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Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 77273GU review: Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 77273GU

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The Good The Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 offers a fairly priced combination of performance and home entertainment components in a reasonably attractive chassis.

The Bad We wish Lenovo had equipped this PC with more connectivity options, and also boosted its upgrade potential by adding a beefier power supply.

The Bottom Line The Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 is a decent attempt to compete with other budget gaming PCs, but a few configuration misses prevent a stronger recommendation. It's best for mainstream shoppers looking for a combination of basic 3D power and Blu-ray playback capability.

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6.4 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 6
  • Performance 6
  • Support 7

At $999, with a midrange Intel Core i5 chip, a discrete graphics card, and a stylized case, the Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 clearly has Gateway's FX line in mind as its competition. A unique, semi-useful CPU speed control mechanism helps the Lenovo stand out, and its Blu-ray drive gives an entertainment advantage over the Gateway. We wouldn't recommend the Lenovo to use for upgrading, or if you want the best application performance at this price, but it would make an affordable, well-rounded desktop for media consumption.

Compare the black-and-dark-gray IdeaCentre K330 and its orange accents with the orange and black Gateway FX series and the source of Lenovo's inspiration for this PC will become immediately clear. Neither desktop can claim to offer universal aesthetic appeal, although Lenovo's design is perhaps more traditional, since it lacks the Gateway's carapace-like plastic plates. The Lenovo does have a gaudy flame design behind a CPU speed control switch that lights up on the front case, but a button lets you turn the light off, hiding the flame entirely.

The switch is unique to the IdeaCentre K330, and while its premise is interesting, we're not sure it's that useful. The switch features three CPU speed settings: turbo, auto, and cool mode. Sure enough, when you set it to cool mode, the quad core Core i5 2500 chip holds steady at about 1.5GHz. Dial it up to turbo, and the CPU clock speed locks in at 3.3GHz.

We're ambivalent about the speed control dial. Intel's Core i5 chips regulate their speed automatically thanks to their built in Turbo Boost technology, which adjusts CPU frequency and the number of active cores depending on application demands. Turbo Boost handles this task well enough that makes the Lenovo's speed dial rather useless. Aside from adding some cost to the IdeaCentre K330, we can't say the speed dial does any real harm.

Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 Gateway FX6850-51u
Price $999 $999
Motherboard chipset Intel P67 Intel P67
CPU 3.3GHz Intel Core i5 2500 3.4GHz Intel Core i7 2600
Memory 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM 8GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GT 440 1.5GB Nvidia GeForce GT 440
Hard drives 1TB, 7,200 rpm 1TB, 7,200 rpm
Optical drive Blu-ray/DVD burner combo drive dual-layer DVD burner
Operating system Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

Up against the Gateway FX6850-51u, the Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 feels very similar. The Gateway's Core i7 2600 chip is faster than the Lenovo's Core i5 CPU, in part because of Intel's HyperThreading in the Core i7 that emulates eight-core performance. The Lenovo can claim an advantage in its Blu-ray drive, where the Gateway offers only a standard DVD burner. Then again, the Gateway also offers wireless networking, which the IdeaCentre K330 doesn't have. On balance, the two are quite similar, and the Lenovo's price tag is exactly where it should be given its configuration.

Apple iTunes encoding test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

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

Adobe Photoshop CS5 image-processing test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Multimedia multitasking test (in seconds)
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering Multiple CPUs  
Rendering Single CPU  
Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 (Intel Core i5 2500)

The IdeaCentre K330 is a bit slower than the Gateway across most of our application tests. On some tests the differences are minimal, which is likely due to the application only one or two CPU cores. In those cases, performance variation comes down to raw clock speed, and the Gateway and Lenovo systems are very close there; 3.3GHz for the Lenovo and 3.4GHz for the Gateway. On other tests, particularly Photoshop CS5 and Cinebench 11.5, the Lenovo trails the Gateway more dramatically. Those tests demonstrate that Intel's HyperThreading provides a real performance benefit. If you need a PC with the best performance at this price, the Gateway is the better bet at $999.

(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,600 x 1,200 (high, 4x aa)  
1,280 x 1,024 (medium, 4x aa)  

Far Cry 2
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,200 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  
1,440 x 900 (DirectX 10, 4x aa, very high)  

Metro 2033
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
1,920x1,080 (DirectX 11, very high)  

3DMark 11
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Extreme (1,920x1,080)  
Performance (1,920x1,080, 16x AF)  
Entry level (1,680x1,050)  
Lenovo IdeaCentre K330 (Intel Core i5 2500)

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