The portable PC market has exploded in recent years, with the Steam Deck and its OLED counterpart leading the charge. We've seen entries from Asus ROG and Ayaneo along with Valve's breakthrough device, and now Lenovo has joined the battle with the Lenovo Legion Go.
As someone who is still new to PC gaming but LOVES handheld, I treated this review as a welcome challenge, both in learning more about the PC environment and in checking out games I might not have played otherwise. Luckily, I was assigned a competent companion, as the Legion Go is a bulky-yet-beautiful piece of hardware that brings the majesty of PC gaming wherever I go. I only wish it didn't run out of energy as fast as I do.
Current Price: $649 (Amazon)
Lenovo Legion Go - Unboxing and First Impressions
When I first opened the box that housed my Legion Go review unit, my first thought was simply "wow, this is a thicc boi." At 852 grams (1.88 lbs) with the controllers attached – and why wouldn't the controllers be attached? – it's nearly 25 percent heavier than its Steam Deck OLED (640 games, 1.41 lbs) counterpart and 30 percent heavier than the ROG Ally (608 grams, 1.34 lbs). While that might not seem like a huge difference, I definitely felt arm fatigue in extended play sessions – granted, "extended" should be in quotes there, but we'll get to that.
The carrying case is similarly bulky, but it does a great job protecting the Legion Go as I travel with it. It's made of a thick plastic exterior, with plenty of space for the device to sit in the specially-fitted area snugly and with room to move around if need be. I put this case through its paces – both intentionally while driving long distances and unintentionally with a few falls from a coffee table, yet the Legion Go was never affected.
My one gripe with the carrying case is, though it's perfectly suited for the device itself, there's no specific area for the charging cable to sit cleanly. The only way I can travel with the cable in the case with the device is to place it on top of the Legion Go, and that is begging for a shattered screen. A microfiber cloth over the screen between the two might suffice, but I was too nervous to even try it, electing to travel with the charger in a separate bag. This is a matter of convenience, of course, but an extra compartment for the charging cable would have been nice.
Lenovo Legion Go - Powering On
Powering on the device for the first time, I was wowed by the standard Windows interface. As I've said before, I'm not a PC guy usually, and my limited time with portable PC gaming devices like this was with the Steam Deck only. I was unaware that the Legion Go could become an extension of my home PC once I logged in and got everything set up, and I really dig that. The PC veterans (my editors included) are shaking their heads at me for making this point I'm sure, but hey, it was cool, ok?
As I held the device for the first time, I was impressed by how sturdy the Legion Go felt, while also being comfortable in my hands. The added weight I mentioned earlier locked the Legion Go into my hands; I never felt like it was going to slip out or fall while in use. The Joycon-like controllers attached to either side of the device are also super comfortable, and the LED lights in the joysticks are a nice touch. As someone who's played a lot of Nintendo Switch in handheld mode, this felt like a natural evolution of that format, and I never felt out of my element while playing, even if I was checking out a game like Baldur's Gate III on the go.
The LCD screen is a beaut, with popping colors and clean visuals in every game I played. Even my desktop, which currently features an image from Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, jumps off the screen with color and detail. If there's ever a time where the game begins to chug along or I need a quick change to fidelity, the menu button on the right side gives me all the options I need right on the fly. I can change resolution, refresh rate, and TDP, toggle Radeon Super Resolution, choose different controller schemes, and more all through this menu. More importantly, these options are clear and easy to understand, even for a non-PC player like me.
Speaking of those specs, my resolutions options were 1920 x 1200 (my preferred setting), 1920 x 1080, and 2560 x 1440. Refresh rate choices are 60hz and 144hz, while TDP comes in four varieties: Quiet (8 watts), Balanced (15W), Performance (20W), or Custom, which holds a slider between 0W and 30W. All of them were a button press away, and I really appreciated that flexibility. It encouraged me to play around with the settings until I found one that worked for me, which ended up being 1920 x 1200 and 60hz for the majority of my play time.
Controller schemes and other options can be adjusted via the on-board Legion Space app, but other than that the app doesn't add much to the whole experience. Legion Space feels like what the OS would have been if the Legion Go wasn't built with Windows 11 included, and thus it feels extraneous for the most part. There's a marketplace there too, but I barely spent any time there after installing Steam, EGS, etc.
