Gaming laptops have seen a resurgence over the last few years as brands like Lenovo attempt to cram powerful hardware into a light and portable chassis. The Legion Slim 7i is an evolution of this segment with optimized cooling, a wonderful keyboard, and multiple charging options – even if most of the changes seem like they’re simply on a component level.
I had the chance to get my hands on a unit prior to release, and Lenovo has delivered on the promise of a thin and light gaming laptop with high-end hardware. The machine marks Lenovo’s return to Intel for its Legion Slim range, as well as a showcase for AMD’s new Ryzen 6000 CPUs.
Although I still need to run benchmarks to see how the machine performs in action, I’m already a big fan of the Legion Slim 7i. It might be able to rip through games, but Lenovo’s prowess when it comes to webcams, keyboards, and port selection shines through in equal measure.
|Lenovo Legion Slim 7i|
|Dimensions||14.08 x 10.08x 0.67 inches|
|Processor||Intel Core i9-12900HK / Intel Core i7-12700H / Intel Core i5-12500H|
|Graphics||Nvidia GeForce RTX 3070 / GeForce RTX 3060 / GeForce RTX 3050 Ti|
|RAM||8GB / 16GB/ 24GB LPDDR5-4800|
|Display||16-inch Mini-LED or IPS / 2,560 x 1,600 / 16:10 / 165Hz or 240Hz / G-Sync
16-inch IPS / 1,920 x 1,200 / 16:10 / 165Hz
|Storage||512GB, 1TB, or 2TB PCIe Gen 4 m.2 SSD|
|Ports||1x Thunderbolt 4, 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2, 1x 4-in-1 SD, 1x 3.5mm headphone, 3x USB-A 3.2 Gen2, 1x HDMI 2.1|
|Wireless||Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.1|
|Webcam||720p or 1080p Windows Hello Webcam with electronic camera shutter|
|Operating system||Windows 11 Home|
|Battery||99.99 watt-hour or 71Whr|
|Price, availability||$1,589, May 2022|
On the outside, the latest Legion Slim 7i is almost identical to the previous generation. It lacks the RGB underglow of its larger Legion 7 sibling, instead adopting a matte finish either in storm or onyx gray. I love the understated look. It doesn’t stand out and scream “gamer,” but it’s still undeniably a gaming machine.
Short of the glossy Legion branding on the top of the shell, the Legion Slim 7i is simple — and I mean that in the best way. It looks similar to the non-gaming Lenovo Slim 7i, which is built for creators and office work. Although I wouldn’t normally take a gaming laptop into a coffee shop, the Legion Slim 7i is much more tasteful than gaming behemoths like the MSI Raider GE76.
It’s only slightly thicker and heavier than the standard Slim 7i, too. At 4.5 pounds and only 0.67 inches thick, the Legion Slim 7i is one of the thinnest and lightest gaming laptops you can buy — especially with a 16-inch screen. The Razer Blade 14, for example, is only slightly thinner and lighter despite sporting a much smaller display.
I wouldn’t normally take a gaming laptop into a coffee shop, but the Legion Slim 7i is much more tasteful than most gaming laptops
Many of the changes versus the previous generation come under hood. Lenovo has moved onto the fourth version of its Legion Coldfront cooling, incorporating a phase-change thermal compound and intake vents under the keyboard. As for if those changes make a difference in thermals, I’m not sure right now. I wasn’t able to run benchmarks during my hands-on time with the machine.
The big change with the latest Legion Slim 7i is the 16:10 display, which is generally better for productivity. I had time with the IPS 2,560 x 1,600 display that topped out at 165Hz, but Lenovo offers the machine with several different screen options — including a Mini-LED display.
I wasn’t able to try the Mini-LED option, though it should be the most premium configuration. It boasts DisplayHDR 1000 certification, as well as Dolby Vision. It’s not quite as premium of an experience as a DisplayHDR True Black panel, such as the one featured on the Asus Zenbook 14X OLED, but it’s much better than the IPS panels most gaming laptops ship with.
As for the IPS panel I had hands-on time with, it was OK. DisplayHDR 400 certification is nice, but the matte finish washed out the small boost in contrast. My hands-on time was also in near-direct sunlight, so it was far from ideal for seeing how the panel held up. I was able to verify the refresh rate, and Lenovo is offering a panel that goes up to 240Hz if you want an even higher refresh rate.
