There’s no shortage of gaming laptops on the market. You can choose from a variety of options across different price points, multiple brand options and configurations. Still, it’s always nice to get a new product that does some things exceptionally well, and fits a pretty solid price point. I’m talking, of course, about the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i laptop. The company’s new addition in India which comes in at Rs. 78,990 and offers pretty solid all around performance. So, is this something you should buy, and if you do, what can you expect? Well, I’ve been using the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i for a while, and here’s my review of the laptop.
What’s in the Box
First off, let’s take a look at the box contents. Inside the big IdeaPad branded box, you’ll find:
- The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i laptop
- Power brick
- Power cable
- Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming branded RGB Mouse (neat touch, Lenovo)
- Some manuals and paperwork
There’s nothing out of the ordinary here, but including a gaming mouse is a neat touch from Lenovo, that’s for sure. I mean sure, you probably already have a mouse, but it doesn’t hurt to have another. Plus, if you don’t have a gaming mouse, Lenovo has got you covered. I think that’s quite nice.
Design and Build
Lenovo’s design language with the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is something I really like. It’s all black, which lends it a stealthy look. Plus, Lenovo hasn’t put any ridiculous designs anywhere so the laptop will fit right in at your work desk, or in college. Honestly, this lid here is perfect. There’s a subtle Lenovo branding on the edge, and it’s not huge so it doesn’t look ugly.
Inside, the display comes with narrow bezels on the sides, but the top bezel is slightly thicker. However, it does include the webcam here, and there’s a privacy shutter built-in. That means, if you’re like me and want to keep your webcam covered, you don’t need a sticker or a third party webcam cover with this laptop. There’s a slider right above the webcam that you can use to cover or expose the webcam depending on your requirement. It’s certainly better than the solution I use on my MacBook to keep the webcam covered.
Moving on, the IdeaPad Gaming branding is on the hinge, which I think is a good placement for it. It’s not on the bottom bezel, so it doesn’t stare you in the face while you work, but it’s there, and in a dull blue colour no less, so it’s very muted.
I quite like the design of this laptop. If there is one thing, design wise, that irritates me, it’s the stickers. Take a look at the image below.
Alright, so this placement is already better than what most laptops have, and kudos to Lenovo for placing stickers in a neat-ish way. Now, this isn’t something that’s gonna be there on every laptop, but that QR code for eSupport? That’s not in line with the other stickers above it. It’s tilted, and it’s making me want to tear it off. This is a review unit, so I definitely won’t be taking anything off of it. However, if this was a laptop I bought, this sticker would be in the trash by now; and maybe the others would be too.
Anyway, let’s talk about the display. You get a big 15-inch display here. It’s a FullHD panel, with an anti-glare coating and a 60Hz refresh rate. This is the base variant of the laptop, but you can spend extra if you want better hardware and a 120Hz or 144Hz panel if you like. Obviously, the higher refresh rate screens will make for an even better gaming experience, but this 60Hz panel is no slouch either. Sure, it’s not the best display I’ve seen on a laptop, but it’s not bad by any means.
Text is crisp, colors look pretty good, and the display can get quite bright. Thanks to the anti-glare coating, it should also handle well if you’re sitting outside in the sun.
Obviously, if you can afford it, I’d recommend going for a variant with a higher refresh rate. That will make the gaming experience on this laptop a lot better.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i comes with up to a Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, and Nvidia GTX 1650 Ti graphics. The model I have here has the 10th-gen Core i5 processor, paired with 8GB RAM, and the GTX 1650 Ti GPU. All of which sounds pretty standard for a gaming laptop in this price bracket.
However, it’s important to note that the laptop has two RAM slots, and in the 8GB variant only one of them is populated. That means the laptop is in single channel configuration. If you can, I would recommend getting another 8GB stick and adding that to the system. Bringing this up to a dual channel memory configuration will give you a slight performance boost, and 16GB RAM is definitely a good place to be in. The laptop can support up to 32GB RAM by the way, so if you feel the need, you can upgrade it yourself to 32GB as well.
