Introduction, Design Features
Although it’s appearing under Lenovo’s new Legion branding, the $2,499 Legion Y920T gaming desktop is largely similar to the Ideacentre Y900 tower that we reviewed in 2016. It shares the same basic case design, color scheme, and internal component layout, while adding a number of enhancements. For starters, this tower now has a Type-C USB port, RGB-enabled front case lighting, and of course, newer components for playing today’s AAA-level titles at their top settings. It also has a front-mounted HDMI port for virtual reality (VR) headsets like the most intriguing accessory that Lenovo sent along with our test unit—the $399.99 Explorer mixed reality (MR) headset. (More on the headset in a few minutes.)
The Legion Y920T is the highest-end tower that Lenovo offers for gaming. The entry-level choice is the $699 Legion Y520 tower, and the Y720 is the mid-grade model starting at $899 with an AMD processor and $999 with an Intel chip. The Y920T we’re reviewing starts at a much loftier $1,999, but you’re getting some much more serious hardware for that kind of money. That includes an Intel Core i7-7700KNvidia GeForce GTX 1070Alienware Aurora R7Core i7-8700K six-core CPU. We also mock-configured an HP Omen Desktop PC (SKU 880-160se) comparable to the Alienware for $1,954, a further indication that Lenovo is a little off the mark with its pricing on the Legion. That said, a price difference is nothing that a good sale couldn’t solve. If priced similarly, this Lenovo tower has a lot to offer under its aggressive exterior. Let’s take a closer look.
(As we’ve reviewed the Ideacentre Y900 tower on which the Legion Y920T is based, we’ll point you towards that review for most of this section and focus on the differences in this article.)
The most visible difference on the Y920T is its user-changeable case lighting. It was possible to turn the lighting on and off in the Ideacentre Y900, but you had to spend extra for the Y900 Razer Edition to change the colors. In the Legion Y920T, RGB case lighting comes standard. That means you can change the color of the front panel lighting to any one of 16.7 million colors. This is all accomplished in the preinstalled Lenovo Nerve Center software:
The left and right “eyes” and the Y-gaming symbol on the front of the tower can be independently controlled. Each zone supports three levels of brightness and can be turned off completely; the latter is especially important if you plan to sleep with this tower turned on in your room. The software stores three profiles, which isn’t a lot; then again, there’s not exactly a whole lot to change, either.
The Legion Y920T has a plastic see-through case window on its left side. The black-painted case interior gives it an aftermarket look, but it soaks up the faint illumination from the red LED case fan at the rear of the desktop. That fan is the only source of illumination inside the tower, and it’s not enough. A light strip running around the perimeter of the case window would have done the trick nicely. (There’s nothing to stop you from doing a little engineering after purchase, of course.)
Taking off the side panel is as simple as releasing the lock switch at the rear of the tower, and then pushing down on the triangle-shaped piece at the top rear. The side door tilts out and pulls off. The interior is spacious and easy to work in. The black-sleeved cables, another nice touch, are neatly routed or bundled out of the way. Unlike the green PCBs we routinely see in prebuilt desktops from major OEMs, the motherboard is also blacked-out, aftermarket-style. Last, it’s easy to appreciate the bottom-mounted power supply. The Legion Y920T comes with a 625-watt unit with an 80 Plus Bronze certification.
Dust buildup is a concern with any fan-cooled computer. Thanks to its removable dust filters, the Legion Y920T makes that a little easier to cope with. One of the dust filters is located under the power supply at the rear of the tower. The filter slides out once you press down and grip the small tab to pull it out.
Another removable dust filter resides behind the front panel. The front panel needs to be removed for access, but this is straightforward if you’re careful. Once the side door of the desktop is removed, you can see the three plastic clips holding the front panel onto the tower. Push these free with your fingertips, and the front panel will come off left to right. Be careful, though, as it won’t go far before you reach the end of the wiring that holds it to the tower. You can get the panel just far enough away to pull off the dust filter and give it a quick wash. Before pushing in the left-side clips, make sure the clips on the right edge of the front panel are properly in their grooves. (They’re not quite the same as the clips on the left side.)
The Legion Y920T has a respectable assortment of ports. New to this model is the front-mounted HDMI port, a convenience for hooking up a VR headset. Given the current state of technology, VR headsets are still wired, and thus you’re tethered. You have more range with a front-mounted port over one all the way in the back.
Next to the HDMI port are four Type-A USB 3.1 ports, the first of which can supply power to devices while the desktop is in standby. A Type-C USB 3.1 port and a headphone/microphone combination jack round out the connections up here. The audio jack had noticeable interference on our test model. Unlike its Ideacentre predecessor, the Legion Y920T doesn’t have a media card reader, which was omitted to fit in the HDMI port.
