Lenovo C315 40221GU
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|
|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.
|Rendering multiple CPUs||Rendering single CPU|
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.
However capable this PC is as an entertainment system, Lenovo missed an opportunity by leaving out an HDMI input. We'll confess to perhaps a disproportionately high regard for HDMI input, ever since Sony wowed us with the capability in one of its Vaio all-in-ones a few years back. By leaving off not only HDMI, but any sort of video input or output from the C315, Lenovo thus prevents you not only from connecting an external video source to this system, such as a game console or a cable box, and you also get no recourse for connecting a second display. We expect most people can live without those features, but adding an HDMI input improves the versatility of an all-in-one so dramatically it's hard to forgive its absence. The C315's low price isn't an excuse for Lenovo, either. Asus added HDMI in to its $600 Eee Top ET2002 all-in-one last fall.
The other inputs on this system are only adequate. You get a handful of USB ports on the left edge and rear of the system. You also get a few analog audio jacks, as well as an Ethernet port, a TV tuner jack, and a mini FireWire 400 input. We're glad to see FireWire, but eSATA and/or some kind of digital audio output would also have been welcome. A multiformat SD Card reader rounds out the external ports.
|Lenovo C315 40221GU||Average watts per hour|
|Off (60 percent)||0.88|
|Sleep (10 percent)||4.01|
|Idle (25 percent)||42.88|
|Load (5 percent)||73.27|
|Annual energy consumption cost||$19.24|
Lenovo's power consumption won't put too much of a burden on your wallet, but we suspect the discrete graphics chip has canceled out any efficiency gains this PC might have made with its low-power AMD CPU. Coming in squarely in the middle of the all other all-in-ones, the Lenovo C315 will run you around $1.25 a month to operate.
Lenovo's service and support policies hold to the near-universal industry standard of one year of parts and labor accompanied by a 24-7 toll-free tech support number. You can add at-home service and extended warranty coverage when you purchase your system online. You can also find basic drivers and documentation on Lenovo's less-than-intuitive support site.
Find out more about how we test desktop systems.
Acer Aspire Z5710
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 3.2GHz Intel Core i5 650; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 128MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 HD integrated graphics chip; 1TB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Gateway One ZX6900-01e
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.93GHz Intel Core i3 530; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 640GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
HP All-In-One 200-5020
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz Intel Pentium Dual Core E5400; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 64MB (shared) Intel GMA X4500 integrated graphics chip; 500GB 7,200rpm Seagate hard drive
HP TouchSmart 300-1120
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 2.7GHz AMD Athlon X2 235e; 4GB 1,333MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 256MB (shared) ATI Mobility Radeon HD 3270 integrated graphics chip; 750GB 7,200rpm Western Digital hard drive
Lenovo C315 40221GU
Windows 7 Home Premium SP1 (64-bit); 1.6GHz AMD Athlon II X2 250u; 4GB 800MHz DDR2 SDRAM; 512MB ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4530; 500GB Seagate hard drive