At IFA 2023, Lenovo unveiled its Legion 9i flagship high-performance gaming laptop, and this thing has just about everything you could possibly want in a portable gaming powerhouse. We’re talking top-of-the-line CPU, top-of-the-line GPU, liquid cooling, beautiful mini-LED wide gamut low-glare display, excellent sound, biggest battery allowed, redundant array of independent disks, and even glowing multi-colored undercarriage ambiance lights like a sports car showing off at a midnight meetup.
Lenovo Legion 9i (2023)
$3180.59 $3799.99 Save $619.4
The Lenovo Legion 9i Gen 8 is Lenovo’s most powerful gaming laptop ever. Not only does it handle the latest games with ease, but it looks great doing it, too.
- Operating System
- Windows 11 Home
- 13th Generation Intel Core i9-13980HX Processor
- NVIDIA® GeForce RTX™ 4090 Laptop GPU (175W)
- 2x 16GB SO-DIMM DDR5-6400 (overclock)
- 2x 1TB SSD M.2 2280 PCIe® 4.0×4 NVMe
- 99.9Wh, Super Rapid Charge (charge up to 30% in 10min, 70% in 30min, 100% in 80 min)
- Display (Size, Resolution)
- 16″ 3.2K (3200×2000)
- FHD 1080p, with E-shutter, fixed focus
- Stereo speakers (super linear speaker), 2W x2, audio by HARMAN, optimized with Nahimic Audio
- Carbon Black
- 1x Card reader 1x Ethernet (2.5GbE RJ-45) 1x HDMI 2.1, up to 8K/60Hz 1x Headphone / microphone combo jack (3.5mm) 1x Power connector 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 (Always On) 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 (support data transfer only) 2x Thunderbolt 4 / USB4® 40Gbps (support data transfer, Power Delivery 140W and DisplayPort™ 1.4)
- 0.75 x 14.08 x 10.93 in.
- Display type
- Mini LED, 1200 nits, Anti-glare, 16:10, 1000000:1 contrast, 100% Adobe RGB
- Intel Killer Wi-Fi 6E AX1675i, 11ax 2×2 + Bluetooth 5.1
- Liquid cooling
- High performance hardware
- Up to NVIDIA RTX 4090 GPU
- Programmable RGB LED ambiance and keyboard lighting
- Largest battery allowed on an airplane
- Unique carbon fiber backing
- Mini LED anti-glare screen with great color gamut range
- Heavy to carry
- Smallish trackpad
- Low battery life
The Lenovo Legion 9i is available to order from the Lenovo website starting at $3180 (on sale) and going up to about $4700 for the maxed-out configuration. It should begin shipping around November 9, 2023.
What’s in the Box
First, the packaging is relatively fancy, with multiple layers of cardboard, embossing, printed graphics, and even a bit of shiny foil embellishment. This kind of thing is great if the product is actually going to be on display in a store on a shelf, but for things that get shipped to your house on a truck, it seems like a waste of money. Really the box just needs to have enough lightweight recycled material to be sufficiently protective during transit. That being said, the Legion 9i gaming laptop itself is all about looking fancy, and I am totally on board for that.
Besides the laptop itself, we’ve also got two charging bricks in the box. That’s right, two! One of them is huge with a rectangular power plug that goes into the back of the laptop. This big one outputs a whopping 330 Watts of power. It’s pretty heavy, though, so you’re probably going to want to leave this one at your desk for those at-home gaming sessions.
The other charger has a USB-C interface and a much smaller and lighter charging brick. This one outputs only 140 Watts, which means it’s going to charge the Legion 9i a bit slower than the 330W charger, and it’s also not enough power to keep the discreet graphics unit going at full steam for extended periods of time. You’ll want the Legion 9i to be in Hybrid GPU mode when using the 140W USB-C charger, which makes use of the lower-power integrated Intel UHD graphics processor.
