Lenovo Legion Go Review – Paving the way forward

Reviewed on February 18, 2024

Though “never judge a book by its cover” is a good motto to live by, the Lenovo Legion Go is the exception to the rule. With the Steam Deck still technically unavailable in Australia, most PC companies are seeing the gap in the market and bringing out their own handheld gaming device. The Lenovo Legion Go, released in Australia at the end of November 2023 is the first handheld gaming device from the tech company.

By looking at the device, you wouldn’t know that however. Aesthetically the Go is stunning due to its all-black interface and massive 8’8 inch QHD display screen. As soon as it boots up you can tell that you’re in for a great visual gaming experience. It’s a monster of a device, which I noticed as soon as I picked it up. The Go is heavy and I found my hands becoming pretty tired after holding it upright even for 30 minutes. However, though the weight of the device is a con, the Go makes up for it in its functionality and the way some of its ideas are new and fresh in the handheld gaming market.

For example, the device boasts two detachable controllers which set on either side of the 144 HZ display. Obviously taking inspiration from the Switch, these two controllers can easily slide off the system and be used in a number of different configurations. Firstly, you can play the controllers on “Detachable mode” where you have the controllers fully untethered from the screen. The device also comes with a super strong kickstand that I very much enjoyed using due to its obvious durability. By having free reign with the controllers, I was able to fully move and react to what was occurring in-game giving me a unique gaming experience.

Another controller mode is its FPS Mode; which sees the detachable controller being placed in a controller base and the player grasping the controller in their preferred hand using the bumper to shoot. This mode was super fun and made me reminisce about having a freestanding joystick when I was a kid. Of course, this 2023 Lenovo joystick leaves my old 90s joystick in the dust… actually, it would probably leave a lot of modern joysticks behind due to its sensitivity (which can be altered in settings) and its added elements.

One of the most impressive of these elements is the tiny mouse wheel, which can be found on the side of the joystick and is great for swapping weapons out. Also, a touchpad can be found in the middle of the right controller which I found super fun to play around with. Even though its surface is small, the mouse was always receptive even more so sometimes than the touchpad ability of the device.

Other than the very impressive detachable controllers, the Go also has its own designated “central” game hub called Legion Space. This is a place for installing and purchasing games, exploring new games and also customising the settings for your Go device. To access the Legion Space the Go has a “Legion L” button on the left controller that will provide you access when pressed. Also for quick access to the device’s settings, you can press the “Legion R” button on the right controller which will pop up the Quick Settings menu. Here you will have the ability to change your shortcuts as the Go has a full set of shortcut combinations to explore.

Though the Legion Space is supposed to make gaming easier for players, I found its interface to be clunky and slow. It took longer to load my games and the game prices on the Legion Space were more expensive than other sites. It also slows down start-up as it automatically loads with Windows 11. The main problem with Space is that it’s so hard to disable. It took me a while to work out how to disable this setting but once I did, my Go was much quicker to load.

As I mentioned before, the screen on the Go is pretty impressive. Coming in at 8″8, it’s one of the biggest screens on a handheld gaming device on the market. Along with the massive screen, the Go also boasts a 144Hz refresh rate and a 16:10 aspect ratio. Most of the games I played on the Go were platformers and cosy games that aren’t super taxing on the device, like Thirsty Suitors, because I know how laggy playing on handheld devices can be. For the purpose of this review however, I did install and play Cyberpunk 2077, a game that only really PCs with high specs can cope with. The Go struggled through most of the game, with the framerate dropping significantly. To combat this, Lenovo has included their “thermal mode” which lets you lower the wattage from 5 – 30. I found doing so made a slight difference with Cyberpunk but with games that need less framerates, such as a few platformers I played, there was a notable shift in the steady flow of graphics with thermal mode on.

Storage-wise, the Go has external SSD capabilities for up to 1TB which is bigger than other handhelds on the market by nearly double. Other than the microSD card reader, the system’s ports include a headphone jack, 2x Pogo pin connectors and 2x USB4 ports. The battery life, coming in at just over an hour and a half, isn’t the shining star of the Go, especially with it being quite a loud device to run. I had to put my powered-up Go in another room instead of directly in front of me as it was so loud it became unbearable. However, as gamers are aware, this is the way with most handheld units and there is a lot more to love than dislike about the Lenovo Legion Go overall.

The Lenovo Legion Go is a step forward for handheld gaming as the company seems to know what is lacking from other devices on the market. From the big inclusions, such as the detachable controllers, to the “smaller” additions, such as the super durable kick-stand, the Go isn’t just a carbon copy of other handheld gaming devices on the market. Sure, the heaviness of the device hurt my hands after a while and the Legion Space hub is janky, but by Lenovo not playing it safe with this new bit of tech, they are showing how other companies can continue to be innovative with ideas that make handheld gaming easier and look better than ever before.

If you’re interested in checking the device out for yourself, you can purchase the Lenovo Legion Go starting at $1499 here.

Lenovo provided a loan unit to Checkpoint Gaming for the purpose of this review.