The higher we go into the different price ranges, the better features we will see (and will expect) from the gaming laptops we review. For the sub-500 laptop, we’ve chosen this 15 inch Lenovo IdeaPad 330 laptop that comes with a whole bundle of features that make it a truly unique value for the money you are going to spend on it. In this review, we will go through its most important aspects and see why it hardly matched by the laptops with a similar price tag.
This laptop can be briefly summarized as everything a modern gamer would need from its machine. It has a built-in OS, potent processor, enough RAM and storage, as well as a decent graphics performance. It also features a sharp LED display with the only downsides being the not so powerful battery and the poor thermal performance it can put out if pushed too hard.
Lenovo IdeaPad 330 Features
There are a lot of things that define this laptop as a true gaming machine but there are also a few small touches that Lenovo included which will only improve your experience with the Lenovo IdeaPad.
There are a lot of ports here, such as USB 3.0 and 2.0. Furthermore, there are VGA, HDMI, and headphone connections. This whole myriad of ports surely makes this particular model stand out when it comes to productivity.
Another great thing is that you get a free operating system Windows 10 (Home Edition, 64-bit). Not many laptops at this price offer you a free OS, as it can cost you anywhere from 50 to 100 bucks extra. Things like this make this one of the best laptops for your money in the market.
Now, let’s take a look under the hood. at all of the components separately and see whether they are on par with what’s needed for gaming in 2020.
The processor here is a little different from what you are probably used to seeing in laptops and desktop computers – it is an AMD CPU. The FX7500 chip is somewhat strong but can sometimes throttle at higher temperatures. It works at 2.1GHz but has a Turbo Boost up to 3.30GHz when it is needed. There are intel core models but they are usually more expensive.
AMD processors used to heat up a lot a few years ago but their newer series seems to have that figured out. The fans do a good job at cooling the laptop but only until you push it too hard. Then things get warm and noisy, which won’t be ideal if you are in a noise-sensitive environment. Of course, you can control the fan speed, but lowering it will only heat up the processor more, so we don’t recommend it.
There is enough RAM memory here to play most modern games but it is the older DDR3 kind and works at 1600MHz meaning it is a tad slower than memories you’d see on laptops such as the Asus TUF FX504.
There are two memory slots, meaning you will be able to upgrade it later on but that will only add up to the cost and isn’t an ideal option if you are on a budget.
This laptop has the weakest AMD graphics card in the face of the AMD Radeon R7 but that is still better than laptops which use the HD Graphics drivers from their intel core processors. This GPU is capable of running games in full HD and more than 30 fps, as long as the games aren’t very demanding or you’ve cranked the settings to “Ultra”.
It uses a shared graphics memory with the RAM and your CPU, meaning it will take as much as it’s needed. That is very efficient but in more demanding environments it will suck out your additional memory and leave your laptop struggling to process harder tasks.
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There is no SSD hard drive here which is where Lenovo obviously tried to bring the price down a bit. Still, they gave you a 1TB HDD which runs at 5400 RPM. That is very old technology and will definitely be slow both with booting up your OS and with writing/reading files you use.
Our advice would be to get a small (64/128GB) SSD hard drive to supplement your system.
The Display is a 1366 x 768 resolution LED one. It isn’t super high definition but its LED-backlit meaning it will have true blacks and sharper contrast. It shouldn’t put too much strain on the battery but still, the one on this laptop won’t last more than 4-5 hours, so getting a battery pack isn’t a bad idea.
Dimensions & Build Quality
In terms of build quality, this laptop is good. Lenovo haven’t always made the sturdiest laptop constructions but this one is surprisingly well-built, especially for the money. The vents are on the side and the laptop isn’t too heavy for it to stay on your lap while playing (5.15lbs). As we mentioned, though, it gets pretty warm if you push it too much, so getting a cooling pad is a good idea.
Lenovo IdeaPad Advantages & Disadvantages
- Very good value for your money
- Good construction and design
- Vivid display
- Powerful CPU
- Lots of ports
- Has Bluetooth 4.0
- Comes with pre-installed Windows 10-Home Edition
- Lots of connectivity options, including a card reader
- GPU can feel week for more demanding games
- The battery isn’t the best
- A lot of thermal throttling when you push it
Want to learn more about gaming laptops and see the other models we’ve reviewed? Check out our gaming laptop reviews & comparisons here where we have discussed the topic in great detail.