Lenovo LOQ 15 (2024) review: A cheap gaming laptop, but can it run AAA games? from Mashable

The Lenovo LOQ 15 is a gaming laptop that’s just $749 – you heard that right – less than $800. Decent gaming rigs can set consumers back by $2,000 or more, so when I heard the price, I thought, “This can’t be good … right?”

Well, it depends. If you’re a bougie gamer, this gaming laptop won’t meet your snobby demands. There’s no way you’re getting over 60 frames per second with all the sparkly bells and whistles (e.g., ray tracing, dynamic shadows, and other high levels of detail) with this bad boy.

However, if you’re fine with dialing back the settings to get a playable triple-A gaming experience, this may be one of the best cheap gaming laptops you can get.

Lenovo LOQ 15 price and specs

The Lenovo LOQ 15, as I mentioned at the outset, is $749 – and can be found at Best Buy.

The review unit I have comes with the following specs:

Intel Core i5-12450HX

Intel ARC A530M graphics

12GB of RAM

512GB of SSD storage 

15.5-inch, 1920 x 1080-pixel, 144Hz display

Two, er, interesting things stick out to me about these specs — and contribute to why the LOQ 15 has such a wallet-friendly price tag. First, it has a CPU that is a few generations old; this chip launched in 2022. In other words, this laptop is running on processor power that is obsolete by two years.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Second, the Intel ARC A530M GPU is the Shein or Target of graphics cards, so to speak. It’s nowhere near the caliber of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 or 4090 GPU, the Yves Saint Laurent of graphics cards, where you’re getting top-tier performance in a mobile form factor.

But of course, if you don’t have high-fashion money, you’ll have to settle for less quality. And for less than $800, you’re getting what you pay for with Intel ARC A530M graphics. However, it delivers just enough for those who aren’t expecting Dom Pérignon on a beer budget.

What I like about Lenovo LOQ 15

I appreciate that Lenovo is widening accessibility in gaming. You needn’t shell out $4,000 (à la the Lenovo Legion 9i) to play your favorite triple-A PC games. All you need is eight smackaroos, and you’re off to the races.

However, there’s more to like about the Lenovo LOQ 15 beyond its price.

Great display

The LOQ 15’s 15.6-inch display has slim bezels on both sides, but its massive chin gives Jay Leno a run for his money.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

As expected for a gaming laptop in this price range, this 300-nit screen is dim. However, the 1920 x 1080-pixel screen displayed ample richness and vividness while I watched the Godzilla x Kong trailer on YouTube. From the verdant, lush landscapes emanating bold shades of green to the tiny beads of sweat on Dan Stevens’ forehead, the LOQ 15 has a delightful display for a sub-$800 gaming rig.

I played some Deathloop, too, and I was impressed with how the display reproduced colors and textures, from the burgundy knit sweater worn by the protagonist to the subtle build-up of orange-red rust on motion-activated metal doors.

Futuristic, minimalist design

The LOQ 15 looks like it was ripped right out of a spaceship’s dashboard. From the chamfered edges to the luminous, reflective “LOQ” branding on the top-left side of the lid, this budget-friendly, metal-like laptop has a futuristic, minimalist vibe.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

On the back, you’ll find vents arranged in an attractive honeycomb pattern that I don’t see very often as a laptop reviewer.

Although it has a plastic chassis, at first glance, you’d never get the impression that the LOQ 15 is a sub-$800 laptop. Not only does it look sturdy, it feels sturdy, too. Putting pressure on the deck and lid yielded little to no give.

Decent amount of ports

Most of the LOQ 15’s ports are on the back, under the hinge. You’ll find a power connector that supports Lenovo’s proprietary 170W charging cable, two USB-A ports, an HDMI port, and an Ethernet port. 

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

On the right side, you’ll find another USB-A port, a headset jack, and a USB-C port (DisplayPort 1.4 connectivity and 140W power delivery).

Although I understand why Lenovo placed the majority of the ports on the back (it’s supposed to keep cables out of the way while you’re gaming), my power source sits to my left, so keeping the proprietary charging cable plugged in was slightly awkward.

OK performance for a sub-$800 gaming laptop

As you’ll find out in subsequent sections, the LOQ 15 is no powerhouse, and it’s not designed to be one. It’s supposed to give you just enough oomph to play triple-A games at low-to-medium graphics settings.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

That being said, I found that the LOQ 15 was able to meet the minimum requirements — 60 frames per second — as long as I didn’t tax the GPU with demanding graphics tasks.

Decent heat dissipation

I played Cyberpunk 2077 for 30 minutes. With a dual fan setup inside, the LOQ 15 remained relatively cool. It’s worth noting that the area above the function row keys got the warmest, but luckily, this region often remains untouched.

What’s ‘eh’ about the Lenovo LOQ 15 

There are some aspects of the LOQ 15 that are neither impressive nor disappointing — they yield nothing more than a shrug of “meh” from me.

180-degree hinge

I’m not quite sure what, exactly, is the use case of a gaming laptop with a display that can lean back by 180 degrees.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

But it’s there if you need it.

Keyboard is alright

The LOQ 15 has that dedicated Copilot key Microsoft has been bragging about. In other words, you can fire up Copilot, Windows 11’s AI assistant, with an easy press of a button.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

However, I’ll admit that I’m indifferent about the keyboard. As aforementioned, the LOQ 15 looks sturdy and solid, but the deck – and the shield-shaped keycaps – definitely feels plasticky. But hey, what else do you expect from a sub-$800 gaming laptop? 

