Lenovo Legion Go Review: a gaming handheld that’s versatile yet pricey

Gaming handhelds are a dime and a dozen these days, partly attributed to Steam Deck’s popularity. Following in Valve’s footsteps, many mainstream laptop makers have also forayed into the space. I am, of course, talking about the ASUS ROG Ally and the MSI Claw, which recently debuted in India. Adding to this trend, Lenovo has announced a contender for the space, too. Dubbed the Legion Go, the handheld has a lot going for it, including a sizeable QHD that refreshes at 144Hz and removable controller grips. But does that warrant a purchase? Let’s find out.

Design

There’s a lot to unpack about the Lenovo Legion Go’s design, but let me preface by saying this — the Lenovo Legion Go is a gigantic handheld. This is not an exaggeration — the device is truly humongous, and casts a tall shadow on my Steam Deck OLED and MSI Claw. You can refer to the snap attached below to get an idea of its size. 

Those itching for some numbers better hold on to their seats. The Legion Go ships with an 8.8-inch display and weighs a whopping 854 grams. The Steam Deck OLED, the MSI Claw, and the ASUS ROG Ally, on the other hand, tip the scales at 640, 675, and 608 grams, respectively. Suffice it to say that unless you have extremely strong wrists, you will find the Lenovo Legion Go uncomfortable for long gaming sessions. As it turns out, the device doesn’t offer long battery backup to begin with, but more on that later. 

The Legion Go also comes with more buttons than I could count on one hand. You will get the standard controller toggles, including A, B, X, and Y buttons, shoulder bumpers and triggers, two hall-effect joysticks and a D-pad. However, it also features M1 and M2 mouse buttons and a Y3 macro on the right grip. The left grip comes with the Y1 and Y2 macro buttons. If you find the layout confusing, you’re not alone. In fact, it took me several days to fully come to grips with the cacophony of buttons. 

But there is a method to Lenovo’s madness. Unlike most gaming handhelds, the Legion Go comes with detachable controller grips. They work similarly to the JoyCons on a Nintendo Switch. You can press a button toward the back of each grip, wiggle it, and it should come off. You can reattach it by aligning it with the POGO pins on the handheld. 

Thanks to the removable controller grips, the Legion Go can be propped on a table with its built-in kickstand, ensuring you can enjoy playing games for longer. More notably, the right controller grip can double as a mouse, thanks to a nifty accessory that comes with the device. The accessory looks like a hockey puck, and has a cavity to accommodate the right controller grip. The grip, which has an optical sensor underneath it, sits upright, and the contraption can then be used to play FPS games more comfortably. 

I applaud folks at Lenovo for their creativity and with enough practice, I am sure gamers could attune to using the grip to play FPS games. I tried my hand with it too, but honestly, pairing the handheld to a Bluetooth mouse is a simpler and more elegant solution. Having said that, the FPS mode, as Lenovo calls it, is a handy addition regardless, as it will give you access to a proper mouse to navigate Windows 11’s clunky UI when a regular mouse is not available. It also comes with a nifty scroll wheel that can be used to scroll lengthy PDFs or emails, which is a nice touch.

Those utilising the handheld’s FPS mode should feel right at home with the layout. For me, though, the extra buttons made it difficult to grip the handheld properly as I kept pressing them accidentally. Also, despite the grips being attached perfectly, they still had some give and tended to creak when I held the device firmly. On the upside, the D-pad and the A, B, X, and Y toggles have good tactile feedback. The hall-effect joysticks also offer good resistance and snap back to their original position smoothly.

As far as the rest of the buttons go, the Legion Go comes with a dedicated toggle to bring up a custom overlay on the right grip. Using it, buyers can sift through different TDP settings, change the screen’s resolution and refresh rate, disable RGB lighting effects, and even access quick-access toggles to take screenshots or end a task. The left grip also has a dedicated toggle, which brings up the Legion Space. Think of it as a tool to customise the Legion Go more intricately and to access all your games in one place. 

The Lenovo Legion Go wouldn’t be a Windows gaming handheld without RGB. Similar to the Ally and the Claw, you will find RGB running around the Legion Go’s joysticks, too. Lenovo has even added a tiny dash of RGB on the handheld’s power button. The RGB effects can be configured from the Legion Space app, and users can modify the speed or the brightness of the colours. You can also disable RGB lighting to conserve the battery. 

