The Lenovo Legion Y520 Tower (starts at $ 809.99; $ 1,079.99 as tested) is a simple and affordable gaming desktop with modest components backed up by an Nvidia GTX 1060 graphics card. While it’s not as powerful as the Editors’ Choice Dell XPS Tower Special Edition (8930), our testing shows that it’s more than up to the challenge for HD gaming. Plus, it’s configurable if you want to add more oomph to your rig, and it takes up relatively little desk space, making it a worthy money-saving option for gamers playing in HD.
Outside of its reasonable price, the Legion Y520’s compact size may be its biggest strength. It measures just 15.84 by 18.42 by 7.16 inches (HWD), a small footprint and short enough to fit in a desk cutout or under a hutch. The design is somewhere in between the simplicity of the Dell XPS Tower Special Edition, and the aggressive look of the MSI Aegis Ti3 desktop. The side panels are plain, and the top is ridged, while most of the panache is saved for the front panel. It sports an angular design, with a V-shaped light (which strongly resembles a Battlestar Galactica Cylon’s head) sitting just above a tinted window. Through the semi-translucent window, you can see interior LEDs highlighting the case fans, which gives the desktop a little flair without being over the top.
The Legion Y520 can easily be opened by removing screws on the rear and pulling away the side panel. The inside isn’t made to be seen—there’s not any visually exciting hardware or cooling included—but it’s functional and fit for upgrades. There is a decent amount of open space in which to work as well, should you need to do some maintenance or swap out a part.
The included power supply is 450W, which serves fine for the components as configured, but you may want to upgrade if you have plans to add a more powerful graphics card in the future. The processor on this configuration of the Legion Y520 is a 3GHz Intel Core i5-7400, surrounded by 8GB of memory. Along with the GTX 1060, that’s a modest loadout, but fitting for the price.
There are two 3.5-inch drive bays, one free and one occupied by a 1TB hard drive, while a 128GB M.2 SSD is also installed. That’s plenty of storage for games, and the small but quick SSD works well as the boot drive for faster OS loading. There are other configurations available: You can switch to a Core i7 processor for $ 100 more, or really go all in for a $ 1,399.99 model with a 2TB HDD, 16GB of memory, and an eighth-generation i7 CPU. Alternatively, you could scale all the way down to a GTX 1050Ti and drop the SSD for $ 809.99.
There’s a basic selection of ports on the Legion Y520’s back side and front panel. The latter holds two USB 3.0 ports and the headphone and mic jacks. Around back, there are two more USB 3.0 ports, two USB 2.0 ports, an Ethernet jack, and audio lines. Other features include a DVD drive, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. The desktop is supported by a one-year warranty.
It bears reminding when considering performance that this build puts budget first, while still striving for good HD performance. The Legion Y520’s Core i5 processor led to a notably lower score on PCMark 8 than the XPS or the HP Omen Desktop. This pattern repeats on the multimedia tests: The Core i5 is capable, but simply not as fast as an i7, especially on multithreaded tasks. It is suitable for more general work, but if you need a specialized machine for photo or video projects, this probably isn’t the right pick for you.
A Core i5 is perfectly serviceable for most gaming systems, and the GTX 1060 is a solid get at this price—comparably priced laptops would net you a 1050 or 1050Ti. As expected, the Legion Y520’s ability to play games at 1080p was strong, posting 67 frames per second (fps) and 78fps on the Heaven and Valley tests on ultra-quality settings. No, that’s not a ton of headroom to maintain 60fps on more demanding games, but again, it’s good for a desktop at this price. The Omen and XPS pack GTX 1070s, so the performance is of course superior, but they cost several hundred dollars more.
For $ 1,079.99, this Legion Y520 Tower configuration nets you a GTX 1060 and plenty of storage for your games, plus room to upgrade in the future. If your budget has some wiggle room and you know you’ll play demanding games, or play at a resolution higher than HD, the more expensive options, like the Editors’ Choice Dell XPS Tower, are worth the investment. Alternatively, you can configure the Legion Y520 a bit higher and add in an i7 for just $ 100 more. If the games you play are generally less demanding and you don’t need to do hobbyist or professional work on the side, this a great money-saving choice.