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Lenovo Ideapad 3 (2021) Review

This is my text-based review for the Lenovo Ideapad 3. I don't have experience w/ written reviews so please feel free to leave feedback.

I purchased this laptop in May 2021 with the intent of giving it to my parents as a replacement for their older system. The Ideapad 3 hits a very good price to performance ratio as well, given the specs at this price.

I have filmed both a full unboxing/first impressions and teardown/upgrade path video which I'll upload eventually.

Introduction

The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 is a lower cost general purpose laptop, and roughly competes with the Asus Vivobook, Dell Inspiron, and, Acer Aspire series.

The hardware is decently powerful (great for the price) but it's coupled with some mediocre peripherals.

It's an general purpose all-rounder machine.

I purchased this laptop for around $600 CAD from Staples on sale, and my comments are relative to that price.

Top down view of the laptop

Specs

  • CPU: AMD Ryzen 5 4500U (6C / 6T, 2.3 / 4.0GHz, 3MB L2 / 8MBL3)
  • GPU: Integrated AMD Radeon Graphics
  • RAM: 4GB Soldered DDR4-2666 + 4GB SO-DIMM DDR4-2666
  • SSD: 512GB SSD M.2 2242 PCIe NVMe 3.0x2
  • HDD: None
  • DISP: 15.6“ FHD (1920×1080) TN 220nits Anti-glare 16:9
  • WLAN: 802.11ac 2×2 Wi-Fi + Bluetooth 5.0, M.2 Card
  • KEYB: ISO Layout w/ Numpad

Here is the psrefs page from Lenovo with the full specs: ideapad_3_15are05_spec.pdf

Review

CPU/GPU

The Ryzen 4500 is a beast of a CPU in a laptop, with 6 cores and 6 threads. Interestingly, AMD has chosen a higher core count without multi-threading which has been rare until now. Most laptops for the past several generations have included hyper-threading, even on parts that traditionally wouldn't have it. (eg: i5 was 4c/4t for a while).

Compared to older Ryzen mobile processors, this is a good improvement. It's over 1.5x as fast compared to the Ryzen 3500u in my Thinkpad E495 from my testing, which has 4c/8t. Ryzen 3000 series on laptops were essentially rebranded 2000 series, on a 12nm node (which is a refined 14nm seen for the 2500u). The 4500u on the other hand, is on the new 7nm process from TSMC. Not only does it have 2 more physical cores (although multithreading is lacking), there is also an improvement to the clock speed, with a nice boost from 2.1 base to 2.3 GHz, and 3.7 boost to 4.0 GHz boost. The 15W TDP remains the same as last gen, so hopefully efficiency isn't comprimised either.

Compared to those coming from pre 8th gen Intel mobile processors, this is a remarkable speedup. It's unsurprisingly over 3x as fast as my old dual core Zenbook. As I mentioned, until Intel 8th gen, most notebooks only had dual core CPUs in the U lineups, with the higher core counts reserved for H series chips in gaming laptops. This is great to see such fast progress in just a few years, though Intel is likely to blame for the lacking innovation as they rebranded dual cores and 14nm for YEARS.

I don't have as much to say about the GPU. It piggy-backs off the system memory, it uses 2GB from the system, meaning that only 6GB of RAM is available of the 8 by default. It's mediocre VEGA graphics, but it's fine for most tasks for the 1080p display.

A look at the CPU mount

Cooling

The CPU cooler consists of a large heatpipe to move heat away from the CPU to the heatsink. The heatsink is cooled by a typical fan for a laptop, a thin radial one.

Overall, the laptop starts in passive mode with the fans off, but it quickly hits the thermal limit and the fan needs to kick in. The heatsink portion is quite small, though it is around the same size as the one on the ThinkPad, overall, I do think it could be bigger to have some more thermal mass.

At least the fan isn't terribly annoying.

A look at the heatpipe and cooler

To be continued

Teardown/Upgrades

Linux Support

Discussion

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