Lenovo Legion Go overview: The XL various to the Steam Deck

Every single day it looks like there’s a brand new handheld gaming PC hitting the market. However as an alternative of churning out one more Home windows-based rival for the Steam Deck, Lenovo is placing its spin on the class with the Legion Go. It combines top-notch efficiency with an enormous OLED show and borrows some design traits from the Nintendo Change. The result’s a strong although considerably cumbersome $700 gaming machine that additionally provides some hidden tips.

Design and show: An XL gaming handheld

Packing a 2,560 x 1,600 8.8-inch OLED show, the Legion Go has one of many largest, if not the largest screens on any gaming handheld as we speak. However it’s not simply huge, as a result of with a 144Hz refresh price, it’s somewhat speedy and because of a peak brightness of round 500 nits, it’s fairly vibrant too. This makes the panel an ideal centerpiece for Lenovo’s handheld. The one factor it’s lacking is full variable refresh price help (VRR).

Picture by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Flanking its show are a pair of controllers that may be indifferent similar to with the Nintendo Change. The 2 highlights are a built-in touchpad for easily mousing round Home windows and Corridor impact joysticks which are only a contact extra responsive and correct than on ASUS’ ROG Ally or Valve’s Steam Deck. Elsewhere, the Legion Go options an Xbox-style button structure complemented by 4 rear paddles and a kickstand so you’ll be able to simply prop the system up when wanted.

The entire package deal feels somewhat sturdy even whenever you think about its detachable controllers (although detaching them does take a bit observe as they slide down and outwards as an alternative of up like on the Change). You even get two USB-C ports (each of which help USB 4), which is one than on its rivals, plus a microSD card slot for expandable storage. My two small gripes are that the touchpad doesn’t help haptics or the power to press down on it. This implies it’s a must to carry out extra of a fast faucet to simulate a conventional left click on without having a simple shortcut for right-clicking. I additionally want the Legion Go had a fingerprint sensor just like the ROG Ally, as that might make unlocking the machine quicker and simpler.

The Legion Go features not one but two USB-C ports that support USB 4.
Picture by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

However that’s not all, as a result of on the underside of the best controller, there’s a toggle that permits you to activate FPS mode. While you flip this change after which slot the controller into Lenovo’s bundled puck, it turns the controller right into a vertical mouse, at which level you’ll be able to play FPS video games (therefore the identify of the change) with even better precision, assuming you’re into that form of factor. Nevertheless, for somebody like me who isn’t an enormous fan of shooters, I discover this setup is healthier merely for navigating by Home windows, particularly for anybody planning to hook this as much as an exterior monitor and keyboard and use it like a desktop. Lenovo even included a bit wheel on the best controller so you’ll be able to rapidly scroll by docs and internet pages.

The draw back to Lenovo’s XL-sized design is that because it weighs 1.88 kilos and measures 11.76 inches throughout, the Legion Go is noticeably bigger and bulkier than each the ROG Ally and the Steam Deck. That mentioned, none of the present crop of gaming handhelds are what I’d name pocketable, so that you’re nonetheless going to should toss any of them in a separate bag for touring. And to Lenovo’s credit score, the Legion Go comes with a case that has a intelligent cutout that permits you to snake in an influence twine so you’ll be able to cost it whereas it’s nestled safely inside. In the meantime, the ROG Ally doesn’t include at case in any respect.

Efficiency: Huge energy that wants some optimizing

The Legion Go features an Xbox-style button layout in front along with a total of four paddles in back.
Picture by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

The Legion Go is predicated on an AMD Ryzen Z1 Excessive processor together with 16GB of RAM and as much as 1TB of storage. This is similar chip and quantity of reminiscence because the top-spec ROG Ally, and as you’d anticipate efficiency could be very comparable and about nearly as good because it will get amongst present handheld gaming PCs. You’ll be able to play main AAA releases like Elden Ring and Starfield, although in the event you’re useless set on hitting 60 fps, you’ll need to fiddle round with graphics settings.

Just like the ROG Ally, the Legion Go provides a spread of preset efficiency modes (Quiet, Balanced and Efficiency) and a customized setting that enables customers to pick out a TDP (thermal design energy) starting from 5 to 30 watts. The problem is that for the reason that Legion Go was launched extra not too long ago, Lenovo hasn’t had as a lot time as ASUS to refine its software program and drivers. Sadly, this meant that once I tried to benchmark each techniques at 25 watts, I bumped into a problem the place framerates on the Legion Go fell far wanting expectations. Once I reached out to Lenonvo, I used to be advised this can be a recognized bug with the present software program construct and needs to be addressed in an upcoming patch. Fortunately, after I put in some beta drivers and a BIOS replace (that are anticipated to be formally launched someday within the coming weeks), framerates jumped again as much as ranges that matched the ROG Ally.

