The Legion looks the part, but doesn’t have the balanced spec to match the very best or cope with 4K gaming
- Looks the part
- DVD writer a nice inclusion
Noisy when under stress
Excess CPU power, but lacks matching GPU performance
Big-brand gaming systems are nothing new. Dell has the Alienware and XPS gaming desktops, Acer its Predator line and HP the Omen series, all providing enthusiast-friendly, high-performance systems with a splash of hot-rod gaming style. Legion is Lenovo’s foray into the field, with a range of laptops and predominantly Intel and Nvidia-based desktops – although the Legion Y720 on test is its Ryzen-powered variant.
In fact, the Legion Y720 backs AMD all the way, with a first-generation Ryzen 7 1800X CPU and an AMD Radeon RX570 graphics card. It’s also the cheapest system by some margin. Given the price difference, you can’t expect the Y720 to compete neck and neck with the faster, more expensive systems, but does it deliver a real taste of the gaming high-end?
Lenovo Legion Y720 review: Specs and performance
Yes and no. The first-generation Ryzen 7 1800X is still a high-performance processor, with eight cores handling 16 threads at a maximum 4GHz (and going faster with judicious overclocking). Teamed with 16GB of 2,400MHz DDR4 RAM, you get fine levels of performance in 2D applications.
That RX570 graphics card, however, is a different matter. There’s enough horsepower to run games at a Full HD 1080p resolution with the detail levels pushed right up, but switch to 4K and the Lenovo can’t maintain a playable frame rate – even 1440p is likely to be too much. As a gaming system, it’s just unbalanced, with an excess of CPU power and a lack of matching GPU performance. Interestingly, Lenovo hasn’t made the same mistake on its Intel systems, where the £1,299 Y720T ships with a relatively weedy Core i5-7400 but an 8GB GTX 1070.
Unfortunately, gaming performance isn’t the only area where the Y720 falls flat. From the outside, it’s every inch a premium enthusiast system, with its matte-black exterior punctuated by angular red glowing accents, giving the impression that this PC might be about to hurl lava over your desk and onto the carpet. We’re almost as impressed by the case-opening mechanism. Slide the unlock slider across, click down on the raised area at the back and the side-panel just pops off. It’s also good to have two USB 3 ports and two USB 2 ports at the front, even if the fact they’re all red makes it tricky to see which is which.
Inside, this is a conventional PC, complete with an old-school sheet steel chassis. There are two 120mm fans at the front and another at the rear, plus a chunky heatsink fan, but the airflow is more obstructed than rivals. The Y720 isn’t objectionably noisy, but the racket picks up when the system is under stress.
This is not the most upgradable system either. There are no spare DIMM slots and only one PCIe 3 x1 expansion slot available, although there’s space inside the drive cages for another three 3.5in hard drives should the existing 1TB Western Digital Blue drive and 256GB Samsung PM961 M.2 SSD prove insufficient. Everything’s secured with hand screws, making the job even easier, and, if you prefer to buy your software physically rather than digitally, you might be glad to see a DVD-RW installed.
Lenovo Legion Y720 review: Verdict
The problem for the Y720 is that it falls between two stools. In the past six months, we’ve seen sub-£900 PCs that deliver better gaming performance than the Lenovo, even if they didn’t have the eight-core Ryzen 7 CPU. And while the Intel versions promise a better balance of CPU and GPU horsepower, we’d still opt for a slightly pricier gaming PC with a stronger spec. The Y720 isn’t a bad big-brand take on the enthusiast PC, but some aspects need a rethink.