Which gaming laptop is better, Lenovo’s Legion 5 or Dell’s G15? It’s a closer fight than you might think! I’ll show you all the differences to help you decide which is best. Both of my test laptops have similar specs, AMD’s 8 core Ryzen 7 5800H processor, Nvidia’s RTX 3060 graphics, 16 gigs of memory, 512 gig SSD, and a 15.6” 1080p screen with high refresh rate.
Both have decent build quality considering the plastic design. I’ve got the grey G15 but there’s also a green version, while my dark blue Legion 5 is also available with a white finish. Dell’s G15 is a little larger, it’s thicker and deeper, but the Legion is a little wider. The Dell also weighs more, both with and without the power brick. The power bricks of both laptops are quite large, but Lenovo’s has higher wattage.
Now both of my laptops have 15.6” 1080p screens, however the Legion 5’s is 165Hz while my Dell G15’s is 120Hz, but both laptops are available with 120Hz or 165Hz options and the 165Hz panel is better than the 120Hz option. Unfortunately it wasn’t possible for me to get the Dell G15 with that higher 165Hz screen in my country, so this is going to affect my screen test results.
Both laptops also have a MUX switch, so you’ve got the option of running it with optimus enabled for best battery life, or with optimus disabled for better gaming performance. Both also have FreeSync when optimus is enabled, but with optimus disabled only the Legion 5 has G-Sync.
The Lenovo Legion 5’s screen, shown by the red bars, has a much higher color gamut compared to the Dell G15 in the purple bars, but this would be different if you’re able to get that 165Hz panel on the Dell, as Dell claims 100% sRGB coverage there. The screen brightness of the Legion 5 was slightly higher when both were maxed out at 100%, but otherwise the Dell G15 was higher at lower levels, again as per the purple bar. Unfortunately a big downside to the 120Hz screen in the Dell G15 is that it has a very slow 22ms average grey-to-grey response time. While playing games I was able to notice plenty of blur, but again this should be much lower in the 165Hz panel, which the Dell spec sheet rates at 13ms worst case, or 3ms best case.
Slower screen response time contributes to the total system latency, which is the amount of time between a mouse click and gun shot fire on the screen in CS:GO.
The Legion was definitely quicker, but there are also faster options if esports are your thing. Both had very minor backlight bleed, I never noticed it during normal use on either laptop, but results will vary between laptop and panels. Both laptops have a 720p camera above the screen in the middle. Neither have IR for Windows Hello face unlock, but the Legion has a switch on the right to physically disconnect the camera.
This is what the camera and microphone look and sound like on the Dell G15, and then this is how things look and sound over on the Lenovo Legion 5. I think the keyboard is way better on the Legion. Both have backlit keys, orange for the Dell and 4 zone RGB on the Legion, but the Legion also has a white only option while the Dell also has a 4 zone RGB option. Typing just feels much nicer on the Legion in my opinion, the keys are more clicky. The Legion also doesn’t have super tiny arrow keys like the Dell, they have their own space.
Both have precision touchpads, and I thought the larger one on the Legion was also better, it just felt smoother and clicked a bit nicer.
Both have their speakers on the left and right towards the front. I thought both sounded decent, but I’ll give a slight edge to the Dell as it had a little more bass and sounded slightly less flat. The latencymon results on the Dell were looking better than the Legion too. On the left they both have an air exhaust vent and a 3.5mm audio combo jack.
The Legion on top has a USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C port, while the Dell has a 2.5 gigabit ethernet port.
They both have an air exhaust on the right as well, and both have USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A ports on this side, one for the Legion and two for the Dell, and the Legion also has its camera disconnect switch here.
It’s worth noting the cheaper Dell G15 with RTX 3050 or 3050 Ti uses slower USB 2.0 here. The rest is on the back packed in between two air exhausts on the left and right sides. They both have the power input on the right, HDMI 2.1 output, and all USB Type-A ports are 3.
2 Gen1, one for the Dell and 3 here for the Legion.
Both have USB 3.2 Gen2 Type-C ports on the back, and the Legion has its ethernet here, but it’s slower gigabit compared to the 2.5 gigabit the Dell has. The Legion also has these icons above the rear ports which make it a little easier to see where you’re plugging cables into without turning the laptop around, something the Dell is missing.
