By Dan Ackerman
Handheld PC gaming is finally a reality, with the new Lenovo Legion Go joining systems like the Valve Steam Deck and the Asus Ally in making games from Steam, the Epic Game Store, GOG, Xbox Game Pass and other platforms available on the go. Of these, the Legion Go is the most ambitious to date, combining Windows 11 with a massive 8.8-inch display and detachable controllers.
But like any gaming PC, the best experience comes after diving into the settings and optimizing it for the games you're playing. For example, the Legion Go has a 2,560x1,600 resolution display with a 144Hz refresh rate, but high-end games can struggle to play at those settings, even on a more traditional gaming laptop or desktop.
In my hands-on testing of the Legion Go, playing more casual games like Slay the Spire or the latest Lego Star Wars worked fine at those higher screen settings, and Lenovo includes an optional on-screen FPS counter to monitor the exact frame rates. But, jumping into more demanding games, like the recent Dead Space remake or Baldur's Gate 3, the system chugged.
Read more: Hands-on with the Lenovo Legion Go
Fortunately, I was able to get much better performance by changing some system settings within the Legion Go's system software. Here are my top three tips for making the Legion Go a better performer for any game.
While the 8.8-inch LCD screen has a native resolution of 2,560x1,600, that's overkill for a display this size most of the time. Even for 15-inch gaming laptops, playing at 1,920x1,080 (aka FHD or Full HD) resolution is fine, and often the best option for stable frame rates.
In this case, jump into the Legion Go software (press the button just to the left of the screen and go to Settings) then change the system's display resolution. Besides the native 2,560x1,600, the other options are 1,900x1,200 and 1,200x800. I went for the middle option, 1,900x1,200 to get the best mix of visual quality and performance.
Yes, if playing competitive Esports, a very high refresh rate is important, and even then 144Hz (the number of times per second the screen can refresh its image) is on the low side, with some displays topping 360Hz. But for hyper-competitive Esports gamers, the casual vibe of the Legion Go isn't going to be their device of choice.
For the rest of us, hitting 60fps is more than good enough, and changing the system default to its 60Hz option makes it easier to get stable, smooth performance in games. If a game continues to run sub-optimally, go into the individual game's settings turn the graphics options down to medium or low and see it there's an option to cap the frames-per-second at 30fps, which is considered the minimum for a playable experience.
Here's where the trade-off between performance and battery life comes into play. In the Legion Go software, there are system settings options for both system performance and battery, labeled as "Thermal mode" and "OS Power mode." These can both be set to full-time performance. That'll boost the power available to the system, but also crank up the internal fans and reduce overall battery life.
In my hands-on testing, I've found it's a worthwhile tradeoff when playing a more intense game. If the system feels like it's getting too hot, there's also a button for full fan speed that'll keep the fan cranking all the time, but that feels like overkill.
Taking a flight or going to be away from a power outlet for a while? Flip these back to more battery-friendly options for longer life, but note that's better for more casual games. Fortunately, the Legion Go runs off a standard USB-C power port, the same as most laptops, phones and tablets, so plugging into a power outlet on an airplane, hotel room or coffee shop shouldn't be an issue.
Cant wait till the new Spiderman makes it way to the go!
Great tips for anyone with the new Lenovo Go!
Those are some great ideas, I'll have to try them out!
Awesome tips, I really like the legion go. Great performance as well
I'll be sure to use these when I get mine
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