Lenovo Legion Go Review: A Great Handheld Windows Gaming PC

This AMD-Infused Windows Gaming Handheld Delivers With Solid Execution And Satisfying Gameplay

lenovo legion go 11

Lenovo Legion Go (starts at $699, as tested $749)
Lenovo's entry into the handheld PC gaming device space has great performance for its size, solid battery life, and a beautiful display. 

hot flat
  • Beautiful, high-resolution screen
  • Comfortable controllers
  • Good performance for a handheld PC
  • Low-power battery life, including streaming, is great
  • Innovative FPS mode with integrated mouse
not flat
  • High-powered battery life is short
  • D-Pad is shallow
  • Legion Glasses are pricey
  • Limited button remapping options (for now)
Hot Hardware Recommended Award

The Steam Deck didn't invent the handheld gaming PC market, but it has single-handedly defined the category for the past two years. Competitors have risen up in recent months, most notably ASUS' ROG Ally and today's entrant, Lenovo's Legion Go. The thing is, despite its OLED refresh late last year, the Steam Deck hasn't really changed in that time, while mobile processor performance continues to improve, in large part thanks to AMD's Ryzen Z1 Extreme, found in the aforementioned Ally and of course the Legion Go. With AMD's current Zen 4 CPU chops and RDNA 3 graphics architecture, the Ryzen Z1 Extreme has the pedigree for some potent gaming performance -- something the ROG Ally lived up to, and something we fully expect from the Legion Go. 

These newer handheld PCs are trying to blur the line between dedicated gaming platforms like the Nintendo Switch and a real, honest-to-goodness PC that can do so much more in the realm of productivity. Despite the higher price, a Windows handheld PC with a dock, input hardware, and a monitor could potentially double as a buyer's everyday PC. The Legion Go has some interesting exclusive features that make it worth considering, too. That means there's a lot more than just a Ryzen SoC under the hood, so let's meet the Lenovo Legion Go...

Lenovo Legion Go Specs and Features

lenovo legion go specs
Find The Lenovo Legion Go @ Amazon

Of course, while there's a lot more to the Legion Go than just the Ryzen Z1 Extreme, that's where we find ourselves starting. While there are two versions of the Ryzen Z1, the lower-end version with a mix of Zen 4 and Zen 4c cores is nowhere to be found in the Legion Go lineup. What we get here is eight full-featured Zen 4 cores and 12 RDNA 3-based graphics CUs. AMD lists a configurable TDP that ranges from five to 30 Watts, which Lenovo exposes as the Custom Thermal Mode in the Legion Space software. And as we'll see soon, that does have an impact on performance and battery life. 

boxed lenovo legion go

The CPU is backed by 16 GB of LPDDR5X-7500 memory soldered to the mainboard. We'd like to see a higher-end SKU that doubles the RAM, but we think for most of the games that this system is capable of running, this is probably fine; it's just a little limited from a longevity standpoint. Storage in our review unit comes by way of a 1 TB M.2 2242 SSD, which is a little less common than the 2280 drives that typically go into laptops and desktops, but it's not hard to find replacements or upgrades should you want to change it down the road. On the other hand, we wouldn't necessarily recommend buying the base model with 512 GB of storage with the intent to upgrade it; the 1 TB model is only $50 more, which in our view is well worth the cost increase. 

Networking is provided by a Wi-Fi 6E 802.11ax controller with Bluetooth 5.1 connectivity powered by the MediaTek RZ616 and a 2x2 MIMO antenna array. All this wireless connectivity is important beyond just an internet connection; when docking the Legion Go, its built-in controllers are detachable and communicate with the system via Bluetooth. That said, the Wi-Fi side of the house can just about max out our 500 megabit Internet connection when downloading via Steam, so it's plenty fast as well. 

hades game play lenovo legion go
Capturing a moving game in a still photograph is hard, but the Legion Go's display is gorgeous.

