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Asus TUF Gaming A17 vs. Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i: Which gaming laptop wins?

Asus TUF Gaming A17 vs. Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i
(Image credit: Future)

There are a number of factors to think about when choosing your first gaming laptop, but if you’re in the market for one of the best cheap gaming laptops, then you have less room to be picky. 

Two solid affordable gaming laptops that come to mind are the Asus TUF Gaming A17 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i, but which laptop is actually better? The former costs $1,099 and the latter runs for $989, so it’s roughly a $100 difference between the two.

The TUF Gaming A17 is a 17-inch laptop and the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is a 15-inch laptop. Those sizes alone may very well be a deciding factor for some. However, you’ll be surprised to read how much of a difference $100 can make for a gaming laptop.

Here's how these two affordable gaming laptops stack up.

Asus TUF Gaming A17 vs. Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i: Specs compared 

Asus TUF Gaming A17Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i
Price$1,099$989
ColorsGray/BlackBlack
Display17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080, 120Hz15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 120Hz
CPUAMD Ryzen 7 4800HIntel Core i7-10750H
GPUNvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti with 6GB of VRAMNvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAM
RAM16GB8GB
Storage1TB SSD512GB SSD
PortsThree USB 3.1, one USB Type-C, HDMI 2.0, RJ45 Ethernet, headphone jackTwo USB 3.1, one USB Type-C, HDMI 2.0, RJ45 Ethernet, headphone jack
Size15.7 x 10.6 x 1.0 inches14.1 x 9.8 x 1.0 inches
Weight5.7 pounds4.8 pounds

Value and configurations 

In terms of value, the Asus TUF Gaming A17 is a steal with its 1TB SSD, but the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i offers way more configurations for those who need more options.

Asus TUF Gaming A17

(Image credit: Future)

The IdeaPad Gaming 3i model I tested is the most expensive, at $989. It comes with an Intel Core i7-10750H processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1650 with 4GB of VRAM, 8GB of RAM, a 512GB SSD and a 120Hz display.

The $919 mid-tier model brings you down to an Intel Core i5-10300H CPU, but upgrades your GPU to a GTX 1650 Ti, while the rest of the components remain the same. The base model runs for $839 and comes with the same Core i5 CPU, a GTX 1650 GPU, 8GB of RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 60Hz display.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (15-inch)

(Image credit: Future)

Meanwhile, the TUF Gaming A17 I tested costs $1,099 and comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU, 16GB of RAM, a 1TB PCIe SSD and a 1920 x 1080, 120Hz display. Finding a gaming laptop with a 1TB SSD at this price is rare. While the TUF Gaming A17 offers a great value, it has only one configuration. There is an Intel variant called the Asus TUF Gaming F17, but that’s not on sale right now

Overall, TUF Gaming A17’s value for components simply can’t be beat by the IdeaPad Gaming 3i no matter how configurable it is.

Winner: Asus TUF Gaming A17

Design

Typically, gaming laptops that cost around $1,000 look either too cheap or too gaudy, but both the Asus TUF Gaming A17 and Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i sport discreet designs. However, the TUF Gaming A17 showed off a sleek gunmetal aluminum hood with a neat cutout, while the IdeaPad Gaming 3i featured a plain black plastic lid with slight curves on the end.

Asus TUF Gaming A17

(Image credit: Future)

The interior of the laptops are similarly plain, except the TUF Gaming A17’s deck is painted with a faux-aluminum design and the IdeaPad Gaming 3i goes with plain black once again. From a visual perspective, the TUF Gaming A17 also has a better keyboard, with customizable one-zone RGB lighting, whereas the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is stuck with one-color lighting, which is the same color as the font, a light blue.

At 4.8 pounds and 14.1 x 9.8 x 1.0 inches, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i is relatively slim when compared to a 17-inch laptop like the TUF Gaming A17 (5.7 pounds, 15.7 x 10.6 x 1.0 inches). However, the TUF is just as slim as the IdeaPad, so it’s not a huge loss in terms of portability if you go with the 17-inch notebook.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (15-inch)

(Image credit: Future)

Overall, the Asus TUF Gaming A17 not only looks nicer than the IdeaPad Gaming 3i, but it even matches it in thickness.

Winner: Asus TUF Gaming A17

Ports

Taking a victory lap with ports is a simple numbers game, one that IdeaPad Gaming 3i couldn’t handle.

Asus TUF Gaming A17

(Image credit: Future)

The Asus TUF Gaming A17 offers a power jack, an RJ45 Ethernet port, an HDMI port, three USB Type-A ports, one USB Type-C port, a headphone jack and a Kensington lock slot.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (15-inch)

(Image credit: Future)

Meanwhile, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i ditches one USB Type-A port as well as a lock slot. Gaming laptops should have at least three USB Type-A ports, but where both fail is omitting a Mini DisplayPort.

Winner: Asus TUF Gaming A17

Display

Cheap gaming laptops typically don’t have the best displays, but both the Asus TUF Gaming A17 and Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i went out of their way to deliver terrible viewing experiences. At first glance, however, the Asus TUF Gaming A17 seems to have the edge with its 17.3-inch, 1920 x 1080, 120Hz display, when compared with the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s 15.6-inch, 1920 x 1080, 120Hz panel.

