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[Review] Lenovo Ideapad 3 (81W10094US): Not Recommended for demanding users.

 

Pros
  • Dual AMD Ryzen 3 processor
  • Windows 10 S Home
  • Wi-Fi 5 wireless connectivity
  • Webcam with a physical shutter
Cons
  • It does not have a fingerprint reader
  • Does not have USB-C input
It's easy to get caught up in specs and designs when researching a new laptop. Often times we end up either overpaying for something that's entirely overspeced for the usage we're going to give it or we end up going to the other end of the spectrum and buying somethings that ends up being little more than a paperweight. 

Today we're hoping to save you from making that mistake by delivering a thorough review of the Lenovo Ideapad 3 (81W10094US) to help you figure out if this laptop is going to meet your needs or if you need to keep looking. Spoiler alert: It might fall short. Let's get on with it!




Index


Lenovo Ideapad 3 (81W10094US) Technical Specifications


Make modelLenovo Ideapad 3 (81W10094US)
Dimensions14.26 x 9.98 x 0.78 inches
Weight4.84 pounds
PanelTN | 15.6 inches | Anti-glare
ResolutionHD (1366 x 768 pixels)
ProcessorAMD Ryzen 3 3250U (2 cores up to 3.50 GHz)
RAM4GB (DDR4)
Graphic ControllerAMD Radeon Graphics
Storage128 GB (SSD)
Drums3 cells (Lithium)
Operating systemWindows 10 Home in S Mode
ConnectivityWi-Fi 5 
Bluetooth 5.0 
USB-A 2.0 
USB-A 3.2 (x2) 
HDMI 1.4b 
Audio combo connector 
SD card reader 
Web camera (0.3 MP) 
Digital microphone


Who's it for?


This notebook was clearly devised with students and casual users in mind. While it allows users to manually upgrade both the RAM and internal storage, the default values of these key components coupled with what's essentially a bit more than an entry-level processor means we're looking at a device that was mostly created with content consumption and light tasks in mind.

Specifically, the 81W10094US will suit the needs of those who are looking for a laptop to stream movies, edit documents, browse the web with a few tabs open, and have videoconferences - though you should really consider getting a webcam if that's the case as the default one is quite bad- and maybe even do some light photo retouching but that's about as far as it goes without straining the key components and starting to notice a substantial lag in performance. 

Design



At first glance, this computer stands out for the professional and minimalist appearance of its matte black chassis with a smooth surface and plastic finish, whose profile remains at a 0.78-inch thickness and while its weight is not excessive at 4.84 lbs

Let's be real, this is the design you expect at this price point. Obviously, the quality build is not that great and the "plastic feel" is very much present within this device. That said, Lenovo could've also worked a bit more on the weight of this laptop. 

While 4.84 pounds is not that bad, these days it's pretty easy to find a comparable device that weighs at least half a pound less. For example, you could check out the extremely popular Asus VivoBook F515JA-AH31 we've recently reviewed, which doesn't even reach the 4-pound mark while also delivering a better display in the process at a very similar price.

Keyboard and Trackpad

The keyboard on the Lenovo Ideapad 3 81W10094US is nothing to write home about, though it does fulfill its main objective

As you would expect within an entry-level laptop there's no backlight, which means you need to use this laptop in well-lit environments if you don't want to strain your sight.

The trackpad is also fine, with a nice mechanical feel to it but it's not like Lenovo re-invented the wheel here or anything. It's just ok.

Display


To offer you more screen without sacrificing the size of the laptop, Lenovo has opted to reduce its side bezels, whilst maintaining a 15.6-inch diagonal with a matte surface to avoid annoying reflections when using the laptop outdoors. 

If we're being completely honest, the resolution is quite frankly low. This display packs an HD resolution which we thought was pretty much discontinued these days where most laptops this size feature a Full HD display.  

What's more, the Ideapad 3 also features a TN type of panel instead of an IPS panel, which means that viewing angles are more limited than your standard IPS panel. 

What this means in real-life usage is that once you move from a front-facing position you'll start to see the colors being washed out. This is not all that uncommon within entry-level laptops but it's something to take into account if you're going to use this laptop to stream multimedia content. 

Then again, getting a decent display such as the one included in the HP 15-dy2021nr would also elevate the budget so it's something to consider. 

