Lenovo has thrown its hat into the handheld gaming PC space with the Legion Go. And you could tell that the PC maker has done its homework. The Legion Go takes inspiration from existing gaming handhelds, but adds its own unique take to these devices. Lenovo doesn't quite nail everything — you can put some of the blame on Windows 11, which feels wholly inadequate for a dedicated gaming console. But the Legion Go is a promising entrant that goes big in more ways than one.
- 8.8-inch 2,560 x 1,600 pixels, 144Hz IPS touchscreen
- AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor with 16GB memory and 512GB SSD
- 2x USB Type-C port, microSD card reader, 3.5mm audio jack
- 49.2 watt-hour battery
With an 8.8-inch display, the Legion Go is significantly larger than its rivals. It weighs 854g compared with 608g for the Asus ROG Ally and 669g for the Steam Deck. The benefit is obvious: This bigger IPS touch display is more immersive. The size makes it easier to read in-game text and interact with onscreen controls. It's a nice and bright screen, too, with a crisp 1600p resolution and a 144Hz refresh rate. But you'll probably run at 800p/60Hz for performance or battery life reasons, so this screen may be largely wasted. The downside, of course, is the weight. To alleviate this, the Go has a built-in kickstand that lets you prop it upright. You can also detach these Hall Effect controllers ala Nintendo Switch's Joy-Cons. They are easy to remove, perhaps too easy. I found myself hitting the release switch accidentally while button mashing in a fighting game.
The right controller also has a neat trick. Attach it upright to the included base, and switch it to FPS mode. This lets you use it like a mouse — it has extra buttons (and even a scroll wheel) — for greater precision in first-person shooter games. It works better than expected. Meanwhile, the left controller acts as a keyboard with the WASD keys automatically mapped to the left joystick. Another unique feature is the optional Legion Glasses accessory (S$499). We'll cover it in a future review, but short take: These glasses lets you use the Legion Go while lying down, and in complete privacy. You can also use the glasses with other devices, as long as they support DisplayPort over USB-C. A minor grouse: The speakers are lacking compared with the ROG Ally. I had to use them at close to maximum volume to hear game dialogue clearly.
Like the ROG Ally, the Legion Go has two shortcut buttons. One brings up Quick settings, which lets users easily change things like resolution, refresh rate, and power mode. The other button loads Legion Space, a custom app with a gamepad-friendly interface that lets you access more settings, a third-party game store, your game library, and other game platforms (Steam, Xbox, Epic etc). It's clunky, and I was somewhat put off by the fact that it seems more interested in selling games. And again I wasn't impressed by Windows 11, which isn't optimised for handheld PCs with their small yet high-resolution touch displays. It's slightly better with the Legion Go because it has a small touchpad. But I feel a better solution would be to have a native Xbox-like interface, and only let users access Windows proper via a reboot into “PC Mode”.
My Legion Go review unit is the higher-end version with the AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme. Microsoft's PC Game Pass (three-month subscription included) titles Like a Dragon Gaiden and Lies of P ran smoothly at around 60fps at 1,200 x 800 pixel resolution at Balanced mode. Internal temperatures were fairly cool at around 60 degrees Celsius. You won't feel the heat since you're clutching the controllers. Battery life will vary depending on games and settings. Like a Dragon Gaiden lasted slightly over two hours at 800p resolution. It definitely lasts longer than the Ally, simply because of a larger battery. Overall, the Lenovo Legion Go hits the mark for a handheld gaming PC. The performance and battery life are acceptable. The large, bright screen, kickstand, and the detachable controllers are great. You just have to live with the bulk, and awkward interface. Get it at S$1,149 from Shopee and Lazada.
Note: Review unit provided by Lenovo.
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