Detailed review of Lenovo Legion Y520
If you’ve been following Digit for a long time, you might know that the Lenovo Y700 won our Zero1 award for “Best Mainstream Gaming Laptop” in 2016. This year, the company takes it a step further with the Legion Y520, which replaces last year’s machine. The design has been changed, the guts have been upgraded, weight and dimensions have been reduced and the machine is now part of Lenovo’s Legion sub-brand. On paper, it looks quite interesting and somewhat resembles the Dell inspiron 7567 I recently reviewed, meaning there’s plenty of 1080p performance to exploit. Exploit I did, the Legion Y520 has been a good gaming partner for the past two weeks. But not everything is right either.
Technical specifications of our test machine:
Screen: 15.6-inch, 1080P, IPS panel
CPU: Intel Core i7-7700HQ
GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Storage 1: 128GB Samsung NVMe SSD
Storage 2: 1TB Seagate 5400RPM
Battery: 45 Wr
Price: Rs. 1,05,101
Design and build: new and refined
Like its predecessor, Legion Y520 continues the theme of red-and-black gaming. It’s mainly made of plastic, but it’s a sturdy machine and easily compares to entry-level Thinkpads. The use of red accents in some places gives the machine a more appealing look, and the angular front lip makes it stand out among a myriad of rectangular designs. The orange rear exhaust and shoulder-mounted speakers not only look attractive, but also enhance the aesthetics.
The Y520 uses a similar mid-mounted single hinge mechanism to the Dell Inspiron 7567 gaming, but here the flex in the display is noticeably less, though it’s not completely missing. The keyboard deck offers enough space for both hands and the use of matte paint feels good. The laptop is quite thin and has amply rounded corners, making the keyboard easier to reach and longer to use.
I/O: Everything you need
I’m quite happy with the I/O selection on the Legion Y520, as it covers all the basics. On the left, you get a USB 2.0 port, a Gigabit Ethernet jack, microphone/headphone combo, and the proprietary power port taken straight from the Thinkpad range. On the right side, you have two USB 3.0 ports, an SD card reader, a USB 3.0 Type-C port, and an HDMI output.
At this point I have to say that the laptop lacks a Thunderbolt port, but the limited compatibility of third-party graphics amplifiers and the lack of 4K gaming performance on the NVIDIA 1050 Ti makes it a moot point. That said, I would have preferred a third USB 3.0 port with fast charging capabilities.
Rendering: good, not great
While the 4K capabilities of the 1050 Ti are limited to playing video and some non-graphics intensive games, it does justice to the 1080p display here. The matte 15.6-inch panel is one of the best I’ve seen in the category, although it’s not as bright as I’d hoped. With 260 lux at the center, it is definitely better in terms of quality and viewing angles than the Dell Inspiron 7567 and most other laptops, but it leaves me wanting more. Color rendering is decent, but as long as you don’t use this machine for Photoshop, it will serve you well.
Keyboard and touchpad: good enough
The Lenovo Legion Y520 has a similar island-style keyboard that we’ve seen in the company’s past. It has large keys, is quite tactile and offers good feedback. The red backlight on it matches the entire gaming theme of the laptop. In addition, this time it uses a two-stage backlight, meaning it has two intensity settings. The addition of a dedicated screen recording button is also appreciated.
The synaptics touchpad is also quite good and responsive. Compared to the Dell it certainly feels smoother, but the precision is almost equal. The two cursor keys are glossy and slightly raised, which might give the impression that they have more depth, but in reality the depression is quite small and both buttons are a bit stiff to press.
Performance: on par with competition
The Lenovo Legion Y520 has a similar hardware configuration to the Dell Inspiron 7567 Gaming and the performance is also pretty much the same. The Intel Core i7-7700HQ performs well through and through, offering unlimited performance whether you’re converting a video or playing rigorous games. It was really impressive to see Nvidia’s smallest GTX GPU consistently out over 65fps on Doom, running on Ultra settings.
Graphics intensive titles like Battlefield 1 maintained over 45 fps on ultra settings with occasional screen tearing. I got better frame rates when I flipped the graphics quality to high, easily producing over 50 fps. Less graphically intensive tiles like Dota 2 ran comfortably, at over 120 fps on ultra settings.
While the gaming performance is fine, I encountered a strange issue that prompted me to plug in an external keyboard. The point is that the Lenovo Y520 locks the Windows key during gameplay, which is actually a good thing, but if you accidentally press it, the keyboard will occasionally lock itself in (Windows key + X) format. This means that after you accidentally press the Windows key, pressing Q alone will open Cortana, or pressing E, for example, will open a new explorer window, and so on. It happened to me during Dota 2 and I can tell you it was much more annoying than the minor heating issue the machine has.
Speaking of heating, I found traces on the right side of the keyboard and only felt it while gaming in a room with no air conditioning. It’s not uncomfortable nor does it affect performance in any way, but it’s there and your palms will at the very least get sweaty.
The 16GB of RAM on our test machine coped well with the variety of workloads we threw at it. In addition, the 128 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD storage solution is one of the fastest among its ilk. Although I would have preferred a 256GB SSD on this higher version of the Y520.
The audio quality through the two shoulder-mounted speakers is also nothing short of great and while audiophiles will disagree, the machine does a really good job for its price. There’s little bass to speak of, but it seems laptop manufacturers will never get it right. Still, the speakers try to keep things immersive when gaming, but they’re nothing to write home about. They are loud.
Battery Life: Just Enough
In terms of battery, the Dell Inspiron 7567 Gaming has set a new benchmark that is hard to beat. The Lenovo Legion Y520 tries, but only gets half of what the Inspiron got in the battery test. In our battery test, it lasted two hours and two minutes. You can game on the go, without throttling the GPU and processor, but only for about an hour or so. Video playback time is still good and you can finish one or two movies on a single charge.
The Lenovo Legion Y520 is a good gaming laptop, with a very serious problem. While the Windows main problem isn’t intractable, the design looks good, it’s built solidly, and the performance is impressive. Plus, the battery life is reliable and having an IPS screen certainly helps improve the visual experience.
On the other hand, I think it would have been a more complete package, with a bigger SSD option. Overall, I’d easily recommend this machine to anyone looking to invest in a less than one lakh laptop capable of 1080p gaming.