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Geek Review: Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I Gaming Laptop

Geek Review: Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I Gaming Laptop

In the last decade, a gaming laptop has become somewhat of an enigma. What used to define a niche product for gamers to run their hardware-demanding video games on the go, has become a catch-all definition for anything portable that well, plays video games. You would often see someone lugging one in their backpacks like a pack mule to school or work, even as you wonder how much of that ‘gaming’ element gets utilised. But regardless, laptop makers have been tirelessly pouring their time and effort into making the ultimate gaming laptop, further saturating the market and bumping up prices. 

If you think about it, any laptop can play games and the question is, what type of games are you playing for you to consider buying a gaming laptop? If you’re looking at a budget option to run casual games, the Lenovo LOQ series is right up your alley.

Geek Review: Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I Gaming Laptop

Powered by the Intel Core I5-12450hx processor and 16GB of RAM, the 12th generation Intel processor on this review unit uses the company’s own 95W 8GB Intel Arc A530M GPU, which is equivalent to a GeForce RTX 90, and doesn’t have the same level of hardware that its older sibling Legion has. 

Intended as a mid-range gaming machine, the Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I still packs a punch and offers FHD 1080p graphics, so it’s a tradeoff on high-end performance, but at a fraction of the cost as prices start from US$749, with the option to upgrade to a 13th/14th Intel CPU and NVIDIA graphics from US$799.

Right out of the bag, it’d be easy to mistake this for an airplane’s black box. The LOQ looks robust and well-built – as if Lenovo was acutely aware of the heart attack one receives when a laptop slips off their forearms. Designed to act as a budget alternative to their Legion line of gaming machines, you’d easily mistake the LOQ for the Legion itself in terms of its exterior looks, though it uses a thick, plastic chassis instead.  The base laptop weighs in at a staggering 2.45kg, and if you throw in its power brick, which comes in at around 600g, you’ll definitely feel the weight of it over time.

Geek Review: Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I Gaming Laptop

Under the hood, the hinges of the LOQ are indented and slightly sunken within its base, making it feel as sturdy as if you were opening your fridge. Moreover, a prerequisite for many gamers, the matte finish of both the keyboard and screen makes it sweat and fingerprint resistant, perfect for sweaty gaming sessions.

Fans of the ThinkPad will be greeted with a familiar sight as the LOQ boasts a no-frills, no nonsense keyboard – perfect for gamers who prefer minimalism over backlit RGB. In fact, the only source of light on its deck is the power button, smartly resembling the LOQ’s dotted circle logo. It’s sleek – but the 101 keys can look and feel quite claustrophobic. The buttons are packed awfully close to one another like a capacity crowd, making typos more frequent for those uninitiated. We’d much prefer if the numpad was removed entirely.

Getting down to it, you’ll realise that typing on the LOQ does feel quite clicky. The distance between the buttons and the input on the TrueStrike are a bit more pronounced compared to a Macbook or Dell XPS, making it feel like you’re penning down each word with that bit more agency and conviction. Though not the real thing in terms of travel and touch, it does a good job of what we would describe as the sensation of typing on a spongy mechanical keyboard. 

Do take note – the large trackpad is aligned closer to the left of the body, and not the centre, which means that the base of the thumbs of both touch typing enthusiasts and WASD gamers alike does come into contact with the trackpad quite often, causing unwanted cursor adjustments. After a slight adjustment period, typing on the Lenovo LOQ will become second nature. We had no issues typing out this review on the laptop itself.

Geek Review: Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I Gaming Laptop

Onto performance. The Lenovo LOQ does… as advertised. It did the best with Valorant on high settings, achieving an astonishing average of 120 – 144 FPS. It also managed to run Counter Strike 2 at a decent 70 FPS on medium. However, maximising performance did reveal the capabilities (or lack thereof) of the 15.6-inch 1080p display, with relatively poor colour saturation and jagged and pixelation for today’s standards.

