Lenovo has certainly taken a step up with the new IdeaPad Gaming 3i. As far as value for money is concerned, you're definitely getting bang for your buck here. Despite the flimsy hinge, we think the new design is an overall improvement, and makes more room for the fans and allows for two more vents at the back. The keyboard is one of the better ones you can find on a gaming laptop, and there's room for expansion when it comes to memory and storage. This is a solid pick if you're in the market for an entry level gaming laptop that can handle most modern AAA games.
Competition in the budget gaming laptop market is fierce. That being said, anyone who has gone looking for a budget gaming laptop in the past few years would most certainly come across Lenovo's budget Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming lineup of laptops. The IdeaPad Gaming laptops are Lenovo's budget alternative to their more premium Legion lineup of gaming laptops, and as such, sacrifices have been made to reduce costs. However, what we have on offer here with the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i still makes it quite an enticing option for anyone in the market looking for a gaming laptop under the Rs 1 lakh budget.
While the overall aesthetic of the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i remains the same as its predecessors, there are some pretty major changes. For starters, they've extended the back, so the laptop lid no longer slides over the back edge when opened. This has also allowed them to not only have two vents on the back, but also move most of the IO ports, save a single USB A port on either side and the combo audio jack, behind the laptop. The new hinge however feels pretty flimsy and as a result the display flexes a lot more, even more than with the previous hinge design. The laptop body is made entirely out of plastic as opposed to metal which is featured in the Legion laptops. But then again, that is to be expected from the budget segment.
Coming to the keyboard, nothing much has changed. Which is good, you know what they say, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. The Ideapad Gaming laptops come with nice full-sized keyboards, with the arrow keys slightly separated from the rest of the keyboard. They've got decent travel distance for laptop keys and there's nice feedback as well. You also have backlighting which is a nice plus. Overall, probably one of the best keyboards you can get in the budget gaming laptop segment. The trackpad is also not very large and slightly off-centre, so it doesn't get in the way while you're typing.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming laptops have a power button that sits separately from the rest of the keyboard, and has a single LED light in the centre. The colour of this light can change depending on the mode you're on, with Blue for the quiet mode, White for auto by default, and Red for performance. Fn + Q can be used to toggle between these modes.
Under the laptop, you've got the ventilation grill and the two speaker cutouts on either side.
Next we come to the ports. Like we mentioned earlier, you've got a gen 1 USB Type-A 3.2 port on either side of the laptop. On the left, you've got a combo audio jack as well. The rest of the I/O has been moved to the back, where you've got an HDMI 2.0 port, an ethernet port, a Thunderbolt 4 port and power.
For the display, the unit we received came with a 15.6-inch FHD 120 Hz IPS panel. 120Hz is nice, but there is a FHD 165Hz option and a 16-inch WQHD 165Hz display option as well. During our display benchmarks, we got an average brightness of 337 nits, which is not bad. As for sRGB, the display scored pretty high with 98.9% sRGB coverage. Even the DCI-P3 coverage was 75.4% which is pretty good as far as a budget gaming laptop is concerned.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i comes with a range of 12th gen Intel processor options, starting from the Core i5-12450H to the Core i7-12700H. The unit we received came with the Intel Core i7-12700H. For the purposes of this review, we're going to be drawing comparisons to the Alienware X14 which comes with the exact same configuration as far as the processor and GPU are considered. So we're looking at an Intel Core i7-12700H and NVIDIA RTX 3050Ti combo. The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i actually scored slightly higher than the Alienware X14 in just about every processor and gaming benchmark, save a few. Considering the price difference between the two - Rs 1.75 lakhs for the X14 to the Rs 95,791 for the IdeaPad Gaming 3i, the Gaming 3i is essentially selling itself right now.
In 3DMark, the X14 scores better in both TimeSpy benchmarks, while the 3i scores higher in all FireStrike benchmarks. The overall scores are still very close. Let's move on to real-world gaming benchmarks.
Here, you can see that the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i scores higher in just about all of our gaming benchmark results, save Valorant. Even if by a few FPS, it's outperforming a laptop that's almost twice its price. Impressive.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i we received came with 16 GB of DDR4 3200MHz RAM. We tested the RAM using AIDA64, the results are pretty good. While not as good as the X14 which comes with LPDDR5 RAM, it still performs well.
Coming to the storage, the laptop came with a Gen 4 1TB PCIe NVMe TLC M.2 2242 SSD. The read and write speeds are decent and close to advertised speeds, but there are other budget gaming laptop offerings, such as the Acer Nitro 5 for instance, with faster SSDs in the market.
For most of our testing the laptop ran pretty cool. So their cooling solution works. Surface level temps never crossed 45 degrees, and the palm area stayed cool for the most part. Like with most gaming laptops it will get loud as you do more intensive stuff.
Lenovo has certainly taken a step up with the new IdeaPad Gaming 3i. As far as value for money is concerned, you're definitely getting bang for your buck here. Despite the flimsy hinge, we think the new design is an overall improvement, and makes more room for the fans and allows for two more vents at the back. The keyboard is one of the better ones you can find on a gaming laptop, and there's room for expansion when it comes to memory and storage. While it's a great pick in the sub 1 lakh budget gaming laptop category, you also have the likes of the Acer Nitro 5 which comes very close in terms of performance and in some cases performs better, such as with RAM and storage and you might potentially get a better deal there. All that said, this is still a solid pick if you're in the market for an entry level gaming laptop that can handle most modern AAA games.
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