Lenovo IdeaPad 3 2021 (AMD) Review: A Standout Budget Laptop

Lenovo Ideapad 3 2021 review 15
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Earlier this year, Lenovo refreshed its IdeaPad lineup of laptops with the latest processors from Intel and AMD. In this review, I’ll be discussing the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 (2021) powered by AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU.

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You can get this laptop for around INR 60,000 in India or some NPR 85,000 in Nepal. That puts it right into the budget category of laptops, which is quite popular these days. I have been using this laptop for some time now and in this review, I will be sharing my experience with the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 2021 (AMD).

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 2021 (AMD) Specifications:

  • Design & Build: All-plastic build, 14.4W x 9.31D x 0.78H-inches, 1.56 kg
  • Display: 15.6-inch TN/IPS anti-glare panel, 45% NTSC, 250/300 nits
  • Resolution: Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixels), 16:9 aspect ratio
  • Keyboard: Chiclet-style backlit keyboard
  • Trackpad: Plastic multi-touch trackpad, Windows Precision drivers
  • Processor: AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU, Zen 2 (Lucienne), 6C/12T, 4.0GHz Max Boost Frequency, 8MB L3 Cache, 7nm FinFET
  • RAM: 8GB DDR4-3200 RAM
  • Storage: 256GB SSD
  • Graphics: AMD Radeon Graphics (Integrated)
  • Audio: 2x 1.5W speakers, Dolby Audio
  • Battery: 38Wh / 45Wh
  • Power Supply: 65W USB-C AC power adapter
  • Webcam: 720p HD camera, Privacy shutter
  • I/O: 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C (Data-only), 1x USB 3.4 Gen 1 Type-A, 1x USB 2.0 Type-A port, 1x HDMI 2.1b, 1x headphone jack, 1x card reader
  • What’s inside the box: Laptop, power adapter, quick start guide

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 2021 Review:

Design

  • All-plastic body, Smooth finish on the lid
  • 14.4W x 9.31D x 0.78H-inches, 1.56 kg

Let’s start with the design first. For a 15.6-inch notebook, the IdeaPad 3 15 2021 is quite compact. It comes in a polycarbonate body that has a smooth finish on the lid and the keyboard deck. Needless to say, these portions catch smudges pretty easily. On the other hand, Lenovo has provided a brushed matte finish on the rim and the base. Thus, these areas should be less prone to scratches.

Moving on, I’m in love with this Abyss Blue finish that Lenovo has used in this laptop. Not only does it help the IdeaPad 3 stand out among the generic look of most laptops in its price range, but the reflective decal also gives a certain character to the device.

Getting started

Thanks to the Flip-to-Open feature, you only need to flip the lid to get the laptop running. You can then sign in using the fingerprint scanner (supports Windows Hello login) integrated into the power button.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 2021 AMD Fingerprint scanner

On the right side, there’s a USB 2.0 Type-A port and a card reader. On the opposite side, you’ll find a USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-A, one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type-C, a headphone jack, and an HDMI 1.4b port.

Display

  • 15.6″ TN panel, Anti-glare
  • FHD resolution, 45% NTSC

Opening it up, you are greeted with a 15.6-inch panel with slim bezels. In order to keep the top bezels slim, Lenovo has placed the webcam on a small protrusion. It also has a physical shutter for privacy-focused users.

Coming to the display quality, this display covers 45% of NTSC color space. While mediocre color accuracy is pretty common across budget laptops, the thing you gotta pay attention to the most is that Lenovo offers the IdeaPad 3 2021 in either IPS or TN display options.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 2021 AMD TN Display Panel

Unfortunately, our review unit of the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 comes with the latter and thus, suffers from bad viewing angles. Unless you are sitting in a direct line of sight with the display, the content on the screen looks too dark or bright.

Featuring 250 nits of brightness, the screen is just good enough to be visible for indoor use. In addition, the display lacks sufficient brightness levels. Thus, even the slightest shift in the brightness results in a wild variation of the screen’s illumination.

So, if you are thinking of buying this laptop, make sure to get the IPS variant. Not only does it offer better viewing angles, but it’s also brighter (300 > 250 nits).

