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Lenovo Legion Slim 7i Gen 7 review: A thoroughbred gaming ultraportable

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £1880
inc VAT

A powerful gaming laptop in a slender frame, the Legion Slim 7i is an impressive achievement


  • Excellent 2.5K 165Hz display
  • Strong performance
  • Great battery life
  • Surprisingly light and compact


  • Keyboard is shallow for gaming
  • Only one free SO-DIMM slot

Lenovo’s pitch for the Legion Slim 7i is refreshingly simple: this is a laptop that can do everything, from hardcore gaming to office work to content creation. And it can do those things while being compact, light and offering decent battery life. And it doesn’t cost silly money. That almost sounds too good to be true.

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Lenovo Legion Slim 7i review: What you need to know

There’s nothing radical about the design of the Legion Slim 7i. All Lenovo has done is take a powerful mobile processor, a discrete gaming GPU and a whopping great battery (the largest you can legally take on board an airliner, according to the US Federal Aviation Administration) and bundled them into a laptop that’s slightly lighter than a MacBook Pro and only a few millimetres larger. It sounds so simple it makes you wonder why nobody has done it before.

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Lenovo Legion Slim 7i review: Price and competition

Configuration tested: Intel Core i7-12700H CPU, Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of RAM, 1TB SSD. 16in 2.5K IPS display, 99.9Wh battery, Price: £1,880

Lenovo offers a wide range of customisation options for the Slim 7i, including a choice of three processors (one Core i5 and two Core i7), three GPUs (Nvidia’s RTX 3050, 3060 or 3070), two displays (Full HD or 2.5K) and either 8GB, 16GB or 24GB of RAM. There’s even a choice of battery capacities, wireless cards and webcams. 

The model I’ve been sent sells for £1,880, which includes a £209 saving off the usual RRP. This spec hits the sweet spot. Downgrading to the RTX3050 GPU would hamper gaming performance while upgrading to the RTX 3070 costs an extra £270. If you want the Core i7-12900H processor you have to have the RTX 3070 and the combined cost jumps by £600.

Acer’s TUF F15 has long been a favourite, offering good gaming and productivity performance in a stylish, compact package for a reasonable price. While it’s cheaper than the Legion Slim 7i, it’s heavier and larger. Though very nice to look at, the styling is juvenile compared to the Lenovo, which looks much more the part in any office environment. The battery life is poor, too.

The Zephyrus M16 from Asus’ gaming subsidiary ROG is a true powerhouse, especially if you opt for the Core i7 12900H / RTX 3070Ti version that we tested. The 16in 2.5K display is superb, covering all three major colour volumes, and the keyboard is top-notch. It’s not a cheap machine, though, and like the TUF F15, the battery life is disappointing.

Alienware’s x14 is the doyen of compact gaming laptops, squeezing an RTX 3060 GPU and Core i7-12700H processor into a super-slim and super-stylish body. It’s one of the most visually arresting laptops money can buy. Weighing less than 1.8Kg and only 14.5mm thick, the x14 is ridiculously compact, but that tight frame means upgrade options are basically zero. The refresh rate of the 14in Full HD display tops out at 144Hz, but it is otherwise a high-quality screen. At a shade over five hours, battery life suffers for the design, too.

No consideration of premium large-screen laptops would be complete without mention of the 16in Apple MacBook Pro, which offers a stunning mini-LED display, epic battery life and that subtle but distinctive Apple style. Of course, you have to forgo any USB-A connectors along with the Slim 7i’s numeric keypad, and you won’t have access to as many games. At 2.2Kg, the MacBook Pro is also marginally heavier than the new Lenovo machine.

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Lenovo Legion Slim 7i review: Design and build quality

Your opinion on the size and weight of the Slim 7i will depend on whether you regard it as a thick Ultrabook or a slim gaming laptop. At 2.05kg, it’s too heavy to be called an Ultrabook (Intel’s original 2011 requirement was a weight of no more than 1.5kg) though at 358 x 256 x 16.9mm it meets the size requirements. It’s impressively compact and light for a 16in gaming laptop, though. In fact, it’s light and compact for any 16in laptop.

