Lenovo Legion Y920 Review: A top of the line gaming laptop for the PC Master Race
When thinking of gaming laptops, Dell, Asus, Razer, Alienware, and MSI may be a few companies that come to mind before heading to a store to make a purchase. Although some gamers don’t put Lenovo at the top of the list, they are a serious contender in the gaming laptop market. Enter the Legion 920, a top of the line laptop designed for the best in PC gaming.
Lenovo was kind of enough to provide me with a Legion Y920 for review, and I’ve been using it in my life for the past few weeks. Though a bit pricey, it’s definitely one of the best gaming laptops in the market, with excellent specs, a beautiful display, immersive audio, and the perfect performance that is necessary for playing big box PC games.
Writers Note: Lenovo says that the Legion Y920 is a VR Ready laptop, but I did not have the headsets or external hardware necessary for that portion of the review. I choose to skip all mentions of VR in my review, focusing more on standard gaming and computing tasks. Here’s what Lenovo says about VR:
VR Ready: Rocking exceptionally powerful graphics, the Legion Y920 not only lets you play AAA titles in high resolution, it lets you step into a virtual with your VR HMD Strap on the headset and immerse yourself in your favorite game, watch a VR movie, jump to a destination on the other side of the world, or just spend time playing with friends. VR-ready, the Y920 can deliver a truly mind-blowing virtual experience.
- The Legion Y920 is heavy and sacrifices portability for a hefty build and design.
- Lots of ports are available on the Legion Y920, but the lack of a Xbox Wireless receiver is very inconvenient for a modern device in this price range.
- Thanks to Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, the display on the Legion Y920 is absolutely gorgeous, making your games appear true to real life.
- 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7820HK Processor and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 graphics card help keep games running smooth. Frame rates are locked in, and there is no lag or screen tearing during gameplay.
- RBG backlit mechanical keyboard offers an awesome customizable light show.
- 3 watt Bass Subwoofer and two 2 watt JBL speakers with Dolby Home Theater rock you out of your chair, leaving you with a fully immersive gaming and entertainment experience.
- Turbo Button/Mode gives you an extra kick for gaming and productivity.
- Lenovo Nerve Center helps you customize and take advantage of gaming specific features on the laptop.
- Poor battery life of 2-3 hours may be a deal breaker for some.
At the time of writing, the Lenovo Legion Y920 is available from Lenovo for the price of $2,099. The unit which was sent to me was configured with 16 GB of RAM, the 7th Generation Intel Core i7-7820HK Processor (2.90GHz 8MB) and a NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1070 8GB GDDR5 graphics card. The display on the unit is an absolutely gorgeous 17.3-inch FHD IPS display, with 1920(x)1080 resolution. Lastly, there are two hard drives on my unit, a 1TB 5400rpm HDD, and a 512GB M.2 PCIe SSD.
Build & Design:
As is expected for a gaming laptop, the Lenovo Legion Y920 sacrifices portability for a hefty build and design. Though it’s a bit heavy, the extra weight shows that this is a serious gaming laptop which is built to last. The top lid of the laptop and the chassis are constructed out of brushed aluminum, and also with plastic accents which are both cool to the touch. On the outside lid of the laptop is a red accent in a Y shape, which lights up red in the dark.
On the inside is a glossy hinge, and a giant red speaker grill, which lights up in your choice of colors when the keyboard backlight is customized and turned on. There is also a rubberized hand rest on the inside of the laptop, directly under the keyboard. And, to match the soft to the touch rubberized grip is also directly under the power button and on the left and right side of the laptop.
Interestingly, the vents and fans on the Lenovo Legion Y920 are at the rear of the device. This means that heat will not be pushed towards the user while the laptop is in use, which is especially important for long gaming sessions. It definitely helps in keeping the laptop cool, but over time the underside of the laptop heats up quickly and the laptop can become a bit warm when the device is sitting on your legs.
Other than the specs, ports are one of the most important things that some gamers may consider when buying a laptop. Luckily, that is an area where the Legion Y920 does not disappoint. As with all Lenovo laptops, there are plenty of ports on the Y920, which can be helpful to most, and if not all, gamers. Though the plentiful ports are great, the Y920 still lacks a built in Xbox Wireless Receiver, which is a bit disappointing, since you will need to purchase an adapter or use a cable with your Xbox Controller to game on this PC.
Anyway, we begin with the right side of the unit. Here you can find a reset button, power indicator, a full-size SD card, a microphone jack and a headphone jack. There are also two USB 3.0 ports, and a Kensington lock to secure the laptop down to a desk.
