Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 review: Chrome OS ultraportable on a budget

Lenovo's slimline Chromebook makes up for its performance limitations with a decent screen and impressive stamina

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 on the ITPro background
(Image: © Future)

IT Pro Verdict


  • +

    Lightweight and compact design

  • +

    Bright and very usable screen

  • +

    Wi-Fi 6E connectivity

  • +

    Nearly 12 hours of battery life


  • -

    Underwhelming performance from Core i3 CPU

  • -

    Keyboard and touchpad show room for improvement

Buying any budget Chromebook is a case of making compromises. If you're spending £400 or less per laptop, you're not going to get the best screen, great performance, epic battery life, and premium build quality. In fact, there's a good chance you won't get any of the above. With the Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook, you can look forward to a strong overall specification, a display that's better than the average, and more stamina than most of its rivals, but there are compromises that you're going to have to make elsewhere. In many respects, it's a fine, compact, and lightweight Chromebook that's ideal for life on the go, but if you're looking for high-end ergonomics or performance, it might not be the one for you.

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14: Design

The clear priority with the IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook's design was clearly to keep the size and the weight down as much as possible within a cost-effective and mostly plastic chassis. It measures just 324.4 x 216.2mm on the desk and stands 19.3mm tall at its thickest point. In use, it feels smaller than your average 14-inch laptop, particularly front to back, and at 1.5Kg it's not going to weigh any bag or backpack down. 

It's finished in what Lenovo calls a 'storm grey' metallic, but only the lid is aluminum, with the rest a still very solid feeling plastic. There's barely any flex or give anywhere on the body, with the only points of interest the speaker grills on the underside, towards the front, and vents behind the hinge and on the base towards the rear. It's virtually silent in operation, not even making any significant noise when pushed with more demanding apps.

Connectivity is slightly disappointing. Instead of the usual pair of USB Type-C ports, we get a single USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type C on the left-hand side, along with one USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A on either side. The lack of any 10Gbps connectivity for faster storage isn't as much of an issue on a Chromebook as it would be on a Windows laptop, but the single Type-C port will be out of action every time the IdeaPad Slim 3i is charging. Still, there's some compensation in the HDMI 1.4 output, not to mention the wireless connectivity. With both Wi-Fi 6E and Bluetooth 5.1, it's one area where the IdeaPad Slim 3i is bang up to date.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 on a desk

(Image credit: Future)

There's a price to pay for this Chromebook's compact size, and that's the touchpad. Measuring just 10.5 x 6.2cm, it doesn't give you a whole lot of space to move around in, though it's sensitive enough to be usable and the click mechanism works fine. The keyboard, meanwhile, will be a matter of taste. The layout makes the most of the horizontal space and there's a decent amount of travel, but I found the action weirdly inconsistent, with some keys tighter and having a little more click to them than others. Again, though, there are plus points; backlit keys don't come as standard on every Chromebook for this kind of money.

It's worth noting that you'll find the IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 sold as both a standard Chromebook and a Chromebook Plus model. If you find the latter at a similar price point it's worth buying just for the additional Chromebook Plus features and perks, though the vanilla version should be eligible for a Chromebook Plus upgrade. We say should, because our test model hasn't been upgraded several months after the launch of Chromebook Plus, despite appearing on Google's eligibility list.

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14: Display

The Display is another area where the Slim 3i Chromebook exceeds expectations. Lenovo claims a 300cd/m2 maximum brightness, but in tests it reached 329cd/m2. And while its color palette won't give a MacBook Air or Microsoft Surface Pro any serious competition, with sRGB coverage of just 61%, image quality looks – subjectively – pretty good. Whether browsing the Web, streaming video or working in productivity apps, it doesn't look like a second-rate screen, merely one you wouldn't want to use for serious image-editing or video work. 

Audio isn't too shabby, either. If you're anticipating deep bass and a wide sound stage then you're going to be underwhelmed, but the MaxxAudio branded sound system is perfectly acceptable at low volumes for background music, streaming video, voice chats, and Google Meet or Teams meetings, and the same goes for the built-in microphone array. Detail from the 1080p webcam could be sharper, but images look well-exposed even in mixed or artificial lighting, and the built-in privacy shutter is an added bonus.   