Still, with the base specs, the performance here is solid. I tested the laptop with some benchmarks to begin with. In 3DMark Time Spy, the laptop scores 3714 points. In PCMark 10, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i scores 4,104 points.
However, benchmarks are not great for real world performance, obviously, so I tested a couple of games on the laptop as well. In PUBG, with settings at High, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i gets a frame rate of anywhere between 50FPS to 70FPS depending on everything that’s going on around you. If you’re like me and usually play TDM, you’ll probably get somewhere around 50 to 60FPS consistently at these settings. Obviously you can lower these down to get a higher frame rate, but for a recreational gamer like me, it felt fine anyway.
On PC, I prefer playing Counter Strike: Global Offensive more than I like playing PUBG these days, so I tested that as well. Not that I had any doubt that this laptop can handle CSGO. At highest settings, you get well over 100FPS. As I said, that’s not unexpected or surprising, but well, if you’re a CSGO lover, this is what you will get with the IdeaPad Gaming 3i.
Anyway, as I mentioned before, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s design allows it to function as both a work and a play laptop. We’ve already seen that the laptop handles games fairly well, and even with long hours of gaming, it doesn’t seem to heat up all that much. That can be credited to the cooling system inside the laptop.
Lenovo has put in dual fans here, both of which are placed in a way that the WASD keys don’t get hot as you play for longer. Plus, directly under the palm rest is the battery, which means your palms won’t sweat due to the heat either. The IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s cooling seems pretty efficient to me. The fans do get loud when under load, but not too loud either. Plus, they work well, and since you’ll most likely be playing with headphones on, fan noise won’t be a problem.
Ah, the keyboard. Lenovo has brought to this laptop its keyboard expertise from the ThinkPad line of laptops. And this keyboard is no joke. It’s easy to type on, just tactile enough to make typing feel extremely fun, and spacious, so you won’t feel cramped up. I am writing this review using the IdeaPad Gaming 3i, and it doesn’t feel like I’ve written well over a thousand words so far.
It’s also backlit, although it’s a single colour backlighting that you get here. Keeping in line with the IdeaPad Gaming branding on the hinge, the keyboard backlight is blue as well. You get two different brightness settings for the keyboard which can be toggled with Function + space bar. That’s also how you turn off the backlight if you want to.
Even though I like the blue colour of the backlight here, there’s quite a bit of backlight bleed, and it’s especially visible in the numpad. Personally, I don’t mind it all that much, but if you get easily distracted by such things, this is something you should consider.
Speaking of the numpad, it’s a good addition especially if you find yourself typing numbers often. The only time I really use it is when I’m entering the PIN to login to Windows. However, since this laptop is meant to double as a work laptop as well, the numpad will make a good addition for anyone who works with numbers on the regular.
Overall, the keyboard experience on this laptop is amazing. I love typing on this, and I would like to keep typing on this until Lenovo decides to take this laptop off my hands (please don’t).
I don’t have quite a lot to say about the trackpad here. It’s of a decent size, but it’s not huge. Still, I find the size good enough for all the Windows gestures that it supports. The laptop has a Windows Precision trackpad, which is nice, and using it feels fine.
However, since Lenovo includes a gaming mouse with the laptop, I just plugged that in and I’ve not unplugged it at all. After all, being at home, I spend most of my work hours at my desk, so a mouse makes perfect sense to me. Plus, while gaming I doubt you’ll be using a trackpad for anything at all. In fact, you can disable the trackpad using the Lenovo Vantage software so you don’t accidentally fire or shift your aim when you’re gaming. This only works when a game is launched, so you can just keep this setting on at all times without worrying about losing trackpad functionality when you’re working.
Speaking of the features Lenovo Vantage brings, there are quite a lot of them. For one, you can toggle thermal modes for the laptop, you can also turn on Network Boost, which can come in handy if you’re playing a multiplayer game like PUBG, or GTA Online.
Other than that, there are a lot of features for things like power management, audio, and keyboard control.
