Despite its $423 price tag, the Lenovo IdeaPad 320 is not a great value. This laptop features a low-resolution screen that has no business being in a 15-inch chassis, a disappointingly short battery life and a weak 7th-Gen Core i3 processor. Sure, the IdeaPad 320 has a comfortable keyboard and a decent amount of ports, but you can get a much better laptop at a cheaper price.
Price and Configuration Options
The IdeaPad 320 that I tested costs $423, and comes with an Intel Core i3-7100U processor, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB 5,400-rpm HDD.
Since Lenovo doesn't sell the IdeaPad 320 on its site, it may be difficult to find different configurations; the only other 320 that I found cost $329 and offered an AMD A12-9720P processor, 8GB of RAM and a 1TB HDD.
As far as sub-$500 laptops go, the IdeaPad 320 looks fine. The only feature that calls attention to the lid is the glossy Lenovo logo in the top left corner. The chassis has an awkward, two-tone design, with a silver top. This almost tricks you into thinking that its aluminum, while the darker gray underside highlights the cheapness of the plastic chassis.
The interior has a silver faux-aluminum design that spans the whole deck. The keyboard sits on the deck without any dip or stylized accents to introduce it. The bezels are annoyingly thick, but that's not out of the ordinary for a budget laptop.
At 4.5 pounds and 14.9 x 10.2 x 0.9 inches, the IdeaPad 320 is slimmer and lighter than the Acer Aspire E 15 (5 pounds, 1.2 inches). Its 14-inch sub-$500 competitors - the Asus VivoBook Flip 14 (3.2 pounds, 0.6 inches) and Acer Swift 1 (2.9 pounds, 0.6 inches) - have smaller profiles.
The IdeaPad 320 has a decent number of ports.
The left side features the power jack, an RJ45 port, an HDMI port, two USB 3.0 ports, a headphone jack, one USB Type-C port, and a 4-in-1 card reader (SD, SDHC, SDXC, MMC).
The right side offers a security lock slot and a DVD-RW drive.
Calling the IdeaPad 320's 15.6-inch display unpleasant to look at is an understatement. There's no reason that the resolution should be 1366 x 768 on that large of a panel. The display is also disappointingly dim.
In the trailer for the universally beloved Sonic the Hedgehog trailer, Neal McDonough's camo uniform and Jim Carrey's black suit were both so dull that it looked like they ran their clothes through the washer one too many times. When James Marsden broke into the garage where he discovered Sonic, the tools that hung on the wall were difficult to make out. Marsden's hair also could have been sharper.
According to our colorimeter, the IdeaPad's panel covered 67% of the sRGB color gamut, falling short of the 77% mainstream laptop average. It's not surprising for the IdeaPad's color reproduction to be that low, since the Aspire E 15 (62%), VivoBook Flip 14 (69%) and Swift 1 (66%) landed in the same range.
However, it was disappointing to see the panel average at a dismal 194 nits of brightness, especially when the category average is 246 nits. Even the Aspire E 15 (227 nits), VivoBook Flip 14 (221 nits) and Swift 1 (218 nits) broke past the 200-nit mark.
Keyboard and Touchpad
While the IdeaPad 320 makes some sacrifices for its low price, it retains Lenovo's signature keyboard quality. These matte gray, shield-shaped keys were comfortably clicky to type on.
I hit 68 words per minute on the 10fastfingers.com typing test, which is close to my 70 wpm average. The keys traveled at 1.4 millimeters and required 68 of grams of force, which is in line with our 1.5 to 2.0 mm comfort zone and 60g minimum of force.
The 4.1 x 2.8-inch touchpad is soft to the touch and it responds well to Windows 10 gestures like two-finger scrolling and three-finger tab switching. However, it doesn't have Windows Precision drivers, so you can't turn off tap to click or any other touch feature.
Performance and Graphics
The IdeaPad 320's Core i3-7100U processor with 4GB of RAM was only able to handle 15 Google Chrome tabs and a 1080p YouTube video before it started showing signs of slowdown. Even the Windows 10 search bar lagged when I attempted to pull up the device manager.
On the Geekbench 4 overall performance test, the IdeaPad 320 hit a poor score of 5,314, which is nearly half of the mainstream laptop average (9,001). There were better scores from the Aspire E 15 (7,871; Core i3-8130U), the VivoBook Flip 14 (5,696; Core m3-7Y30) and the Swift 1 (5,527; Pentium Silver N5000).
The IdeaPad 320 took 3 minutes and 18 seconds to match 65,000 names and addresses on our Excel test, which is much slower than both the 2:22 category average and the Aspire E 15 (2:12). The 320 did, however, beat the VivoBook Flip 14 (3:35) and Swift 1 (3:34).
With an Intel HD 620 GPU, the IdeaPad 320 scored 51,856 on the 3DMark Ice Storm Unlimited graphics benchmark, falling behind the 61,665 mainstream laptop average. The VivoBook Flip 14's Intel HD 615 GPU (51,586) and the Swift 1's Intel UHD 605 GPU (32,238) weren't as strong, but the Aspire E 15's matching Intel UHD 620 GPU (63,817) performed above average.
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In real world testing, the IdeaPad 320 actually hit 30 frames per second on the Dirt 3 benchmark, making it technically playable, even though it couldn't hit the 45-fps category average. The game wasn't playable on the Swift 1 (20 fps), but we got a one extra frame out of the VivoBook Flip 14 (31 fps) and even more so from the Aspire E 15 (56 fps).
I've seen better battery life in laptops with an RTX 2070 GPU than I have on the IdeaPad. After the 320 continuously surfed the web over Wi-Fi at 150 nits of brightness, the battery lasted only 4 hours and 24 minutes, which is more than 2 hours shorter than the mainstream laptop average (6:48). The VivoBook Flip 14 (7:23), Aspire E 15 (8:48) and Swift 1 (10:14) all had above-average battery life.
Lenovo's 720p webcam actually isn't bad. It captured my blue and green shirt decently well, although the colors were a bit darker in the image. The areas around the ceiling lights were relatively visibly. Many webcams have completely washed out the ceiling due to poor contrast. However, the stripes on my shirt were barely caught on camera, and they blended together in the image.
The IdeaPad 320's low power does come with one silver lining: it stays cool. After the laptop streamed a 15-minute 1080p video, the underside hit 83 degrees, which is well under our 95-degree comfort threshold. The center of the keyboard and touchpad measured at 79 and 74 degrees, respectively.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 320 has two redeeming qualities: its clicky keyboard and its vast selection of ports. However, between the IdeaPad 320's poor battery life, middling performance and low-res display, it's hard to recommend it.
For a cheaper $379, you could get the Acer Aspire E 15, which features a more powerful processor with extra RAM, more battery life and a brighter, 1080p display.
Considering that you can get a lot more out of cheaper laptops, we suggest staying away from the IdeaPad 320.
Credit: Laptop Mag