The rest of the connectivity is on the rear of the tower. The motherboard’s I/O panel has a legacy PS/2 port and two Type-A USB 2.0 ports at the top. Under them is a blocked-off HDMI port (the onboard graphics were disabled in favor of the dedicated Nvidia GPU in our test system), four Type-A USB 3.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, plus microphone, headphone, optical audio out, and surround audio connectors.
The GeForce GTX 1080 GPU in our test unit had a legacy DVI-D connector, two DisplayPort connectors, and two HDMI ports. One of the HDMI ports was occupied by a stealthy pass-through adapter for the Y920T’s front-mounted HDMI port.
The Core i7-7700K was the flagship quad-core processor of Intel’s seventh-generation “Kaby Lake” line of chips, but it’s since been superseded by the eighth-generation “Coffee Lake” CPUs, specifically the Core i7-8700K. Lenovo wasn’t sure when the Legion Y920T was going to be upgraded with those chips. The performance of the Core i7-7700K is far from inadequate by today’s standards, but the six-core Core i7-8700K offers significantly better all-around performance. The competing Alienware Aurora R7 and the HP Omen desktop PC both offer the eighth-gen chips as of this writing, and for the same or less than what Lenovo is charging.
One of the more interesting features of the Legion Y920T is its automatic overclocking. We’re not sure exactly how it detects applications, but it seemed to kick in for most of our benchmark runs without our intervention. (That was fine by us, of course.) The overclock on our test unit was mildly impressive; whereas the stock Core i7-7700K runs at 4.2GHz base and up to 4.5GHz in turbo boost, the OneKey overclock made it a stable 4.7GHz across all four cores.
You can tweak this even further via the Advanced mode in the Lenovo Nerve Center software.
We manually enabled and disabled the overclocking to test how it affected performance. Without the overclocking, we recorded a Cinebench R15 score of 881; with the overclock, the score went to 939, an increase of 6.5 percent. That’s not bad for a click of the mouse. (Or no clicks at all—again, the overclocking kicked in automatically in most of the benchmarks we ran.)
Graphics-wise, Lenovo offers the Legion Y920T with a GeForce GTX 1070 8GB or a GTX 1080 8GB. Those are both excellent cards for high-fps 1080p and 1440p gaming, with the GTX 1080 offering around 20 percent better performance. Our review unit was equipped with the GTX 1080 with a blower-style cooler.
The Legion Y920T supports up to 64GB of DDR4-2400 memory. Our test unit had a two-8GB DIMM dual-channel setup for 16GB of RAM in total. That’s sufficient for modern gaming; you could easily add more later.
The Legion Y920T fits up to four 3.5-inch storage drives plus an M.2 Type-2280 (80mm) slot on the motherboard for solid-state storage. The 3.5-inch bays are arrayed along the front of the tower, with three at the bottom and one just under the two 5.25-inch bays. Each 3.5-inch bay has a tool-less slide-out caddy and a power cable, although you’ll need to supply your own SATA cables. Thanks to the caddies, adding or replacing drives is a cinch. Our review unit included a 256GB SSD in the M.2 slot, and a 2TB hard drive in the bottom 3.5-inch bay.
The Legion Y920T has three fans that control airflow in the chassis. The two that do most of the work are the 120mm intake at the front, and the 120mm exhaust at the rear. The latter is LED-backlit in red, although you can’t change the color. The third fan is the one inside the power supply.
The other two fans in this desktop are the 120mm fan attached to the large CPU cooler, and the blower-style fan that was inside the GeForce GTX 1080 graphics card in our review unit. It’s mildly surprising that there is no liquid cooling offered on a model with an unlocked, automatically overclocking Intel quad-core CPU.
We ran through a 30-minute gaming session in an AAA-rated title to test the Legion Y920T’s cooling. The GeForce GTX 1080 GPU topped out at 79 degrees C, a normal temperature for the Founder’s Edition of the card and its blower-style cooler. HWMonitor reported the maximum temperature for the Core i7-7700K CPU was 81 degrees C. That’s a lot warmer than it would run if it were liquid-cooled; for comparison, the same CPU in the compact Corsair One Pro ran at just 71 degrees C. The chip is rated for 100 degrees C, so the Lenovo’s thermal solution keeps it cool enough. That doesn’t stop us for wishing for liquid cooling, though.
Noise-wise, it’s possible to hear the Legion Y920T’s fans running without background noise, but at idle the fans are unlikely to attract notice. There was a mild increase in fan noise while gaming, but not to the point where we thought it would cause any unwanted glances.