Lenovo gaming laptop buyer’s guide

The best Lenovo gaming laptops in 2022, including the Lenovo Legion 7, Lenovo Legion 5, Lenovo Ideapad 3 and more

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The best Lenovo gaming laptop selections available in 2022 including the high-end Lenovo Legion 7, the mid and upper-mid range Lenovo Legion 5 and Lenovo Legion 5 Pro, and finally the Lenovo Ideapad 3 for those on a tight budget.

We’ll be going through each of these models in detail, listing the pros and cons of each, and helping you work out which model is the right choice for you.

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Are Lenovo laptops good for gaming?

In 2021 Lenovo have given us some of the very best laptops on offer from any brand in their Lenovo Legion series, which ranges from medium powered and priced options to the truly premium gaming monsters.  The latest iterations of the Lenovo Legion series all come with high TGP graphics cards as well as MUX switches, meaning they are able to disable Optimus and utilize the full power of the dedicated graphics. Combine this with G-Sync and/or FreeSync support and these laptops are well kitted out for gamers. The only weak point in Lenovo’s range tends to come in at the budget end, where the Lenovo Ideapad series doesn’t necessarily offer the performance/price of competing brands. Nevertheless, 2021 has really cemented Lenovo as a brand to be reckoned with in the gaming laptop space.

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Our Top Picks

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WePC Awards Best In Class
One of the best high-end gaming laptops on the market, a 16-inch powerhouse
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A solid mid-price 15-inch Lenovo gaming laptop with powerful, high-TGP RTX 3060
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A 16-inch, upper-mid-range Lenovo gaming laptop

The best Lenovo gaming laptop in 2022

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In-depth Review

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One of the best high-end gaming laptops on the market, a 16-inch powerhouse
WePC Awards Best In Class

Lenovo Legion 7 (QHD, 165Hz, RTX 3080)

Lenovo Legion 7

CPU

AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX

Graphics Card

Nvidia RTX 3080 16GB (150-165W)

RAM

16/32GB

Max Refresh Rate

165Hz

Resolution

2560 x 1600

Screen Size

16”

Editor's Rating
4.5/5
Pros

superb FPS performance in games

excellent content rendering performance

MUX Switch

G-Sync with Optimus disabled / FreeSync with it enabled

fast response time

good color replication

great contrast & peak brightness

good array of ports

good build quality

respectable speakers

nice RGB

Cons

short battery life

webcam could be better

expensive

higher refresh rate options would have been nice

The Lenovo Legion 7 is not just the best Lenovo gaming laptop, but one of the best gaming laptops of any brand. The combination of an AMD Ryzen 9 5900HX CPU and a high TGP Nvidia RTX 3080 let it chew through any game with ease, even on the highest graphical settings. Indeed it has some of the best in-game FPS performance of any gaming laptop currently on the market, helped by having an easily utilized MUX switch in the onboard software so you can disable Optimus and get an extra performance boost. When disabled, G-Sync becomes available, and when enabled the screen reverts to FreeSync: meaning screen tearing is minimized in both scenarios.

The 16-inch display has a slightly taller than normal 16:10 aspect ratio, so the whole area of the display is about what you’d get in a 17-inch model but the laptop is more easily portable. The 2560 x 1600 display is ideal for gaming on, with a grey-to-grey response time of around 4.5ms with overdrive enabled, which is a strong result for a gaming laptop of this resolution. At the 165Hz refresh rate of this display, the response time is fast enough that you will not be able to detect any ghosting. Ideally, we would have liked to have seen a 1080p version of the screen with a higher refresh rate for all those competitive gamers out there that really want to push their effective FPS, but 165FPS is absolutely fine for the vast majority of people.

Color gamut is good for a gaming laptop, with an sRGB coverage of 98% and AdobeRGB and DCI-P3 both being about 72%. This effectively means you could do color accurate work in the sRGB space if you wanted to when not gaming on this machine, but not so in the other two ranges. Peak brightness is superb, hitting around 520 nits, and contrast is also pretty great.

This Lenovo Legion laptop has good overall build quality, with metal on the outside of the bottom and top lids, but plastic on the interior when opened up. The overall aesthetic is quite nice, and though we don’t prioritize RGB here at WePC, the lighting strip on the bottom is admittedly rather tasty. Weight is about what you’d expect for this size of laptop, and the array of ports is great, with plenty of USB-C sockets and everything else you could want.

In terms of the issues then, the webcam and mic are a bit disappointing, not really worse than average for a gaming laptop but for this price, better would have been nicer. The biggest problem overall is the battery life. The included Corsair iCUE software drains the battery substantially, and it’s not a straightforward process to completely disable it. You’ll get about 3 hours or less of general usage with it enabled (not great), but if you manage to turn the software off and switch the display to the 60Hz battery saver mode, this can be stretched to around 5 hours, which is around average for this type of machine.

