The Lenovo IdeaPad 330 denotes a range of affordable notebooks that offer a wide range of configuration options, which is something you rarely see in mainstream budget notebooks.
PROS: Strong performance. Nice design. Reasonable pricing. Good connectivity.
CONS: Low-res TN screen. Middling battery life.
Lenovo’s new IdeaPad 330s may not be the most exciting laptops –but they are especially if you’re on a budget, like almost everyone. The IdeaPad 330 denotes Lenovo’s range of affordable 14, 15 or 17-inch notebooks that you can configure depending on your needs. The base model starts at around $250 (14-inch, 4GB RAM, 1TB HDD storage) and can stretch to over $1000 (17-inch, Core i5-8250U, 8GB RAM and 1TB SSD).
It is impressive to see a notebook line that offers the possibility of diverse configurations, while remaining affordable and maintaining a stylish design. Our current review unit is the Lenovo IdeaPad 330, a 15-inch notebook with Intel Celeron N4100 processor, 4GB of RAM and a 1TB hard drive for storage. For a little more money, the same IdeaPad 330 is also available with a Core i3-8130U processor, 8GB RAM and 1TB solid-state drive.
While competition is stiff in this segment, getting the flexibility of configuring the notebook of choice off the shelve is worth a look.
Measuring 0.9 by 10.2 by 14.9 inches (HWD) and weighing 4.85 pounds, IdeaPad 320-15ABR looks small and lightweight, and can be easily carried around. It’s light and portable than some of its competition, though. The Acer Aspire E15 (E5-576-392H) –our Top Pick for budget laptops, weighs 5.27 pounds and is 1.19 inches thick.
Its sleek platinum gray frame feels reasonably sturdy, and it easily passes for an aluminum build, which isn’t the case. We are seeing metallic constructions in the ultrabooks category and high-end notebooks. This platinum gray profile is used in more premium Lenovo systems, and it does pick up dirty marks, just like other notebooks bearing the same material.
The IdeaPad 330’s biggest tradeoff, and the loudest screamer announcing its budget nature, is its screen – it gets a basic 1366 X 768 TN panel, which has narrow viewing angles as compared to an IPS panel.
At first, you’ll do some angling before you get a spot that doesn’t wash out. It’s not great, but not the worst, we accept it for the price.
Some credit, though, Lenovo does add an anti-glare coating on the screen which eliminates reflections, making it the perfect choice of a sub-HD media machine, provided you can view the screen from the right angle.
Keyboard and Touchpad
The Lenovo IdeaPad 330 is equipped with a non-backlit, 6-row chiclet keyboard, that has nicely spaced keys with a good grip. The arrow keys are well positioned, and the number pad on the right is a good inclusion. Individually, the keys have short travel and they get a noticeable pressure point. You can easily type your way around, and even fast typers will find the keys quite reliable.
For the touchpad, it has the same color as the rest of the device. It’s positioned slightly towards the left, but its suitable for inputs via gesture control. The touchpad gestures can be individually configured via the setup menu of the pad. It responds well to Windows 10 gestures and registers physical inputs precisely.
Ports and Storage
Here you’ll find a variety of ports, which is excellent for an inexpensive system that’s meant to remain versatile. There is a single USB 2.0 port, one USB 3.0, a HDMI port and an SD slot. The SD card is a nice way to extend the system storage, can as well be used for transferring media to SD cards. Others include a headphone jack, an Ethernet port and a DVD drive. Wireless connectivity comes via the 802.11AC Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.1.
The system comes with a 1TB 5400RPM hard drive, which means you won’t need to extend the storage unless you have lots of files to store, but it’s convenient to have the option. This capacity is far much than you’d find in most budget Chromebooks, though. Plus, you have the option of configuring the system to include an SSD for storage as you place your order.
This iteration of the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 is equipped with a 1.1GHz (Turbo up to 2.4GHz) Intel Celeron N4100 processor, 4GB of RAM and integrated Intel HD 600 graphics card. This is a quad-core CPU released in 2017 as an upgrade over the N3450. It’s designed for mainstream notebooks, delivering slightly better performance than the AMD A12-9700P chips. As mentioned, the system is fully customizable, meaning you can opt for a better CPU, graphics card, RAM size and even screen size as you place your order.
Both of these chips aren’t meant for significant workloads but deliver sufficient performance for typical office and web applications, can as well suffice for light multitasking. The integrated Intel HD 600 graphics card is a better version of its predecessor, and it allows you play most 2015/2016 smoothly at low settings.
Battery life is always a strong point for basic laptops, but the IdeaPad fails to impress here. This particular IdeaPad 330 isn’t terribly efficient, exhibiting a rather disappointing short battery life. On typical use, it offers around 3 hours 20 minutes on a single charge, which is quite low for a modern machine. The Aspire E 15 (E5-576-392H) delivers an impressive 10 hours 51 minutes of battery life on a single charge.
It’s never easy to decide if it’s OK to be disappointed in a machine that’s very light on your wallet, especially when its flaws aren’t that bad. Applause to the processor and upgrade options in the Lenovo Ideapad 330 $319.00 at Amazon , sturdy chassis, great design and massive (albeit slow) hard drive storage. Certainly, it doesn’t feel like the typical budget laptop from 2018, it’s far much better.
A stronger battery life and Full HD screen would have been a great benefit, but it compensates with good performance and appealing design. If you can do with such non-fundamental flaws, you’re getting a nice laptop for much less. That said, on a feature set versus value basis, the Acer Aspire E 15 (E5-576-392H) offers the best combination of both, it remains our Editors’ Choice for budget laptops.