We tested the midtower model; Lenovo also offers a horizontal-desktop form factor chassis, which has a slightly retro look and might be more desirable for space-crunched work environments. Like the classic IBM ThinkCentres, the all-black Lenovo ThinkCentre A60 has a stark, industrial design and looks professional without being just another anonymous beige box.
While previous Lenovo ThinkCentre models, such as the A52, were built in to BTX-style cases, the A60 is back to the standard ATX style, which in layman's terms means the left-side panel comes off. Inside, the system offers room for expansion, with one PCI Express x16 slot, one PCI Express x1 slot, and one standard PCI slot--all of which are empty. Although, with only a 250-watt power supply, you won't be able to stick a current-gen video card in the PCI Express x16 slot for after-hours gaming.
There are only two RAM slots, one of which is filled with a 1GB module, and there's room for only one hard drive: the included 160GB drive. One of the two optical drive bays contains a DVD burner, and a 3.5-inch external bay holds a floppy drive--anachronistic for some, but business users sometimes need to access older files or programs stored on floppies.
The system serves up six USB 2.0 ports (four in back, two in front)--a decent number for a business system, although there are neither FireWire ports nor a media card reader. If you have aging peripherals, such as an old printer, you'll appreciate the inclusion of both serial and parallel ports--legacy connections such as those are becoming harder to find.
Our ThinkCentre A60 review unit included an AMD Athlon 64 X2 4200+ CPU and 1GB of RAM, but Lenovo offers several flavors of the A60, going all the way down to a $350 model with an AMD Sempron 3000+ CPU and only 256MB of RAM, which seems to be too underpowered for all but the most basic tasks. In the CNET Labs' Microsoft Office productivity test, the ThinkCentre A60 couldn't keep up with even low-end Core 2 Duo systems, such as the Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition, although the results were much closer in our Multitasking tests. Overall, the A60 showed perfectly acceptable performance for home or small-office users. The fact that it kept up with Core 2 Duo-based budget systems speaks well of the dual-core X2 4200+ processor and the rest of the configuration.
While there are cheaper and faster systems out there for mainstream buyers, business users are generally more interested in features and stability than in blazing speed. Lenovo supplies some decidedly business-friendly security and utility extras, including IBM's Client Security Solution (a data-encryption utility tied to an embedded security chip) and the ThinkVantage Productivity Center, which offers easy access to security, support, and maintenance tools, including software updates, patches, and drivers.
Our system did not include a monitor, although you can add a 17- or 19-inch Lenovo-branded LCD for $229 and $299, respectively. A wired keyboard and mouse, also Lenovo-branded, are included.
Lenovo offers a one-year parts-and-labor warranty that includes next-business-day onsite service and 24/7 toll-free phone support. You can bump the coverage to three years for $132, but it's worth noting that business systems from Dell include three years of onsite support by default. The Lenovo Web site offers a thorough array of support services, from driver downloads to troubleshooting tips to a step-by-step guide to installing an operating system.
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Lenovo ThinkCentre A60
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.21GHz AMD Athlon 64 X2 Dual-Core 4200+; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; integrated Nvidia Geforce 6100 graphics chip using 256MB shared memory; 160GB Western Digital 7,200rpm SATA
PC Club Enpower Sabre Extreme
Windows XP Home SP2; 2.4GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6600; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7900 GT; Western Digital 250GB 7,200prm SATA
Systemax Venture C2D 751
Windows XP Home SP2; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6300; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 533MHz; 256MB ATI Radeon X1600; 320GB Western Digital 7,200rpm SATA
Velocity Micro ProMagix E2010
Windows XP Professional SP2; 2.13GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6400; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600 GS; Western Digital 320GB 7,200prm SATA
Velocity Micro Vector GX Campus Edition
Windows XP Home SP2; 1.86GHz Intel Core 2 Duo E6300; 1,024MB DDR2 SDRAM 667MHz; 256MB Nvidia GeForce 7600 GS; 250GB Western Digital 7,200rpm SATA