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Shopping on a tight budget but need a decent laptop for basic home, office or college tasks? The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 might easily be the best choice for you. This 14-inch laptop has a sturdy chassis and a comfortable keyboard, perks that you rarely find on budget laptops.
It’s one of the few laptops that easily rival our Editors’ Choice for budget laptops, the Acer Aspire A515-43-R19L, thanks to a solid feature set and a price that’s hard to beat.
The IdeaPad 3 looks like any other ordinary laptop. By that, I mean it doesn’t have any unique design features that set it apart from a typical note book, maybe the signature Abyss Blue color that’s not very common. It’s a rectangle with rounded corners, and has a Lenovo logo in one corner. The IdeaPad’s chassis isn’t thick, nor thin, and the laptop’s lid and undercarriage are made of hard plastic.
Port selection is a bit limited, but you don’t miss the very basic ports. It doesn’t have a USB Type-C port, but you get a pair USB 3.0 ports, a single USB 2.0 port, an SD card slot, HDMI 1.4 port and a headphone/mic jack. One other thing is a physical shutter for the webcam so that you can have your privacy in confidence. Wireless connectivity comes in way of Wi-Fi 5 and Bluetooth 4.1.
It’s hard not to criticize such an inexpensive laptop for having a not-so bright display. However, we do appreciate the 1080p (1920 x 1080) panel, which provides a much sharper image than the Lenovo 330’s 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display.
Despite the screen’s fairly dim, it isn’t worse like it would on a 720p display. With a peak brightness of 250 nits, the display is brighter than those on the Aspire E5 (227 nits), Acer Swift 1 (208 nits) and the average budget laptop (208 nits).
Keyboard and Touchpad
Lenovo always has a thing with its comfortable keyboards, and the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 doesn’t break that trend.
While it’s not ThinkPad good, you’ll still enjoy the Lenovo IdeaPad 3’s keyboard. The well curved chiclet-style keys are well sized and quite clicky. There’s some good weight on the keys, which is likely from their 70 grams of actuation force. The 1.4 key travel is short of our average 1.5mm preference, but is still much better than the keyboards on competing devices. I do wish the keyboard had backlighting, but that’s far from being a standard feature on budget laptops.
The 4.1 x 2.6-inch touchpad on the Lenovo 81W0003QUS is pretty responsive, and I didn’t have any problems executing Windows 10 gestures, like pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipes when switching windows.
Lenovo offers the IdeaPad 3 with a solid feature set designed for reliable day-to-day performance. Under the hood, it packs AMD’s Ryzen 5 3500U processor, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics. This is enough to run the pre-installed Windows 10 OS, and can keep you powered throughout the day on basic tasks without slowing down.
For the most part, the IdeaPad 3 will perform in line with its CPU, coming in the same level with some other laptops with outfitted with Intel’s Core i5 processor, like the Asus F510UA-AH51. Also, the Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576-392H) does come behind the IdeaPad 330, however.
Overall, performance is very good, and the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 will suffice as an affordable productivity machine for just about any user. And the chassis remains comfortable, doesn’t get warm and fans that spin up but are never overly loud.
Unsurprisingly, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3’s AMD Radeon Vega 8 graphics offer no more than casual gaming capability. If gaming is your poison, you’ll need to select a more expensive and better-equipped notebook, for example, the Lenovo Ideapad L340 that includes a discrete Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, if you need better mobile gaming. It’s our Editors’ Choice for budget gaming laptops.
Stay near an outlet if you plan on using the IdeaPad for long hours away from home. With a runtime of 7 hours 31 minutes, the IdeaPad powers down a few hours before the Aspire E5 (8.46) and Swift 1 (10:12). The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 does outlast the budget laptop average (7:10), and that’s quite interesting for a budget laptop.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is an affordable laptop with an excellent 14-inch display, a comfortable keyboard and a solid, durable chassis. That is almost enough for most folks, but others may be looking the dull display and the battery life may not be as good as what competitors are offering. Still, those are issues that are easily overridden by the good performance and competitive price.
If you have less than $500 to spend, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (81W0003QUS) is an excellent option – so long as you keep expectations like gaming in check.
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Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14" Laptop, 14.0" FHD (1920 x 1080) Display, AMD Ryzen 5 3500U Processor, 8GB DDR4 RAM, 256GB SSD, AMD Radeon Vega 8 Graphics, Narrow Bezel, Windows 10, 81W0003QUS, Abyss Blue
$441.00 in stock
6 used from $399.00