Lenovo Legion Go Design and Build

The most eye-catching part of the Legion Go has to be that 8.8" 2560x1600 IPS display. It's bright, it's colorful, and it has a 144 Hz refresh rate. The Legion Go supports a maximum brightness of 500 nits and can reproduce 97% of the DCI-P3 color space. There's also 10-point touch functionality, and the display is protected by a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass. While the contrast ratios won't be as intense as, say, the Steam Deck OLED's display, the Legion Go is capable of looking beautiful, especially thanks to its high pixel density of around 340 PPI. It looks great and it's a joy to play in handheld mode. It's a good thing the display supports so much touch input, too, since the only way to type without an external device is by using Windows 11's on-screen keyboard. 

lenovo legion go 5

Flanking the display is a pair of detachable controllers, which we'll dig into shortly. Aside from the display, they're the most important part of any handheld system, so we'll discuss those in depth. Since there's no webcam built into the bezels of the main tablet, let's instead talk about the top of the device. Here we can find separate volume up and down buttons, one of the system's two USB 4 Type-C connectors, a micro SD card slot, a big exhaust vent, and the power/sleep button. There are also two sets of holes for the top-firing speakers. There's no room on the front of the system for them, so putting the speakers on top is the next best location. The bottom of the system only has the second USB 4 connector.

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On the rear of the Legion Go, we can see the relatively large intake vents. This is the only way for air to get into the system, and there are no feet on the back. That means you shouldn't really lay the Legion Go on its back when docking it; you'll need something to keep the vent off of a desk to facilitate optimal airflow. Fortunately, there's a really great full-width kickstand that will do just that. You do lose the use of the bottom USB-C port this way, but a right-angle connector that exits towards the front of the device shouldn't throw it off kilter much.

lenovo legion go home screen

Lenovo Legion Go Software

The Legion Go ships with Windows 11 Home, and the out-of-the-box experience is just like any other Windows PC. Meaning, you probably want an external keyboard and mouse to initially set this thing up, and that's not a super first impression. Fortunately, Microsoft knows this and has committed to improving the experience over time. What is pretty impressive, however, is Lenovo's Legion Space application. The company built Space as a one-stop shop for installing the myriad of storefront and launcher software out there, system settings (including power, display brightness, and so on), and remapping the controllers.

lenovo legion go performance quick menu

The right controller's menu button will open Legion Space's quick settings menu, which is easy to navigate with a controller, and also responds pretty well to touch. The Performance tab has a series of configurable profiles. Out of the gate, the Performance mode sets the TDP to 30 Watts, while Power Saving drops it all the way down to 9 Watts. Never fear, though, because two other custom profiles can be set up with any TDP in between. While those profiles are nice for quick settings, we can also set the TDP to Quiet (9W), Balanced (15W), or Performance (27 Watt), and also manually specify any point we want. We can also turn on an FPS limiter to set any target frame rate, and change the OS power mode between Power, Balanced, and Efficiency. For all our testing, we left the OS mode on Balanced, and adjusted the TDP as we saw fit.

The Settings pane has sliders for display brightness and volume, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi toggles, and resolution options for 800p, 1200p, and 1600p with a refresh switch between 60 and 144 Hz. We can also turn on Radeon Super Resolution system-wide to upscale games that run at lower resolutions. This side menu also has options for some quick links to Windows settings, like pressing Alt + F4 to close a window, pressing Escape to open the menu on many games, or directly opening Task Manager.

lenovo legion go remap 1

Finally, Legion Space contains controller mapping capabilities. While there's a Controller option on the quick menu, this only supports changing the RGB LED rings around the sticks, vibration intensity, the right controller's touchpad, and controller power saving options. However, in the main settings screen on Legion Space, you can remap all of the programmable buttons on the controllers to any Xbox button assignment except for the Guide button (the big Xbox logo button in the center of Microsoft's controllers).

lenovo legion go remap 2
Legion Go programmable button mapping is limited right now

The Guide button is mapped to holding the left controller's Legion logo button and clicking the right analog stick. That's awkward, but at least it's there. Lenovo promises that there will be more remapping options added to Legion Space in the future, and the remapping experience is already greatly improved over what it was like out of the box. Now you can create multiple profiles, adjust stick dead zone, and change the trigger and stick sensitivity.

Now that we've gotten a handle on the Legion Go, let's get to the important part: the gaming experience...

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