The Lenovo Legion 5i and 7i debut Nvidia Advanced Optimus to tame power-hungry G-Sync displays

lenovo legion 7i croppedImage: Lenovo

The new Lenovo Legion 5i and 7i laptops will be the first to feature Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus, a technology that manages G-Sync graphics dynamically to preserve battery life.

The two gaming systems are part of the Thursday announcement of Intel’s Comet Lake H mobile CPUs and Nvidia’s GeForce Super GPUs. Taken all together, the companies’ products usher in an exciting new generation of high-performance laptops (and intriguing competition with the Ryzen 4000 laptops launched Monday).

The first laptops with Advanced Optimus

The debut of Nvidia’s Advanced Optimus technology in the Lenovo Legion 5i and 7i is significant. Lenovo’s been in the vanguard before—the Legion Y740 of 2019 was the first laptop we tested with Nvidia’s RTX 2070 Max-Q with ray tracing, for instance. But Advanced Optimus is even more impactful, fixing a problem that thwarted Nvidia graphics in the mobile space. 

The problem was power-hungry G-Sync. Gamers have long valued Nvidia’s G-Sync display technology because it smooths out annoying stutter and screen-tearing in fast-moving images. However, the implementation on mobile has been rocky. G-Sync required the discrete GPU to be running constantly, which basically killed battery life. 

As my colleague Brad Chacos explains in his news story about Nvidia’s announcements, Advanced Optimus lets the laptop use G-Sync when it needs it, and turn it off when it doesn’t. “It connects both Nvidia’s GeForce GPU and your laptop processor’s integrated CPU to a dynamic display switch,” he explains. “When you’re gaming or performing other GPU-intensive tasks, the switch hands display output directly over to Nvidia’s graphics chip, enabling higher frame rates and yes, full G-Sync support. When you’re not, however, the dynamic switch hands full control over to your system’s integrated graphics to save power.” In short, G-Sync will no longer be a relentless drag on gaming laptops.

Lenovo’s hardly alone in the gaming space, making solid systems but facing competition on all sides, from vendors large and small. Getting “firsts” like Advanced Optimus could give the company’s Legion line a boost as gamers line up to buy the latest technology. 

The Legion 5i and Legion 7i will succeed the Legion Y540 and Y740 gaming laptops in what appears to be a phased changeover, during which laptops with the old and new naming schemes will coexist, most likely in different markets. Availability will also vary. The Legion 5i/Legion Y540 will have a starting price of $999 with RTX 2060, while the Legion 7i/Legion Y740 will start at $1,199 with RTX 2070.

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