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Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 hands-on review: Gaming on the cheap

Lenovo is sprinkling its entry-level gaming systems with design and functions typically reserved for its premium Legion brand laptops. The IdeaPad Gaming 3 and 3i laptops will be available in AMD and Intel Core processor configurations respectively and 15-and 16-inch displays options but will get a real taste of Lenovo’s high-end gaming features for the first time.

The biggest upgrades on the IdeaPad Gaming 3 are the major ports are set up at the rear of the system. This is a direct trickle-down feature from the Legion brand design to the entry-level laptops. These models also include USB ports on either side for functions such as mouse peripherals or USB sticks, which users can plugin quickly. In comparison, the previous IdeaPad Gaming 3 generation featured all of its ports on its sides.

The black 16-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 is placed on a seating area near a large window.
Fionna Agomuoh/Digital Trends

Specs

  Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3
Dimensions 14.16 x 10.49 x 0.82 inches
Weight 5.29 pounds
Processor AMD Ryzen 7 6800H
Graphics Nvidia RTX 3050 Ti
RAM Up to 32GB 4800MHz DDR5
Display 16 inches, 165Hz
Storage Up to 1TB SSD
Touch No
Ports 2 USB-A 3.2 Gen 1, USB-A 3.2 Gen 2, HDMI 2.0, Ethernet, 3.5mm audio jack
Wireless Up to Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5.2
Webcam 1080p with privacy shutter
Operating system Windows 11
Battery 71 watt-hour
Price, availability $1,140, June 2022

Design

The white 15-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 being viewed overhead.
Fionna Agomuoh/Digital Trends

I got a chance to handle the IdeaPad Gaming 3 15-inch and 16-inch models and what struck me first was how light they are for their size while still feeling sturdy. Both models were easy to handle with one hand, with the 15-inch design weighing in at 4.85 pounds and the 16-inch model at 5.29 pounds. Dimensions for the laptops are 14.16 by 10.49 by 0.86 inches for the 15-inch model and 14.16 by 10.49 by 0.82 inches for the 16-inch model.

The IdeaPad Gaming 3 has a minimalist design with very subtle branding placement. Outside of the Lenovo tag on the base, there is an IdeaPad Gaming tag on the opening.

The 15-inch models will be available in Glacier White and Onyx Grey color options and the 16-inch models in Onyx Grey only. The white models have a more plasticky look, likely due to the contrast of its dark bezels against its keyboard. Meanwhile, the darker models get away with looking a lot sleeker, and more high-end due to having the same tone all around.

Again, having adopted design features from Lenovo’s premium laptops, the IdeaPad Gaming 3 includes blue accents in the rear to complement its cooling and ventilation updates, in addition to adding a gamer-like aesthetic.

Display

The laptop models have slight spec differences in terms of displays. The smaller variant features a 15.6-inch FHD IPS display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 300 nits brightness, while the larger version has a 16-inch WQHD+ IPS display with a 16:10 aspect ratio and 500 nits brightness. The display panels on both size options provide a 165Hz refresh rate and a 100% sRGB color gamut.

A video game trailer being played on the black 16-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 while hands are typing on the keyboard.

At first glance, the wallpapers used on the IdeaPad Gaming 3 models do appear to pop with color. There’s a good deal of color saturation, especially in contrast with the colors of the laptops themselves. Once I started to handle the devices, the colors appeared to hold up just as well. In particular, I viewed a Fortnite video game trailer on YouTube on the 16-inch model.

These might not be the brightest displays on the market, but they might also depend on the level of lighting in your area.

Keyboard and trackpad

The keyboard of the white 15-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3.
Fionna Agomuoh/Digital Trends

IdeaPad Gaming 3 includes a full-sized keyboard and large trackpad, which is also reminiscent of the premium Legion brand design. Additionally, it has air intake vents in the keyboard, similar to the premium models to further assist in keeping the device cool. There is also blue backlighting under the keys, which further adds to the gamer aesthetic. Keys themselves are springy and easy to handle.

Meanwhile, the open space left due to the large trackpad could make for an awkward reach in handling. Lenovo might be attempting to compensate after complaints that the keyboard on the prior generation was too crowded. This might be something to investigate in a long-term review.

Ports and connectivity

One of the primary complaints on the prior generation IdeaPad Gaming 3i was it didn’t have enough ports, in particular, USB-A ports. Lenovo remedied this by placing a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port on all models of IdeaPad Gaming 3 and IdeaPad Gaming 3i.

The IdeaPad Gaming 3 16-inch and 15-inch models both feature a USB-A port on their left side, in addition to a 3.5 mm audio jack and a USB-A port on their right side. The rear port set up for both models includes a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C (which supports Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort 1.4, and Power Delivery 3.0), HDMI 2.0, RJ 45, and DC-in.

The rear of the black 16-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 showing its I/O ports and vents and blue decals.
Fionna Agomuoh/Digital Trends

Connectivity for the IdeaPad Gaming 3 goes up to Wi-Fi 6 and starts at Bluetooth 5.0. I was able to get a device connected to Wi-Fi at the last minute to test it out and I had no issues loading pages or videos while viewing trailers on YouTube.

Performance and battery life

The rear of black 16-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 open on the right next to the prior generation IdeaPad Gaming 3 open on the left.
Fionna Agomuoh/Digital Trends

Lenovo uses slightly different naming conventions to differentiate between the two processor models. The IdeaPad Gaming 3 features the AMD RyzenTM 6000 series processors and the IdeaPad Gaming 3i  features the 12th Gen Intel CoreTM i7 H-series processors. Overall the components are intended to perform similarly.

The 15-inch models feature 60 watt-per-hour or 45 watt-per-hour batteries, depending on whether they are four-cell or three-cell components. These models also support Rapid Charge at 15 minutes to add a 40% charge to the battery.

The 16-inch models feature a 71 watt-per-hour battery, that supports Rapid Charge Pro at 30 minutes to add a 50% charge to the battery.

To optimize cooling on the laptops, Lenovo has added quad rear vents to the system. Once again, a feature that has been adopted from the brand’s, premium line, Lenovo claims these laptops have 20% better ventilation than the previous generation, with the rear vents working in tandem with the front cooling from the keyboards.

Price and availability

The black 16-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 is open on the left next to the white 15-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 open on the right.
Fionna Agomuoh/Digital Trends

The 15-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 with an AMD processor will be available starting in May 2022 with a starting price of $930, while the 16-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3 with an AMD processor will be available starting in June 2022 with a starting price of $1,140.

The 15-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3i with an Intel Core processor will be available starting in April 2022 with a starting price of $990, while the 16-inch IdeaPad Gaming 3i with an Intel Core processor will be available starting in June 2022 with a starting price of $1,490.

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