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[Honest Review] Lenovo IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS: It's "OK"

  • 256 GB SSD
  • 8 GB of RAM (upgradeable)
  • Full HD Display and portable design
  • Quad-Core Processor that clocks at a max 3.7 GHz
  • No USB Type C port
  • No "wow factor"

While we've recently talked in depth about Lenovo's latest affordable convertible - the Lenovo Flex 5 81X20005US - not everyone is looking for a laptop that also doubles as a tablet. 

Some people are just searching for a laptop that delivers decent enough overall performance at a price that won't have you selling your organs on the black market. Such is the case of Lenovo's latest bet to address that niche; the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS.

Priced well below the 500 dollar range at the time of writing this review (August 9th), Lenovo has really managed to introduce a balanced laptop that delivers an excellent price-to-specs ratio

Today, we're looking forward to doing some deep investigative work as we get to work to figure out if this is the laptop you need - or want -in our review of the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS.

  1. Let's talk design and keyboard
  2. What's the performance like?
  3. Graphics & Battery life
  4. Connectivity options
  5. Closing arguments 

A minimalist design

Much like the rest of Lenovo's lineup, the IdeaPad 3 comes with a rather minimalist design that immediately calls out your eye. Limiting itself to a couple of Lenovo logos on the top cover and below the keyboard, the 81W0003QUS has a nice blue plastic body that doesn't indulge in any sort of visual effect we sometimes see on other mid-range laptops.

The construction is solid but clearly plastic and you can hardly expect any other material considering its price. The display (IPS), a 14-inch screen with narrow bezels on the side, comes with a Full HD resolution and is alright for the category of laptops we're working with. Nothing much to say in that regard.

When it comes to typing, the IdeaPad 3 comes with an ergonomic chiclet-style keyboard with decent travel distance to feel like you're actually typing onto a laptop and not onto a screen. Unfortunately, it's not backlit. 

The trackpad, on the other hand, is quite ample and precise for everyday use. Again, there's not much to say in this regard.

Finally, given the current state of the world when it comes to privacy, we appreciate the Lenovo delivered a manual shutter for the webcam so that those who wish to cover it up don't have to resort to tape that, more often than not, leaves an ugly mark when removed.

What performance should I expect?

A quick look at its key specs will reveal that under the hood we've got an AMD Ryzen 5 3500U CPU which is a good performing quad-core processor that clocks in at an impressive base speed of 2.1 GHz and can go all the way to 3.7 GHz when we demand more horsepower. Basically, if you come from an Intel background, it delivers slightly better performance than the 8th generation Core i5 equivalent.

Memory-wise Lenovo decided to hit the sweet spot of 8 GB of DDR4 RAM (2400 MHz) which is the minimum we need to be able to properly multitask on a slightly demanding setting. That said, you may also opt to upgrade the RAM up to 12 GB by replacing one of the two 4 GB modules - you need to replace the one that's not soldered onto the motherboard -.

Finally, the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS comes with a pretty generous 256 GB of SSD storage. In the event that you haven't bought a new laptop in over 5 years, you might be wondering why the capacity seems to have "shrunk" from a standard 500 GB-1 TB capacity back in 2015?

That's because we've decided to compromise the capacity of traditional hard drives for the speed that current SSD's(Solid State Drive) deliver. 

And if you think this doesn't affect you then you're wrong. This speed is something that's going to benefit you on everything you do from turning the laptop on/off (a 5-10 second task) to downloading files, uploading videos, and everything in between. Just to give you an idea, you should imagine that current SSD's are up to 10 times faster than standard hard drives.

So, with all of these key specs, what's performance like?

With this set of specs the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS will be best suited for a myriad of everyday tasks from browsing the web and having zoom meetings to editing spreadsheets and streaming movies. 

You could even manage to do some light picture editing if that's what you fancy. However, you should not expect to use this laptop for tasks such as professional-grade video editing or graphical design, it simply won't cut it. For the average user, however, it's going to be a pretty decent performer.

Battery life and gaming

Battery life is pretty standard on the IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS, with several users pointing to 4-6 hours under mixed usage. As with any Windows laptop, this model has several modes to preserve battery life and your mileage will vary depending on what you choose to do on the laptop. In any case, it's a good battery life that makes the laptop all the more portable and suitable for students.

As far as gaming is concerned, this is not a gaming laptop. The GPU in charge of graphics here is the AMD Radeon Vega 3 which will work alright on the aforementioned image editing programs but you should not expect to use this model to play the latest AAA games at full settings, that's just setting yourself up for disappointment.

Connectivity features

As far as connectivity goes it's got its bases covered. Specifically, we've got three type-A USB ports - it's the standard port size we've been using for years - , one of which 2.0 and the other two 3.0 ports. There's also an HDMI output, SD card reader, audio jack, and the power input. Unfortunately, there's no USB Type C port, in case you were wondering.

WiFi works under the 802.11 ac protocol (WiFi 5) which works up to three times faster than the previous generation and we've also got Bluetooth compatibility in the event you wanted to use an external speaker or headphones. 

Verdict: Should you buy?

Battery Life7

In short

A solid option for those looking to buy a laptop for college or to get some work done and are looking for the best bang for their buck without sacrificing any performance.

Wrapping up this review of the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 81W0003QUS it's pretty clear that Lenovo knows we love a good value laptop when we see one. For most people, this is a perfectly suitable laptop that will get the job done without any fuzz. 

Sure enough, it doesn't really bring that "wow factor" we love about other laptops but it does deliver dependable performance for everyday tasks at a very compelling price. In the end, it's a good laptop at a good price.