Lenovo is getting serious about PC gaming. The PC maker launched a range of gaming computers with the new Legion sub-brand earlier this year.
The move comes as no surprise - the PC gaming market is booming, compared with the rest of the industry. Market research firm Jon Peddie Research reported that sales of PC gaming hardware last year breached the US$30 billion (S$42 billion) mark for the first time.
The Lenovo gaming PCs I had tested previously gave me the impression that the company still had some catching up to do. However, the Legion Y520 shows that Lenovo is one to watch.
Firstly, it is priced competitively for a budget gaming laptop from a major PC maker. My review set costs $1,899 for a configuration comprising an Intel Core i7 processor, 8GB of system memory and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti graphics chip.
This compares well against the Acer Aspire VX 15, which costs $1,998 for a similar configuration but has an inferior display compared with the Legion. However, the Aftershock MX-15 Elite still offers the best deal at around $1,700.
PROCESSOR: Intel Core i7-7700HQ (2.8GHz)
GRAPHICS: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti 4GB GDDR5
RAM: 8GB DDR4
SCREEN SIZE: 15.6 inches, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels
CONNECTIVITY: 1 x USB 3.1 Type-C, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet port, SD card reader, headphone and microphone jacks
BATTERY: 45 watt-hour
BATTERY LIFE: 1/5
VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5
Lenovo has also upped its game when it comes to gaming-centric software. The Y520 comes with Lenovo Nerve Sense, a software tool that lets users adjust gamer- centric settings, such as increasing the speed of the fan or prioritising network traffic for games. The tool even has special keyboard shortcuts for these functions.
It is not quite perfect yet. One of its functions automatically disables the touchpad and Windows logo key to prevent accidental input if it detects that a game is running. But it worked only for certain games, such as Crysis 3, but not for others like Doom.
Another gaming-related feature is a dedicated keyboard key to capture a video of your screen, which is useful to record gameplay videos. The keyboard itself has a red backlight and good key travel. I was not as impressed with the trapezoid touchpad and its stiff buttons, though.
The Legion's matte IPS screen offers good viewing angles and lively colours. But it could be brighter.
Audiowas better than I had expected. The Legion's dual speakers are loud, probably because they are located next to the hinge and angled to face the user.
Bass performance, on the other hand, is weak.
Gaming performance was decent. The Legion managed 66 frames per second (fps) in Doom at its native 1,920 x 1,080-pixel resolution and at Ultra setting.
It also produced 46fps in Crysis 3 at Very High setting. In other words, you should be able to play most games without having to turn off the eye candy.
My biggest nitpick is that the Legion has the stereotypical gaming laptop design - chunky and angular. But it is a minor complaint that does not detract from the value proposition of this gaming laptop.
• Verdict: Lenovo will attract plenty of mainstream gamers with this well-built and competitively priced gaming laptop.