For those who’re on a decent budget and wish a laptop for basic online tasks, then the Lenovo IdeaPad 330 (reviewed at $265) is a solid choice. This 15.6-inch machine has a sturdy chassis and a snug keyboard, perks that budget laptops rarely offer. The IdeaPad 330 even has a DVD drive, which isn’t something we typically encounter on laptops anymore. Unfortunately, a poor display, short battery life, and below-average performance spoil the fun, so we recommend spending a bit more on a greater system, just like the Acer Aspire E 15. It’s still considered one of the very best laptops under $300 you will find.
Lenovo IdeaPad 330 Price and Configuration Options
The IdeaPad 330 is sold in various configurations at a big selection of costs. We tested a $265 budget model with a 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768-pixel display, an Intel Celeron N4100 CPU, 4GB of RAM, and a 500GB, 5,400-rpm harddrive.
A more premium IdeaPad 330 with a Core i3-8130U CPU is out there for $299, and there’s also an AMD version (opens in new tab) with a Ryzen 5 2500U CPU, 12GB of RAM, and a 2TB HDD for $663.
The IdeaPad 330 looks like a standard laptop. By that, I mean that if I asked you to attract a laptop, you’d probably land on something that looked loads just like the IdeaPad 330. It is a rectangle with rounded corners, and has a silver lid with a Chrome logo in a single corner. The IdeaPad’s chassis isn’t thick, nor thin, and the laptop’s silver lid and dark-gray undercarriage are product of hard plastic.
The within of the laptop is just as uninspired. Thick bezels that frame a low-resolution display remind me of my dad’s embarrassing GI glasses (or known within the military as “BCGs,” or contraception glasses). On a positive note, the brushed-metal finish on the deck could easily be mistaken for aluminum, and the dark-gray keyboard keys contrast nicely against the surface.
Briefly, the IdeaPad 330’s design serves its function as a laptop quite well, but without doing anything original. But that’s OK. We’re so used to seeing flimsy notebooks on this price range that one which feels as sturdy because the IdeaPad 330 is a breath of fresh air. Yes, the IdeaPad 330 appears like a solid machine – not ThinkPad X1 Carbon premium – but above-average for the worth.
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The IdeaPad 330 isn’t a 2-in-1 laptop and doesn’t have a touch screen, but its flexible hinge rotates 180 degrees in order that you’ll be able to show the screen to people around you or adjust the angle of the display when using it in your lap when you relax on the couch.
At 14.9 x 10.2 x 0.9 inches and 4.4 pounds, the IdeaPad 330 is smaller and lighter than the Acer Aspire E 15 (15 x 10.2 x 1.2 inches, 5 pounds), and about the identical size because the Dell Inspiron 15 3000 (14.9 x 10.2 x 0.8 inches, 5 pounds). Unsurprisingly, the 14-inch Acer Swift 1 (12.7 x 0 x 0.6 inches, 2.9 pounds) is much more portable than the IdeaPad.
The 330 has all of the ports you would ask for – if it were 2012. But seriously, the suitable side of the laptop is taken up by a DVD drive. Yes, the CD drive lives on.
On the other side of the IdeaPad 330 is where you will find all of the ports, including a USB 3.1 port, a USB 2.0 input, an HDMI, an RJ45 Ethernet port and a headphone/mic combo jack.
There’s also a 4-in-1 card reader so you’ll be able to upload photos from an SD card with no dongle.
It’s hard to criticize such a cheap laptop for having a low-resolution display. At the identical time, another $100 will get you a laptop with a 1080p panel, which can provide a much sharper image than the IdeaPad 330’s 15.6-inch, 1366 x 768 display.
Despite the low pixel count, I could see individual drops of water beading on Sylvester Stallone’s face after he splashed himself with water within the trailer for Rocky V. But an in depth look revealed numerous graininess, especially during darker scenes. I used to be more bothered by the display’s dull colors and poor viewing angles, both of which made this over-the-top action sequel look washed out.
Our lab result reaffirmed a few of those shortcomings. In keeping with our colorimeter, the IdeaPad 330’s display covers only 66% of the sRGB color gamut. While that tops the Aspire E 15 (62%) and matches the Swift 1, the IdeaPad 330’s screen is less colorful than that of the common budget laptops (83%) and the Inspiron 15 3000 (73%).
The IdeaPad 330’s display is fairly dim, but its matte finish improves viewability in bright rooms. With a peak brightness of 188 nits, the display is dimmer than those on the Aspire E 15 (227 nits), Swift 1 (218 nits) and the common budget laptop (208 nits). The Inspiron 15 3000 measured a median of 170 nits.
Keyboard and Touchpad
Lenovo always seems to deliver with its keyboards, and the IdeaPad 330 doesn’t break that trend.
While it isn’t ThinkPad good, I actually enjoyed typing on the IdeaPad 330’s keyboard. The subtly curved chicklet-style keys are nicely sized and fairly clicky. There is a pleasant weightiness to the keys, likely a results of their 70 grams of actuation force. The keys travel 1.4 millimeters, which is wanting our 1.5-mm preference, but still better than the keyboards on competing devices. I do wish there was backlighting, but that’s not yet a normal feature on budget laptops.