The Legion Go's 8.8-inch OLED display is the biggest screen available on pretty much any gaming handheld available today.
Picture by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

In Cyberpunk 2077 at 800p and medium settings with FSR set to Efficiency, at 15 watts the Legion Go hit 45 fps, basically matching the ROG Ally’s 46 fps on the identical energy degree. And when set to 25 watts, each techniques remained shut, with the Legion Go pulling forward barely with 74 fps versus 71 fps for the ASUS. Notably, Valve’s OLED Steam Deck beat each techniques at 15 watts in Cyberpunk 2077, hitting 53 fps, although as a result of it doesn’t have the next energy setting, it nonetheless falls quick by way of total efficiency.

Software program: barebones however useful

One of many huge knocks in opposition to Home windows-based handhelds is that Microsoft’s OS nonetheless feels clunky whenever you’re not enjoying video games. That is nonetheless the case right here, although Lenovo tries to handle that with its Legion House app, which serves as a one-stop store for tweaking efficiency, customizing the system’s RGB lighting or rapidly launching titles. It’s useful, nevertheless it additionally feels half-baked. Issues like efficiency modes aren’t correctly labeled, so there’s no clear indication that Efficiency mode on the Legion Go means a TDP of 20 watts as an alternative of 25 like on the ROG Ally. And whereas the app makes it straightforward to see your entire put in video games throughout numerous providers like Steam, Epic and others, the tab for Android Video games is just a hyperlink to obtain the Amazon App Retailer. However essentially the most annoying factor is if you wish to purchase video games straight inside Legion House, clicking the Sport Retailer tab brings you to a web page that form of appears to be like like Steam however is definitely run by a distinct third-party retailer in Gamesplanet. Now, this isn’t a knock in opposition to Gamesplanet itself as a result of the service does present a legit approach to purchase new titles, however buying sport keys after which needing to enter them in a separate app is form of awkward and complicated.

Battery life

By activating the FPS toggle on the bottom of the controller and slotting it into an included base, the Legion Go right gamepad can function as a vertical mouse.
Picture by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

One of many considerations with having huge efficiency in a handheld is the influence that has on battery life. Nevertheless, Lenovo has performed its finest to counteract that with a big 49.2Wh battery (versus 40Wh on the ROG Ally). The result’s a system that lasts between an hour and a half to a few hours relying on the sport you’re enjoying and your energy settings. At 15 watts, the Legion comes up quick in opposition to the Steam Deck, which nonetheless reigns supreme by way of effectivity with runtimes of over two hours. However when in comparison with the ASUS machine, the Legion Go usually lasts 30 to 45 minutes longer when enjoying the identical title.

Wrap-up

The Legion Go is an fascinating tackle a handheld gaming PC. With its kickstand and removable controllers, it’s appropriated the adaptability that Nintendo launched on the Change. However Lenovo took issues additional with a built-in touchpad and a intelligent FPS mode that makes the system simpler to make use of as a PC. And capping issues off is a beautiful 8.8-inch OLED show that makes the Legion Go’s potent efficiency shine.

The Legion Go comes with an included carrying case, a microfiber cleaning cloth, a USB-C power adapter and a puck that turns the right controller into a vertical mouse.
Picture by Sam Rutherford/Engadget

On the flipside, its bulk feels prefer it’s pushing the definition of a handheld machine. Any greater and also you would possibly as effectively carry round a thin-and-light gaming laptop computer and a devoted controller. And whereas Lenovo’s beta software program addresses a few of the efficiency hangups I bumped into, the Legion Go isn’t going to succeed in its full potential till its software program is correctly optimized, which could not occur for one more month or two.

In a variety of methods, the Legion Go is sort of a super-sized various to the ROG Ally. What it lacks in portability it greater than makes up for in flexibility. Between its twin USB-C ports and FPS mode, I feel it’s a greater laptop computer substitute than the Ally, too. Granted, the Legion Go isn’t as inexpensive or long-lasting as both model of the Steam Deck, nevertheless it provides far more horsepower. So whereas some would possibly discover its measurement a bit extreme, that huge, vibrant show is difficult to say no to. I simply hope Lenovo can polish off its software program sooner somewhat than later.

This text initially appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/lenovo-legion-go-review-the-xl-alternative-to-the-steam-deck-141522230.html?src=rss

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