Lenovo Legion Go - Performance
While at home, I usually had the TDP setting on Performance Mode, as my charger was always a quick reach away, but when I knew I'd be away for a good amount of time, I'd switch to Balanced. Quiet mode was fine for when I wasn't playing a game – perfect for Internet browsing, video streaming, etc. – but it routinely struggled to get frame rates above 10 FPS in my testing, and at that point I'd rather stop playing altogether and wait until I get home.
I'd have to reach for that charger a lot too, no matter what setting I was on, because the battery life of the Legion Go is the most disappointing thing about it. If I'm only able to use a portable handheld for 1-2 hours at a time before it needs to be plugged in, what's the point of a portable device? I get this format is still figuring things out, but it's not great having to be chained to a wall via a charging cable while playing a device that's supposed to be portable.
Case in point: One day per week, I'm guaranteed at least 60-90 minutes of portable gaming timing while I'm doing family-related errands. I'd routinely bring the Legion Go, fully charged, with me on these excursions since the review unit came in. Not once has the battery been above 30% when I've returned home, and that's with mostly Balanced TDP usage. Not an ideal situation, especially when the device is supposed to be made for situations like that.
When the battery is charged though, I must admit using the Legion Go is phenomenal. Thanks to the Windows 11 architecture, I'm not limited to games on one specific platform. As such, I have Steam, Xbox Game Pass, Epic Games Store, GOG Galaxy, and more right on my device, each with a library of games to play whenever I like. That sort of versatility has been key to my appreciation for the Legion Go, as it gives me access to every PC game I own regardless of where it's coming from.
As for how the games play, obviously Performance Mode is the top achiever here. Every game I played would see consistent 30-40 FPS output on Medium settings – the average of the average FPS games I logged was around 38 – with some even reaching those figures on High. No Man's Sky, meanwhile, was inching toward the 60 FPS mark, making it the most consistent performer of the game I checked out.
Balanced and Quiet Modes were less impressive in their outputs, though this was to be expected. Balanced Mode averaged out at about 25 FPS, which if I'm trying to save battery life is manageable but not great. I will say dropping the resolution to 1200 x 800 and refresh rate to 60hz was a decent Bband-aid for Balanced mode, as doing so bumped the frame rate for Cyberpunk 2077 to around 40 FPS, while Baldur's Gate III's average crept up to an even 30 FPS. It's not as effective as Performance mode, but as a battery-saving measure, it'll get the job done.
Quiet Mode, however, may as well have been called Non-Gaming Mode, as the average of the averages was a mere 11 FPS, and that average is buffed by the Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker benchmarking tool; if I take its number out of the equation, the average of the averages drops to under 10 FPS. Downscaling as I did for Balanced mode didn't change much either, as Cyberpunk and Baldur's Gate again hovered around 10 FPS. Woof.
Performance mode does, on most occasions, generate some heat. That kicks on the built-in fan, and there’s no way you can miss when it turns on. On full blast, it sounds like the Legion Go is going to take off, but I’ve only had that happen a handful of times — and even then, I turned it on to that level myself. If you leave the default settings, it’ll activate, but it never gets so loud that it drowns out the in-game sound even at half-volume. Heck, in the urban areas of Like A Dragon: Infinite Wealth, the fan added to the ambience by sounding like a breeze in the air. The fan is noticeable, but it’s not overwhelming, and that’s how it should be.
I will give the device credit; once the kinks are ironed out and the proper settings are found, the Legion Go really does provide a wonderful playing experience. My brother – who is much more of a PC-centric player – and I were fiddling with Cyberpunk 2077: Phantom Liberty on the device, and at one point I made a single change and both audibly gasped at how smooth the game had suddenly become. This speaks to both the game's ability to play the most taxing games on the market at the moment, and its ability to lead a console-playing horse to water and make it drink.
At $650 for the 512 GB model, the Lenovo Legion Go carries a hefty price tag. However, in my experience with the device, it more than lives up to it. Playing on the device looks and feels great, with games popping off the screen through its vibrant LCD screen and performing admirably on multiple settings. It's heavier than the other devices out there, but not so heavy that your arms feel like they're falling off after a single session. Battery life is a big issue, however, as your excursions will be limited to a couple of hours at a time. Still, when you compare it to the rest of the options on the market, the Lenovo Legion Go more than holds its own.The product described in this review was provided by the manufacturer for evaluation purposes. Purchasing products through our links results in a small commission for the site. Authors are not compensated based on clicks or commissions.