Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H Review: Powerful and Affordable Gaming

Specs as reviewed – Lenovo Legion 5

Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05
Screen15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080 px IPS 60 Hz, 16:9, non-touch, matte, BOE NV156FHM-N6A panel
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 7 4800H, 8C/16T
VideoRadeon Vega + Nvidia GTX 1660Ti 6GB GDDR6 (50W, GeForce 446.14) – switchable mode
Memory16 GB DDR4 3200 MHz (2x DIMMs)
Storage1x 512 GB SSD (SK Hynix HFM512GDHTNI-87A0B) – 2x M.2 NVMe 80 mm slots on this variant
ConnectivityWireless 6 (Intel AX200), Bluetooth 5.0, Gigabit LAN (Realtek RTL8168/8111)
Ports3x USB-A 3.1 gen 1, 1x USB-C with Data and DP, HDMI 2.0,  LAN, headphone/mic, Kensington Lock
Battery60 Wh, 170 W power adapter, no USB-C charging
Size363 mm or 14.29” (w) x 260 mm or 10.23” (d) x 26.1 mm or 1.03” (h)
Weight2.29 kg (5.05 lb), .55 kg (1.21 lbs) power brick, EU version
Extrasoptional 4-zone RGB backlit keyboard with NumPad, 2x 2W stereo speakers, HD webcam

In this post I am reviewing my own new gaming laptop, the Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H. But first I would like to give you an overview of the reasons I bought it.

First of all, I wanted an AMD Ryzen CPU since I don't focus on just gaming, but also other, CPU-heavy tasks. The tasks I need to go through on a daily basis are the following:

  • Coding, so I need my IDE and terminal emulator to be as responsive as possible while having several browser tabs open.
  • Gaming at 2K resolutions and streaming at 720p/1080p with Streamlabs OBS, while also recording. Some of the games I stream are quite demanding, as they include:
    • Metal Gear Solid V
    • Resident Evil 2 (Remake)
    • Genshin Impact
    • Apex Legends
    • Borderlands 3
    • Fortnite

Generally speaking don't expect to do any high-end or 4K gaming with a mid-range laptop like this though.

  • Photo Editing on Lightroom and Photoshop as an aspiring photographer.
  • Video Editing with Lightworks or Windows Movie Maker.

As you can tell not only I needed a powerful CPU, but also a powerful GPU. The Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H comes with 2 options in terms of GPU:

  • An NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti or an RTX 2060

This is a quite important decision for streamers and content creators as while both GPUs provide decent performance, the RTX GPU is supported by NVIDIA Broadcast. This means that you can use NVIDIA software for noise suppression and background removal. With a GTX GPU, you can only use RTX Voice for noise suppression. The problem with picking a GTX GPU is that you will have to resort to a green screen or a third-party app like XSplit VCam for background manipulation, which comes with several compromises (and a subscription). You also lose a bit of performance as the 1660 Ti runs at 80W and the RTX 2070 at 110W.

I really wanted to go for the RTX 2060 but it was unavailable so my laptop has an NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti. Although I use RTX Voice with Voicemeeter banana, I don't think it does as well as an actual RTX card would do.

The version of the Legion 5 I use comes with a 144Hz monitor at 1080p. But I really want to stress out that gamers and streamers have different needs, so let me explain mine. I see gaming laptops as portable desktops and nothing more.

So this means my laptop is always plugged into 2 1440p monitors and to AC power. I didn't care about neither battery life nor its integrated display.

In fact I only used its battery and display for this review. I would also like to stress out one more thing.

While the laptop can handle hardcore gaming quite well for a mid-tier laptop, it gets really loud, especially since I'm streaming for 4-8 straight hours on a daily basis. So while it's almost one meter away from me I still need to wear headphones the whole time. However, even without RTX Voice, the noise does not affect the stream.

So this gives you an idea of what we have here. A portable gaming desktop that can handle most games at 2K and max or close to max settings.

That's pretty impressive if you ask me. So let's start the actual review for the Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H!

Design and build

The Legion 5 is entirely built out of plastic and it is a dark gray (graphite) laptop without any gaming accents or RGB lights. Lenovo went a bit heavy on the stickers and branding though, with LEGION branded on the lid and under the screen, LENOVO plaques on the lid and the arm-rest, as well as audio by Harman writing under the keyboard, at the left. As for the multitude of stickers, you can easily peel those off, but personally I like both the looks and branding on this laptop. It gives a more premium feel than what I actually paid for.

Overall I would call the design rugged, so it is not for everyone, and the build pretty robust for its price, but keep in mind that this is a quite thick and heavy laptop with a weight of 2.29kg and 2.61cm of height.