Lenovo also included some key cap replacements, a replacement tool, and a cleaning cloth. The keycap replacements have different colors so that you can make certain keys more visually differentiated than the normal backlit black keys. The replacements have a glossy finish, too. This means they’ll have a different tactile feel on your fingers so that you can even more easily differentiate between them by touch.
There are a lot of things I love about the hardware design of the Lenovo Legion 9i. It’s really a great-looking laptop, and those looks are totally backed up with excellent power and performance.
The biggest unique, eye-catching aspect of the Legion 9i is the colorful RGB lighting strips around the edges as well as the animated lights within the keyboard.
The Legion logo on the back of the screen has animated lighting as well, and there’s even another ambiance LED strip on the back. The colorful lights nicely reflect off the table, making for a very interesting effect.
Of course, these colorful lights serve no real functional purpose on the laptop. They can be turned off or set to different animation styles and colors. They can even be set to flash in different patterns based on the sound levels playing from a game, music, or movie.
The power button is at the center of the laptop, just below the hinge. It has a circular LED light that changes colors to indicate different performance modes. For example, when playing a game, it will turn red to show that it’s using the high-power NVIDIA GPU, which will tell you that the battery life is going to go down more quickly. The power button also nicely includes a fingerprint scanner for biometric log-ins, which is great. I think all laptop power buttons should have fingerprint scanners integrated. This area is also used for ventilation to keep the keyboard cooler (other laptops sometimes use the keyboard for airflow).
On the right side is a USB-A port right on the corner of the hinge.
Closer to the middle of the right side is a little kill switch for the camera as well as a USB-C port. The bezel where the camera is located is too small for a physical camera cover, so Lenovo went with a switch on the base instead.
On the left side, there’s a full-sized SD card slot which is great for ingesting video or photos from cameras.
Also on the left side, closer to the hinge, is a 3.5mm audio jack.
The bulk of the ports are on the back of the Legion 9i laptop. We’ve got little icons on the top edge to indicate which is which. You’ve got an Ethernet port, another USB-A port, two more USB-C ports, a full-sized HDMI port, and a proprietary rectangular power port.
There are also some big ventilation holes on the back. Don’t try to plug wires into those. You can see the colorful LED strip on the back too. I really wish the RGB LED lights could have been more useful here, though. For example, putting lights around each port would make finding those ports and plugging wires into them much easier! With all the ports in the back, it can be very dark there, thus making locating the port holes fairly difficult. If there were little port-shaped light indicators, it would be so much easier to plug in that power brick cable when the battery gets low.
Of course, the laptop lid includes some branding, and Lenovo’s little silver corner rectangle is quite tasteful.
The “Legion” branding is much larger and even glows with multi-colored lights so that you can make sure everyone knows what kind of laptop computer this is.
On the back of the lid is a pill-shaped section with “1080 P” written on it. This is where the camera module goes.
The camera & microphone array does extrude a bit above the bezel, but it’s still very nicely quite a thin bezel.
The carbon fiber flake backing to the laptop lid looks really nice. The pattern is pretty random, too, so every Legion 9i will be slightly different and unique.
On the bottom are some very thick rubber feet that keep the base raised above the surface of a desk or table so that air can flow unrestricted to the fans behind those big ventilation grills on the bottom.
The keyboard is pretty excellent with subtle concave/convex shapes that are better than the flat chiclets keys used on many other laptops, but I still wish the concave/convex ergonomics were a little more pronounced so that the positions of each key could be felt more accurately via touch.
Of course, there are a bunch of ugly stickers on the keyboard palm wrest from Intel, NVIDIA, and Lenovo. That bottom one with a bunch of icons looks like some kind of code, but it’s totally unintelligible. Maybe they did this to avoid having to translate instructions into different languages, but by using a code of incomprehensible icons… nobody will understand it.
However, if you look at the Lenovo Vantage software, the Fn + Q keyboard shortcut function is properly explained in English. Basically, it toggles between Thermal Modes such as Automatic, Quite, or High Performance.
