Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 Review: A Good Place to Start

7.3

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3

Like


  • Room for more RAM, storage

  • Good battery life, fast display for the money

Don’t like


  • Small storage drive fills up fast

  • Dim display with dull color

The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 is a prime example of what you can expect from an entry-level gaming laptop under $700. It’s just enough to get you going with its midrange AMD processor and a slightly better-than-basic Nvidia graphics chip. It also has a fair amount of ports so you can easily connect to an external display and a keyboard and mouse for desktop gaming. The IdeaPad Gaming 3 is a fine choice for the money, whether this is your first gaming laptop or you’re a casual gamer looking to play undemanding games in between doing office or school work. 

As with all laptops, however, the more you can invest in components up front, the better off you’ll be in the long run. Increasing your budget to $1,000 can get you a lot more gaming performance for your dollar, especially if you can hit the right deal. But not everyone has the extra money, in which case the IdeaPad Gaming 3 at least gives you a solid starting point with room for more storage and memory.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 laptop open, facing left and sitting on a green desk mat.

Josh Goldman/CNET

Configuration reviewed

Price as reviewed $660
Display size/resolution 15.6-inch, 1,920×1,080-pixel, 120Hz, 16:9 display
CPU 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 5 6600H
Memory 8GB DDR4 4,800MHz RAM
Graphics 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050
Storage 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD
Networking Wi-Fi 6 MT7921 (2×2) and Bluetooth 5.2
Operating system Windows 11 Home 21H2

For a newer gaming laptop, $660 is not a lot to spend. Gaming requires a higher level of processing and graphics performance than average productivity tasks. Those components also require better cooling and more power to operate at their peak, too, and all of that adds up. The GeForce RTX 3050 is a notch above the usual low-end graphics chip found at this price, the GeForce GTX 1650. It’s paired with a midrange AMD processor that can outperform Intel’s equivalent Core i5 processor. The combo lands the IdeaPad Gaming 3 in the middle of the pack of other budget-friendly gaming laptops under $1,000. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 laptop open, facing forward and sitting on a gray microfiber-covered chair.

The IdeaPad Gaming 3’s display is fast, but its color and brightness are less impressive. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Where Lenovo and others typically dial back is on memory and storage. This laptop’s 8GB of RAM is basically the bare minimum; look for 16GB instead if you can afford a bit more. The same goes for the 256GB solid-state drive for storage. Download more than a couple of large games, and you won’t have room for much else. Go with at least a 512GB SSD to avoid regularly deleting games to fit new ones on. 

Performance and battery life

With all that said, if you’re playing older or undemanding titles like Stardew Valley, Among Us, Minecraft, Borderlands 2 and Cuphead, the graphics chip’s memory will help with the heavy lifting and those games don’t take up much space, either. Plus, there’s an open slot to bring the IdeaPad Gaming 3 up to 16GB of RAM, and you can replace its SSD with a larger capacity one if the 256GB does feel cramped after a while. Also, I was able to play a couple of more demanding titles including Deathloop, which has high system requirements and was once known to be buggy on PCs. Although video quality and effects had to all be set to low, the gameplay was relatively smooth with only an occasional stutter.  

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 laptop open, facing right and sitting on a gray microfiber-covered chair.

The IdeaPad Gaming 3’s keyboard deck looks like that of any other Lenovo IdeaPad. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

Still, there’s a difference between merely playable and enjoyably playable, and the more demanding the game with the IdeaPad Gaming 3, the more you veer toward the former. The display does help pick up some slack, though. The 15.6-inch 1080p LCD has a refresh rate of 120Hz that makes games played at faster frame rates look smoother and can help improve your reaction time for games such as CS:GO, Fortnite and Overwatch 2 where accuracy is crucial. On the other hand, the display’s color is a bit dull, and it has a max brightness of only 266 nits (but I measured it as low as 210 in places on the screen). This likely helped it hit a reasonably high (for a budget gaming laptop) 8 hours, 8 minutes on our video streaming battery drain test. Don’t expect to get anywhere near this while gaming, though. 

