Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 40311PU (Athlon II X4 review: Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 40311PU (Athlon II X4

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3 stars

CNET Editors' Rating

The Good Low-end gaming capability and strong HD video playback thanks to discrete graphics card.

The Bad Underfeatured for its price; slow general performance; no HDMI input.

The Bottom Line Lenovo's 21.5-inch IdeaCentre B305 is a mainstream home entertainment all-in-one that can't quite overcome its small screen and underwhelming features. You might have interest in this system if you want a self-contained budget gaming PC, but it has little else to recommend it.

6.4 Overall
  • Design 7.0
  • Features 6.0
  • Performance 6.0
  • Service and support 7.0

This $949 variation of Lenovo's 21.5-inch IdeaCentre B305 is a reasonable effort at a sub-$1,000, multimedia-oriented all-in-one desktop. We might even recommend it if it weren't for the growing number of 23-inch all-in-ones in the same price range. A discrete lower-end graphics card gives this system some reasonable casual gaming appeal, but for general productivity, watching video, and overall value, you can get more for your money from another vendor.

The IdeaCentre B305 echoes the design of the more explicitly gaming-oriented B500. The B305 isn't as stylized as the larger, more expensive B500, but both feature a display that's offset from the back of the system. This creates a feeling that this a sturdy system, an effect that's unfortunately offset by the cheap-looking fake chrome display and brightness controls just underneath the display. We might be willing to forgive the fake chrome if Lenovo had included hard volume controls on either the system or the included wired keyboard. Sadly, it didn't.

Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 40311PU Gateway One ZX6900-01e
Price $949 $899
Display size/resolution 21.5 inches, 1,920x1,080 23 inches, 1,920x1,080
CPU 2.2GHz AMD Athlon II X4 600e 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530
Memory 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5450 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip
Hard drives 640GB, 7,200rpm 640GB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner Blu-ray drive/DVD burner combo
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Absent volume controls are the least of the IdeaCentre B305's worries, though. Next to the Gateway ZX6900-01e, the Lenovo system looks mispriced. Yes, the Gateway has received a price drop. Gateway lists that model for over $1,000 on its own site, but Best Buy has held this system at $899 for several weeks. Compared with the Lenovo system, the Gateway offers a larger display, a faster processor, and Blu-ray capability. For most multimedia and productivity tasks, the Gateway is clearly the better deal.

The one exception for the Lenovo comes from its graphics chip. Both systems handled HD video from the Web without trouble. For the Gateway, it was able to compensate for its weak Intel graphics chip with a fast CPU, but it still isn't very well-suited for gaming. With the Lenovo and its discrete ATI Mobility Radeon HD 5450 CPU, not only was HD content smooth, but we had no trouble playing Portal at 1,920x1,080. You might not have the same luck with Crysis or more demanding games on the IdeaCentre B305, especially if you dial up the image quality settings and resolution. On older or non-cutting-edge games, it should deliver at least a playable gaming experience.

Adobe Photoshop CS3 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 40311PU
154 

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 40311PU
232 

Multimedia multitasking (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 40311PU
623 
Lenovo C315
1,157 

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 
Lenovo IdeaCentre B305 40311PU
8,091 
2,295 
HP TouchSmart 300-1120
5,747 
2,986 
Lenovo C315
2,870 
1,662 

The difficulty for the Lenovo comes when you want to get work done, or manipulate your multimedia files. While IdeaCentre B305's AMD Athlon II X4 600e chip is a quad-core processor, the CPU's 2.2GHz clock speed holds it back on all of our performance tests compared with the Gateway. Clicking around between applications on the Lenovo never feels unbearably slow, and it loads programs within a reasonable amount of time. If your interests swing more toward editing photos or converting video and image files than gaming, though, the Gateway offers demonstrably better performance.

Like the Gateway, the Lenovo IdeaCenter B305 also has a touch screen, and an accompanying touch application hub. You access the Lenovo's touch programs via an IdeaTouch shortcut on the desktop. Clicking it brings up an arc of application icons that you can manipulate with your finger, ranging from games to simple shortcuts for common applications, like Internet Explorer. More useful is the VeriTouch app, which you'll find via a little tab on the right side of the Windows desktop. There Lenovo provides a handful of basic gestures for shutting the system down, locking it, and other system status functions not easily accomplished with a touch interface. As with most other touch-based all-in-ones, we don't find Lenovo's implementation world-changing, but you can also mess around with it or ignore it with little effort.

We wish Lenovo had put more thought into the connectivity options, however, or at least given you more for your money. Connections on this system amount to six USB 2.0 jacks, a pair of analog audio ports, a mini FireWire input, a TV tuner, and an Ethernet adapter. Seeing a TV tuner input but no HDMI input always hurts, because we'd much rather have the freedom to connect any modern living-room device, as opposed to only an over-the-air or unencrypted cable input. While the Gateway also lacks HDMI, at least it has a Blu-ray drive. The TV tuner in the Lenovo is poor compensation from a home entertainment standpoint.

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