Ever since I got my hands on an iPhone, I’ve been as loyal to Apple as a dog is to its bone.
But lately? I'm starting to sniff around elsewhere. Just like any age-old romance, my love for the Apple Ecosystem seems to be, well... getting a bit stale.
So, I took a leap, swapped my M2 MacBook Air for the Lenovo Legion Slim 5i, and braced myself for either regret or revelation.
And in doing this, My journey led me to identify five critical areas that define what makes a Good laptop, GOOD:
Ports and Specs
Let’s start with The first part of this review, finding out whether this is a GOOD laptop, as we look at ports and specs.
PORTS AND SPECS
And something that I love about this laptop is the IO. Compared to the Macbook Air, it’s in a league of it’s own!
On the back you have 2 USB A Ports. An Ethernet Port. Full HDMI 2.1 and then the Power.
On one side there’s USB C, a second USB C that also delivers power to charge other devices and a Headphone port.
Then on the other side you get a full size SD card Slot and a switch to toggle the webcam on or off for some added privacy.
In comparison to the Macbook Air. I’ve got 2 USB C Ports, and I have to carry around flipping dongles with me everywhere.
But it doesn’t stop at just the ports. Because you also get a really nice display, which runs at up to 165Hz. Which is SO good.
I’ve had 240hz on my insane ultrawide desktop monitor, and it looks so nice even in day to day productivity work, but especially when gaming. Assuming you have a machine capable enough to drive a screen of that size…
I also do a lot of creative work on my laptops, and this one has up to 100% sRGB so I know what I’m looking at is going to be colour accurate.
You also get a 4060 Graphics Card, which is capable of playing some of the latest games. 16GB memory, 512GB SSD.
And all of this came to £1,689 which is on par with a Macbook Air of a similar spec.That’s the first part of the puzzle. Sure. Specs are great.
But what matters more is the Experience. And specifically here I wanted to see was how it would do as a replacement for my Macbook Air.
Because one of the big things that you lose when switching to an Android phone, whilst still using a Mac, are things like copy and paste, making and receiving calls on your mac, reply to messages, see notifications and even accessing your photos.
Tthere are a few options. Windows Phone link is one, which if you spend any time on Reddit tells you it’s a really bad app which also only works with a small number of devices.
Or, Intel Unison which does the same thing as phone link, that works with any device, including iPhones.
Using Unison you can transfer files, photos, make and receive phone calls, access text messages, send text messages, and that includes iMessages if you’re using an iPhone, and you can see all of your phone notications too. All from your PC’s desktop, without having to touch your phone.
The only thing it seems to be missing from Microsoft’s own Phone Link, is the ability to copy and paste between devices, which would be nice to have.
But you can basically use any phone and get access to everything else. And the nice thing is that because it’s connected directly to the phone, when you snap a photo, it’s there instantly.
There’s no waiting for it to sync to iCloud, then waiting for it to download from iCloud to your computer.
And I love that you can transfer files to and from your phone too, basically using your phone as external storage if you need to quickly transfer some files between machines.
One area that it doesn’t quite match the Mac is when receiving those 2 factor authentication codes. Over in Apple world, if you use Safari, these codes will automatically fill in for you. But personally, I use the Brave Browser instead, so that never worked anyway.
With Unison, you can copy and paste the codes instead.
All of this is honestly a really nice thing to see. As someone who has come from this Walled Garden that Apple puts us into, so to see that you can get those same features whilst using an Android device and any make or model of laptop is impressive.
In the same way that I love the variation of Android phones available to buy. Flips, Folds, fast charging, 100x zoom and all that stuff.
Windows Laptops also provide similar options.
Lenovo as an example have a whole range of laptops tuned specifically for certain tasks. The Yoga completely flips around. The Thinkbook and Thinkpad devices are solid and portable. Legion, is their Gaming and Creator range. There are options to fit any budget or requirements, and I love that we have the choice.
The next part of what makes a laptop a GOOD laptop, and the the big question that came across my mind first, was about Performance.
How can a Windows Laptop, and not just that, an Intel, Windows Laptop, compete with Apple Silicone - something that’s fast, quiet, efficient - which isn’t something we could say about laptops until only very recently.
For me, coming from a Macbook Air, the Lenovo Legion actually holds up really well.
It’s rare that I can push my Macbook to a place where it significantly struggles. For me that’s really only when I go hard with video editing and I’m editing multiple clips on top of each other.
