The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (2021) is a 15.6 inch budget gaming laptop. It's nearly identical in design to its sibling, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021), but with Intel 11th Gen CPU options instead of AMD Ryzen processors. You can configure the laptop up to a Core i7 and NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti, which can deliver a smooth 1080p gaming experience in demanding titles. There are multiple display options, including a 120Hz and 165Hz panel that'll provide better responsiveness than the base 60Hz option. There's NVIDIA Optimus support to help extend battery life in light workloads, but like most budget gaming laptops, there isn't a MUX switch, resulting in a slight performance drop. Models with 8GB of memory and even some 16GB models are in a single-channel configuration, so if you don't plan on upgrading the memory yourself, it's best to opt for a 16GB model in dual-channel mode.
Our Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has an Intel Core i5-11300H CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 dedicated GPU, 8GB of memory, and 1256GB of storage in the form of a 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD and a 1TB 2.5 inch 5400rpm hard drive. You can also configure the laptop with a Core i5-11320H, a Core i7-11370H, or a Core i7-11390H. There isn't much performance difference between the two Core i5s, and the same applies to the two Core i7s, though the i7s are faster than the i5s and can provide slightly higher frame rates in games. In terms of the GPU configuration, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 can achieve around 60 fps at 1080p, but you'll have to play at low settings in most games. The NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050 is faster than the GTX 1650 and will get you a more stable 60 fps or more with high settings. The RTX 3050Ti is marginally better than the RTX 3050, providing only a few frames more per second at the most in graphically demanding games.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is okay for school use. It's a slightly bulky and heavy laptop, so it isn't the most portable, and its battery lasts only about 6 hours of light productivity, not enough to get through a typical school day. The keyboard doesn't cause fatigue over an extended period of use, and the touchpad is large and responsive. The screen displays decently sharp images and text and provides enough space for split-screen multitasking, but it doesn't get bright enough to combat intense glare. The base Intel Core i5-11300H and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 configuration can handle general productivity tasks and some more demanding workloads. If you need even more processing power for intensive tasks like graphic design or 3D animation, you can configure the laptop with a faster Core i7 and an RTX 3050 or 3050Ti GPU.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is decent for gaming. The base Intel Core i5-11300H and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 can deliver a near 60fps gaming experience at 1080p, but you'll have to play at low settings in most games. Otherwise, you can upgrade to an RTX 3050 or 3050Ti, which will provide smoother gameplay and allow you to play at higher settings. You also have to make sure to get 16GB of memory, as the 8GB configuration will result in lower frame rates and stutters. Thankfully, it's very easy to access the internals, meaning you can upgrade the memory yourself later on. The 60Hz display has a slow response time, delivering a blurry image in fast-moving scenes with visible ghosting, but you can get a better-performing 120Hz or 165Hz panel. The performance over time is superb as there's no throttling whatsoever on the CPU or GPU.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is mediocre for media consumption. It isn't very portable as it's slightly bulky and heavy, and its battery lasts only a little over 3 hours of video playback, so you'll have to bring the charger. The screen looks a bit washed out and doesn't get bright enough to combat glare, though you can upgrade to a brighter panel with 100% sRGB coverage that'll look much better. The speakers are better suited for spoken content than music or movies as they don't have much bass or treble extension, and unfortunately, they don't get very loud.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is great as a workstation. You can configure the laptop up to an NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3050Ti, which is capable of handling demanding tasks like video editing and 3D rendering; however, the Intel CPUs might struggle a bit in heavily multi-threaded workloads as they only have 4 cores and 8 threads. The performance over time is superb, though, as there's no thermal throttling whatsoever on the CPU or GPU, and the fans don't get overly loud under load. Unfortunately, its single USB-C port doesn't support charging or video output and can only transfer data at USB 3.2 Gen 1 speed of up to 5Gbps.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is decent for business use. It's a well-built and sturdy-feeling laptop, but it isn't very portable as it's slightly bulky and heavy. You'll have to carry the charger because its battery lasts only about 6 hours of light productivity. The keyboard provides a great typing experience and doesn't cause fatigue over time, and the touchpad is large and responsive. Its Intel 11th Gen CPU can handle most productivity tasks like text formatting, web browsing, spreadsheets, and presentations. The display is decently sharp and provides enough space for multitasking; however, it doesn't get bright enough to combat glare. Unfortunately, the webcam's video quality is mediocre as the image looks too dark.