We’ve run through (we think) all of Lenovo’s 2021 offerings this year, but it seems that we saved the best for last. Today we’re looking at the 6th generation of their Legion 7i, starting at $1,439 at Lenovo right now. That starting price still provides an 11th gen i7 and RTX 3-series graphics, but it can be configured for better performance as well. Here’s what we had on our review model:
- OS: Windows 10/11 Home/Pro
- Proc: 11 Generation Intel Core i7-11800H Processor (2.30 GHz, up to 4.60 GHz Turbo Boost, 8 Cores, 16 Threads, 24 MB Cache) [up to Core i9-11980HK]
- Memory: 32GB DDR4, 3200MHz
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Laptop GPU, 8GB GDDR6, listed boost clock 1560MHz, achieved boost clock 1620MHz, maximum graphics power 140W [Up to RTX 3080 16GB]
- Screen: 16.0″ WQXGA (2560 x 1600) IPS, anti-glare, 500 nits, 16:10, 165Hz, 3ms response time, 100% sRGB, VESA DisplayHDR 400 certified, Dolby Vision support, NVIDIA G-SYNC, low blue light – TÜV Certification
- Storage: 1TB PCIe SSD Gen 4 [up to 2TB]
- Connectivity: WiFi 6 / 802.11AX (2 x 2), Bluetooth 5.1
- Other: Corsair iCUE RGB keyboard lighting, Nahimic Audio, Tobii Horizon
Specs and Design
Aesthetically Lenovo has kept to the same design as the 2020 Legion laptops with some exceptions. The 15.6″ screens were sized up to 16″, and the iCUE RGB lighting is present not only in the keyboard but in the front and side vents, as well as a LED ribbon running around the bottom deck of the machine. And being their big gun flagship, the materials are aluminum instead of a plastic for both the deck and lid unlike the 5. That’s part of the increased weight of the Legion 7i, which starts at 5.5lbs and measures in at 0.92″ x 14.17″ x 10.23″. So it’s still less than an inch thick, but is still about 40% thicker than the Legion Slim 7. Granted the tradeoff is the ability to go up to an RTX 3080 16GB and a nicer screen, but it’s still enough of a difference in weight and size to consider.
The screen is quite literally a bright spot in the build. The 16:10 resolution gives us a bit of extra real estate at 2500×1600, with a 165Hz refresh rate at a nice and shiny 500 nits. It’s the only screen option which to us is a sensible decision, since upping it to 4K on top of the GeForce RTX 3-series graphics would drive the battery life to zero. On the top of the frame is a built-in 720p camera with an e-privacy shutter on the side. On the bottom deck we have Lenovo’s Legion TrueStrike keyboard, which is very comfortable to type on with smooth keycaps, and clearly a collaboration between Lenovo’s Legion and ThinkPad teams. The 16:10 form factor also gives us a bit more room above they keyboard, which features up-firing speakers for Nahimic 3D audio, allowing for good surround sound.
There’s plenty of ports for whatever you need, and thick enough for an RJ45 to plug directly in via ethernet. On the right side is a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 and the e-privacy shutter. On the left, a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 and the headphone/mic combo. The bulk of the ports are on the back – the power port, an RJ45, HDMI 2.1, another USB-C 3.2 Gen 1, and 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1’s.
In a nutshell, this is the highest performing laptop we have run not just this year, but since we started running product reviews – and our test unit’s not even running the topline specs for this model! We have the i7 / RTX 3070 which is a step down from the topline i9 / RTX 3080, and we still got massive results in our performance testing. The scores below are in Performance mode as set in Lenovo Vantage, so keep in mind that you’ll see a 10-12% hit in Balanced mode, which still ain’t bad. Here’s how it did:
PCMark 10: Our office benchmark gave us a 7,493 (Essentials 10,023, Productivity 10,300, Digital Content Creation 11,054), giving us a score beating even “premium gaming PC.” This beat the Slim 7 by at least 25% at every level.
3DMark Time Spy: Time Spy gave us a 10,906, which was is higher than not only the average gaming laptop and gaming desktop, but scoring in line with high-end gaming PC’s which average about 11,000.