And on the Legion, it’s a similar story. But different.
I don’t normally believe in Benchmark tests because my experience is that benchmarks don’t always show real world results.
But running this on the M2 Macbook Air and the Legion does explain what I’m seeing.
The M2 Macbook Air is faster on single core performance. But the Lenovo is faster on multi-core performance.
And the Legion also has a tonne of thermal management stuff going on inside, which means it can push that little bit harder and sustain those higher levels of performance.
All the vents around the back, around the sides, even the grill underneath the screen here, which looks like speakers, well, they’re not. They’re also for thermal management.
And all of this comes from Intels 13th Generation chip and Intels Performance Hybrid Architecture, which has been specifically designed for the needs of the most demanding games.
Like I saw in the benchmark tests, you benefit from more threads, and more cores, which results in a decent jump in gaming performance.
There’s also Intel Thread Director1, which manages to keep your gaming free of interruptions and stops any background tasks from interrupting or slowing down your gameplay.
And Intel Smart Cache, where expanded cache sizes will accelerate the processor for better performance and higher FPS.
What this does mean is that this laptop is no slouch when it comes to performance. It handles all of my day to day productivity stuff just fine - Emails, Browsing, all the good stuff.
It handles editing photos in Lightroom, some light video edits in Premiere.
And it also handles gaming!
Something that my Apple Macbook Air can’t really do - at least it’s very limited.
But with a full Windows system, and with an RTX 4060 inside, which I find mind blowing considering the size of the 4090 Cards.
I can play all of the popular titles. And since I have Xbox Game Pass, that means I can also play a tonne of Xbox titles for free, on my PC.
But my Go to for playing games is Fortnite - I’m on it almost every night and honestly this is a great laptop for gaming.
The battery life is actually impressive too. I kind of thought that it might feel like a bit of a downgrade, to a Windows machine. But it’s actually impressively similar!
I know the Macbook Air is rated for something like 18 hours of battery life. But under normal use, it’s more like 7-8 hours of battery life.
Which is bang on what this laptop is also capable of.
Support for Non-Apple Devices
The fourth part of this mechanical puzzle, is support.
And we all know how incredible Apple are when it comes to their customer support.
Yes there are a few edge cases, but generally speaking, Apple’s support is some of the best in the business.
Now I don’t have any direct comparisons with Lenovo, I’ve not had to speak to Lenovo about anything.
But one thing I have noticed when leaving the Apple Ecosystem, is other brands basically not wanting to touch Apple.
That's kind of understandable, I guess. But also, quite unreasonable.
I remember having issues with a 49” Ultrawide Screen a couple of years ago, and nobody would talk to me about it. All I got was “It’s not supported. It’s not been tested. We can’t help you”.
Which is crazy because, it’s just a screen?! Surely?!
And like we all know, if you buy everything Apple, then you’re fine. But if you want to use something else? Then the support you’ll get can be pretty limited outside of Apple’s own support.
Windows has been around for a long time, and there are millions of companies who design their hardware and software to work on Windows.
So whilst I would be surprised if Lenovo’s direct support is as good as Apple, perhaps that’s something I can test in the future - the fact is that support from third parties is significantly better on Windows.
But the final part to what makes a GOOD laptop. Something I haven’t really appreciated for a VERY long time, being in the Apple ecosystem. Is how easy it is to upgrade.
And simply speaking. It’s really easy.
There are just 10x Philips Head screws, standing between you, and affordable upgrades.
Apple? Apple literally makes a special type of screw that needs a special type of tool for you to remove.
It’s like trying to put on skinny jeans after Thanksgiving Dinner.
But with the Lenovo, it’s like sweatpants where there’s always room!
You can pretty easily replace the battery. You can upgrade the memory. Something that can cost you hundreds with an Apple machine. And there are also TWO M.2 Slots for storage. Which means you could grab a decently fast M.2 SSD on say, a black friday discount, and instantly upgrade your machine.
On Apple, that just isn’t possible. And you have to buy the memory and storage configuration from day 1, that you think will see you through until your next upgrade.
So taking those key areas into consideration, is the Lenovo Legion 5i a GOOD laptop?
I think it is.
And as someone who recently built my first proper Gaming PC, one that CAN drive a ridiculous 57” Ultrawide monitor. I’m really enjoying the flexibility that comes with being on Windows.