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming has a plain design with just a touch of gamer aesthetics, meaning it won't stick out like a sore thumb in a professional work environment. It has relatively thin bezels on three sides with a thicker bottom chin and a full-size keyboard with a Numpad on the right side. It's only available in the Shadow Black color scheme. The speakers are on the bottom near the front, and the vents are on both sides of the laptop as well as on the bottom near the back.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i's build quality is good. Although it's entirely plastic, and the plastic itself doesn't feel particularly premium, the whole device still feels very sturdy, exhibiting only a little flex in the display and the keyboard deck. The finish is fairly resistant to scratches, but it picks up fingerprints and oil easily. The hinge is solid, much better than the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) with AMD Ryzen processors.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has an outstanding hinge. It feels smooth when opening and closing the laptop, and although there's a lot of resistance, you can still open the lid with one hand, giving the device a more premium feel. There's a bit of wobbling when typing aggressively or moving the laptop around, but it's very minor and isn't an issue.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming is reasonably portable. Although the laptop isn't overly bulky and fits into most bags, it's pretty heavy, so it isn't the most pleasant to carry around. However, the charger is relatively compact and lightweight.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming's serviceability is excellent. The components are easily accessible as you only have to remove ten Philips screws and undo the clips holding the bottom panel with a pick or prying tool. The Philips screws are of two different lengths but easily identifiable, making it easier to put the laptop back together. The 8GB and some 16GB models have a single memory module in a single-channel configuration, leaving one slot unoccupied. You can see the service manual here. Opening the laptop and changing the hardware may void the manufacturer's warranty.
Note: Some models come with a 170W power adapter.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has three display options: a 1080p 60Hz IPS panel, a 1080p 120Hz IPS panel, and a 1080p 165Hz panel. The 1080p resolution looks decently sharp at this screen size, and there's enough space for split-screen multitasking. Its 16:9 aspect ratio is well-suited for gaming and media consumption; however, it feels a little too short for productivity, so you have to scroll more when reading a document or website.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i's lowest-end display option has a basic 60Hz refresh rate with a slow response time, resulting in a blurry image in fast-moving scenes with very visible ghosting. It's best to go with the 120Hz and 165Hz panels for gaming, as they'll provide clearer and smoother motion as well as better responsiveness.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i's contrast ratio is okay and within the typical range for IPS panels. Its relatively low contrast makes blacks appear gray in dim settings, so it isn't the best for dark room viewing. The 120Hz and 165Hz panels will perform similarly. The contrast ratio can vary between individual units, but the difference is usually minor and isn't noticeable.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming's 120Hz panel doesn't get bright enough to overcome intense glare, so it's best to avoid using it in a well-lit environment or outdoors in broad daylight. For dark room viewing, the screen gets very dim to help reduce eye strain. The 120Hz panel has the same advertised brightness of 250 cd/m², but the 165Hz is brighter, with an advertised brightness of 300 cd/m².
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has great reflection handling. Its matte coating does an excellent job of diffusing and reducing the intensity of direct reflections, like a lamp or open window during the day. These bright reflections, as well as the haziness caused by bright ambient lighting, make dark content hard to see. However, they aren't distracting when viewing light-colored content.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming's black uniformity is sub-par. There's clouding throughout the screen, and some backlight bleed along the top and bottom edges. However, these uniformity issues are only visible when viewing dark scenes in a dark room. Black uniformity varies between individual units due to manufacturing tolerances; you may get a little more or less backlight bleed, but the rest of the screen tends to be similar.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has decent horizontal viewing angles. The image dims and washes out fairly quickly when moving to the side. The picture quality is still good enough to share text documents and other casual content with someone else. However, it's best to be more or less directly in front of the screen if you need perfect accuracy for color-critical work.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming has okay vertical viewing angles. You can look at the screen from slightly above or below without losing too much accuracy, which is handy in tight spaces that force you to look at the screen at an angle, like on an airplane with small tray tables. It's best to look at the screen straight on if you need perfect image accuracy.