Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 Gaming Laptop Review: A Powerful, Quirky, Hefty Beast That’s Not An Outstanding Candidate for Business Crossover

Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 Gaming Laptop Review: A Powerful, Quirky, Hefty Beast That’s Not An Outstanding Candidate for Business Crossover

Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 Gaming Laptop

Design
Features
Value

Summary

A basic gaming laptop with solid CPU and GPU credentials. The quirky design makes the powerhouse under the hood a little less desirable. Not recommended as a business crossover computer.

3.8

Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 Review

There is no reason a game computer should not also be a legitimate business computer. The CPU power and a matching GPU make an ideal combination for graphics or video editing. Unfortunately, computer manufacturers haven’t yet mastered the crossover. The ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”) has some characteristics of a gaming computer, and the Legion 5i offers compelling graphics performance for business video and graphics editors, but it lacks key elements of business computing, including biometric security features.

I will further explore what this device needs to transform it into a business worthy computer. Although evaluating a gaming laptop through the lens of business may do a disservice to its gaming-directed features, it also suggests the need for manufacturers to lean into some gaming features that for more enjoyable computing experiences.

Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 Gaming Laptop half opened

What we like

The under-the-hood basics make this a very compelling device. 16GB DDR4 SDRAM Memory, a 512GB solid-state drive (more of both available as options) accompany 11th Gen Intel 8-Core i7-11800H 2.3GHz CPU with a maximum Turbo Frequency Up to 4.6GHz. The CPU also includes 24MB Smart Cache and 16 Threads. A dedicated NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 video card with 4GB GDDR6 sits alongside the CPU. Lenovo also sells an AMD version of the Legion 5 Pro.

The ‎14.02 x 10.4 x 1.03 inches Legion 5i Pro clearly offers an impressive array of raw processing power and graphics performance. And alongside the CPU and GPU, the Legion brings many ports to bear on games or business problems, including 1 x HDMI 2.1, 2 x USB-C, 4 x USB-A 3.1, 1 x Ethernet RJ-45, 1 x Headphone / Microphone Combo Jack (3.5mm). Wireless features include Bluetooth 5.0, along with 802.11 AX Wi-Fi.

Work (or games) are viewed through a very bright 16-inch QHD (2560 x 1600) IPS 165Hz Anti-glare Display.

The Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 ships with Windows 10 home 64 bit, though Windows Professional is available—and according to System Update, it is ready to run Windows 11 (though at Lenovo’s request I did not update this device to the new Windows version).

On the fun side, an RGB Backlit Keyboard kicks up the input experience with backlighting that survives and contrasts with the bright screen—it doesn’t wash out in use. It’s time for business users to personalize devices, and keyboard backlight colors are a good place to start.

The downward-facing Nahimic Audio speakers work as well as most laptop speakers. They won’t replace good external speakers or headphones, but they will do in a pinch. I rarely use built-in speakers.

Is the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 powerful? Yes. But its not ideal for business, and it may be even too quirky as gaming laptop. Gamers will need to decide that for themselves. As a business user, however, I offer several suggestions in “What could be improved” that will demonstrate how current basic gaming laptops miss the mark as crossover laptops.

Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 Gaming Laptop left side
Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 Gaming Laptop, left side.

What could be improved

As much as I like this computer, Lenovo chose not to include any biometrics, and that is likely to remove it from many corporate buying lists. The camera is not Microsoft “Hello”-compatible, and unlike many Lenovo models, it doesn’t offer any form of fingerprint biometrics. At a minimum, given it has a camera, the camera should support the “Hello” protocol.

As much as I love the backlighting, the keyboard would benefit from deeper strokes and more space. Much of the space issue derives from the smallish-10-key pad that pushes the keyboard to the left, making input feel a bit cramped.  I hit “Num Lock” way too often when reaching for “Backspace.” The slight sculpture on the keys reflects Lenovo’s design aesthetic but this is not its best realization. Legion’s keyboard does not compare in feel or depth to Lenovo’s X1 Carbon. To play in the business market, devices need keyboards that respond well and help with writing fatigue in any way possible. I would see this keyboard as a frustration rather than a useful companion.

Bluetooth and the wide range of ports, however, eliminate keyboard issues when sitting at a desk, because external keyboards (and mice) can easily eliminate the need to touch the built-in keyboard. That, however, challenges the value of the keyboard completely, reducing the overall value of buying this laptop for input.

Frankly, I don’t like typing on this keyboard. The cramped keys, along with the trackpad, result in too many words that start in the wrong place, or keys that get hit and don’t do what is intended (because I hit the wrong key). But connect a good external keyboard and a mouse, and those issues disappear entirely.

And then there is the camera. I don’t care if it is gaming or business, no computer should ship without a 1080p camera. Next year or the year after it may be a 4K camera, but for now, HD with good low-light support should be the standard. The camera shutter switch represents the most quirky feature on the Legion 5i. The shutter switch sits on the side of the computer. Flipping it changes the switch’s background color to red and displays a message on the display. I’m not sure why it isn’t integrated with the camera, or as a function key. A physical switch seems an odd choice if it isn’t actually covering the lens.

Like the ThinkBook 16p Gen 2 AMD (16”), the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 ships with an enormous 230W power supply to fast charge as it gets depleted by battery-draining graphics and processing activities. The rear USB-C port also supports charging, but at a slower rate. The power supply adds a lot of bulk to an already hefty 5-pound computer.

ships with an enormous 230W power supply to fast charge as it gets depleted by battery-draining graphics and processing activities. The rear USB-C port also supports charging, but at a slower rate. The power supply adds a lot of bulk to an already hefty 5-pound computer.

ships with an enormous 230W power supply to fast charge as it gets depleted by battery-draining graphics and processing activities. The rear USB-C port also supports charging, but at a slower rate. The power supply adds a lot of bulk to an already hefty 5-pound computer.

Battery life runs below 8 hours, even by specification. Heavy processing will drive that down even further (thus the 230W power supply). At this weight and battery life, this is a laptop that will perform at its peak best when plugged in—and may disappoint for travel both in bulk and battery life.

Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16: The Bottom Line

The Legion 5i Pro 16 indeed proves quirky. From the camera shutter to the diminutive 10-key pad, and the lack of biometrics makes for an odd mix of features. There may be clear gaming reasons for some of the weird design choices, but they are lost on me. None of the quirky features aim the Legion 5i toward the crossover business user, rather they remove the motivation to consider this device for anything beyond gaming, despite its under-the-hood pedigree.  

Lenovo owns the right mix of technologies, and they are not afraid of introducing innovative concepts to the market. I would love to see them wake up the business computer with some gaming features, but to be purposeful about features they choose and how they implement those features. A tiny 10-key pad the decreases the overall effectiveness of the keyboard for typing doesn’t count as a purposeful feature, it counts only as a checkmark on a spec sheet.


Lenovo provided the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro 16 for review. Images courtesy of Lenovo.

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Daniel W. Rasmus

Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.

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