3DMark Night Raid: Night Raid gave us 59,132, beating the high-end gaming desktop average and scoring in line with premium gaming desktops.
3DMark Port Royal: This ray-tracing test came back with a 6,605 beating the high end gaming PC’s, falling short only to “premium” gaming desktops. These are machines equipped with i9’s and full desktop-sized RTX 3080 cards, so for a laptop this is still a very convincing win.
Procyon Photo/Video Editing: The test for Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom gave us a 6,569, and we got a 5,791 for testing Adobe Premiere Pro. These are the highest scores we have gotten on the Procyon benchmark for artists and photographers.
In these above pure spec benchmarks from UL, the reports indicated that the Legion 7i handily beat at least 95% of all systems tested, which is even easier to believe after we ran them through our gaming tests below.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider: You can accompany Lara Croft on her adventures with absolutely no issue whatsoever even with top-end settings – and depending on the resolution, triple digit frames per second. 74 frames per second was the absolute minimum with everything maxed out.
- FHD / highest: 144 fps
- FHD / highest with ultra ray tracing: 118 fps
- 2560×1600 / highest: 123 fps
- 2560×1600 / highest with ultra ray tracing: 92 fps
- 4k / highest: 81 fps
- 4k / highest with ultra ray tracing: 74 fps
Final Fantasy XV: Noctis and his Kingsglaive will have no problems roaming the lands in the Regalia and fighting their enemies’ war mechs in high graphical style. With everything cranked out to the limits, you’ll still get a better than standard experience.
- FHD / standard graphics: 14,410 – extremely high
- FHD / high graphics: 10,735 – very high
- 2560×1440 / standard graphics: 10,358 – very high
- 2560×1440 / high graphics: 8,163 – high
- 4K / standard graphics: 5,624 – fairly high
- 4K / high graphics: 4,823 – fairly high
Our gaming tests with the 7i crushed the results we got with the Slim 7 as well as the Legion 5 Pro.
In addition to our formal tests we played around with Control on XBOX Game Pass, and with all of the settings turned up to high (including ray tracing) at 2560×1600 resolution we were averaging 70 fps with NVIDIA DLSS turned on. The game looked beautiful with the ray tracing on, as you can see here just observing the light reflections off of the wood paneling at the bureau.
We don’t think there is anything we could throw at this that it wouldn’t handle. Granted in performance thermal mode this unit may temporarily sound like a jet engine to keep the components cool, but that’s how Lenovo’s Coldfront 3.0 will act to keep everything from melting while pushing out those crazy frames per second.
Everyday Battery Test
Given the specs and performance we didn’t really expect a lot for this test. With the 500 nit screen, i7, and RTX 3070 this is a pure gaming machine, and by definition that means battery life isn’t the greatest. The other hint was the 300W battery pack in the box. Lenovo advertises 5 hours, so as always, on battery, wifi and at 60% screen brightness, we got on our way to try to hit that number.
The frightening part is when I took it off of AC power Windows automatically clicked into power saver mode reporting 2 hours and 59 minutes left. We turned it back to normal and allowed Windows to adjust its battery reporting as we continued to use the machine.
We started with 2 hours of media consumption. This was the first two episodes of the Netflix crime documentary Crime Scene – The Vanishing at the Cecil Hotel. This took us down to about 65% before we switched over to work and general computing. The tasks before me were a couple of domains to manage in Microsoft 365 administration, some remote sessions, and of course, licensing kerfuffles to resolve before the end of the year. With that and some shuffling and sending of emails, the Legion 7i called it quits at 4 hours and 25 minutes.
This is pretty much what we expected, and as always we expect that this number goes down by upgrading to the top-of-the-line configuration.
Lenovo’s Legion 7i is simply the highest performing gaming laptop we’ve gotten to take a look at. The most impressive piece of our testing apart from triple digit frames per second in some games is the fact that our review model was only the 2nd-highest configuration available. While also available in an AMD edition, the Intel versions start at under $1,500 for the same processor as our review model and a mild downgrade down to a GeForce RTX 3060 6GB, 512GB SSD and 16GB memory. Which is still a pretty good spec sheet for the price.
Battery life is always going to be the tradeoff for performance, but yikes is the performance on the Legion 7i blazing.