That slenderness has been achieved thanks to impressively narrow screen bezels that measure only 5mm on both sides and at the top. That’s if you exclude the 4mm webcam housing, which doubles as a lip to make opening the laptop’s lid easier.

The anodized aluminium chassis makes for a solid device and the two colour schemes (both variations of grey called Onyx and Storm) give it a business-like, if rather anonymous, look. It is certainly more sober than the rest of the Legion range. The basic layout is, however, very similar to Lenovo’s other Legion machines, right down to the 20mm ledge that sticks out beyond the lid hinge, a hinge that angles back all the way to 180 degrees.

That rear ledge houses some of the Slim 7i’s impressive selection of I/O ports, namely three USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-A ports, an HDMI 2.1 video output and the DC-in power jack. Curiously, Lenovo’s spec sheet only lays claim to two Type-A ports. 

On the left side, you’ll find a Thunderbolt 4 and a 20Gbits/sec Type-C port that also supports DisplayPort 1.4, while on the right is an SD card reader to attract professional photographers, a webcam shutter and a 3.5mm audio jack. I’d have preferred one of the Type-As to be on the side for easy access, but that’s a minor niggle. 

Removing the bottom panel is straightforward and once in you can add a second SSD, and access the memory and wireless cards. The memory set-up is unusual, with 8GB soldered in place and the option of either making do with just that (saving £70) or adding an 8GB (included in the price) or 16GB (£90 extra) SO-DIMM card. Accessing the spare slot involves prising off a metal cover, which is a job requiring both faith and bravery.

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Lenovo Legion Slim 7i review: Keyboard, touchpad and webcam

The Slim 7i’s chiclet keyboard is similar in design and action to those on regular Legion machines and it’s none the worse for that. The graphics are a model of clarity, and the layout is good for both productivity and gaming, thanks to a full numeric keypad and separated, full-sized cursor keys. The power button, with an integrated fingerprint reader (the only biometric security), is situated in the middle of the vent above the keyboard, where it’s easy to find but impossible to hit accidentally. 

Lenovo may call its keyboards Legion TrueStrike Pro but they don’t offer much out of the ordinary for gamers. The 1.5mm key travel and small amount of bounce in the centre of the keyboard don’t actively hamper the gaming experience, but nor do they add much to it. For gaming, I prefer the keyboards fitted to the Asus TUF 15 or ROG Scar Strix 15. Offset a little to the left, below the keyboard, there’s a 120 x 75mm glass trackpad that performed faultlessly. 

The keyboard on the Slim 7i featured the vanilla two-stage white backlight, but for an extra £50 you can go full sRGB. A circular LED surrounds the power button to add visual flair.

The 1080p webcam is an advance on the usual 720p grot found on many laptops, but still can’t match the quality of those found on Lenovo’s business-orientated ThinkPad range. Video recorded at 1080p 30fps looked fuzzy, as though the camera couldn’t quite lock focus on the subject. 

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Lenovo Legion Slim 7i review: Display and audio

The 16in 2,560 x 1,600 IPS panel is bright and colourful enough to satisfy even demanding users with a 466cd/m2 maximum luminance and 93.8% sRGB gamut coverage. The contrast ratio is an unspectacular 1020:1, thanks to a rather high black level of 0.45cd/m2. It’s an accurate display, with a Delta E variance of only 0.89 vs sRGB and 0.88 vs Rec709. You can swap between the two profiles using the X-Rite Colour Assistant. 

The refresh rate of 165Hz is more than adequate for an RTX 3060-based games machine, while the 188dpi pixel density ensures that there’s no dots visible to the naked eye. The matte finish does a sterling job of keeping reflections at bay and the viewing angles are robust. 

