Back in September, I had the opportunity to try out Lenovo’s Legion Go, a new player in the PC handheld market. I tested it with some of the best PC games, including HiFi Rush and PowerWash Simulator, and I must say, I was blown away.
The Legion Go not only felt comfortable and intuitive to use, but it also had impressive specifications and features that set it apart from its competitors, such as the Asus ROG Ally and the Valve Steam Deck. After spending some time with the Legion Go, my excitement for the system has only grown. In fact, I believe that it has the potential to not only compete with the Steam Deck but surpass it as well.
Bigger, better screen
One of the most obvious differences between the Legion Go and the ROG Ally is the size of their displays. The Legion Go features an 8.8-inch IPS touch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio, a 2560×1600 resolution, 500 nits brightness, a fantastic 144Hz refresh rate, and a claim of 97% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage. On the other hand, the ROG Ally has a 7-inch IPS touch display with a lower 1920×1080 resolution, a slower 120Hz refresh rate, and 80% DCI-P3 color gamut coverage.
While a lower display resolution can be beneficial for playing games at higher settings and for ease of handling, the ROG Ally suffers from framerate issues at 1080p and often needs to be lowered to 720p to maintain smooth gameplay for demanding titles. The Steam Deck can only overcome these issues with a third-party replacement LCD panel called the DeckHD.
Since the Legion Go starts with an even higher resolution, the best-case scenario would be a QHD+ resolution with a stable framerate. Even in the worst-case scenario, the Legion Go would still outperform the ROG Ally with an excellent framerate and 1080p resolution.
Way more quality-of-life features
Another significant advantage of the Legion Go is its wide array of quality-of-life features. Taking inspiration from the Nintendo Switch, you can detach the controllers from the sides of the screen to use them as separate joysticks.
Additionally, there’s a fantastic FPS mode that can be activated by pressing a button on one of the detached joysticks and propping it up on the included platform. With this mode, you can enjoy the same level of precision as a mouse while playing first-person or third-person games, along with customizable button actions similar to those found on high-end gaming mice.
The Legion Go also comes with a built-in kickstand, allowing you to play games on a table without needing to hold the device for extended gaming sessions. If you prefer using the controllers as joysticks, you can rely on the kickstand instead of needing a separate stand or dock like the ROG Ally or Steam Deck. In FPS mode, you can simply prop up the screen with the kickstand for a gaming experience similar to using a top-tier gaming monitor with a budget-friendly gaming PC.
Windows OS is just better on the Legion Go
Both the ROG Ally and Legion Go use Windows, but the Legion Go’s version of Windows 11 is better optimized and runs smoothly, almost like it’s on a tablet. The taskbar disappears when playing a game and reappears seamlessly when the screen is flicked upwards. It works seamlessly with both direct touchscreen operation and the haptic touchpad, two features that are missing from the ROG Ally.
Thanks to the well-optimized OS, I was able to switch between different titles running simultaneously with ease. In comparison, Windows 11 on the ROG Ally feels clunky and awkward. It’s impressive to see how much of a difference fine-tuning can make and how closely the Legion Go resembles the Steam Deck, especially considering that Valve has designed its own OS specifically for its system.
There are many other points that highlight the Legion Go’s potential and how it surpasses the ROG Ally. It offers a more robust set of features at the same price point, superior ventilation, and similar internal specs to the ROG Ally, which could lead to better long-term performance. Additionally, the hall effect joysticks on the Legion Go prevent joystick drift and minimize dead zones.
Lenovo has truly gone above and beyond in developing the ultimate competitor to the Steam Deck, addressing criticisms and adding features that were missing from Valve’s handheld. The Legion Go pushes the boundaries of what can be achieved in a handheld PC gaming device.