The Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i is hands down one of the best entry-level gaming laptops out there that easily outperforms the rest in its class, and its reasonable price makes it hard to find better value.
- Solid gaming performance
- Great value for the price
- Above-average battery life
- On the heavy side
- Fairly generic design
The Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i (82S9003AUS) is the latest entrant into the ever-competitive part of the laptop market. That’s the lower to mid-price segment that appears to receive a new machine after every few weeks with an Nvidia RTX 30-series GPU, a 144Hz+ display and a price between $1000 and $1,500.
Only recently we reviewed both the Asus TUF Dash F15 and the Acer Nitro 5, two fantastic machines that represent enormous value for money, redefining the kind of performance you can expect from a sub-$1,000 gaming laptop.
Now Lenovo has just released the IdeaPad Gaming 3i (model 82S9003AUS), that brings along a new Intel Core i5-12500H processor, while the rest of the hardware remains pretty standard at this price point, including the RTX 3050 GPU, 8GB RAM and 512GB TLC SSD. Is the new Alder Lake chip enough to outdo the rest?
Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i Specs
Here is the Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i configuration in this Digital Weekly review:
- CPU: Intel Core i5-12500H
- Graphics: Nvidia RTX 3050
- RAM: 8GB
- Screen: 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080
- Storage: 512GB M.2 TLC SSD
- Operating System: Windows 11 Home
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1
- Weight: 8.23 pounds
- Size (W x D x H): 14.13 x 9.83 x 0.98 inches
Legion 5 Styling and a Solid Build
The design of the newest IdeaPad is quite familiar: it looks and feels much like Lenovo’s Legion 5 modes. But that’s not a bad thing really, since yet again it benefits from a handful of Legion-specific stylings, such as the clever grouping of most of the laptop’s ports, some at the rear, and a lid-hinge set 30mm forward.
It’s available in one color scheme, Onyx Grey with simple backlit keyboard, while the more premium Lenovo Legion 5 is available in two colors: Phantom Blue with a 4-zone RGB keyboard backlight and Diamond White with blue backlighting. Still, the gray in our review model looks great and minimalist, meaning you can use it for gaming and at the office as well.
The IdeaPad Gaming series has always looked a little less juvenile than some of the competition, and the new model is no different. It doesn’t have anything that obnoxiously shouts ‘gamer’, even the keyboard lacks the RGB lighting of its Legion 5 siblings. We’re all in favor of the modest aesthetic restraint.
When it comes to size and weight, the Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i is nothing out of the ordinary. Measuring 14.13 x 9.83 x 0.98 inches and tipping the scales at 8.23 pounds, it’s definitely sitting at the upper limits of the class, especially when it comes to depth, all due to the ledge that protrudes beyond the hinge assembly.
Comfortable keyboard and lots of ports
The Ideapad Gaming 3i’s keyboard is hard to find fault with, too. Even with the white backlight, it’s still a spacious, full-width affair complete with a numeric keypad and a set of full-size cursor keys that are set slightly apart from the main keyboard. Physically, it looks and feels rock solid, with a trackpad that’s offset to the left by quite some way but is otherwise equally perfect.
This machine uses a 15.6in 1,920 x 1,080 IPS panel, that’s well up to the mark. Its sRGB gamut coverage of 94% and volume of 98.8% are ideal for most tasks. As ever with most gaming laptops, the screen isn’t touch-enabled and has a matte coating. In case you need a display with a QHD resolution or support for Nvidia’s G-Sync technology, you can look at the more expensive Legion 5 Pro or Legion 7 models.
For ports, some of the IdeaPad Gaming’s ports are lined up along the back. Here you’ll find an RJ45 LAN connector, HDMI, one USB Type-C that supports DisplayPort 1.4 and a bespoke DC-in jack. On the right side USB Type-A port, while the left side has another USB Type-A port and a 3.5mm audio jack.
Better Gaming Performance than Peers
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When it comes to gaming performance, the Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i is about as good as you’re going to find in an RTX 3050 gaming laptop. Even without any hardware performance optimization via the Lenovo Vantage, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i performs almost at par with the Acer AN515-55-53E5 both in graphics benchmarks and actual gaming experience.
Granted, the Acer Nitro isn’t getting blown away in gaming, but in Total War: Three Kingdoms and Metro: Exodus benchmarks, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i consistently gets five and 10 more fps than the Acer AN515, regardless of the graphics settings, and both are outfitted with the same Nvidia RTX 3050 graphics cards.
Where both the Asus TUF Dash F15 and the Acer Nitro 5 come up short against the IdeaPad Gaming 3i we are reviewing is their CPU performance. That’s not much of a surprise, considering the IdeaPad is rocking a 12th generation Intel Core i5-12500H chip, while both the Dash and Nitro 5 runs Intel’s 10th generation Core i5-10300H chip. Still, even though these competing machines come up short in gaming tests, they don’t fall far short of the Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i.
In the end, though, this is a gaming laptop, and so on those terms the Gaming 3i 82S9003AUS is a better gaming machine, even if the difference isn’t far apart, that you’d easily notice, unless you’re scrutinizing the three, side by side. However, the IdeaPad costs slightly more than both Asus and Acer offering, something we assume is tied to the newer CPU.
For battery life, the IdeaPad does an admirable job, lasting just over six hours 31 minutes in PCMark 10 battery life test. That’s pretty good for a gaming laptop, but it’s a tad below the Asus Zephyrus G15’s eight hours 34 minutes. Therefore, while we can’t say that the Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i has the best battery life out there, it’s still generally superb.
Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i Review: Verdict
The new Ideapad Gaming 3i is yet another exciting option in this increasingly contested section of the laptop market. It’s capable of better gaming and productivity performance than both the Asus TUF Gaming 15 and Acer Nitro 5, and it comes withing striking distance of our Editors’ Choice for midrange gaming laptops, the Acer Predator Helios 300 as well.
It’s not just about gaming, though, the Lenovo IdeaPad both looks and feels like a more upmarket laptop than the Nitro and Dash, although granted the fomer is a little cheaper and the Asus gets better sound and longer-lasting battery life.
If it was my money, however, then I’d say the Lenovo just gets it right, and is available in various configurations to choose from. Yes, it’s audio quality isn’t that great, but I mostly use headphones while gaming. And besides, the Lenovo Ideapad Gaming 3i’s unrivalled gaming credentials greatly outscores any of its minor drawbacks.
Last update on 2022-12-09 at 13:51 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API