I should also highlight that the handheld comes with two USB Type-C 4.0 ports, a headphone jack, and a microSD card reader. One Type-C connector is at the top, and the other is at the bottom. Both comply with the Power Delivery 3.0 standard, so charging the handheld is much easier. 

Display and Audio

The Lenovo Legion Go is backed by an 8.8-inch display, which is an anomaly in itself. To make matters more interesting, the screen sports QHD resolution and refreshes at 144Hz. Now, I’m all for high-resolution displays, but I couldn’t help but feel that the Legion Go’s hardware is a bit mismatched. 

For one, the processor powering the handheld will struggle to run modern games at 1600P. For the most part, you will have to cap the resolution at 1200P or even 800P for demanding games. Secondly, the display’s high refresh rate and resolution don’t do its battery backup any favours. And, at arm’s length, the 8.8-inch screen will appear equally sharp at 1200P and 1600P resolutions. 

There’s nothing inherently wrong with the display — it is extremely sharp, covers 97 percent of the DCI-P3 colour gamut, and gets extremely bright at 500 nits. I thoroughly enjoyed playing games or watching movies on it. But, I can’t help but wonder if the handheld could’ve been priced more competitively if the company had opted for a more practical 1200P screen instead.

The Lenovo Legion Go comes with two 2W speakers that get adequately loud. In fact, the speakers can drown the fan noise at about 60 percent volume. The audio output is not as rich as what you may get with the MSI Claw, though, but it should suffice for playing games on the go. 

Software

The Lenovo Legion Go boots Windows 11 from the get-go. I have summarised my likes and dislikes for the operating system, especially in the context of a gaming handheld when I reviewed the MSI Claw. Those observations apply here, too. On that note, Windows 11, in general, is not geared for handhelds with a touchscreen display. Issues like the virtual keyboard not springing up automatically or the overlay becoming unresponsive are far too common. 

The company’s Legion Space app could do with an updated UI too. Also, it doesn’t open automatically as it should at times. Other than that, though, it offers a lot of features that will help you personalise your Legion Go to your liking. From remapping the buttons to adjusting RGB effects, TDP profiles, and Trigger resistance, you can customise the handheld to your heart’s content. 

Performance and Battery Life

Note: All games were tested on battery power unless specified otherwise. We have used a custom performance preset that lets the Legion Go use up to 30W TDP. 

The Lenovo Legion Go is powered by AMD’s Z1 Extreme processor. The processor also powers the ASUS ROG Ally, which launched a while ago. My Legion Go review unit comes with 16GB of LPDDR5X RAM clocked at 7,500MHz and a 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD. 

So, how does it perform? Quite good, actually. Let’s start with Cyberpunk 2077, which is an extremely demanding game. At 1200P resolution and with AMD’s FSR 2.1 upscaler set to the Performance preset, I averaged around 45FPS in the game. When exploring the city or engaging in gun fights, the frame rate would hover around the 40FPS mark. The Legion Go would net over 50FPS inside a building or a pub, which is excellent.

The same goes for NFS Unbound, which, at 1200P resolution and Low-Quality presets, sits comfortably at around 50FPS. I only noticed the game dip to the low 40s occasionally. Note that I was not using any upscaler when playing NFS Unbound, so the graphics appeared quite sharp on the device’s 8.8-inch screen. Speeding through the city streets or drifting through tight corners was an absolute treat, and the game’s FPS was in line with my expectations. 

Hogwarts Legacy was a tad problematic on the handheld. I was hoping to run it at at least 1080P resolution without an upscaler by turning down the graphics settings. The game did log a little over 30FPS, but erratic frame drops marred my gameplay. Running the game at 800P resolution and AMD’s FSR 2.0 set to the Quality preset allowed the handheld to target over 60FPS. The game was still somewhat jittery, and the frame rate would dip whenever I entered a new area or got into a fight with the poachers. Still, this was the best presentation of the game I’ve seen on any handheld device.

