Gadjet And Laptop

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i gaming laptop – the slender assassin (review)

A gaming powerhouse in a sleek package, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i gaming laptop is a tempting option for those who want a games machine to go.

As a general rule, you get more bang for your buck when buying a desktop PC rather than a notebook. Of course, that’s starting to change with the exorbitant prices of some high-end graphics cards and other desktop components. 

This gaming laptop wouldn’t look out of place in a business meeting, helping makes it a more attractive value proposition. It could double up as your portable productivity and entertainment machine.

Keep in mind this is the ‘Slim’ model, which makes some sacrifices compared to Lenovo’s standard Legion 7i range. If you’re after the very latest and greatest Intel processor or NVIDIA GeForce RTX graphics, then you’ll want to consider the alternatives, but the Legion Slim 7i is certainly no gaming lightweight. 

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i gaming laptop details

Australian website here
Price from $2889 RRP
Warranty 1 year
Other You can read other GadgetGuy Lenovo news and reviews here.

First impressions

This is no slender reed compared to your average ultra-portable productivity machine but, as 15.6-inch gaming laptops go, it’s pretty good. The Lenovo Legion Slim 7i is touted as the slimmest gaming notebook able to cope with the demands of ray tracing. It’s only 17.9 mm thick, tipping the scales at 1.8 kg. So you could slip it in your carry bag, but you wouldn’t necessarily want to lug it around all day.

Unfortunately, the hefty power brick will add another 800 grams to your bag. That’s part of the price you pay when opting for a power-hungry games machine. But, as we’ll see, this laptop can easily transform from Superman back to Clark Kent when you don’t need that gaming grunt.

Rather than conform to the garish designs favoured by gaming brands, Lenovo has stayed true to its heritage as the Volvo of notebook makers: sturdy and reliable, but unlikely to turn heads. Even for a business machine, its featureless slate grey design looks rather bland. Only the generous ventilation and subtle glowing light in the Legion logo betray the power which lies within.

The game is up as soon as you lift the lid, thanks to the keyboard’s Corsair iCue RGB lighting. You’re hit with a pulsating rainbow of colours rippling across the keys, but thankfully this can be disabled when you need to look a bit less ostentatious during business hours.

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i Specs

Operating system Windows 10 Home or Pro 64
CPU 10th Gen Intel Core processor, choice of:
Intel Core i7-10870H (8C / 16T, 2.2 / 5.0GHz, 16 MB)
Intel Core i7-10875H (8C / 16T, 2.3 / 5.1GHz, 16 MB)
GPU NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q 6 GB GDDR6
RAM Up to 16 GB Soldered + 16 GB SO-DIMM DDR4-3200
(3200 MHz DDR4 available only for i7-10875H processor)
(2933 MHz DDR4 available for i7-10750H processor)
Display 15.6″ WVA, choice of:
FHD 1920×1080 – 144 Hz / up to 5 ms Response Time / 100% sRGB / Dolby Vision / 300 nits
UHD 3840×2160 – 60 Hz / 100% Adobe RGB / VESA DisplayHDR 400 Certified / Dolby Vision / 600 nits
Storage up to 1 TB SSD M.2 2280 PCIe NVMe
Connectivity 2 x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, Thunderbolt 3 (support data transfer, Power Delivery 100w and DisplayPort 1.4)
2 x USB 3.2 Gen 2 (Always On)
1 x 4-in-1 card reader
1 x combo audio/mic jack
Webcam 720p with Privacy Shutter
Wireless 802.11AX (2×2), Bluetooth 5.1
Dimensions 356 x 250 x 17.9 mm
Weight from 1.8 kg

Hardware

As with most laptops, you’ve got a lot of flexibility when it comes to the spec sheet – but stepping up from the baseline naturally drives up the price.

Our review unit ran Windows 10 Home 64-bit on an Intel Core i7-10870H power plant, accompanied by 16 GB of 2933 MHz DDR4 RAM. Combined with its 1080p display and 500 GB solid-state drive, this model would set you back $2889. (UPDATE: We’re told there’s also a Core i5 model, selling from $1699, but no 4K model in Australia)

While it’s a respectable spec sheet, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i certainly doesn’t pack the very latest and greatest hardware. Not with a 10th-gen Intel processor, RTX 2000 series GPU and WVA display. You don’t have to look far – even to Lenovo’s own standard Legion 7i range – to find an 11th-gen Intel processor, RTX 3000 series GPU and IPS display. Of course, such luxuries come with a hefty price tag – the Lenovo Legion 7i Gen 6 16″ starts at $3699.