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has decent color accuracy out of the box. Most colors are inaccurate because the panel has a narrow color gamut and can't produce the proper colors; however, the white balance is outstanding, and the color temperature is very close to the standard 6500K target. The gamma doesn't quite follow the sRGB curve, causing dark scenes to appear darker than they should and bright scenes to be over-brightened. Color accuracy varies between units, but the difference is usually minor and isn't noticeable. The 165Hz panel with full sRGB coverage likely has better accuracy out of the box.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has a poor color gamut. It doesn't even have full coverage of the commonly-used sRGB color space, so most content looks washed out. It also has very limited coverage of wider color spaces like Adobe RGB, DCI P3, and Rec. 2020, making it unsuitable for any color-critical work or viewing or producing HDR content. The 120Hz panel has a similar color gamut, but the 165Hz panel has an advertised 100% sRGB coverage.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has a flicker-free backlight, which helps reduce eye strain for people sensitive to flickering.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming has a great keyboard. The plastic used for the keycaps feels okay; it isn't particularly premium but doesn't feel cheap either. Typing on this keyboard feels comfortable and isn't tiring over long periods as the keys are reasonably stable and well-spaced, have a lot of travel, and don't require much force to actuate. The layout is fairly standard and easy to get used to. You can toggle between two backlight brightness levels or turn it off completely using FN and the spacebar. Some models have a 4-zone RGB backlight.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming has a good touchpad. It's large and feels smooth, allowing the fingers to glide easily. It tracks all movements and gestures well, even around the edges, and there aren't any issues with palm rejection or actions like dragging and dropping. The clicking mechanism feels reasonably satisfying, but you can only click on the bottom half of the touchpad.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming has decent speakers. They have a lot of emphasis in the mid-range frequencies to deliver clear and present vocals; however, they don't have much bass or treble extension. In other words, they're well-suited for spoken content but less so for music or movies. The sound quality doesn't degrade at max volume, although they don't get very loud to begin with.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming's webcam video quality is mediocre. The image has a good amount of fine details and natural-looking colors; however, the exposure is too low, making the entire image look very dark. The microphone sounds loud and clear, with almost no background noise, but voices sound slightly nasal.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has a mediocre port selection. Its two USB-A ports support only USB 3.2 Gen 1 data transfer speed (up to 5Gbps). Its USB-C port also transfers data at USB 3.2 Gen 1 speed, and it's a data-only port, meaning you can't use it to charge the laptop or output a video signal to an external display.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i's wireless adapter is an Intel Wi-Fi 6 AX201.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has the following CPU options:
All four CPUs have the same number of cores and threads; they only differ in clock speeds and the amount of cache memory. There isn't much performance difference between the two Core i5s as the i5-11320H only has a small clock speed bump, and the same applies to the two Core i7s. The i7s are faster than the i5s; the performance difference is minimal in GPU-limited titles, but it's noticeable in CPU-intensive games like open-world or real-time strategy games. For content creation and other demanding production workloads that require heavily multi-threaded applications, it's best to go with the AMD Ryzen variant, the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021), as the Ryzen CPUs' increased core count will provide a much smoother experience.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is available with the following dedicated GPUs:
The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 is an entry-level dedicated GPU that can achieve roughly 60 fps at 1080p with low settings. The RTX 3050 is more powerful than the GTX 1650 and will allow you to run graphically demanding games at high settings with frame rates around 60 fps or slightly above. The RTX 3050Ti is only marginally better than the RTX 3050, less than a 10% performance increase on average. If you want a similar gaming laptop with more powerful GPU options, check out the Dell G15 (2022).
The RTX 3050 and 3050Ti support ray-tracing and DLSS (Deep Learning Super Sampling), features that aren't available on the GTX 1650. DLSS aims to increase frame rates in supported games by rendering images at a lower resolution and using temporal upscaling to minimize any loss in visual quality. However, it usually works better at higher resolutions and depends heavily on each game's implementation, meaning you may see only a small increase in frame rate at 1080p or none at all when enabled. As for ray-tracing, it isn't worth enabling on an RTX 3050 and 3050Ti due to its high-performance cost, even with DLSS to make up for the performance loss.
There's support for NVIDIA Optimus, meaning the system can automatically switch the graphics processing to the integrated GPU in lighter workloads to extend battery life. However, there isn't a MUX switch, so all information processed by the dedicated GPU needs to pass through the integrated GPU before it gets to the display, resulting in a performance loss of up to 15%.