I typed at a rate of 114 words per minute with an accuracy of 95% on the 10fastfingers.com typing test. That result’s a tad slower than my 119 wpm speed average, but matches my typical accuracy.
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The 4.1 x 2.6-inch touchpad on the IdeaPad 330 is fairly responsive, and I did not have any problems executing Windows 10 gestures, like pinch-to-zoom and three-finger swipe to change windows.
Performance and Graphics
There was no must run my typical workload on the IdeaPad 330 (Intel Celeron N4100, 4GB of RAM) to find that its performance is simply adequate for basic tasks, like sending emails or browsing the net.
It took nearly a minute to load Laptopmag.com with only four other Google Chrome tabs pulled up. If every other tabs were open, the IdeaPad 330 slowed to a halt. Fortunately, once a webpage finished rendering, I could flip through different pages with “only” a couple of seconds delays. And although I had to attend several moments for it to load, a 1080p YouTube video about Google’s Stadia gaming service never buffered.
The IdeaPad 330 landed in the center of the pack for budget laptops on our performance benchmarks. With a score of 5,234 on the Geekbench 4.1 test, the Lenovo just edged out the budget category average (5,184), but couldn’t sustain with the Swift 1 (Pentium Silver N5000, 5,527) or the Aspire E 15 (Core i3-8130U, 7,871).
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The lackluster real-world performance I experienced on the IdeaPad 330 stemmed from its sluggish harddrive. The IdeaPad 330’s 500GB, 5,400-rpm HDD needed 2 minutes and 57 seconds to duplicate 4.97GB of mixed-media files, at a rate of 28.8 megabytes per second. Only the Inspiron 15 3000 (500GB, 5,400-rpm HDD, 25.7MBps) was slower, while the Swift 1 (64GB eMMC, 65 MBps), Aspire E 15 (1TB, 5400-rpm SATA harddrive, 33.5MBps), and the common budget laptop (65MBps) have speedier storage.
The IdeaPad 330 really suffered on the HandBrake test, taking 1 hour and seven seconds to transcode a 4K video into 1080p resolution. Other budget laptops completed the duty in nearly half that point, including the Aspire E 15 (31:40) and Swift 1 (46:13), while the budget laptop average is even faster, at 21:27.
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If you need to game on the IdeaPad 330, you’re just about limited to games within the Windows App Store. The device played the racing game Dirt 3 at 14 frames per second, which is nowhere near our 30-fps playability threshold. For comparison, the Aspire E 15 (UHD Graphics 620) ran the sport at 56 fps; the budget category average is 28 fps.
We saw similar results on the Ice Storm Unlimited graphics test, by which the 330 scored a 25,837, well below what the Aspire E 15 (63,817) and Swift 1 (UHD 605, 32,238) netted.
Stay near an outlet if you propose on using the IdeaPad 330 away from home.
With a runtime of 5 hours and 52 minutes on our Laptop Mag battery test (continuous web surfing over Wi-Fi at 150 nits), the IdeaPad 330 powered down several hours before the Aspire E 15 (8:48) and Swift 1 (10:14).
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The IdeaPad 330 couldn’t outlast the budget laptop category average (7:20), but when it’s any consolation, it did better than the embarrassingly short-lived Inspiron 15 3000 (3:16).
Do the person on the opposite end of your video chat a favor and do not use the IdeaPad 330’s integrated webcam. The 640 x 480 lens is possibly the worst I’ve seen on a laptop, which is sort of a feat considering that the majority webcams we test are only awful.
I used to be practically indistinguishable within the selfie I shot in our dimly-lit office. The image was so fuzzy that my hair was one solid blob and my eyes looked like hazy, dark pits. To make matters worse, the lights behind me washed out everything they touched, and my rich red shirt looked bleached out. Be certain to spring for a dedicated webcam if you propose on doing videoconferencing.
The IdeaPad 330 remained relatively cool, even after we taxed it by playing a 15-minute, full-screen video. The touchpad and keyboard warmed to only 81 degrees and 83 degrees, respectively. Only the underside of the laptop breached our 95-degree comfort threshold, hitting 96 degrees.
The IdeaPad 330 is an ultra-affordable laptop with a big, 15.6-inch display, a very good keyboard, and a solid, durable chassis. Which may be enough for some folks, however the IdeaPad 330 has too many shortcomings – including short battery life, a dull display, and below-par performance – for it to earn our outright recommendation.
It might be easy to miss these issues if there weren’t better options available in the market. But some similarly priced laptops, just like the Acer Aspire E 15 ($379), simply offer more for the cash. It is also worth considering the Acer Swift 1, which has a smaller, 14-inch display but long battery life, an aluminum chassis and a significantly better webcam.
Still, if you will have lower than $300 to spend, the IdeaPad 330 is a good option — as long as you retain your expectations in check.
Credit: Laptop Mag