Lenovo Legion Y530 review: An affordable gaming laptop saddled with an iffy graphics card

The bargain-priced Lenovo Legion Y530 weighs less than five pounds and measures less than an inch thick—impressively portable for a gaming laptop. It packs impressive quad-core multitasking performance, a comfortable keyboard, a reasonably bright screen and solid battery life. Unfortunately, the Legion Y530’s middling graphics card struggles to deliver buttery visuals from today’s AAA games, and its performance will only go downhill as more demanding titles come down the pike.

Price and specifications

We reviewed the cheapest version of the Lenovo Legion Y530 (81FV0013US), which comes with a quad-core Intel Coffee Lake Core i5-8300H processor, 8GB of RAM, and a 256GB solid-state drive. This CPU’s eight threads of processing power (thanks to Intel’s hyperthreading technology) promises plenty of multitasking, perfect for gamers who want to stream or create content while they play. Because it lacks a larger secondary drive, however, the Y530 doesn’t have enough storage for more than one or two top-tier games at a time.

When it comes to visuals, the Legion Y530 boasts a 15.6-inch full-HD (1920×1080) non-touch IPS display, plus discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 graphics with 4GB of dedicated GDDR5 RAM. Sitting on the lower end of Nvidia’s GeForce 10 Series laptop graphics cards, the GTX 1050 generally falls short of buttery 60-fps gaming visuals at maxed-out video presets. You can often make up the difference by tinkering with your graphics settings, but we feel that a more powerful GTX 1060 graphics card—or at the very least, GTX 1050 Ti graphics—offers better value, as well as more headroom for the future.

Lenovo offers a series of upgrades that’ll boost the Legion Y530’s processing power, storage and graphics. The top-of-the-line model boasts a hex-core Core i7-8750H CPU, 16GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and a 1TB hard drive, plus a GTX 1050 Ti graphics card, for about $300 more. That’s enough storage for a much bigger library of games, and enough imaging power to nudge gaming performance closer to the 60-fps mark.

While you can certainly find cheaper gaming laptops with superior graphics chops (the recent GTX 1050 Ti-powered Dell G3 15 comes to mind), you’d be hard pressed to find one that weighs less than five pounds. Indeed, the 4.87-pound Lenovo Legion Y530 (compared to 5.36 pounds for the Dell G3) is by far one of the cheapest recent gaming laptops we’ve seen in its sub-five-pound weight class.

Design

lenovo legion y530 lid detail Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Legion logo is stamped into the lid of the Legion Y530.

Measuring 14.4 x 10.2 x 0.95 inches and (as we just noted) weighing in at 4.87 pounds, the Lenovo Y530 feels relatively slim and trim for a gaming laptop. At first blush, the laptop’s onyx-black design makes it look like a generic business machine, although the glowing Legion ‘Y’ logo on the side of the finely etched lid sets it apart.

lenovo legion y530 hinge detail Adam Patrick Murray/IDG

The Lenovo Legion Y530 has a shiny black hinge that sits about an inch forward from the back of the machine.

The hinge of the Legion Y530’s lid sits about an inch forward from the laptop’s back edge, which makes the slim rear end of the system look like it’s jutting out from the rest of the chassis—a nifty, console-like design choice that makes the Legion Y530 feel thinner than it actually is.

Speaking of the Legion Y530’s back side, several of the laptop’s key ports are rear-facing, including the power input, HDMI, USB-C and ethernet. (We’ll delve into the specific ports later in the review.) On the one hand, this location makes it easier to hide cables from view, but it also makes those ports harder to access.

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