Lenovo Legion Y545 Review
The Lenovo Legion Y545 is a laptop designed for gamers. Equipped with capable hardware and a great display, the Lenovo Legion can surely be a desktop replacement if you’re always on the go. The only question is whether or not the premium you pay is worth the portability.
Design and Construction
The Lenovo Legion Y545 sits in the middle of gamer and professional when it comes to aesthetics. It’s clean and sleek, but with subtle edges. If the Y logo at the back was a little smaller, it’s boardroom-ready. The body is made of a slightly textured plastic, which feels great to the touch. It’s well built, with minimal to no flex even with a good squeeze or bend.
The keyboard is your standard scissor-switch chiclet-style keyboard. There’s no pretravel and very little post-travel; nothing special here. The keyboard supports true anti-ghosting as tested here. One thing I don’t like is the Numpad key arrangement, but I’m sure people would get used to it with time.
The keyboard has white LED backlighting with two brightness settings so that you can see the keyboard at night. To turn this on and toggle through brightness settings, press the Fn key + Space key. The characters on the keycaps allow light to shine through. Light spills on the board because of the gap between the base of the board and the keycap. Be cautious of this because dust and other foreign particles could enter through here and build up inside.
The touchpad is responsive, with the buttons placed under it. It’s good enough for browsing the web and doing minor productivity tasks, but being a gaming laptop, I think most of the users will use an external mouse anyway. The coating is an oil magnet, though. I took the photo just after I installed windows, and it already looks greasy.
On the left side, you get another USB 3.1 Type-A port and a 3.5mm headphone jack. Unfortunately, you need a shared headphone&mic combo because there’s no dedicated mic input.
At the back, you can find a USB Type-C port, mini DisplayPort, a USB 3.1 Type-A, an HDMI port, RJ45 Ethernet port, charging port, and a Kensington lock. You can also find two large exhaust grills for heat dissipation.
On the right, you get another USB 3.1 Type-A, power, and LED indicators.
At the bottom, we have the rubber feet, which are tall enough to allow airflow to the vents. The laptop stays in place on different surfaces like wood, glass, or plastic during rigorous gaming sessions.
The hinge feels solid too. There’s minimal wobble when adjusted, and stays in place once you find the proper angle. It offers the right amount of resistance when tilting, and stays in place even when you shake it. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to tilt the screen to 180°, only up to around 150°.
Overall, the design looks great. It’s sleek and easy to carry around, and the body and hinges appear to be well built. It’s quite heavy, weighing at 2.3kg, but the center of weight is toward the back, which makes it easy to carry around. I like how they designed the feet to be thin and tall rather than short with a lot of surface area so the fans can take in air. The only annoying thing about it is the charger. It’s heavy and bulky, so portability becomes somewhat a challenge.
Display & Multimedia
The display itself was great. Response times were low, and I saw no ghosting when playing and with the UFOTest. Being an IPS display, it offers excellent viewing angles and vivid colors. Having a 144hz refresh rate also gives the laptop a better viewing experience, even when just surfing the web.
The side bezels are slim, measuring 7mm while the top bezel is thinner at 6mm. The bottom bezel that houses the webcam and mics are thicker, at 11mm. The mics are suitable for a laptop and can pick up my voice even from 12 inches away using my normal speaking voice. The webcam is good enough for video calls, but it’s positioned at the bottom. It results in lousy viewing angles when you point the webcam directly at you. The mic also picks up keystrokes, especially if you’re a heavy typer.
The IPS display looks great, even under sunlight. The colors are still vivid, and 300 nits of brightness are enough to battle out most glare. It’s great for morning coffee at the patio or working outside at a coffee shop.
And being an IPS display, the viewing angles are excellent. Even under sunlight, viewing angles are still okay, with minimal glare.
In terms of Audio Quality, they’re what you’d expect from Harman: great sound with a wide tonal range. The absence of a subwoofer makes the bass a little recessed, but it’s still there. They’re good enough for watching movies, playing games, and casual listening, considering they’re laptop speakers. A word of caution though is that they’re directed downwards – so when you set the laptop on a solid table, it’d bounce back, and you’ll get louder, better sounds but when you’re using it on your lap, or on a soft surface, the sound will be absorbed. On a table, I’d say they’re loud enough for a small room, but you’d want an external audio solution for class presentations and whatnot.
Performance & Thermals
Before taking a deep dive into the specifics, here are some synthetic and real-world benchmark figures to see how well the Lenovo Legion Y545 performs. All tests were done in an air-conditioned room with an ambient temperature of 23°C, plugged into the socket (unless otherwise stated), with the front side raised by about an inch to aide with airflow, and with no OS optimizations done. In-game benchmarks were run three times, and the average was taken to take into account variance and throttling, while synthetic benchmarks were run in 10-minute intervals to show the best possible score the laptop can provide.
First, let’s take a look at Cinebench R15 & R20 scores:
The scores are in line with a desktop 8th/9th generation i5, which is not bad for a lower TDP chip.
Next, we have Unigine Valley & Heaven benchmarks to see how well the GPU performs:
Using the ultra preset, we get an FPS of 83.2 on Unigine Heaven and 64.8 on Unigine Valley. It is in line with what you can expect from the mobile version of the 1660ti since its 70-360 MHz lower on the base clock and 200-400MHz lower on the boost clock. One thing to take note is that the CPU ran hot (in the high 70s°C) while purely running GPU-bound benchmarks. We’ll investigate this further later.
To test both the CPU and GPU, we used 3D Mark’s TimeSpy and FireStrike.
Now onto gaming benchmarks:
First, we have the open-world Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands:
While we didn’t hit the 60FPS mark on Ultra settings, frame times were consistent, and there was no stuttering in-game. Lowering the graphics settings will undoubtedly yield higher frames.
