Gaming Console

Lenovo Legion Go review

Switching things up

₹ 89,990

Like film cameras, handheld gaming devices are also witnessing a resurrection but with modern hardware chops of course. It’s mostly thanks to the Nintendo Switch’s success and also because the chips inside these things are getting seriously powerful and power efficient.

The Lenovo Legion Go, in question, is not a cookie-cutter PC handheld. Besides packing a bigger and crispier screen than the Asus ROG Ally and Steam Deck, it also has detachable controllers like the Nintendo Switch and the right-side controller can be used as a traditional mouse for FPS games. So the Lenovo Legion Go packs never-before-seen tech on its handheld that is beyond performance crunching and cooling chops but does this merit a place in your backpack or you’re better off with simpler things like the Steam Deck?

Lenovo Legion Go review: Controllers and design

The Legion Go goes the extra mile and gives you more playstyle options to enjoy your favourite games and that’s primarily because of its design. Love it or hate it, the Legion Go is an overengineered piece of tech, one which doesn’t falter but doesn’t scrub the problems away either. Cryptic? Allow us to break it down.

Want to play Marvel’s Spider-Man on this? Just boot up Steam and you’re good to go. Found the 854 grams of the Legion Go heavy? Use the sturdy built-in kickstand and detach the controllers to enjoy the game without wrist fractures. Want to move to something more hardcore like Call of Duty but want the precision of a mouse? Simply flick the FPS mode switch under the right controller and plonk it on the controller base which comes inside the carry case. In this mode, you can move the right controller around like a desktop mouse. Albeit, it’s hilariously shaped like a flight stick with its vertical proportions.

You can control movement with the left controller and use the right controller for mouse control. The Legion Go promptly remaps the WASD to your left controller without any issues and might be the solution a lot of gyro-loving players might seek. Here, you get the precision of a thumbstick movement from the left controller and the accuracy of a mouse from the right. It takes some getting used to but we have yet to find ourselves yearning to use the FPS mode. It’s a bandaid-on-a-fracture sort of solution for a handheld PC.

Unlike the Nintendo Switch joycons which move up and out to detach, the Legion Go controllers move down and snap out. It’s not the most intelligent way to remove the controller when you’re wrestling for space on an economy seat during a flight and it's a little fiddly to put it back in place too.

The controllers also have six extra buttons (besides the traditional controller layout) for remapping and honestly, we weren’t a fan of the asymmetrical button orientation at the back. The right controller also has an M1 and M2 button which always gets pressed accidentally but luckily none of these extra buttons are active from the start so it’s easier to just ignore them.

The handheld is very comfortable to grip. The controllers wrap around your hands nicely and have good touch points on your palm. The console is not lightweight but it’s nicer to hold than the competition. The Hall Effect thumbsticks are also worthy of the premium price tag. They use magnets for joystick position and don’t get stick drift like traditional potentiometer joysticks. The right controller also has a touchpad for your Windows mouse cursor and works well in times of emergencies.

Lenovo Legion Go review: Performance and display

The Legion Go screams premium every time you look at its 8.8-inch QHD IPS touch display. It also has a 144Hz refresh rate which is higher than anything in the market currently. Games look stunning on this handheld and that’s also thanks to the 500-nits of brightness and 97% DCI-P3 colour gamut. The blue pastel hues from Dave the Diver on the Legion Go are among the best we’ve seen on a handheld barring Steam Deck OLED. Even though this is not an OLED screen, the colours are punchy and the brightness keeps everything legible under sunlight. It’s a gorgeous screen and you’ll almost always be tempted to play games on 2560x1600 even though the smarter option is to downscale it to FullHD to extend battery life and increase FPS.

You’ll never really make full use of the 144Hz on the Legion Go and the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme will hardly ever cross the 60 frames per second threshold for modern-day graphic-heavy games. Dave the Diver was running at around 50+ FPS on the QHD resolution and shoots up to 70FPS on FullHD. Sifu has a bit more spectrum in terms of performance with FullHD going to 90 on low to medium settings and drops significantly with QHD resolution. Ghost of Tsushima is well optimised for handhelds and we got 30 to 32FPS constantly at high settings with AMD FSR settings on. We got around 45FPS with medium settings at FullHD resolution.

The Legion Go performs slightly better than the Asus ROG Ally and the heat management is certainly better on the Legion Go. Since the controllers are detachable and not in the same console enclosure, heat never travels to your palms. Even the fans are very well-tuned and we barely heard the itsy bitsy whining of the fans. Speakers are not that loud and suffer when the fans are in full throttle so the best option is to pair this with headphones. You get a 3.5mm headphone/microphone combo jack here.

You get a microSD card reader up top for extending the storage but we didn’t have an opportunity to try it during our review period. Internally, get a 1TB M.2 storage which is fast and reliable and you can upgrade it with a compatible 2242 SSD.

