The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14-inch) has a keyboard made for work and enough power for some fun, but the IdeaPad 3 is let down by a poor screen and relatively short battery life
- Good performance for the price
- Deep keyboard
- Tries to avoid the typical style-free zone of cheap laptops
- Low-quality screen
- No USB-C
- Lacks “all day” battery life
- Review Price: £429.99
- 14in 1920 x 1080 TN LCD screen
- Intel Core i3-1005G1
- 4GB RAM
- 128GB SSD
- Dimensions: 327 x 241 x 19.9 mm
- Weight: From 1.6 kg
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Design – Imposter aluminum
You don’t get a USB-C port either, which appears to be a head-scratcher .
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Keyboard – Deep-dish plastic
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Display – Pale and wan
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Performance – Perfect for the fundamentals
|Lenovo IdeaPad 3||Surface Go 2||Honor MagicBook 14|
|Geekbench 5 single-core||1080||427||792|
|Geekbench 5 multi-core||2078||970||3035|
Where to buy: Amazon
But does the limited 4GB RAM hold you back?
For the basic stuff it does not. Doing my usual day-to-day work the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is clearly much faster and smoother than the base-spec Microsoft Surface Go 2, which has an Intel Pentium CPU. It’s about as nippy as any £1000 laptop for undemanding jobs. The SSD probably helps. Its 1780MB/s read and 839MB/s write speeds are respectable.
How about Photoshop? It will run OK for the basics, but 4GB RAM is not enough if you want to start working on big layered images. Photoshop is a RAM hog, and when it runs out you will start to see significant slow-down and potentially some crashes.
Spend a bit more and you can get an 8GB laptop with a Core i5 CPU, which is the norm for £1000+ laptops. Still, at around £400 the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is one of the more powerful options around. It can do more than the majority of Chromebooks.
You don’t get a graphics card, just the integrated graphics that is part of the Core i3 processor. There was little point in subjecting the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 to our usual gaming tests, but I did try out Skyrim to see if it would run.
You’ll be stuck at “low” graphics, which uses lower-res textures and features obvious pop-in for shadows and other elements. However, its frame rate runs in the mid-30s at 900p resolution, which is perfectly playable. Use the native 1080p res and the resulting mid-20s frame rates are a little choppy looking.
Lenovo IdeaPad 3 Battery – Not quite all-day stamina
Lenovo says its IdeaPad laptops are made for “thin and light” portable use. But it hasn’t followed this up with a particularly large battery.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 has a 35Wh battery, a fairly low capacity for a laptop you might want to take out to work somewhere far from a power socket. And, guess what, its longevity is not particularly good.
According to PC Mark 10’s battery tests, it lasts for five hours and 28 minutes of basic office productivity work. Using it to write a document outdoors, which all but mandates maximum display brightness, and it lasts around six hours. That may seem impressive until you remember the screen itself is pretty dim.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 won’t last through a full day of work but if you just need it to hang on through an afternoon working in a cafe, no problem.
This laptop uses a standard cylindrical plug to charge, which is obvious when you remember there aren’t even any USB-Cs here. A charge takes around two hours, and it goes from flat to 30% in 30 minutes.
Should you buy the Lenovo IdeaPad 3?
I would be happy doing 90% of my work on the Lenovo Ideapad 3 were it not for one thing: the low-quality screen.
Its TN panel lets down what is otherwise a very capable laptop, one with a solid processor among budget models and a nice deep-action keyboard. The faux-metallic panels will likely trick a few people into thinking you spent more too.
Dig deep and do just that and you can get the IdeaPad Flex 5i instead. It has an IPS touchscreen with flexi hinge, which will look much better. Or if you only need a laptop for basic work and entertainment, don’t forget a Chromebook. You can spend less on one of those and get a better display than the Lenovo IdeaPad 3’s.