Powering this laptop we've got an AMD Ryzen 3 3250U chipset. This is a dual-core entry-level processor capable of operating at frequencies ranging between 2.60 and 3.50 GHz, depending on the tasks being performed and the power that these tasks require.

This processor has 4 virtual cores to favor the management of multiple tasks, 1 MB (L2) and 4 MB (L3) cache memories and a TDP of 15W. It is accompanied by 4 GB of RAM -soldered on the board- whose DDR4 architecture stands out for its low energy consumption.

If you're coming from an Intel background, this CPU is comparable to a 10th generation mobile Core i3 processor. Meaning it's alright for basic tasks such as the ones listed above but not the processor we would recommend for CPU-intensive tasks.

For storage, this notebook 128 GB of SSD which is ideal for storing documents, multimedia content, applications, and all the personal information you need to take with you.

However, consider that once we exclude the weight of the operating system you have about 90 GB of spare storage space so if you're used to storing your entire multimedia collection this might fall a little short.

That said, if you are coming from a laptop that has a mechanical hard drive (HDD), you will notice a massive difference from the get-go as this type of storage (SSD) allows you to access Windows 10 in less than 7 seconds, open your programs practically instantly and transfer data between devices in the blink of an eye. Ok, that last part was an exaggeration, but seriously, the difference in performance is radical if you've been using a laptop or desktop with a hard drive. 

Overall, with this set of specs, you can expect a laptop that's aimed at students and casual users who will perform relatively simple computational tasks on it.

If you wanted to improve performance and work on more demanding tasks, such as non-professional photo and video editing, it would be convenient to expand the RAM memory to at least 8 GB. 

That's the bare minimum that we would recommend for someone that's going to do these kinds of tasks or someone that's planning on multitasking with several apps open at any given time. 

Ports and Connectivity

Moving towards connectivity, we've got to say that Lenovo did a pretty decent job on this front, starting with the Wi-Fi 5 and high-speed Bluetooth 5.0 adapters, to ensure a fast wireless connection from wherever you are.

In addition, we have 3 USB-A inputs (two of them USB-A 3.2 type), an HDMI 1.4b output for monitors, a multi-format SD slot, an audio jack for headphones, and a webcam for video calls with a physical shutter to preserve your privacy. 

Speaking of the integrated webcam, it should be pointed out that the resolution on this webcam is 480p and it features a frame rate of 30 frames per second. That means it's a pretty bad webcam. If you're buying this with webcam use in mind you should definitely consider buying an inexpensive Full HD webcam with an inbuilt mic. 

Speaker-wise, the Ideapad 3 features a pair of 1.5W speakers, whose Dolby Audio technology allows for a rather decent audio experience when compared to similarly priced models.

Battery Life

The Lenovo 81W10094US packs a 3-cell lithium battery, with a consumption of 35 Wh and an estimated battery life of 6 continuous hours, under multimedia viewing via YouTube and office use in general.

Battery life is always a very tricky subject as many users can give you many different figures depending on their usage. That said, numerous buyers have pointed towards the decent battery life as one of this laptops top features within their own reviews


Can the RAM / Storage be increased?

Based on official information from Lenovo, it is convenient to mention that the on-board soldered RAM can be expanded, as long as another DDR4 module of up to 8 GB is installed in the SO-DIMM slot provided for it, totaling 12 GB of memory. 

We would recommend demanding users upgrade the RAM to at least 8 GB by purchasing an additional 4 GB module. 

Storage-wise, the built-in SSD occupies the only M.2 NVMe module of the laptop, so the only way to expand its serial capacity, would be to replace said unit with a larger one, or insert a card SD in the corresponding slot to simplify the process.

Bottom Line: Is the Lenovo Ideapad 3 (81W10094US) worth buying?

After reviewing the Ideapad 3 we can clearly see that Lenovo doesn't aim to please the most demanding set of users but rather offer an affordable alternative in the entry-level space. We appreciate the laptop's battery life as well as its decent processor but would urge more intensive users to upgrade the RAM in the near future to improve performance significantly. 

We're not that crazy about the screen either, mostly about the fact that it doesn't have a Full HD resolution but we can definitely see this laptop being a viable option for casual users, students, senior citizens, and the likes looking for a cheap laptop with an SSD storage and updated processor. 

Having said that, if that's what you're after and this is your budget we would be remiss if we didn't remind you once again about the recently reviewed Asus VivoBook F515JA-AH31 which features a similar better display at a very similar price.