Great cheap laptops may be difficult to find, and while Lenovo has produced some of the greatest in the past, can the current Lenovo IdeaPad 3i 14 continue the trend? Purchasing a laptop is difficult enough, but many manufacturers now offer Intel and AMD-powered alternatives. While the Intel variant, therefore the 3i in the name, is comparable, the ordinary IdeaPad 3 features an AMD CPU.
It’s the ’81W’ either way, but like with any laptop, verify the specs of the SKU you’re interested in to ensure it has all you need. Much of the same will apply, although performance and battery life will differ from the Core i3.
What will you see here?
Lenovo has always produced attractive laptops, regardless of price, and the new IdeaPad 3 is no exception. With its brushed aluminum lid and keyboard surround, it doesn’t appear like a cheap laptop.
The bottom and screen bezel are both plastics, but the build quality is acceptable, and my review sample arrived in a stunning dark Cherry Red. There’s also an appealing Abyss Blue choice, as well as Platinum Grey and Business Black.
At 20mm, it’s not a particularly thin laptop, and even the taped edges can’t cover this much. It’s not exceptional for a laptop at this price, plus its light at 1.6kg. Lenovo claims that the IdeaPad 3i has tiny bezels around the screen, but you wouldn’t call them that, especially at the bottom, where it’s massive with no branding to break it up. On the good side, the webcam has a real privacy shutter. However, the camera itself is a low resolution at only 0.3Mp.
A shaky keyboard and a lousy trackpad are unusual on a low-cost laptop, but Lenovo has done well here.
Apart from the standard up and down arrows, the chiclet keyboard is properly spaced and has a special function row at the top. The keys are a fair size. The typing experience is decent, with a good blend of soft and sharp and a reasonable amount of travel. However, the keypad is not lighted.
No concerns about the trackpad because it is sturdy, a good size, and responsive. It’s much above average for a low-cost laptop.
Screen & Speakers:
The 14-inch display has a Full HD resolution and a good anti-glare coating. While Lenovo mentions an IPS panel as an option, most versions are likely to have a lower quality TN screen.
That’s what is here, and it’s a typical way to save money. While the screen is adequate, it only has a restricted brightness of 189 nits when measured with a SpyderX. It implies you’ll probably leave it on all the time and it’ll be OK for indoor use if you’re not in direct sunlight.
Thanks to Dolby Audio, Lenovo guarantees crystal clear sound from the IdeaPad 3i. That’s a stretch, but this laptop sounds better than most inexpensive laptops. The two 1.5W speakers are positioned on the front edge of the bottom and provide good projection as well as adequate power.
Expect nothing spectacular, and the sound quality is low in bass and has a tinny, slightly harsh profile.
The IdeaPad 3i comes with an Intel Core i3-1005G1 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. If you don’t mind less power, you can obtain a cheaper variant with an Intel Pentium Gold.
As previously said, there are IdeaPad 3 (no you variants with AMD CPUs, and there is greater variety here with Ryzen 3, Ryzen 5, and Ryzen 7 chips all available. The Ryzen 5 variant has double the RAM and SSD storage while remaining under £500.
However, you may not feel compelled to pay more because the Core i3 sample performs admirably for day-to-day chores, with the fans seldom turning on. The biggest restriction is RAM, thus items like Chome tabs will rapidly run out of memory, requiring them to reload every time you click them.
Lenovo includes Windows 10 S with all IdeaPad 3 variants (Intel or AMD). This is the basic version, which only allows you to use programs from the official store. If you wish to download and install something from the web or something similar, you must first unlock it to full Windows. That’s simple and free, and had no problems utilizing the laptop in this manner.
There is no USB-C connector, but the IdeaPad 3i does have a variety of connections to offer, including a headphone jack, full-size SD card slot, HDMI, and a classic barrel charger. There are three USB-A ports, one being a sluggish 2.0 version and the other two of which are speedier USB 3.1 versions.
When it comes to battery life, the IdeaPad 3i doesn’t have much to offer, with Lenovo claiming up to nine hours, but just 7.5 for this model with a 35Wh cell.
It took four hours to compose this evaluation on the laptop, along with additional activities including email and site surfing and a 45-minute video conversation. This was with the screen at full brightness, which you need in order to use it without squinting.
It entered battery-saving mode after 3 hours and did not charge rapidly, reaching just 26 percent from dead in 30 minutes.
If you’re okay with the Intel Pentium variant, the IdeaPad 3i starts at £349, and Currys PC World now offers it for £329. Yet Lenovo and Currys PC World offer it for £379 as usual. If your demands aren’t too exacting, it’s a decent value for money number.
If you want greater power, AMD IdeaPad 3 models with Ryzen 3 processors start at £399. The £479 Ryzen 5 variant with 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD is the best value. You can also get a Ryzen 7 with a 512GB SSD, but with a basic screen and a price tag of £579, you’re better off with competitors like the Honor MagicBook 14 or Microsoft Surface Laptop Go.
Lenovo does not officially offer the 14 models in the United States, however, the Ryzen 5 variant is available on
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is a nice budget notebook with many of the typical drawbacks that come with purchasing a model at the lower end of the market. What the laptop does well is have a sleek appearance with the high build quality, as well as great components, keyboard, and trackpad – all at a reasonable price.
However, the screen’s brightness & viewing angles are limited, and the battery life is inadequate. As is the webcam’s quality, even if it has a privacy cover. If you’re intending to use it indoors and won’t be away from the power source for too long, the IdeaPad 3i is a decent buy. However, if you want to use it in brighter settings and without access to mains electricity, consider elsewhere.