Handheld gaming PCs have been gaining popularity among gaming enthusiasts, and the year 2023 just keeps getting better for them. After the release of ASUS’ ROG Ally earlier this year, Lenovo is entering the category with its Legion Go. Having had the opportunity to go hands-on with the device, I believe that some of Lenovo’s unique features could make a significant difference.
Before diving into the details, it’s crucial to note that the units I tried were pre-production samples, so there may be some changes in the final product. For example, the shoulder buttons on the demo units featured metallic paint on one side (which will be present on retail devices), while the other side was plain black plastic. Additionally, Lenovo plans to equip the Legion Go with a custom app launcher, similar to ASUS’ Amoury Crate, but it was not available on the demo units. The design of the Legion Go’s body also felt a bit rough in places, indicating that Lenovo may refine it before the official launch in October.
One of the most notable features of the Legion Go is its screen. It sports an 8.8-inch 2,560 x 1,600 IPS panel with a 144Hz refresh rate and a brightness level of 500 nits. Not only does the Legion Go’s panel match the speed of the ROG Ally, but it also boasts the largest screen in its category. The vibrant colors further enhance the appeal of the device, surpassing many of its competitors.
However, the larger display does come with a downside – the Legion Go is quite bulky. Measuring 11.8 x 5.15 x 1.61 inches, it is closer in size to the Steam Deck than sleeker rivals like the ROG Ally. Despite its size, the Legion Go offers a familiar Xbox-style button layout on the front and an interesting asymmetrical rear paddle layout at the back. It includes four rear buttons and a scroll wheel, though the purpose of the scroll wheel is unclear. Nevertheless, having additional input methods is always a welcome feature.
Taking a cue from the Nintendo Switch, Lenovo has incorporated a folding kickstand at the back of the Legion Go and made the controllers detachable from the main body. However, removing the controllers is not as smooth or easy as it is on the Switch. It requires pressing a button at the back and simultaneously tilting and sliding the controllers. Although it might take some practice, the kickstand allows users to prop up the display on a table while using the controllers wirelessly. The Legion Go also includes two USB 4 ports, enabling the connection of peripherals such as a mouse and keyboard, effectively turning it into a mini desktop. Furthermore, a single touchpad on the right controller allows users to navigate in Windows, a feature lacking in the ROG Ally.
Another interesting feature of the Legion Go is the FPS Switch located at the bottom of the right controller. By toggling it and placing the right controller in a provided cradle, users can transform it into a vertical mouse, suitable for playing shooters. However, it remains to be seen if this setup is preferred over traditional horizontal mice or joysticks.
In terms of specifications, the Legion Go is equipped with an AMD Z1 Extreme chip, 16GB of RAM, up to 1TB of storage, and a 49.2 WHr battery. These specs make it equally powerful as the ROG Ally. What sets the Legion Go apart is that it comes with an included protective case, a feature absent in the ASUS offering. Additionally, Lenovo has set an aggressive price point for the Legion Go, starting at $699, the same as the Ally, despite having a larger screen, bigger battery, and more sophisticated controllers.
Although Lenovo still needs to refine some aspects of the Legion Go before its official release, the entry of another major player in the handheld gaming PC market signifies that the battle for supremacy is just beginning. With its unique features and competitive pricing, the Legion Go has the potential to make a significant impact in the industry. Gaming enthusiasts can look forward to further advancements and options in the handheld gaming PC market in the near future.