Ports and Connectivity

The backside features three USB Type-A 3.1 ports, an HDMI 2.0 port, one USB Type-C port with data and DP, and an RJ45 Ethernet (Realtek RTL8168/8111) port. Unfortunately, the laptop does not come with a Mini DisplayPort, so you can't as easily connect a VR headset and you will have to use a DisplayPort to USB-C converter to add a second external monitor as I do (DisplayPort @ 1440p, HDMI @ 1080p as my monitor's HDMI is limited to 1080p resolutions).

The left side comes with a USB Type-A port and a headphone jack, while on the right side you will find a final USB Type-A 3.1 port. Overall, you will not have any issues with the Lenovo Legion 5's connectivity and you can very easily turn it into a desktop computer.

Both the wireless and wired connection internet performance are excellent. I did not encounter any issues even at 10 meters away from the router with closed doors and walls in between.

Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H Specs. Source: HWiNFO

Hardware and performance

Our Legion 5 is the higher specced variant available as of right now, with a Ryzen 7 4800H processor 16 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM in dual channel, 512 GB of SSD storage, and dual graphics: the Nvidia GTX 1660Ti dGPU and the Radeon Vega iGPU within the AMD platform, and the ability to seamlessly commute between them based on load.

You can disable the Vega GPU from the Vantage app by disabling Hybrid mode, and that links the internal display straight to the Nvidia GPU, minimizing input lag.

Spec-wise, the Ryzen 7 4800H is an 8C/16T processor with a TDP of 45W, but able to run at higher TDP and clocks if supplied with enough power and properly cooled.

Our configuration also shipped with 16 GB of DDR4 3200 MHz RAM out of the box, with two sticks in dual-channel, and a mid-level SK Hynix 512 GB SSD, which is fast enough for everyday use with fast read speeds while lacking a bit in the write speed department.

This can be replaced with a faster drive, though, and accessing the components is a fairly simple task, you just need to take out the bottom panel.

My configuration gets the smaller 60Wh battery, so it does offer a 2.5″ HDD cage along with the M.2 SSD slot.

The larger 80Wh battery configuration offers just two M.2 SSD slots, two memory slots and the WiFi module.

Display

The Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H comes with 3 different display variants:

  • 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) IPS 300nits Anti-glare, 144Hz, 100% sRGB, Dolby Vision, DC dimmer
  • 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) IPS 250nits Anti-glare, 120Hz, 45% NTSC, DC dimmer
  • 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080) IPS 300nits Anti-glare, 60Hz, 100% sRGB, DC dimmer

I would not recommend going for the 120Hz – 250nits display. 250nits is below the average of 300 so it's subpar and it comes with worse color quality. Based on the prices I recommend trying to get the 144Hz – 300nits display which is the one I have. The 144Hz rate will lead to some of the smoothest gaming experiences you can have on a laptop and the colors look very accurate. I highly recommend this variant and from what I've seen, in some cases, it's the cheapest one. Keep in mind that while I don't use the laptop display I played several hours on it for this review, and the refresh rate difference to my 60Hz external monitors was instantly observable.

Yes, this is a very responsive and smooth display and I highly recommend that you get it or the 60Hz version if you are not interested in the higher refresh rate.

CPU

I specifically wanted my Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H to be powered by the AMD Ryzen 7 4800H CPU since it is the second-best Zen 2 mobile CPU and I care a lot about multi-core performance, even at the expense of some gaming performance. For the games, I expect to play on an entry-level gaming laptop the 4800H is more than good enough. I was in the market for a Ryzen laptop and nothing else.

Going for the Ryzen 9 4900H or HS would be out of my budget limits so this was the best AMD option available for me.

PassMark

The AMD Ryzen 7 4800H's performance is decent when it comes to single-threaded tasks in PassMark. However, you will find much better Intel 10th & 11th generation CPUs and of course, the Zen 3 AMD CPUs (Ryzen 7/9 5000) all outperform it. So for gaming, you have better options available, but if you take into account its multithreaded performance then it's up there beaten only by the 4900H and the Zen 3 AMD CPUs. Overall, the performance is solid but it really depends on whether you perform tasks other than gaming with the Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H. If you are like me and do photography work and other content creation workflows or coding this is a great laptop for its price tag.

Geekbench 5

You can find my laptop's Geekbench 5 score here. Geekbench 5 is a very popular CPU benchmark with workloads that simulate real-world scenarios. In this benchmark I have included both the MacBook Pro and Air of 2020 along with the Mac Mini all of which feature the M1 SoC I've been raving about since the release of the first Apple Silicon. Keep in mind the SoC part, while the Apple M1 beats the 4800H in Geekbench 5, the M1 is neither a gaming nor an AI laptop (people have been asking me about this).

