Attractive, spacious enclosure
Can support better components
Solid 1080p game performance
Intel 11th-gen Core processor is weak
Only 8GB RAM, 256GB storage
Mediocre wired connectivity
About the Lenovo Legion 5i Gen 6 Desktop
Here are the specs of the desktop we tested:
- Processor: Intel Core i5-11400
- Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1660 Super
- RAM: 8GB
- Storage: 256GB SSD and 1TB HDD
- Wireless connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
- Wired connectivity: 1x USB-C 3.1, 4x USB-A 3.1, 2x USB-A 2.0, 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, 1x Ethernet, 1x front headphone, 1x front microphone, 1x 3-port rear audio panel
- Weight: 30.86 pounds
- Size: 16.48 x 16.04 x 8.04 inches
The Legion 5i I tested is close to the least expensive model sold by Lenovo. The model line starts with a $990 machine that has an AMD Ryzen 5 5600G processor and AMD Radeon 6500 XT graphics. Configurations max out around $1,500, which snags you an Intel Core i7-12700 or AMD Ryzen 7 processor with Nvidia RTX 3060 graphics.
Be careful not to confuse the Lenovo Legion 5i with the Legion 7i—the Legion 7i is a significantly larger desktop with faster hardware and pricing to match. Also, note that Intel configurations will be represented with an ‘i’ in the name while AMD configurations omit the ‘i’.
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What we like
It looks fantastic
Let’s start with what’s obvious: The Legion 5i desktop is a looker.
Lenovo ditches the heavily branded aesthetic of its competitors and goes for a simple design. The enclosure is a black rectangle with a tempered glass side panel and large mesh air intakes on the front and top. It’s a classic look that lets you view the internals and enjoy the flashy lighting.
The Legion 5i desktop’s lights are set to “breath” by default, which means they rapidly pulse on and off. Thankfully, the lighting can be changed to a single, steady color or turned off entirely. The fans don’t offer RGB color customization but do include a variety of pre-baked lighting options. My favorite was the eye-catching rainbow mode’s swirling kaleidoscope of color.
The enclosure’s branding, where it exists, compliments the desktop’s look. A strip of silver “Legion” text adorns the tempered glass window and the Legion logo, which is attractive, glows up front. These extras add a twist to the design without spoiling the simplicity that makes it attractive.
It’s a good platform for upgrades
The Legion 5i’s smart choices continue inside, where the desktop’s internals are close to what PC gaming enthusiasts expect from a custom-built PC. The Legion 5i has thumbscrews to secure case panels and doesn’t use oddly shaped brackets to support the internals.
The motherboard is Lenovo-branded but otherwise conventional. Power, I/O, and fan headers are in standard locations, which reduces confusion if you need to repair or upgrade the desktop.
The GTX 1660 Super is manufactured by MSI and, though compact, looks similar to GTX 1660 Super cards sold separately. All of this, along with the spacious interior and neat cable routing, provides ample opportunity for future upgrades.
My review desktop had one open hard disk bay and no optical drive bay. This isn’t a flaw, as most gamers don’t expect to use multiple hard disk drives or an optical drive. Still, it’s worth mentioning for anyone who may need to store terabytes of data.
Gamers may be concerned by the 400-watt power supply. This is adequate for the desktop I reviewed but will limit future upgrades unless you install a larger power supply first. (The power supply mount uses a standard ATX screw layout.)
Overall, the Legion 5i is a capable platform for future upgrades. Every important component can be replaced through methods typical of conventional desktops, and most off-the-shelf components will fit.
The Lenovo Legion 5i has three system fans: two up front and one in the rear. Both the CPU and GPU are air-cooled, bringing the total to five fans. There are additional fan mounts at the top of the case which, in Lenovo press photos, appear to be used in some high-end configurations.
You might think this would lead to annoying fan noise, but it’s just the opposite Fans become loud when they have to spin at high speeds to do their job. Adding many fans to a basic gaming PC means the fans can take it easy and, as such, they’re quiet.
In fact, the Legion 5i is among the quietest Windows PCs I’ve tested in years. Fan noise is a gentle woosh even when playing games or running processor benchmarks, and it’s only noticeable in a silent room. Ambient noise, like a home air conditioner, will overwhelm the Legion 5i’s trivial whirr.
It’s a good choice for 1080p gaming
Want to play games at 1080p resolution? The Lenovo Legion 5i will do the job.
Most games I tested averaged at least 60 frames per second (fps) when set at 1080p resolution and ultra or highest detail. Far Cry 5 averaged 75 fps at 1080p and ultra detail. The new Far Cry 6, though more demanding, averaged 66 fps at the same settings. Shadow of the Tomb Raider was better still, hitting an average of 80 fps at 1080p and the Highest graphics preset.
A few games pushed the Legion 5i beyond its limits even at 1080p and maximum settings. Cyberpunk 2077 averaged 43 fps at 1080p and ultra detail. Total War: Warhammer III was the lowest, reporting an average of only 37 fps at 1080p and the ultra preset.
Dial back the settings, however, and 60 fps gameplay is possible. Total War: Warhammer III beat an average of 62 fps at 1080p and medium detail. Cyberpunk 2077 reported 67 fps at 1080p and medium settings.
