X
Rating
8

Bottom line: the Lenovo Legion Go isn’t a perfect machine, but it’s a great answer to the Steam Deck if you want the features of Windows 11 and the freedom of detachable controllers. If you don’t mind a few design oddities and power-thirsty components, this is a great option to take your favourite PC games wherever you roam.

Windows 11 PC

Detachable Controllers

Fast Charging

FPS Mode

Process of Detaching Controllers

Performance Mode = Short Battery Life

Though Valve is still dragging its feet on bringing its vaunted Steam Deck to Australia, gamers looking to take their PC libraries with them on the go are thankfully not bereft of alternatives.  Two of the major contenders are the Asus ROG Ally and the Lenovo Legion Go. We got hands-on with Lenovo’s handheld console-slash-PC to see if it lives up to the promise of truly portable gaming.

Like the ROG Ally (and unlike the Steam Deck, with its proprietary Linux-based SteamOS), the Lenovo Legion Go is a full-fledged Windows 11 PC. This means that you can play games not only from Steam, but from other digital storefronts like Epic Games, EA, Xbox, and GOG Galaxy; in fact, all of those are accessible through Lenovo’s Legion Space software, which is never further than a button press away.

One of the major selling points of the Go, however, is a significant difference from the Ally: the controllers detach from the main body of the machine in a manner reminiscent of the Nintendo Switch. This allows you to set the Go down on a table with the sturdy kickstand, or connect it to your TV, and play using the controllers in a way Switch gamers will find very familiar.

The right controller can also slot into an included magnetic stand and activate what Lenovo dubs “FPS Mode”, turning it into an ergonomic gaming mouse and allowing PC gamers used to mouse-and-keyboard that fine level of aim control only a mouse can bring.

20231218 151839 scaled Lenovo Legion Go – Steam Deck, Meet Switch

Admittedly, FPS Mode never quite grew on me: the controller feels odd in the hand when in mouse mode, with the thumbstick tending to press into the palm, and having mouse buttons positioned vertically takes some getting used to. Games also tend to think you’re using mouse-and-keyboard in FPS mode, which will necessitate fumbling for the controls that map to the keys you don’t have.

One more nitpick is that the process of detaching the controllers is a bit fiddly – unlike the Switch’s Joy-Cons, which detach upwards with a button press, these ones have a finicky little switch and detach downwards, which isn’t ideal if you have it on a table.

All that aside, though, an important question that must be answered: how does it perform? Answer: perfectly well, on the right settings. The Go packs an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme processor with Radeon RDNA 3 graphics, plus 16GB RAM, while the 8.8-inch display is bright, sharp and vibrant, with a 2560×1600 resolution and a zippy 144Hz refresh rate.

While it won’t do ray tracing, you probably don’t need that on a handheld anyway, and I found that with FSR AI upscaling activated (AMD’s answer to Nvidia’s DLSS), even Cyberpunk 2077 was perfectly playable (tip: activate “Steam Deck” settings). Every game I tested ran pretty much without a hitch in Lenovo’s recommended Performance Mode – though one thing to note is that in Performance Mode, battery life is less than stellar.

%name Lenovo Legion Go – Steam Deck, Meet Switch

I got a couple of hours out of the Go before it started begging to be plugged in, so you could probably take it on a short flight with little trouble, but any longer than that and you’ll likely have to return to the seat-back entertainment (though if you don’t mind performance taking a bit of a hit, there are other power profiles that can squeeze a bit more juice out of it).

That said, charging time is nice and fast – it can go from 0 to 100 per cent in 80 minutes, or so Lenovo claims – and one plus is that it can charge through either of its USB-C ports: one on the top, and one on the bottom. This means that if you’ve got it on the kickstand, you can just plug in on top and keep playing. Nintendo, take note!

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Rating
8

Bottom line: the Lenovo Legion Go isn’t a perfect machine, but it’s a great answer to the Steam Deck if you want the features of Windows 11 and the freedom of detachable controllers. If you don’t mind a few design oddities and power-thirsty components, this is a great option to take your favourite PC games wherever you roam.

Windows 11 PC

Detachable Controllers

Fast Charging

FPS Mode

Process of Detaching Controllers

Performance Mode = Short Battery Life