Lenovo Legion Tower 5 specifications
price: $950 based on review
Healer: Intel Core i5-11400
RAM: 8 GB
Photographers card: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super
storage: 256 GB SSD + 1 TB HDD
Supplements: USB wired keyboard, USB wired mouse
ports: 6x USB-A, 1x USB-C, 1x HDMI, 1x DisplayPort, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio
size: 8.07 x 15.57 x 16.54 inches
Weight: 27 pounds
The Legion Tower 5 ($950 as reviewed, configurable up to $2500) is Lenovo’s mid-range gaming desktop that delivers solid performance without the high price tag of a high-end gaming rig.
After spending some time with the Legion Tower 5, I think it’s a great addition to the ranks of gaming PCs in this price category. But I find it difficult to choose it over any of the other similar devices on the market.
But while it might not be one of the best gaming PCs you can buy, the Legion Tower 5 offers respectable performance for close to $1000. It’s a good reminder that you don’t need to shell out thousands of dollars for a high-end device in order to enjoy great gaming performance in 1080p.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Review: Price and Configurations
- Expect to pay between $900 – $2500
- The $950 (Reviewed) Configuration Provides Powerful 1080p Gaming
Our Legion Tower 5 review unit is a $950 Intel-based configuration available for purchase at Best Buy. This is one of the cheapest versions of the Legion Tower 5 Lenovo (high configurations come in at around $2500), but it still has some respectable specs for the money.
It comes with a 2.6GHz Intel Core i5-11400F processor and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Super graphics card. Neither of them is likely to wow your friends with a top-notch gaming device, but they deliver decent gaming performance in the comfort zone of the Legion 5’s 1080p. I was a bit disappointed that our review model only came with 8GB of RAM, but Honestly, I didn’t really feel the lack of RAM during testing.
Perhaps the most pleasant surprise is that even the cheapest Legion Tower 5 model comes with an integrated SSD. Until recently, quite a few machines at this price, including my own, would have had you go for your own solid state drive. Having a machine with Legion Tower 5 is a nice bonus, as the hard drive’s slower reading speeds take a big hit to performance when gaming.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5 review: Design
- The spacious interior shines through with RGB lighting
Legion Tower 5 has a traditional massive desktop silhouette. At 27 pounds, it was light enough that I had no trouble moving it for testing, but still heavy enough that I’d prefer not to move the thing regularly.
The only details that break up the case’s standard black rectangle are a transparent glass side panel, and customizable RGB lights on both the front (displaying the Legion logo) and rear (illuminating the interior of the tower) of the device. The desktop measures 8.07 x 15.57 x 16.54 inches, leaving a significantly spacious interior that makes installing upgrades easier. It also gives RGB lighting room to shine.
Plenty of devices are starting to use the “computer interiors as a multicolored rave room” design, including the similarly priced Dell G5 5090. But it’s still nice to see something other than a solid black box when your eyes drift to the desktop.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Review: Benchmarks and Performance
- Runs most games well to great at 1080p
- Don’t expect to play many games well in 4K
Taking the price into account, the Legion Tower 5 held up well during testing at 1080p. Far Cry New Dawn ran at an average of 83 fps, and Grand Theft Auto 5 averaged 65 fps. Newer games run a little slower, as you might imagine, but no game in our test suite ran below 30 frames per second. The slowest was Red Dead Redemption 2, which averaged 39 frames per second during testing.
By anecdotal, I’ve seen similar results while using Legion 5 casually for a week. If I’m playing older or less graphically intense titles, Legion 5 will allow me to turn all graphics settings to maximum and still run at 60 frames per second or more. Modern big-budget games require some tweaks and settings tweaks to run at these speeds, but they were all playable.
Only when I tried to push the boundaries of what Legion Tower 5 could do did it become clear that this was not a high-end machine. If for some reason you’ve been trying to use Legion Tower 5 to play the latest games in 4K, you’re probably going to have a bad time. Legion Tower 5 managed to run Far Cry New Dawn in 4K at a surprisingly high 35fps, but when playing Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla at the same resolution, it ran at 18fps. Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Red Dead Redemption 2, and GTA V will not work in 4K at all.
When used for non-gaming missions, Legion Tower 5 also delivered respectable – if not amazing – results. It took just over 10 minutes (10:17) to complete our video editing test, which tasks the computer with transcoding 4K video to 1080p in Handbrake. When we put the SSD in the Legion Tower 5 to the test by asking us to duplicate 25GB of multimedia files, I was able to do so at a transfer rate of 454MB/s.
