomb Raider was the next game on deck. While it has been out for a while it is still a pretty graphically demanding game and works well for a test – Square Enix seems to know this too. Built into the game’s menu is a graphic benchmark putting the system through three zones – Mountain Peak, Syria and Geothermal Valley. Here’s what the Y530 was able to do:
@ Max Settings (1920×1080, FXAA):
- Mountain Peak: 50.29 fps
- Syria: 38.95 fps
- Geothermal Valley: 38.93 fps
- OVERALL: 42.94 fps
The one issue i noticed during the benchmark was rendering for Geothermal Valley. The framerate was maintained well but it seemed like certain wooden platforms in the zone had a bit of a delay loading the textures. Similar issues didn’t come up in the Mountain Peak or Syria tests.
As far as playing the game, it doesn’t push the 80+ fps some gamers are looking for, but the lower framerate didn’t affect my gameplay at all and the graphics still looked great.
In short, this could be my one machine that I use for both everyday leisure, work, as well as play. It balances work and play quite well, and for my multiclassing purposes, it delivers – on specs, on battery life, and on design. From a pure gaming standpoint, this model I’m reviewing is running an i5 instead of an i7 in the processor slot and a GTX 1050 Ti instead of nVidia’s top-end video cards for pure pixel-pushing power. I think the compromise is perfect for folks like me, who want something that can play games as well as work for everyday life in one machine. The settings might not be completely maxed out on games that are more graphically demanding, but when the model I’m testing begins at $749 and can still push this kind of performance at the low end of the product line, I am indeed intrigued. You’re going to have people that don’t like it because it’s not flashing with RGB LED’s or because they prefer being loud in public. Well, I’m an adult, as are most people with disposable income, and this works great for me.
The Y530 can be customized to pack up to an i7-8750H 6-core processor and 16GB of memory, but will still have the GTX 1050 Ti as the only graphic card option. And right now, that would only set you back $1100. As far bargains are concerned, this one definitely delivers big for the price point. More from the new 8th-gen powered Legions are coming soon, but if this is any indication, I am expecting big things.
- Long battery life up to 8 hours
- Work/Play balance
- Refreshed aesthetics
- I feel like an adult using it
- Graphics options max out with GTX 1050 Ti
- Sound clips in the top end at high volume
- Lid texture
All in all, the Lenovo Legion Y530 would more than satisfy my multiclassing needs. The supremely impressive battery life would cover even a transatlantic flight, and the specs would let me sit down and game once I get where I’m going.
Pure gaming score: 7/10
Everyday use score: 9/10
Overall score: 8.5/10