Handheld gaming consoles are a competitive and innovative field where various brands strive to create products that captivate gaming enthusiasts. Recently, Valve introduced the Steam Deck, a powerful handheld gaming console capable of running thousands of games on the Steam platform. Lenovo, primarily known for producing laptops, has also entered the arena with its own handheld gaming console, the Lenovo Legion Go.
The Lenovo Legion Go is a handheld gaming console based on Windows 11, equipped with the Z1 Extreme chip, an 8.8-inch 1600p resolution screen, and a 144Hz refresh rate. Its controllers are detachable and can transform into a mouse and touchpad, providing users with various input options. With a sleek design featuring a metal body and LED light strips, it exudes a gaming aesthetic.
On paper, it sounds promising, right? However, upon using the device, I found that it fell short of my expectations. It exhibited numerous issues and shortcomings that left me disappointed in the gaming experience. In this review, I will delve into my experience with the Lenovo Legion Go and provide a comprehensive assessment.
Let’s begin by examining the design of the Lenovo Legion Go. With an 8.8-inch screen, it’s notably larger than the Steam Deck’s 7-inch display. While this might enhance the immersive gaming experience, it introduces some problems, which I’ll address shortly. The metal body comes in black and silver color options, featuring a small stand on the back for tabletop use. The sides boast two USB-C ports—one for charging and one for external device connections. The top includes a 3.5mm headphone jack, power button, and volume controls. The front houses a camera for video chats or facial recognition.
The detachable controllers resemble Nintendo Switch’s Joy-Cons, featuring two thumbsticks, a D-pad, four action buttons, two shoulder buttons, and two triggers. Additionally, they have two mouse buttons on the sides, four customizable buttons underneath, and a Hall-effect joystick to mitigate joystick drift issues. The backside includes a switch to turn them into a mouse or touchpad, complementing the stand for tabletop use.
While the design of the Lenovo Legion Go appears attractive, my actual usage revealed several issues.
The Lenovo Legion Go is notably heavy, with the screen portion weighing 640 grams and a total weight of 854 grams when combined with the controllers. This is much heavier than the Steam Deck’s 669 grams. This weight can lead to fatigue, discomfort in the hands and wrists, and stiffness in the shoulders during prolonged gaming sessions. While using the stand to reduce weight by placing it on a table is an option, it results in an awkward viewing angle as the screen tilts backward, straining the neck. Overall, the weight is a significant drawback affecting portability and comfort.
The controllers of the Lenovo Legion Go also present several issues. They are oversized and uncomfortable to grip, with too many buttons that are prone to accidental presses. The side mouse buttons are easily triggered unintentionally, and the customizable buttons underneath are challenging to reach. The placement of the thumbsticks and D-pad is awkward, requiring the bending of thumbs for operation. The size of the shoulder and trigger buttons is excessive, necessitating an extended reach of the index fingers. In summary, the controllers feel uncomfortable and impractical.
Moreover, detaching and connecting the controllers is inconvenient. Unlike the rail system on the Nintendo Switch, Lenovo employs a small button for attachment, which feels less secure and more prone to damage. Additionally, detaching the right controller causes the device to shut down automatically, requiring a restart and Bluetooth reconnection—a cumbersome and unstable process. Sometimes, connection issues occur, making the controllers unreliable. While the left controller doesn’t exhibit this problem, it has its own issues.
Lastly, the mouse and touchpad functions of the controllers are subpar. When placed on the stand, they can transform into a mouse or touchpad, which sounds convenient but is uncomfortable in practice. Their shape and size are ill-suited for mouse or touchpad use, necessitating a peculiar hand position. Furthermore, their sensitivity and precision are insufficient, making cursor control or page scrolling inaccurate. The right controller even has a small touchpad for additional Windows operations, a decent design but incapable of compensating for other flaws.
The screen of the Lenovo Legion Go is not an impressive choice. Despite its 1600p resolution and 144Hz refresh rate, the chip’s performance falls short of supporting such capabilities. Running high-spec games requires lowering the resolution and graphic settings, even enabling FSR 2’s performance mode to achieve smooth frame rates. However, this compromises the game’s visual quality, with reduced screen details and sharpness. The large screen size exposes every pixel and jagged edge, leading to discomfort. The screen seems overdesigned, prioritizing numerical superiority over practical gaming experience.
It’s worth noting that not all games experience these issues. Some lower-end games, like “El Paso, Elsewhere” and “Path of Exile,” run well on the Lenovo Legion Go, providing clear graphics. However, these games don’t represent the entire spectrum, and their performance doesn’t mask the screen’s flaws.