The story is the same on the left side of the unit, it’s packed with ports. Housed on the left side is the AC port for charging the laptop, a full sized DisplayPort, and an HDMI port. Since this is a gaming laptop, there is also an Ethernet jack, which is handy for getting the most bandwidth for your games. Lastly, there is a USB C port and two more USB 3.0 ports.
With a 17.3-inch FPS IHD anti-glare screen coming in at 1920(x)1080 resolution, the Lenovo Legion Y920 features one bright and beautiful display. Thanks to some very strong hinges, this display can be opened back to roughly 135 degrees. The display also uses Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, with a 75Hz refresh rate, meaning that the software is able to eliminate screen tearing and nagging issues such as ghosting and stutter. This makes playing games like Forza Apex, and Grand Theft Auto 5 fun, and very lifelike.
When I set the laptop up for the first time and fired up Forza Apex, I was shocked at how this display brought out the full graphical beauty of games. When at max settings, the smallest details that come with a racing game popped right out from the screen. It was hard to focus on winning the race. I marveled at the way small specks of rain collected on the windshield when racing at Circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, and the way fog developed from the mountains in the background.
While readily available on the Internet, you don’t need a detailed list of specs to understand the awesomeness of this display. All in all, the Legion Y920 has one bright and beautiful display that’s just as good as your TV. It is perfect for those who boast about PCs providing the best gaming experience, and while not a 4K display, it definitely is able to replicate a true to life feeling for your games.
Keyboard & Trackpad:
What is a gaming laptop without a mechanical keyboard? Well, the keyboard on the Legion Y920 is what one can expect for a gaming laptop in this price range. Lenovo says that the keys have a 2.2 mm key travel distance, and 1ms key response time, and I’ve found this to be true. I am more used to a regular keyboard so the mechanical keyboard and the satisfying clicky noise from key presses were new to me. I wrote this entire review on the Y920, and the keyboard brings a very pleasing typing experience. In the long run, I was able to type at a faster speed than I do on my Surface Pro 4.
Moving on, special to the Legion 920 keyboard are some gaming specific keys. Along the left side, there is a Turbo button which toggles on the Turbo mode for the GPU and the CPU, and some special Y1-Y4 keys which can be customized in the Lenovo Nerve Center. There is also a gaming friendly record button in place of the right WIndows Key, which is used to record the screen and save videos to the HDD. PC gamers will definitely appreciate these buttons, as it adds to their long list of button mapping and customization.
My favorite of all the features on this laptop is the RGB backlit keyboard. Going back to the start, and taking many cues from other gaming laptops, this keyboard is another feature gamers will appreciate. The backlight on the keyboard has three different modes, and each key color and color mode can be customized to your liking with almost any color using the Lenovo Nerve Center.
By default, you can enable the backlight with the FN and Spacebar keys. There are three modes: a spectrum of colors, a wave of red color which reacts to which key you’re pressing, and a mode where the colors slowly alternate on their own. A picture can’t do justice to how awesome these lights are, so please see the video below.
Although the keyboard is great, the trackpad lacks. Measuring 4.1 x 2.7-inches, the trackpad on the Y920 is standard and what you might expect from a gaming laptop. Since most gamers will settle for a fancier external mouse, the Y920’s trackpad is a bit boring. It has a soft rubberized texture and is smooth to respond to Windows 10 gestures, but it’s definitely not as fancy as I hoped it would be, especially for a device in the $2,000 price range.
Speakers & Audio:
Quite obviously, games are not fun without sound. Luckily, the Legion Y920 rocks a 3 watt Bass Subwoofer, and two 2 watt JBL speakers with Dolby Home Theater. The combination makes for a rocking audio experience, and one of the best I’ve ever encountered on any laptop.
While Playing Forza Apex with the speakers turned up to 100%, I was literally rocked out of my chair from the realistic sounds of engines roaring during the race. Sounds moved through the laptop, and into the palms of my hands, and shook me the same way they would if I was sitting in an actual race car.
During a shootout in Grand Theft Auto Five, the same sense of realism applied. Sounds from gunshots rippled out from the speakers, through the keyboard, and into my hands. And, when cops yelled orders at each other, I was able to follow the directional sounds coming from the speaker to pinpoint their exact location.
Even when not gaming, the speakers on the Y920 still impressed me. Listening to tunes in Groove Music suddenly became fun, and the bass from electro music rippled throughout my desk. My favorite country songs were also crisp and clear, and I found it hard to not use the Y920 as my new media machine.
