Lenovo Legion 7 hands-on: New i9 chips, with bigger batteries to match

The more portable Legion 7 Slim starts at $1,519, while the bigger Legion 7 will start at $2,059.

Now that the latest components from AMD, Intel and Nvidia are available, Lenovo is updating its 16-inch flagship gaming laptop with more lights, better performance and bigger batteries. And after getting a chance to go hands-on with the new Legion 7, I really appreciate that Lenovo made two slightly different versions to suit people's needs.

First up is the standard Legion 7, which is more of a desktop replacement-style gaming notebook designed to house the most powerful CPUs and GPUs you can put in a laptop right now. It's available in either Intel/NVIDIA (starting at $2,449) or all-AMD configurations (starting at $2,059), with Lenovo supporting up to a 12th-gen Intel i9 chip and RTX 3080 Ti or Ryzen 9 6900HX and Radeon RX 6850M XT.

The standard Legion 7 (right) is thicker and heavier than the Legion 7 Slim (left), but it supports more powerful components and has a plethora of RGB lighting.
While both systems have very similar designs, the Legion 7 Slim (left) weighs about a pound less but lacks support for some of the standard model's top-end components and most of its RGB lighting. (Sam Rutherford/Engadget)

Now those are some beefy specs, but the most important upgrade might be the addition of a new 99.9 WHr battery. That's the biggest power pack you can put in a laptop while still being able to carry it on a plane. On top of that, while Lenovo's included power adapter is a bulky 300-watt affair, the Legion 7 also supports USB-C power delivery. That means if you want to travel light, you can pack a smaller USB-PD adapter (up to 135 watts). However, it's important to remember that if you do so, the laptop won't charge as fast or get full performance when plugged into the wall.

That said, the most eye-catching part of the system is without a doubt all the RGB lighting scattered across its chassis. You get a light-up logo on its lid, a backlit keyboard with optional per-key adjustability, a big light bar in front and a ton of LEDs in its vents. Now I don't know if anyone keeps track of stats like this, but the Legion 7 may have the most RGB lighting of any gaming notebook.

As its name implies, the Legion 7 Slim is slightly thinner than the standard model.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

While it wasn't ready in time for my hands-on session, Lenovo says it's also planning to release its new Spectrum app that's designed to give users more control over lighting effects, including the ability to sync things with whatever music or videos they’re playing.

I'm not sure I love the system's brushed metal edges, but I have to give some props to Lenovo for including three USB-C ports on the laptop's left and right sides. This makes it easy to plug in things like thumb drives, while in back, there's additional connectivity for stuff you don't need to fiddle with as often such as power, Ethernet, HDMI and more. And alongside a new 1080p webcam (up from 720p), you also get a dedicated electronic shutter slider on the right for increased privacy.

On top of RGB lighting on its lid and keyboard, the Legion 7 also features color LEDs in its vents.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

In general, the Legion 7’s build quality felt good too. There wasn’t very little flex on its lid or deck, and while touchpads are often an afterthought on gaming laptops, this one is both large and responsive. Unfortunately, there weren’t any games installed, so I wasn’t able to get a sense of its thermals or fan noise. But I do like the laptop's updated power button, which now has a built-in fingerprint reader.

That said, while I respect a big, high-spec gaming laptop (and anyone who wants to carry one around), weighing in at 5.5 pounds, the Legion 7 isn't a great pick for frequent travelers. But that's where the Legion 7 Slim comes in. That's because while you still get a 16-inch display, support for a 99.9 Whr battery and a very similar design, Lenovo increased the Slim's portability by reducing its max specs a touch, deleting a lot of RGB lighting and trimming down the size of its chassis. The result is a thinner and lighter 4.5-pound laptop with a smaller hinge that's easier to toss in a bag.

The Legion 7 also has a RGB light bar that runs across the front edge of the system.
Sam Rutherford/Engadget

Aside from its size, the biggest difference between the standard Legion 7 and the Legion 7 Slim is that the latter tops out with either an NVIDIA RTX 3070 or an AMD RX 6800S GPU. And unlike its bigger sibling, the Slim's refresh rate peaks at 165Hz instead of 240Hz. The upside is that with the Intel/NVIDIA version of the Slim starting at $1,589 for a Core i5 chip with an RTX 3050 Ti or just $1,519 for the AMD Advantage model featuring a Ryzen 5 6600H and RX6600S GPU, Lenovo's slightly smaller system is a lot more affordable.

So regardless of what type of gamer you are, Lenovo is looking to give you a few more choices among 16-inch gaming notebooks. And while I'm curious to see how those huge batteries fare in real life (especially when paired with a power-hungry 12th-gen Intel CPU), I really like what I've seen so far.

The Intel/NVIDIA versions of the Legion 7 and Legion 7 Slim will go on sale first sometime later this month, with the AMD Advantage models arriving slightly later in June.