The Lenovo Legion Go runs on Windows 11, which poses a significant problem. Windows 11 is not designed for handheld gaming consoles, and its interface and functionalities are not well-suited for such devices. While using the Lenovo Legion Go, I encountered frequent issues such as unresponsive touchscreen, software incompatibility, and system instability. Windows 11 appears to be a hindrance to the Lenovo Legion Go’s gaming experience.
To address this issue, Lenovo developed its custom software called the Lenovo Application. This platform, similar to Steam, allows gaming, streaming, and even Android applications on the Lenovo Legion Go. While its interface mimics Steam’s blue gradient design and is categorized based on Windows functionalities (local games, streaming, Android, etc.), it falls short of providing convenience. Clicking on an option often redirects
to Windows settings, adding unnecessary steps. The store is peculiar, merely storing CD keys, requiring additional software to activate and run games. Lenovo’s application appears to be an unsuccessful attempt, complicating rather than resolving Windows 11-related issues.
It’s crucial to mention the fan noise during gaming sessions. In intense gaming scenarios, the fans might produce loud noise, requiring adjustment to “full-speed fan mode.” This is a noticeable issue for the Legion Go, potentially causing awkwardness even while gaming in public.
The gaming performance of the Lenovo Legion Go is not impressive. The Z1 Extreme chip struggles with high-spec games, necessitating a compromise in resolution and graphic settings. Lowering the resolution to 800p, adjusting settings to low, and enabling FSR 2’s performance mode is necessary for achieving approximately 30FPS. However, this results in a blurry and unclear game display. The chip choice for the Lenovo Legion Go seems mismatched, prioritizing numerical advantages over actual gaming needs.
Of course, not all games exhibit these issues. Some low-end games, like “El Paso, Elsewhere” and “Path of Exile,” run smoothly on the Lenovo Legion Go, providing a clear and enjoyable gaming experience. However, these games do not represent the entire spectrum, and their performance does not overshadow the Legion Go’s gaming performance flaws.
To test the gaming performance of the Lenovo Legion Go, I selected various games, including “Remnant 2,” “El Paso, Elsewhere,” “Path of Exile,” “Grid,” and “The Finals.” Here’s my evaluation of each:
“Remnant 2”: A third-person shooter with rich storytelling and scenes. Running smoothly at 1600p and 144Hz was not possible; I had to reduce the resolution to 800p, lower graphic settings, and enable FSR 2’s performance mode to achieve around 30FPS. However, this resulted in a blurry and unclear game display, diminishing the overall gaming experience.
“El Paso, Elsewhere”: A low-polygon style shooter inspired by “Max Payne.” As a lower-end game, it ran smoothly on the Lenovo Legion Go at 1600p and 144Hz, providing clear and stylish graphics. This was a pleasant gaming experience, showcasing the enjoyment and creativity of the game.
“Path of Exile”: An action role-playing game with rich items and skills. Being a lower-end game, it ran smoothly on the Lenovo Legion Go at 1600p and 144Hz, delivering clear and stylish graphics. This provided an enjoyable gaming experience, offering both fun and challenges.
“Grid”: A racing game with realistic visuals and physics. Given its higher specifications, running smoothly at 1600p and 144Hz was not possible; I had to lower the resolution to 800p, adjust graphic settings to low, and enable FSR 2’s performance mode to achieve around 30FPS. However, this compromised the visual quality, making the game feel less enjoyable.
“The Finals”: A multiplayer shooting game requiring a decent mouse. While the game ran quite well, playing it on a controller-mouse hybrid device proved challenging.
The Lenovo Legion Go allows transforming the right-hand controller into a mouse by pressing a switch and placing it in the included stand, creating a makeshift ergonomic mouse. However, the experience is subpar, and using it feels uncomfortable. Even when users compromise on ergonomic design, the experience changes dramatically. The company spent years perfecting ergonomic design, and Lenovo, despite offering the Legion Go, still faces issues.
In summary, my assessment of the Lenovo Legion Go is unsatisfactory. It suffers from numerous issues and shortcomings, leading to a disappointing gaming experience. The excessive weight causes fatigue and discomfort, the oversized controllers are awkward, the large screen results in unclear visuals, the chip struggles with gaming performance, Windows 11 creates operational difficulties, and custom software adds unnecessary complexity.
I perceive the Lenovo Legion Go as a product of overdesign, prioritizing numerical advantages over practical gaming needs and experiences. Its design and functionalities lack rationale, and its performance and visual quality leave much to be desired. Additionally, its price of 4,999 CNY is considerably higher than the Steam Deck’s 3,999 CNY, making it questionable value for money. I do not believe it justifies its price tag, and I would not recommend it to anyone seeking a gaming device. The Lenovo Legion Go appears to be an unsuccessful handheld gaming console, requiring improvement in various aspects to compete with other contenders.