The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15IAH7 is a solid budget laptop offering from Lenovo. The processor and GPU combo are able to maximise the performance from this budget laptop, making for a great starter gaming laptop.
Budget gaming laptops are a dime a dozen, especially if you go north of the 50K budget. You are literally spoiled for choice, with offerings from all major brands. At around the 50-60K budget, you get laptops with older gen specifications, we're talking 10th gen Intel and 4000 series AMD processors, paired with GTX 10 series GPUs. Go even higher, and north of the 80K mark, you get more current gen gaming laptops, with 12th gen Intel processors and 5000 AMD Ryzen processors paired with 30 series RTX GPUs from NVIDIA. In this review, we're going to be taking a deeper look at one such laptop, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15IAH7, which comes with a 12th gen Intel Core i5 12450H, paired with an NVIDIA RTX 3050 Ti GPU. For the purposes of this review, we're going to be comparing it with... another Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3! The 15ACH6 variant to be exact, which features the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H processor paired with an NVIDIA RTX 3050. The remaining specs on both laptops are otherwise the same. Of course, the newer gen processor and better GPU make the Intel variant ever-so-slightly pricier, but not by much. We’re talking a difference of just around 1K, give or take. With the 15AIH7 coming to around 88K, and the 15ACH6 coming to around 87K. Making this an interesting comparison between an AMD and Intel offering of the same model from the same brand.
Do keep in mind that the 12th gen Intel processors are newer (early 2022) than the 5000 series Ryzen processors (2020). It's same with the laptop variants as well, with the one we're reviewing being a lot more recent, as opposed to the AMD variant. The same reflects in our benchmarks as well. We will update this review when we get our hands on the new 13th gen variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3 and pit that against the Ryzen 7000 series variant as soon as we can, so keep an eye on this space!
With that said, let's dive into the review!
Processor: 12th Gen Intel Core i5-12450H
Display: 15.6-inch FHD IPS | 120 Hz Refresh Rate
Memory: 16GB RAM DDR4-3200
Storage: 512GB SSD
Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 Ti 4GB GDDR6 Dedicated Graphics
Audio: 2x2W HD Stereo Speakers
Camera: HD 720p with E-camera Shutter
Keyboard: Full-size 4-Zone white Backlit
Ports: 2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 | 1x USB-C Thunderbolt 4 | 1x Headphone / microphone combo jack (3.5mm) | 1x HDMI 2.0 | 1x Ethernet (RJ-45)
Starting with this generation, the IdeaPad Gaming 3 has seen a bit of a design change. While the Ryzen variant still features the old design, the new 12th gen IdeaPad Gaming 3 uses a design that's inspired by Lenovo's premium Legion gaming lineup. Of course, this being Lenovo's budget gaming lineup, there are sacrifices when it comes to build quality. While the Legion lineup features a metal build, with the IdeaPad Gaming 3 you get a polycarbonate plastic build.
The first thing you'll notice with the new design is the placement of the hinge and the way the laptop opens up. While initially, the laptop lid used to open all the way and cover the laptop's backside, the new design extends the laptop backside and the hinge placement makes it so the lid never covers the backside. So you have an extended rear-end now when the laptop is opened up, as you can see above. The new design supposedly results in better air flow, allowing for vent placement on the now uncovered laptop backside. Of course, the cost of better airflow is increased weight at around 2.4Kg (compared to 2.2Kg on the Ryzen variant) and an overall bulkier chassis. But if you're in the market for a gaming laptop, you're probably prepared for the bulk and weight. Another thing the new design does is free up space to include I/O options. Having ports behind gaming laptops is sometimes preferable for those who don't carry the laptop around and want the cables out of the way when the laptop is plugged into a monitor and peripherals, for instance. However, on the flip side, it can be annoying for those who frequently use the ports and need to constantly reach behind the laptop.
However, the new hinge does feel slightly less secure than the old design, so the display flexes more comparatively, but not to a degree where we were really bothered by it. We see similar degrees of flex in gaming laptop offerings from other brands as well. Flipping the laptop around, you have the two speaker cutouts near the bottom where the laptop opens up, and you've got the intake vents in a somewhat fancy hexagonal design.
Coming to the keyboard, Lenovo laptops have always featured good keyboards as far as their laptops are concerned, and that still stands. Both the Intel and AMD variants come with full-sized keyboards with 100 percent anti-ghosting and 4-zone RGB lighting. We usually tend to use a mouse along with the laptop, but the trackpad is alright as well, and doesn't get in the way while typing. It can always be disabled if you're using a mouse. The overall experience with the keyboard is good, with decent travel and feedback.