You can configure the Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming with 8GB or 16GB of memory. For gaming, it's best to get 16GB because 8GB isn't enough for some games and will cause stutters. The 8GB model is also in a single-channel configuration with a single-rank x16 memory module, causing a slight performance drop. This slower single-rank x16 memory in single-channel mode doesn't affect every game or application; it's more of an issue in CPU-bound scenarios and more noticeable on AMD systems than Intel systems. Some 16GB models are also in single-channel mode, so if you don't plan on upgrading the memory yourself, it's best to get a model with dual-channel memory.
You can configure the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i with a 256GB, 512GB, or 1TB PCIe NVMe SSD. You can also get a 256GB or 512GB PCIe NVMe SSD coupled with a 1TB 2.5 inch 5400rpm hard drive.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has a great overall score in Geekbench 5. Its single-thread performance is outstanding, in the same ballpark as the AMD Ryzen 5 5600H in the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15 (2021) and the Ryzen 7 5800H in the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021). Its multi-thread performance is okay but worse than expected for a quad-core H-series CPU, scoring lower than some power-efficient CPUs in ultraportable laptops, like the Intel Core i5-1135G7 in the Lenovo Yoga 7i 14 (2021). In short, the Core i5s can handle most general productivity tasks like text editing, web browsing, and video playback; however, they aren't ideal for heavily multi-threaded workloads like video editing or 3D animation. The Core i7s will perform better, but not significantly.
As for GPU compute tasks, the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 performs well and is suitable for professional content creation. However, it might be worth upgrading to the RTX 3050 or 3050Ti as they'll provide a smoother experience and faster render times.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has an excellent score in Cinebench R23. Its overall performance is good enough for rendering, at least at an enthusiast level, but it's at the lower end of H-series processors. For professional-level rendering work, there are CPUs with more cores and threads that'll provide a smoother experience and complete renders faster, like the AMD Ryzen 7 5800H in the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) or Apple's M1 Pro or Max SoC. The Intel Core i7-11370H and i7-11390 will only be marginally faster than the Core i5s.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i performs well in Blender. Regardless of which configuration you get, it's always faster to render with the dedicated GPU than the CPU. The NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 can complete tasks very quickly, fast enough for professional-level rendering. However, the RTX 3050 and 3050Ti will be faster because the RTX GPUs support NVIDIA Optix API hardware acceleration.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has a decent score in the Basemark GPU benchmark. Its performance is in-line with other laptops equipped with the same NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 GPU, like the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15 (2021). The GTX 1650 has enough graphical horsepower to achieve 60 fps in demanding games, but you'll have to play at low settings most of the time. The RTX 3050 performs better and will allow you to turn the settings to high while maintaining 60 fps or more, similar to the HP Victus 16 (2021). The 3050Ti is only marginally faster than the RTX 3050, giving you a couple of more frames per second at the most.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i's storage drive performance is outstanding. It has fast read and write speeds that make the system feel snappier and more responsive, shortening the time that it takes to boot up, launch apps, and transfer files. The speed of the SSD may vary depending on the size, as larger SSDs tend to perform better.
The 2.5 inch 5400rpm hard drive is much slower, with the following speeds:
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has poor battery life. Even though there's NVIDIA Optimus support to switch graphics processing to the integrated GPU, it still doesn't last long enough to get you through a typical school or workday. Battery life for video playback is also short, giving you only enough time to get through one or two full-length movies at the most. Gaming, or other demanding tasks that engage the dedicated GPU, like video editing, drain the battery very quickly, so you'll have to use the laptop plugged in most of the time. Battery life varies greatly depending on your usage. It also varies depending on the laptop's configuration, as higher-end GPUs and displays with a faster refresh rate consume more power.
Borderlands 3 runs poorly on the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i. It's too choppy at high settings to be playable. You can get around 60 fps at low settings, but it still stutters a lot. Although our unit's 8GB of memory in single-channel mode isn't optimal, the poor performance is also due to the NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 itself, as this GPU can't reach 60 fps in this game at high settings, even with a better CPU or memory configuration. The RTX 3050 and 3050Ti will perform better, but you'll still have to lower some settings to get a stable 60 fps.
Civilization VI runs reasonably well on the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i. The average frame rate is lower than expected and doesn't quite reach 60 fps at high settings, but it's playable because Civilization VI is a turn-based game that doesn't require fast reaction time, and you can easily reach 60 fps by turning down a couple of settings. The 3050 and 3050Ti will perform much better, assuming there aren't any other bottlenecks like the amount of memory or its configuration. The average turn time is okay and will only improve slightly on the Core i7 models.
