Lenovo Legion Go review

I haven't touched my PlayStation 4 in months. Although I feel guilty about it, the truth is that I'm tired of long update times and the way the traditional console cycle works. Ever since I bought the Nintendo Switch, it has changed the way I look at games consoles – not because it has great graphics, but because of its sheer portability and fun games that keep me occupied during long flights.

Lenovo is trying to do something similar, offering the convenience of playing PC games without having to buy a gaming laptop in a portable form factor. I couldn't resist myself from taking the Legion Go on a recent trip to the US to see if PC gaming on the go is really as worthwhile as it is made out to be. Here's my review.

Lenovo Legion Go price in India (as reviewed): Rs 89,990

Finding a balance between the Switch and Steam Deck

Lenovo Legion Go review With its large screen and detachable controllers, it sits somewhere between the Switch and the Steam Deck (Image courtesy: Anuj Bhatia/The Indian Express)

One look at the Legion Go makes it clear why Lenovo chose this form factor. The handheld console resembles the Switch and the Steam Deck, and there is nothing wrong with that. Perhaps, the idea was to create a cross between the two popular consoles, acknowledging their strengths (without dominating them) while still having a unique look that appeals to a wider base.

However, once you start using it, it becomes clear that the Legion Go reaps the benefits of being a portable PC gaming machine, not just what made the Switch a success. In fact, the Legion Go has more in common with the Steam Deck.

Anyway, the Legion Go feels like a big handheld console, and the reason for that is its size. Yes, this device is huge – beating the Switch but coming close to the Steam Deck. It’s quite big for a handheld and weighs 854 grams, but putting it in my backpack and traveling with it was never a problem for me.

Festive offer

The carrying case provided by Lenovo is a keeper. However, I have to admit that I wouldn't mind a sleeker, more compact Legion Go with the same power as the current model but available in a smaller form factor. But nothing beats the experience of playing AAA games while sitting comfortably on your couch or on a plane, as I did. The Legion Go has become a standout gaming star. And I mean it.

Ergonomically, this device fits well in my hand, and I can play games for long periods of time holding it with both hands. The controllers (with RGB lighting adding a flair), like the Switch's Joy-Cons, can be detached and charged wirelessly, which adds a new layer to the way games are played.

Short article entry

The left controller has a D-pad, control stick, menu buttons, a bumper and trigger on the top, and two additional programmable buttons on the back that can be easily customized via the Legion Space app. The right controller has additional features as well. In addition to the usual four gameplay buttons and a control stick, there's a touchpad that acts like a mouse.

I really like the FPS mode, which can be activated by a switch on the bottom of the right controller, which acts as a hybrid of a joystick and mouse. It adds a new dimension for gamers who want to physically aim with their arm movement rather than using a thumb on the control stick. Then there's a right bumper and trigger, as well as a third bumper on the flat right side. The controls are fine, as are the controller's buttons.

However, removing the controller was not as easy as removing the Joy-Cons from the Switch. I had to forcefully pull down to release the Legion TrueStrike controller and remove the cap. This had to be taken care of every time I removed the controller from the device, which became annoying after a while.

Another thing I would like to highlight is that since the Legion Go is a bit big (and heavy too), its size isn't suitable for smaller hands. Basically, the Legion Go is a thick tablet with a lot of cooling mechanisms to aid its performance (more on that later). It's not a bad handheld console or anything like that. It's a well-designed handheld, and shows effort for a first-generation device.

Refreshing screen and great kickstand

Lenovo Legion Go review The console features a 2K 144Hz display (Image courtesy: Anuj Bhatia/The Indian Express)

The biggest change in the Legion Go is its 8.8-inch QHD display with a resolution of up to 2560 x 1660p and a 144Hz refresh rate. It's bright, and despite not being an OLED, everything looks extremely sharp and detailed. I played a number of games, including Hi-Fi Rush and Ori and the Will of the Wisps, to see just how great the screen is. The graphics were clear and detailed every time, and the colours were also pretty spectacular!

Lenovo Legion Go review It has a flexible kickstand (Image courtesy: Anuj Bhatia/The Indian Express)

My second favorite feature on the Legion Go is the kickstand. It takes up most of the back of the device and has a sturdy hinge that can support the screen at multiple angles, making it extremely easy to adjust. Having the kickstand means I can put the console on a plane seat tray or my desk and lean back to play games from a distance.

