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Although the motherboard supports dual channel memory configuration, only a single 512MB stick of memory is included, so it is only running in single channel mode – theoretically halving memory bandwidth. The more systems I look at (both desktop and notebook) I’m finding this is a common occurrence. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I would generally suggest 1GB of system memory anyway. So a cheap and dirty upgrade would be to stick in another 512MB of memory to enable dual channel mode, and double your quota. I’d sooner see this than a system with two 256MB modules, crippling upgrade potential.
The processor included is a single core Pentium 4 630, which runs at 3GHz. By today’s standards, this is considered an entry-level processor – but at least it’s not a Celeron. The optical drive is a combo CD-RW, DVD reader which is a little disappointing as there is only one 5.25in bay. So if you want to write DVDs you’ll either have to buy a USB drive, or replace this drive entirely. Considering the hard disk is only 80GB, backing up to DVD would be a particularly useful way of saving space if you happen to be a heavy downloader. As this is pitched towards small offices, the hope is that there will be a NAS box of sorts for main file storage. thus negating this problem.
A keyboard and mouse are included and they aren’t bad at all. The keyboard is the sort of quality you would expect to see from an IBM keyboard. I’m sure there are still people out there holding on to their 10 year old IBM keyboards, as they used to be some of the best ever built. I’d certainly be happy typing away on it for quite a few hours. The mouse is optical, which is unexpected – we usually see ball mice thrown in at this price point.
The installed software is what we have come to expect from Lenovo, with a boot option for making system backups, restoring individual files and backups, or even returning to the factory defaults. Windows XP Home is included, as well as a plethora of other applications – notably Symantec Internet Security and Intervideo WinDVD. Disappointingly, no office suite was thrown in.
We tested this desktop using our usual set of benchmarks – SYSmark 2004 SE and PCMark 2005. As this is in a similar price bracket, we decided to compare this to the hp Compaq Presario SR1719UK.
SYSmark paints a pretty good picture of the performance of this machine, with 157 SYSmarks, compared to the 140 on the hp. PCMark shows a similar 10-15 per cent gap, despite the Lenovo scoring 0 in the graphics portion of the testing. When you break down the scores however, it is more interesting to see how PCMark came to the overall score. The hard drive performance on the hp was considerably better, as was the memory performance thanks the superior memory controller on the AMD processor. But what made up the difference was the Pentium 4 processor, possibly thanks to HyperThreading technology which helped pull it ahead. So in a lot of situations that aren’t so CPU intensive, the hp machine could be faster.
This is a great machine for office use, or anyone that wants a PC solely for work. However, if you regard yourself as a power user in any respect – that means burning DVDs, playing games or storing huge downloads, this really isn’t what you are looking for. That said, considering the price of only £418.19 including VAT, the close to silent operation and the excellent backup and restore functions – I’d seriously consider kitting out a small office with these Lenovo machines.