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Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (16″, Gen 7) Review: Upmarket Budget Gaming Laptop!
January 19, 2023 Andrew Cheng

Gaming laptops that offer good performance for the money have to strike a delicate balance. Not only do they have to be powerful enough to provide good gaming performance, build quality is equally important too; who would want to get a laptop that doesn’t feel…well, solid enough to be brought around?

And that is why the 7th gen Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i is an interesting budget-centric gaming laptop. It features good enough hardware for a pleasant gaming experience, it has solid build quality, and with a RM4,525 starting price, it has good value proposition as well.

In short, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is great for those who want a value for money gaming laptop that doesn’t sacrifice on build quality, though you’ll have to pay a small premium for it.

What It Is

Display16-inch WQXGA IPS (2560 x 1600), 165Hz
ProcessorIntel Core i7-12700H (14C/20T, up to 4.7GHz)
GPUNvidia GeForce RTX 3060 6GB GDDR6
RAM16GB DDR4 3200MHz
Storage1TB M.2 PCIe 4.0 SSD
Camera1080p with privacy shutter
Battery71Wh
Dimensions359.6 x 277.8 x 20.9 mm
Weight2.6kg
AudioBottom-firing stereo speakers
Ports1x USB-C 3.2 Gen 2 (Thunderbolt 4, DisplayPort 1.4, PD 3.0)
2x USB-A 3.2 Gen 1
1x HDMI 2.0
1x RJ45
PriceUnavailable; RM5,634 for equivalent Core i7-12700H model

Unfortunately, this particular model of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is not offered in Malaysia at the time of writing. The closest variant to this configuration is the RM5,634 model, which has the same RTX 3060 GPU, but with a Core i7-12650H processor, a lower resolution 1920 x 1200 display, and half the SSD storage.

With that in mind, this review should still be (largely) relevant to current models of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i available in Malaysia now. Well, with the exception of the display quality and some performance differences, which I’ll elaborate further in the following section.

The Good Stuff

Gaming performance is definitely one of the most important aspects of the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i, so let’s talk about that first. Powered by an RTX 3060 paired with a Core i7-12700H processor, this is undoubtedly a capable gaming machine.

While it’s not quite as powerful as another laptop with, say, an RTX 3070 or RTX 3080 GPU, this configuration of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i can still offer respectable gaming performance. Judge for yourself with the benchmarks below:

Games (max settings @ 1920 x 1080)Average FPS
Borderlands 3 (DX11)68.88
Control (DX11)59.75
Witcher 3 Patch 4.0 (DLSS, HairWorks disabled)63.23

Even though Control runs just below the 60fps point with maxed out settings at 1080p, there’s no denying that the RTX 3060 GPU and 12th gen Core i7 processor under the hood of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is quite capable. Needless to say, it should be able to run most (if not all) AAA games very well.

Yes, this applies to even the Core i7-12650H configuration of the gaming laptop available here, though the different processor will result in slightly lower CPU performance.

Despite outputting respectable performance figures, I’m impressed that the IdeaPad Gaming 3i doesn’t run particularly hot. The palm rest area remains cool even in heated gaming sessions, though the bottom case does feel quite warm. Not that this is an issue, given that it’s not a touch point per se.

System noise of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is also quite good. Yes, the fans are definitely audible when I’m gaming for an extended period of time, but never does it negatively hinder my gameplay experience. It sounds…just like how a fan should sound, and not like a mini vacuum cleaner, which other gaming laptops are guilty of.

And then we have the display of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i, which is great! The 16-inch WQXGA 2560 x 1600 IPS panel is bright with vibrant colours and wide viewing angles. On top of that, the 165Hz refresh rate of the screen is noticeably faster than its competition.

With that in mind, it’s unfortunate that this WQXGA display is not an available option for the IdeaPad Gaming 3i on our shores. On the bright side, at least the WUXGA 1920 x 1200 panel offered for the Malaysian market has the same, fast 165Hz refresh rate.

Last but certainly not least is the design (I love the webcam’s privacy shutter) and build quality of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i. For a value-oriented laptop, it really does feel and look upmarket. In fact, its build quality is almost on par with a Legion gaming laptop, which is Lenovo’s higher-end gaming machines.

The Bad Stuff

Alas, the budget nature of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i does have some notable shortcomings, including its…build quality. Don’t get me wrong, it still feels like a robust, well-built product, but the plastic bottom casing that extends to the sides of the laptop doesn’t exactly exude a premium feel.

The keyboard of the IdeaPad Gaming 3i could be better too. The key travel, for one, is not particularly long, lending to a shallow typing experience. The layout isn’t great either, as the (squeezed) numpad shifts the main keyboard to the left, making it feel a tad awkward to use for typing and gaming.

Thankfully, the keyboard does have pretty pronounced tactile feedback. This, paired with the cushioned bottom out, does make for a reasonably comfortable typing experience. The trackpad is relatively good as well with accurate tracking capabilities and smooth surface.

Is It Worth It?

Even though the 7th gen Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i model I test here isn’t available in Malaysia, the equivalent variant offered here with an RTX 3060 GPU and Core i7-12650H processor will offer largely similar gaming performance, even if it has a slower processor and lower resolution display.

Priced at RM5,634, it does cost more than other gaming laptops with a similar GPU and CPU combo, but the IdeaPad Gaming 3i does have the edge when it comes to build quality and panel refresh rate, among other things. Plus, if you don’t need the extra processing power, you can always opt for the Core i5-12500H model that just swaps out the processor, saving you RM400.

If you’re looking for a gaming laptop with good value for money, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is an “okay” choice in this regard. But what really sets it apart from its competition is the fast display, solid build quality, and good thermals management. If these sound compelling to you, give the IdeaPad Gaming 3i a consideration.

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