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Lenovo Legion Y530 review: Part gaming laptop, part ThinkPad, all good

If I ask you to picture a business laptop, there’s a good chance something like Lenovo’s thin-but-boxy, black ThinkPads will come to mind. If I ask you to do the same for a gaming laptop, you’ll probably see a thick laptop with big stylized fan vents, red color accents and an aggressive, angular body, not unlike the company’s Legion Y520. The Legion Y530 ($950 at Best Buy), however, is sort of a mashup of the two, taking the pro workstation design of the ThinkPad P52 mixed with the Y520’s flash. And it totally works. 

The 15.6-inch Legion Y530 is an entry-level gaming laptop to boot (budget laptops aren’t known for their designs), and while that means a couple of cut corners to keep the starting price down to around $750 in the US, £900 in the UK and AU$1,199 in Australia, you won’t notice it too much. The base components are what you’ll find in its competitors, namely an Intel Core i5-8300H or i7-8750H paired with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 or 1050 Ti. (Lenovo announced at IFA 2018 that a GTX 1060 will be an option later this year.) The biggest differences come down to the keyboard, display and the overall design, and the Y530 doesn’t really disappoint, at least not at this price. 

If gaming performance longevity are crucial, you’ll want to save up and get a laptop with at least a GTX 1060 graphics card. But if you don’t mind dialing back your video settings to save some money, the Legion Y530 is an excellent choice for the money. It makes even more sense if you plan to use it part of the time hooked up to a keyboard, mouse, display and Ethernet. 

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Joshua Goldman/CNET

Lenovo Legion Y530


Price as reviewed
$939.99
Display size/resolution 15-inch 1,920 x 1,080 display
CPU 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-8300H
Memory 8GB DDR4 SDRAM 2,660MHz
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 Ti
Storage 1TB HDD + 128GB SSD
Networking 802.11ac wireless, Bluetooth 5.0
Operating system Window 10 Home (64-bit)

No cookie-cutter budget gamer

The entry-level gaming laptops in the past year or so have basically looked the same: black plastic with red accents and a red backlit keyboard with the WASD keys outlined in red as well. While I’m not opposed to red, it does still scream “hey, look at me, I’m a gaming laptop.” Plus, red markings on keys are difficult to read, which means you pretty much have to have the keys backlit all the time. 

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The Y530’s keyboard is backlit in white with white markings. 


Joshua Goldman/CNET

The Y530, on the other hand, looks more like one of Lenovo’s ThinkPad workstations than a full-on gaming laptop. The body is matte black plastic and there are no big, bold color accents. Instead, you get white key markings on the keyboard that’s also backlit in bright white. And although the large Legion branding on the lid isn’t subtle, it’s not garish, either. (A higher-end Y730 is fitted with exterior RGB lighting by Corsair for the keyboard (per key) and fan vents and adds metal to the body.)

Lenovo shifted the display hinge forward, which allows for better cooling with rear and side air vents. It also gave them space to move power and a majority of its ports to the back, so you don’t have a tangle of cords coming from the sides. 

The cooling system does work well and although you’ll hear the fans while you’re gaming at least they keep the keyboard comfortable. Putting the power and ports to the rear makes for a tidy setup if you plan to use it at least part time with an external display, keyboard, mouse and other peripherals. You’ll find a USB port on each side, too, and the headset jack is also on the left side. You won’t find a memory card slot anywhere, though. 


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