If you are looking for a reasonably priced high-performance laptop, there’s a sea of metal or plastic clamshells out there with aggressive design elements waiting to be purchased. Companies are launching new laptops left, right and center, bringing every new chipset upgrade in more models. Lenovo is among the many relentlessly launching Intel 10th Gen versions of its laptops. To please the gaming community, it has updated its IdeaPad Gaming series with the 10th Gen Intel processors. Also Read - Lenovo launches the P11 Tab Pro with a 2K OLED display, Snapdragon 730G SoC
The IdeaPad Gaming series is a cheaper alternative to the Legion gaming laptops. On paper, it loses some of the advanced cooling bits and settles for mediocre hardware overall. That said, starting at Rs 74,290, a lot of those compromises seem reasonable. Since there’s a high demand for affordable yet capable high-performance laptops, I decided to swap my daily driver with the Ideapad Gaming 3i. My overall impressions are positive. Also Read - Online games helped in stress relief during lockdown, says Lenovo India’s Executive Director
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Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i review
Design and build
I have always found Lenovo laptops among the best-designed PCs at any price range. The IdeaPad Gaming 3i is no exception as it brings Lenovo’s distinct classy design traits to the gaming crowd. It looks massively different from the Legion laptops yet some elements suggest “it means business”. Maybe it’s the clean glossy finish on the metallic lid with the Lenovo logo stamped to the edge. The angular design also adds to the flair. After a long time, I found a black colored laptop look so good – maybe that’s the magic of metal over plastic as a material. Also Read - Lenovo Yoga Slim 7i laptop launched with 10th-Gen Intel processor: Price in India, specifications
Open the lid and the same theme continues. You get a full-size QWERTY keyboard with a dedicated NUMPAD and a large trackpad. I liked the “Ideapad Gaming” branding stamped on the hinge, making it a crucial part of the laptop’s design. However, what’s unbeatable is that in all of this seductive piano black theme, the blue-backlit keyboard stuns, unlike anything. Whether in its dim or bright settings, the keyboard is a wonder to look at.
Lenovo’s build quality is top-notch once again. The lid and deck are made of aluminum, thereby giving it a solid feel. The display itself has narrow bezels, thereby adding to the immersion while gaming. The webcam is present on the conventional position and there’s a small privacy shutter as well. Despite all the metal build, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i only weighs 2.2 Kgs. Hence, when we return to the normal non-COVID times, this shouldn’t be a burden for your shoulders while sitting in your backpack.
When it comes to the I/O ports, Lenovo has got it all covered. You will find two USB 3.1 ports, a single USB 3.1 Type-C port, a headphone/microphone combo jack, an HDMI port, an RJ45 Ethernet port, and Lenovo’s proprietary charging port. Wireless connectivity includes Bluetooth 5.0 and the newer Wi-Fi 6.
Gaming laptops built to a price usually compromise with the display. The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is not alien to this fact. You get a standard 15.6-inch Full HD+ display with a refresh rate of 60Hz and a maximum brightness of 250 nits. The LCD panel itself supports a color gamut of 45 percent, which is on par with what you get in a laptop at this price. There’s a matte anti-glare coating that cuts down on reflections.
While this isn’t a display fit for professional video editors, it does its job just fine for regular computing stuff and casual gaming. While writing my stories, the display did its job well with bright and vibrant colors. Brightness levels are on the lower side and I found myself keeping the brightness stuck above 80 percent while gaming. Viewing angles are wide and fine. The lack of high refresh rate is a bummer – Lenovo should offer 120Hz displays as standard on every laptop meant for gaming, not as an option.
Entry-level gaming laptops aren’t going to achieve the lofty numbers nerds love to boast of. My unit came equipped with an Intel Core i5-10300H clocked at 2.5GHz. This was paired with 8GB 2933Hz DDR4 RAM and a combination of 256GB SSD along with a 1TB 5400 HDD. For graphics, there was an NVIDIA FTX 1650Ti with 4GB GDDR6 RAM. Windows 10 Home was as always the operating system managing the show.
These are decent numbers for a gaming laptop and it showed. I threw a couple of new titles at it and it managed to play them at medium to high settings with ease. My favorite title F1 2020 ran at Ultra-High graphics delivering consistent frame rates of 60 fps. However, in the long Grand Prix races of its career mode, I noticed frame drops after spending almost an hour on it. You should note that I had to dial down the screen resolution to 1366 x 768 as well as turn down the crowd quality.
Wolfenstein: YoungBlood also returned a steady 60 fps gameplay with a mix of medium to high graphics. GTA 5 ran at the highest settings in full 1080p resolution at 60 fps. I also tried the Marvels Avengers Beta on the IdeaPad Gaming 3i and it returned variable frame rates of 50-60 fps in High graphics settings. On the whole, most of the newer titles will run nicely, provided you dial down a few intensive parameters.
I ran a couple of benchmark applications and the laptop scored decently. On CineBench 20, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i scored 2,080 points. In GeekBench, the laptop managed to score 1,140 on single-core and 4,048 on multi-core. PCMark 10 awarded it a score of 4,836 whereas on 3DMark, it scored 23,577 in the Sky Diver test. Due to the metal body, the keyboard and certain parts of the deck go too warm while gaming. However, a quick check of the temperatures with HWInfo showed the IdeaPad Gaming 3i not crossing the 96-degrees Celsius mark even after two hours of gaming.
Scores aside, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i impressed as a regular desk computer for work. Lenovo brings some of its keyboard finesses from the ThinkPad series to this one. Don’t get me wrong, the keys are still not as good as the ThinkPad laptops but they are certainly better than what you get in Asus TUF A15 and HP Pavillion Gaming series. The keys have decent travel and thanks to the large keycaps, I was able to type with more accuracy than usual. The arrow keys get equally large keycaps as the rest of the keys – something that’s usually compromised in lots of cheaper gaming laptops.
The trackpad is large and responsive to all the Windows 10 gestures. Lenovo’s function keys include the ability to disable the trackpad, summon the multitasking window and disable the mic. Lenovo preloads the laptop with its Vantage application that allows you to keep a track on the system parameters. It even offers toggles to enable Rapid charge, auto-boot-up while opening the lid, and more. It even allows for a big battery meter on the taskbar showing either the percentage or time remaining.
Sadly, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i suffers the same fate as its rivals in terms of audio quality. The 1.5W stereo speaker setup mounted towards the bottom sounds hollow and isn’t very loud. In my bedroom with a ceiling fan switched on, I barely managed to listen to the YouTube videos.
Lenovo promises up to 7 hours of battery life on the IdeaPad Gaming 3i. In reality, I could at most achieve three hours of life on a single full charge. I left the battery settings on “Better Performance” mode most of the time. In the battery saving modes, the laptop managed to stretch it to four hours. Gaming on the battery mode alone in the High Performance mode drained it out completely in less than an hour. Additionally, I noticed lots of frame drops with the charger unplugged.
Luckily, Lenovo offers a 135W fast charger in the box. With the supplied charger and Rapid Charge enabled, the laptop charged to 80 percent from 5 percent in just an hour.
Should you buy the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i?
For what’s it worth, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is a well-rounded gaming laptop with an accessible price tag. It misses out on a high-refresh-rate and color-accurate display, and makes do with sub-par speakers. However, for what it costs, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i offers good gaming performance, classy design with solid build quality, and decent battery life (for a gaming laptop). The keyboard is an added bonus for those who would like to use this for work as well. On the whole, I would recommend it for anyone wanting an accessible high-performance laptop for casual gaming and video editing.