Lenovo’s Legion series has some of the best high-performance gaming laptops out there, but if you want something more economical, there’s the IdeaPad Gaming range to explore. Catering to the budget and mid-range segments, the range includes laptops with Intel or AMD CPUs paired with Nvidia GeForce graphics.
Sitting at the top of the lineup is the latest 7th generation IdeaPad Gaming 3i, where the ‘i’ stands for Intel, available in 15-inch or 16-inch screen options. The highest configuration includes Intel’s Core i7-12700H with 16GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe Gen 4 SSD and an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 laptop GPU with a 16-inch WQHD+ display. But is it actually enough? Here’s an inside look…
Design and build
Compared to the older generation, like us Reviewed a few years ago, the 2022 model has an updated design. It takes inspiration from the more expensive Legion series, with the rest being placed at the back and limited ports on the sides. I personally appreciate this approach, especially when it comes to gaming notebooks. There is also ample ventilation with exhaust vents on the sides and back, as well as a perforated section at the bottom to draw in fresh air.
The laptop is mainly covered in plastic with a dark gray finish, which the company calls Onyx Grey, with blue-tinted air vents. I found the chassis to be very solid despite flexing in places, including the lid and keyboard deck. The screen shakes a bit while typing, but the shakes are minimized when using the laptop on a sturdy desk. The laptop sports minimalistic branding with only the Lenovo logo embossed on the corner of the lid and the IdeaPad Gaming on the edge of the lid. In terms of weight and dimensions, it weighs 2.4 kg with a thickness of around 21 mm, which is expected from a large 16-inch gaming laptop.
Coming to I/O, the left has a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port and a headphone combo jack. On the right side, there’s a single USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A port, and the back has HDMI 2.0, RJ45 Ethernet, Lenovo’s proprietary charging port, and a USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port with support for Thunderbolt 4. Take note. Only the model with Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3060 GPU comes with Thunderbolt, while the other models have a standard USB Type-C port that supports USB 3.2 Gen 2 speeds. The laptop also has a wireless network card with support for Wi-Fi 6 along with Bluetooth 5.0.
Getting to the internals is tricky and it is recommended to go through the manual as the screws on the bottom need to be removed in a specific order. Once you get inside, you can see the 71WHr battery, cooling fans connected to two heat pipes and the rest. The dual-channel SODIMMs are hidden under the casing and are easy to remove. There are some models of this laptop that come with single-channel memory and I recommend you go for dual-channel for best performance. Apart from that, there is an M.2 NVMe PCIe Gen 4 SSD, but it comes in 2242 size and not the standard 2280. However, there is an elongated secondary M.2 slot for adding additional storage that is limited to PCIe Gen. 3. You can additionally change/upgrade the Wi-Fi card.
The 16-inch 16:10 IPS display on the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is well suited for gaming purposes. The screen comes with a WQHD+ (2,560 x 1,600 pixels) resolution, which is rated to go up to 500-nits of brightness with a 165Hz refresh rate and 100 percent coverage of the sRGB color space. It has a matte finish that helps cut reflections. The bezels are thinner on the sides than the top and bottom, but they don’t really look out of place.
The panel also works well. Thanks to the WQHD+ resolution, I found colors to be vibrant and accurate with great viewing angles and good sharpness. I’m not entirely satisfied with the brightness and contrast. In my opinion, the brightness seemed less than the advertised 500 nits, but still bright enough for both indoor and outdoor use. As for response times, it’s pretty fast and the game is a joy to play, especially if you’re into fast-paced action shooters.
Keyboard and trackpad
The keyboard is similar to those found on other Lenovo gaming notebooks. The layout also has a dedicated numpad, which is nice to look at even if the keys are a bit smaller than the rest. Also, the arrow keys are placed at the bottom to provide more room. There is RGB backlighting with a choice of different patterns, colors and brightness levels. Typing feels good and you get decent travel distance, but other than that, nothing out of the ordinary.
The trackpad has a plastic finish, which isn’t as smooth as some premium laps with a glass finish. That being said, it felt responsive and comfortable to use, and the size feels just right. It’s not the biggest I’ve seen, especially on a 16-inch laptop, but it gets the job done.
Performance and software
Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is powered by 12th generation Intel Core i7-12700H processor which comes with 24M cache along with six performance cores and eight efficiency cores. It has a base clock speed of 3.5GHz and can be boosted up to 4.7GHz with a maximum TDP of 115W. For graphics there is a discrete Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 mobile GPU with Intel Iris Xe integrated solution and 6GB of GDDR6 memory, rated at a maximum of 105W TDP.
Lenovo sells the laptop with Intel’s Core i5-12450H, i5-12500H and i7-12650H CPUs with a choice of Nvidia’s GeForce RTX 3050, RTX 3050 Ti or Intel’s Arc A370M mobile GPU.
The unit I was sent also had 16GB of DDR4 memory in dual channel running at 3200MHz. There’s a 1TB M.2 PCIe Gen 4 SSD for storage, and as mentioned earlier, you can add a secondary M.2 PCIe Gen 3 SSD.
