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A multimedia laptop that suffices for daily use at home/office or college doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. The 15-inch Lenovo Ideapad 320-15ABR is a fully customizable Windows 10 laptop that does all that, without costing too much. Unfortunately, most of these budget systems do require some sacrifices and the IdeaPad 320 is no exception. For example: You aren’t getting an Intel processor at the base price, and you’re also getting a standard 720p high-definition screen.
However, if you’re willing to do with a few sacrifices and minor hiccups over the appealing price, the IdeaPad 320 could be very ideal for you.
Measuring 0.9 by 10.2 by 14.9 inches (HWD) and weighing 4.85 pounds, IdeaPad 320-15ABR looks small and lightweight, and can be easily carried around. It’s light and portable than some of its competition, though. The Acer Aspire E15 (E5-576-392H) –our Top Pick for budget laptops, weighs 5.27 pounds and is 1.19 inches thick.
Its sleek platinum gray frame feels reasonably sturdy, and it easily passes for an aluminum build, which isn’t the case. We are seeing metallic constructions in the ultrabooks category and high-end notebooks. This platinum gray profile is used in more premium Lenovo systems, and it does pick up dirty marks, just like other notebooks bearing the same material.
The IdeaPad’s biggest tradeoff, and the loudest screamer announcing its budget nature, is its screen – it gets a basic 1366 X 768 TN panel, which has narrow viewing angles as compared to an IPS panel. At first, you’ll do some angling before you get a spot that doesn’t wash out. It’s not great, but not the worst, we accept it for the price.
Some credit, though, Lenovo does add an anti-glare coating on the screen which eliminates reflections, making it the perfect choice of a sub-HD media machine, provided you can view the screen from the right angle.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The IdeaPad 320-15ABR is equipped with a non-backlit, 6-row chiclet keyboard, that has nicely spaced keys with a good grip. The arrow keys are well positioned, and the number pad on the right is a good inclusion. Individually, the keys have short travel and they get a noticeable pressure point. You can easily type your way around, and even fast typers will find the keys quite reliable.
For the touchpad, it has the same color as the rest of the device. It’s positioned slightly towards the left, but its suitable for inputs via gesture control. The touchpad gestures can be individually configured via the setup menu of the pad. It responds well to Windows 10 gestures and registers physical inputs precisely.
Ports and Storage
Here you’ll find a variety of ports, which is excellent for an inexpensive system that’s meant to remain versatile. There are two USB 3.0 ports, one USB Type-C port, an HDMI port and an SD slot. The SD card is a nice way to extend the system storage, can as well be used for transferring media to SD cards. Others include a headphone jack, an Ethernet port and a DVD drive. Wireless connectivity comes via the 802.11AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.
The system comes with a 1TB 5400RPM hard drive, which means you won’t need to extend the storage unless you have lots of files to store, but it’s convenient to have the option. This capacity is far much than you’d find in most budget chromebooks, though.
The system is equipped with a quad-core 2.7GHz (Turbo up to 3.7GHz) AMD A12-9720P processor, 8GB of RAM and integrated AMD Radeon R7 graphics card. The CPU is a 7th APU generation, which was released in 2017. It’s designed for mainstream notebooks, delivering slightly better performance than the AMD A12-9700P chips. Compared to Intel’s CPUs, its most comparable to the Skylake Core i3 chips.
Both of these chips aren’t meant for significant workloads but deliver sufficient performance for typical office and web applications, can as well suffice for light multitasking. The integrated Radeon R7 (Bristol Ridge) GPU is a better version of its predecessor, the Radeon R7 (Carrizo), and is a direct competitor to Intel’s dedicated GeForce 920MX. Here, you can play most 2015/2016 smoothly at low settings.
Battery life is always a strong point for basic laptops, but the IdeaPad fails to impress here. This particular IdeaPad isn’t terribly efficient, exhibiting a rather disappointing short battery life. On typical use, it offers around 3 hours 20 minutes on a single charge, which is quite low for a modern machine. The Aspire E 15 (E5-576-392H) delivers an impressive 10 hours 51 minutes of battery life on a single charge.
Lenovo IdeaPad 320-15ABR: Final Verdict
It’s never easy to decide if it’s OK to be disappointed in a machine that’s very light on your wallet, especially when its flaws aren’t that bad. Applause to the processor in the Lenovo Ideapad 320-15ABR, sturdy chassis, great design and massive (albeit slow) hard drive storage. Certainly, it doesn’t feel like the budget laptops from 2016, it’s far much better.
A stronger battery life and full HD screen would have been a great benefit, it compensates with good performance and appealing design. if you can do with such non-fundamental flaws, you’re getting a nice laptop for much less. That said, on a feature set versus value basis, the Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576-392H) offers the best combination of both, it remains our Editors’ Choice for budget laptops.
Lenovo Ideapad 320-15ABR
The Lenovo Ideapad 320-15ABR packs strong components into a nice shell and remains very affordable as compared to most of its competitors. It makes a few sacrifices but compensates on performance and design.
- Strong performance
- Nice design
- Reasonable pricing
- Low-res TN screen
- Middling battery life