Next, we have Middle-earth: Shadow of War:
The Legion Y545 can hold its own in this 2-year-old triple-A title. Frame times were also consistent with no stuttering even when there are high populations and explosions on the scene.
Next, we have Shadow of the Tomb Raider:
The Lenovo Y545 can handle this 2018 triple-A title even at Ultra settings with frame times consistent like the rest of our benchmarks.
For the last two games, I chose two popular competitive FPS games that I know will take advantage of the 144hz display.
I tested Counter-Strike: Global Offensive using the Ulletical’s community benchmark at competitive settings 1080p and 1024p stretched (a lot of players and pros use 4:3 aspect ratio for more FPS and stretched characters). As expected, the Lenovo hit well over the 144FPS mark.
Lastly, we have Player Unknown’s BattleGrounds. Here I tested the game both at Ultra and competitive settings. All testing was done on the Erangel map, starting from when the players are in the plane to 5 mins after landing. Since no two matches are alike and it’s hard to land on the same spot every time, expect a little variance from this result.
Overall, the Lenovo Legion Y545 ran the games well with smooth frame times. Overall, the gameplay is smooth, with little to no stuttering. The average framerate is a little lower than what you’d expect from its desktop counterpart, but that could be expected on mobile hardware.
Taking a look at both CPU and GPU usage when playing games, GPU usage never hit 100% or high 90s, often hovering around 80% to low 90s range and CPU usage was low too, never going 50% for most of the games. Surprisingly the CPU temps were hovering high 80°C and sometimes hitting over the 90°C mark. Even during Unigine benchmark runs, which are GPU bound, the CPU temps were also higher though usage was low. I took a look at the design of the heat pipe, and both the CPU and GPU share the same heat pipe. It means that if one part heats up, the other heats up as well because they share contact. In terms of ventilation, the Legion only has four vents: two at the bottom with intake fans, and two at the back presumably for exhaust. The fans were silent as well, even during heavy load.
Because of heat concerns, this device throttles aggressively to keep temps in check. I ran Aida64’s stress test to see how the CPU manages the heat. At the start, I saw an all-core boost of 4.2GHz. However, throughout the run the CPU downclocked to around 3.3GHz to keep temps at around 80°C. GPU temps were typical for a laptop, hitting only mid 80°C when both the CPU and GPU are stressed. Don’t get me wrong here. Yes, the laptop downclocks itself because of heat limitations, but the strength of the hardware makes it so that you can still play games well even when its downclocked. Smooth frame times mean throttling is done gracefully in a way that it doesn’t stutter due to heat, only performing slightly worse than it should. As we can see from the benchmarks, it can play most of yesteryear’s triple-A titles at Ultra and will play this, and the coming year’s titles, albeit at lower graphical settings. However, if you’re playing during summer at a 37°C ambient temperature room, you might experience a lower performance.
That being said, never play games without being plugged into the socket. Both the CPU and GPU lose 60-80% performance in exchange for efficiency. Take a look at FireStrike results from being plugged and unplugged:
Doing our standard battery test of 1080p video loop with 50% brightness, 50% volume, headphones plugged in, and airplane mode. A full charge on the Legion Y545 lasted for 3 hours and 36 minutes. Battery life isn’t great, considering how the dual 4k display of the ASUS ZenBook Pro Duo lasted almost twice as long. The short battery life would have you searching for your nearest outlet in no time. But like I said, when you’re doing any heavy task, you probably would want to plug it in any way.
Overall, I like the Lenovo Legion Y545. Visually, it’s amazing. The lack of the usual gamer aesthetic and the sleek design makes it look formal. The matte textured finish feels great and premium. The logo at the back is simple but effective, much like the ones on Apple or Razer. The big problem is that when you’re doing any system-taxing tasks, you can’t put it on your lap. You’d either choke the intake fans or place the center of heat directly on your lap. You could watch a movie while in bed, but you can’t edit videos or play games.
The performance is excellent, even though there are thermal limitations. Core clock management on both the CPU and GPU is done well, so you don’t experience any stuttering in-game. When rendering, you could feel it performing slower as time passes, although even when it’s slower, the performance isn’t lacking. The battery isn’t as great as other laptops with similar hardware, too, so you’ll always have to bring a charger.
The variant we received costs PHP 94,995. While the Legion Y545 is portable, you’d have to set it up on a desk and plug it in to enjoy the full performance of the hardware. Even with the 144hz, 1080p IPS display, and 1TB SSD drive, the premium is too high for what is essentially a portable desktop replacement. However, if you’re a vlogger editing video on location, a student that lives both in a dorm and your parents’ house, a worker who is always on the move, then it might be worth considering.
Lenovo Legion Y545 specs:
15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080) IPS display running at 60hz, 144hz
Windows 10 Home
Windows 10 Pro
Intel Core i5-9300H, Intel Core i7 9750H
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650, GTX 1660 Ti, RTX 2060
2TB 5400 RPM HDD, 1TB 7200 RPM, up to 1TB PCIe SSD
Up to 32GB DDR4 2666MHz RAM
WiFi 802.11 AC (2 x 2)
Bluetooth 4.1, 4.2
1 x USB Type-C
3 x USB 3.1 Type-A
3.5mm Headphone/mic combo
Mini DisplayPort 1.4
RJ45 Ethernet cable
361.1 x 266.7 x 24.7-26.6mm
What we liked:
• Overall look and feel of the laptop
• 144hz, IPS display with low response times
• Software’s heat management
• Overall system performance
• Silent operating fans
What we didn’t:
• Shared heat pipe means the laptop gets hot fast
• Short battery life
• Enormous charger
• High price