Still, if you can overlook this one main issue, there isn’t really anything to say about the Lenovo Legion 7 that isn’t good.

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A solid mid-price 15-inch Lenovo gaming laptop with powerful, high-TGP RTX 3060

Lenovo Legion 5 / Legion 5i (RTX 3060, Ryzen 7 5800H)

Lenovo Legion 5

CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 5800H / / Intel Core i7-10750H

Graphics Card

Nvidia RTX 3060 (115-130W)

RAM

16GB

Max Refresh Rate

165Hz

Resolution

1920 x 1080

Screen Size

15.6”

Editor's Rating
4.0/5
Pros

High TGP RTX 3060 means good gaming performance

MUX switch

good color replication

great contrast

very good battery life

Cons

slow stock RAM

The Lenovo Legion 5 is possibly the best performing RTX 3060 laptop on the market in terms of in-game FPS, which makes it the most powerful true ‘mid-range’ option from Nvidia. If you don’t mind opting for an AMD GPU with their inferior Ray-Tracing, then the unusually good value ASUS G15 Advantage Edition will admittedly get you significantly more FPS performance for around the same price, but for the Nvidia machines you’ll struggle to find a better deal. The inclusion of an easily activated MUX switch in the onboard software is very nice and helps boost performance further.

The Legion 5 comes with a powerful AMD Ryzen 7 5800H CPU that also gives great multi-core performance for creative workflows and rendering. The Legion 5i is the Intel model, powered by an Intel Core i7-10750H which will get you slightly better gaming performance, but at the expense of an hour or so battery life and reduced workstation performance.

As has plagued many laptop releases in 2021, the Lenovo Legion 5 comes with fairly slow stock RAM, which can cause a degree of FPS bottlenecking in some games, though not as much as we’ve seen elsewhere. The difference in performance when you upgrade the RAM ranges between no difference at all in some titles, up to around 10% difference in a few, with the average being around 3%: so for many it’s probably not worth the upgrade overall and it’s not enough to dissuade you from buying this machine.

Onto the 1080p 165Hz display, this is good enough for the majority of gamers, unless you want the best competitive performance in which case you’d need to buy a higher-end machine anyway. The 7ms grey-to-grey response time is decent if not amazing, but the G-Sync/FreeSync is a welcome edition.

In terms of color gamut, the Lenovo Legion 5 covers 98% sRGB, 70% Adobe RGB, and 72% DCI-P3, which is all well above the minimum needed for gaming and even makes it capable of color accurate design work in the sRGB space. The screen has a great contrast ratio, and a respectable peak brightness, though ideally, this could have been better.

The webcam and microphone are middling quality for a gaming laptop at this price point. The same can be said for the speakers, in so far as, like much of the competition, they are fairly poor and lack much bass replication. The membrane keyboard and trackpad are both decent, and above average compared to the competition, though not the best out there either. Build quality is okay, though the plastic build doesn’t compare to the more metal designs of more premium laptops. There is some screen wobble when typing and a bit of flex when you press down around the keyboard, though this latter point isn’t really something that you’ll notice.

If you turn off Optimus using the mUX switch, the battery life of the Legion 5 with AMD CPU is quite impressive: expect to get around 8 hours of general, non-gaming usage. You can expect the Intel-powered Legion 5i to run at least an hour or so shorter than this, which is still pretty decent for an Intel machine.

Ultimately the Lenovo Legion 5 doesn’t have many flaws. If you want an improved response time or a 16-inch, 1440p screen then the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro might be worth considering, though this will cost you more money. The 17-inch version of the Lenovo Legion 5 is also an option, but this has a slower response time than the 15-inch and doesn’t have G-Sync. All-in-all, we think this model is the best value choice for gamers.

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A 16-inch, upper-mid-range Lenovo gaming laptop

Lenovo Legion 5 Pro (RTX 3060/3070, Ryzen 7 5800H)

Lenovo Legion 5

CPU

AMD Ryzen 7 5800H / Intel Core i7-10750H

Graphics Card

Nvidia RTX 3060 (115-130W)/ RTX 3070 (125-140W)

RAM

16GB

Max Refresh Rate

165Hz

Resolution

2560 x 1600

Screen Size

16”

Editor's Rating
4.0/5
Pros

High TGP RTX 3060/3070 means good gaming performance

MUX switch

good response time

G-Sync with Optimus disabled / FreeSync with it enabled

good color replication

great contrast & brightness

good battery life

Cons

slow stock RAM

on the heavier side

The Lenovo Legion 5 Pro is similar to the Lenovo Legion 5 in terms of the power of its core components if you opt for the RTX 3060 version, though it has the option of the more powerful RTX 3070 version as well. Both GPU options are again high-TGP models which perform at the top end compared to competing brand laptops with the same graphics cards. Performance in gaming is again great; in workstation tasks (thanks to the multi-core performance of the Ryzen 7 5800H CPU) the machine also pulls its weight. Like the regular Legion 5 the Pro has a MUX switch to disable Optimus in the onboard software, which boosts performance further.