So basically they’re both pretty comparable when it comes to the I/O. The main differences are that the Legion 5 has one extra USB Type-A port and one extra USB Type-C port, but the Legion also has slower gigabit ethernet while the Dell G15 has faster 2.5 gigabit ethernet. Honestly I think most people will benefit more from the extra USB ports on the Legion, unless of course you’re on a network where the G15 can put its 2.5 gigabit ethernet to use.
The Legion 5 also offers USB Type-C charging on its rear port and this is something that the G15 does not offer at all, and all Type-C ports on both laptops offer DisplayPort 1.4 support. The legion has an extrusion on the front in the middle which makes opening the lid easier, but that said I didn’t really have any problems opening the Dell. Both had some flex for the lids and keyboards, but the Dell G15 seemed to be more solid when pushing down hard.
This applied to the lids too, the Dell had a little less flex, and I also noticed that while typing the screen on the Legion moved a bit more, but it was extremely subtle and not a problem.
Underneath we can see that both have air intake vents towards the back, but if we look at where the light actually shines through it would appear that Dell’s G15 actually has more space for air ventilation compared to the Legion 5 as it has a dust filter.
Here’s how both look inside. The Legion 5 has some additional metal coverings, with those removed we can see that both laptops are quite similar. They’ve got their batteries down the front, two memory sticks in dual channel, two M.2 storage slots and upgradeable Wi-Fi 6 cards.
The heat pipes on the Dell are on the other side of the motherboard, so it’s going to be a bit more involved if you want to replace the thermal paste on the CPU and GPU. The Wi-Fi in the Dell G15 was much faster than the Legion 5, but this might vary by region based on what cards they’re using, plus you could always change the Wi-Fi card and upgrade it yourself which costs less than $20. Now all testing in this video has been done with both laptops using their stock memory that they shipped with in order to keep this a fair comparison, but it should also be possible to boost the performance on both laptops with x8 sticks, so I’ll test this out later.
The battery in my Dell G15 is 7.5% larger in terms of watt hour capacity compared to the Legion, at 86 vs 80Wh respectively.
Both laptops are also available with lower batteries though, you can get the Legion with a 60Wh battery and G15 with a 56Wh battery, so expect different results with those. The Dell G15 was lasting about 30% longer in the YouTube playback test, or almost 3 hours more, however the Legion 5 was lasting a little longer when running a game, but personally I’d much prefer run time outside of gaming that the Dell offers, but that said even the lower Legion is ahead of most other laptops. The software experience on the Legion 5 is way better compared to the Dell G15, it’s not even close. Dell uses their Alienware Command Center here, it takes 30-60 seconds, sometimes more after start up before you can open it and use it, and it’s not even that useful, all you can really do in terms of making changes is adjust fans a bit, which to be fair is a feature the Legion does not have, but that’s about it.
Lenovo’s Vantage software opens much faster and has so many more options. You can change between 3 different performance modes through here, or optionally use the function plus Q shortcut, and when you do this the power button changes color to show you which mode you’re currently in. The Dell only has the G mode F9 shortcut which enables high performance mode and maxes out the fan, so I guess two different performance modes, either G mode on or off. Lenovo’s Vantage software lets us enable or disable hybrid mode aka optimus, something that you can only do through the BIOS on the Dell. The Legion also lets you search for updates through here, on the Dell you have to open separate software for this. The Legion also lets us modify battery and power settings here, while the Dell again requires yet different software rather than it being centralized.
Let’s compare thermals next. We’re only going to look at both laptops running in their highest performance modes for best results. If you want to see how well both laptops perform in lower performance modes then refer to the full review videos linked below.
The blue bars represent the CPU while the green bars represent the GPU temperature. The Dell G15 was significantly warmer on the internals when just sitting there idle, though in practice this isn’t really an issue, and as you’ll hear soon the Legion’s fans were louder.
I’ve also tested both in their highest available performance modes in a combined CPU plus GPU stress test to represent a worst case, and while playing an actual game. The Dell was thermal throttling on both the CPU and GPU in the stress test, and I think the Legion was thermal throttling on the CPU too as it never went above 95 degrees Celsius, it’s just that the Dell has a higher throttle limit. Regardless of the test, the Dell was warmer inside. These are the clock speeds for the same tests just shown. The Legion 5 was hitting higher speeds in all instances, despite having lower thermal throttle limits and running cooler.
The CPU in particular was 400MHz or so higher on all 8 cores, while the GPUs were much closer. This may be because both GPUs were sitting at about the same power limit in these tests, despite the fact that the G15 was reaching GPU thermal throttling in the stress test.
