Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15) review – AMD or Intel, the choice is yours



Lenovo IdeaPad S340, photo 8
Depending on the country where you reside, the Ideapad 3 (15) is one of the more affordable devices on the market. As such, don’t expect to be blown away by great performance, or by good build quality. In fact, you should really narrow down all of your expectations. Of course, this doesn’t make the device bad, it just means that in order to have the perfect laptop for a low budget – some corners have to be cut.

Usually, the first thing that goes down with the price is the display. Despite that, Lenovo is still offering this boy with a Full HD IPS option (although we were only able to get our hands on the TN model). Additionally, most of the budget notebooks have sluggish processors, like the Pentium or Celeron series, but yet, this is not the case here. Now, pay attention – this laptop comes in four different iterations. Most of the features are shared between all of them, but what makes them distinct are the CPU options. These devices come with a set of letters and numbers behind and we will help you set them apart – 15IIL05 (Ice Lake processors), 15IML05 (Comet Lake), 15ADA05 (Ryzen 3000U), 15ARE05 (Ryzen 4000U).

Undoubtedly, the latter is going to provide the best performance. However, we got the Ice Lake edition of the Ideapad 3 (15), and in addition to the potent integrated graphics solutions, you can get it with the GeForce MX330 and MX350. Well, not everything is fun and games here – come and see.

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://gordigecr.it/series/lenovo-ideapad-3-15/

Contents

Specs Sheet

What’s in the box?

Inside the package, we found a 65Wh power brick, very similar to the one on the Apple MacBook Pro 13 (but dressed in black). Otherwise, there are some paper manuals, and the laptop, itself – nothing more, nothing less.

Design and construction

It is often that budget-oriented laptops offer wider customization than their more premium cousins. Well, this is the case here, as well, as you can buy the laptop in several different colors, including White, Gold (Almond), Blue, and Black. Our unit in particular is blue and honestly – it looks stunning. Both the base and the lid have this distinctive smooth finish with a brushed look. However, the material of use is, expectedly, plastic. And dare we say a cheapish one. The device is twisty, but on the bright side it is light (starting at 1.85 kg), and pretty thin – 19.9mm.

When it comes to the lid, you won’t be able to open it with a single hand. Thankfully, the display section looks good in 2020 with its narrow side bezels, and the top one features an HD camera with a privacy shutter. Here, the situation is similar to the chassis, and it twists and bends like crazy. Additionally, you can observe severe ghosting when you twist it, which looks bad but shouldn’t result in a damaged display.

So, the rather poor build quality can be most prominently seen on the base. Wherever you press – in the middle of the keyboard or around the touchpad you will notice how much does it bend. In addition to that, the material is a neodymium fingerprint magnet.

As of the keyboard – it has good travel, clicky feedback, and very large keycaps, thus making it comfortable for long typing sessions. Additionally, accountants will be happy with the NumberPad section, but sadly, there is no backlight. And similarly frustrating is the touchpad. Yes, it works great, but as soon as it oils up, from your fingers, it starts sticking around, disturbing the gliding experience. Indeed, you can wipe your hands with vodka, every five minutes, but we also prefer drinking it, rather than wasting it this way.

Lastly, on the bottom side, you can see the ventilation grill and the speaker cutouts, whereas the hot air escapes from in between the base and the lid.

Ports

Most of the ports here are located on the left – there you can see the power plug, an HDMI 1.4b connector, and three USB Type-A ports (one 2.0 and two 3.1 (Gen. 1)). This leaves the right side only home to the SD card reader and the audio jack – overall pretty modest I/O selection.

Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

For starters, you need to remove the bottom panel. In order to do so, there are 10 Phillips-head screws, that need to be undone, and only then you can start prying the panel away. This process is fairly easy, but you need to protect the plastic, so you should preferably use a plastic tool or a guitar pick.

This is how the cooling looks like on a model, equipped with an integrated graphics card only. There is a single heat pipe, which is larger than the average, as well as a heat sink and a fan. Pretty standard.

On the bright side, you can see one RAM SODIMM slot, that according to Lenovo can fit up to 8GB of DDR4 memory. However, there are 4GB of RAM soldered to the motherboard. Additionally, you can find a single M.2 slot, which supports PCIe x4 drives with lengths of 42mm and 80mm. Not only that, but there is a 2.5″ SATA drive bay, although, we didn’t find a cable nor a bracket inside the box.

Our unit came equipped with a 35Wh battery, but there is a 45Wh option, as well.

Display quality

Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15) is equipped with a Full HD TN panel with a model number Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5). Its diagonal is 15.6″ (39.62 cm), and the resolution 1920 х 1080 pixels. The screen ratio is 16:9, and we are looking at a pixel density of – 142 ppi, and a pitch of 0.18 х 0.18 mm. The screen turns into Retina when viewed at distance equal to or greater than 60cm (24″) (from this distance one’s eye stops differentiating the separate pixels, and it is normal for looking at a laptop).

As expected from a TN panel – the viewing angles are terrible. We offer images at 45° to evaluate image quality.