The Legion Tower 5 performed reasonably well on the multi-core CPU benchmark test Geekbench 5.4, obtaining a good score of 6047. That’s better than the similarly priced Dell G5 (5558) but nowhere near the more than 10,000 points it got. High-end (and expensive) gaming platforms like the HP Omen 30L.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Review: Preloaded Software
- Lenovo preloaded software is not clear
- McAfee Antivirus is a constant nuisance
Our review unit comes preloaded with Windows 10 and Lenovo Vantage, which you use to manage onboard RGB lighting, as well as a few other hardware settings. It’s an absolutely fine piece of software that I played with for a few minutes to test RGB lighting, then shrugged off for the rest of the testing.
The computer also, unfortunately, came preloaded with McAfee antivirus, which tends to make a lot of noise about virus threats without doing a much better job than Windows Defender. My PC proceeded to notify me that it had installed McAfee every few minutes and warned me about the serious security threat to my Google results multiple times. As the bloatware continues, I’ve seen a lot worse, but every time I see the “virus protection is about to run out” warning, I die a little inside.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5 review: Ports and Peripherals
- The included keyboard and mouse are subpar
- Decent port selection, but needs more USB options
The keyboard and mouse included in Legion Tower 5 are hardly worth mentioning. After confirming that it worked, I immediately switched to my personal mouse and keyboard setup. If you plan to use Legion Tower 5 as your primary machine, or even just for regular gaming sessions, you’ll probably want to do the same.
Both peripherals packed into the Legion Tower 5 felt very flimsy compared to a gaming mouse and mechanical keyboard. It seems a little silly to complain that the “free” mouse and keyboard doesn’t match the more expensive peripherals, but this was certainly an area where Lenovo skimped a bit to keep costs low.
Legion Tower 5 also comes up a bit short when it comes to ports. The top of the case houses two headphone and microphone ports, along with two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports. On the back, you’ll find an Ethernet port, three audio-out ports, and ports from the graphics card—in this case, one HDMI port, one DisplayPort, and a DVI port. Alongside this is a USB-C 3.2 port, two additional USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports and two USB-A 2.0 ports, for a total of 7 USB ports.
Those last details were actually my biggest problem with the Legion Tower 5 during testing. Having seven USB ports isn’t exactly stingy, but it’s very easy to build or buy a device at this price with very few. My home machine, for example, has eight — including two top-facing ports. The Dell G5 comes at a similar price with nine. As a result, the Legion 5 left me plugging in and unplugging some rarely used peripherals, until I finally started looking for an old USB hub.
On the other hand, the problem you can solve with a $10 USB hub seems like an issue. On the other hand, if you have a desktop setup where accessing the back of your device is a bit routine, a few additional ports in the Legion Tower 5 will go a long way.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5 review: Upgradeability
- The easy-to-access open case makes upgrades easy
- Cables routed tightly through the back side can be tricky
The good news is that if, like me, you wish the Legion 5’s specs were a little different, the case makes upgrading just about everything super simple.
It’s just a matter of using a Phillips screwdriver to unscrew two screws from the glass side of the case while you’re inside, as some new RAM or USB stick is easy to open. There is plenty of open space here, and almost no wires getting in your way.
Adding a new hard drive is a bit more complicated. There are open drive bays and SATA cables accessible through the other side of the case, but there’s also much less space to work in. I don’t have much room to speak when it comes to cable management, but the clean, nice space visible behind the glass panels means there are plenty of cables bundled very tightly and routed through the back side. It can be difficult to work with.
Getting the drive in the drive bay and plugging in will likely require undoing a few Lenovo cable ties just to give yourself a little slack in the SATA and power connections. Since there is so little open space on this side of the enclosure, this could also mean doing a fair amount of cable management once you’re done.
However, installing a hard drive seems to be more of a minor annoyance than an actual problematic upgrade. About the only things that owners find difficult to upgrade or replace is the motherboard and processor, and this applies to basically every desktop on the planet.
Lenovo Legion Tower 5 review: Verdict
The Legion Tower 5 does what is written on the tin. It would serve as a decent, if not stunning, gaming desktop once the device is out of the box. You can solve most of its minor annoyances with quick and relatively inexpensive upgrades.
But if that doesn’t exactly sound like a ring endorsement, it’s because it isn’t. There are plenty of solid desktops for that amount of money, and many have some of the bells and whistles that the Legion 5 lacks. The Dell XPS 8940, for example, can deliver similar performance for nearly $1,000, and offers more ports than the Legion. Tower 5 in a quiet, non-prescription box.
Overall, Legion Tower 5 didn’t disappoint in the test but it also didn’t blow me away either. I was perfectly happy using it as my primary machine for a week or so; I would also be happy to go back to my usual device and send that device back to Lenovo.