Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z review

10 Aug 2010

A business all-in-one with a unique upgradeable design, top performance and a very reasonable price

Price when reviewed: 
888(£895 inc VAT)
5

Lenovo’s business PCs always boast a party trick or two when it comes to getting to the internals, but the cramped confines of an all-in-one represent another challenge entirely. At best we’ve seen hatches for upgrading the RAM, but few manufacturers even go that far; it’s mostly a case of what you see is what you’re stuck with.

The solution, according to Lenovo’s ThinkCentre M90z, is to make the whole back panel of the machine removable. Two latches at the base free the panel from its housing and reveal the ingenuity required to build such an awkwardly shaped system. The processor cooler and power supply are fixed, but there’s a spare RAM slot next to the installed 2GB module, and both the desktop hard disk and slimline optical drive can be easily slid out of their bays without tools. Replacements can be installed in a matter of minutes.

Lenovo ThinkCentre M90z

Then there’s the choice of optional ergonomic stands: our sample came with a sturdy height-adjustable stand, complete with a bar on the back for easy lifting and lowering through an impressive 110mm, but you could also opt for the standard picture frame-style hinge or an extendable wall-mount arm. It means the M90z will fit on a busy office desk just as easily as a reception desk or a boardroom wall. Few all-in-ones can boast such flexibility.

The sturdy base and stand hold up a frame that’s typical Lenovo: solid, black and built to last, with little time wasted on such niceties as looks. It certainly wouldn’t get lucky in a nightclub of VAIOs and iMacs, but that’s not what the ThinkCentre line tries to do; instead its ease of upgrade and build quality put any concerns about blandness firmly in their place.

The M90z follows the current trend towards 23in Full HD screens, and for the intended office environment the quality is perfectly good. A matte finish means you don’t have to worry about reflections, this panel will be fine under fluorescent lights. And with an even 250cd/m[sup]2[/sup] backlight and no visible backlight bleed, it sailed through our DisplayMate tests. It does lack a bit of punch and colour, but then this isn’t meant for watching movies. There is a set of stereo speakers built in, and they’re loud enough for the audio they’ll likely be tasked with.

Details

Price ex VAT £756
Price inc VAT £888
Overall rating 5
Performance 5
Features & Design 5
Value for Money 5

Warranty

Warranty 3yr on-site

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity 250
RAM capacity 2.00GB
Screen size 23.0in

Processor

CPU family Intel Core i5
CPU nominal frequency 3.20GHz

Motherboard

Wired adapter speed 1,000Mbits/sec

Memory

Memory type DDR3
Memory sockets free 1
Memory sockets total 2

Graphics card

3D performance setting Low
DisplayPort outputs 1

Drives

Optical disc technology DVD writer

Monitor

Resolution screen horizontal 1,920
Resolution screen vertical 1,080
Resolution 1920 x 1080
Contrast ratio 1,000:1
Screen brightness 250cd/m2

Case

Case format All-in-one

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream) 6
Modem no
3.5mm audio jacks 2

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboard Wired Lenovo mouse and keyboard

Operating system and software

OS family Windows 7
Software supplied Lenovo ThinkVantage Suite

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score 1.94
Office application benchmark score 1.88
2D graphics application benchmark score 1.85
Encoding application benchmark score 1.79
Multitasking application benchmark score 2.23
3D performance (crysis) low settings 22fps
3D performance setting Low