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14: Performance

The IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook uses one of the more unusual CPUs in Intel's current line-up, the Alder-Lake Core i3 N305. Unlike other Core i3 processors it's an eight-core CPU, but those eight cores are all Efficient cores rather than the Performance cores you'd see on even the basic Core i3-1305U. Those cores will reach speeds of up to 3.8GHz with a 15W TDP, but even so, you're not going to get the same performance you might expect from other Core i3 processors. The N305 performs more like a supercharged Pentium Gold.

The Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14

(Image credit: Future)

You can see this reflected in our benchmark results. Across Geekbench 6 and the browser-based Jetstream and Basemark benchmarks, the IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 falls behind the Acer Chromebook Plus 514, with its quad-core Ryzen 7 7320C CPU, and it's even further behind the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 with its Core i3-1215U. In Geekbench 6, it scores 913 in the single-core tests and 2849 in the multi-core tests. The Chromebook Plus 514 scores 1169 and 3571, while the Chromebook Plus CX34 scores 1791 and 5172. The difference is even more pronounced in graphically demanding benchmarks. Where the Chromebook Plus 514 scores 938.08 in the Basemark 3.0 Web benchmark, the IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 scores just 859.62.


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This should have some impact on your decision if you plan to run a lot of Android apps or Linux apps on your Chromebook, but it's not such a deal breaker if you're mostly using web-based apps. With 8GB of RAM to back it up, the N305 is perfectly capable of handling a couple of browser windows with a dozen tabs open in each, or of running all your Google Workspace productivity apps in separate windows and cutting and pasting text and images between them. It's slower than more powerful Chromebook Plus Chromebooks, but it doesn't actually feel slow. 

One upside of having a less performant but energy-efficient CPU is extended battery life. Playing 1080p video on a loop with the screen brightness set to 170cd/m2, the IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 kept on going for 11 hours and 37 minutes before running out of puff, beating the Acer Chromebook Plus 514 by nearly three hours and the Asus Chromebook Plus CX34 by even more. You can comfortably get a day's work polished off without reaching for the charger.

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14: Is it worth it?


The Acer Chromebook Plus 515 on the ITPro background

(Image credit: Acer Press Office)

How to buy a Chromebook for business

The IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 is going to make a lot of sense for some cost-conscious buyers. It's small, light, and very portable, and the screen, wireless connectivity, audio, and battery life are all way beyond most Chromebooks you will find for this kind of money. The ergonomics aren't top-notch, but not in any way that seriously hampers usability, and performance will be good enough for most practical scenarios. 

If you're looking for a primary device for a small business or specific user, then you might want something with a bigger screen, a better keyboard, and more horsepower on tap – something like the Acer Chromebook Plus 515, the Chromebook Vibe CX3401 Flex or if budgets permit, the Acer Chromebook Spin 714, but as a secondary device for use while out and about, the IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 offers plenty of value.

Lenovo IdeaPad Slim 3i Chromebook 14 specifications

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Processor Intel Core i3 N305
Display14in, 16:9, 1920 x 1080
Ports1x USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C, 1x USB 3.2 Gen 1 Type A, 1x HDMI 1.4, 3.5mm audio Connectivity Wi-Fi 6E, Bluetooth 5
Stuart Andrews

Stuart has been writing about technology for over 25 years, focusing on PC hardware, enterprise technology, education tech, cloud services and video games. Along the way he’s worked extensively with Windows, MacOS, Linux, Android and Chrome OS devices, and tested everything from laptops to laser printers, graphics cards to gaming headsets.

He’s then written about all this stuff – and more – for outlets, including PC Pro, IT Pro, Expert Reviews and The Sunday Times. He’s also written and edited books on Windows, video games and Scratch programming for younger coders. When he’s not fiddling with tech or playing games, you’ll find him working in the garden, walking, reading or watching films.

You can follow Stuart on Twitter at @SATAndrews