Coming to I/O options, the IdeaPad Gaming 3 has a decent number of port offerings. This includes two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 ports, one on either side, a microphone audio combo jack on the left side, and the rest of the ports, which include an HDMI 2.0, a Gigabit RJ-45 ethernet port, a USB-C Thunderbolt 4 port (our unit had this, this is otherwise optional), and the power connector.
The I/O ports on offer should cover most of your needs, and are in-line with most budget gaming laptop offerings in the market. It also one-ups the Ryzen model with the addition of a Thunderbolt 4 port, but once again, that's optional, so be sure to check before you make your IdeaPad Gaming 3 purchase. It is definitely worth having a Thunderbolt 4 port for its versatility.
Next we come to the display of the IdeaPad Gaming 3. The 15.6-inch FHD display on the IdeaPad Gaming 3 comes with a refresh rate of 120Hz, which is decent for a gaming laptop. You do get budget gaming laptop offerings with refresh rates up to 165Hz, but 120Hz is still decent. Being the budget gaming laptop offering from Lenovo, the display on the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 is not as good as their higher-end offerings; they get significantly better with the Legion lineup. That being said, the display on the IdeaPad Gaming 3 is still pretty good, with close to 99 percent sRGB coverage and a peak brightness of 326 nits. These are significantly better numbers than what we saw on the older, AMD Ryzen variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3, so we can confidently say they're going in the right direction with the display. Hopefully, we'll see the same improvement in the newer AMD processor variants of the IdeaPad Gaming 3 as well.
With that we come to the performance section. Like we mentioned in the intro, we’re comparing the 12th gen Intel i5 variant and the 5000 series Ryzen 7 variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3. Once again, keep in mind that the Intel variant is the more recent of the two, and we can certainly see that in all of our comparative benchmarks.
Both laptops come with 16GB of DDR4 RAM, 512GB of SSD storage, and similar specs when it comes to the displays as well. However, as we saw, the display on the newer IdeaPad Gaming 3 unit was significantly better. Other than that, the newer IdeaPad features an RTX 3050 Ti, while the AMD variant has a 3050. The rest of the specs are identical on paper. So we’ll start off with the processor benchmarks.
For general productivity, we use the PCMark 10 Extended benchmark. As you can see from the scores above, the 12th gen Intel Core i5-12450H beats the Ryzen 7 5800H in every benchmark. This trend continues in the Cinebench R23 benchmark as well. These benchmarks test only the processing power of these laptops. So in a straight up CPU comparison, the 12th gen Intel variant wins.
Next we come to the RAM, where again, both laptops come with 16GB of DDR4 RAM clocked at 3200MHz. However, as you can see above, the speeds we got from both are different, probably due to the different processors in each of these laptops. You get almost double the speed from the newer 12th gen IdeaPad Gaming 3.
The newer SSD on the 12th gen IdeaPad Gaming 3 is also faster; so unless you really want an AMD processor, there’s no other reason to consider The AMD variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3 for now.
Of course we haven’t even gotten to gaming benchmarks yet.
We start off with the synthetic benchmarks.
The Intel variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3 we're reviewing comes with an RTX 3050 Ti, as compared to the RTX 3050 on the AMD variant. From the score, you can see that there is a pretty sizable difference in scores between the Intel and AMD variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3 when it comes to the 3DMark benchmarks. Considering the price of each variant, that's a lot more bang for your buck from the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15IAH7.
Then we come to the real-world gaming benchmarks.
Once again, in both the medium preset and high preset, the newer IdeaPad Gaming 3, featuring the 12th gen Intel Core i5-12450H and RTX 3050 Ti outperformed the AMD Ryzen 5800H and RTX 3050 variant in every benchmark. The difference is especially noticeable in CPU intensive titles, like Valorant, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Civilisation VI, which have almost double the FPS in our benchmarks.
During our tests, the 15IAH7 or Intel variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3 throttled more than the AMD variant. It also tends to heat up more and draw more power than the AMD variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3. Even with the net loss in performance due to throttling, the Intel variant still outperforms the AMD variant. Both laptops can get fairly loud while under intensive use, but that’s to be expected as the fans kick into action. The overall temperature is still lower than what we’ve seen across budget gaming laptops that we’ve tested, which can be credited to the new design which helps maintain lower average temps thanks to better airflow.
All things considered, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15IAH7 is a solid budget laptop offering from Lenovo. The processor and GPU combo are able to maximise the performance from this budget laptop, making for a great starter gaming laptop. The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15IAH7 was also our Zero1 Award Winner 2022 for the best performing gaming laptop under 80K. If you consider the price of both of these variants currently, it's a no-brainer which one to go for. Here's hoping the new Ryzen 7000 series laptops kick up a storm!
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