Lenovo Legion Pro 7i Review

The best gaming laptops have their work cut out for them. They need to provide the portability you expect from a laptop, both in terms of size and at least a modicum of battery power. But they also need to deliver respectable performance that doesn’t leave you wishing you had just gotten a desktop gaming PC instead. The Lenovo Legion Pro 7i sets out to strike the right balance with a sizable but not domineering form factor that lets you bring some gaming might with you. Better yet, it’s on the affordable side of the premium gaming laptop segment. The system can come with an Intel Core i9-13900HX or Core i7-13700HX and an RTX 4070, 4080,or 4090. I was sent a mid-configuration with the Core i9 and RTX 4080 that comes priced at $2,649. With impressive specs and smart design, it feels like a warning shot at $3,000+ laptops.

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i – Design and Features

The Legion Pro 7i is an all-black, aluminum machine, but aside from Legion badging on the lid and a stunningly well-done RGB keyboard, it isn’t an obvious gaming monster like the MSI Titan GTs and Asus ROG Swift Scars of the world. It’s thicker and boxier than your everyday ultrabook, but that’s to accommodate a large battery and substantial cooling system. A considerable portion of the back half of the laptop’s base is dedicated to cooling, with side and rear vents exposing the fin arrays. There’s a strip of ports in the middle of the back edge, allowing for desk setups that don’t have a ton of cords sticking out the side of the laptop.

The rear ports include Ethernet, USB-C (which supports charging, though not at the system’s full wattage), HDMI 2.1, and two USB-A ports. The power adapter also plugs into the rear of the laptop, and a headset jack is available on the right side. Lenovo includes two additional USB-A ports on either side of the laptop, sneakily hidden on the shroud of the cooling vents. There’s also a Thunderbolt 4 USB-C port on the left side, though it’s so close to the shroud that some wider plugs can struggle to plug all the way in, and it doesn’t support charging. This is a solid batch of port options, and the Thunderbolt 4 also boosts the potential for pairing the laptop with a hub for tidy desk setups.

While the aluminum enclosure has a finish that leaves it feeling a bit like plastic in some areas, the machine feels altogether sturdy. There’s a bit of flex to the keyboard deck, but nothing concerning or annoying. The system sits stable on beefy rubber feet that not only ensure good traction but also lift up the machine to give the bottom intake vents better airflow. Even the display’s hinge holds up under scrutiny, not wiggling in everyday use

The display portion looks a little funny, with plastic bezels wedged in around the aluminum frame, but the screen itself is a beauty. It’s not a killer OLED and Mini-LED model, but it’s a sizable 16-incher that packs in pixels at 2,560×1,600 and delivers gobs of frames to games with a 240Hz refresh rate and variable refresh rate support. The panel has a quality matte coating that effectively cuts out glare while leaving visuals crisp. I measured the display at a bright 532-nit peak brightness in HDR, though it combines with a fairly high black level of around 0.4 nits, so it’s only barely edging out other IPS panels for superior contrast.

The speakers even hold up decently for gaming and entertainment. They’re not mind-blowing, and the bass is rather tame, but they offer good clarity at high volume levels without becoming grating and can do the job in a small room.

Usability of the Pro 7i is great. The keyboard is a joy to type on, with semi-dished keycaps that provide a good deal of confidence that my fingers are sitting on the correct keys as I’m typing. There’s a bit of resistance to each keypress, but the pop as the keys depress is about as good as low-profile membrane keys can get. Lenovo makes effective use of the space on the top of the laptop, squeezing a narrow number pad next to the main keyboard. Best of all, the arrow keys are full-size and offset from the rest of the keys, so they’re both easy to use and hard to accidentally hit. Only the trackpad caused the occasional nuisance, as it’s off-center, leaving me to frequently click on the wrong side and end up getting a right-click where I meant for a left-click – that’s a small matter of familiarity though.

Lenovo’s surprisingly given some consideration to the webcam, something that can be an afterthought on far too many laptops. It’s an upgraded 1080p camera, and looks reasonably crisp even in dim lighting. Its wide viewing angle also cuts a nice profile. There’s even a hardware switch on the right side of the laptop to disable the camera.

Despite all its packing, the Legion Pro 7i weighs only 5.88 pounds and is just an inch thick. That’s not exactly tiny, but it’s impressively lean all for the high-end componentry packed inside, and only a few ounces heavier than the Razer Blade 16.

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i – Software

The Legion Pro 7i comes running Windows 11 Home, with little in the way of over-the-top customization applied. Lenovo includes a couple softwares, one of which is essential for controlling the hardware – Lenovo Vantage.

It’s an unfortunate reality that many gaming devices seem to suffer from having too many cooks in the kitchen. Making sure you’re getting the best performance or best battery life requires jumping through Lenovo Vantage, Nvidia Control Panel, Intel Graphics Command Center, and several Windows settings. This problem isn’t unique to Lenovo, but it’s still annoying having to bounce between multiple programs to configure the system. That said, if you’re content just sticking to a single profile – say, all performance, all the time – you can mostly just set it and forget it.