You can choose to enable rapid charge here, which allows the battery to charge faster than usual. Alternatively, you can turn on ‘conservation mode’ if you keep your laptop plugged in most of the time. With this, the battery will only charge up to 55-60%, ensuring your battery remains healthier for long.
This is also where you can switch between your function row acting as F1-F12 keys, or special keys by default, enable or disable the keyboard backlight, and quickly get to trackpad and mouse settings.
You can also change settings for audio, including enabling/disabling Dolby Audio, and change microphone settings from within the app.
Speakers on the IdeaPad Gaming 3i are on the side. So they aren’t bottom firing ones, but they are side firing ones. The speakers do get fairly loud, although they are by no means the loudest speakers I’ve heard on a laptop. Also, they are totally and completely lacking in bass.
In my experience, the speakers here are fine for casually watching a YouTube video, or maybe even something on Netflix or Prime Video. However, they aren’t good enough to enjoy music on, or for gaming, really.
Ports and I/O
You get plenty of I/O options with the laptop which is always nice to see. You get 2x USB 3.1 Type-A ports, an HDMI port, an ethernet port, and a headphone/mic combo jack. There’s also a USB Type-C port here which is a good addition. Keep in mind that this isn’t a Thunderbolt 3 port, it’s USB Type-C.
I don’t think you’ll find yourself wanting for ports on this laptop. You have HDMI for connecting external displays, and you even have USB Type-C for connecting Type-C devices, even dongles if you need more ports. Plus, the USB 3.1 ports mean you can connect your external hard disks, and a mouse easily.
For connectivity, the laptop comes with Bluetooth 5.0, which is fine and should offer stable and fast connection with your Bluetooth accessories. Plus. there’s WiFi 6 (802.11ax) supported network card on-board, so you’re pretty much future-proofed in that regard as well.
Also, thanks to that RJ45 ethernet port I mentioned above, you can easily use a wired connection if you’re looking for even more stable networking, or if you’re planning a LAN party with your friends.
Lenovo doesn’t state the size of the battery in its spec-sheet. It does, however, claim 7 hours of battery life according to its lab testing. Now, in my usage, the battery life wasn’t 7 hours, but it gets close.
With normal web browsing tasks, and a little bit of YouTube every now and then, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i does manage somewhere around 6 hours of battery life. That’s with brightness around 50-60% and in ‘better battery’ mode. However, that will take a hit if you spend most of your time streaming videos. Still 6 hours is pretty solid for a laptop with rather power hungry hardware.
Also, it doesn’t hurt that rapid charging lets you charge the battery so quickly it doesn’t feel all that bad to plug it in after 4 or 5 hours of use. Lenovo also says that the laptop will push around an hour of battery life if you’re gaming on it without connecting the power adapter. Now, that isn’t really something anyone would do, because the laptop doesn’t go into performance mode unless its on AC power. However, if you’re in a situation where you don’t have your charger and you absolutely have to play a game, it can last around an hour for you.
Pros and Cons
So, all things considered, let’s take a quick look at the good and the bad about the laptop.
- Great design
- Good performance
- Excellent keyboard
- Mouse included with the laptop
- Backlight bleed
- Screen wobbles a lot
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i: Should You Buy It?
So, should you buy the IdeaPad Gaming 3i for your gaming needs? Well, it’s definitely a worthy contender for your money, that much is certain. I mean, the laptop offers good battery life, a nice 15-inch display, and can run games quite well for its price. In fact, it has a solid spec-sheet in this price bracket.
That said, you should check out the Asus TUF Gaming A15. That laptop comes with a Ryzen 7 processor paired with 8GB RAM and GTX 1650Ti. Moreover, it brings a 144Hz display at Rs. 78,490.
You can also check out the HP Omen (Rs. 74,920) that comes with the Ryzen 5, 8GB RAM, and 1650Ti. However you will get less storage on that laptop – a 512GB SSD.
All things considered, I think Lenovo has a solid win on its hands with the IdeaPad Gaming 3i laptop. It offers specs that most other brands currently don’t offer in this price. It looks great, and obviously, it has that ThinkPad-like keyboard which is just a pleasure to use.
Buy the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (Rs. 78,990)