Asus TUF Gaming A17

(Image credit: Future)

In the Fast 9 trailer during the second opening shot of Vin Diesel doing farming stuff, the TUF Gaming A17’s display was warmer than the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s screen, which caused objects like the red tractor and the orange cart to pop (to the best of its ability on a dull screen). The TUF Gaming A17’s panel showed off better contrast as well; When Vin Diesel did his cool-man walk to a fancy mansion, the details in the dark cars around him were much more prominent than they were on the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s display. Both panels were equally sharp, showing off the stubble on the back of Diesel’s head.

According to our colorimeter, TUF Gaming A17’s display covered 64% of the sRGB color gamut, which is dull in and of itself, but somehow, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s panel covered a measly 58% of the sRGB color gamut. At 278 nits of brightness, however, IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s screen surprisingly surpassed the TUF Gaming A17’s 248-nit display.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (15-inch)

(Image credit: Future)

On one hand, the TUF Gaming A17 has a bigger and more colorful display, but the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s screen is apparently brighter. However, in-person, TUF Gaming A17 seemed brighter, but that may be because the panel has better contrast.

Winner: Asus TUF Gaming A17

Keyboard and touchpad

Both the Asus TUF Gaming A17 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s keyboards are relatively comfortable to type on, but they land on opposite ends of the spectrum. The TUF Gaming A17’s keyboard offers solid actuation force and deep travel, but it’s not very clicky. Meanwhile, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s keys are pleasantly clicky, but incredibly shallow.

Asus TUF Gaming A17

(Image credit: Future)

I nailed 80 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test with the TUF Gaming A17’s keyboard, which is short of the 77-wpm I hit with the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s keyboard. Overall, I preferred the weighty keys that the TUF Gaming A17 offered.

The IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s touchpad was pleasantly soft and smooth and offered a decent click. The TUF Gaming A17’s touchpad was also soft, but offers two discrete mouse buttons with mediocre feedback.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (15-inch)

(Image credit: Future)

Although I prefer the TUF Gaming A17’s keyboard, I liked the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s touchpad a lot more.

Winner: Draw

Gaming, graphics and VR

Pitting these two machines head-to-head in performance isn’t the most fair fight, but let’s see how the Asus TUF Gaming A17’s Nvidia GeForce GTX 1660 Ti GPU stacks up against the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s GTX 1650 GPU.

Asus TUF Gaming A17

(Image credit: Future)

On the Shadow of the Tomb Raider benchmark (Highest, 1080p), the TUF Gaming A17 reached 50 frames per second, speeding past the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s 32 fps.

The TUF Gaming A17 hit 86 fps on the Hitman benchmark (Ultra, 1080p), which jumps nearly 30 frames over the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s average of 58 fps.

On the Grand Theft Auto V benchmark (Very High, 1080p), the TUF Gaming A17 averaged 60 fps, while the IdeaPad Gaming 3i landed not too far off, at 41 fps.

Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i (15-inch)

(Image credit: Future)

When running Metro: Exodus (Ultra, 1080p), the TUF Gaming A17 got 41 fps, which is a healthy, playable score, whereas the IdeaPad Gaming 3i landed in the unplayable realm of 26 fps (our playability threshold is 30 fps).

Winner: Asus TUF Gaming A17

Performance

In terms of general performance, the Asus TUF Gaming A17 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i couldn’t be any more different. The former is toting around an AMD Ryzen 7 4800H processor with 16GB of RAM, while the latter packs the new Intel Core i7-10750H CPU with 8GB of RAM.

On the Geekbench 4.3 overall performance benchmark, the TUF Gaming A17 scored 24,568, crushing the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s score of 20,911.

The TUF Gaming A17 transcoded a 4K video to 1080p in 6 minutes and 52 seconds on our HandBrake benchmark, decimating the IdeaPad Gaming 3i’s time of 10 minutes and 41 seconds.

The Asus’ 1TB SSD copied 4.97GB of data in 8.7 seconds, translating to a transfer rate of 585 megabytes per second, which is just barely faster than Lenovo’s 512GB SSD. Lenovo clocked in at 10.7 seconds for a 476 MBps transfer rate.

Winner: Asus TUF Gaming A17

Battery life

For gaming laptops, the Asus TUF Gaming A17 and the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i both impress with long battery life. However, AMD remains the champ of the gaming battery life circus. The TUF Gaming A17 continuously surfed the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness and lasted a meaty 7 hours and 41 minutes, sailing past IdeaPad Gaming 3i by over 2 hours, as the Lenovo machine died at 5:40.

Winner: Asus TUF Gaming A17

Overall winner: Asus TUF Gaming A17

While you may have guessed that the more expensive gaming laptop was going to take the victory, keep in mind that the Asus TUF Gaming A17 is only $100 more than the Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i yet it offers so much more.

Asus TUF Gaming A17Lenovo IdeaPad Gaming 3i
Design (10)87
Ports (10)86
Display (15)98
Keyboard/Touchpad (15)1212
Graphics, Gaming and VR (15)1411
Performance (15)1412
Battery Life (10)97
Value (10)86
Overall (100)8269

The IdeaPad Gaming 3i is still a solid gaming laptop, offering decent performance and solid battery life all for a cheap price. So, if you’re looking for a reliable and cheap 15-inch gaming laptop, the IdeaPad Gaming 3i will serve you well.

But overall, the TUF Gaming A17 crushed the IdeaPad Gaming 3i in nearly every category.