The IdeaCentre C300 is part of Lenovo's value budget desktop segment. It does its bit to look elegant with a floral design imprinted on its front speakers--arrayed along the length of its bottom screen bezel. However, what caught our eye most was its new Dual Core Atom C330 and an ATI HD4530 discrete graphics.
The whole unit is encased in black plastic, and comes with a 20-inch screen with maximum resolution of 1600x900. It's optimized with a 16:9 cinematic aspect ratio, better for watching movies in widescreen format - especially movies in high-definition. There are heat vents behind the top screen bezel, and it's adjustable stand feels solid - despite being made of plastic. Unlike the Asus Eee Top, which has a completely closed casing, the IdeaCentre C300 lets you upgrade its RAM very easily.
Of the previous entry-level all-in-ones we reviewed, Asus Eee Top 1602 and MSI Wind Top AE1900, the Lenovo IdeaCentre C300 undoubtedly has the better Atom processor integrated inside: the Dual Core Atom C330 1.6-GHz. It has two cores and 1MB of L2 cache, in comparison to the Asus Eee Top's Atom N270 and MSI Wind Top's 230 - they have a single core and half the amount of L2 cache that Atom C330 has. Throw in 2GB of DDR2 RAM, a 320GB hard drive at 7200rpm, and an ATI Radeon HD4530 graphics card in the mix, and it is pretty clear to see that the IdeaCentre C300 has superior internal building blocks in comparison to the Asus' and MSI's. Even the included mouse and keyboard combo (especially the keyboard) feels a lot better than the rest when you spend some time using it.
But there's some bad news - it doesn't incorporate the faster Gigabit Ethernet and 802.11n Wi-Fi standards. However, the Lenovo IdeaCentre C300 does comes with Vista Home Basic, unlike most Atom-based all-in-ones that come with Windows XP Home Edition. Apart from this, you'll find the usual suspects - memory card reader, six USB ports, headphone and microphone jacks.
The IdeaCentre C300's superior innards shined through our several benchmarks. Owing to its discrete graphics, the Lenovo C300 had no trouble playing both 720p and 1080p HD videos, and it handled older games pretty well. Having said that, this desktop isn't one for gaming. While watching movies on the IdeaCentre C300, we found screen quality to be pretty good and viewing angles were also acceptable. Sound was also pretty good from the onboard speakers. The Lenovo C300 doesn't support touchscreen - however, touchscreen navigation quickly loses its charm after its initial novelty, from what we've seen.
Surprisingly, the Lenovo's superior hardware and better all-around performance doesn't come at a massive price tag. As insane as it sounds, it is the cheapest of the previous two Atom-based all-in-ones we reviewed, costing an unbelievable Rs. 32,380 (US$671).
Undoubtedly, the best Atom-based all-in-one desktop we've reviewed thus far, the Lenovo IdeaCentre separates itself from the rest with its very good performance. For Rs. 32,380, it is also inexpensive than any other entry-level all-in-one we've reviewed. Buy this as a replacement for your age-old, dust-ridden desktop or if you're looking for a good-looking, entertainment tuned low-cost PC.
PCW RATING: 79/100 (GOOD)
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