Keyboard and Touchpad

  • Full-size keyboard with dedicated NumPad
  • Precision trackpad, Integrated left/right keys

Moving on, Lenovo IdeaPad 3 comes with a full-size keyboard and a dedicated NumPad. The keys are big and are well-spaced. The key travel distance here is fairly minimal which is pretty common with budget laptops.

For someone who spends most of his office time writing up articles, I have no complaints with this keyboard. In addition, it is backlit with two levels of brightness, which is quite rare at this price.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 2021 AMD Keyboard and Mouse

As expected, Lenovo has included a Precision Touchpad here. It has a smooth surface and is responsive even when using multi-finger gestures. However, I would have liked it more had it been placed towards the middle. As things stand, it is prone to accidental touches.

Performance

  • AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU (4.0GHz)
  • 8GB DDR4-3200 RAM, 256GB M.2 SSD

Powering the laptop is the hexa-core AMD Ryzen 5 5500U CPU with 6 cores and 12 threads. Its clock frequency ranges from 2.1 GHz to 4.0 GHz. You can also find IdeaPad 3 configurations with Ryzen 3 5300U and Ryzen 7 5700U.

There are three performance levels to choose from – Extreme, Intelligent Cooling, and Battery saving. I mostly found myself using the Intelligent Cooing as it delivers balanced performance as well as battery life.

My workload primarily consisted of editing word documents and keeping multiple Chrome tabs open, and I found no issue with its performance. There is no noticeable heating on the surface or fan noise while using relatively taxing applications like Adobe Photoshop either.

Moving on, the IdeaPad 3 15 AMD doesn’t come with a discrete GPU and therefore can’t handle games that well. Still, the upgraded Radeon graphics will let you play lightweight games under low graphics settings with a fair amount of stability.

Camera and Speakers

  • 720p HD camera, dual-array microphone
  • Stereo speakers with Dolby Atmos audio

Moving on to audio, you get two down-firing speakers capable of 1.5W of output each on the IdeaPad 3 2021. Lenovo has included Dolby Atmos audio for stereo effect. While they’re loud enough, the sound quality is expectedly lacking in the bass department.

Since most workplaces and schools worldwide have moved online, having a good quality webcam is pretty much a necessity from any laptop—even a budget one. Given you are in a well-lit room, you won’t have much problem with this 720p camera, unless there is a direct light source just behind.

As such, the camera struggles with exposure maintenance. There’s also a physical shutter to block the webcam when not in use for that peace of mind.

Additionally, the audio pickup from the dual microphones is also quite good. Overall, this camera and the mic combination should be more than enough for online classes and casual video calls.

Battery 

  • 42Wh battery, 65W power adapter

Fueling the laptop is a 42Wh battery, which provided 6 to 8 hours of backup on a full charge. That being said, this number is achievable only when your usage doesn’t include any gaming. Like I mentioned earlier, I used this laptop mostly for web browsing, working on word documents, and video streaming.

IdeaPad 3 even supports Rapid Charge using which the laptop goes from 0 to 80% in around an hour using the 65W barrel-pin charger. However, this feature is not enabled by default and you will have to manually turn it on from the Power Setting under the Lenovo Vantage application.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 2021 (AMD) Review: Conclusion

All in all, Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15 2021 (AMD) is arguably one of the best budget laptops that you can buy in the market right now. It comes with capable hardware alongside a sturdy and portable form factor.

As I’ve discussed throughout the review, my experience with the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 has been really good except for the mediocre TN panel, which you should be looking out for if you are planning to buy it.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 2021 (AMD) Review: Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Compact, lightweight design
  • Abyss Blue color stands out
  • Decent keys, backlit keyboard
  • Reliable performance level
  • Impressive battery endurance
  • Lenovo Rapid Charge support
  • Flip-to-open works like magic

Cons:

  • Mediocre colors in the TN panel
  • Stereo speakers are just average
REVIEW OVERVIEW
Design and Build
Display
Keyboard
Trackpad
Performance
Audio
Battery
Value for Money