Design and features

The rest of the laptop’s features and design are a mixed bag. For example, Lenovo includes a physical privacy shutter to block the webcam, but it’s a 720p-resolution camera that needs a lot of light to deliver a good picture. The keyboard is comfortable for typing and gaming, but its backlight is only bright white — no color-changing RGB lights here. The touchpad works well enough and is smooth to the touch. The speakers sound decent, too, and didn’t send me scrambling for my headset. 

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 laptop open with a rear view of its ports and sitting on a green desk mat.

Ports are in the back for a cleaner look when connected to peripherals. 

Josh Goldman/CNET

To appeal to gamers who also need to use their laptop for work or school, manufacturers are making more entry-level gaming laptops look less gamer-y. Looking from the top down onto the IdeaPad Gaming 3 — open or closed — it doesn’t seem too different from other Lenovo IdeaPads: dark gray with a small Lenovo logo at the top left side. Lenovo did clip the front corners to give it an angular look, and if you look around the sides or in the back, you’ll find bright light blue accents and heatsink fins tucked inside accentuated fan vents. 

Between the rear vents are the majority of its ports: power, Ethernet, HDMI 2.0 and a USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 that’s just for data transfers. You’ll also find two USB-A 3.2 Gen 1 split between the sides and a combo headset jack on the left. 

The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 is a model entry-level gaming laptop for less than $700. It has good performance and features for the money, but you can also see where things could be better. Fortunately, the overall performance can be given a nudge upward with more RAM and a higher-capacity SSD for storage. And if your gaming needs are basic, you won’t immediately need to change those things, making this IdeaPad Gaming 3 a good place to start.  

The review process for laptops, desktops, tablets and other computer-like devices consists of two parts: performance testing under controlled conditions in the CNET Labs and extensive hands-on use by our expert reviewers. This includes evaluating a device’s aesthetics, ergonomics and features. A final review verdict is a combination of both objective and subjective judgments. 

The list of benchmarking software we use changes over time as the devices we test evolve. The most important core tests we’re currently running on every compatible computer include: Primate Labs Geekbench 5, Cinebench R23, PCMark 10 and 3DMark Fire Strike Ultra

A more detailed description of each benchmark and how we use it can be found in our How We Test Computers page. 

Geekbench 5 (multicore)

Dell G16 7620 G Series 12520Asus ROG Strix G15 9485Dell G15 5520 G Series 8932Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 8443HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 6766Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 6146

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Cinebench R23 (multicore)

Dell G16 7620 G Series 17942Asus ROG Strix G15 14096Dell G15 5520 G Series 13694Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 13583Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 10192HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 9718

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited

Dell G16 7620 G Series 18004Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 16510Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 11020Asus ROG Strix G15 10466Dell G15 5520 G Series 10285HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 6779

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Guardians of the Galaxy (High @1920 x 1080)

Dell G16 7620 G Series 123Asus ROG Strix G15 103Dell G15 5520 G Series 84Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 76Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 71HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 61

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

Online video streaming battery drain test

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 488Asus ROG Strix G15 438HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop 377Dell G15 5520 G Series 307Dell G16 7620 G Series 287Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 277

Note: Longer bars indicate better performance

System configurations

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 15ARH7 Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 5 6600H; 8GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU; 256GB SSD
HP Victus 15 Gaming Laptop Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2GHz Intel Core i5-12450H; 8GB DDR4 3,200MHz RAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 GPU; 512GB SSD
Acer Nitro 5 AN515-58 Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-12500H; 16GB DDR4 3,200MHz RAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU; 512GB SSD
Dell G15 5520 G Series Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-12500H; 8GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU; 256GB SSD
Asus ROG Strix G15 Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 3.3GHz AMD Ryzen 7 6800HS; 16GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 4GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 GPU; 512GB SSD
Dell G16 7620 G Series Microsoft Windows 11 Home; 2.3GHz Intel Core i7-127000H; 16GB DDR5 4,800MHz RAM; 6GB Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 GPU; 512GB SSD


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