After testing the full-sized keyboard (it has a numpad, which is nice to see), I appreciated the decent tactile feedback. But other than that, there’s not much to write home about. You also won’t find any RGB lighting at all. But with the press of the Fn button and the spacebar, you can play around with two levels of keyboard backlighting.

So-so audio

The LOQ 15 has two down-firing speakers that can be found on the backside. I fired up SZA’s “Saturn” song via Spotify, and I found that it sounded a bit thin. Also, I wouldn’t say that the audio is “quiet,” per se, but it’s not loud either.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Fortunately, there is a tuning app available called Nahimic. There are several presets available, including Music, Movie, Communication, Gaming and Smart. I preferred Smart, which dynamically tunes the LOQ 15’s audio to deliver the best sound in any situation. SZA sounded fuller and more honeyed under the Smart audio profile compared to the other four presets.

Attracts fingerprints

As you can tell in these photos, the LOQ 15 attracts fingerprints.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Keep a microfiber towel handy.

What I dislike about the LOQ 15

When it comes to budget-friendly laptops, you have to be careful not to prattle on about unimpressive features that are all-to-obvious trade-offs. For example, I’m not going to bother mentioning the poor battery life nor the meh webcam — not even high-end gaming laptops can deliver gems in these areas.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

And of course, the LOQ 15 isn’t designed to offer envelope-pushing performance, so I won’t even bother mentioning its mid-benchmark numbers.

However, there are two things I dislike about the LOQ 15 that are worth mentioning.

Touchpad actuation is cumbersome

I prefer my touchpad to deliver shallow, firm clicks. The LOQ 15 requires a little bit more pressure and force than I’d like before hitting its actuation point.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Fortunately, you can simply pair your gaming laptop with a controller, so you needn’t deal with it while diving into your favorite titles. But if you plan on using the LOQ 15 for work, consider its lethargic activation.

So darn heavy

The LOQ 15 doesn’t pass my one-hand test. There’s no way I can hold the LOQ 15 in my hand for more than five seconds without it giving out on me.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

The LOQ 15 weighs 5.25 pounds, which is one chunky monkey. As such, this Lenovo laptop may be a pain to lug around during your morning commute.

How well does Lenovo LOQ 15 play AAA games?

We love to use Cyberpunk 2077 as our benchmark test for how well a gaming laptop can handle graphics-intensive triple-A games. 

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

Typically, we run the High preset at 1080p. And in the case of the Lenovo LOQ 15, which features an Intel ARC A530M GPU, it spewed out a score of 39 frames per second.

A bit disappointing, I know. However, I got more frame rates when I dialed back the settings to the Medium preset, which yielded a score of 62 frames per second, which meets our 60 frames-per-second minimum.

The Low preset delivered similar results: 63 frames per second.

So yes, it can play triple-A games, but not with the settings pushed to the max.

Lenovo LOQ 15 Geekbench score and performance

The LOQ 15 has an Intel Core i5 processor, which means that it’s really not designed to handle any heavy processing. And for most games, it’s the bare minimum CPU tier providing a playable experience.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

It’s also, as mentioned, two years old – and its less-than-impressive performance reflects that. On Geekbench 6, the LOQ 15’s Intel Core i5-12450HX CPU delivered a multi-core score of 7,757. For reference, this isn’t far off from the iPhone 15 Pro Max – yes, a phone – which has a score of 7,359 on the same test. Performance-wise, it’s similar to the HP Spectre Fold, which also has a 12th-generation CPU (we are currently in the 14th generation of Intel CPUs).

If you plan on diving into intensive workflows on the LOQ 15, like working with large datasets, for example, expect some slowdowns.

Lenovo LOQ 15 battery life

We ran the PCMark 10 gaming battery life test on the LOQ 15. It only lasted 42 minutes on a single charge. 

For the uninitiated, this is par for the course for gaming laptops. Make sure you keep the charging cable plugged into your outlet.

Lenovo LOQ 15 webcam

You’ll find the LOQ 15 720p webcam housed on the top bezel – and it’s as underwhelming as you’d expect for a budget-friendly gaming laptop.

Credit: Kimberly Gedeon / Mashable

When I fired up the shooter, the picture was expectedly blurry and noisy. However, in a “blessing in disguise” moment, it also fails to pick up on any subtle flaws on my face, like dark circles and barely there acne scars. 

Is Lenovo LOQ 15 worth it?

The better question here is, “Who is the Lenovo LOQ 15 for?” Because it’s quite heavy, it’s best for gamers who work from home and plan to leave their laptop stationed at their desk (after all, it’s not very power efficient).

If you want to commute with it, you may find it to be too cumbersome. 

And, of course, considering that this is a budget gaming laptop, it’s not for bougie gamers who must play their favorite triple-A titles on the best settings possible. If you’re perfectly fine with sacrificing the nitty-gritty graphical details for smoother gameplay, the LOQ 15 is for you.

If you’re OK with a gaming laptop that delivers the bare minimum for your gaming needs, allowing you to save more money for your pockets, the LOQ 15 is one of the best budget gaming laptops of 2024.

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