Lenovo's first vPro-equipped desktop is smart looking, well designed and packs a lot of grunt. While there is not much room for expansion, the ThinkCentre M55p is already well equipped and the small form factor will be well received in a space conscious office.
vPro is Intel's answer to desktop asset and remote access management for IT administrators. At the moment, it's still in its infancy and there are a lot of features that Intel has been advertising which are not yet available such as network security (For more information on vPro, take a look on our recent review on the vPro-equipped Optima WorkPro X860).
How we tested
The ThinkCentre M55p is an Intel Core 2 Duo 1.8GHz machine with 1GB of RAM and an 80GB hard disk. Priced at AU$1,499, this could be seen as being a little on the expensive side considering we have just reviewed the WorkPro X860 which had Core 2 Duo running at 2.1GHz with 1GB RAM, 320GB hard disk and a GeForce 6600 video card for only AU$100 more.
We tested the vPro features using Microsoft Systems Management Server (SMS) SP1 with the Intel AMT plug-in for vPro management running on an Acer Aspire 3620 Laptop.
While the Optima WorkPro X860 has much better value on paper, Lenovo offers value in a slightly different way. The design of the PC itself is exceptional. At the back is a Kensington lock mount point which also doubles as an automatic locking mechanism preventing the cover from opening while the Kensington lock is in place. Inside the case, everything is cleverly packed in tightly. The drives are easily serviced by swivelling the drive cage out and everything is connected via neat SATA cables and can be removed without tools. It comes in a small form factor housing which is designed primarily to sit flat on your desk with the monitor on top. The housing is a matte black finish, has sharp edges and is very industrial ... a smart looking machine in our opinion.
The other value-add is all the recovery and backup software which Lenovo and IBM are known for providing with their PCs. Disaster recovery is included as part of the package and very easy to use.
The machine is well designed and easy to service, however due to the nature of the small form factor case, there is absolutely no room for hard drive expansion and no spare SATA sockets. There is one free slot for extra RAM, one PCI-Express slot and one standard PCI slot for expansion cards. This limits its use to a run-of-the-mill office PC.
|[Click to enlarge]
Viewing hardware information
through the vPro console.
With vPro included as part of the package, this is a welcome addition for administrators that want to streamline their asset tracking and monitoring capabilities. vPro can be used through management software such as Microsoft SMS and Altiris Management Suite or through the Web interface which each vPro machine should have. You can monitor what hardware is currently in the machine as well as if anything is faulty or failing. You can also reboot the machine to boot off another device or even off a disk image sitting on a server.
Some vPro machines have the ability to redirect the console in certain situations, such as to make changes in the BIOS. Unfortunately, unlike server remote management systems, vPro cannot redirect keyboard, video and mouse in a graphical environment. It can be done instead through software agents and vPro can then complement this functionality with hardware level control. An example of this includes powering up the machine for nightly backups or a software update and then powering down again afterwards.
Overall, the ThinkCentre M55p is a smart looking, well designed machine that packs a lot of grunt. While there is not much room for expansion, it is already well equipped and the small form factor will be well received in a space conscious office. It might be perceived as being on the expensive side, but if the added software and design aspects bring value to how you plan to use it then this machine is a good place to start.
|Product||Lenovo ThinkCentre M55p (8808-9HA)|
|Contact||1300 557 073|
|Good number of USB ports but only one VGA port and networking.|
|Fast processor with plenty of RAM. Small form factor design limits expansion and use.|
|Good package, possibly a little bit expensive if you do not see all the included features as useful value-added additions.|
|Limited on-site warranty. Three year parts and labour. Phone support is available. Knowledgebase, FAQs and trouble shooters are all available online.|