The hardware is very promising and I am satisfied with the overall performance. As an everyday Windows machine, it can easily take on productivity tasks. I had no problems running over 20 Chrome tabs, playing high-fidelity audio files, and editing RAW images in Photoshop. The laptop comes pre-installed with Windows 11 and has some pre-installed apps. Perhaps the most annoying is McAfee LiveSafe Antivirus, which keeps popping up notifications at random intervals. Like all of Lenovo’s gaming laptops, this one also has the Vantage Control Center app. It can be used to tune system performance by switching between three thermal modes, enabling or disabling fast battery charging, setting keyboard macros, playing with nahimic audio settings, controlling keyboard RGB lighting and more. Additionally, switching between thermal modes and keyboard lighting can be controlled using dedicated key combos. The three thermal modes available on the laptop include Silent, Balanced and Performance, all of which work as intended. Of course, the performance mode can only be enabled with the laptop plugin.
I also played my regular set of games and found the results to be on par with most laptops that have an RTX 3060 GPU with a 105W TDP. Starting with Rise of the Tomb Raider, the average frame rate was around 68FPS with the highest ultra graphics settings enabled at 1600p resolution, which increased to 83FPS by enabling DLSS quality mode. In Cyberpunk 2077, the hardware struggled to maintain just 38FPS, but with some fine-tuning and enabling DLSS, I was able to run the game around the 70FPS mark without losing any detail. Apex Legends, the fastest shooter, ran at a comfortable 85FPS with all settings cranked to the highest, but reducing some textures pushed it to over 110FPS. If you don’t mind dropping the resolution to 1,920 x 1,200 pixels, you can see a boost of 10-25 percent in frames.
|Games at 1600p||Medium||high||Very High/Ultimate|
|Horizon Zero Dawn||77FPS||67FPS||64FPS|
|Rise of the Tomb Raider||92FPS||87FPS||68FPS|
|Metro Exodus is an improved edition||43FPS||35FPS||22FPS|
(All tests performed with DLSS disabled)
Moving on to the synthetic benchmarks, the Ideapad Gaming 3i scored 18630 points on 3DMark Firestrike and 8153 points on TimeSpy. Cinebench R23 scored 13790 points in the multi-core test and 1659 points in the single-core test. Lenovo’s Vantage software includes an option to increase the GPU clock speed by enabling the GPU overclock setting. However, I’m getting mixed results with some benchmark tests resulting in a lower score when compared to turning off the GPU overclock setting. The PCIe Gen 4 SSD wasn’t as fast as I expected, with peak sequential read speeds of 3,000MBps and write speeds of 1,500MBps. It’s by no means slow for day-to-day operations, but I’ve seen much faster PCIe Gen 4 SSDs.
The Core i7-12700H is tuned to draw a maximum of 65W of power. Under extreme pressure, it peaks at 105°C, with all performance cores throttling at one point or another. However, the average temperatures are actually pretty good and the keyboard deck is always comfortable to use. Notably, the GPU comes with quite a bit of headroom as I recorded a peak power draw spike of 121W, which is much higher than the advertised 105W.
The laptop comes with Nahimik support with down-firing stereo speakers. The audio quality is normal with almost no bass and the volume is not too loud. There are various presets you can try under the Nahimic audio settings in the Vantage app, but none of them seem to make much of a difference. The webcam actually isn’t that bad, as it supports 1080p video, which means you’re going to look a little better on your Zoom calls. There’s also a privacy shutter for the webcam, which is a nice touch.
The battery in the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is rated at 71WHr, which is said to last for around seven hours. It can charge from zero to 50 percent in just 30 minutes. Even if the charging speed claims are true, the battery life is not.
On average you won’t get more than four-and-a-half to five hours of battery life, which can be extended to six hours if you turn down screen brightness, resolution and refresh rate, as well as thermal mode switched to silent. A 230W charging brick is definitely chunky and heavy to carry around, but it needs to provide enough juice for the CPU and GPU. Additionally, the laptop can charge via USB Type-C, but compromises on performance.
A fine mid-range gaming machine, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i should live up to your expectations. It has a good CPU and GPU combo and the screen is sharp and responsive for all kinds of games. The laptop is also excellent for daily use and is great for students as well as for your office needs.
My only concern is that the top-tier variant of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i, which I reviewed here, is priced very close to the base model of the Legion 5i Pro. Not only do you get a more premium chassis if you opt for the Legion, you also get faster DDR5 memory, a slightly larger battery, and more configuration options.
In particular, this particular configuration feels a bit pricey for a mid-range gaming notebook, and if you don’t need that much power I’d suggest checking out IdeaPad Gaming’s lower-spec models. On the other hand, you can get Rs. 1,50,000 budget, add some more and go for any of the Legion-branded gaming notebooks.
Editor’s Rating: 3.5 / 5
- Sharp and bright WQHD+ display
- Solid performance
- Good thermal performance
- The top-end variant is not a good value
- No biometric authentication
Source by 91 Mobiles
Written By Sabhitech