Lenovo C315 40221GU review: Lenovo C315 40221GU

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MSRP: $699.00
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3.5 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Small footprint won't take up a lot of space; responsive touch screen; discrete graphics card provides surprisingly good video and gaming capabilities.

The Bad Dog-slow application performance; no video output or input options.

The Bottom Line Lenovo's C315 all-in-one is not without its flaws, but if you can overlook its comparatively slow day-to-day performance you'll find this a solid budget-priced home entertainment PC. Don't use this system for a home office or general productivity-oriented tasks, but it would work well in a small room for movie watching and game playing.

7.2 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 8.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Service and support 7.0

Lenovo's budget-priced C315 all-in-one offers a competent, low-cost media PC for a fair $699. We're also pleasantly surprised by both its gaming capabilities, as well as the sharp responsiveness of its touch-screen input. Slow performance on our benchmark tests keeps this system from earning a recommendation as a productivity system. It also lacks the connectivity options we like to see in an all-in-one. Despite those shortcomings, we can recommend this PC to those looking for a casual, affordable entertainment system with a small footprint.

As with most touch screen all-in-ones, we encourage you to block out any marketing or other suggestions that you buy this system on the idea that its touch input will change your life. That said, we are indeed impressed by the responsiveness of its touch screen, and the small dimensions of the Lenovo C315 (14 inches high, 18.75 inches wide, 6.25 inches deep) make it a viable countertop computer, where a touch interface can be a real boon.

Lenovo's touch-specific software is limited to three primary features. You get a power-down screen that displays Windows' shut-down options in a touch-friendly form. You also get a media app carousel, for launching video and photo software, as well as a prototype photo-collage-making program from Microsoft. Lenovo has also enabled the touch-capable software keyboard built into Windows 7, which explains the small white tab icon popping out of the left edge of the Windows desktop.

None of those touch apps are revolutionary, but we also appreciate that Lenovo has kept things simple. You'll find no useless touch-enabled koi pond on the C315, and Lenovo also left off the generally joyless programs that pass for games on other touch-based PCs. We don't have access to a cost of goods for this system, but we wouldn't be surprised if keeping the touch software sparse helped Lenovo keep the overall price of this PC down as well.

Lenovo C315 4022G1U HP All-In-One 200-5020
Price $699 $779
Display size/resolution 20-inches, 1,600x900 21.5-inches, 1,920x1080
CPU 1.6GHz AMD Athlon II X2 250u 2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400
Memory 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 500GB 7,200 rpm 500GB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11 b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

We've listed the Lenovo C315 at $699 above, a significant discount from its $899 debut price. At the higher price this system would be a tough sell (hence the discount, perhaps?), but $699 feels like a far more market-aware number. Its 20-inch display and budget AMD CPU place this PC at just above the lowly Nettop in terms of its specs. And HP's nontouch is a fair representation of the more expensive end of the price-features spectrum.

But for one component, it would be easy to compare the specs of the Lenovo and the HP systems above and declare the HP a better computer given its faster CPU and larger display for just $80 more. The fact that the Lenovo has far more powerful graphics processing in its discrete Radeon HD 4530 card complicates the comparison. The HP is a far better system for general productivity as you'll see in our performance charts, and its CPU is fast enough that it handled HD video with little difficulty. The Lenovo's graphics card becomes its saving grace. Not only does it allow for equally competent video playback, it also offers respectable gaming performance--a rare thing in a sub-$700 computer.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire Z5710
120 
Lenovo C315
311 

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Acer Aspire Z5710
421 
Lenovo C315
1157 

Cinebench
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU  
Acer Aspire Z5710
10,530 
4,474 
Gateway One ZX6900-01e
9,307 
3,934 
HP All-in-One 200-5020
6,101 
3,203 
HP TouchSmart 300-1120
5,747 
2,986 
Lenovo C315
2,870 
1,662 

Before we expand on the Lenovo's video strengths, we must face that fact of its slow day-to-day performance. All of the other PCs on these charts are more expensive than the Lenovo C315, but the HP All-In-One 200-5020 is only $80 more and it's almost twice as fast as the Lenovo on every test. We'll blame the Lenovo's slow, low-power 1.6GHz AMD Athlon II X2 250u processor, but its older 800MHz DDR2 system memory doesn't help, either. You won't have trouble browsing the Web or word processing or performing other basic tasks on this system, but open more than a couple apps at once and you'll feel the effects of its limited CPU. We wouldn't buy this system for schoolwork or for a home office, and we'd also stay away if you're in the habit of even light-duty digital media editing.

We can, however, recommend the Lenovo C315 as a casual entertainment PC. It would work very well on a kitchen counter, or as a computer for the kids. The display is only 1,600x900 and it has no video output, so it won't display true 1080p video content, but we found no online video file this PC couldn't play back well. It handled 720p and 1080p movies (condensing the latter) from YouTube and in QuickTime, and it also had no trouble with lower-quality feeds from Hulu and NetFlix. We do wish the system had more muscle behind its audio output, as it's likely not loud enough to overcome the general din of an active household, but not everyone will consider that a negative.

We were also happy with this PC as a gaming system. You won't be playing games at full image quality settings, but we were able to play Left 4 Dead 2 at 1,600 x 900 and even with 2x antialiasing enabled, the frame rate was acceptably smooth. We won't promise that same success with every game, particularly more current titles, but you should have no trouble finding games that the Lenovo C315 can handle reasonably well. We can't say that about the other all-in-ones in the application performance charts above.

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