The main differences with the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro lie with the display. It has a larger 16-inch screen which is also taller thanks to its 16:10 aspect ratio, and a higher 2560 x 1600 resolution (QHD but with a bit extra height). For straight gamers only the extra resolution could be an unnecessary extravagance, with 1080p doing just fine on the 15” screen of the Legion 5, however, if you want to dual-use this machine for creative purposes, or just want extra resolution to watch movies on, then the Pro might be for you.

One gaming advantage the Pro does have is in terms of response time however, which comes in around 4.5ms grey-to-grey with Overdrive enabled, meaning you won’t notice any ghosting whatsoever at the 165Hz refresh rate. Colors (good) and contrast (good) are pretty much the same as the 1080p Legion 5, though peak brightness is improved, coming in at around 512 nits, making it better suited to brighter environments.

If you disable Optimus using the MUX switch, and also turn the display refresh rate down to 60Hz, then you can get around 7+ hours of battery life during non-strenuous tasks like web browsing and word processing. Build quality is similar to the Legion 5, if not slightly better, but the larger display does make it a bit on the heavy side by comparison.

Whether you opt for the Lenovo Legion 5 Pro or the cheaper vanilla Legion 5 really depends on what you prioritize. Both are equally great gaming laptops.

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A budget-friendly Lenovo gaming laptop

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 / 3i

Lenovo IdeaPad gaming 3

CPU

AMD Ryzen 5 5600H / Intel Core i5-11300H

Graphics Card

Nvidia GTX 1650 / 1650 Ti / RTX 3050 Ti

RAM

8/16GB

Max Refresh Rate

120Hz

Resolution

1920 x 1080

Screen Size

15.6”

Editor's Rating
3.0/5
Pros

RTX 3050 Ti version gives strong budget performance

comes with FreeSync

good keyboard and trackpad for the price

decent battery life

respectable build quality

Cons

poor response time

could be brighter

narrow color gamut

The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 with AMD CPU, or alternatively the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i if you go with the Intel option, can be equipped with either the GTX 1650, 1650 Ti, RTX 3050 Ti, and other combinations. The RTX 3050 Ti is definitely the one we’d recommend getting. Although neither will be able to play the latest, most demanding games at the highest settings; moderately demanding games on medium settings will run at a respectable FPS on the 3050 Ti version. The GTX 1650 model though, the most widespread version on Amazon, is too low a performer for us to be able to recommend it.

The 1080p screen has a 120Hz refresh rate, which is more than enough considering you’re unlikely to hit 120FPS in many games on this budget. The 15ms real grey-to-grey response time is slower than we’d like, though not untypical of the competition at this price point. Ghosting will be visible though. The inclusion of FreeSync on a laptop this cheap is however a welcome addition for reducing screen tearing.

In terms of colors, you only get around 63% sRGB coverage, and even less of the Adobe RGB and DCI-P3, which is just about good enough for gaming but not much else. Contrast is ok, but the peak brightness caps out at around 270nits, which is somewhat dim, though not terrible.

The webcam and microphone are about average for this price range, but the keyboard is above average for a budget machine, as is the trackpad. Speakers are middling for a gaming laptop, which is to say they’re poor.

Battery life comes in at around five to six hours of non-strenuous, non-gaming usage, which is decent if not great. Build quality is slightly above average, though as plasticy as you’d expect at this price.

Ultimately, if you can get hold of the RTX 3050 ti version, this is a solid-budget gaming laptop.

Final Word

We hope this guide has helped you find the best Lenovo gaming laptop for your needs in 2022. If you want to have a look at gaming laptops from other brands besides Lenovo, have a look at our best gaming laptop page, or some of our other gaming laptop guides based on different price points, under Custom Gaming PC > Gaming Laptop in the top menu bar.

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The Author Who Worked On This Article

Technology Writer
at
WePC
From halcyon days playing Sonic 2 on the Megadrive, to trying to work out how to make the ‘TOASTY!’ man appear on Mortal Kombat 3, many of Aaron’s fondest childhood memories are associated with gaming. He regrets nothing. First getting into PC gaming through exposure to Drug Lord 2.0 and then the original Half Life, he has been a fiend ever since. If you need to know anything about gaming laptops, he’s your guy.

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