Lenovo Legion GoThe more promising handheld
The Lenovo Legion Go might be one of the most interesting gaming handhelds yet, boasting a giant 8.8-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. It also has detachable controllers, including one that has a trackpad that you can use as a mouse.Pros
- More versatile with detachable controllers
- Bigger and better displays
- Promises better performance with more powerful internals
- Not available to purchase yet
- Bigger screen could drain the battery quicker
- A reliable alternative
Valve's first portable gaming PC, the Steam Deck, is one of the coolest handheld gaming consoles on the market, with a huge library of games to play and the ability to take them on the go.Pros
- More reliable software experience
- Includes Deck Verified
- Affordable price tag
- Base model has slower eMMC storage
- Requires work to run games outside of Steam
- No built-in kickstand or detachable controllers
- The Lenovo Legion Go is a promising handheld gaming console with a large 8.8-inch display and detachable controllers, offering a versatile gaming experience.
- The Legion Go outperforms the Steam Deck in terms of power, with a more capable chipset and better RAM. It also has a higher resolution and refresh rate display.
- While the Steam Deck offers a reliable gaming experience and a large library of games, the Legion Go stands out with its detachable controllers and support for FPS mode, making it an exciting choice for gamers.
So far, 2023 has been a great year for handheld gaming consoles, and it feels like everyone and their mother has an eye on one of these devices. It's not really a surprise, though, considering how various brands have put out their version of handheld gaming consoles. Although it wasn't the first handheld on the market, Valve's Steam Deck started the whole portable gaming revolution by putting people's Steam library in the palm of their hands. But it's no longer the only player on the field, seeing tough competition from the likes of Asus ROG Ally and, now, the Lenovo Legion Go.
The Lenovo Legion Go appears to be the most promising handheld to have come out in recent times, but how does it compare to the Steam Deck? Let's take a look at the two to find out which one is better for you.
Price, availability, and specs
Valve's Steam Deck came out in February 2022, meaning it's been out for quite some time now. It's available with 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB storage, and the prices start at $399. The base variant only comes with eMMC storage, while the other two models have NVMe SSDs. The top-of-the-line variant with 512GB storage also comes with premium anti-glare etched glass and an exclusive carrying case, among other things, but it'll cost you $649 in the US. Valve also offers refurbished units of the Steam Deck, but they're all sold out at the time of drawing this comparison.
Lenovo's Legion Go was introduced this year at IFA and is said to go on sale sometime next month for a starting price of $699. The base variant with 512GB PCIe Gen4 SSD is likely to carry the AMD Ryzen Z1 chip, while the higher-end variant will come with an AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme APU and 1TB SSD. Lenovo hasn't shared the exact configurations yet, but we at least know that they'll both carry 16GB 7500MHz LPDDR5X RAM.
If you strictly look at these consoles from a storage perspective, the Steam Deck with 512GB storage will cost you $50 less than the Legion Go in the US. Obviously, there's more to this comparison than that, so let's dive in and see what sets them apart.
Lenovo Legion Go Steam Deck Dimensions Starting at 8.27 x 5.15 x 0.79 inches (210.05 x 130.81 x 20.06mm) 11.7 x 4.6 x 1.9 inches (298 x 117 x 49mm) Weight Starting at 1.41 pounds (640 grams) 1.48 pounds (669 grams) Chipset Up to AMD Ryzen Z1 Extreme (8 cores, 16 threads, up to 5.1GHz, 16MB L3 cache) Custom AMD Zen 2-based processor (4 cores, 8 threads, up to 3.5GHz) RAM 16GB LPDDR5x 7500Mhz 16GB LPDDR5 5600MHz Storage 256GB, 512GB, 1TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe M.2 2242 SSD Up to 512GB M.2 2230 SSD Display 8.8-inch IPS, 16:10 aspect ratio, Quad HD+ (2560x1600), 144Hz refresh rate, 97% DCI-P3, 500 nits, touch 7-inch IPS, 1280x800, 60Hz touchscreen, optional scratch resistant glass coating Graphics AMD RDNA 3 Graphics (up to 12 cores) AMD RDNA 2-based graphics, 8 CUs Ports 2x USB4 (one on top, one at the bottom) 3.5mm headphone jack microSD card reader 1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (DP Alt Mode), 3.5mm headphone jack
Performance and battery life
Jumping straight into the meat of this comparison, it's evident that the Legion Go is the more powerful of the two. The main difference lies in the APU, with the Legion Go featuring a more capable Z1 Extreme with eight Zen 4 cores and twelve RDNA 3 cores to deliver reliable gaming performance. We're yet to get our hands on a sample to fully test the Legion Go, but since it's powered by the same chip running the show in one of the two Asus ROG Ally models, we have a pretty good idea of what to expect from it.
