Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

Lenovo Legion Y520 is the best choice for those of you who only have about $ 900- $ 1000 to spend and want a nice all-round laptop that also handles FHD games well. This one offers a lot of money and a whole well built computer with a good keyboard, decent screen and solid performance and everyday behavior. Potential buyers however must accept Lenovo's compromise with this device: the screen is slightly dim and the color is not accurate, the speakers are rather small and the battery life is short enough. Read on for the whole story.

There are quite a lot of good gaming laptops that you can get under $ 1000 these days, all bringing solid performance to the workbench, nice buildings and some additions aimed at tipping potential buyers to their respective sides.

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

Lenovo's bid in the niche is the Legion Y520, a 15-inch gaming laptop built on Intel Kaby Lake HQ processor, DDR4 RAM, Nvidia GTX 1050 and 1050 Ti graphics, and dual storage. Specs wise, it's equivalent to an alternative bid, but Legion has at least two aces on its forearm: a tamed design, which makes it more suitable for school and business environments than most other options, and is also very competitive. prices (and not only in the US, but also in Europe and other regions).

On the other hand, the Y520 Legion offers a pretty dull display and one of the smallest batteries in this segment, so it's not just bells and whistles with this one.

Actually, we've spent about two weeks with the Legion Y520 unit and you'll find impressions below, so keep reading if you have this laptop on your list and want to know where its excellence is and where it all comes short.

Specs as reviewed Lenovo Legion Y520

The Y520 Legion looks like an ordinary laptop, a little showing it's a gaming machine, at least on the first look.

Outside cases do get a fake carbon fiber solution and some aesthetic bumps on the hood, but the whole notebook seems as simple as most other black plastic options out there. Even the Lenovo logo on the black hood and blend with the rest of its shell.

Once you open the lid, you will see a red keyboard, a red frame in the vicinity of the trackpad and Red Legion branding in the lower right corner of the palm rest, which suggests the DNA of this machine game.

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

Visible, Legion Y520 also woke up pretty well. It is made of plastic and there is a bending on the lid cover, but not to the point where it puts pressure on the panel. The inner frame is much sturdier though and does not provide at all with daily usage and typing.

As far as finishing options are completed, Lenovo uses carbon fiber imitations for the lid, side and back, while on the inside they look for plastic brushed at the top of the keyboard and soft soft plastic for the keyboard and arm area. -rest, which does feel good in everyday use. In fact, the whole laptop feels very good, with no sharp edges and pointed corners, a screen that can be lifted with one hand and solid rubber feet at the bottom keeps it mounted on the table.

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

You will see this if you reverse this device in reverse, and you will also see here a generous intake of air intake. The air sank through these wounds and through the net just below the screen hinges, and then pushed out through the grill on the rear edge. There is no bay that allows quick access to hardware at the back (but the access is quite simple, we will handle it in the next section) and there is no piece of speaker, and that is because the speakers are placed on top, peeling off the screen hinges. As for the hinges, it goes back to around 150 degrees, operating smoother than older Lenovo Y laptops and fixing the screen properly, so I do not have to complain about this.

Actually, except maybe the inconvenience of the black surface that shows the stain easily, there is no harm in how this laptop looks and feels.

One last aspect we should mention is IO, coated around the left and right edges. The Y520 offers 3 full-size USB ports and Type-C USB connectors (gen 1, no TB3 support), HDMI for video output, LAN port and Kensignton keys. The PSU and LAN are placed on the left side, but the HDMI and USB 3.0 slots are on the right and will clutter your mouse area if you plan on using multiple peripherals.

Keyboard and trackpad Lenovo Legion Y520

We had to test the European version of Y520 with the standard layout for this region, which is why I'm not a huge fan, because it comes with a small left Shift and a high Enter key. The US layout is better in my opinion.

