We’ve reviewed quite a few Lenovo products here on Techaeris and have generally come away impressed. Will the affordable Lenovo ideapad 300 continue to impress? Keep reading our full review to find out.
The Lenovo ideapad 300 is available in several configurations. The configuration as tested is:
- Processor: Intel Core i5 6200U
- OS: Windows 10 Home
- Display: 15.6″ FHD (1920×1080)
- Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 520
- Storage: 500GB 5400 RPM HDD
- Memory: 8GB
- Audio: Stereo speakers with Dolby Digital Plus
- Webcam: 720p
- Dimensions: 15.12″ x 10.43″ x 0.90″
- Weight: 5.08 lbs with power supply
- Ports: 4-in-1 reader (MMC, SD, SDHC, SDXC), USB 3.0, 2 x USB 2.0, HDMI, VGA
- Optical Drive: DVD-RW
What’s in the Box
- 1 x Lenovo ideapad 300
- 1 x Power cable
- Safety, Warranty, and Setup Guide
The ideapad 300 is more of a budget laptop, so you won’t find the same impressive stylings of say the Yoga 900, but the ideapad 300 is definitely not an unattractive device. The top shell is a hard plastic, and is available in silver, red, or black. The Lenovo logo is emblazoned in the upper left corner (as you’re looking at the laptop with the lid open).
While the IdeaPad 300 has a 15.6” screen, there is a decent sized bezel around the entirety making the lid, and by extension the rest of the laptop, a bit bigger than you might expect. I never found the ideapad to be too unwieldy though, even if it doesn’t have the same svelte design of some of the more expensive Lenovo laptops.
On the left hand side of the ideapad you’ll find the power plug at the top with some cooling vents just below. Following that you’ll see a VGA plug followed by an RJ-45 and then HDMI port. The one USB 3.0 port comes next, with the 4-in-1 card reader closest to the front of the laptop. On the right — again, starting from the back — you’ll first spot the Kensington lock, followed by a DVD-RW drive. Yes, there’s really an optical drive on this laptop! Up next are two USB 2.0 ports and a mic/headphone combo jack. The front and back are pretty ordinary, while the bottom has more venting as well as four solid rubber feet and the two bottom firing speakers.
When you open the lid you’ll be greeted by the 15.6” screen and full-size keyboard. Not only will you find a full-size keyboard though, there is also enough room for a numeric keypad. The larger chassis allows for plenty of room to type. The keys are nicely spaced so even people with big hands like me won’t feel cramped. Just above the keyboard is the power button, and just below the keyboard is the trackpad. The remaining inside area has a nice lightly-textured plastic finish. Where some plastic devices feel cheap, the ideapad 300 definitely does not. It is a solidly built machine to be sure.
The ideapad 300 comes with a 15.6” FHD display. The 1920 x 1080 resolution is good for a screen this size. Sure, you could probably cram a higher resolution in there, but this isn’t that kind of laptop. For a budget laptop this display works perfectly. It is big and bright, text is easy to read, icons are of a sufficient size, videos look good, you really wouldn’t want anything too much fancier here as that would drive up the price. What you’ll get is a quality display that will handle the things you want to look at.
Running Windows 10, you’re probably already pretty comfortable with what you’ll be running on the ideapad 300. Windows 10 is a solid operating system, and you’ll be able to run nearly anything you could possibly want to run. Lenovo does include some proprietary software and anti-virus all of which you could probably do without. The included optical drive only expands your options in this regard.
Available in three configurations, the main difference will be the processor that you choose. On the low end, there’s the Pentium 4405U with an i3 6100U in the middle, and the model as tested at the top. The i5 6200U processor with the included 8 GB of RAM provided a smooth experience for web browsing, video watching, writing, and even some light photo editing.
The keyboard was pleasantly surprising, mainly because of the included numeric keypad, but typing was comfortable as well. With the slightly larger chassis around the 15.6” display, you get a good sized keyboard so typing doesn’t feel cramped, even with the keypad on the side. The keyboard is not backlit, which will be a disappointment for some. The trackpad is responsive, and handles motion easily. The buttons for the trackpad were a bit stiff, requiring more pressure than I was expecting. The buttons are actually just one button that is on a rocker. So attempting to push the far right side of the left “button” or the far left side of the right “button” will not work. Pressing at the edges is necessary, and successful pushes do provide an audible click when pressed.
You can even get by playing some games on the ideapad 300. The integrated Intel 520 graphics will, of course, be the bottleneck in nearly any laptop. That same bottleneck is in place here. Though integrated graphics can handle some games. I had quite a lot of luck especially with some older games from GoG. The addition of the numeric keypad on the keyboard was great for a few of my favorite classics: Sid Meier’s Colonization, and Alpha Centauri. You can probably even get by with some indie games, or other less system intensive games.
Lenovo has continued their partnership with Dolby Audio and has included Dolby Digital Plus audio on the ideapad 300. You’ll get the biggest benefit using a nice pair of headphones, but the speakers work well enough. The bottom firing speakers will work better on a table where they can reflect the sound versus sitting on your lap though.
The integrated webcam shoots video at 720p, and works well for video chatting, or the occasional selfie. There isn’t too much else you’re going to want to do with the webcam on a laptop, but it works well for general webcam purposes.
The 4-cell 32Whr battery on the ideapad 300 gives decent, but not great battery life. If you want to turn down screen brightness and other power management options you can maybe squeak through a work day on battery power, though with brightness turned to what I would consider a reasonable level and other power settings relatively normal I averaged around 4 – 4 ½ hours on a charge. Lenovo suggests that the battery will provide 4 hours of local video playback, so my mixed usage managed to get a bit better battery life. Your mileage will obviously vary based on your usage, but you are going to want to keep the power cord nearby if you’re planning on extended use.
Starting at $469 (though currently on sale for $399) for the Intel Pentium 4405U processor, the Lenovo ideapad 300 provides a good value for the price. The i5 version as tested will run you $649, with the available i3 sitting in the middle at $549. The only real difference between the available models is the processor, and a slight bump in integrated graphics on the i3 and i5 versions. All other specs are identical. I’d personally recommend spending the extra money on the beefier i5 processor, but if you can get by with the Pentium 4405U you’ll be able to save a few bucks.
Not everybody needs a complete powerhouse of a laptop, or the thinnest, lightest thing out there. Plenty of people just want a functional laptop some power at an affordable price. The Lenovo ideapad 300 definitely answers that call. With a reasonable starting price, decent specs, and good performance, the Lenovo ideapad 300 is a laptop that will serve you well.