The ROG Ally is known to handle even the most demanding titles with high framerates at 720p or higher, thanks to AMD FSR, so it's safe to say the Legion Go will also deliver similar performance — if not better — at the same resolution and graphics settings. Lenovo is yet to confirm whether it's using the vanilla Ryzen Z1 in any of the Legion Go models, but even that APU is no slouch, with six CPU cores and four GPU cores.
Both Ryzen Z1 and Ryzen Z1 Extreme chips are bound to run circles around the AMD APU in Steam Deck, which only features four Zen 2 cores and eight RDNA 2 compute units (CUs). Steam Deck's CPU also tops out at 3.5GHz, whereas the AMD Ryzen Z1 and Z1 Extreme chips can hit 4.9GHz and 5.1GHz, respectively. As someone who uses a Steam Deck almost every single day to play games, I can tell you it's not nearly as performant. Sure, it can run a lot of the same titles as the ROG Ally, but you really have to turn the settings down to get similar framerates on the Steam Deck. Even then, the more demanding titles like Cyberpunk 2077, for instance, will hover at around 40fps on average on the Deck, while it runs significantly better on the ROG Ally.
Both handhelds in this comparison, in case you're wondering, have 16GB memory, but Lenovo's handheld uses LPDDR5X RAM, which has higher bandwidth and is more power-efficient, versus the LPDDR5 RAM in the Steam Deck. Lenovo's website indicates that the Legion Go will come with either 512GB or 1TB PCIe Gen4 SSDs, while the Steam Deck comes with 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB flavors. Only 256GB and 512GB models in Steam Deck's lineup use PCIe Gen 3 SSD, and the base variant uses eMMC storage. The SSD models of the Steam Deck use 2230 m.2 modules, whereas the Legion Go has 2242 m.2 SSD modules. These modules are not intended for user replacements, and both handhelds have a microSD card slot for storage expansion up to 2TB.
It's not fair to say the Legion Go is better at running games than Steam Deck without actually testing one, but if the ROG Ally's performance is any indication, I believe it's safe to say that the Legion Go will do far better than Steam Deck.
Regarding batteries, the Steam Deck packs a 40Whr unit, which Valve says can last anywhere between two and eight hours, depending on the games you play. I'd say it lasts me around three hours on a single charge, but I also play fairly demanding AAA titles on it. We know that the Legion Go packs a 42.9Whr battery unit, but it remains to be seen how quickly it drains, especially when you're putting that bigger Quad HD+ display to use.
The Legion Go supports up to 65W charting via a USB-C port, while the Steam Deck tops out at 45W. Lenovo's handheld also has an additional USB-C port along with a 3.5mm headphone jack, but the Steam Deck only has an audio jack.
Software and game compatibility
The Lenovo Legion Go is a Windows-powered gaming handheld, meaning it runs Windows 11 out of the box, just like the Asus ROG Ally. And because of that, you get unrestricted access to not only Steam but pretty much any PC gaming platform and games that run on Windows. I am talking about platforms like the Epic Games Store, Xbox, and more, so you don't have to keep your fingers crossed for a Steam release of your most anticipated games.
On the other hand, Steam Deck runs on a Linux-based OS called SteamOS, which will only get you access to the games on Steam. Granted, Steam has one of the biggest libraries of games, but it still misses out on titles exclusive to, say, the Xbox. You can install Windows on your Steam Deck to get those platforms running, but the experience is not going to be as seamless as, you know, just launching a platform of your choice on your Legion Go and starting a game.
One thing I'd like to highlight here is that Valve has a Deck Verified program to help you identify the games that'll run (somewhat) properly on the Steam Deck. You may need to tweak the graphics settings to get even the Deck Verified games running smoothly on the Steam Deck, but at least you'll know whether a particular game will run on your handheld.
There's no such certification for the Legion Go or even other Windows-handheld gaming devices, so you really have to wait for others to test the games before spending your own money. Also, Windows is known to be a bit of a mess for this form factor, and you're likely to have a far better experience with SteamOS, which is a custom Linux-based operating system designed from scratch for the Deck.