Nvidia’s GTX 1660 doesn’t support ray tracing. However, entry-level gaming desktops lack the graphics grunt to handle ray tracing at an ideal framerate even when the feature is supported. Its absence is not a problem at this price.
The Legion 5i’s overall performance is behind other desktops recently tested, but I reviewed an entry-level configuration. Lenovo offers models with RTX 30-series and AMD Radeon RX 6000-series hardware. These are a better choice if you want to game at 1440p resolution or crave ray tracing.
What we don’t like
Intel’s 11th-gen Core processor is obsolete
The Legion 5i’s most significant weakness is its Intel Core i5-11400 processor. This is a surprise, as the Core i5-11400 processor received favorable reviews when it arrived in the spring of 2021. The problem? Intel’s 12th-gen Core processors are better.
The Legion 5i achieved a Geekbench 5 single-core score of 1437 and a multi-score of 5,915. Dell’s XPS Desktop with Intel Core i5-12600K blew it away, reaching a single-core score of 1595 and a multi-core score of 10353.
Cinebench R23 told a similar story. The Legion 5i reported a multi-core score of 8024, roughly half the Dell XPS Desktop’s score of 16554. The Legion 5i also fell behind in a processor-powered render of Blender’s BMW test scene, which required a hair more than five minutes to finish. The Dell XPS Desktop handled it in two minutes and 44 seconds.
This is less of a problem than it appears. The Legion 5i is a gaming desktop, and PC games are not typically restricted by multi-core processor performance. That’s especially true when paired with an entry-level video card such as the Nvidia GTX 1660 Super. It’s also likely the 11th-gen Core processor helps to keep the price down.
Just be warned—the entry-level Legion 5i is not a great fit for apps that can take advantage of multi-core workloads. Lenovo does offer the 12th-gen Core processor line, but configurations that use it cost $1,300 or more. (AMD Ryzen processors are available, as well.)
Memory and storage are tight
The Legion 5i model I tested had just 8GB of RAM and 256GB of solid state storage. That’s barely enough to get by.
RAM, though limited, is not a major problem. This was more than enough to handle all the games in our test suite. You’ll want more for certain productivity tasks, like editing 4K video, but it’s generally acceptable for gaming. RAM is also easy and inexpensive to upgrade.
The solid state drive is more limiting. I couldn’t install all games in the Reviewed.com test bench to the 256GB solid state drive simultaneously (Total War: Warhammer III is 111GB on its own), so I was forced to rotate games on and off the 1TB hard disk.
It’s a hassle, though not unexpected at this price. Most competitors offer the same 256GB solid state drive. A few, like the Acer Nitro 50, offer a larger 512GB drive but make do with a less powerful GTX 1650 or GTX 1650 Super graphics card.
Desktop computers usually offer significant wired connectivity. The Legion 5i isn’t an exception but is less impressive than alternatives like the Dell XPS desktop.
The front panel includes two USB-A 3.1 ports, a headphone jack, and a microphone jack. I’d prefer to see a USB-C port included, as well, and an SDcard reader is always appreciated.
It’s a similar story around back. There are four USB-A 3.1 ports, plus two USB-A 2.0, but just a single USB-C 3.1. The GTX 1660 Super graphics card has just one HDMI and one DisplayPort.
Wireless connectivity is more robust, providing support for Wi-Fi 6 and Bluetooth 5.1. This is fine for a modern gaming desktop, though the most recent models offer Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.2
I doubt the Legion 5i’s connectivity will be a problem for most owners, but it’s worth noting if you plan to connect a lot of devices or want to connect more than two monitors at once.
It’s big and heavy
Mainstream gaming desktops are usually much smaller than a custom-built desktop assembled at home. The Lenovo Legion 5i, on the other hand, is a beast. It measures almost a foot and a half tall and deep and over eight inches in width. It’s larger than many big-brand competitors including the Dell XPS desktop, HP Pavilion Gaming, HP Omen 25L, and Acer Nitro 50.
To be fair, size is relative. The Legion 5i is a large desktop for its category but not especially large overall. Many enclosures for custom-built desktop computers (even budget ones) are several inches taller and an inch or two wider.
Should you buy the Lenovo Legion 5i Gen 6?
Yes, the Legion 5i is a great budget desktop
The Lenovo Legion 5i has limits. It’s not a good choice for gaming above 1080p resolution and the processor is a bit weak. These problems are true of any budget gaming desktop, however, and are excused by the Legion 5i’s excellent design.
The $1,000 price tag reflects this desktop’s premium design which is a hair higher than similar alternatives. HP’s similar Pavilion Gaming desktop costs about $900, while Dell’s XPS desktop is $950 with equivalent specifications. But this $100 price difference is a sensible investment when you consider all you get with it.
This budget desktop, unlike most competitors, is a solid platform for future growth. It has a spacious interior with a conventional layout that supports most upgrades, and it won’t confuse an inexperienced enthusiast trying to swap parts. It looks great, too, which may help you resist the urge to upgrade to a more attractive rig.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.
Meet the tester
Matthew S. Smith
Matthew S. Smith is a veteran tech journalist and general-purpose PC hardware nerd. Formerly the Lead Editor of Reviews at Digital Trends, he has over a decade of experience covering PC hardware. Matt often flies the virtual skies in Microsoft Flight Simulator and is on a quest to grow the perfect heirloom tomato.
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