A solid RTX 2060 gaming device
It takes a few minutes of quiet reflection to understand how far the Legion brand has come in the last few years. The Lenovo Y510P didn’t even get the Legion badge, with models starting with the Lenovo Legion Y520 starting to see it. The Legion Y530 that followed has enjoyed a much-deserved redesign and got a big Legion badge on its top cover. Shailendra Katyal, Executive Director of Lenovo India, mentioned in a recent speech that it has only begun to take the Lenovo Legion brand much more seriously in the last one year or so. And this is clearly visible in Lenovo’s new product: Legion Y540.
Anyone familiar with last year’s Lenovo Legion Y530 can say that this year’s Legion Y540 is not just a refreshing and completely new design. That said, the Legion Y540 has the right thing inside: the base variant, which is about 6 6,500 less than last year’s model, is paired with an Intel 9th Gen Core i5 CPU with 8GB of RAM. A Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 graphics card with 4GB of video RAM that enhances graphics. Storage care A 256GB PCIe NVMe solid-state drive works alongside a 1TB hard drive. Lenovo Legion Y540 starts at Rs 76,990. Let’s find out how in our review.
Let’s dive straight into its performance. Although the Lenovo Legion Y540 starts at Rs 76,990, the review unit we got was the top-of-the-line variant, priced at around Rs 1,27,150 (according to the online configuration on the Lenovo India website). It was powered by an Intel Core i7-9750H CPU with 16GB RAM and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 with 6GB video RAM. Storage comes in the form of a 1TB Samsung PCIe NVMe solid-state drive. Users seeking to expand storage will have the option of attaching a 2.5-inch hard drive.
The daily performance in the Legion Y540 review unit was commendable. Lenovo’s new gaming laptops handle multiple instances of common applications across multiple virtual desktops, such as Google Chrome, OneNote, Word, Excel, File Explorer, Photos and Microsoft Store, without any lag or stuttering. Switching between slightly heavier applications like Adobe Lightroom Classic and Epic Game Launcher has gone smoothly without any problems. At the same time game downloads also happened without any hassle.
The review unit performed exceptionally well in our CPU and GPU benchmark tests. In the conventional creative test of PCMark 8, the review unit got 5889, which is much higher than the average we saw in the same section in the past. The recently launched Asus ROG Zephyrus M GU502 scored 3952 in the same test. In 3DMark’s Fire Strike Ultra and Time Spy, the review unit scored 3462 and 5749, respectively. The Zephyrus M GU502, on the other hand, scored 3005 and 5281 in the same two tests, respectively.
Gaming in native full HD resolution on the RTX 2060-powered Legion Y540 was a delightful experience. In the review unit, Doom runs at an average frame rate of 140 frames per second in the Ultra graphics settings (the highest in any game by our definition), an image that is limited by the maximum refresh rate on a 144Hz LCD panel. In high graphics settings the same game (the second highest of any game by our definition) runs at 141 frames per second, which means there was virtually no difference between the two settings.
The Metro Exodus Benchmarking Tool gives us an average score of 42 frames per second for the Ultra and 52 frames per second for the High. It is noteworthy that we did not consider the ‘Extreme’ graphics setting in the Metro Exodus as ultra in our experiments because the game developers themselves claim that there is a slight visual difference between the two. The Battlefield V Ultra averaged 83 frames per second, but the High increased the rate by 10 frames.
The Apex Legends Ultra ran at a respectable average frame rate of 98 frames per second and the High at 104 frames per second. Shadow of the Tomb Rider’s benchmarking tool shows 71 frames per second for Ultra and 80 frames per second for High. Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice Ultra manages an average frame rate of 72 frames per second, reaching a negligible 75 frames per second at high. The Crysis 3 Ultra ran at an average frame rate of 79 frames per second but the High showed an average frame rate of 115 frames per second, a significant jump.
The gameplay with or without ray tracing in the Legion Y540 review unit was enjoyable. I was able to play all the mentioned games without any visible signs of backlash or stuttering. In games like Doom, the frame counter in Katsin was locked at virtually 144 frames per second, which must have been played at 60Hz. Heat and sound were also under control. Although the bottom and rear vents of the laptop became quite hot (average 49 degrees Celsius) during the gaming session, it was rarely felt around the WASD keys (average 38 degrees Celsius). In a quiet conference room, two fans could be heard playing a game (about 60dB) but they weren’t loud enough to distract me from the game.
Display, audio and IoT
The Legion Y540 comes with a 15.6-inch IPS LCD panel with full HD resolution and 144Hz refresh rate. According to Lenovo, the display can handle 300 nits of brightness and reproduce 72 percent of the color in sRGB color space. In my experience, the display is crisp and colorful for web browsing, reading and content use. In short, whether you’re gaming or working, don’t be discouraged by the Legion Y540’s display.
The sound from the Legion Y540’s two diagonal front-firing speakers is surprisingly good. The maximum volume is enough to watch a short video in a quiet bedroom but less than a noisy office cubicle. You’re better off getting a good pair of gaming headphones or speakers for everyday use. That said, the voices and heights of the two drivers can be clearly heard while watching the video game trailer. Surprisingly the logos make it too much without sound.