The only criticism I can make is that the Adobe RGB and DCI-P3 gamut coverage is nothing special at 64.5% and 66.5% respectively, but I could say the same for the vast majority of laptops.

The Harman-branded speaker system suffers from having only two drivers firing downwards from the front of the keyboard deck. It is generally tuneful, with a perfectly decent amount of bass and treble, especially after you’ve discovered the Nahimic control panel. It doesn’t lack for raw volume, either, with a pink noise average of 80dB and peak music volume of 85dB (both measured at 1m distance), but it does sound a little confined. Huawei’s MateBook X Pro has redefined the sound quality you should expect from a compact laptop and the Slim 7i just isn’t as good.

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Lenovo Legion Slim 7i review: Performance and battery life

Any laptop with a 100W RTX 3060 GPU, 16GB of DDR5 quad-channel RAM and a 14-core H-series Core i7 processor is going to turn in a more than decent performance, so it should come as no surprise that the Slim 7i delivered solid results.

Thanks to a Performance mode (easily accessed by hitting Fn & Q) and a MUX switch, it proved easy to eke very strong performance figures from the laptop. The Expert Reviews in-house multimedia benchmark scored 439 points, up with the best of any Alder Lake/RTX 3060 machine, while the SPECviewperf 3dsmax 3D modelling test ran at 79fps, which is similarly class-leading. The GeekBench 5 scores told a similar tale: if you want significantly better performance you’ll need to buy something rather more expensive.

There’s certainly no questioning the Slim 7i’s gaming credentials, especially when running at Full HD rather than native 2.5K. Wolfenstein: Youngblood ran at 82fps at 1,920 x 1,200 with the highest Mein Leben detail settings and without DLSS. Engaging DLSS saw the frame rate jump to 118fps.

The more demanding Metro: Exodus benchmark scored 31.3fps at 2,560 x 1,600 with the highest Extreme settings and DLSS set to Balanced; dropping to 1,920 x 1,200 upped the frame rate to 43.8fps. Don’t let those numbers put you off. Make minor adjustments to the detail levels and you can easily get it running at well over 70fps.

No matter how hard I pushed the Slim 7i, it remained surprisingly cool and quiet. Even after a couple of hours looping 3D Mark Firestrike the keyboard deck was no more than moderately warm. Only the area around the main exhaust vents at the rear could be described as hot. Fan noise isn’t overly intrusive, even when they are running full tilt. I couldn’t detect any signs of thermal throttling during my testing.

The 1GB PCIe 4 SKHynx SSD didn’t let the side down, either, with sequential read and write speeds of 4,832MB/sec and 2,811MB/sec, the former being an especially impressive result.

Our review sample was fitted with the optional larger capacity 99.9Wh battery (opting for the 71W battery saves you a mere £20) which produced impressive run times. In our standard rundown test, which involves looping an SD video using VLC with the display brightness reduced to 170cd/m2, the Slim 7i managed 10 hours and 10 minutes, which is nothing short of outstanding for a gaming laptop.

The cherry on the cake is that the Slim 7i supports Lenovo’s Super Rapid Charge system which means a ten-minute charge replenishes almost a third of the battery, a 30-minute charge gets you to 70% capacity, and a full charge is completed within 80 minutes. Those are Lenovo’s quoted numbers, but I found them to be pretty much bang on. The 230W power brick is compact considering the output, but both Type-C ports support 135W power delivery if you want to travel more lightly.

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Lenovo Legion Slim 7i review: Verdict

If you want a laptop that does everything and does it well, the Legion Slim 7i is an obvious choice. It excels as a gaming laptop, a workstation and a productivity machine thanks to a powerful CPU/GPU combination, excellent display, and a high-quality keyboard. The long-running battery life puts every other laptop with gaming pretensions to shame. That Lenovo has managed to package all that in a machine that’s lighter than a 16in MacBook Pro, and barely any larger, is nothing short of miraculous. 

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