Reviews PC

Lenovo Legion Y520 Gaming Laptop Review

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Every brand and their cat are jumping onto the gaming laptop train these days and it makes sense. To build a gaming laptop that does both work and play is a match made in heaven but where is the line drawn for power or functionality? The Lenovo Y520 is probably the budget of all budget gaming laptops and it follows the brand's stance on tech. They have the cheapest work laptops with many students choosing them for cheap university options so why not offer a gaming laptop with the bare minimum and sell it for as cheap as possible?

Lenovo Y520 Tech Specs

  • CPU: Intel Core i7 7700HQ 2.8GHz
  • GPU: Nvidia GTX 1050  4GB DDR5 VRAM
  • OS: Windows 10
  • Display: 15.5-inch FHD IPS LED
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4
  • Storage: 128GB SSD + 1TB HDD
  • Ports: USB Type-C, SD Card Reader, 2xUSB 3.0, 1xUSB 2.0, HDMI, Ethernet
  • Price: Starting at 12,999

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Design

The Lenovo Y520 is a solid device. One thing you can tell from the start is that it makes use of Lenovo's signature hard-shell plastic casing that is found on almost all their budget laptops. It feels cheap, yes but it is effective. The top shell has a mesh-like pattern that makes it feel premium though but there is no getting away from the fact that this lacks all sorts of "gaming" finishes such as an RGB glow on the lid, hotkeys and a fierce fan vent. From the outside, the laptop looks as if it could get away with being a tech device not knowing that once you open it up, it screams gamer.

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Inside you are welcomed to a striking red full-sized keyboard. How did they fit a full keyboard into the device you may ask? Well, the number pad is a lot smaller than the rest of the keyboard and the entire set takes up a lot more space than you would expect. Regardless, it feels great to type on and the red glow makes it feel premium too. The only downside is the Enter key which is much smaller than normal which resulted in me pressing the button next to it instead. The trackpad is a nightmare though as it may look big but its size is reduced by the left and right click that for design aesthetic purposes, runs right up against the left and right side of the pad. It was also not as sensitive as I would have liked but most people will use a mouse anyway. 

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The ports are what you can expect on most devices these days. It comes with a standard USB, two USB 3.0, Ethernet, USB Type-C and an SD Card reader. The display is surrounded by thick bezels which make up the laptop's top lid. The screen takes up about 75% of the lid which is not bad. The only issue I had with it was it was dull. Coming in at 219 nits, it is way below everything we have reviewed in the past. This means on max brightness it still looks as if you should be able to pump it up a few more notches to reach a higher peak. Low screen brightness really gets to me as you lose much of the picture quality and it greatly affects colour gamut too, of which are both are seen on the display. 

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The Y520 has a great design and while it might seem cheap from the outside, it is actually quite attractive once you open the lid. Sure, the red is there to stay but the edges and even the fan vents wrapping around the screen's hinge gives it that gamer feels without it going overboard. 

Performance

The Y520's GTX 1050 might be the smaller sister of the GTX range but it still manages to carry its own weight. Running various benchmarks proved that and it performed much better than I thought it would. Honestly, I was surprised and it the fans never felt like I was killing the machine while running these benchmarks either. These benchmarks prove that you can run almost any modern game today on medium to high with a decent 30-50FPS. 

Final Fantasy

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The Final Fantasy XV Windows Edition managed to score 2284 points. This is not bad given that the Acer Helios 300, which packs a GTX 1060 came in with 4687. This is also running the benchmark on High setting. When turning it to "lite" we got a much higher score of 4475. This proving that the laptop can easily play some higher games on medium settings. 

Heaven

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Heaven still manages to pull off some fantastic visuals and the benchmark, running on the highest possible setting, came out with 950 points. It also ran at an average 37FPS going up to 50FPS at times. 

3D Mark 

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I don't use 3D Mark at all but it came with the laptop so I tested it anyway. We scored 1183 which if I look online is a pretty decent score compared to some other gaming laptops in the price range.

General gaming was great and there is no denying that this little beast can hold its own and make for some great laptop gaming. It would not be able to deliver Battlefield 1 at 1080p 60FPS on the highest settings but you could get away with a medium preset.

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I was also impressed by the quality of sound from the device. Speakers were clear and did not rattle at all. Sure, it does not replace a proper speaker set up but for a gaming laptop, it works. It also comes packed with a Dolby Audio app where you can tweak and change settings to suit the game you are playing and if you are watching a movie. The same settings can be found in the Lenovo Nerve Center that acts as the laptop's hub for fan speeds and keyboard network tweaks. 

Battery Life and Heating

Like gaming laptops go, the battery life is not the best and it comes in with a lot of others in terms of performance. You are looking at 3-4 hours max with the device. This is with constant use be it web browsing, watching movies or just general use. Of course, you would not want to use this for gaming without a charger as the GPU gets throttled, like most gaming laptops on the market. 

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As for cooling, the Y520 has some vents to boast and they work to keep the device cool. It does not have the most powerful tech inside but it does need cooling and the fans and vents do its job. Playing games and even pushing the benchmarks never even triggered heavy fan use at all making gaming sessions quiet.

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Starting at R12,999, the Lenovo Y520 is a great starting laptop. While it may not be the powerhouse that can run games on the highest possible settings, it does a great job at delivering a medium to high experience that will at least let you game on a budget. It makes for a fantastic student laptop too, given its price tag. 

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This review was conducted off a review device given to us by Lenovo for a two week period.

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