That brings us to actually using this Lenovo Legion 9i for some video games! This is the laptop’s reason for being, after all. Well, the trackpad is obviously not going to cut it for gaming, so I had to connect the Lenovo Legion M600 gaming mouse (which also has multi-color LED lights and high-performance gaming modes).
The speakers on the Legion 9i are pretty good, but to get some seriously high-quality gaming audio, I plugged in my Angry Miao CYBERBLADE wireless earbuds with their volume control dial dock, low-latency proprietary wireless connection, and, of course, multi-color LED lights. Plus, since I’m more familiar with using a controller with video games, I paired an Xbox controller with the Legion 9i as well.
I mostly played some Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games like Gotham Knights and Starfield. Gotham Knights performed beautifully with all of the maxed-out graphics settings. The frame rate was consistently above 90fps except during the cut scenes, which were capped at 60fps. In other words, it is more than acceptable.
Starfield performed beautifully on its highest graphics settings as well. I set everything to ultra mode, and the Legion 9i took it all with ease.
The only graphic-intensive game I’ve had in my Steam account was Tomb Raider 2013, and that also worked beautifully at full graphics settings.
The Lenovo Legion 9i ships with Windows 11 Home, along with all the usual bundled stuff that you’ll want to spend some time uninstalling. However, Lenovo also includes some software that you should definitely take a look at.
The Lenovo Vantage software has the bulk of the Legion-related software customization tools. You can overclock the GPU, boost network speeds, change thermal performance modes, search for updates, scan for hardware issues, check battery health & temperature, change noise cancelation settings, customize display and camera settings, etc. You can even set the WiFi radio antenna to automatically orient itself for the best connection.
There’s also a section within the Lenovo Vantage app for customizing the RGB lighting effects and patterns that you might want to display in the keyboard, base edges, and back logo.
Lenovo Arena is a separate app that’s meant to consolidate all of your gaming libraries. You can connect it to Epic Games, Battle.net, Xbox, and Ubisoft. Steam games will also show up here. It’s a nice way to organize your collection across various game store platforms and easily launch the game you want to play.
The Nahimic app is for customizing your surround sound and audio setup. You can pair an external Bluetooth speaker, place it behind you, and use that in conjunction with the laptop speakers to create a surround sound environment. You can also pair multiple headphones for sound sharing. Sound streaming can also be controlled from here.
The Lenovo Hotkeys app simply lists some of the keyboard shortcuts preprogrammed into the system.
Of course, a free trial of McAfee antivirus is included too. I tend to uninstall this right away as Windows Defender, combined with my network firewall, is already pretty good.
I had to try this hardware out on some professional-grade creative programs too. This thing isn’t ONLY for playing games. It’s pretty great at rendering AfterEffects animations, too.
Of course, Blender is happy to take advantage of the NVIDIA RTX 4090 GPU as well.
So, the Lenovo Legion 9i has the biggest battery that laptops are allowed to have to be taken on an airplane; 99.9 Watt hours! But this thing is so packed with power-hungry components that the battery life can suffer a lot. I got maybe 3 hours of battery life in most cases. This is why I’ve been using the word “portable” instead of “mobile.” “Portable” means you can carry it from one place to another. “Mobile” means you can use it while moving from one place to another.
The Legion 9i is more of a “portable” computer in the sense that you’ll probably have to plug it in multiple times during the day or, better yet, leave it plugged in until you need to carry it to a different location. That being said, the 320W charger will get the battery back to 70% capacity in about 30 minutes. So you’ve got a really good fast recharge capability to help alleviate that fast battery drain.
For portable gaming, college dorm gaming, really small apartment gaming, or van-life gaming, the Lenovo Legion 9i is probably the best system you can find right now. Yes, for serious PC master race gaming, you would probably go for a custom-built full tower, but that isn’t going to fit in a backpack. The Legion 9i does fit in a backpack and is still extremely capable when it comes to both gaming performance and day-job creative professional work performance… that is as long as you’re pretty close to a power outlet.
Photo appearance by: Brana Dane