The Lenovo LOQ 15 is the budget-friendly gaming laptop for me — well, almost

An unashamed budget gaming laptop, but some compromises are hard to ignore.

Lenovo LOQ 15
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

With the Lenovo LOQ 15, you’re getting exactly what you pay for — a budget-friendly gaming laptop with an impressive price-to-performance ratio. There are other surprises too, such as the seriously slick typing experience. But with a creaky plastic construction and a heavyweight feel, there are some compromises that are hard to ignore.


  • +

    Great 1080p gaming performance

  • +

    Fans are surprisingly quiet

  • +

    Keyboard feels great to type on

  • +

    The price is right


  • -

    Display is mid

  • -

    Cheap plastic construction

  • -

    A real heavyweight

  • -

    Webcam = potato

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IdeaPad Gaming is dead. Long live Lenovo LOQ — the low cost-centric brand has brought us this 15-inch budget beast that unlocks access to DLSS 3.0 for a small price of entry. But at what cost? Simply put, you can feel its cheapness.

That may be easy to overlook for many of you, just as it (almost) was for me. With an RTX 4050 and a starting price of $949, the entry-to-mid-level spec sheet ticks off every box to give you solid 1080p PC gaming across all your favorite AAA titles. There’s an RTX 3050 model for $799, but don’t subject yourself to that

Aesthetically, it takes notes from the nicely refined Legion Pro 7i Gen 8 with a frame that doesn’t scream “gaming laptop” with blaring RGB. Plus, flying in the face of the trend of cheap systems giving us weak keyboards, the typing experience here is oh-so-smooth.

But with a low price comes some compromises. While there are some that can be easily ignored (like the potato of a webcam), the cheap plastic that creaks regularly and a surprising amount of weight is harder to look past.

If your budget is a little tight and you’re taking a first step into the world of gaming laptops, you could do a lot worse. Then again, the competition is rife at this price point with the likes of the MSI Cyborg 15. But for any cheap option, you have to be sure you’re cool with the drawbacks. Let me go into them in more detail.

Lenovo LOQ 15: Cheat Sheet

  • What is it? A budget gaming laptop that replaces Lenovo's IdeaPad Gaming range with a new brand and refreshed hardware design.
  • Who is it for? This is perfect for first-time PC gamers and users looking to play on a budget.
  • What does it cost? The Lenovo LOQ 15 starts at $799 for the RTX 3050 model, but we recommend paying $949 for the RTX 4050 GPU.
  • Does it have any big sacrifices for that low price? Beyond the standard compromises you expect, such as a cheaper plastic design and poor webcam, the display isn't as bright and colorful as we'd like.
  • How well can it play AAA games? Thanks to DLSS 3.0, you can get a smooth 1080p gaming experience with impressive graphical detail across the AAA likes of Cyberpunk 2077 and F1 23.

Lenovo LOQ 15: Specs

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Lenovo LOQ 15
Pricefrom $949
Display15.6-inch FHD (1920 x 1080), IPS, 350 nits, 144Hz
CPUAMD Ryzen 5 7640HS - Ryzen 7 7840HS (tested)
GPURTX 4050 (tested) - RTX 4060
RAM8 (tested) - 16GB DDR5
Storage512GB PCIe Gen 4 SSD
PortsUSB-C 3.2 Gen 2, USB-A 2.0, 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 2.1, Ethernet, 3.5 Audio jack
Dimensions14.2 x 10.4 x 1 inches
Weight5.3 pounds

Lenovo LOQ 15: The ups

This is a budget gaming laptop — don’t expect the world. But for the money you pay, you get a tidy gameplay experience and a couple of extra surprises too.

Strong 1080p gaming performance

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Future)

If you keep your expectations in lockstep with the low price you pay for this gaming laptop, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The combination of AMD Ryzen 7 and the aforementioned GPU means you can get decent frame rates across all the best PC games at 1080p.

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Gaming benchmark (1080p)Lenovo LOQ 15 (RTX 4050)MSI Cyborg 15 (RTX 4050)
Assassin's Creed Valhalla81 FPS63 FPS
Cyberpunk 207721.7 FPSn/a
DiRT 579.3 FPS57.1 FPS
Grand Theft Auto V71 FPS61.3 FPS
Metro Exodus Enhanced Edition (Extreme settings)33.1 FPS25.6 FPS
Red Dead Redemption 252.8 FPS44.1 FPS

In my weeks with this cheap and cheerful machine, I found you can boost the frames per second (FPS) even further with a few settings tweaks, and most importantly, switching on DLSS 3.0. Sure, you get a little artifacting when the scenery and characters move at speed, but this is the difference between getting 21 FPS and hitting 50 FPS in Cyberpunk 2077 — seriously amping up the price-to-performance ratio.

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LaptopGeekbench 6 single-coreGeekbench 6 multicoreHandbrake timeSSD Transfer rate (MBps)
Lenovo LOQ 15 (AMD Ryzen 7 7840HS)2367815706:24976.9
MSI Cyborg 15 (Intel Core i7-13620H)24551187605:55636.3

Not only that, but that dGPU does boost some of the more graphically intensive workloads such as 4K video edits/animations and RAW image tweaks on Photoshop. It is let down a little by multi-core speeds, but the raw computation is juicy enough to make most multitasking-heavy productivity a cinch.