Lenovo Legion Go Stardew Valley
Lenovo Legion Go Hades
Lenovo Legion Go GTA 5
Lenovo Legion Go Cyberpunk 2077
Lenovo Legion Go Ghostrunner 2
Lenovo Legion Go Witcher 3
Lenovo Legion Go Valorant
Lenovo Legion Go Hogwarts Legacy New
Lenovo Legion Go NFS Unbound New
Lenovo Legion Go BioMutant
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On the upside, Witcher 3 ran terrifically on the handheld. I could gallop through the game’s expansive open world or take on monsters without running into any stutters or frame drops. At 1200P resolution and with the graphics toned down to the lowest presets, the game nets around 45FPS. In smaller areas, such as a town’s tavern, the frame rate would jump to 50FPS or more. You can even achieve up to 70FPS by leveraging AMD’s FSR tech (Ultra Performance preset). I also revisited BioMutant on the handheld, which is yet another open-world game with stunning graphics. On the Legion Go, I could run it at 800P resolution and Medium Quality presets. With the settings in place, the game would average around 50FPS.

GhostRunner 2 was also playable at respectable frame rates on the handheld. The same goes for GTA 5, which averages over 80FPS. I was running the game at 800P resolution and with most visual presets set to Normal or High. I did increase the Anti-Aliasing to 16x as I can’t stand jagged edges. Even so, the game rarely dipped below 70FPS. Similarly, EA FC 24 averages well over 40FPS at the medium graphics preset and 1200P resolution. I played a couple of Kick-Off and Volta games and was quite happy with the handheld’s performance in those modes.

Lighter games like Stardew Valley, Cat Quest II, Hades, and Valorant could make the most of the device’s high-res display and run faultlessly at 2K resolution. All said and done, Legion Go’s performance will not leave most gamers wanting more. There’s certainly some more room for improvement; however, I had a blast playing my favourite games on the handheld.

Lenovo Legion Go PCMark 10
Lenovo Legion Go PCMark 10 Extended
Lenovo Legion Go Fire Strike
Lenovo Legion Go Fire Strike Extreme
Lenovo Legion Go Fire Strike Ultra
Lenovo Legion Go Time Spy
Lenovo Legion Go Time Spy Extreme
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Understandably, the Legion Go is a Windows machine that can also be used as a makeshift laptop. I connected the device to a Type-C dock and interfaced it to my 2K monitor, keyboard, and wireless mouse. I then went about my work day like I would on any laptop. The device was more than adept at handling my day-to-day, which involved things like accessing the web to catch up on emails and articles, using communication apps like Slack and AirTable, and working with Excel sheets. 

The Legion Go can get toasty under load, especially near the back of the device, next to the left controller grip. That said, I didn’t notice any instances of thermal throttling, even after playing for extended periods. If anything, the handheld’s battery backup is woeful, and it barely lasts an hour when playing AAA games like Hogwarts Legacy or Cyberpunk 2077. The bundled 65W adapter takes a while to top up the device, too, and it charged the Legion Go from 14 percent to full in a little over 1.5 hours. 

Verdict 

The Lenovo Legion Go retails for Rs 89,990 in India. Despite its steep pricing, the handheld puts on a good show and offers a gorgeous display and a versatile design. Additionally, the handheld’s gaming performance was to my liking as well. While I typically play indie games on handheld devices, the Legion Go can effectively handle AAA titles at low graphics settings or with the assistance of upscaling technologies like AMD’s FSR. The handheld’s detachable grips deserve a mention, too, as they allow gamers to play FPS games and improve the Legion Go’s repairability.

Of course, there are some niggles that need to be highlighted as well. For one, the Legion Go is quite heavy and bulky. You can set it down and use the detachable controller grips to play comfortably. However, finding a stable or level surface may not always be possible. Additionally, the software overlays could do with some tweaks, too. While I am willing to look past the aforementioned niggles, I can’t ignore the handheld’s less than ideal battery backup. There’s also a case to be made for the ASUS ROG Ally, which offers the same performance at a more stomachable price point. 

Even so, there’s no denying that the Legion Go’s supersized display provides a more immersive gaming experience when on the go. It also helps that it’s not lacking in performance. So, if you don’t have a fixed budget and want the grandest Windows handheld, get the Legion Go. For everyone else, the ROG Ally or the Steam Deck OLED will probably be a safer bet.

Editor’s Rating: 7.5 / 10

Pros:

  • Gorgeous 2K display 
  • Versatile design
  • Good performer
  • Elegant RGB lighting

Cons:

      • Poor battery backup
      • Lenovo’s software needs some work
      • Pricey

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