Lenovo Legion Pro 7i – Gaming and performance

My expectations for the Legion Pro weren’t low given its combination of an Intel Core i9-13900HX, one of the beastliest laptop CPU options available, and the Nvidia RTX 4080 mobile graphics processor. Having just tested two systems running slightly higher-end variants of that Intel CPU paired with higher-end RTX 4090 GPUs, I had at least tempered my expectations. But the Pro 7i shook things up in some really exciting ways – at least, exciting for potential buyers, not so exciting for Lenovo’s competitors (looking at you, Razer).

In everyday applications, the Pro 7i won’t sweat. It puts its 24-core processor to work and feeds it with an ample supply of memory, 32GB of DDR5-5600 in the case of this configuration. The machine proves it as well, scoring 9,065 points in PCMark 10’s office benchmark. That’s an exceptional score, but proves even more impressive with some perspective: the new Razer Blade 16 with an Intel Core i9-13950HX and RTX 4090 only scored 8121 points and its more than 50% more expensive.

This is a story that continues through much of my testing. The Pro 7i appears to be simply letting its hardware run to its heart’s content. In 3DMark’s Time Spy, Fire Strike, and Night Raid tests, the Legion Pro 7i showed the prowess of the latest hardware, easily outpacing last-gen Core i9 processors and RTX 30-series GPUs. But it also edged out the Razer Blade 16. Razer only held the advantage in the Port Royale ray-tracing test, where it got 13,463 points to Legion’s 12,234.

It would be one thing if Lenovo was only winning in synthetic benchmarks, but the Legion Pro 7i even showed better game benchmark performance. Across our 1080p benchmarks, whether ray-tracing and DLSS was involved or not, the Pro 7i came out ahead of the Blade 16 by a hair. It spit out 113 fps in Hitman 3’s Dubai benchmark and bumped to 176 fps with the new DLSS 3 Frame Generation technology. Those scores drop to 91 fps and 124 fps at the laptop display’s native 2,560 x 1,600 resolution, but they’re still respectable given all the ray tracing going on.

Balance is essential in taming these high-power components.

Lenovo comes out ahead again in Total War: Warhamer III’s battle benchmark, which it landed an average 147 fps in to the Razer Blade 16’s 135 fps. Bumping up to native resolution, the Pro 7i dropped to 93 fps.

The hits keep on rolling with 126 fps to Razer’s 112 fps in Forza Horizon 5 and 84 fps to Razer’s 76 fps in Cyberpunk 2077. Frame Generation didn’t even let Razer reclaim ground, as it effectively multiplied the original scores, turning Lenovo’s 8 fps lead into a 17 fps lead.

Bumping up to 4K, the RTX 4080 inside starts to slow down next to the RTX 4090. It was able to pull off nearly 54 fps in Hitman 3’s benchmark, but the Razer Blade 16 manages 58 fps in the same benchmark while running at a slightly higher 3,840 x 2,400 resolution. Frame Generation helps close the gap, and brings the Pro 7i up to 70 fps. In Cyberpunk 2077, the Legion Pro managed 43 fps at 4K and 62 fps with Frame Generation, a near-perfect tie for the Razer Blade 16’s results running at 3,840 x 2,400.

The performance wins over the Razer Blade 16 largely go to show that balance is essential in taming these high-power components when they have to share the same small space. What I witnessed with the Razer Blade 16 was CPU thermals holding it back, which evidently became less of an issue when pushing into higher resolutions that are more GPU-bound. As the Pro 7i keeps its CPU thermals in check, the RTX 4080 can effectively keep pace with the hamstrung RTX 4090 in the Razer Blade 16.

Lenovo manages this by controlling its heat well. It has plenty of venting to pump out the heat and manages to keep the GPU around 75C even while under full load. Crucially, it also keeps the CPU in the mid 70s during GPU-bound scenarios, where the Razer Blade 16 would see higher spikes for the CPU. The Legion Pro 7i has rock-solid sustain, passing both 3DMark’s Port Royale and Time Spy stress tests, which each run the benchmark 20 times in a row to see if performance would dip.

As far as the temperature relates to comfort, I measured as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit on the keyboard while running tests, though the WASD keys stayed just below 100 degrees and the palm area remained around 75 degrees. The fans kick up a racket, but they don’t have very obnoxious pitch.

As you might expect, this much power comes with a trade-off to battery life. Gaming will burn through the battery, and the system’s full performance isn’t even available on battery power. But, for general use away from the power outlet, it’s not horrible. I’ve seen a little over four hours of battery life, and it mustered 5:18 in PCMark 10’s battery test. However, just as it takes flipping all the right switches to get maximum performance, it also takes flipping all the right switches to get maximum efficiency, otherwise you’ll be looking at under three hours of battery life. It’s far from the worst gaming laptop in this regard, but the Razer Blade 16 does have the advantage here, if only by a few minutes.