So, yeah, of course the Apple M1 is better for anything other than gaming. The Ryzen 4900H is slightly better while the latest 5800H scores nicely in both Single-Core and Multi-Core.

As for Intel, they are stuck in no man's land at the moment. Single-core performance is great for the new 11th Gen CPUs even at the cost of power efficiency. But for the 10th Gen you need an i9 CPU on an Alienware laptop to see great numbers, which is on a different budget class. Just based on these numbers I think you can tell why I consider the 4800H a great deal.

CPU/SoCSingle-Core ScoreMulti-Core Score
AMD Ryzen 7 4800H (Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H) 12007727
AMD Ryzen 7 4900H (Dell Inc. G5 5505) 12268414
AMD Ryzen 7 5800H (LENOVO 82JQ) 14628212
11th Gen Intel Core i7-11370H 3292 MHz (4 cores) (ASUSTeK COMPUTER INC. ASUS TUF Dash F15 FX516PM_FX516PM)15475061
11th Gen Intel Core i7-11375H 3293 MHz (4 cores) (VAIO Corporation VJZ141C11W)16175898
10th Gen Intel Core i9-10980HK 3093 MHz (8 cores) (Alienware Alienware m17 R4)13808404
10th Gen Intel Core i7-10875H 2294 MHz (8 cores) (Razer Blade 15 Advanced Model (Early 2021) – RZ09-036)12826284
Apple M1 3189 MHz (8 cores) – MacBook Air (2020) 17387662
Apple M1 3197 MHz – Mac Mini (2020) 17427556
Apple M1 3196 MHz (8 cores) – MacBook Pro (2020)17407663
Geekbench 5 Scores – AMD Ryzen 7 4800H vs the competition.

GPU

Since the Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H is a gaming laptop with a very good CPU the only question left to ask is whether the mid-range 1660Ti (mobile version) can keep up with the competition. Once again, I recommend getting the RTX 2060 version of this laptop, especially to those looking to combine gaming and streaming, since you can take full advantage of your GPUs RTX capabilities for streaming with NVIDIA Broadcast.

Overall GPU Performance Rating (GTX 1660 Ti & RTX 2060)

As you can see from this list by notebookcheck including only mobile GPUs both the GTX 1660 Ti & RTX 2060 perform decently for mid-range cards on 3DMark benchmarks. You won't get the top performance you will find in RTX 2080 and 3080 laptops but I would say it's still a good bang for the buck in the mobile region. Not only that but you would have to jump to the 2070 Super Max-Q region for better performance, and that's an entirely different budget level.

Unigine Superposition

While the Unigine benchmarks are very popular they are also quite popular. The GTX 1660 TI Mobile falls around the GTX 1070 Mobile region here too. All benchmarks below are in extreme HD settings.

Unigine Superposition Score
NVIDIA GTX 1660 Ti Mobile3186
NVIDIA GTX 1070 Mobile3512
MSI GeForce RTX 2060 Mobile (TU106M)3781

3DMark Fire Strike and Time Spy

The Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H can hold its own against anything with a GTX 1660Ti or RTX 2060 GPU but as you can see an RTX 2060 is quite the better choice for this laptop. Regardless, the GTX 1660 Ti is more than decent as you can see. Keep in mind that this laptop comes with three thermal modes (Performance + GPU OC ON/OFF, Balance, and Quiet). For these benchmarks, I have used the Performance setting on Lenovo Vantage with GPU OC on.

Since I don't own any other laptop the numbers for the rest of the laptops shown below are taken from UltrabookReview's Lenovo Legion 5 review.

Real-world Gaming Performance

Overall, I am quite please with the performance of the GTX 1660 Ti GPU as for 2K gaming along with streaming it delivers around 40-60 FPS in games like Fortnite, Resident Evil 2 Remake, Metal Gear Solid V, Apex Legends, and several others. Once again, this is not a high-end gaming laptop so I had realistic expectations from it. My biggest indictment against the Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H however, is the level of noise it produces while gaming. In essence, you either need to wear headphones while gaming or turn on the built-in or external speakers quite loud to get rid of the fan noise. Thankfully the fan noise did not make it to my stream.

To back this up with some numbers:

  • While streaming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for 4 hours in Full HD the GPU sustained an average of 58 FPS@1440p with VSync enabled throughout the whole session. Granted it's a 6 year old game but this was done at max settings with the VRAM at 4GB and GPU utilization at 98-100%. Overall memory usage was at 11GB during this session
  • While streaming Fortnite for 3 hours in Full HD resolution with graphics set on “EPIC” the average FPS was 37 FPS@1440p. Funnily enough, after some point the game consistently ran at 43 FPS with the worst 1% being at 19 FPS and the worst 0.1% being at 1 FPS. VRAM consumption was at 4.5GB and overall memory usage was at 13GB during this session.

