When you’re out there for a finances laptop computer, you are confronted with some robust selections. Balancing a decent finances with a characteristic set that principally consists of the requirements is not straightforward once you’re evaluating a sea of machines that each one look roughly the identical. So once you come throughout a standout cheap laptop computer just like the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14, it’s a welcome reprieve. At $519, it leans towards the costly finish of the finances spectrum, however this 14-incher comes full of nearly all the pieces you’d need for a pocket book in its value vary, together with a full HD show, a sturdy chassis, and a snug keyboard, all pulled collectively by on-point efficiency and a few sudden luxuries for the cash. It earns our newest Editors’ Alternative award for finances Home windows laptops.
Peppy Ryzen CPU on a Finances
Lenovo’s IdeaPad line of laptops is similar to that of the Dell Inspiron or HP Pavilion sequence—midrange to low-end machines that run the gamut on value, dimension, and options. At round $500, the IdeaPad 3 14 sits comfortably on the cusp of each worlds, boasting an AMD Ryzen 5 5500U processor, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and 256GB of SSD storage. Our evaluation unit is obtainable from Amazon.com with Home windows 10 put in, however the retailer additionally gives a Home windows 11 variant for $560.
Exterior of the OS selection, there are not any customization choices for this iteration of the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14. But it surely’s value noting that savvy laptop computer customers can swap one of many two unsoldered 4GB RAM sticks for an 8GB RAM stick and bump the whole RAM to 12GB. Do that at your individual danger, nevertheless, because it may violate your guarantee.
(Picture: Molly Flores)
The inventory reminiscence and storage quantities are on the low facet—we prefer to see 16GB of RAM and 512GB of solid-state storage today. However the decrease quantities are par the course for laptops of this value vary, and the processor is the star of the present right here. AMD’s Ryzen cellular CPUs have grow to be formidable chips in recent times, and regardless of the 5500U being constructed on the older AMD Zen 2 structure, the silicon nonetheless performs properly and is a commanding start line within the budget-laptop market. (Greater-end Ryzen 5000U-series CPUs are based mostly on the newer Zen 3; the 5500U is an outlier.) Total, the six-core, 12-thread processor has greater than sufficient gasoline within the tank for primary web and phrase processor wants, in addition to reasonably complicated duties, with none noticeable lag.
Within the IdeaPad 3 14, this interprets to standout efficiency, separating it from lots of its rivals in the identical value bracket. (Here is how to decide on the very best laptop computer CPU.)
(Picture: Molly Flores)
However sufficient concerning the insides—the outsides are simply as vital. Finances laptops can usually look and feel low-cost, with flimsy, plastic components that make the units really feel extra akin to Leapfrogs than a classy laptop computer. (See, for instance, the HP Stream 14.) Notably, the IdeaPad 3 14 bucks the development and doesn’t falter on this regard. Measuring in at 0.78 by 12.76 by 8.49 inches (HWD) and simply over 3 kilos, it is a sturdy machine with a novel blue end that provides the laptop computer a slick, eye-catching look. Sure, it nonetheless is plastic pretending to be steel, however you possibly can do loads worse on this division.
(Picture: Molly Flores)
The IdeaPad 3 14 additionally makes some sensible airflow enhancements. Utilizing the Lenovo Vantage app, you possibly can select amongst three fan speeds that fit your efficiency wants. The rubber grips discovered beneath the laptop computer truly give the laptop computer an ever-so-slight airflow increase, since they hold the underside of the chassis from sitting flush towards your desk.
Finances Pricing, Trendy Options
The 14-inch full HD display screen is tucked in between 4 narrow-sided bezels that supply some critical display screen actual property. The bezels are usually not as skinny as these on, say, the XPG Xenia 14, however they’re nonetheless loads modern-looking. The IdeaPad 3 14 additionally options an Eye Care mode, which adjusts the colour temperature of your show to filter out blue mild, which may cut back fatigue once you use your pc for a very long time. Nestled on the prime of the show, you’ll discover a 720p webcam, full with a privateness shutter.
