- Review Date: 03/29/2012
- Bottom line:
The Lenovo C325 is a good choice for those looking to spend only about $500 for a fully featured desktop PC. It's bigger than a laptop, and has the power to serve your Web surfing and basic PC needs.
Compact all in one. $500 price point. Lenovo utilities. Dynamic brightness system and Eye distance system. No bloatware.
Low power on benchmark tests. No USB 3.0. No HDMI. No Video in or out. Only 60-day McAfee Anti-virus. Camera is "always on."
The Lenovo C325 ($499 list) is a basic all-in-one desktop PC for those that would rather have a bigger screen than portability. Its energy-saving processor is sufficient for Web surfing duties, and the system's utility is higher than the relatively modest price tag suggests. It is basic computing through and through, but it is certainly sufficient for regular users.
Design and Features
The C325 follows the bent arm and floating screen design for all-in-one PCs. The system is built into the screen, with a single hinge connected to the arm-shaped stand. The screen floats over the base of the stand, which gives the user a handy spot to stow the wired keyboard. The C325's color scheme is fairly neutral, glossy black plastic on the bezel, with a silver mesh below covering the front-firing speakers. The system' screen is a 20-inch model with a 1,600 by 900 resolution. 1,600 by 900 will display 720p HD (1,280 by 720), but not full 1080p (1,920 by 1,080). While this would be a problem in a sub $1,000 all-in-one, at the $500 price point it's merely an inconvenience. The system is certainly capable of YouTube HD videos at 720p native or 1080p scaled down.
On its own, the C325's built-in 0.3-megapixel webcam is unremarkable. However, it also comes with Lenovo's Eye Distance system software, which can monitor the user and bring up a warning if the system detects that the user is sitting too close to the screen. This could be useful for parents that always ask their little ones to back away from TVs and other computers. The only drawback is that the camera is always on while the Eye Distance system is active, so privacy-sensitive folk will want to disable the Eye Distance system manually to prevent spying from happening undetected. The system also comes with a dynamic brightness system, which dims or brightens the display backlight depending on the ambient light in the room. It's pretty old hand technology for higher end all-in-ones, but it's nice to see that technology trickle down to a budget system as well.
The C325 comes with an AMD E-450 processor, integrated DX11 AMD Radeon HD 6320 graphics, 4GB of system memory, a 500GB hard drive, six USB 2.0 ports, and a DVD burner. There are a few optional extras that you may miss, and some that you won't miss at all. For example, even at this price point, unless you're a dorm dwelling student, you won't be too bent out of shape that this SKU doesn't have a HDTV tuner. On the other hand, the system lacks USB 3.0 ports and HDMI ports. The faster USB 3.0 ports are handy for external hard drives, while HDMI can add either multiple monitor support (HDMI-out) or allow you to extend the life of the C325's LCD by using it with a newer PC in the future (HDMI-in). Not a huge deal breaker at this price point, but as they say, you get what you pay for. Speaking of pay, the included McAfee Anti-Virus program only updates for 60 days before you have to pay for a subscription. That's kind of lame, and most PCs should really come with at least a year subscription to Anti-virus updates. The system also comes up a little short in the benchmark tests, as seen below.
The C325 comes with Google Chrome pre-loaded, so that's great for people who want an alternative to Internet Explorer. Other pre-loaded utilities include the usual mix of Lenovo utilities, including Rescue and Recovery, YouCam (for the webcam), and a Driver and Application installer. What's really neat is that you can opt to not install stuff like Microsoft Office 2010 Starter or the Google toolbar. Giving the end user choice is better than pre-installing applications before the system leaves the factory. It saves a lot of cleanup time. You can always choose to install the programs later if you wish.
The C325 and its AMD E-450 processor are good at saving energy, but they're consequently a little light on processing power for multimedia tasks like editing photos or converting video formats. The C325 takes a relatively long time to complete our Handbrake video test (7:54) and Photoshop CS5 test (15:06). To put that into perspective, the entry-level AIO Editor's Choice HP TouchSmart 320-1030 ($749.99, 4 stars) is much quicker at 2:41 for Handbrake and 7:01 for CS5. On the other hand, the C325 and its AMD E-450 processor top rapidly aging tech like the Intel Atom in the Cybernet ZPC-D5 ($384 direct, 3 stars), which can only manage 8:41 on Handbrake and takes a staggering 20:51 for the Photoshop test. That said, the C325 is sufficient for mundane day-to-day tasks like viewing You Tube videos, checking your friends' Facebook status, and checking email on Google. 3D performance on the C325 is expectedly weak, but at least you will be able to load programs that require DX11 graphics. Even simpler casual games like Cut the Rope work fine, as does Angry Birds.
All in all, the Lenovo C325 is a good choice for the cash-strapped PC buyer. The 20-inch screen is larger than any notebook you'll find at the $500 price point. Heck, 20-inches is larger than most notebooks at the $1,500 price point. The C325 has the power to surf the web, view online videos, play casual games, and update your Facebook. It's more powerful than older Atom-powered nettops, and Lenovo has a much better approach to bloatware than some of the other all-in-one PCs. About the only thing keeping the C325 from supplanting our current champ the HP TouchSmart 320-1030 is the latter's much better performance on the benchmark tests and the system's touch screen. Both factors add to the HP 320-1030's service life. The faster processor means that it will last longer before it feels "too slow," and the touch screen will help if you decide to upgrade to Windows 8 in the near future. Let's call the Lenovo C325 a close second, and still recommended if you only have $500-600 to spend.
BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS
Compare the Lenovo C325 with several other desktops side by side.