Housed at the side of the keyboard, the Legion Y920 comes with a very useful “Turbo” button, which will overclock the CPU and the GPU for an extra kick during gaming sessions. Overclocking a GPU or CPU normally involves multiple steps, but Turbo switch on the Legion Y920 makes things simple, and it’s another reason why gamers will really appreciate this PC.
You can see a video of me kicking in the Turbo mode below, and how it impacts both the CPU and GPU while gaming and using Google Chrome. Turbo mode will kick the CPU up from 3.6 GHz to 4.1 GHz, and the GPU up from 1.91 GHz to 1.96 GHz. I did not find much of a performance or frame rate difference in Turbo mode when gaming solo, but when gaming and also multi tasking and browsing the internet in Chrome, I did notice a slight performance boost.
Lenovo Nerve Center:
Along with Turbo Boost, included with the Legion Y920 is the Lenovo Nerve Center, a simplified home for everything you need to know about your new gaming PC. I’ve found the Nerve Center to be especially useful, as it gives me a quick look at all the settings which normally might be buried under separate menus. You can see me tour the Lenovo Never Center in the video below. It gives access to Turbo Boost options, keyboard back light options, extreme cooling, network priority, prevents mistaken input, and sound enhancements.
- Turbo Boost: Allows you to overclock the GPU and CPU
- Night Shift: For customizing the three keyboard backlight options.
- Extreme Cooling: Used to activate the fans at fast speeds, reducing temperate and improving performance. Does not work with Turbo mode on.
- Network Priority: Allows the PC to give games network priority.
- Prevent Mistaken Input: DIsables the Windows key and touchpad when a game is running.
- Sound enhancements: Allows the system to launch Dobly when a game is running to enhance sound effects.
Coming with 16 GB of RAM, and as is expected, the Legion Y920 scores very high in the Geekbench 4 testing. In standard mode, it’s OpenCL Score was 162225, and in Turbo mode, it scored slightly higher at 164323. These are some very high scores and they bring out the true power of the GPU.
When it comes to the processor, the Legion Y920 received a 4867 single core score and a 15591 multi-core score. In turbo mode, the numbers were slightly up and came in at 5093 single core and 16417 multi-score. In both instances, these numbers are way above the 12000 multi-core score which will come from a similarly similar desktop PC. You can investigate the scores deeper by clicking the links above.
Gaming & Performance:
The best has been saved for last. Games are as smooth on the Legion Y920, and frame rates rarely dropped. In my testing of Forza 6 Apex and Forza Horizon 3, frame rates held to 60 FPS solid on recommended settings and an impressive 75 FPS average on “unlocked” custom settings with Turbo Boost turned on. In Grand Theft Auto 5, frame rates were locked in at 72 FPS average on recommended settings, and in Rise of The Tomb Raider, the Frame Rates averaged at around 60 FPS.
Even when things got busy such as races in the rain, or intense shootouts and swimming in Grand Theft Auto Five, frame rates still remained locked in. You can see below that even when I was multi tasking in Google Chrome and gaming, frame rates in Forza 6 Apex were still locked in at about 75 FPS.
Games also loaded very quickly, thanks to the on board PICe SSD. From a cold boot up after being thrown into the desktop, Forza 6 Apex took roughly 30 seconds to load to the menu, and another 34 seconds to get into a race. The same can be said for Grand Theft Auto, which took about 1 minute and 20 seconds to load up fully into story mode.
Thanks to the 16 GB of RAM, and the dedicated GPU you can trust the Legion Y920 with your most intense tasks when not gaming. I was able to edit a few videos for this post using freeware, and things processed pretty quickly. It also handled multiple Chrome tabs (20+) before things slowed down.
When a laptop has the latest Intel Chip, you might expect it to last you all day. Unfortunately, with the Legion Y920, this is not the case. When gaming, the battery goes longer than two hours at best, which is very disappointing compared to other gaming laptops in the market.
When not gaming, the battery will hold up for a little over five hours, which is still not the best. But with a power hungry graphics card, and a stunning display, I guess you have to accept the lack of battery life.
At the end of the day, the Legion Y920 is an excellent gaming laptop, worthy of newcomers or power gamers alike. It’s a bit pricey and the battery life is not so great, but with a stunning display, turbo mode, rocking audio, and the latest graphics card and processor, the price is worth it. You can purchase the Legion Y920 and have it shipped from Lenovo to your home within 1-3 business days by visiting this website.Further reading: Legion Y920, Lenovo, Windows 10 Devices