Lenovo Ideapad 3 (14) review – wide variety of options within a sleek chassis

You need a small budget machine for your daily work, be it in an office or at home? Or your kid needs a portable setup for school. Well, the Ideapads were always a decent option in the sub $500 category, and now the Ideapad 3 (14) comes more versatile than ever.

With more processor options than there are players in a football team, you can basically pick a configuration that suits your taste the best. Unfortunately, it still comes with a 768p TN option (although there is a 1080p IPS one as well), which in 2020 seems ridiculous. Come on, guys, even the Acer Swift 1 (SF114-32) has a 1080p IPS display by default

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/lenovo-ideapad-3-14/

Contents


Specs Sheet

Lenovo Ideapad 3 (14) review – wide variety of options within a sleek chassis - Specs

  • Innolux N140BGA-EA4
  • Color accuracy  10  3.7
  • HDD/SSD
  • up to 1000GB SSD + up to 1000GB HDD
  • M.2 Slot
  • 1x 2280 PCIe NVMe 3.0 x4  See photo
  • RAM
  • up to 20GB
  • OS
  • Windows 11 Home, Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 S, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 11 Pro
  • Battery
  • 35Wh, 2-cell, 35Wh, 45Wh, 3-cell, 45Wh
  • Body material
  • Plastic / Polycarbonate
  • Dimensions
  • 327.1 x 241 x 19.9 mm (12.88" x 9.49" x 0.78")
  • Weight
  • 1.50 kg (3.3 lbs)
  • Ports and connectivity
  • 1x USB Type-A
  • 2.0
  • 2x USB Type-A
  • 3.2 Gen 1 (5 Gbps)
  • HDMI
  • 1.4b
  • Card reader
  • MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC
  • Wi-Fi
  • 802.11ax
  • Bluetooth
  • 5.0
  • Audio jack
  • 3.5 mm combo
  • Features
  • Fingerprint reader
  • optional
  • Web camera
  • Backlit keyboard
  • optional
  • Microphone
  • Dual-Array Microphone
  • Speakers
  • 2x 1.5W, Dolby Audio
  • Optical drive
  • Security Lock slot

All Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14″) configurations

#CommissionsEarned

What’s in the box?

Inside this notebook’s package, we found a 45Wh power adapter, as well as the mandatory paper manuals.


Design and construction

The first thing you need to bear in mind is that this device is not the latest and greatest when it comes to the quality of the build. Yes, you have some choice of color, and interestingly, enough, the laptop looks pretty sleek. However, all of the material here is plastic, and the polished finish results in fingerprints all over the place. Thankfully, the resistance to flex is good for the base.

This can hardly be said for the lid, sadly, as it bends like a piece of paper. Moreover, the TN panel shows a sever ghosting effect when you do so. Additionally, you won’t be able to open the lid with a single hand. Thankfully, the thin side bezels make it fresh in 2020, although it is equipped with a pretty formidable forehead and chin.

Next, we have the base, and we are met by a surprise in the top right corner. Honestly, it is as unexpected as a dog’s turd, but yet, there is a fingerprint reader, embedded in the power button. You can recognize it by the glowing ring around it, whereas the non-fingerprint reader unit would have a dot in its center.

Furthermore, there is the keyboard, which excels with good key travel, clicky feedback, and big keycaps. Perhaps expectedly, there is no NumberPad section here, and unfortunately, there is no option including a keyboard backlight. Beneath it, you can see the touchpad, whose size is reasonably big for a 2020 Windows machine. Its gliding properties are good, and the tracking is on point.

Sadly, when it comes to stability, the deck of the keyboard is prone to flex. Not too much, but it is still noticeable.

Traditionally, the bottom plate features a ventilation grill, as well as the two speaker cutouts, while the hot air is exhausted from around the hinge cover.


Ports

To the horror of left-handed people, the I/O of this device is predominantly located on the left. There, you will see the power plug, an HDMI 1.4b connector, and three USB Type-A ports (one 2.0 and two 3.1 (Gen. 1)). Therefore, the right is only home to the SD card reader and the audio jack.


Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance

First, there are 10 Phillips-head screws you need to remove. Then, pry the bottom panel with a guitar pick or another plastic tool, and lift the panel away. Keep in mind that both the chassis and the bottom plate are made out of plastic, so you might want to be more gentle when prying it away.

Quite frankly, the cooling looks a bit disappointing. It employs only one heat pipe for both the CPU and the GPU. Furthermore, there is a single thin heat sink and a rather wide fan. On the bright side, the heat pipe is pretty thick.