Quiet thermal management

Even better is the fact that under intense pressure, thermal management is mightily impressive. Sure, you can feel the heat on the underside when gaming, so save your privates from getting too toasty and use it on a desk, stand or tray. 

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LaptopTemperature while gaming (Touchpad)Temperature while gaming (G/H keys)Hottest surface & temperature
Lenovo LOQ 1576.5 degrees105 degrees123.5 degrees (Underside)
MSI Cyborg 1578.5 degrees94 degrees112 degrees (Underside)

But fans stay quiet enough for gaming with the speakers (though I’d always recommend using a headset), and the surfaces you touch often like the keyboard deck remain (mostly) comfortable to use.

A great typing experience for work and play

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Future)

Speaking of that keyboard, this was probably the most surprising thing to me. Normally, cheap gaming laptops sacrifice the touchpad and keyboard quality first — leading to the UI equivalent of pressing down on a soft sponge. And while there definitely is an odd softness to the touchpad (most of you will be using a gaming mouse anyway), the keyboard is a joy to use.

But then again, why am I surprised? Good keyboards have been in Lenovo’s DNA from the beginning, and the snappiness of each key with a gorgeous, tactile feel makes this splendid for both gaming and productivity.

Lenovo LOQ 15: The downs

But as is the case with any cheap portable gaming system, the LOQ 15 is a mixed bag. Lenovo had to switch out some of its more premium laptop ingredients with cheap alternatives, and these can be seen and felt in the build quality, display and stamina.

Battery life? What battery life!?

In less than an hour, you can kill this machine when playing a game. Yikes! Of course, this can vary depending on whether you’re playing an indie with a lighter GPU load or a super detailed AAA title, but it ain’t good.

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LaptopBattery life (web surfing hh:mm)Battery life (Gaming PCMark 10 hh:mm)
Lenovo LOQ 1506:2900:46
MSI Cyborg 1505:0501:47

On top of that, if you’re getting some work done, you’ll want to keep that charger around. The LOQ 15 lasted just under 6.5 hours in our lab tests, and in personal experience involving running Spotify in the background, 20+ Chrome tabs and regular Photoshop use, I got dangerously close to 5% after 3 hours.

Chunky, creaky and cheap-feeling

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Future)

Let me be clear. Plastic laptops are not a problem. In fact, you can make the material feel premium in nature and structurally sound. The Lenovo LOQ 15 is not an example of that, as you can feel the low cost nature when running your fingers across the surface, and the hinge’s giveaway creak when opening it up.

Not only that, but it is quite the chonk too — surprisingly so given the specs of the system.

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Lenovo LOQ 1514.2 x 10.4 x 1 inches5.3 pounds
MSI Cyborg 1514.15 x 9.7 x 0.9 inches4.4 pounds

Sure, ports are all placed in logical places (props to sticking the charging socket and HDMI 2.1 on the back for a tidy desk), and the design certainly looks nice on the eye. But that illusion is quickly broken when holding it in your hands.

Display is smooth, but not that bright or colorful

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Future)

This FHD IPS panel is certainly buttery smooth. Thanks to that 144Hz refresh rate, you can feel the speed and react quickly to any oncoming obstacles in the likes of Forza Horizon 5. But that same game is supposed to be a flash flood of color and vastly bright when blazing through the streets of Mexico — the LOQ 15 falls short of this. That much is evident when you look at the lab testing numbers.

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LaptopDisplay average brightness (nits)DCI-P3 color gamut (%)Delta-E color accuracy (smaller number is better)
Lenovo LOQ 15488.244.40%0.31
MSI Cyborg 15236.249.90%0.15

It’s unfortunate, really. The internals make it good for creative work, but unless you’re plugged into a monitor with good color calibration and a high DCI-P3 percentage, I found myself losing confidence that the Photoshop edits I made were true to what others would see — resulting in some overly warm results.

Out of the three big problems here, it’s easy to overlook cheap plastic, and you’ll be using this laptop plugged in pretty much 100% of the time. The display color and brightness should be at the top of Lenovo’s list to tackle with next generation LOQ systems.

Lenovo LOQ 15: Verdict

Lenovo LOQ 15

(Image credit: Future)

The LOQ 15 is surprising in some ways, but rather inevitable in a lot more — it is a budget-friendly gaming laptop for better and worse.

For 1080p gaming with decent fidelity, this RTX 4050-armed system is a great option. The refresh rate keeps up with the DLSS-boosted frames, thermal management is better than a lot of its similarly-priced peers, and the keyboard is a surprising joy to use. That last bit in particular elevates it to something you can use for both work and play.

But the cheap feel of it is hard to ignore — especially when the hinges creak. If this, the fuzzy webcam, and its heft are something you can look past for pure value-for-money, then you’ve got a solid low cost option.

Jason England
Managing Editor — Computing

Jason brings a decade of tech and gaming journalism experience to his role as a Managing Editor of Computing at Tom's Guide. He has previously written for Laptop Mag, Tom's Hardware, Kotaku, Stuff and BBC Science Focus. In his spare time, you'll find Jason looking for good dogs to pet or thinking about eating pizza if he isn't already.