Gaming is growing as a serious genre of entertainment and everyone’s trying to milk-in the most while it’s happening. And, no, I am not talking about mobile gaming here. PC and console gaming is the next big deal and many are making a profession out of it in India. Hundreds for e-sports events are now popping up in major cities across the country and for those looking make the mark in this industry, these events are the perfect place to start. And for that, as a budding professional gamer, you need a good gaming laptop.
At India Today Tech, I have reviewed an uncountable number of gaming laptops across various price points and the sub-Rs 1 lakh class of gaming laptops make the best machines for those who are willing to start professional gaming. Or even for those who love playing games casually, these sub-Rs 1 lakh laptops make more sense. Asus rules this segment with its TUF series laptops while HP, MSI and Dell have strengthened their game in this class with some great laptops. Lenovo has now joined the 2019 party, albeit late, but it has an impressive new laptop on offer and I have been playing with it (see the pun? Playing with a gaming laptop! Get it? Never mind).
It’s called the Legion Y540 (15) and prices start at Rs 74,990 for the base variant. If funding isn’t an issue for you, you can spend more and equip it with an Nvidia RTX 2060 graphics card, a 9th Gen Core i7 processor and up to 32 gigs of RAM. For my review, I chose a rather more affordable spec, with the Nvidia GTX 1660Ti, a Core i7 processor, a 512GB PCIe SSD storage, 16GB DDR4 RAM, and a few days of worry-free time for some serious gaming. How’s the experience? Read on.
Design: Lenovo’s design is the new benchmark
As a casual yet serious gaming enthusiast, my mind thinks of a bulky laptop with some flashier design elements whenever I see the term ‘gaming laptop’. Only this time with the Legion Y540 (15), my mind got a bit of a surprise. As a matter of fact, I was stunned. And massively happy for what Lenovo has done with the design of the Legion Y540 (15).
Lenovo Legion Y540
The Legion Y540 (15) looks unlike any other gaming laptop and many might take it to be just a regular laptop. And that’s good for gamers who want a stealthy looking machine that doesn’t shout ‘look-at-me-I-am-a gaming-laptop-aaargh’. The Legion Y540 (15) looks classy with a plain design but it has enough hints to suggest there’s something unusual under the hood. Similar to the Dell Alienware laptops, the Legion Y540 (15) has slightly forward-mounted hinges so as to make space for I/O ports at the rear. The lid in itself looks great with an amazing texture, which I doubt can pickup up dirt in a dusty country like India. That said, this lid gradient kisses goodbye to smudges and makes it easy to hold the laptop by improving the grip. And, the Legion logo as usually as a glowing ‘Y’ LED light that for a change only glows white. My eyes are in tears for this visual relief.
Open the lid and you will see a full-sized keyboard with an oddly arranged Numpad along with a moderately large trackpad. The trackpad registers precise inputs and the matte texture on it gives more confidence while scrolling. Even the keyboard is great for working with sufficient and satisfying key travel along with a reasonable amount of feedback. And thanks to the white backlighting, it helps with typing during day as well as night.
What’s peculiar here is the bottom bezel mounted webcam under the Legion logo which at first looks like a screw housing. The display has extremely slim bezels on the other three edges and it does aid for an immersive viewing experience.
Lenovo Legion Y540
As for the physical connectivity options, the Legion Y540 (15) comes as standard with three USB 3.1 Gen 1 ports distributed evenly across the three sides, USB-C port, Mini Display port, HDMI port, RJ45 Ethernet port and 3.5mm headphone/mic jack.
Oh, and I should mention that the entire build is made of plastic, which sounds inferior to the metal builds of other laptops in this category. However, plastic helps in keeping weight in check and the Legion Y540 (15) only puts a strain of 2.3Kgs on your shoulders while carrying it around.
Performance: All the essentials nailed!
No matter how much of a powerful chipset you have under the hood of your laptop, the gaming experience mainly depends on the quality of the display. The Legion Y540 (15) has a 15.6-inch Full HD IPS LCD display with 72 per cent colour gamut and a max brightness of up to 300 nits. My unit also had the optional 144Hz refresh rate panel. And on the whole, the display does a very good job of displaying what you want to see (doesn’t sound awkward, right?).
The display looks good with bright and vivid colours along with decent contrast. However, I feel the screen could have done with more vibrancy in colour reproduction, which could have made gaming even better on this. Nonetheless, keeping the asking price in mind, the Legion Y540’s display is quite good and it’s almost on par with what the competition offers. The 144Hz refresh rate is definitely a must-have upgrade as it makes both gaming, as well as regular Windows 10 things, look smoother than usual.
Lenovo Legion Y540
Next, we talk about the performance and since I already mentioned I had the mid-tier model with the mid-tier specs, the performance was impressive for what the hardware could do. The 9th Core i7-9750H isn’t the newest and most powerful iteration of the Core i7 but for beginners and casual gamers, it offers all the performance you will need.
The Nvidia GTX 1660Ti graphics card is good for playing games at Full HD resolution with high to medium graphics settings at constant high frame rates of above 60 fps. I got the best out of Wolfenstein YoungBlood at medium to high settings for 60 fps. My favourite F1 2019 ran on the highest settings with a constant frame rate of above 60 fps and I didn’t notice any drop in performance even after playing a full-length Grand Prix lasting three hours. And for games such as Fortnite and PUBG, you can play at the highest settings with decent frame rates of around 50-60 fps. The thermal performance was also great as I didn’t notice any drop in frame rates even after three continuous hours of gaming.
Lenovo’s Vantage software suite offers some additional options to check out the live system stats as well as tinker with processor clockspeed. These are cool for nerds but I never found myself ogling over the stats and or looking for reasons to tune up the performance.
Lenovo Legion Y540
As a regular laptop, the performance is always smooth, which is obvious given that this has some of the most powerful internals for a laptop. In my busiest of days, I found myself managing between 15 tabs of Chrome, a couple of word documents and more. The fairly tactile keyboard, as well as precise trackpad, only makes work easier.
All gaming laptops suffer for sub-par battery life and the Legion Y540 (15) is no exception. However, Lenovo claims life of up to 5 hours and I was able to keep it alive under regular workload for close to 4 hours, which isn’t bad. It does take a lot of time to charge but honestly, these things don’t matter in a gaming laptop as you are bound to plug it in the socket while playing games.
Lenovo Legion Y540
If you have made it through the entire piece, you must have already got a fair idea of what I am about to say. The Lenovo Legion Y540 (15) has impressed me in areas that matter the most for casual gamers or wannabe professional gamers. The core requirement is great performance and, even in its mid-tier spec, the Legion Y540 (15) delivers highly. Lenovo’s smart thermal management system along with the clever design means there’s no noticeable throttling after intense sessions.
However, performance is universally good on all gaming laptop at this price. It’s the practicality and ease of use that matters the most, and this is where the Legion Y540 (15) impresses me unlike any other. Lenovo’s idea to go ahead with a durable plastic build works wonderfully in the real world. It resists smudges and scratches, which means you can carry this one around without worrying about scuffing the paint or getting dents.
Overall, the Lenovo Legion Y540 (15) with its strong build and fast performance is possibly the best affordable gaming laptop under Rs 1 lakh you can buy this year.