Off late, we’re seeing a lot of laptop OEMs diversify their portfolios to cater to a wider audience. While affordable thin and light notebooks can be found willy-nilly, a lot of brands have started offering wallet-friendly options for gamers on a budget too. Case in point, Lenovo’s IdeaPad Gaming lineup, which isn’t as superlative as the company’s Legion series but claims to deliver an uncompromising gaming experience to budding enthusiasts. I managed to get my hands on the company’s IdeaPad Gaming 3i laptop and in this review, I’ll share my experience of using the machine as my go-to laptop for office and gaming.
Design and Ports
Gaming laptops are still stereotyped to come with aggressive edges and RGB lighting, however, that has not been the case for quite some time now. In fact, most if not all gaming laptop OEMs have streamlined their respective design ethos and correspondingly, new-age gaming machines can be used in a cafe, or even a workplace without attracting unnecessary eyeballs. Lenovo’s IdeaPad 3i falls in line with this approach too, and the unit comes with a minimalistic-looking chassis which doesn’t scream ‘PC masterrace’. Despite that, the laptop doesn’t look bland and it does offer some stylistic features, be it the curvy lid which reminds me of the hood of a muscle car, or its backlit keyboard which I’ll talk more about in the subsequent sections. But, for the most part, Lenovo has kept things fairly simple here and I for one am all for the unit’s subtle, not-in-your-face design.
As for the materials used in construction, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i has been constructed in entirety using plastic, but the laptop doesn’t feel cheap. While the choice of materials do add some flex to the unit’s chassis, especially around the lid which twists quite easily, there’s very little give in or around the keyboard deck. Speaking of which, the hinge mechanism which connects the display to the bottom half of the laptop offers good friction, ensuring that the screen doesn’t wobble all that much.
The company has offered a healthy selection of ports with the IdeaPad Gaming 3i too, and you’ll find a USB Type-C Gen 3.1 port on the unit’s left-hand spine, along with a USB Type-A gen 3.1 port, an HDMI port, an ethernet slot and a 3.5mm audio jack. The right fascia of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i offers an additional USB Type-A Gen 3.1 port and up top, you’ll get a serviceable webcam with a privacy shutter. Much to my dismay, you will not get support for Windows Hello with the unit and seeing how the company has not included a fingerprint sensor either, you’ll have to log into the machine the old-fashioned way.
All said and done, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i hits more than it misses in the design department. If anything, I would’ve liked to see an oleophobic coating on the laptop’s lid as it attracts smudges quite easily. But, barring that, the design of the IdeaPad 3i is aces in my books.
Keyboard and TrackPad
Seeing how the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is targeted towards gamers, it was pivotal the unit offered a good keyboard for intense button-mashing sessions. To that note, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i has delivered yet again and I found the keyboard to my liking – the keys offered good travel, didn’t wobble, and had a slight dip too, which paved the way for a satisfying typing experience. Do note that the deck is positioned slightly to the left to accommodate the full-sized Numpad, so you will need some time to acclimate to it. Lest I forget, the keyboard does come with a backlit Blue LED which offers two different levels of brightness so rest assured, you can use the keyboard comfortably, even with the lights in your room turned off.
The trackpad has been positioned slightly off-center too, however, comes with a large surface area and support for Windows Precision Drivers. Correspondingly, you shouldn’t face any problems using multi-finger gestures on the unit. Quite interestingly, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i also comes with the company’s M100 RGB mouse, which so far, has held up really well. Do let me know in the comments below if you’d like a review for the same but for now, let’s divert our attention to the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s display and audio setup.
Display and Audio
The IdeaPad Gaming 3i comes in various trims, but the model sent to me for review offers a 15.6-inch, Full HD panel which refreshes at 60Hz. The display offers a matte coating on top, which ensures that your viewing experience is not marred by unnecessary glares or reflections. That being said, the panel doesn’t get too bright and at 250 nits, you might struggle to use it in a well-lit area. Furthermore, the screen comes with just 45-percent of NTSC coverage, and correspondingly, I wouldn’t peg the IdeaPad Gaming 3i to be your next colour-grading station. But then again, that’s the case with most budget-gaming laptops.
In terms of audio, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i offers a pair of downward-firing speakers that get adequately loud. There’s very little depth to the music and the dialogues sound a tad hollow too so for the best experience, I’d advise you to stick with a pair of headphones.
Performance and Battery Life
At its core, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i comes equipped with Intel’s Core i5-10300H processor which works alongside Nvidia’s GTX 1650Ti GPU with 4GB of GDDR6 memory. My review unit of the laptop shipped with 8GB of user-upgradable DDR4 RAM and for storage, the laptop offered a hybrid SSD+HDD combo, comprising 256 gigs of solid state storage and a terabyte of hard disk space.
Suffice it to say, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i could comfortably handle my daily workload which involved having over a dozen tabs open in Google Chrome, creating graphics on Adobe XD and having apps like Microsoft Teams and Discord running in the background. Unsurprisingly, the laptop performed as it should in synthetic benchmarks too, and netted a cumulative score of 4,111 points in PCMark 10. Turning over the page to CineBench R20, which tests a machine’s multi-threaded performance, the laptop scored 1,982 points, which isn’t all that bad, albeit pales in comparison to similarly priced laptops powered by Ryzen’s 4600H processors.
But, I know you’re all here to see just how good the laptop is for gaming, and long story short, it’s decent for the price. In relatively less taxing games like SuperHot: Mind, Control, Delete, I was averaging over 200 fps, which is a fantastic number. Turn the page over to something a little more intense like Counter Strike Global Offensive and the frames dropped all the way down to X, which once again, is way above the 60fps mark so no complaints here either. In Fall Guys, with all the settings set to max, I was netting exactly 60fps and in more graphically demanding games like Apex Legends, I was hovering between 50-75fps with the settings set to high. The frames would fluctuate quite a bit during intense gun battles and therefore, you will have to use a custom preset with some settings like shadows, Nvidia’s HairWorks, and Anti-Aliasing dialed down to achieve a consistent 60fps gaming experience on most modern AAA titles. I’d also like to add that the IdeaPad 3i can get quite warm to the touch after prolonged gaming sessions, especially around the centre of the keyboard deck. Plus, the unit’s fans can get quite noisy too so I’d advise you put on a pair of headphones for the best possible experience.
Quite surprisingly, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i offers a serviceable battery backup for a gaming laptop and it offered me around five hours of usage off a single charge. In our Battery Eater Pro test, the unit managed to crunch through a sustained workload for 1.5 hours, which is quite refreshing to see from a power-packed laptop.
My review unit of the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i will set interested buyers Rs 72,990 back and for the price, the laptop gets a lot right and offers a good-looking design, a comfortable keyboard, and reliable performance. The icing on the cake is that the unit also comes with a fantastic gaming mouse. However, as good as the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is, it’s hard to overlook competing laptops offering more powerful Ryzen processors. For instance, you could get your hands on the brand-new Omen 15 with a significantly more powerful CPU in the form of Ryzen 4600H by adding just Rs 3K more to your budget. If you want even more value for your money, then HP’s Pavilion Gaming notebook offers a Ryzen 4600H processor, Nvidia’s GTX 1650Ti GPU, and a 144Hz display for just Rs 72K, albeit loses out on some style points as compared to its pricier Omen sibling.
Consequently, I’d recommend you to get the IdeaPad Gaming 3i only if you want to stick with Team Blue. For anyone looking for more horsepower, Ryzen-laden notebooks are currently the way to go.