The Legion was able to use more power on the processor in the stress test despite having the lower thermal throttle limit. Interestingly the TDP reported by software was lower on the Legion for the CPU while running this particular game, despite the clock speed being significantly higher. In Cinebench R23, a CPU only workload with the GPU now idle, the Lenovo Legion 5 was performing better despite both technically having the same Ryzen 7 5800H processor.
The multicore score from the Legion was more than 10% higher, though the single core difference is way smaller, but given neither would be limited here this is more down to silicon lottery.
Things change when running on battery power. The Legion 5 was still slightly ahead in the single core test, but the Dell G15 was hardly losing any performance in the multicore test, where comparatively the Legion 5 is now almost 3000 points behind, so not only does the G15 last longer on battery, it performs better on battery too. The Legion was cooler to the touch when both were sitting there idle, but that’s not to say the Dell was warm, low 30 degrees Celsius is normal in this test, the Legion was just below average. Both were peaking in the low 40s when under heavy stress test in their highest performance modes, and neither felt hot or uncomfortable to use, let’s have a listen to the fan noise.
Both were quiet when idling, but the fans on the Legion 5 were still audible while the Dell was silent, well apart from some subtle coil whine, but this might explain why the Legion was cooler internally at idle. The Legion was a little louder when both were under heavy load in their highest performance profiles, but not by much.
Now let’s find out how well both laptops perform in a few different games. As mentioned earlier, both laptops did ship to me with the slower x16 memory, so I’ve also tested both with a faster x8 upgrade to see what the differences are. Cyberpunk 2077 was tested in little China with the street kid life path on all laptops.
I’ve got the Lenovo Legion 5 highlighted in red, and the Dell G15 highlighted in green here, with two results for each laptop, one with the stock RAM that the laptop came with and then with my upgrade to x8 memory. In this case the memory upgrade boosted average FPS on the Legion 5 by about 2, with a bigger change noted in the 1% lows, while the Dell saw smaller differences, though keep in mind as we saw in the thermal tests earlier, the G15 was generally running at higher temperatures, so at least that doesn’t seem to be holding it back much. Red Dead Redemption 2 was tested with the games benchmark, and this time the memory upgrade was making more of a difference. The Dell G15 was reaching a 12.6% higher average frame rate with the memory change, while the Legion 5 was reaching 11.
2% higher average FPS in the same test, so reasonable improvements are possible on both by making this change to the memory.
Control on the other hand is fairly GPU heavy, even at 1080p, so at max settings we’re not really seeing a difference with the memory change, both laptops were performing within margin of error. The Legion 5 was slightly ahead in average FPS, but it’s like a 1 FPS difference, so nothing you’d actually notice and kind of within margin of error anyway, but it could be that extra 5 watts of GPU power available to the 3060. So in general, the differences weren’t that big with the memory upgrade with these two laptops, but as I’ve shown in the past there can be a bigger difference in games at lower setting levels. It really seems to depend on the specific game and how it utilizes CPU and GPU.
There were basically no practical differences in 3DMark, technically the Dell G15 was a little ahead, but they’re definitely within margin of error and essentially equivalent.
Now let’s check out some content creator workloads. Adobe Premiere was tested with the Puget Systems benchmark, and both laptops are highlighted in red. There’s no real difference here, technically the Legion 5 was 20 points ahead, but this is just a 3% difference and realistically within margin of error. The difference was even smaller in Adobe Photoshop, again the Legion 5 was still technically ahead, but this is definitely within margin of error so let’s just call them equivalent.
The differences in DaVinci Resolve were also small, again the Legion 5 had a slight edge, perhaps due to the slightly higher GPU power limit as this is a GPU heavy test, but again results are within margin of error.
SPECViewperf tests out various professional 3D workloads, and the differences were quite small one way or the other in most of the tests, so again basically equivalent performance. Both of my laptops came with 512gb NVMe M.2 SSDs. The writes on both were quite similar, but the reads on the Legion 5 were a fair bit higher than the Dell G15, but results may vary based on region if they use different drives.
Linux support was tested with an Ubuntu 21 live CD. The Touchpad, keyboard, speakers, camera and ethernet worked on both, but out of the box the Wi-Fi on the Legion didn’t work, which I suspect is just because it uses Realtek and needs an update. Despite this, I think Linux will go better on the Legion because you can still adjust performance modes with the function + Q shortcut, as this is baked into firmware.