The Legion Y540, like its predecessor, has a port on the side and back. On the left, we see a USB-A 3.1 port and a single 3.5mm audio jack for the headset. On the right, we see a single USB-A 3.1 port. On the back, which is a rather inconvenient place to have a port, we see a USB-C port, a mini display port, a USB-A 3.1 port, a full-size HDMI port, a LAN port, and a proprietary power port. There is a Kensington lock slot if you have to fasten it. The selection of the Lenovo port is just right but less than the installation facility. Also, a fingerprint scanner will not go wrong.
Keyboard and touchpad
The Legion Y540’s keyboard is like a composite bag with keys that are large and easy to read but not quite comfortable for typing long documents. The flat, white-backlit keys seem to be more left-aligned than usual due to the number pad. What’s more, the keys travel less and lack the right level of resistance. As a result, you’re typing quite a bit wrong. That said, they work for gaming and small documents. RGB backlight-lovers will be disappointed to see only one white color on offer. On the bright side, each row of keys is larger, including the top-max.
According to Lenovo (APAC) category head Clifford Chong, who was present at the launch of the new Legion gaming laptop last month, the Legion Y540 has a refreshed keyboard unit. Unlike the previous Legion Y530 unit, the new one has anti-hosting technology on all keys. “The Y540 may look the same as the older model, but we’re focused on the internal at the moment,” Chong said in an interview with Digit.
The touchpad of the Legion Y540 is extremely easy to operate. It is large enough to click, tap and swipe. The plain matte-finish surface is grippy but not sticky, which should be a touchpad. Being a precision unit, the touchpad adopts multi-finger gestures without the need for any third party drivers or utilities. This means a switch between the app and the virtual desktop. The two independent left- and right-mouse buttons are a bit harder to press, but you’ll get used to it over time.
Construction and design
The Legion Y540 is undoubtedly based on the delicate, exquisite design of its predecessor. In fact, it’s the same body as the Legion Y530. However, there is a small but significant difference in the new model. Lenovo has removed the small Lenovo logo from the overhang on the back of the top cover and placed it inside the keyboard island palmrest. This is clearly a step towards promoting the Legion brand on Lenovo’s own. This is Lenovo’s concise, low-cost effort to better remember ‘Legion’ as a mainstream gaming brand for gamers and potential buyers.
That being said, the Legion Y540 looks good and feels tough to hold. The top cover is made of granular plastic but it feels quite strong when you hold the lid. There is little flex when opening or closing the lid and using the keyboard. The overhang on the back of the display hinges is long enough to be used as a handle but you wouldn’t want to do this unless you’re the type to live dangerously. At 2.3 kg, the Legion Y540 is quite heavy in the hand. The weight of the laptop can be felt when you carry it in a bag or in your hand.
Inside, we see a 15.6-inch matte-finish LCD panel with a really thin black bezel on three sides. The bottom bezel is large and houses a single camera, which will expose your nostrils during video calls. The display again bends 180 degrees, something we don’t see on many gaming laptops. All things considered, the Legion Y540 enjoys a clean look and strong build for the priced device. I just want the top cover construction to be metallic. Lenovo has specifically designed the new Legion series to calm and underestimate the crowd of other gaming machines and I think the Legion Y540 has succeeded in doing that.
The Legion Y540’s 52.5Wh three-cell internal battery is the weakest I’ve ever seen on a gaming laptop. In our standard battery benchmark test, the review unit scored a disappointing 1 hour, 46 minutes. In everyday use situations (where Wi-Fi and Bluetooth were enabled and the screen was set to 70 percent brightness), the battery of the review unit dropped to 63 percent from full charge in about 51 minutes. During this test session, I opened and browsed several tabs in Chrome and copied some files. During another session like this, the battery drops to 21 percent within about two hours of being fully charged. It took about two hours to charge the laptop back up.
The Lenovo Vantage app bundled with Windows 10 has an option called Hybrid Mode, which allows the laptop to use an Intel graphics card while the battery is running. Using an internal graphics card instead of a dedicated Nvidia chip saves energy. So, when I turned off hybrid mode and performed the tests mentioned above, I used the review unit as well as turning it on. The battery lost about 24 percent of its full charge in half an hour, which is probably a slight improvement. What’s more, I’ve noticed occasional stuttering in window animation. In short, if you expect to work by unplugging for a long time, then Legion Y540 is not for you.
The last row
The Lenovo Legion Y540 is a well-built, beautifully designed, and capable gaming laptop that its predecessor is proud of. If you are in the market for an RTX 2060-powered gaming laptop that costs around Rs 1,30,000, you don’t need to look any further. The Legion Y540 can run the new AAA title with surprisingly high levels of restraint and comfort. Its strengths include good display and sound quality, clean physical design and a responsive touchpad.
This does not mean that Legion Y540 is flawless. In the beginning, it may cost a bit less. An Intel Core i7 CPU, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce RTX 2060 GPU, and 1TB of solid-state storage can cost up to Rs. What’s more, the laptop lacks a metallic body, a comfortable keyboard and a powerful battery. Despite these limitations, the Lenovo Legion Y540 has emerged as the winner in our book.