Unlike the competition, the Legion Go USB Type-C ports are quite premium and you get two. One at the top and the other at the bottom, so you can plug in accessories and charge the thing simultaneously. It’s USB 4 standard with 40Gbps data transfer with Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 support. You can even toss in an eGPU utilising this Type-C port and boost desktop gaming performance from the Legion Go.

Expect the Legion Go to run for 1 to 2 and a half hours depending on the game, resolution and power mode. We got around 2 hours and 15 minutes on Dave the Diver at FullHD resolution and performance mode (20W). Ghost of Tsushima ran for an hour at low to medium settings at FullHD and Sifu was around two hours. It’s not a battery champ for its size and weight and if you’re looking for a portable gaming device during long flights, it’s best to carry a 20,000mAh power bank along. The sleep mode does little to keep the battery from draining too. Unlike the Nintendo Switch which has a phenomenal battery life, the Legion Go’s Windows 11 is not very well optimised in sleep mode.

Lenovo Legion Go review: Software and usage

You can fiddle around with the settings in the Legion Space app which puts all your games and device settings in one place. You can tweak the controllers, resolution, power draw and more. Lenovo has replaced the two buttons on the top where you’d ideally have the start and select buttons on a traditional controller with quick buttons for the Legion Space and Quick Settings.

The start and select buttons have been pushed down on the bottom left controller which makes it very frustrating to access. Games like the Elden Ring that constantly require back and forth with the inventory and map are now difficult to access quickly on the Legion Go because Lenovo changed the button's layout. You can’t reconfigure these buttons either so that’s a shame.

The Lenovo Legion Go is certainly more powerful than other handheld PC consoles in the market and has the premium chops to warrant the price but how is the console to live with? I travelled in Ubers, trains, planes and rickshaws to make sense of it all. Firstly, the Lenovo Legion Go is massive. It covers 80% of the tray table of a domestic flight and the carry case is even thicker and bigger. The carry case takes up as much space as a pack of four one-litre Bisleri bottles duct-taped together in your bag and it doesn’t fit inside the seat pocket of your flight so you’re usually juggling this monstrosity and Vistara food on your table wishing for extra limbs to hold everything in place.

Having the detachable controllers does make life easier on the flight. You can put the tablet-esque display on the smartphone holder of modern domestic aircraft (in India) but it won’t lock in place, so you risk dropping it if the person ahead moves their seat or if there’s turbulence. Either way, playing games on the Legion Go on the flight is a herculean task.

Lenovo Legion Go review: Verdict

The Legion Go is a handheld PC with a powerful processor, a gorgeous 144Hz QHD display, and innovative detachable controllers. It outperforms most competitors and boasts superior cooling, but here's the catch: it's a clunky beast.

Let's talk trade-offs. The Legion Go's massive size and hefty weight make it a challenge to lug around, especially compared to sleeker options like the Steam Deck. Battery life is another concern - you'll likely need a hefty power bank for extended gaming sessions. While the detachable controllers offer versatility, the button layout takes some getting used to, and the asymmetrical button orientation on the back is clunky.

On the flip side, the Legion Go's performance is impressive, edging out competitors like the Asus ROG Ally. The innovative detachable controllers with Hall Effect thumbsticks (that avoid dreaded stick drift) are a big win. Plus, the multiple USB-C ports with Power Delivery 3.0 and DisplayPort 1.4 support mean you can connect to an external monitor or even an eGPU for desktop-like gaming.

The Legion Go is undeniably powerful, and the display is a treat for the eyes. But its awkward design and impracticality hold it back. If you prioritize raw power and a gorgeous screen above all else, the Legion Go is an option. But for most gamers, the Steam Deck or a less ambitious handheld might be a better fit.

Stuff Says

Powerful but not pocketable, the Legion Go is lust-worthy only if you can handle its size
Good stuff
Bad stuff
  1. Powerhouse performance

  1. Gorgeous display

  1. Detachable controllers with mouse mode

  1. Excellent cooling

  1. Upgradable storage

  1. Premium port

  1. Bulky

  1. Fiddly Detachable Controllers

  1. Pricey

Audio: Stereo speakers, 2W x2, dual-array microphone
Battery: 49.2 Wh, supports Super Rapid Charge
Display: 8.8in WQXGA (2560x1600), Multi-touch, IPS, 500nits, 16:10, 144Hz, Corning Gorilla Glass 5
Ports: 1x microSD card reader, 1x Headphone/microphone combo jack (3.5mm), 2x USB4 40Gbps (support data transfer, Power Delivery 3.0, and DisplayPort 1.4)
Storage: Up to 1TB M.2 2242 SSD
Weight: 854g
OS: Windows 11 Home
Processor: AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme (8C, 16T, 3.3GHz)
Graphics: AMD Radeon (RDNA 3 Architecture)
Memory: 16GB LPDDR5x-7500, soldered