Lenovo’s latest AMD-powered IdeaPad is pitched at students with a parent-friendly price, but will it last the distance? Here’s my full video and text review.
Battery life is good for the price
More ports than you might expect
Perfectly suitable for everday student work
Plastic build feels cheap
Display isn’t great
Not a good match for students doing intensive multimedia or game dev work
Lenovo’s latest update to its IdeaPad line incorporates AMD’s new(ish) Ryzen 3 7320 CPUs underneath its plastic frame. The pitch here is that this makes for a more affordable everyday laptop, especially for the education market. Students need laptops even if they’re not doing programming tasks, and the Ryzen 3 7320 is meant to deliver superior processing performance and battery endurance within its price bracket.
It’s a bold claim, and it’s one that the IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 mostly lives up to. It’s still a basic student laptop of course, so your teenager’s probably not going to get too excited by it if they actually wanted a gaming laptop. You’re still very much just getting what you pay for.
IdeaPad 1 Gen 7: Design
The IdeaPad 1 Gen 7’s design practically screams “student” to me, because so many of these devices are built in basically the same way with the same considerations in mind. It comes in a single colour – “Cloud Grey” – with a plastic frame that keeps the weight down, but at the cost of some rigidity.
For the education market that does mean it won’t warp your kid’s spine when it’s in their backpack, but if they’re the clumsy type it might not last the distance.
The keyboard is nicely built, though aesthetically I can’t say I love the rounded teardrop shape of each key. I touchtype, so that’s a very minor complaint.
More problematic to my eyes is the display screen. It’s a 14 inch 1366×768 Twisted Nematic Screen, about average for this price but not great to look at except direct on. You really don’t have to move much out of frame for its backlighting to blow out any image on the display.
One nice feature here is the array of connection ports. Many cheap laptops leave you wanting, but I was impressed with the IdeaPad 1 Gen 7’s inclusion of USB-A, full HDMI, USB-C 3.2 Gen 1 and combo headphone/mic on the left and USB-A and card reader on the right.
It would have been even nicer if that USB-C port supported power delivery for more flexible recharging, but I guess you can’t have everything.
IdeaPad 1 Gen 7: Performance
The IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 sells in Australia in a single configuration with an AMD Ryzen 3 7320U CPU, 8GB of RAM and 128GB M.2 NVMe SSD for storage. Bear in mind here that you won’t see that full 128GB of storage on the device, as Windows 11 Home 64 will take its chunk.
Pleasingly there’s only a tiny quantity of pre-installed trial apps — McAfee, mostly – taking up other space. You should absolutely use some form of anti-virus on a system like this, but it doesn’t have to be the one that the vendor’s taken money to pre-include, just as a tip.
So how does the AMD Ryzen 3 7320 perform? The answer is quite well for most everyday student tasks. Here’s a quick rundown of its benchmark performance across multiple popular benchmarks:
|PC Mark 10
|3DMark Time Spy
|Cinebench R23 Multi Core
|Cinebench R23 Single Core
|Lenovo IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 (AMD Ryzen 3 7320)
The PCMark result is slightly higher than I’ve seen in comparably priced laptops of late, though it’s not a true processing powerhouse – and you shouldn’t expect that at this price point.
If your student (or you) are salivating at the idea of an AMD-based laptop on the grounds of gaming power, you’re going to hit a wall pretty hard unless you’re happy running games at fairly low resolutions and frame rates. For some parents, of course, that could be an absolute boon if they want homework done rather than games played.
In more everyday use scenarios, I’ve been perfectly happy with the IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 for essential web browsing, research, document creation and the like. Yes, I could pretty easily make it grind if I tried more intense tasks, and that does rather point out where specifically this laptop sits if you’re looking at it in an education context. If you’re looking for an everyday system, this will do just fine.
If you’re after something with more grunt to handle multimedia tasks, more intense programming or video editing, it’ll be capable of running those apps, but rather slowly. The practical reality there is that you’re going to have to spend that little bit more to be happy here.
IdeaPad 1 Gen 7: Battery
The IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 comes with a 65W included pin style charger; as noted before it’d be nice if it also supported USB-C recharging if only to keep it even more mobile. As it is, you may want to pack the charger into a backpack before each school day.
Lenovo’s claims for its battery is that it can last for up 14 hours video streaming with a 1080p video. That’s more than enough for most people in a given day if it pans out, but “up to” figures are notoriously rubbery, so I tested it myself.
It’s especially important because battery endurance will vary so widely depending on whether you’re just idly doomscrolling or running intensive applications. It’s always going to be a spectrum of battery life, not just one single figure, and manufacturers will always paint a best case scenario.
To put the The IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 to the test, I ran it through PC Mark 10’s gaming test – because it’s brutal, not because this is a gaming PC – as well as a local 1080p video looping test to see where its battery life ranges sit. Here’s how those figures compare:
|PC Mark 10 Gaming Battery Test (Minutes)
|Local 1080p Video Battery Test (Minutes)
|Lenovo IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 (AMD Ryzen 3 7320)
There’s a fair gap between the 9.3 hours I got on video and Lenovo’s “up to” 14 hour claim, though they did dip the brightness more than I did for their test. That’s still enough soft-to-regular usage for most folks, though the gaming battery test does show how quickly it can run out of juice if you hit it hard, conking out before 3 hours was up.
Here’s the context to bear in mind, however. It doesn’t quite live up to Lenovo’s claims, but it’s very rare for me to come across a laptop that does, and essentially unheard of to do so in the lower price tiers. For the price Lenovo asks, the battery life of the IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 is actually pretty decent, maybe even good depending on how heavily you push it.
IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 Verdict: Good value, but not exciting
There’s a market for exciting laptops that push the boundaries, whether that’s thin and light executive machines, heavy duty gaming rigs or even wacky concept laptops with go-faster-fins and stripes. OK, maybe not that last one.
The IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 doesn’t fit into that category. It’s absolutely an everyday machine, powered by an everyday processor. That’s fine for what it is, and certainly worth your money if you need an everyday laptop.
IdeaPad 1 Gen 7: Pricing
The IdeaPad 1 Gen 7 retails in Australia officially at the time of writing for around $629, although I have seen it cheaper here and there.
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