For those who’re out there for a price range laptop computer, you are confronted with some powerful selections. Balancing a good price range with a characteristic set that largely consists of the requirements is not straightforward once you’re evaluating a sea of machines that every one look kind of 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 price range spectrum, however this 14-incher comes full of nearly the whole lot 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 price range Home windows laptops.
Peppy Ryzen CPU on a Price range
Lenovo’s IdeaPad line of laptops is corresponding 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 evaluate unit is out there from Amazon.com with Home windows 10 put in, however the retailer additionally provides a Home windows 11 variant for $560.
Outdoors 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 entire RAM to 12GB. Do that at your personal threat, nevertheless, because it might 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 nowadays. 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 turn out 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 effectively and is a commanding place to begin within the budget-laptop market. (Larger-end Ryzen 5000U-series CPUs are based mostly on the newer Zen 3; the 5500U is an outlier.) General, the six-core, 12-thread processor has greater than sufficient gas within the tank for fundamental 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. (This is how to decide on the perfect laptop computer CPU.)
(Picture: Molly Flores)
However sufficient concerning the insides—the outsides are simply as essential. Price range laptops can usually look and feel low cost, with flimsy, plastic elements that make the gadgets really feel extra akin to Leapfrogs than a complicated 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 offers the laptop computer a slick, eye-catching look. Sure, it nonetheless is plastic pretending to be metallic, however you may 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 may select amongst three fan speeds that fit your efficiency wants. The rubber grips discovered beneath the laptop computer really give the laptop computer an ever-so-slight airflow enhance, since they hold the underside of the chassis from sitting flush in opposition to your desk.
Price range 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 will not be 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 might scale 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 price range 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 ability 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 ability adapter port. There’s additionally an oval-shaped USB-C port right here, a cutting-edge jack that also is not a given on price range 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)
Price range laptops will be filled with undesirable preinstalled software program often called 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 a number of the apps taking over your valuable cupboard space, however you may merely uninstall them when you 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 Ebook Professional 13, and our earlier Editors’ Alternative decide for greatest price range 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 take a look at we run is PCMark 10, a take a look at that simulates a wide range of Home windows packages to offer an total efficiency rating for workplace workflows. On this take a look at, a outcome between 4,000 and 5,000 factors is a transparent indicator of fantastic efficiency. Whereas many of the pack falls proper within the center, the IdeaPad 3 14 pulls away from the pack and reveals robust 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 take a look at doesn’t run on some price range laptops on account of inadequate RAM or an absence of cupboard space.) However the IdeaPad 3 14 was in a position to run the take a look at and scored 1,321 factors—not the best outcome we have seen for an SSD-equipped laptop computer, however within the price range laptop computer sphere, greater than sufficient to run productiveness circles across the current firm.
The following take a look at we run is video transcoding utilizing the HandBrake 1.4 app, which is an open-source software for changing multimedia information to totally different resolutions and codecs. Changing video information is a CPU-heavy process, so we do not count on a lot from price range laptops on this rating, as they usually use weaker processors with fewer cores.
Now, you in all probability would not do any critical multimedia work on a price range laptop computer, however when you 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 take a look at, with the VivoBook S14 at a distant second place.
With CPU efficiency in thoughts, we swap to the Cinebench R23 benchmark, a multi-core take a look at 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 at last, our productiveness assessments come to a detailed with the Geekbench take a look at, one more CPU stress take a look at meant to simulate real-world actions. The IdeaPad 3 14 does rating prime marks right here, however simply barely. The Samsung Galaxy Ebook Professional 13 comes inside hanging distance. General, the IdeaPad 3 thumps the competitors in each productiveness take a look at, 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 price range laptops, or within the IdeaPad 3 14’s case, AMD’s Radeon built-in GPU. Graphics benchmarks are typically exhausting to run on price range 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 take a look at suite for Home windows that accommodates a number of subtests for various GPU features and software program APIs. We run two DirectX 12 assessments specifically: 3DMark Night time Raid and 3DMark Time Spy. This is the place the IdeaPad 3 falters a bit, developing brief behind the Asus Vivobook S14 and the Samsung Galaxy Ebook 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 Ebook 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 take a look at, clocking a median of 23 frames per second (fps). It fared higher within the 1080p Automobile Chase take a look at, however nonetheless by no means held a constant 60fps. Nonetheless, with some configuration tweaks, I think about it could be potential to get a barely greater body charge when you’re enjoying less-demanding video games.
Strong 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 gadgets. If the laptop computer would not have sufficient house to retailer a replica, we’ll play the film off of a drive. We additionally put the laptop computer into Airplane mode.
The IdeaPad 3 14 did effectively, tapping out after 10 hours and 32 minutes. A valiant effort—however nonetheless developing brief in comparison with the Asus VivoBook S14, the HP Pavilion x360 15, and the Samsung Galaxy Ebook Professional 13.
The ultimate trial in our benchmark gauntlet consists of show brightness and shade 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 shade areas for laptop computer customers: the sRGB, Adobe RGB, and DCI-P3 requirements.
The IdeaPad 3 14’s colours had been usually common, par the course for many price range laptops, although it was slightly worse than the competitors (and loads worse than the Samsung Galaxy Ebook Professional 13’s nice AMOLED panel). Display screen brightness, alternatively, fared loads higher. If it could actually’t be colourful, it ought to at the very least be brilliant.
A Price range Baron
An inexpensive laptop computer would not exist with out compromise, however regardless of being offered at a price range 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 a number of the typical budget-laptop shortcomings like uninspiring audio system and a boring show, the IdeaPad 3 14 remains to be well worth the value of admission and is among the greatest cheap notebooks you should buy. It is our new Editors’ Alternative decide for price range laptops.
The Backside Line
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 14 is a knockout price range laptop computer, with glorious efficiency and a bevy of recent trappings that nearly make you overlook it rings up at lower than $600.
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