CS:GO runs well on the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i. The performance is worse than expected due to our unit's limited amount of memory in single-channel mode, but the game is still smooth and very playable. Every configuration of this laptop can run this game without any issue. If you're a competitive gamer or want to get the most out of the 120Hz or 165Hz display, it's best to get a model with dual-channel memory and an RTX 3050 or 3050Ti.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider runs poorly on the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i with an Intel Core i5-11300H and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650. You can only get around 60 fps at the lowest graphical settings, and even then, it's still a little stuttery. The RTX 3050 and 3050 Ti will perform much better, and they also have DLSS to increase performance further.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3i Gaming's thermal and noise handling is great. The keyboard deck is cool when idle and only gets slightly warm under load, not hot enough to be uncomfortable. The fans are silent when idle, but they get fairly loud under load, producing a whirring noise coupled with the sound of heavy airflow. It isn't a high-pitch sound, though, so it isn't overly annoying. You can switch to the Quiet fan profile through Lenovo's Vantage app if the noise bothers you, but there's almost no difference between the Default and Quiet profiles.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i's performance over time is superb. There isn't any thermal throttling on the CPU or GPU. Temperature-wise, only the CPU gets hot, while the GPU remains relatively cool. The other CPU and GPU configurations will likely perform similarly.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i has many pre-installed applications, including:
We tested the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (model 82K100LQUS) with an Intel Core i5-11300H CPU, an NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1650 dedicated GPU, 8GB of memory, and 1256GB of storage. The screen, CPU, GPU, memory, and storage are configurable; you can see the available options in the table below. Our review applies only to variants with a model number starting with '82K1'. We've reviewed the AMD-based Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) separately.
Our display and performance results are only valid for the configuration we tested. If you come across a different configuration option not listed above, or you have a similar Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i that doesn't correspond to our review, let us know, and we'll update it. Some tests, like black uniformity and color accuracy, may vary between individual units.
You can see our unit's label here.
Like the AMD-based Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021), the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is among the better budget gaming laptops in terms of build quality and the quality of its keyboard and touchpad. However, its Intel 11th Gen CPU doesn't perform as well as other laptops in its price range, like the AMD-based IdeaPad Gaming 3 or the HP Victus 16 (2021).
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (2021) and the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3 (2021) are very similar overall. The main difference is that the IdeaPad Gaming 3i has Intel 11th Gen CPU options, while the IdeaPad Gaming 3 has AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPU options. The IdeaPad Gaming 3's AMD Ryzen CPUs perform significantly better than the IdeaPad Gaming 3i's Intel CPUs in multi-threaded workloads, making the AMD system a much better choice for CPU-intensive games and applications. The AMD-based IdeaPad Gaming 3 has a more powerful NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU option, which isn't available on the Intel-based system.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (2021) and the HP Victus 16 (2021) are both budget gaming laptops available with Intel 11th Gen. CPUs and NVIDIA dedicated GPUs. The HP has a larger and more responsive touchpad, as well as a wider port selection that includes an additional USB-A port and HDMI 2.1 support instead of HDMI 2.0. On the other hand, the Lenovo doesn't get as hot or loud under load, and its keyboard feels more comfortable to type on for extended periods. The HP has more powerful CPU options with more cores and threads, providing better performance in CPU-intensive games and applications. It also has a higher-end NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3060 GPU option, which isn't available on the Lenovo.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (2021) and the HP Pavilion Gaming Laptop 15 (2021) are both 15.6 inch budget gaming laptops with similar dedicated GPU options. The Lenovo offers a slightly better user experience because it has a brighter display, a better keyboard and touchpad, and it doesn't get as hot or loud under load. However, the HP laptop's AMD Ryzen 5000-series CPUs perform much better than the Lenovo's Intel 11th Gen. processors, especially in multi-threaded workloads.
The Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (2021) and the Apple MacBook Pro 16 (2019) are very different. The Lenovo is a Windows gaming laptop, while the Apple laptop is a macOS mobile workstation. The Lenovo has CPU and GPU options that perform just as well as the Apple laptop in demanding production workloads, but the Apple laptop provides a better user experience overall. The Apple has a sharper, brighter, and more colorful display, a larger and more responsive touchpad, and a much better webcam for video calls. The Apple also has longer battery life and a sturdier build. On the other hand, the Lenovo laptop's keyboard feels more comfortable to type on, and it doesn't get as hot or loud under load.