On the ultra settings for Cyberpunk 2077, it feels like you’re sending someone who doesn’t work out, through high-intensity interval training. With its fans spinning faster and body heating up, it clocked in at an underwhelming 15 FPS. This doubles on the low preset, making the game borderline playable at the cost of visuals. But one must be realistic: you can’t expect the modest 95W A530M mobile chip to go toe-to-toe with these beasts, and the Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I still performs well in its weight class.

If you’re really looking to crank out its performance, the Lenovo Vantage software can help. You can bump up its fan speeds and power consumption on Performance Mode when plugged in. It also allows you to use both its integrated and dedicated GPUs dynamically, depending on its needs. Besides a high level of customisation, it also offers small quality of life improvements, such as locking your touchpad to prevent palm inputs.

For those even more data-oriented, here are some of its benchmarks for PC Mark 10, where it scored 5,596, equalling the score of Xiaomi Notebook Pro 120G (2022), which retails at around US$150 more than the Lenovo LOQ.

Geek Review: Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I Gaming Laptop
lenovo loq 15

With 3DMark, the machine had a less than average score of 2440, putting it on par with machines running a NVIDIA GeForce 780 Ti, the fastest GPU back in 2013. Once again, don’t expect to be going toe-to-toe with the premium laptops.

For the best results, and if you’re staying rooted, the laptop does best with the adapter plugged in and toggling towards the performance mode. Once that is done, we’re surprised how much the performance leapt –

While producivity apps didn’t see a huge bump, the greatest beneficiary to this would be in the space of gaming.

In the middle of games, the fans do get fired up, creating a buzz through the laptop, keeping it relatively cool under pressure. The Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I’s cooling system sucks in external air from honeycomb vents on its base, running this air through its CPU and GPU before funnelling it out via the rear. The wind chamber-esque system means that when the upper section of the keyboard starts to rise in temperature, the base of your palms (which is always in contact with the body) stays cool. 

The only downside is that the fans really can get quite loud especially during intense sequences, so you might have some eyes shot your way if you’re in a quiet café or library.

Despite not having vents sticking out its sides, the Lenovo LOQ only utilises this space on the right side for its ports. There’s a USB Type-A 3.2 Gen 1 and USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 port, an audio combo jack, and an E-shutter, disabling the 720p webcam at the flick of a switch. It’s a nice addition, but would’ve been better if there was another that could turn off its in-built microphone as well. At its rear: a charging port, 2 USB Type-A, a LAN port, and a HDMI 2.1 port for external monitors. Though clean, it would’ve been great if Lenovo looked out for the lefties too.

In our tests, users can squeeze out a modest two hours of battery life if they are on defaults and just surfing the web. Moreover, you’ll need to have it plugged in if you want maximum frames. You’ll definitely be lugging this thing around with its power brick, making it a handful in itself.

However, with the laptop retailing at US$749, the base version of the Lenovo LOQ is excellent value for money. It’s perfect for first-time gamers that need a budget option to play popular titles with their friends, without breaking the bank. But as a laptop – a computer that is portable and suitable for use while traveling – there is some room for debate.

lenovo loq 15

All things considered, the device feels a bit like a turtle. Its rock-hard exterior looks clean, sleek and robust. It isn’t the fastest in the deep blue sea, and has limited upgrading options. But if you prioritise build quality, design, and value over raw performance and weight, the Lenovo LOQ 15IAX9I is the one for you.

GEEK REVIEW SCORE

Summary

The Lenovo LOQ looks and feels great, with well thought-out design features. An entry-level workhorse that is amazing value, good for web surfing and playing games if you aren’t too fussed about graphics. The only caveat? Its weight.

Overall
8.3/10
8.3/10
  • Aesthetics - 8.5/10
    8.5/10
  • Build Quality - 9/10
    9/10
  • Performance - 6.5/10
    6.5/10
  • Value - 9/10
    9/10
  • Geek Satisfaction - 8.5/10
    8.5/10