The main key besides though, this keyboard does include the NumPad part with a very strange arrangement. There is no Home, End, Dn Dn, Pg Up, Prt Scr buttons, because they are all integrated as a secondary function on NumPad and the referrer button, and that takes time to get used to. Regular users will probably be able to live with these changes, but professionals may not.

This implementation leads to great directional keys and has a good distance, which one is interested in this laptop especially for games will surely appreciate, so in the end the layout comes with advantages and disadvantages, and it's up to you whether it rubs you in the right way or not.

As far as typing experience, I can say that this is one of my favorite laptops for typing. Remember that I am used to low-travel low-resistance (1.2 mm in depth and hold average) buttons, that's what you'll get here. If you are too, you will find feedback from this keyboard is pretty good and enjoy the soft feel of the buttons, speed and accuracy. I managed to print a sufficiently high percentage of missed strokes on this test unit, but mostly due to the small left Shift key that I do not normally use.

The keyboard is also backlit, with red LEDs and two brightness levels to choose from.

For the record, some users report problems with certain keys that are not listed on their Y520. I do not experience this problem, but it seems quite extensive and according to the forum, this is due to an incorrect metal shield placement that includes the RAM slot and can be fixed, as per the details in this thread. Possible this problem will occur if you remove the shield to add more RAM to your unit, but there is also a fair chance that the wrong shield is placed in the factory.

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

The trackpad is placed under the keyboard and stands either visually or tactilely. It's framed by a sparkling red line and a dazzling black image that is getting narrower at the bottom, the trapezoidal shape of the trackpad, but less of its overall size, which is not that easy.

This is a Synaptics trackpad, so its performance is pretty good with everyday usage and feels quite smooth from plastic. I find it too slow for my taste out of the box, but there are many options according to the Synaptics driver to resolve it. I can not find a way to turn a two-finger tap or two-finger motion backwards and forwards.

Above all this is not a clickpad, which means the surface is fixed and there is a dedicated click button underneath it. I'm just a fan of dedicated buttons, but this is a bit unremarkable, because the keys are right and left altogether and not the same, which means they just tap you beside it.


Lenovo put some crappy screens on their older gaming laptop, so what the Legion Y520 gets is a major step-up in the right direction, but still only a mid tier option when compared to what’s available out there.

You’ll find more details about the panel below, taken with the Sypder4 color sensor.

  • Panel HardwareID: LG Philips LGD0533 (LP156WF6-SPK3);
  • Coverage: 65% sRGB, 47% NTSC, 49% AdobeRGB;
  • Measured gamma: 2.0;
  • Max brightness in the middle of the screen: 261 cd/m2 on power;
  • Contrast at max brightness: 640:1;
  • White point: 7100 K;
  • Black on max brightness: 0.41 cd/m2;
  • Average DeltaE: 3.49 uncalibrated, 0.84 calibrated.
With a maximum brightness of 260 nits, this screen will be good enough for indoor use, but will struggle in bright or outdoors. However, this is equivalent to what most other OEMs put on a sub $ 1000 laptop and this panel variation is actually used on high level computers as well,

In addition, I should also add that our test unit does not show any obvious bleeding around the frame, but some users in the forum complained about the bezel pinching the screen. It is a matter of quality control and whether your unit will end up with some bleeding or not is just a matter of luck, like most laptops are in the current price range. Make sure you buy from a place that allows easy returns, if you pull a short stick.

Hardware and performance

The Lenovo Legion Y520 is available in a few different configurations, and we got to test the most basic one available here in Europe, with a Core i5-7300HQ processor, 8 GB of DDR4 RAM, a 1 TB 5400 rpm 2.5″ HDD and Nvidia GTX 1050 graphics with 4 GB of DDR5 RAM.

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

If you decide to buy one of these laptops, I advise you to choose one of the GTX 1050 Ti configurations and remove the SSD out of the box, or add it yourself. It's been a long time since I've tested a laptop without an SSD, and boys are stopping multitasking performance.