Then, there is the memory, which consists of 4GB of soldered chips and a single SODIMM slot. According to Lenovo, the maximum amount of RAM you can get this laptop with is 12GB of DDR4, working at 2666MHz. Storage-wise, there is an M.2 PCIe x4 slot, as well as a 2.5-inch SATA drive bay.

As of the battery – similarly to the 15-inch model, there are two options – a 35Wh and a 45Wh one, and our unit features the smaller one.


Display quality

Lenovo Ideapad 3 (14) is equipped with a WXGA TN display – Innolux N140BGA-EA4 (CMN14C3). Its diagonal size is 14.0 inches (35.56 cm). The screen ratio is 16:9 and the resolution is 1366 x 768p which translates into a pixel density of 112 PPI. The pixel pitch is – 0.227 х 0.227 mm. The screen can be considered Retina when viewed from further than 80 cm. From this distance, the individual pixels become indistinguishable for the average human eye.

Viewing angles are uncomfortable. We offer images to evaluate quality.

The maximum measured brightness is 200 nits (cd/m2) in the middle of the screen and 196 nits (cd/m2) average across the surface with a maximum deviation of 19%, in the lower right corner (and is inappropriate). The Correlated Color Temperature on a white screen and at maximum brightness is 6930K (average) – a little colder than the optimal 6500K for sRGB.

In the illustration below you can see how the display performs from uniformity perspective. In other words the leakage of light from the light source. The illustration below shows how matters are for operational brightness levels (approximately 140 nits) – in this particular case at 70% Brightness (White level = 140 cd/m2, Black level = 0.35 cd/m2).

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 (a maximum tolerance of 2.0 ). The contrast ratio is mediocre – 400:1.


Color reproduction

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 (14)’s color gamut coverage.

Its display covers just 49% 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 (14) with the default settings (left), and with the “Gaming and Web design” profile (right).

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.

We recorded Fall Time + Rise Time = 11 ms.


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 (14)’s backlight doesn’t flicker at any brightness level. This ensures comfort during low periods of usage.


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

A 768p TN panel still remains like a poor choice in 2020. It’s low resolution, combined with poor viewing angles, mediocre contrast, and narrow color coverage, make the entire viewing experience unpleasant. On the bright side, it has quick pixel reaction times and its backlight doesn’t flicker.

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 (14) configurations with 14.0″ Innolux N140BGA-EA4 (CMN14C3) (FHD, 1920 × 1080) IPS.

*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 bg.laptopmedia@gmail.com.

Read more about the profiles HERE.

In addition to receiving efficient and health-friendly profiles, by buying LaptopMedia's products you also support the development of our labs, where we test devices in order to produce the most objective reviews possible.

Office Work

Office Work should be used mostly by users who spend most of the time looking at pieces of text, tables or just surfing. This profile aims to deliver better distinctness and clarity by keeping a flat gamma curve (2.20), native color temperature and perceptually accurate colors.

Design and Gaming

This profile is aimed at designers who work with colors professionally, and for games and movies as well. Design and Gaming takes display panels to their limits, making them as accurate as possible in the sRGB IEC61966-2-1 standard for Web and HDTV, at white point D65.

Health-Guard

Health-Guard eliminates the harmful Pulse-Width Modulation (PWM) and reduces the negative Blue Light which affects our eyes and body. Since it’s custom tailored for every panel, it manages to keep the colors perceptually accurate. Health-Guard simulates paper so the pressure on the eyes is greatly reduced.

Get all 3 profiles with 33% discount


Sound

Lenovo Ideapad 3 (14)’s speakers produce a relatively quiet sound with somewhat decent quality.


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-3-14iil05/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. Our unit is equipped with the smaller 35Wh unit. Yet we got around 7 hours and a half of Web browsing and a little bit more than 6 hours of video playback.

In order to simulate real-life conditions, we used our own script for automatic web browsing through over 70 websites.


CPU options

Similarly to its 15-inch sibling, the Ideapad 3 (14) comes with a plethora of processors, including the two 10th Gen Intel families, as well as the Ryzen 3000U and 4000U processors. However, somehow we ended up with a version of the notebook, equipped with the Core i3-8130U.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14") CPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the CPUs that can be found in the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14") models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14") 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.


GPU options

Respectively, all of the aforementioned CPU choices have their integrated graphics solutions, as well as the MX330 and MX350, plus the older GeForce MX130.

Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14") GPU variants

Here you can see an approximate comparison between the GPUs that can be found in the Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14") models on the market. This way you can decide for yourself which Lenovo IdeaPad 3 (14") 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.


Gaming tests

cs-go-benchmarks

CS:GO HD 768p, Low (Check settings) HD 768p, Medium (Check settings) HD 768p, MAX (Check settings)
NVIDIA GeForce MX130 98 fps 88 fps 79 fps

DOTA 2 HD 768p, Low (Check settings) HD 768p, Normal (Check settings) HD 768p, High (Check settings)
NVIDIA GeForce MX130 77 fps 59 fps 55 fps

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.

Average core frequency (base frequency + X); CPU temp.

Intel Core i3-8130U (15W TDP) 0:02 – 0:10 sec 0:15 – 0:30 sec 10:00 – 15:00 min
Lenovo Ideapad 3 (14) 2.92 GHz (B+33%) @ 64°C 2.84 GHz (B+29%) @ 71°C 2.40 GHz (B+9%) @ 62°C

Unfortunately, the Ideapad doesn’t use this modest CPU to its full potential. On the bright side, though, this means it remains cool for long periods under extreme load.

Real-life gaming

NVIDIA GeForce MX130 GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 2 min) GPU frequency/ Core temp (after 30 min)
Lenovo Ideapad 3 (14) 1035 MHz @ 70°C 928 MHz @ 70°C
HP Pavilion 14 (14-ce3000) 1176 MHz @ 85°C 1150 MHz @ 90°C
ASUS X507 1006 MHz @ 81°C 980 MHz @ 81°C
Dell Inspiron 14 5482 2-in-1 993 MHz @ 69°C 901 MHz @ 69°C

Here, we observed a limit on the GPU temperature. As soon as it reaches 70C, it starts throttling.

Verdict

Ultimately, when buying this notebook, you have some decisions to make. Do you need a USB Type-C connector? How much you actually value memory and is build quality important to you? Moreover, since there are two battery options, you have to inform yourself of what is certain retailer offering, so you don’t get screwed.

After you have decided, and you are firm on your choices, then we are pretty positive you are going to be happy with your purchase.

However, a 768p TN panel (Innolux N140BGA-EA4) still remains like a poor choice in 2020. It’s low resolution, combined with poor viewing angles, mediocre contrast, and narrow color coverage, make the entire viewing experience unpleasant. On the bright side, it has quick pixel reaction times and its backlight doesn’t flicker. So at the end of the day, just get the 1080p IPS display, and let’s don’t talk about it anymore.

Other than that, you are left between the AMD and the Intel options, and the only sensible choice by now would be to go team Red. It is just far more advanced than the Comet Lake offering from Intel, and far more efficient and optimized than the Ice Lake CPUs.

By the way, despite the lack of a USB Type-C, you get an optional fingerprint reader, embedded into the power button. We were really surprised because the 768p TN panel/fingerprint reader combination is more unlikely than to see that season 9 of Game of Thrones is being released.

Nevertheless, this segment of the market is overwhelmed with new devices, coming in both Intel and AMD iterations. Just remember – set your priorities straight, and you will find it extremely easy to pick the perfect machine for yourself.

Pros

  • Low price and some color customization
  • Optional fingerprint reader
  • Decent input devices
  • Features an SD card reader, and has decent upgradability
  • Doesn’t use PWM for brightness adjustment (Innolux N140BGA-EA4)


Cons

  • No USB Type-C port
  • All-plastic build with a fingerprint attracting material
  • Our unit had a pathetic 768p TN display (Innolux N140BGA-EA4)
  • Poor color coverage, contrast ratio and viewing angles on the TN panel (Innolux N140BGA-EA4)

You can check the prices and configurations in our Specs System: https://laptopmedia.com/series/lenovo-ideapad-3-14/

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J P
J P
2 years ago

Could u show how to remove the touchpad? Mine is not working and don’t really want to break anything

const
const
1 year ago

in spec sheet (topmost of this page), it says:
RAM up to 20GB
while in Disassembly, upgrade options and maintenance, it says:According to Lenovo, the maximum amount of RAM you can get this laptop with is 12GB of DDR4, working at 2666MHz

So, which one is correct? If I want to upgrade to highest amount of RAM, should I buy 8GB or 16GB module?

kumar
kumar
1 year ago
Reply to  const

Go for 12GB.

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