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A solid laptop with gaming ability, at an attractive price
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Lenovo positions its IdeaPad line of laptops for everyday consumers, whether they’re looking to browse the web, check their email, or even play the latest games. The company’s IdeaPad 3 L340, released a few years ago, was one of the go-to picks for consumers who wanted an entry-level gaming laptop at a good price.
While that specific model is no longer readily available, the company does offer another IdeaPad that may interest consumers looking to scratch their gaming itch, without having to spend thousands of dollars to do so.
For around $600, the 15.6-inch IdeaPad 3 15ALC6 should provide enough power to play modern games as long as you’re willing to dial down some of the graphical settings—running at 720p instead of 1080p, for example, or playing with lower-quality shadows. Consumer Reports has also tested a number of other budget-priced gaming laptops. If you’d prefer to crank those settings up rather than turn them down, machines like the Lenovo Legion line of gaming laptops may be a better pick (though you’ll of course pay more).
But for someone who values, well, value, the IdeaPad 3 15ALC6 is worth a look.
Let’s see why.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15ALC6 is a solid laptop that somewhat blurs the lines between entry-level and mid-tier models.
It’s a traditional notebook (that is, it’s not a 2-in-1 of any kind) that scores well in just about all of our tests. It doesn’t quite ace some of the tests, but it’s hard to complain when the price is so low.
Starting with performance, our testers find the IdeaPad 3 15ALC6 to be snappy in the sorts of everyday tasks that mark the difference between a laptop that’s fast and fun to use and one that’s pull-your-hair-out frustratingly slow. Whether you’re browsing the web, copying large files between folders, editing photos, or, yes, playing games (again, at lower graphical settings) you’ll find the IdeaPad to be responsive.
You may have to wait a beat or two for the most demanding tasks to wrap up, such as rendering high-res video, but if you don’t do that too often it may not bother you.
Beyond raw performance, the IdeaPad 3 15ALC6 works pretty decently as a laptop, too: It weighs 3.7 pounds, which is lighter than most 15.6-inch laptops, and its battery lasts between 7 and 12 hours on a single charge. Depending on how hard you push a laptop, you’re either sipping power or really gulping it down. We calculate the light load number (so, 12 hours) doing simple things like browsing the web, hopping from website to website, until the battery depletes. To get the tougher load number we watch a high-res video (which is quite taxing) until the battery depletes.
In other words, you might expect to get closer to 12 hours of battery life doing things like browsing Facebook or shopping on Amazon, and might expect to hit around 7 hours, say, trying to conquer the world in “Civilization VI” or explore the galaxy in “No Man’s Sky.”
Lenovo laptops get midrange predicted reliability scores, which is based on survey of Consumer Reports members.
The Lenovo IdeaPad 3 15ALC6 could work for a lot of people.
For $600 you’re getting a notebook with good enough specs to handle just about everything but the most demanding tasks with ease. If you’re someone who regularly edits high-res video this may not be the notebook for you, but if your day more revolves around a web browser and an office productivity suite then this laptop should be on your radar.
It’s not a Lenovo Legion, so you’re unlikely to play something demanding like “Cyberpunk 2077,” but less complex games like “Streets of Rage 4” and “Shredder’s Revenge” should work just fine. Older games, which are generally less demanding to run than newer titles, should also work fine here, too. Even better: They’re frequently on sale at digital storefronts like Steam and GoG.com.
There are almost 200 laptops and Chromebooks in our ratings, with dozens of models added every year. These models are refreshed constantly, ensuring that only currently available laptops are presented to CR members.
Our experts run a series of tests to check things like how fast the laptop is able to carry out tasks like opening apps, bouncing between web pages, and processing spreadsheets. We have two separate battery tests to get a better understanding of what you can expect under different loads: One test plays back a 4K video until the battery is fully depleted, and the other tests cycles through several websites until the battery is fully depleted. Having both numbers should give you a more comprehensive idea of what real-world battery life looks like.
Nicholas De Leon
I’ve been covering consumer electronics for more than 10 years for publications like TechCrunch, The Daily (R.I.P.), and Motherboard. When I’m not researching or writing about laptops or headphones I can likely be found obsessively consuming news about FC Barcelona, replaying old Super Nintendo games for the hundredth time, or chasing my pet corgi Winston to put his harness on so we can go for a walk. Follow me on Twitter (@nicholasadeleon).
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