The measured maximum brightness of 233 nits in the middle of the screen and 218 nits as an average for the whole area, with a maximum deviation of 11%. The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen is 6230K – slightly warmer than the optimal for the sRGB standard of 6500K, which is not bad.
In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from a uniformity perspective. In other words, the leakage of light from the light source.

Values of dE2000 over 4.0 should not occur, and this parameter is one of the first you should check if you intend to use the laptop for color-sensitive work. The contrast ratio is mediocre – 360:1.

To make sure we are on the same page, we would like to give you a little introduction to the sRGB color gamut and the Adobe RGB. To start, there’s the CIE 1976 Uniform Chromaticity Diagram that represents the visible specter of colors by the human eye, giving you a better perception of the color gamut coverage and the color accuracy.

Inside the black triangle, you will see the standard color gamut (sRGB) that is being used by millions of people in HDTV and on the web. As for the Adobe RGB, this is used in professional cameras, monitors, etc for printing. Basically, colors inside the black triangle are used by everyone and this is the essential part of the color quality and color accuracy of a mainstream notebook.

Still, we’ve included other color spaces like the famous DCI-P3 standard used by movie studios, as well as the digital UHD Rec.2020 standard. Rec.2020, however, is still a thing of the future and it’s difficult for today’s displays to cover that well. We’ve also included the so-called Michael Pointer gamut, or Pointer’s gamut, which represents the colors that naturally occur around us every day.

The yellow dotted line shows Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers 52% of the sRGB/ITU-R BT.709 (web/HDTV standard) in CIE1976.

Our “Design and Gaming” profile delivers optimal color temperature (6500K) at 140 cd/m2 luminance and sRGB gamma mode.

We tested the accuracy of the display with 24 commonly used colors like light and dark human skin, blue sky, green grass, orange, etc. You can check out the results at factory condition and also, with the “Design and Gaming” profile.

Below you can compare the scores of Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

Lenovo IdeaPad S340, photo 8
Lenovo IdeaPad S340, photo 8

The next figure shows how well the display is able to reproduce really dark parts of an image, which is essential when watching movies or playing games in low ambient light.

The left side of the image represents the display with stock settings, while the right one is with the “Gaming and Web Design” profile activated. On the horizontal axis, you will find the grayscale and on the vertical axis – the luminance of the display. On the two graphs below you can easily check for yourself how your display handles the darkest nuances but keep in mind that this also depends on the settings of your current display, the calibration, the viewing angle, and the surrounding light conditions.

Response time (Gaming capabilities)

We test the reaction time of the pixels with the usual “black-to-white” and “white-to-black” method from 10% to 90% and vice versa.

PWM (Screen flickering)

Pulse-width modulation (PWM) is an easy way to control monitor brightness. When you lower the brightness, the light intensity of the backlight is not lowered, but instead turned off and on by the electronics with a frequency indistinguishable to the human eye. In these light impulses, the light/no-light time ratio varies, while brightness remains unchanged, which is harmful to your eyes. You can read more about that in our dedicated article on PWM.

Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15) is not using PWM for brightness adjustment. This makes the display comfortable for long periods of use, without introducing eyestrain in this aspect.

Blue light emissions

Installing our Health-Guard profile not only eliminates PWM but also reduces the harmful Blue Light emissions while keeping the colors of the screen perceptually accurate. If you’re not familiar with the Blue light, the TL;DR version is – emissions that negatively affect your eyes, skin, and your whole body. You can find more information about that in our dedicated article on Blue Light.

Conclusion

Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15)’s display has a TN panel with a Full HD resolution, quick pixel response time, and comfortable backlight in terms of PWM-usage. However, it comes with the general downsides corresponding to the nature of the panel – poor contrast ratio, uncomfortable viewing angles, and lastly – only 52% of sRGB coverage.

Buy our profiles

Since our profiles are tailored for each individual display model, this article and its respective profile package are meant for Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15) configurations with 15.6″ FHD TN Innolux N156HGA-EA3 (CMN15F5).

*Should you have problems with downloading the purchased file, try using a different browser to open the link you’ll receive via e-mail. If the download target is a .php file instead of an archive, change the file extension to .zip or contact us at [email protected]

En plus de recevoir des profils efficaces et favorables à la santé, en achetant les produits de LaptopMedia, vous soutenez également le développement de nos laboratoires, où nous testons les appareils afin de produire les examens les plus objectifs possibles.

Office Work - screen profile

Travail de bureau

Le travail de bureau devrait être utilisé principalement par les utilisateurs qui passent le plus de temps à regarder des morceaux de texte, des tableaux ou simplement à surfer. Ce profil vise à offrir une meilleure distinction et une meilleure clarté en conservant une courbe gamma plate (2,20), une température de couleur native et des couleurs perceptuellement précises.

Design and Gaming - screen profile

Conception et jeux

Ce profil est destiné aux designers qui travaillent avec les couleurs de manière professionnelle, et pour les jeux et les films également. Design and Gaming pousse les panneaux d’affichage à leurs limites, les rendant aussi précis que possible dans la norme sRGB IEC61966-2-1 pour le Web et la TVHD, au point blanc D65.