Outside of the change in aspect ratio, the Legion Slim 7i stands out with a WQXGA display — a first for gaming laptops. It’s a wide gamut display, covering 100% of the sRGB color space. The Mini-LED option even covers 100% of the DCI-P3 color space, though I’d need to get out my colorimeter to verify that claim.
For most people, the extra color bump won’t do much. I watched several videos, and the extra color coverage wasn’t very evident (most content is locked to sRGB anyway). The killer for me was the matte coating on top, which washed out the screen. It doesn’t look bad, but I wouldn’t spring for the Mini-LED option unless I was primarily using the machine in a dark room.
I loved typing on this keyboard, which didn’t come as a surprise given my time with the ThinkPad X1 and Legion 5 Pro. The keys are a bit looser and softer than the ones on the Razer Blade 15, but I was flying after a short adjustment period. The keys are responsive, and although I’d prefer larger keys without a number pad, I didn’t miss any keystrokes.
The keyboard comes standard with a white backlight, which always looks cheap to me on a black keyboard. I tried a version with per-key RGB lighting, which is an option. The various effects — raining, ripple lighting — were all responsive, though the lighting was a bit muted. The black keycaps dulled the color a hair.
With a number pad, Lenovo offsets the trackpad to the left. It’s a great trackpad with responsive clicks and buttery scrolling, but I’ve grown accustomed to larger trackpads on Ultrabooks like the Dell XPS 15. Let’s be honest, though: You’re probably not going to use the trackpad much on the Legion Slim 7i. I certainly wouldn’t.
I was happy to see Lenovo embracing more ports on the Legion Slim 7i in a market that consistently tries to get rid of them. Lenovo added a full-sized HDMI 2.1 port, and that’s huge. Breaking out to one of the best gaming monitors or a TV is essential for a gaming laptop, so I’m glad to see Lenovo is paying attention to this common use case.
The other changes are focused on the dual USB-C ports — one of which supports Thunderbolt 4 on the Intel model and both support 135 watts of power delivery. On the right side opposite of the USB-C ports, you’ll find the other new addition: An e-shutter switch. Lenovo has included this option to completely cut power to the webcam on several of its business-focused machines, but this is the first time it has shown up on a slim Legion laptop.
Most configurations come with a 720p webcam stuffed into a handle at the top of the display, but there’s a 1080p option available as well. It’s a shockingly good webcam, especially for a gaming laptop. It’s not too grainy, and the colors are accurate. That said, my hands-on time was in a very bright room with a lot of sunlight.
It all comes down to performance for a gaming laptop, and Lenovo is upping the ante with the latest Legion Slim 7i. On Intel, you can pack in up to a Core i9-12900HK, along with up to an RTX 3070. That’s a big boost over the previous Intel model, which topped out with an RTX 2060 Max-Q. It’s great to see a return to Intel with modern components.
Lenovo also has AMD configurations available, with up to a Ryzen 9 6900HX and Radeon RX 6800S. Lenovo tells me you can’t mix and match, so you’ll either get an Nvidia/Intel or all-AMD configuration. The machine I went hands-on with came with a Core i9-12900H and RTX 3070.
I wasn’t able to play games, but the Lenovo Legion 5i Pro we recently reviewed came with a similar configuration, and it was able to hit above 60 frames per second in Assassin’s Creed Valhalla at native 2K resolution. The kicker for the Legion Slim 7i is that it has a 100W RTX 3070, so it won’t perform as highly as the RTX 3070 inside the full-sized Legion 7i (read my write-up on laptop GPUs for more on that).
For battery life, you can purchase a machine with up to a 99.99 watt-hour battery, which is a big boost over the previous model. That is the largest capacity you can carry on a plane. It’s a welcome bump, but the more exciting addition for me is the 135W of USB-C power, which allows you to top off the machine without lugging around a power brick.
The Lenovo Legion Slim 7i is arriving in May 2022, with prices starting at $1,589. The AMD-focused Legion Slim 7 is arriving in June 2022 for a slightly lower price of $1,519. Naturally, higher configurations will raise the price by a lot.
- Best Apple deals and sales for May 2022
- The best hard drive enclosures for 2022
- Best gaming laptop deals for May 2022
- Against all odds, crypto mining on Nvidia GPUs is back again
- Best laptop deals: Get a portable workhorse from $98 today