The above two sessions were part of a 7-hour streaming session. The laptop never ran too hot, the average CPU temperature was at 87 degrees and the GPU was at 66 degrees.

One other problem I have with this GPU is that the RTX Voice performance while streaming and gaming is not good enough, forcing me to add some latency to my voice (150-200ms) so that it doesn't sound robotic.

So, overall I would say that this laptop is very good for Full HD gaming and decent for 2K gaming with HD and Full HD streaming but it's not a hardcore gaming laptop. Still, at its price tag, I would say it's totally worth it.

Performance x Noise Level

To stress the CPU I used prime95 with small FTTs and 16 workers. The CPU temperature peaked at 94 degrees Celcius but the noise level was almost at 60dB. That's really loud. So, to better evaluate the performance/noise tradeoff I decided to run 3DMark Time Spy on Performance + GPU OC, Balance, and Quiet to see what we gain and what we lose in both departments.

  • Quiet – limits the CPU at 25W and keeps the fans' noise at very low levels. Here you will indeed notice a difference in noise levels and it's probably the ideal mode when on battery.
  • Balance – limits the CPU at 45W and middling fan-noise;
  • Performance – full power CPU running at 69+W with the fans running at full effect..

The Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H leaves the GPU intact in all these modes with the exception when you have GPU OC on in Performance mode. The only difference we see is CPU performance on Quiet where we also see a massive noise reduction accompanied by a spike in temperature.

Keep in mind that I have never heard any complains about fan noise even without RTX on and I have never ahd any stability issues with the exception some Fortnite crashes which come down to memory leaks probably. This laptop has performed very well for me so far.

Thermal ModeGraphicsCPUOverallNoise (dB)GPU Temperature (Celcius)
Performance + GPU OC59938394626151.264
Performance – NO GPU OC57878309606350.462
Balance58058339608246.362
Quiet57087363590740.470

In my cases the CPU temperature ranges from around 87 degrees to 94. It has maxed up at 100 from time to time but only temporarily. But honestly, the noise level is not manageable for long gaming sessions.

Battery Life

My variant of the Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H comes with a 60Wh battery and all I have to say about it is that it has been quite lackluster. Normal laptop use with 2 external monitors connected on Quiet mode (browsing, writing blog posts, and listening to a YouTube video, along with other browser tabs and my email client open) leads to around 1.5 hours of battery life. Keep in mind that I use a wired internet connection so these numbers come with the WiFi turned. The obvious recommendation here is to get the 80Wh battery variant if you care about portability (I don't).

Using the laptop's monitor at max brightness you can definitely get more out of it, even at 100% brightness (which I recommend as 300nits is not a huge number by any means) you may get 2.5-3 hours of normal use on Quiet mode which for me is acceptable.

Reducing the brightness to 60% can give you up to 3.5-4 hours of battery life on Quiet, but honestly the screen is not bright enough in my opinion.

Audio

The Lenovo Legion 5's speakers sound very good for their price and you will find them to be loud enough. I have no complaints there and while I use external speakers or headphones, I did not have any problem spending time listening to music or watching videos using the laptop's speakers.

What I would change in my variant

There are three things I am not 100% happy with:

  • First of all, I would prefer to have the RTX 2060 GPU as the 1660 Ti is getting old and missing RTX features.
  • For a streamer that uses Lightroom CC and performs photo editing on Twitch 16GB of memory is not enough. I would love to upgrade to 32GBs of memory as Streamlabs OBS crashes and Lightroom becomes unresponsive due to the lack of memory. To put it simply, 16GBs of RAM is not good enough for photo editing on Twitch.
  • Finally, the battery. I would prefer to have the 80Wh variant, but this is a minor issue for me. The first 2 issues, especially the second one, are more important for me.

I strongly believe that gamers should go for the newer RTX 2060 GPU and people focus on CPU and RAM-heavy tasks should go for the 32GB RAM variant, while the version I use is the jack of all trades.

This is the best praise I can give to the Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05H. It can do everything and it can do it very well for its price. It comes highly recommended by me and it's one of the best mid-range gaming laptops of 2020.

Below you will find Amazon Affiliate Links for both the Lenovo Legion 5 versions I recommend. If you buy the laptop using the links below I will earn a small commission (I think it's 3% for tech products), at no expense to you. Keep that in mind in case you click the links. Regardless, I highly encourage buying the more expensive version, although the $929 dollars for the GTX 1660 Ti version is a ludicrous price tag. Don't spend more than $999 on the former or $1,099 on the latter though.

Cross the borderline!
CURRENTLY OFFLINE
Exit mobile version