Lenovo Legion Go Preview – Our First Impressions

The Lenovo Legion Go is a hefty handheld beast – in more ways than one.
lenovo legion go preview

During SXSW Sydney 2023, GamesHub was invited to attend a special media event showcasing the first regional look at the Lenovo Legion Go, the upcoming handheld PC gaming device set to enter a crowded market later in October 2023. While our time with the device was relatively limited, it made a massive impression in our time with it – in more ways than one.

Lenovo Legion Go: Size and portability

The first thing we noticed about the Lenovo Legion Go was its hefty size – which photos don’t properly convey. Its screen measures in at 8.8-inches, and this largely dominates the chassis of the machine, with minimal bezel around its edges. But even without a significant bezel, the screen is absolutely massive, and it makes the Legion Go one of the largest handhelds we’ve ever used, by a notable degree.

It’s much larger and wider than the Nintendo Switch OLED, and significantly larger than its nearest rival in the Australian handheld gaming market, the Asus ROG Ally.

With such a large screen, the Lenovo Legion Go sacrifices much in portability – although it’s worth noting that the device isn’t particularly heavy, despite its bulk, and that the screen is one of the best-looking we’ve seen on a modern PC gaming handheld. At 2560×1600 resolution, it’s also very crisp, and perhaps justifies its unwieldy size with smooth, sleek performance and vivid colours.

Read: Lenovo Legion Go: Release Date, Price, Specs and more

For full transparency, the nature of the Lenovo-hosted media event prevented the Legion Go from truly shining, as it took place on a boat in full sunshine, and much of our testing contended with the glare of the sun. Despite this, the device performed well, with vivid colour and contrast being clear.

lenovo legion go impressions
Image: GamesHub

Lenovo Legion Go: Controllers

Beyond the screen, the device’s bouncy controllers were also a standout – with plush buttons and smooth joysticks translating to easy movement, and a victory in Mortal Kombat 11.

In addition to standard controls, the Legion Go also has a touch pad, which allows for more direct input. In either fashion, the Legion Go performed well and accurately, with these controls leaving a pleasant impression.

More remarkable is that either side of the console can be “snapped off” in a similar fashion to the Nintendo Switch. Both controls are completely removable, and the chassis of the Legion Go includes a full-length kickstand, allowing for another means to play. The kickstand is very sturdy, and it makes playing the device on any surface easy.

The controllers also click off smoothly, and the transition from handheld to stationary is simple. Lenovo has seemingly learned plenty of lessons from Nintendo here, to great effect.

lenovo legion go functionality
Image: GamesHub (Model: Shannon Grixti)

Lenovo Legion Go: Performance

What couldn’t be thoroughly tested during the Lenovo Legion Go media preview was the performance and battery life of the console, by nature of this being a cheeky ‘first look’. The consoles provided for testing came loaded with a small array of games, including Sea of Thieves and Mortal Kombat 11 – both games from several years prior.

We chose to run through Mortal Kombat 11 on our preview device, and it performed admirably – with bright colours and smooth action displayed on an incredibly crisp and vivid screen. There was no noticeable artifacting or rendering issues, and battles were as sleek and bloody as you’d expect on a modern gaming PC.

That said, it’s worth noting Mortal Kombat 11 is now a four-year-old game, and doesn’t represent the pinnacle of what the Lenovo Legion Go claims to achieve. With games like Starfield, Hi-Fi Rush, and Assassin’s Creed Odyssey advertised as flagship titles for the console, we do expect it to run the latest AAA adventure games with no trouble – beyond a likely limited battery life – but during the event, this capacity could not be tested.

Our final thoughts

Despite this, there’s much to indicate the Lenovo Legion Go could be formidable PC gaming handheld in the burgeoning market. Its hybrid nature and the ability to remove its controls is fairly novel in the space, and will likely prove to be an attraction for those who want a powerful screen with the option of setting the device down for more focussed play, or for comfort.

Likewise, the screen is a draw on its own. It’s vivid and crisp, and looks stunning in person, to the point where it blasts away criticism of the console’s bulk. Yes, this is a very large device – perhaps larger than most people expected – but on balance, its benefits largely outweighed its detriments.

Having Xbox Game Pass on board, as well as the ability to play games from popular platforms like Steam, Epic Games, and GOG, also gives it a relative leg up on other consoles in the space, like the Steam Deck (which still has yet to launch in Australia).

While only brief, we came away fairly impressed by our time with the device. Shocked, at first, by the size of its chassis, but eventually made comfortable by its relative lightness, its hybrid nature, and its smooth performance. We’re hoping to get a longer hands-on with the device later in the year, so stay tuned to GamesHub for more well-rounded impressions.

The Lenovo Legion Go is currently targeting launch for later in October 2023. It will retail for AU $1,399 in Australia, NZ $1,799 in New Zealand, and US $699 in the United States.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.