Opting for the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060 Max-Q doesn’t just help curb the price tag. It’s also the power-saving variant of the RTX 2060 range, which helps with performance by dialling down clock speeds and power consumption. Max-Q technology brings other optimisations such as shifting power between the CPU and GPU per frame to increase overall performance.

Multimedia

With the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i, you’ve got the choice of a 1920×1080 144 Hz or 3840×2160 60 Hz display. While the 4K option sounds tempting, especially when the screen is brighter at 600 nits, keep in mind you’re sacrificing refresh rate. Plus, there is 4K gaming’s performance trade-off in terms of frames-per-second. Gamers need to decide whether they’re more interested in Ultra High Def eye candy or overall performance. (UPDATE: Lenovo tells us: “We have not configured a 4K model for ANZ, as the reduction in frame rate for a gaming device is something we wanted to avoid. We are very closely observing the improvements in this area for future models”.)

Support for Dolby Vision high dynamic range is also welcome when it comes to high-end gaming, as well as kicking back with streaming video services like Netflix. The anti-glare coating cuts down on eye strain.

Likewise, the 2 x 2-watt speaker configuration with Dolby Atmos holds its own for gaming and watching movies.

The focus on gaming means this laptop is blessed with more connectors than your typical ultra-thin workhorse, which is a welcome change. Then there’s that flamboyant RGB backlit keyboard, which can be tamed with Corsair’s iCUE software and customised for different games.

Performance

The FN + Q shortcut key makes it easy to switch the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i between Performance, Auto and Quiet mode depending on the task at hand. The difference in terms of performance is striking.

Put to the test with Rocket League on the highest settings, the laptop averages 45 to 60 frames per second in Quiet mode. Switching to Performance mode unleashes the beast, with the frame rates leaping up to sit at 270 to 300 fps. Auto mode dials this back slightly to 260 to 290 fps.

That’s all assuming you’re running on AC power. As soon as you pull the plug and call upon the battery, performance is scaled down significantly. You lose access to Performance mode, but even Auto mode is scaled right back and barely outpaces Quiet mode at around 60 fps.

Remember, this is all with a 1080p display. The resolution jump from stepping up to the 4K model would naturally take its toll on those frame rates.

Cooling

As you’d expect, switching to Performance mode sees the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i bring the noise. Lenovo’s ColdFront 2.0 cooling system kicks in, with one exhaust port on each side and four at the rear. It still gets quite warm underneath but not scalding. Switch to Quiet mode, and the fans dial down quickly as those frame rates drop.

The fans are quite loud in Performance mode compared to your typical notebook when struggling with demanding tasks. Of course, gamers have a higher tolerance for these things and certainly won’t find those fans intolerable in the heat of battle. 

Battery life

Thanks to performance optimisations, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i’s 4-cell 71Whr battery almost goes the distance when it comes to day-to-day tasks. You can expect around six hours usage, with the Rapid Charge Pro capabilities of the 95W USB Type-C adapter offering a 50% recharge in only 30 minutes.

Sadly, it’s a very different story when it comes to gaming. Push the laptop to its gaming limits, and the battery struggles to make it to the 2-hour mark. So if you plan to game on the go, make some room for that hefty power brick in your travel bag – also allowing you to take advantage of Performance mode.

GadgetGuy’s take

As with most laptops, the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i is a story of compromise. As a slender gaming laptop, it won’t break your budget or your back, but you pay the price when it comes to living with the old Intel processor and NVIDIA graphics. If you value portability in your gaming, you’ll probably consider that a fair trade.

The whopping performance loss when switching from AC power to batteries is a little confronting, but that’s the nature of gaming laptops. If you can’t live without beast mode, be prepared to lug around the AC adapter. But when you’re not gaming, it’s easy to dial everything back when running on batteries so you can get a decent day’s work done.

Would I buy it?

Perhaps, if the slender design and sub-$3000 price tag were more important to me in a gaming laptop than the latest and greatest hardware.

Lenovo Legion Slim 7i gaming laptop

It’s not cutting edge hardware, but the Lenovo Legion Slim 7i combines slender design with plenty of grunt to appeal to gamers on the move.

Positives

Slender design

Not too garish

Excellent gaming performance

Negatives

Not the latest hardware

Heavy AC adapter

Needs AC power for high-end performance