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Lenovo Legion Go: XL Gaming Handheld Review, OLED Display, Detachable Controllers, and Performance Analysis

Every day witnesses the emergence of new handheld gaming PCs in the market. Lenovo is taking a distinctive approach with the Legion Go, refraining from creating another Windows-based competitor for the Steam Deck. Priced at $700, this gaming machine offers top-notch performance, a spacious OLED display, and draws inspiration from the design elements of the Nintendo Switch, resulting in a potent yet somewhat bulky device with some concealed features.

The design and display of the Legion Go set it apart as an XL gaming handheld. Featuring a generous 8.8-inch OLED display with a resolution of 2,560 x 1,600, it boasts one of the largest screens among gaming handhelds today. With a rapid 144Hz refresh rate and a peak brightness of approximately 500 nits, the display delivers vibrant visuals. Despite its impressive attributes, the Legion Go lacks full variable refresh rate support (VRR).

Similar to the Nintendo Switch, this gaming handheld incorporates detachable controllers and a rear kickstand, enhancing its versatility. The controllers, flanking the display, can be separated, resembling the Nintendo Switch's design. Notable features include a built-in touchpad for seamless navigation in Windows and Hall effect joysticks that offer enhanced responsiveness and accuracy compared to competitors like ASUS' ROG Ally or Valve's Steam Deck. The Legion Go adopts an Xbox-style button layout, supplemented by four rear paddles and a kickstand for convenient prop-up when necessary.

The robust build of the Legion Go, even with detachable controllers, adds to its durability. Two USB-C ports (both supporting USB 4) and a microSD card slot for expandable storage further enhance its connectivity options. While the touchpad lacks haptic support and the Legion Go lacks a fingerprint sensor like the ROG Ally, these are minor drawbacks in comparison to its overall capabilities.

Notably, the right controller features an FPS mode toggle, transforming it into a vertical mouse when paired with Lenovo's included puck. This feature caters to precision in FPS games and facilitates smooth navigation through Windows, particularly useful for users intending to connect the device to an external monitor and keyboard, essentially using it as a desktop alternative.

Despite its XL-sized design, weighing 1.88 pounds and measuring 11.76 inches across, the Legion Go provides a carrying case with a clever cutout for charging convenience. Its size places it in the larger and bulkier category among gaming handhelds, but given the general lack of pocketability in this product category, this is a common trade-off. Lenovo's case design stands out, especially when compared to the ROG Ally, which lacks a bundled case.

Performance-wise, the Legion Go relies on an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor, accompanied by 16GB of RAM and up to 1TB of storage. Comparable to the top-spec ROG Ally, its performance allows playing major AAA titles, such as Elden Ring and Starfield. The device provides preset performance modes and a custom setting for TDP, allowing users to optimize performance based on preferences. However, due to the recent release of the Legion Go, refinement of software and drivers may be ongoing. A known bug affecting framerates at 25 watts is expected to be addressed in an upcoming patch.

In terms of software, Windows-based handhelds often face criticism for a less-than-optimal user experience outside of gaming. Lenovo attempts to address this with its Legion Space app, offering customization options for performance, RGB lighting, and game launching. However, some labeling issues and the integration of third-party retailers for game purchases can be considered drawbacks.

Addressing concerns about battery life, Lenovo equips the Legion Go with a substantial 49.2Wh battery, providing a runtime ranging from an hour and a half to three hours, depending on the game and power settings. While falling short of the Steam Deck's efficiency at 15 watts, it outlasts the ROG Ally by 30 to 45 minutes in similar gaming scenarios.


In conclusion, the Legion Go presents an intriguing approach to handheld gaming PCs. While its size challenges the conventional definition of a handheld device, its adaptability with detachable controllers, a built-in touchpad, and unique FPS mode distinguish it. Despite its beta software addressing some performance issues, the Legion Go may need further optimization for its full potential to be realized, expected in the coming months. Positioned as a super-sized alternative to the ROG Ally, it excels in flexibility, offering dual USB-C ports and FPS mode, making it a compelling option for users seeking a laptop replacement with substantial power. Though not as budget-friendly or enduring as the Steam Deck, the Legion Go's impressive display and performance make it a noteworthy contender, contingent on future software refinements from Lenovo.

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