Lenovo ThinkCentre A58 review

16 Nov 2009

Lenovo's ingenious engineering is partnered with decent components for a tempting and practical business system

Price when reviewed: 
437(£382 inc VAT)
5

Any Lenovo system that enters the PC Pro Labs has a lot to live up to: its last desktop PC, the ThinkCentre M58, ascended to the top of the A List and has kept its place for almost a year.

The new A58 gets off to a good start by offering a roster of familiar Lenovo features, including a chassis that’s the same size as the M58 – and just as well built. It also boasts the same ingenious interior design that allows for easy access to all of the major components.

Peel back the lid and you’ll see what we mean: the hard disk sits in a hinged carriage and can easily be removed, and the entire front panel – including the DVD writer – tilts forward to reveal tool-free access throughout.

A single button allows for the optical drive to be slid out and replaced, and this enables access to the pair of DIMM sockets, one of which is free. Colour-coded ports litter the motherboard to make navigation simple, even for inexperienced IT staff.

Yet more features should continue to endear the A58 to IT managers. A tamper detection switch keeps watch for intruders; the front panel’s pair of USB ports can be disabled; and both the bottom and side of the case are equipped with rubber feet, allowing the system to be positioned either horizontally or vertically. The matte finish also ensures that scratches and scuffs aren’t a problem, either.

The A58’s specification isn’t as impressive as that of the quad-core M58 but, if you’ve only got office tasks to worry about, it should provide ample power. The 2.6GHz Intel Pentium Dual-Core E5300 processor and 2GB of RAM scored a respectable 1.14 in our benchmarks, with the 320GB hard disk offering plenty of storage space.

An integrated Intel GPU means that intensive graphical work is out of the question, but empty PCI Express x16 and PCI slots could accommodate a low-profile graphics card should the need arise.

Lenovo ThinkCentre A58 interior

The Pentium Dual-Core CPU is also one of the most frugal in Intel’s range, boasting a TDP of 65W. It’s good news for IT managers watching energy consumption, and we recorded an idle power draw of 82W and just 97W at peak – among the lowest we’ve seen from a fully-fledged desktop machine.

Sitting alongside this decent specification is Windows 7 Professional, which can be downgraded to Windows XP Professional or Windows Vista Business, and a range of Lenovo’s ThinkCentre software. The selection isn’t as extensive as is included on Lenovo’s laptops, stretching to only a few proprietary tools amid links to many services that are already easily available through the Windows Control Panel.

Lenovo’s own applications, meanwhile, offer basic data recovery and backup abilities, as well as disc creation and burning, but nothing groundbreaking. When compared to the extensive suite of software that’s included with the average ThinkPad notebook, it’s a bit of a disappointment.

The standard one-year warranty isn’t generous either. If you’d like more protection, then Lenovo provides a three year on-site repair warranty, with next business day service, for an additional £48 exc VAT.

It’s a fantastic price and also less than half of the £101 that HP demands for the same service on any of its range of business PCs. Even Lenovo’s four-year warranty, at £79, costs less than HP’s three-year service.

Add the three-year warranty to the £332 base price and, at £380, Lenovo’s latest is still cheaper than the £475 M58. It may not have the quad core power of its predecessor (which seems like overkill, anyway) but it’s just as versatile and well-built – and for these reasons it replaces the M58 at the top of the A List.

Details

Price ex VAT £380
Price inc VAT £437
Overall rating 5
Performance 3
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 320
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Screen size N/A

Processor

CPU family Intel Pentium
CPU nominal frequency 2.33GHz
CPU overclocked frequency N/A
Processor socket LGA 775
HSF (heatsink-fan) Lenovo proprietary

Motherboard

Motherboard Lenovo proprietary
Conventional PCI slots free 1
Conventional PCI slots total 1
PCI-E x16 slots free 1
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x8 slots free 0
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots free 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots free 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0
Internal SATA connectors 2
Internal floppy connectors 1
Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR2
Memory sockets free 1
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

Graphics card Intel X4500
Multiple SLI/CrossFire cards? no
3D performance setting N/A
Graphics chipset Intel X4500
Graphics card RAM 512MB
DVI-I outputs 0
HDMI outputs 0
VGA (D-SUB) outputs 1
DisplayPort outputs 0
Number of graphics cards 0

Hard disk

Hard disk Western Digital Caviar Blue
Capacity 320GB
Hard disk usable capacity 292GB
Internal disk interface SATA/300
Spindle speed 7,200RPM
Cache size 16MB
Hard disk 2 make and model N/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacity N/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speed N/A
Hard disk 2 cache size N/A
Hard disk 3 make and model N/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacity N/A
Hard disk 4 make and model N/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacity N/A

Drives

Optical drive Lite-On DH-16A6S
Optical disc technology DVD writer
Optical disk 2 make and model N/A
Optical disk 3 make and model N/A

Monitor

Monitor make and model N/A
Resolution screen horizontal N/A
Resolution screen vertical N/A
Resolution N/A x N/A
Pixel response time N/A
Contrast ratio N/A
Screen brightness N/A
DVI inputs N/A
HDMI inputs N/A
VGA inputs N/A
DisplayPort inputs N/A

Additional Peripherals

Speakers N/A
Speaker type N/A
Sound card Realtek HD Audio
Peripherals N/A

Case

Chassis N/A
Case format Micro ATX
Dimensions 312 x 358 x 101mm (WDH)

Power supply

Power supply Lite-On PS-5281-01VF
Power supply rating 280W

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays 0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
PS/2 mouse port yes
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports 0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports 0
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 3

Front ports

Front panel USB ports 2
Front panel memory card reader no

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard N/A

Operating system and software

OS family Windows Vista
Software supplied Lenovo ThinkVantage Suite

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 82W
Peak power consumption 97W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.14
Office application benchmark score 1.12
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.33
Encoding application benchmark score 1.08
Multitasking application benchmark score 1.03
3D performance (crysis) low settings N/A
3D performance setting N/A