Lenovo IdeaCentre C300 Review: Performance and Conclusion

November 4, 2009 by Kevin O'Brien Reads (14,896)

Performance
System performance was under most desktops since at its core it is running off the Intel Atom processor, with specs matching most netbooks. Users looking for a little more power though can spend roughly 50 dollars extra at the time of this review to significantly increase the speed and features of their system. While this system includes the Intel Atom 230, 3GB of RAM, a 320GB HD, and the GMA 950 processor, the step up gets you the dual-core Intel Atom 330, 4GB of ram, a 640GB HD, and dedicated ATI 4530 graphics with 512MB of VRAM. That is a huge jump for fifty dollars, and you even get a boost from Home Basic to Home Premium, which also means you get a free upgrade to Windows 7.

For average day-to-day use the system felt quick for browsing the web, typing documents, or using instant messaging software. If you started to stress with it streaming video or even iTunes, you could tell there was less processing power to tap into than other full-size systems. One redeeming factor that helped lessen the sluggish feel of the system though was a 3.5-inch 7200RPM drive, instead of slower 2.5-inch 5400RPM notebook drives seen in other budget all-in-one systems.

Note: We compare single-core Atom nettops with their netbook brethren, since the performance is far closer than comparing them to even low-end traditional desktops.

wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):

Notebook / CPU wPrime 32M time
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.030s
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (Intel Atom N280 @ 1.66GHz) 116.421s
Lenovo IdeaCentre C300 (1.6GHz Intel Atom 230, Intel GMA 950) *desktop 116.687s
eMachines EZ1601-01 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.6GHz) *desktop
122.281s
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 123.281s
Samsung N110 (Intel Atom N270 @ 1.60GHz) 123.422s
Dell Latitude 2100 (Intel Atom @ 1.60GHz) 124.062s

PCMark05 measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):

Notebook PCMark05 Score
Lenovo IdeaCentre C300 (1.6GHz Intel Atom 230, Intel GMA 950) *desktop 1605 PCMarks
Toshiba mini NB205 (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1538 PCMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 1535 PCMarks
Samsung N110 (1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, Intel GMA 950) 1511 PCMarks
eMachines EZ1601-01 (1.6GHz Intel Atom N270, Intel GMA 950) *desktop 1509 PCMarks
Samsung NC20 (1.30GHz VIA Nano ULV U2250, VIA Chrome9 HC3) 1441 PCMarks
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 1437 PCMarks

3DMark06 measures overall graphics subsystem performance:

Notebook 3DMark06 Score
Lenovo IdeaCentre C300 (1.6GHz Intel Atom 230, Intel GMA 950) *desktop 155 3DMarks
Samsung NC20 (1.30GHz VIA Nano ULV U2250, VIA Chrome9 HC3) 151 3DMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1005HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 127 3DMarks
Acer Aspire One (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GMA 950) 122 3DMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1008HA (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 116 3DMarks
HP Mini 2140 with HD screen (1.60GHz Intel Atom, Intel GM1 950) 112 3DMarks
ASUS Eee PC 1000HE (1.66GHz Intel Atom N280, Intel GMA 950) 92 3DMarks

The Lenovo IdeaCentre C300 all-in-one desktop also managed a score of 1265 PCMarks in PCMark Vantage.

HDTune benchmark test results:
Lenovo IdeaCentre C300

Display
The 20″ WXGA++ screen on this all-in-one really helps to separate it from other budget systems on the market. While others might only offer basic WXGA 1366×768 resolution, Lenovo uses a 1600×900 panel on all versions of the C300. It offers excellent color and contrast, backed up with a 1000:1 contrast ratio. Even though it is most likely a TN panel, it still offers reasonable viewing angles, with a sweet spot that extends 30 degrees up or down and about 45 degrees side to side before colors start to distort or the screen starts to look dim.

Lenovo IdeaCentre C300  Lenovo IdeaCentre C300  Lenovo IdeaCentre C300

Keyboard and Mouse
Lenovo includes a basic keyboard and mouse that look nice, but seem outdated. The keyboard is the older PS/2 standard, which works fine, but really limits what the keyboard could be capable of. The keyboard looks great, with a glossy finish, thin profile, and short-throw laptop-style keys. If it were USB, Lenovo could have added a USB port onto it for quick USB memory stick connections, but since it is PS/2 that is out of the question. The mouse is a basic optical USB scroll mouse, with two primary buttons, and a clickable scroll wheel that will act as a middle button.

Lenovo IdeaCentre C300  Lenovo IdeaCentre C300

Power, Heat, and Noise
Power consumption with the C300 set to full screen brightness while also in high performance mode was 48 watts at idle and 57 watts under a full load. With the screen brightness reduced to its minimum, power consumption drops to a conservative 37 watts. This is low enough that most people wouldn’t mind continuously running in the background, ready to jump to go at a tap of a keyboard or jiggle of its mouse. Heat output is minimal with its Intel Atom-based internals, staying relatively cool to the touch. Noise is moderate, but entirely related to the full-size hard drive that you can hear over the system fan. Unless you are working in a silent office, the sound would be quickly drowned out by music or talking.

Conclusion
The Lenovo C300 is a pretty nice value when you compare it to other budget all-in-one systems currently on the market. Users get a speedy 3.5″ 7200RPM hard drive, good looking 20″ 1600×900 display, and on the highest tier for $549, dedicated ATI Radeon 4530 graphics. Overall the looks and build quality were great, and fitting into almost any décor. The included mouse could have looked nicer or the keyboard could have interfaced through USB, but at the end of the day they do their job just fine. If you are in the market for a cheaper all-in-one system, the Lenovo C300 is definitely worth looking at.

Pros

  • Very nice 20″ 1600×900 display
  • 3.5-inch hard drive
  • Optional dedicated graphics
  • Some models use dual-core Atom

Cons

  • PS/2 keyboard
  • Single-core Atom standard


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