Legion Y520 Review – Lenovo’s Best Laptop For $850
Hey, how’s it going? Dave2D here! So this is Lenovo’s Legion Y520, their mid-tier gaming laptop. And aesthetically, I really like this laptop. It feels nice to hold in your hand, and fingerprints don’t show up too much. There’s a faux carbon-fiber top, and it’s just black everywhere. Even the logo is pretty stealthy. Most gaming laptops have some kind of red accent on the exterior, this doesn’t. If you pull it out in a lecture hall, or even at work, no one would really notice. I also like the bronze or copper-colored heatsink, that you can see through the back. It’s a pretty muted vibe to this laptop, until you open it and realize there’s red everywhere. Now to be fair, of all the low-to-mid-tier gaming laptops, this has not that much. But, it’s there. The build quality is good, it’s on-par with competitors in this price range. There isn’t anything that feels poorly built; the chassis, the screen, the hinge is good, too.
Way better than the hinge on the older Y50 or Y700. The display is one of the better looking ones in the sub-$1000 gaming laptop market. 1080p, color gamut is kinda mediocre, and even after calibration, color accuracy isn’t the best. But it’s reasonably bright, and viewing angles are good, because it’s an IPS panel. Bezels aren’t too thick, and the webcam looks like this: [why would you do that]. The speakers are positioned nicely, just below the screen. And when you’re playing games, it sounds like they’re projecting right into your ears. The thing is, these lack bass. There’s decent volume, but the lower frequencies just aren’t there, even when I’m playing around with the EQ. Down at the keyboard, we have a couple of different textures. We have a brushed finish up here, and the rest of the deck is this kinda soft-touch finish. The keyboard has red accents, and red backlighting. The number pad on the right is a little different. I don’t think I’ve seen a layout like this before. If you’re a number pad pro, or just use number pads often, you’ll probably find it strange.
The rest of the layout is good, it’s easy to type on. Keys have 1.2mm of travel, keystrokes feel a little soft, but it’s comfortable to use. And I think most people will easily get used to this keyboard. The trackpad itself kinda feels like glass, but I’m pretty sure it’s plastic. It’s just a nice, smooth finish. Synaptics drivers, but good tracking and gesture control. The buttons are not built into the trackpad, they’re dedicated buttons. But they feel mediocre, the middle area acts like a lever, so the closer you get to the middle, the harder it is to click. You can only press it down on the sides, and I just don’t love this trackpad. The port selection is good, there’s Ethernet, USB 2.0, an audio jack.
And on the other side, we have HDMI, a pair of USB 3.0s, an SD reader, and a USB-C. There’s no Thunderbolt 3 support, but that’s just the norm at this price point. To get inside, you flip it over, remove some screws, and opening it up, we have a good amount of upgradeable components. There’s a 2.5″ drive bay, an M2 slot that supports PCIe, the configurations with SSD drives have pretty good speeds. And if you pop off this metal shroud here, you can access the RAM.
The battery’s down here, it’s relatively small, we’re looking at a 45Wh battery, and I’m getting a little less than four hours of regular use, with the screen at 250 nits. If you’re playing games, it’s going to be closer to 45 minutes to an hour. So I really wish they’d put a bigger battery in this thing, but that’s the compromise you gotta make at this price point. Performance overall is good, it uses Kaby Lake CPUs, and a GTX 1050 Ti, even on the base model. I’m running the upgraded i7 configuration, but the gaming performance is going to be really similar between this and the i5. There’s a more detailed video linked in the description. But on the 1050 Ti, and the 7700HQ, something lighter like Overwatch will hit 70 FPS on ultra, On high, we’re looking at almost 120 FPS. Doom on ultra will still float above 60 FPS. Basically, any of the more optimized shooters will play really nicely on this system.
Something a bit more demanding, like Battlefield 1, you’ll need to drop the graphics to high to get to that 60 FPS zone. But in general, any of the current titles will play nicely on the 1050 Ti, it’s the best value GPU for gaming laptops right now. If you’re editing videos, this is still a great choice, especially because there’s two drives in there. But if you’re doing color accurate work, I would totally plug up an external monitor. There is some thermal throttling, if you push the device on benchmarks for long enough, but I never noticed it in any games. Even after hours of playing, so you should be good. Surface temperature, even on load, stays comfortable to use. There’s also an extreme cooling mode in software, just to crank the fans up.
If you really want the best thermal performance. The heat pipe layout isn’t my favorite. It’s an older-style design. Like, the heat from the GPU has to pass through the CPU along the pipe to get cooled. The fans often spin on idle, but it’s still quiet. On load, it can get a little louder, not too bad. But if you hit that extreme fan mode, I don’t know when you’d actually use this, but if you do, it gets pretty noisy. Okay, so with the Lenovo Legion Y520, you’re getting a device with a lot of plastic materials, but with good build quality. You’re getting a decent IPS screen, bright, but weak color gamut. The keyboard is good, trackpad is good, but the buttons on the trackpad are not so good.
Inside, the Kaby Lake CPU options and the 1050 Ti deliver awesome performance for the dollar. Cooling is done reasonably well. The RAM and the storage are all easy to access for future upgrades. The battery is a little light, we’re looking at around four hours of average use. So this laptop, there’s not much I dislike about it. For this price point, it’s really good. The one advantage I’d say the Lenovo has over other competitors in this price point, is that they often have pretty good sales. So right now you can get this thing for $850, that’s with the 1050 Ti, that’s really good in my opinion. Now if you’re trying to decide between this laptop and the three or four other laptops that are in this price range, I will be doing a comparative review.
I want to do it sooner than later, but there’s a fourth laptop that came into the mix. So player 4 entered the game, I will be doing that video shortly, and then I will be doing a comparative video for all of them. Hope you guys enjoyed this video. Thumbs if you liked it, subs if you loved it! See you guys next time..