Lenovo’s Legion 9i Has Built-In Liquid Cooling

Lenovo Legion 9i
(Image credit: Tom's Hardware)

Lenovo's new flagship gaming laptop, the Legion 9i, has liquid cooling inside the chassis. It's the first time we've seen that happen (unless you count options with external cooling components), and the company suggests it's the first 16-inch laptop in the world to do so. The system, starting at an eye-watering $4,399 and available this October, is filled with flagship parts, but still maintains a thin profile.

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CPUIntel Core i9-13980HX
GPUUp to Nvidia GeForce RTX 4090 Laptop GPU (16GB GDD67, 150W + 25W boost, 2,370 MHz boost clock)
MemoryUp to 64GB DDR5-5600 or 32GB DDR5-6400
StorageUp to 2TB PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSD
Display16-inch, up to 3200 x 2000 Mini LED, 16:10, 165 Hz, Dolby Vision, G-Sync Validated
NetworkingWi-Fi 7, Bluetooth
Ports2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, 2x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, 2x Thunderbolt 4, HDMI 2.1, Ethernet
Webcam1080p, E-Shutter
Battery99.99 WHr
AvailabilityOctober 2023
PriceStarting at $4,399

The Legion 9i is packing an Intel Core i9-13980HX and can fit an RTX 4090 Laptop GPU, with a maximum TDP of 230W (though I was told the starting configuration will likely include an RTX 4080). The system is just 0.89 inches thick (22.7 mm), though it's still a hefty 5.4 pounds (2.56 kg).

But that liquid loop, designed with Cooler Master, doesn't cover all of those parts; it's actually quite targeted, running over the GPU's VRAM. Even then, it doesn't run constantly, but only when the GPU reaches 84 degrees Celsius. This, I was told, keeps the GPU cool but is also meant to prolong the life of the liquid loop. This all works  quite differently from other laptop liquid cooling solutions I've seen before, which involve attaching an external tank to the laptop. Lenovo's cooling also includes three fans over the parts that generate the most heat.

In fact, Lenovo reps told me the motherboard is inverted to allow for more airflow to the CPU and GPU, which explains the large grates, and why the keyboard and touchpad appear to be further down than you'd expect. I'm curious how that will feel in long-term use.

While the RGB light ring around the base is eye-catching, it may actually be the lid that draws the most attention. Lenovo says it's using "forged carbon" here, which apparently helps reduce the weight added by the liquid loop. But the way the lids are made mean that no two Legion 9i systems will look completely identical. Frankly, the whole thing looks a bit like camouflage to me, which I don't love, but I do think some gamers will appreciate the unique stylings. And at least it's likely not to put the focus on fingerprints.

The 16-inch screen will go up to a 3,200 x 2,000 Mini LED screen with a 165 Hz variable refresh rate. Some of the best gaming laptops have switched to Mini LED to great effect, so the panel here is likely to be stunning.  Lenovo is saying that the display is G-Sync "validated", which is not a term I've heard before in reference to gaming screens. When asked, Lenovo says that there's no distinct chip (like in some desktop monitors), and that the term has been used due to rigorous testing similar to what you might find in a G-Sync-compatible desktop monitor.

We've seen plenty of laptops use 99 WHr batteries, narrowly slipping below the 100 WHr minimum to bring on an airplane. Here, Lenovo's making that even slimmer, at 99.99 WHr cell, which can be charged with a 330W adapter for gaming or a 140W Type-C charger, which is also included with the system.

Lenovo is using its LA-2 AI chip here for two purposes. Firstly, it syncs the RGB around the light strips, Lenovo logo and the keyboard. Secondly, it works with a "Smart FPS feature" to track frames per second and "automatically adjust power to the GPU and CPU, ensuring maximum FPS no matter the gaming scenario." We hope to get this laptop in for testing to see how well the cooling, and this AI-enabled feature, perform.

Andrew E. Freedman is a senior editor at Tom's Hardware focusing on laptops, desktops and gaming. He also keeps up with the latest news. A lover of all things gaming and tech, his previous work has shown up in Tom's Guide, Laptop Mag, Kotaku, PCMag and Complex, among others. Follow him on Threads @FreedmanAE and Mastodon @FreedmanAE.mastodon.social.

  • Lucky_SLS
    $4400, nuff said.
  • PEnns
    "Starting at $4,399"

    It boggles the mind that anyone would spend that much on a laptop!!
  • Sleepy_Hollowed
    I understand that some people might see a benefit from this, but this is the cusp of excess. I'm amazed this got green-lit in 2023 all things considered.
  • BwwwJ1st
    Unfortunately, the liquid cooling is almost a must for the GPU’s VRAM. I own the Legion Pro 7i Intel w/ Nvidia mobile 4090, a similar 16” thin design. I frequently see VRAM temps > 100C. I am just glad I sprung for the 3 year warranty.