Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 91z review: Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 91z

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MSRP: $1,149.00

The Good Lenovo's ThinkCentre Edge 91z has an uncommonly attractive design and offers respectable performance for a business-oriented all-in-one.

The Bad Look elsewhere for a home office PC that will serve double duty as a gaming or home entertainment system.

The Bottom Line For those interested in a good-looking, fast midrange all-in-one, the Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 91z will fit in easily in any home office. Just don't ask it to do too much outside of its straitlaced business purview.

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6.9 Overall
  • Design 8
  • Features 6
  • Performance 7
  • Support 7

I don't normally write about desktops for business users, but the Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 91z has enough design and performance appeal to draw in home office workers, or even general consumers looking for a relatively clean-looking Windows all-in-one. This system is missing some common consumer-oriented bells and whistles; no surprise given its business leanings. For those looking for a no-frills all-in-one that is both fast and affordable, the ThinkCentre Edge 91z offers a reasonable alternative to traditional consumer PCs. Just note that other vendors offer all-in-ones with better-rounded configurations for just a few dollars more.

The ThinkCentre Edge 91z's design is not on a par with that of Apple's iMac, HP's TouchSmart 600 line, or Samsung's Series 7 all-in-one, but the Lenovo's clean-lined shape and glossy black plastic sheen give it an air of professionalism. You'll find no extraneous accent plastic or other distracting or arbitrary exterior highlights. The plastic feet on the front of the system look tacked on, but otherwise, this system has more visual appeal than many other all-in-ones.

Its lack of a touch screen also makes the ThinkCentre Edge 91z an outlier among midrange all-in-ones. Given the digital media orientation of most pure consumer touch-screen desktops, it's reasonable for Lenovo to have left it off a system aimed at more business-minded users. The absence of a touch screen might hurt the appeal of this system to home office workers who would want it for both work and more demanding digital entertainment tasks. But even in that multiuse case scenario, I'm not convinced that touch-screen input is an integral-enough feature to turn off would-be purchasers.

The bigger issue for those who would want to use the Edge 91z at home is the fact that it lacks an HDMI input. You do get a VGA-in, which means you can use the Edge 91z as a second monitor, or use it to easily swap between the primary desktop and a second system desktop you've wired in.

I'd rather have VGA than no video input option, but the absence of an HDMI-in, a near-universal feature among standard consumer all-in-ones, limits your ability to connect cable boxes, game consoles, or other video entertainment devices. An included HDMI output means that you can connect a second display to the Edge 91z, or even run it to a television. I suspect few home-based users will take advantage of the latter capability, but second-monitor support is welcome, particularly for boosting productivity.

Lenovo ThinkCentre Edge 91z Toshiba DX1215-D2101 HP Omni 200 5380-qd
Price $899 $935 $949
Display size/resolution 21.5-inch, 1,920x1,080 pixels 21.5-inch, 1,920x1,080 pixels 21-inch, 1,920x1,080 pixels
CPU 2.5GHz Intel Core i5-2500S 2.3GHz Intel Core i5-2410 2.8GHz Intel Core i5-760
Memory 4GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM 4GB 1,333MHZ DDR3 SDRAM 6GB 1,333MHz DDR3 SDRAM
Graphics Embedded 128MB Intel HD Graphics 2000 Embedded 64MB Intel HD Graphics 3000 1GB AMD Radeon HD 5570 graphics card
Hard drives 500GB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm 1TB, 7,200rpm
Optical drive dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner dual-layer DVD burner
Networking Gigabit Ethernet, 802.11b/g/n wireless 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) Windows 7 Home Premium (64-bit)

From a value standpoint, the ThinkCentre Edge 91z falls where I expect given its feature set. Its 2.5GHz Intel Core i5 CPU is one of the faster chips among all-in-ones at this price, which pays off in our performance tests below. My one complaint is that the 500GB hard drive seems small for this price. Note that both competing all-in-ones offer twice the storage capacity with 1TB hard drives.

The reduced storage space might give media hoarders pause. Also, the lack of a discrete graphics chip, as you'll find on the HP Omni 200, limits the ThinkCentre's capabilities as a budget gaming desktop. Perhaps, to minimize distractions, you'd prefer a system that lacks gaming capability for a home office. But for media creation, using Photoshop 5 in particular, a graphics card can provide benefits beyond the merely frivolous.

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)

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

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

Cinebench 11.5
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Rendering multiple CPUs  
Rendering single CPU