You can’t use the G key to toggle high performance mode on the Dell without software support. Alright let’s discuss pricing and availability next.
This will of course change over time as both companies frequently run sales, so prices will change over time, you can refer to the links down in the description below for updates. At the time of recording, the Dell G15 is $1480 USD for the same specs I’ve tested here, but with the higher tier 165Hz screen that has better color gamut, brightness and response time. The Legion 5 on the other hand is under $1600 USD when configured to the same specs that I’ve tested here, well this one has a 1TB SSD as they don’t seem to offer less right now, but again the final price of both will vary depending on the customizations you make with the links below. All things considered I think it’s kind of difficult to go too wrong with either of these gaming laptops.
Ultimately it’s going to depend on what your priorities are as each laptop has both positives and negatives.
Nothing’s perfect and there’s always going to be tradeoffs, so it’s going to come down to what you can live with. After weighing up all the compromises, I think I’m personally leaning towards Lenovo’s Legion 5, so let’s recap and discuss why. I’d say the build quality of both laptops is similar, with a slight edge in favor of the Dell G15, but the Dell is also a little larger and heavier, again always those tradeoffs. I think the keyboard and touchpad were better with the Legion, but the speakers were a little better on the Dell. For most people the ports on the Legion will be better as it’s got an extra USB Type-A and Type-C, but the Dell has faster 2.
5 gigabit ethernet if your network is able to make use of that. The Legion has Type-C charge while the Dell does not, and the Legion also has the camera disconnect switch for privacy.
The Wi-Fi is faster on the Dell, but that’s like a $20 or less upgrade if you really wanted to boost the Legion’s wireless performance. The battery lasts longer on the Dell and is the best result I’ve ever recorded so far, but the Legion is still well above average for a gaming laptop. The Dell also has the edge in terms of performance while running on battery power though.
The Dell generally runs hotter though, at least on the internals. The externals of both weren’t too bad on either, and although the fans from either laptop weren’t quite as loud as a lot of other gaming laptops I’ve tested, the Legion still was louder. Although the Alienware Command Center software on the Dell is next to useless, it does at least offer us some fan control, something the Legion is missing, but otherwise the software experience on the Legion was far better, it’s not even close, and the Legion has better control over its performance profiles which can be adjusted with a keyboard shortcut that’s baked into firmware – it doesn’t even need software to change. The Legion generally performs better in games and creator workloads, likely due to the slightly higher power limits that it can maintain while also running cooler, but in most tests they’re quite close. Both laptops have a MUX switch which gives them a performance boost in games when optimus is disabled, but I found it a bit annoying that you have to first boot into the BIOS on the Dell G15 in order to make that change.
You can do it on the Legion through software, and although you do have to reboot for the change to actually apply, I still found that easier than having to go into the BIOS.
The legion also has G-Sync available when running on the Nvidia graphics which the Dell does not have, though both have FreeSync when running with optimus enabled. The screen on my Legion is also way better compared to the Dell, but it’s also hard to fairly compare because it’s the better 165Hz screen while my Dell happened to have the 120Hz screen. The Dell is also available with a better 165Hz screen that has better brightness, better color gamut, and faster response time, so if we were to actually compare both laptops with a 165Hz screen I think the results would be much closer.
I’d suggest staying away from the 120Hz screens if budget permits.
So yeah, all things considered I think it can be quite close one way or the other. Again it just depends on what you’re after. The Dell is generally cheaper, but again it will depend on sales – refer to those links down below for updates. Personally, I’d pick the Legion 5 because it’s cooler, the software is better, you get G-Sync with optimus off and there are just nice little things from the port icons on the back to the camera disconnect switch. Now that’s not to say that if you prefer the Dell you’re wrong or anything.
As mentioned there’s different things for different people, and both laptops are quite similar.
They both have positives and negatives, I just wish it would be possible to kind of mash them together and get the best of both or something. Look, at the end of the day if you’re just after the best gaming performance for the dollar then at the moment the Dell G15 is better. It’s currently cheaper than the Legion 5 and as we saw in games it was only slightly behind it – it was very close. But let me know which laptop you’d pick down in the comments below.
If you need any further information on either of these two gaming laptops then check out the full review videos over here, as I go into even more depth in those. Make sure you’re subscribed to the channel for future laptop comparisons like this one, and come and join me in Discord and get behind the scenes videos by supporting the channel on Patreon..
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