The Legion 530 has a sleek, new body differentiating itself from previous generations.It’s no secret that I am a fan of gaming laptops. There’s something about bulky, overpowered supercomputers that you can still manage to strap to your back and take wherever you go. Until recently, this desire came with the side effect of shiny, flashy and somewhat overbearing “gamer” features. In the end, I always found myself wanting a ThinkPad with the guts of a Legion PC. And with the Y530, I seem to have finally got my wish.
The Legion Y530 has received a major overhaul visually from it’s predecessor, the Y520. Sporting a thin LCD bezel, new hinge design, and rear-facing I/O, the Y530 has completely abandoned the bulkier design of yesteryear. Instead, we are treated to a more ThinkPad-like, rectangular shell. Gone is the curved LCD back, instead replaced with a textured flat backing sporting a subtle LEGION logo and backlit emblem.
On the bottom of the machine, it’s hard to ignore the large screen covering dual intake fans. Whereas previous models had a fabric-like filter, the Y530 provides a plastic grill that keeps large particles out, but provides more than adequate airflow to the exchangers.
As for peripheral connections, the Y530 has migrated nearly all of the I/O to the rear of the machine. On each side, the notebook provides a single USB 3 Type A, and the left side also sports a 3.5mm auxiliary jack for headsets.
On the rear of the Y530, you’ll find, from left to right, a USB 3.1 Type C, Mini Displayport, USB 3 Type A, HDMI, Ethernet, power port, and finally a Kensington Security Slot (does anybody still use these? Genuinely curious). Although I was hoping to see a Thunderbolt port offered, I can understand why it was cut and only offered on the bigger brother, the Y730. But more on that later.
Rear I/O Ports
Opening the Y530 may have been the only challenge I was surprised with in finding out the inner configuration. The sleeker design change has come at a cost when it comes to ease of access and disassembly. To access the internal components, you will need to remove the bottom screws and carefully pop the clips holding the bottom in place. Due to the side peripheral parts slightly protruding into the bottom case, you have to carefully pop the sides outwards when removing the panel. Although it was still a relatively simple process, I would’ve liked to see a full bottom removable panel for ease of access.
Once opened, the Y530 is very similar in layout to its predecessor, with the major change being the dual intake cooling loop. In prior years, the cooling loop involved a shared pair of heat pipes connecting both the CPU and discrete GPU with a single or pair of cooling fans to cool. In recognizing the varying workloads of the CPU and GPU, Lenovo has modified the configuration to provide a dedicated heat pipe to a single fan, and an additional common heat pipe feeding both sides and chips. The result is an essentially dedicated cooler for each chip, with the option to load share during extreme loads on each side.
New cooling systemThe RAM is hidden behind a metal shroud (likely to reduce potential EMI on the RAM), and is easily removable once the shroud is popped off. There is room for an M.2 SSD and a 2.5” HDD or SSD, though many of the configurations will have these populated with drives as shown with the configuration provided.
For storage, the Y530 supports both an NVMe / SATA M.2 drive and a 2.5" hard drive. This unit's configuration touts a 1TB HDD and 128GB SSD, both of which are easily accessible and replaceable.
The Y530 also sports dual HARMAN speakers located on the front of the machine. Given the real estate available above the keyboard around the heatsinks, I was hoping the speakers would be located on the top. Although the speakers seem to be quite rich while on a table surface, I often found myself covering up the speakers while in my lap. I often find myself wearing headphones regardless, but I think there are better ways of implementing it.
For this review, the configuration provided sports an Intel 8th Generation i7-8750H with a base clock speed reported at 2.21 GHz. Truly, base speed means very little, as you will find yourself in a turbo boost state 95% of the time, but this is how the chip is specified.
Thanks to Intel SpeedStep, you will generally see your machine modulating between about 1.1GHz and 4GHz peak. However, under a healthy dose of Prime95, I found the Y530 maintaining a solid 3.10GHz, although the fans definitely reminded me how hard they were working.
Meanwhile, the cooling system managed to hold it’s own, only letting the cores touch above 90°C for a few moments before averaging below 80°C:
To fully test the thermals, Furmark was run alongside Prime95 to see if the cooling system could bare a fully loaded CPU and GPU. Quite remarkably, the mobile GTX 1050 Ti managed to not only run solid, but return a satisfying score of 2406 while never breaking 80°C.
It seems the new thermal design is more than adequate for the i7 and 1050 pairing. Although the fans enter what I can only describe as a blower-level-of-operation at higher temps, I found the system stability to outweigh the noticeable fan noise. I generally found the fans to spin up during extremely intense tasks such as code compiling in Visual Studio Code, and very rare during most other activities.
But let’s be honest, there’s only one activity we’re likely going to focus on here: gaming. As mentioned above, the NVIDIA GTX 1050 Ti provides an admirable GPU score under an already heavy load. On games such as Fallout 4, you can expect an admirable framerate above 30fps on the most maximum of settings (though I would recommend reducing the anisotropic filtering to 2 or 4 samples for the smoothest gaming experience).
And what about VR games? Thanks to the great GPU in combination with the HDMI 2.0 on the rear of the system, the Y530 makes VR gaming on mobile not only possible, but quite enjoyable. With mixed reality headsets such as the Lenovo Explorer, the Y530 handles VR motion calculations and rendering with ease. Due to the GTX 1050 Ti, you won't be running VR games at max settings, however, you will achieve a high frame rate with modest settings while plugged in.
It’s easy to get lost in the Y530’s shiny new body, but there is also some major overhauling under the hood. The 8th generation Intel processors are providing higher core counts, allowing for greater multiprocessing in a mobile platform. The tried-and-true GTX 1050 Ti continues to perform excellently for 1080p60 gaming, and the cooling system is more than capable of keeping up.
With graphic processors constantly improving, it is unfortunate that the Y530 neglected to include a thunderbolt port to support external GPUs. I would’ve also liked to see a few more USB ports on the rear of the unit, rather than having all the ports spread across the case. I also wished the speakers had remained on the top of the machine, as their position seems awkward at times.
Still, the above criticisms were easily overshadowed by the look, feel, and performance of the notebook. After several glances thinking I had a premium ThinkPad in my possession, the Y530 has quickly become my daily driver. Not only is it a machine capable of handling my toughest tasks, but also looking sleek when out having a coffee (Admit it, you love to show off your Lenovo bling at the coffee shop.)
What are your thoughts on the Y530? Let me know below!