With an SSD and preferably 16 GB of RAM, this laptop will be able to handle activities and games everyday well. CPU Core i7-7700HQ is an option as well, but all you need is only if you plan on running more demanding software that can benefit from HyperThreading support, software like Photoshop, Premiere and other graphics editing programs, among others. If it's not on your list, just stick with Core i5 and put the money you saved into RAM or SSD.

There is no internal fast access bay in Y520, so you must release the entire back panel to go inside. It's in place by a dozen Philips screws and it should not take you more than a few minutes. Once you get here, you'll see HDD, Wi-Fi and M.2 SSD easily accessible. Our unit does not have an SSD, so the M.2 80 mm slot is not empty. As an important note, this laptop only supports SATA M2 drives, so do not buy a PCIe SSD, you will not benefit from a faster speed. It seems I am wrong, PCIe M.2 SSD is also compatible

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

Back to our test unit I will not add performance benchmarks here just because I think it does not fit the configuration without SSD. However you will find performance and temperature details in our sample in certain daily use scenarios, including games, below.

Review of Lenovo Legion Y520 - bang-for-the-buck gaming laptop under $ 800

Overall, the GTX 1050 Ti chip will handle the most modern games available today and launch within the next 1-2 years with 1080p resolution with Medium to High detail, as well as most older games with maximum graphics settings.

I should also add that I do not see any decrease or decrease in performance during this Legion Y520 sample test, but keep in mind that we are reviewing the Core i5 configuration with GTX 1050 graphics. I have seen some reviews claiming that CPU throttles are under stress tests, realistic demanding scenarios (gaming, video editing), even Core i7 configurations with GTX 1050 Ti graphics perform well, with cooling solutions able to maintain internally properly. cooled And that's despite the fact that the design can be considered outdated, since it does not use individual heatpipes for CPU and GPU, but also heatpipes that are spread over both at the same time.

Battery life Lenovo Legion Y520

There’s only a 45 Wh battery on the Legion Y520, the smallest one available in its class, and as a result you shouldn’t expect more than 2-4 hours of daily use on a charge, or just shy of 50 minutes while running games.

Here’s what we got in our tests, with the screen set at 50% brightness, roughly 120 nits.

  • 11.9 W (~3 h 45 min of use) – very light browsing and text editing in Google Drive, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 11.8 W (~3 h 50 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen video on Youtube in Internet Explorer, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 10.0 W (~4 h 25 min of use) – 1080p fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 12.0 W (~3 h 75 min of use) – 4K fullscreen .mkv video in the Movie app, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 18.2 W (~2 h 25 min of use) – heavy browsing in Edge, Balanced Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON;
  • 50.0 W (~50 min of use) – gaming, High Performance Mode, screen at 50%, Wi-Fi ON.
  • This laptops comes with a standard 135 Wh power brick and a full charge takes around 2 hours.

Price and availability

Lenovo Legion Y520 is available in stores around the world in several configurations, with prices starting at under $ 800 in the US at the time of this article.

The best buy option makes the Core i5-7300HQ processor, 8 GB RAM and Nvidia GTX 1050 Ti graphics, starting at about $ 850. You can choose this one and then add more RAM or SSD yourself, or you can keep an eye on the discounted model higher that is already equipped with 16 GB of RAM and SSD that must be sold for about $ 900.

Those interested in the Core i7 processor will also find the Core i7-7700HQ configuration with 16 GB RAM, SSD + HDD storage and GTX 1050 Ti graphics for just $ 1000.

But even with those two out there, the Legion Y520 can be the right pick for many of you. When we draw the line, it is a well built laptop with a decent matte IPS screen and a very nice keyboard, a laptop that performs well and runs cool and averagely loud. On the other hand, it’s not going to last longer than 4 hours on a charge, its screen makes it unsuited for activities that demand good color accuracy and its speakers sound rather tinny, so it’s up to you if you can live with these shortcomings or not. Just keep in mind there’s no perfect laptop, and you will have to compromise when you want powerful hardware for as little money as possible

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