Strong hardware, but not designed for Windows handhelds

Lenovo Legion Go review The handheld runs on Windows 11 OS (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/The Indian Express)

Inside the Legion Go is an AMD Ryzen Z1 processor, designed specifically for PC handheld consoles, with 16 GB of RAM and 512 GB of storage. There is also microSD card expansion, which is very important for a device like this since you will be storing a lot of large game files and big updates on the card.

If I may say so, the Legion Go is basically a gaming PC in a portable shell. After all, the AMD Z1 Extreme is a small laptop chip that supports anywhere between 9 to 30 watts.

Let me clarify that you can play PC games on this device just like you would on a gaming PC. It would be foolish to compare the Legion Go to a smartphone, so this device is better than any mobile device designed for playing games.

To test the raw power of the Legion Go, I picked a few games and played them for a few days. These included Cyberpunk 2077, Shadow of the Tomb Raider, and Hitman 3. For me, the idea of ​​playing AAA PC games on a handheld console was a big deal. All my life, I have been a big supporter of handheld consoles. It all started with the PlayStation Portable and Nintendo DS, and the craze of playing games on portable devices still exists.

However, I always wanted to play PC games in portable form, and although I am a huge fan of the Nintendo Switch, I couldn't play PC games on it. The Legion Go surprised me; one can play a legit PC game on the go. After a point, honestly, you forget about benchmark scores and graphics fidelity. You just want to enjoy the game, and that's it. But I understand that when you are paying Rs 89,990 for a device like the Legion Go, you would expect top-notch graphics and no compromise on gameplay or graphics.

During my time with the Legion Go, I found the gameplay to be great. A game like Cyberpunk 2077 reached 55 fps at 800p resolution. Of course, different games run at different settings, but I rarely noticed frame drops or performance degradation when playing games with high graphics settings. Many people asked me how it compares to the Steam Deck, and honestly, although they may look very similar, they are designed very differently. The Steam Deck has a gaming console interface, and the chip powering it is different from other handheld gaming PCs.

The Legion Go, on the other hand, runs a full Windows 11 operating system, and while the device has a gaming interface called Legion Space, it's not like your smartphone interface or the UI on the Steam Deck. This, for me, could be a sticking point for some people.

Downloading games on the Legion Go is very easy. You can download games by opening a browser, just like you would on a Windows PC. Access to platforms like Steam and Microsoft's Game Pass allows users to download various games, which is great. For example, I downloaded Steam and the Epic Launcher on my Legion Go to download games. However, on the Steam Deck, the Steam library is incorporated into the deck's interface.

This is the main difference between the Legion Go and Steam Deck. As I mentioned earlier, the lack of a proper interface on the Legion Go is disappointing. Although I liked the Windows 11 feature for downloading games, I didn't find this method so great as I had to deal with all the complexities of Microsoft's operating system, such as system updates, notifications for apps, driver issues, and more. But I think this is more of a Microsoft problem than Lenovo's. Although Lenovo tried to minimize the software issues, it couldn't fully address them as Windows isn't optimized for handheld devices. I think the handheld gaming menu needs to be more user-friendly considering the screen size. You get my point.

What happened to the battery?

Lenovo Legion Go review The Legion Go may not last a full day, but its battery life is pretty good for a handheld (Image courtesy: Anuj Bhatia/The Indian Express)

The Legion Go has a 49.2-watt-hour battery, which is about 25 percent larger than the battery in the Steam Deck. A fully charged gaming session can last about 2 to 2.5 hours before it needs to be plugged in. I think the battery life meets my expectations, especially when playing a heavy-duty AAA game. But who doesn't want long battery life? I don't think anyone, not even Lenovo, has been able to solve a way to squeeze more battery life out of a handheld console.

final thoughts

Lenovo Legion Go review A Windows-powered gaming console with a twist (Image courtesy: Anuj Bhatia/The Indian Express)

I think the Legion Go is a step forward in the category of portable PC gaming handhelds that have come before. But I also believe that it is not easy to carve out a niche in this area. This is not because the Nintendo Switch is a formidable force (the new Switch is coming in 2025), but because making a gaming PC as small as the Legion Go is always a challenge. I can see that Lenovo has tried very hard to make an attractive handheld PC gaming device, but there are certain factors that hold it back. That being said, despite some trade-offs, the Legion Go is the best Windows-based portable game console out there. However, personally, I think Lenovo has a lot of good ideas for the future version of the Go, and one can already see it getting an FPS mode, trackpad, and detachable controllers.

Benefit: Beautiful high-resolution screen, detachable controller, FPS mode, great built-in kickstand, USB-C charging ports on the top and bottom.

Shortcoming: Battery life and unconvincing user interface.

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