Lenovo M57e

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The Lenovo M57 eco is a small form-factor desktop that is promoted by the company as energy efficient. We found it to be a capable and powerful office performer for its size, but with limited upgrade options.

Test procedure
To test the M57 we put it through PCMark Vantage and Sandra Lite which provides us with our hard-drive performance scores. Aside from raw performance, we also consider a number of physical design issues.

PCMark assesses the machine's overall performance with specific scores given for a variety of common types of task. We also use Sandra Pro to give some specific figures on processor, memory and drive performance. Usability issues include location (and type) of ports and buttons as well as image quality (where monitors are provided) and additional software utilities.

Construction elements of interest are case material quality and ease of opening for maintenance and upgrades.

Design and features
The M57 is a small form-factor desktop with proportions similar to a full size ThinkCentre and can be set either vertically or horizontally. As with all ThinkCentres it is enclosed in a modest black case suggesting the PC's functional nature. Despite its diminutive size, the M57 sports an Intel Core 2 Duo E8200 processor running at 2.66GHz, with 2GB of RAM, a Seagate Barracuda 250GB HDD and an Hitachi-LG DVD recorder.

On opening the box, the first thing we noticed is how tightly everything is packed in. There is even a sawn-off heat-sink — sacrificed to make room for the optical drive. It's understandable if you're worried about heat dissipation in this environment, but the external power supply significantly reduces heat build up inside the case ensuring that the single extractor fan keeps this little computer running smoothly.

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The fan draws air from the front of the machine directly across the CPU heat-sink and the surface of the optical drive. Parts are attached to both the lid and base of the case. Out of necessity, the cables are run very neatly between locations and are remarkably unobtrusive when attempting to remove drives or RAM. (The RAM, incidentally, is the smaller form normally found in notebooks — and filled one of two available slots.)

In general, the M57 displays all the fine engineering one would expect of a ThinkCentre. Remarkably the full-sized optical drive is crammed into the case and only occupies a quarter of the case volume!

The front panel bears audio-in/out and two USB ports. At the rear is line-in, microphone and headphone jacks and four more USB ports. Additionally there is a gigabyte network port, 9-pin serial port and both VGA and DVI monitor outputs.

Like the main box, the keyboard and mouse are stunningly boring to look at — they're black and square, enough said. Oh and they work just fine. No monitor was provided with this machine.

The M57 was supplied with Windows Vista Business, a range of Lenovo recovery tools and administrative tools as well as Roxio multimedia software and a trial version of Norton Internet Security.

The Lenovo tools includes ThinkVantage Productivity Centre, which is essentially a menu providing access to standard Windows tools, as well as Lenovo and third-party applications such as Roxio and Norton IS. One of the Lenovo tools is Diskeeper which simplifies backup and defragmentation operations. With this you can set disk defragmentation to occur automatically when it's needed, at a particular time, or when the system is idle and the screensaver kicks in. ThinkCentre machines also have a recovery partition which is readily accessible at boot time allowing for a factory reset of the machine in case things go completely pear-shaped.

Performance

Benchmark Test Score
PCMark Vantage Score 3239
Memory 686
TV & Movies 939
Gaming 1416
Music 3803
Communications 3440
Productivity 3660
HDD 3246
Sandra Pro Lite 11.17 Processor, Arithmetic 24899MIPS ; 19336MFLOPS
Processor, Multimedia 147640 it/s ; 79858 it/s
File System 78MB/s ; 11ms
Memory Bandwidth 5549MB/s

Verdict
We recorded the following Windows Experience Index (WEI) scores: Processor, 5.5; Memory, 4.9; Graphics, 3.1; Gaming graphics, 3.2; and Hard drive, 5.9. While the graphics score is by no means spectacular, this machine is more than adequate to run high-end graphics applications.

Memory performance is good and despite the machine's size, up to 4GB can be installed. Hard drive performance is excellent and CPU performance is also very good — particularly for such a compact machine with limited space for cooling systems. PCMark and Sandra benchmarks reaffirm the WEI scores. This machine performs very well except with advanced graphics functions.

Lenovo ThinkCentres provide you with high quality engineering and systems management. Efficiency in the office is clearly the overriding mindset of the ThinkCentre's designers. While you may not have trouble finding a PC with power and performance to match the M57 at a price lower than $1,249, you will have a harder job finding a small form-factor machine that also matches the M57 in terms of build quality and recovery software. The Lenovo ThinkCentre also comes with a three-year warranty.

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