The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is not available on the company’s website. The budget laptop, which is not to be confused with the IdeaPad Gaming 3, is a consumer model with a 15.6-inch, full HD screen and an Intel Core i5 processor that is sold at retail as Amazon lists it for $649.99 marked down to $529.99 at the time of writing, and we’ve seen prices ranging from $480 to $620. The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i 15, like other budget models, isn’t particularly powerful or exciting, but it offers adequate performance and features (such as a 512GB solid-state drive rather than a meagre 256GB) as an online or homework-ready desktop alternative. It doesn’t provide the thrill or the extra pinch of value that would earn an Editors’ Choice award, but this low-cost laptop deserves a very respectable rating.
Design and Display
There will be no sleek aluminium or magnesium chassis here as the IdeaPad 3i is a 3.6-pound slab of Arctic Gray ABS plastic that measures 0.78 by 14.1 by 9.3 inches (HWD). It’s a bit smaller than the similarly priced Acer Aspire 5 (0.71 by 14.3 by 9.9 inches, 3.88 pounds), but no 15.6-inch laptop qualifies as an easy-to-carry ultraportable. The build quality is satisfactory, but if you grasp the screen corners or mash the keyboard, you’ll notice significant flex.
Our test unit, officially designated as model 15 IAU 7, combines a 12th Generation Core i5-1235U processor (two Performance cores, eight Efficient cores, and 12 threads) with 8GB of DDR4 memory and a 512GB PCIe SSD. Surprisingly, it comes with Windows 11 Pro rather than the standard Windows 11 Home found on most consumer machines. Wireless connections are handled by Wi-Fi 6 (not Wi-Fi 6E) and Bluetooth.
A non-touch screen with 1,920-by-1,080-pixel resolution is surrounded by thick bezels. The webcam lacks face recognition, however the power button doubles as a fingerprint reader, allowing you to use Windows Hello instead of typing passwords. Lenovo Vantage software comes preinstalled and includes system checkups and updates, a choice of power or cooling modes (for benchmarking, we used “extreme performance” mode), Wi-Fi security, blue light reduction, as well as $29.99 annual system optimization and $49.99 annual security subscriptions. The only bloatware is a McAfee LiveSafe trial.
On the left side of the laptop, there are two USB 3.2 ports (one Type-A and one Type-C), HDMI monitor port, an audio jack, and the power plug. On the right, there is an SD card slot as well as a USB 2.0 port. Webcam spying is prevented by a sliding shutter.
Like some more expensive notebooks, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i turns on after you open its lid rather than waiting for you to press the power button. The webcam has a predictable soft-focus 720p resolution, but it captures images that are relatively well-lit and colourful, with little static. Even at maximum volume, the sound from the bottom-mounted speakers is muffled and hollow, as if someone had thrown a blanket over the computer. There are some overlapping tracks, but there is no bass to speak of. Dolby Audio software includes music, movie, game, voice, and equaliser presets, none of which make much of a difference.
A dimly backlit keyboard has a numeric keypad above it, as well as the regular top function keys for volume, brightness, and aeroplane mode. The Escape and Delete keys are small, and the cursor arrow keys are arranged in an awkward row rather than an inverted-T, with half-height upward and downward arrows stacked between full-size left and right.
There are no dedicated Home, End, Page Up, as well as Page Down keys, but you can use the cursor arrows in conjunction with the Fn key or the ones on the number pad with Num Lock turned off. The keyboard has a narrow but reasonably snappy typing feel, is not overly loud, and gives appropriate feedback.
Lenovo rates the 1080p IPS display’s brightness at 300 nits. It appears a little darker than that, but it actually performs better in our Datacolor SpyderX Elite measurement below. However, it is not too dark to work comfortably. Colours on the screen are slightly washed out, but still fairly rich and saturated. Contrast and viewing angles are satisfactory, and white backgrounds are nicely white rather than dingy, thanks to the ability to tilt the screen as far back as you want. There is no pixelation around the edges of letters, so fine details are sufficiently sharp.
Battery and Display Tests
The battery life of laptops by playing a locally stored 720p video file with the display brightness set to 50% and the audio volume set to 100%. Before the test, we ensure that the battery is fully charged and that Wi-Fi and keyboard backlighting are turned off.
We measure a laptop screen’s colour saturation—what percentage of the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 colour gamuts or palettes the display can show as well as its 50% and peak brightness in nits using a Datacolor SpyderX Elite monitor calibration sensor and its Windows software (candelas per square metre).
As previously stated, the Lenovo is one of the few laptops that tested brighter than it appears in our display analysis, but we’ll gladly take it over the Acer or Gateway. Its battery life is also sufficient for its class, though it joins its budget peers in providing poor colour coverage. Image editors and desktop publishers should look elsewhere.
We tested many more impressive laptops than the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i, but they all cost much more (and you might be able to find it for even less than its $529.99 Amazon price at the time of writing). It has no obvious flaws, and while its screen and keyboard aren’t perfect, they’re not as bad as many budget models. To put it another way, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i is a sub-$600 Windows laptop that doesn’t make us want to switch to a Chromebook.