Design and controls
The design section is where this particular comparison gets more interesting. Both handhelds have a display in the middle with controls on both sides, which means they look very similar from the front. However, the Steam Deck is slightly wider at its thickest point. It's also much lighter, at just 669 grams, whereas the Legion Go can weigh as much as 854 grams with the controller attached. That's a significant difference, and it'll definitely play a huge role when holding these devices while playing games.
But what if I tell you that you don't always have to hold the Legion Go in your hand to play the games? That's right, Lenovo's handheld gaming console comes with detachable controllers that pop right off when you hold a button at the back and slide them down. You can then use the built-in kickstand at the back of the Legion Go to rest it on a flat surface and hold just the controllers in your hands while gaming. It's similar to how you would remove the controllers on the Nintendo Switch, except these have a different button layout. The Lenovo controllers also have rechargeable batteries that power up when attached to the console, so you don't have to worry about charging them separately.
Notably, the Legion Go also supports what Lenovo calls the "FPS mode." You can essentially put the right controller of this handheld on the included stand and use it like a mouse, complete with dedicated buttons on the side of the controller. This is possible due to an optical mouse sensor on the underside of the right controller, which allows you to use it like a mouse for playing first-person shooter games (hence the name). This is one of the biggest selling points of the Legion Go and something you don't get on the Steam Deck. Yes, you get touchpads on the Steam Deck, but there's obviously a huge difference between the two here.
Speaking of touchpads, it's worth highlighting that the Legion Go also has a touchpad on the right controller, letting you navigate Windows 11 easily when not in FPS mode. The button layouts on both devices are slightly different, but you get all the essentials on both, including the joysticks, a D-pad, the shoulder triggers, and more.
The last point of comparison is the display, and the Legion Go once again pulls ahead, at least on paper. It sports a massive 8.8-inch IPS touch panel with a 16:10 aspect ratio and support for Quad HD+ (2560x1600) resolution. It's also a 144Hz display with a peak brightness of up to 500 nits. That beats the Stem Deck's display in almost every metric. Valve's handheld gaming console sports a 7-inch IPS touch panel that tops out at 1280x800 pixels and 60Hz refresh rate. It also peaks at just 400 nits brightness, so you'll notice a significant difference between the two, be it while gaming or casual usage.
The Legion Go definitely has a better display, but the higher resolution and refresh rate will also draw more power. You will, of course, be able to lower the resolution and limit the panel's refresh rate, but that means you'll likely have a less-than-ideal experience. We're yet to fully test the Legion Go to see how long it can last on a single charge, but you may find yourself charging the Legion Go more often if you want to make the most of it.
Which should you buy?
The Lenovo Legion Go, as mentioned earlier, isn't available to purchase just yet. It's said to go on sale in October, but we don't have an exact date to line up outside the storefronts. That said, I highly recommend waiting for the Legion Go to go on sale because it's definitely the better handheld in this comparison. It's definitely more versatile and promises a better experience. Not only does it have a more powerful chipset, better RAM, and more storage options, but it also packs a significantly better display with support for higher resolution and refresh rate. The highlight for me, however, is the detachable nature of the controllers and the support for FPS mode.
For these reasons, I'd choose the Legion Go as my top pick in this comparison. It's easy to see why the Legion Go is sure to be the most exciting handheld gaming console out there. (We'll see how Windows 11 plays out on the Legion Go, so stay tuned.)
Lenovo Legion Go
The Lenovo Legion Go might be one of the most interesting gaming handhelds yet, boasting a giant 8.8-inch display with a 16:10 aspect ratio. It also has detachable controllers, including one that has a trackpad that you can use as a mouse.
The Steam Deck, however, is also a solid alternative for those who want a reliable option and aren't too particular about running demanding titles with the best visuals. It still runs a lot of demanding games in 2023, albeit at a relatively lower resolution and graphics settings. It also offers a more reliable software experience thanks to SteamOS.
Valve's first portable gaming PC, the Steam Deck, is one of the coolest handheld gaming consoles on the market, with a huge library of games to play and the ability to take them on the go.
If you're still on the fence about buying either of these consoles, I'd like to point you to our list of the best Steam Deck alternatives, in which we've highlighted some other reliable options like the Asus ROG Ally, Nintendo Switch, Logitech G Cloud, and more.