Not everyone can afford an extreme gaming laptop with more power than you know how to handle. Sure, it's nice to have cutting edge tech and to be able to run the latest games on ultra settings with a high frame-rate, but not if you have to sell a limb in order to achieve that.
That's where the Lenovo Legion Y530 comes in. This is an affordable gaming laptop, assuming that's not a contradiction in terms, which offers mid-range specs with a healthy mix of design features in a snazzy-looking frame. But is it too much of a compromise to be any good?
A sleek design on a budget
- Up to 8th generation Intel Core i7-8750H CPU
- Up to Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 GPU
- Up to 16 GB DDR4 2666 MHz RAM
- Up to 512 GB PCIe SSD and up to 2 TB HDD
- 24 mm thick and weighing in at 2.3 kg
The Lenovo Legion Y530 is a compact, lightweight and thin gaming laptop that's immediately striking. It sports a funky vinyl finish that's emblazoned with the Legion branding, and a subtle backlighting on the logo that's dimly lit when it's on.
Lenovo has managed to squeeze a 15.6-inch IPS panel and full-sized keyboard into an outwardly compact and lightweight frame. It's also been done without much in the way of compromise.
However, it's worth knowing that this is more of a mid-range laptop rather than an eye-watering desktop killer. The model we tested came with am Intel Core i5-8300H CPU, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 GPU, and a rather paltry 8GB RAM.
But that doesn't necessarily mean it should be dismissed. The Legion Y530 still has plenty of highlights on offer for the right user.
It comes with a PCIe NVMe SSD as the main boot drive and an extra larger hard drive for your games library. This means it's able to boot into Windows in around 10 seconds and still has plenty of room for all your favourite games and upcoming ones too.
Reasonable visuals and performance highlights
- 15.6-inch 1920 x 1080 IPS display, up to 144Hz, 300 nits brightness
- Harman speakers with Dolby Audio
- 3x USB, 1x USB-C, Mini DisplayPort 1.4, HDMI 2.0, Ethernet port, Audio combo jack
- Benchmarks with 3D Mark: Timespy, Timespy Extreme, Firestrike, Sky Diver and Night Raid
Another draw of the Legion Y530 is the 15.6-inch IPS display that has a 144Hz refresh rate. This screen is near bezel-free at the top and the edges too.
The bottom is chunkier in order to accommodate the webcam and microphone setup below the screen. This camera location is certainly a downside of the design in our mind as it essentially means any video you capture of it has an up-nose view or is obscured by your fingers on the keyboard. It looks daft on conference calls and certainly isn't something you'd want to use while streaming on Twitch.
Of course, a good display is a key part of a good gaming laptop and this one is fairly impressive too. It's designed with a 300 nits panel and anti-glare backlighting meaning it's bright and capable. It also has great viewing angles and is comfortable to use day and night in any situation. One downside we did find is there's a little light bleed at the bottom of the panel that's painfully obvious in some games, but not visible in others.
The Legion is also built with faster refresh-rate panel, so if you can find the right games you can make the most of smooth operation. Of course, with the specification this laptop is packing, you're unlikely to be able to run modern games on the highest settings to be able to hit the frames per second (fps) to match the panel. However, you can run older games or lower settings to warrant it. We managed to get around 90fps on very high settings on Rainbow Six Siege but only somewhere around 50fps on Dirt Rally 2.0.
We ran some benchmarks with 3D Mark and some in-game benchmarking too. As you'd expect, the scores weren't incredible. Assassin's Creed Odyssey resulted in 40fps, Shadow of the Tomb Raider averaged 34fps and Rainbow Six Siege averaged between 70-100fps.
Despite its size, the Legion Y530 manages to run fairly quietly. It might be thin, but the reasonable specification means it doesn't necessarily run at extreme temperatures. The cooling is obviously well designed and the fans aren't as obnoxious as other slim gaming laptops we've had our hands on. That said, this machine does run a tad too hot when playing on your lap.
The Legion Y530 also packs Harman speakers with Dolby Audio, which results in good quality sound that's usually enough to drown out the fans, even when they're running at full tilt. We found these speakers to be surprisingly loud and able to deliver impressive sound too.
Thanks to the range of ports, the Legion Y530 is theoretically usable for virtual reality (VR) too. The device we tested was below the minimum requirements, but we tried anyway and can confirm that the Oculus Rift S will work but is likely to struggle visually with more taxing games.
A comfortable keyboard with cool accents
- Full-sized white-backlit keyboard
- 1.7mm of key travel
- No RGB backlight
The keyboard on this laptop is comfortable, nicely designed and easy-on-the-eye too. If you're looking for an RGB backlit keyboard you'll have to look elsewhere, but this does have white backlighting with two levels of brightness. There's also a cool white accent around the keycaps and Lenovo has managed to cram most of a full-sized keyboard into the frame.
We do feel like the position and layout of the numpad is a little odd, but it's nice to have access to most of the keys you'd expect. Dual function keys give you access to media playback buttons, keyboard lighting and more. There's even a dedicated button that opens Windows settings in a flash too.
We're happy to report that the keyboard is comfortable to use whatever you're doing - whether bashing out spreadsheets or getting your game on. With 1.7mm of key travel, it's also precise, fast and capable during a good gaming session. We found it perfectly responsive in fast-paced first-person shooter games and great for everyday use too.
Battery life and usability
- WiFi 2x2 AC + Bluetooth 4.2, WiFi 1x1 AC + Bluetooth 5.0
- 3 Cell Li-Polymer battery with 52.5 WHr
When it comes to battery life, the Lenovo Legion Y530 is, unfortunately, a bit underwhelming. We found for simple use like browsing the web, even with the brightness turned down and keyboard lighting off, that this machine was demanding to be plugged in within two hours. You're almost certainly going to need the power brick within reach regularly.
The Lenovo Legion Y530 might not be as fancy as some gaming laptops we've tested, but that doesn't mean it should be ignored. It's affordable, sports a funky design, 144Hz screen, offers a wealth of ports, and a comfortable-to-use keyboard.
But it's not all there as a gaming laptop goes. The screen has some bleed to the edge, the camera is oddly positioned, the specs aren't near some of what else is out there, and there's no RGB keyboard backlighting. Yes, all things that you're likely to pay more money to correct, but all niggles nonetheless.
For the mone, the Legion Y530 could be worth considering. However, it's far from future-proof and we think a little extra time saving for something that bit more special would pay off.
Acer Predator Triton 300
If you're looking to game on a budget then the Acer Predator Triton 300 is another option. It might cost a little more, but you'll get the 144Hz screen refresh, plus access to a newer CPU, more RAM and more. We are big fans of the new Triton design as well.
HP Omen 15
The HP Omen 15 is another stylish gaming laptop that doesn't necessarily have to break the bank. It sports snazzy design accents, high-spec options and plenty of gaming prowess too.