Our first run in with one of the three new cloud gaming-focused Chromebooks went very well, making the Acer Chromebook 516 GE one of my absolute favorite laptops of the year at this point. Lenovo’s contribution to this slightly-niche Chromebook space is the Ideapad Gaming Chromebook and it offers much of the same stuff that makes Acer’s 516 GE such an exceptional Chromebook, so we’ve been pretty excited to get this one in the office and see what it’s made of.
Continuing a winning formula
Much like the Acer Chromebook 516 GE, the Lenovo Ideapad Gaming Chromebook is a 16-inch, non-touch Chromebook that has a QHD screen that is bright, sharp, and refreshes at a 120Hz clip to make things smooth as silk for basically anything you do on the device. While 120Hz is very nice to have while playing games on GeForce NOW, it also makes the UI look great, too.
While I’d say the screen on this device is very similar to the Acer 516 GE, one place I can immediately tell that Lenovo’s take is better is in the keyboard. Lenovo makes great keyboards, and this one is no exception. With RGB backlilghting, great travel and solid click, I can tell early on that this will be a great keyboard to type on long-term.
The speakers above that keyboard are solid and full as well, and I suspect that they’ll do just fine while watching video content or in the middle of a heated match of Apex Legends. Under the keyboard is a non-glass trackpad that – so far – feels decent to use. Port selection is nice, too, with 2 USB Type C ports, 2 USB Type A ports, a microSD card slot, headphone/mic jack and a Kensington lock. I’d prefer an HDMI port over that second USB Type A if I had to choose, but it feels like there is room have it in addition to the current ports. I’m not sure why it was left out of the equation.
Inside, this Chromebook comes in either the Core i3-1215U or Core i5-1235U variants, with 8GB of RAM on both configurations and 128GB of eMMC storage for the Core i3 model and 256GB of NVMe storage on the pricier Core i5 version. Apart from the processor differences and storage amounts, both variations get all the same features across the board. Unless you are looking to leverage Steam games when they come out of beta in 2023, the Core i3 model will be plenty fast and will save you a ton at the register.
Availability and pricing
Up until today, only the Core i3 model was available via Walmart, but it looks like the model we have in the office is now available for purchase from Lenovo as well. The Core i3 model is $399 over at Walmart and is currently out of stock. The Core i5 variant is $799 at Lenovo and can be purchased right now if you want it.
My initial impressions would tell you to wait for the $399 model if possible and if eventual, local Steam gaming isn’t on the radar for you. You’ll get a wild amount of value out of this configuration at this price, and I’m not sure I can tell you to go get the Core i5 model at this point with the rather-excellent Acer Chromebook 516 GE being available at Best Buy right now for an MSRP of $649.
That being said, I haven’t yet begun my review process yet. Perhaps the stellar keyboard and number pad addition will be enough to sway me over to the Lenovo side of this gaming Chromebook battle. I can tell you one thing: it’ll need to be very good to do so. Acer’s 516 GE really impressed me, and it will take a lot to steal that away.