(Picture: Molly Flores)
When put to make use of, the IdeaPad 3 14 is among the higher finances laptops I’ve dealt with. The keyboard is snug, with simply sufficient give to make key presses satisfying. The touchpad is responsive, and there is even a fingerprint reader built-in into the facility button. Sadly, the audio system, positioned below the touchpad, aren’t nice. They aren’t very loud and provides off a hole sound. You’re higher off utilizing headphones or an exterior speaker.
Turning to the ports, the IdeaPad 3 14 options a wide selection. On its proper facet, you’ll discover an SD card slot and a USB 2.0 port.
(Picture: Molly Flores)
And on the left facet, you’ll discover a USB 3.0 Kind-A port, an HDMI output, an audio jack, and the facility adapter port. There’s additionally an oval-shaped USB-C port right here, a cutting-edge jack that also is not a given on finances laptops. Within the IdeaPad 3 14’s case, it is restricted to knowledge transfers solely and may’t deal with video output.
(Picture: Molly Flores)
Finances laptops could be stuffed with undesirable preinstalled software program generally known as bloatware, however the IdeaPad 3 14 is mercifully mild on it. The same old offenders are right here: Spotify, Disney Plus, McAfee Antivirus, and Alexa are simply among the apps taking on your treasured cupboard space, however you possibly can merely uninstall them if you happen to do not want them.
Benchmarking the IdeaPad 3 14: Proficient Efficiency for the Bucks
A lot for the IdeaPad 3 14’s options; how does it do in a direct comparability with different laptops in its class? To discover out, we introduced within the Asus VivoBook S14, the Dell Inspiron 15 (3511), 2021’s HP Pavilion x360 15, the pricier Samsung Galaxy E-book Professional 13, and our earlier Editors’ Alternative choose for finest finances laptop computer, the MSI Trendy 14. Whereas these machines all make use of an Intel processor-and-graphics answer, they’re in the identical efficiency ballpark and share related CPU and GPU setups.
The primary benchmark check we run is PCMark 10, a check that simulates a wide range of Home windows packages to offer an total efficiency rating for workplace workflows. On this check, a outcome between 4,000 and 5,000 factors is a transparent indicator of wonderful efficiency. Whereas a lot of the pack falls proper within the center, the IdeaPad 3 14 pulls away from the pack and reveals sturdy numbers.
We did not have sufficient knowledge so as to add PCMark 10’s Full System Drive storage subtest, which measures this system load time and the throughput of the laptop computer’s boot drive. (That check doesn’t run on some finances laptops resulting from inadequate RAM or an absence of cupboard space.) However the IdeaPad 3 14 was in a position to run the check and scored 1,321 factors—not the best outcome we have seen for an SSD-equipped laptop computer, however within the finances laptop computer sphere, greater than sufficient to run productiveness circles across the current firm.
The following check we run is video transcoding utilizing the HandBrake 1.4 app, which is an open-source software for changing multimedia recordsdata to totally different resolutions and codecs. Changing video recordsdata is a CPU-heavy process, so we do not count on a lot from finances laptops on this rating, as they usually use weaker processors with fewer cores.
Now, you most likely would not do any critical multimedia work on a finances laptop computer, however if you happen to did, the IdeaPad 3 14 would not be a foul selection. Regardless of the 10-minute completion time, the IdeaPad 3 14 stands tall among the many competitors on this check, with the VivoBook S14 at a distant second place.
With CPU efficiency in thoughts, we change to the Cinebench R23 benchmark, a multi-core check meant to train all of a processor’s cores and threads. The Ryzen 5 5500U’s six cores come in useful right here, because the IdeaPad 3 14 simply bests its competitors.