Health-Guard - screen profile

Santé-Guard

Santé-Guard élimine le modulation de largeur d’impulsion nocive (PWM) et réduit le lumière bleue négative qui affecte nos yeux et notre corps. Comme il est adapté à chaque panneau, il parvient à maintenir la précision perceptive des couleurs. Santé-Guard simule le papier, ce qui réduit considérablement la pression sur les yeux.

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Sound

Lenovo Ideapad 3 (15)’s speakers are decently loud but they lack punch. This can be seen in the graphic below, where the lows have some deviations, while the mids and highs are clear.

Drivers

All of the drivers and utilities for this notebook can be found here: https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/products/laptops-and-netbooks/3-series/ideapad-3-15iil05/downloads/driver-list

Battery

Now, we conduct the battery tests with Windows Better performance setting turned on, screen brightness adjusted to 120 nits, and all other programs turned off except for the one we are testing the notebook with. Expectedly, the tiny 35Wh battery delivered an uninspiring performance – we got around 7 hours of Web browsing and 5 hours and 48 minutes of video playback.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.
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For every test like this, we use the same video in HD.
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We use F1 2017’s built-in benchmark on loop in order to simulate real-life gaming.
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CPU options

Once again, we have a device that has both AMD and Intel variants. In fact, there are three denominations – 15IIL05 (Ice Lake), 15IML05 (Comet Lake), 15ARE05 (Ryzen 4000U), 15ADA05 (Ryzen 3000U). We have the 15ILL05 model, which can be purchased with one of the following – Core i3-1005G1, Core i5-1035G1, Core i5-1035G4, and Core i7-1065G7.

Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
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Les résultats sont issus de notre test de référence Photoshop (plus le score est bas, mieux c’est)
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Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (15″) CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (15″) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (15″) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different CPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / CPU.

Results are from the Cinebench 20 CPU test (the higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Fritz chess benchmark (the higher the score, the better)
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Les résultats sont issus de notre test de référence Photoshop (plus le score est bas, mieux c’est)
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GPU options

Respectively, the graphics options for this unit include the Intel UHD Graphics, the Iris Plus Graphics G4, and G7, as well as two options from NVIDIA – the MX330 and the MX350 (both with 2GB of GDDR5 memory).

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (15″) GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (15″) models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (15″) model is the best bang for your buck.

Note: The chart shows the cheapest different GPU configurations so you should check what the other specifications of these laptops are by clicking on the laptop’s name / GPU.

Results are from the 3DMark: Fire Strike (Graphics) benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Heaven 3.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Heaven 4.0 benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Results are from the Unigine Superposition benchmark (higher the score, the better)
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Gaming tests

Temperatures and comfort

Max CPU load

In this test we use 100% on the CPU cores, monitoring their frequencies and chip temperature. The first column shows a computer’s reaction to a short load (2-10 seconds), the second column simulates a serious task (between 15 and 30 seconds), and the third column is a good indicator of how good the laptop is for long loads such as video rendering.

Although this device maintains a rather high frequency at the end of the test, we feel that 80C is a little too warm. Ultimately, we would have it justified if the clock speed was above 2.00 GHz.

Comfort during full load

On the bright side, the laptop is not too loud under load, and the maximum temperature on the base was just a tad over 40C.

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Verdict

So if performance is your mojo, and you need a low-budget allrounder, probably this laptop will do the job for you. However, we were frustrated by some things. First, and foremost, the quality of the build. Given the fact, that Acer produced a great budget machine in the face of the Acer Swift 1 (SF114-32), we just can’t look at low-price laptops the same way. The Ideapad 3 (15) is all-plastic, poorly built, and in less than an hour, you will find more fingerprints on its surface than the total of “Wow” scenes in the entire filmography of Owen Wilson.

Next, we have the teeny tiny 35Wh battery. Indeed, Lenovo is offering a larger – 45Wh option, but if you offer the smaller one as a base, you surely have a lot of trust in your optimization. Well, around 7 hours of Web browsing and less than 6 hours of video playback is not a bad result, but it’s nothing more than average.

Additionally, its display has a TN panel (Innolux N156HGA-EA3) with a Full HD resolution, quick pixel response time, and comfortable backlight in terms of PWM-usage. However, it comes with the general downsides corresponding to the nature of the panel – poor contrast ratio, uncomfortable viewing angles, and lastly – only 52% of sRGB coverage.

And we just can’t forgive Lenovo the lack of a USB Type-C in 2020. Okay, a lot of laptops lack an RJ-45 port, but come on – how expensive it is to put an ordinary USB Type-C 3.0 port inside of this thing?

Now, to finish on a positive note, we should mention the good keyboard, inclusion of an SD card reader and decent upgradability in the form of a single RAM SODIMM slot, an M.2 PCIe x4 slot and a 2.5″ SATA drive bay (although we didn’t find a bracket or a cable for such a drive in the box).

Currently, the Lenovo Ideapad S540 (15) from last year is a much better purchase than this unit. But yet, let’s wait and see what is Lenovo capable of with its Ideapad 5 (15) before drawing conclusions.

Pros

Cons

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://gordigecr.it/series/lenovo-ideapad-3-15/