I bought a laptop from Walmart. Not just from Walmart, but at a physical Walmart location. This is something I never thought I would do! Walmart has carried laptops for many years, but until recently, they were all very inexpensive and generally low quality and performance laptops. To my surprise, I found something interesting at Walmart, so I bought it. This will be my Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05 laptop review.
Roughly a year ago, Walmart started selling a small selection of gaming laptops, desktops, and peripherals in many of their retail locations. Nothing they sell is super high end, but it is a big jump up from their non-gaming PC hardware. Love them or hate them, Walmart is easily accessible across the United States, even in rural areas, so this makes it easier to get better quality hardware from a brick and mortar store.
Lenovo Legion 5 15ARH05 Laptop
This is a 15″, 5.5lb laptop that is relatively thick (23mm). It has a 15.6″ 1080p 120hz IPS, non-touch display. Not too exciting so far. But, it has a 7nm 6C/12T AMD Ryzen 5 4600H processor that supports DDR4-3200 RAM. This entry-level AMD mobile processor smokes virtually every single Intel mobile processor in most benchmarks.
The system as configured has only one 8GB DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM (so only single-channel memory mode), but it is not soldered in. That is great news! It also has a 256GB Samsung PM981a M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 drive and a 1TB Western Digital 2.5″ 7200rpm SATA HDD. These would not be my preferred memory and storage choices, but they are user serviceable. You can swap the RAM and storage out for whatever you want…
You also get an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 Ti 4GB discrete GPU, Wi-Fi6, BT5, a 1GB Ethernet port, an HDMI port, one USB-C 3.2 port, and four USB-A 3.2 ports. It comes with Windows 10 Home Build 1909. This is pretty well-equipped for $789.00.
Stock Benchmark Results
I ran some quick benchmarks on the laptop as it was configured from the factory. Keep in mind that this is with just the stock configuration with only one 8GB stick of DDR4-3200 RAM. Having the memory running in single-channel mode like this definitely hurts memory performance.
Even so, the CPU-Z and Geekbench 5 results are quite good. I don’t think CPU-Z really measures memory performance very much, but it will be interesting to retest once I have two SODIMMs installed.
The single-threaded performance is about the same as an AMD Ryzen 7 2700X Zen+ desktop CPU. We also have quite good ST and MT performance in Geekbench 5.3.1. I think single-channel memory mode hurts Geekbench scores more than CPU-Z scores.
Even hobbled with single-channel memory, the MT scores are about double the typical 4C/8T Intel-based laptops that many people currently have.
The OEM 256GB Samsung 981a M.2 NVMe TLC drive does quite well for a 256GB SSD. The small capacity is an issue, both from a space and from a performance perspective. A larger capacity size of this same model SSD would have better sequential write performance.
The 1TB Western Digital 7200rpm HDD performs as I would expect.
I have to give Lenovo some credit for putting in much better OEM storage than I expected at this price point. This would be absolutely acceptable for most normal usage scenarios. Both drives are easily replaced if you need more space or more performance. Just having two drive bays is pretty unusual in this price range.
The first thing I would upgrade is the RAM. At a bare minimum, you should get a second 8GB DDR4-3200 SO-DIMM, to take you up to 16GB and be running in dual-channel memory mode. This would only cost about $35. You could just stop there, and have a pretty powerful machine for $825.
If you wanted to go further, this system can use two 16GB DDR4-3200 SO-DIMMs, or two 32GB DDR4-3200 SO-DIMMs, so you could have 32GB or 64GB of fast DDR4-3200 RAM. Two 16GB SO-DIMMs would be about $100-$120, while two 32GB SO-DIMMs would be about $205-$280. BTW, you want the capacities of both memory modules to match, so that they are both 100% in dual-channel memory mode.
For storage, I think a larger, somewhat faster M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 storage card would be a good idea. You can go from 500GB, all the way up to an 8TB M.2 drive. The stock 1TB 2.5″ HDD can also be replaced with a 2.5″ SATA SSD, which could be as large as 4TB. Maxing out the storage size would be pretty expensive though. I’m planning on putting in a 1TB Samsung 970 EVO M.2 drive and a 1TB Samsung 860 EVO 2.5″ SATA drive. These are currently $149.99 and $99.99 respectively.
This is a fairly large, thick and heavy machine, with a black plastic body. It is not going to win any beauty contests, but it is more like a sleeper hot-rod that is easily modified. Surprisingly, it comes with a minimum of bloatware from Lenovo.
It performs quite well in the stock configuration. Just bumping the RAM up to 16GB with a second 8GB SODIMM takes the cost up to $825, and that would be a good fit for normal usage. Even stock, this machine is a huge improvement over machines costing nearly twice as much from several years ago.
You can also configure this 6C/12T machine with 64GB of RAM and 2TB of storage for about $1250, that will have better overall performance than the vast majority of brand new laptops. That is not a bad deal.
If you have any questions about this post, please ask me here in the comments or on Twitter. I am pretty active on Twitter as GlennAlanBerry. Thanks for reading!