And eventually, our productiveness assessments come to a detailed with the Geekbench check, yet one more CPU stress check meant to simulate real-world actions. The IdeaPad 3 14 does rating prime marks right here, however simply barely. The Samsung Galaxy E-book Professional 13 comes inside hanging distance. Total, the IdeaPad 3 thumps the competitors in each productiveness check, however what about our graphics benchmarks?
Each laptop computer on this comparability makes use of built-in graphics—both Intel’s newer Iris Xe silicon, the usual Intel UHD Graphics discovered in lots of finances laptops, or within the IdeaPad 3 14’s case, AMD’s Radeon built-in GPU. Graphics benchmarks are typically arduous to run on finances laptops, as some haven’t got sufficient reminiscence or a powerful sufficient GPU.
To check the laptop computer’s gaming efficiency, we run 3DMark, a graphics check suite for Home windows that accommodates a number of subtests for various GPU capabilities and software program APIs. We run two DirectX 12 assessments specifically: 3DMark Night time Raid and 3DMark Time Spy. Here is the place the IdeaPad 3 falters a bit, developing quick behind the Asus Vivobook S14 and the Samsung Galaxy E-book Professional 13. The upper the quantity, the higher, nevertheless, and never a single laptop computer really impresses on this space apart from the (a lot pricier) Galaxy E-book Professional 13. That is true of each the extra demanding Time Spy, and the modest Night time Raid.
Our subsequent benchmark is GFXBench 5.0, a graphics simulator that stress-tests each low-level and high-level routines. We run two of its subtests, Aztec Ruins and Automobile Chase, rendered off-screen to accommodate totally different show resolutions and make comparisons legitimate. The IdeaPad 3 14 struggled within the 1440p Aztec Ruins check, clocking a median of 23 frames per second (fps). It fared higher within the 1080p Automobile Chase check, however nonetheless by no means held a constant 60fps. Nonetheless, with some configuration tweaks, I think about it could be attainable to get a barely larger body charge if you happen to’re taking part in less-demanding video games.
Stable Battery, So-So Show
To check laptop computer battery life, we first cost up the battery to 100% after which play a regionally saved copy of the open-source Blender film Tears of Metal on a loop at 50% brightness and at 100% quantity, together with a couple of different battery-testing tweaks to make sure correct readings throughout all units. If the laptop computer would not have sufficient area to retailer a duplicate, we’ll play the film off of a drive. We additionally put the laptop computer into Airplane mode.
The IdeaPad 3 14 did properly, tapping out after 10 hours and 32 minutes. A valiant effort—however nonetheless developing quick compared with the Asus VivoBook S14, the HP Pavilion x360 15, and the Samsung Galaxy E-book Professional 13.
The ultimate trial in our benchmark gauntlet consists of show brightness and colour assessments. Utilizing Datacolor’s SpyderX Elite calibrator and its software program instruments, we measure show efficiency, screen-brightness output ranges, and measure gamut settings for the three most related colour areas for laptop computer customers: the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 requirements.
The IdeaPad 3 14’s colours have been usually common, par the course for many finances laptops, although it was a bit of worse than the competitors (and loads worse than the Samsung Galaxy E-book Professional 13’s nice AMOLED panel). Display brightness, however, fared loads higher. If it will possibly’t be colourful, it ought to not less than be vibrant.
A Finances Baron
An affordable laptop computer would not exist with out compromise, however regardless of being offered at a finances value, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 feels premium. Its snappy efficiency, sturdy construct, and additions like a USB-C port, Wi-Fi 6, and a fingerprint scanner assist the IdeaPad 3 outclass its competitors.
Whereas it’d nonetheless have among the standard budget-laptop shortcomings like uninspiring audio system and a boring show, the IdeaPad 3 14 remains to be definitely worth the value of admission and is among the finest cheap notebooks you should buy. It is our new Editors’ Alternative choose for finances laptops.
The Backside Line
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 is a knockout finances laptop computer, with wonderful efficiency and a bevy of recent trappings that just about make you overlook it rings up at lower than $600.
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