August 27, 2012
- Compact, yet stylish design
- Built-in Wi-Fi & optional Blu-ray
- HDMI-out for HDTVs
- Solid performance
- Not all configurations have USB 3.0
- Slim design limits future expansion
Lenovo continues to make strides in the slim desktop PC category with the IdeaCentre H520s. It combines a slim space-saving design with ease of use and a range of entertainment features. It features an Intel Core i5 CPU, 6GB of RAM, built-in wireless connectivity and a 1TB hard drive. The slim design does limit future expansion, but it comes with everything most users will need.
The design of the IdeaCentre H520s is very minimal and slightly business-like although it's not specifically designed for businesses. The front face plate has a brushed metal finish while the sides are standard black. It measures 12.0 x 14.2 x 4.1-inches (hdw) and weighs 17.4-pounds, so it's much smaller than a traditional desktop PC design but still larger than some of the extremely compact desktops that Lenovo and other manufacturers make.
Lenovo includes a standard set of wired keyboard and mouse with the H520s. We found them to work well and comfortable to use considering they are only basic in design.
When we opened up the case to check out the inside, we were surprised to see how clutter-free the cables and internals are laid out, which is always a huge plus. This helps to keep the computer running cool, which will extend its life. The slim case does limit future expansion, both in terms of a video card and/or a power supply upgrade if you require one at some point down the road. This, however, isn't a big deal in the end because most users will keep the computer configured as-is.
In terms of ports, the Lenovo IdeaCentre H520s has six USB 2.0 ports, VGA-out, HDMI-out, Gigabit Ethernet, the usual audio ports and a 7-in-1 memory card reader on the front panel. We were disappointed to discover that our configuration lacked USB 3.0 ports altogether. Any new computer should have them as a way to "future-proof" it. It also had built-in 802.11n Wi-Fi and a DVD multi burner. Other higher configurations do include two USB 3.0 ports, a Blu-ray player and a TV tuner.
Our configuration had a third-generation Intel Core i5-2320 (3.0GHz) CPU, 6GB of RAM, a 1TB 7200RPM hard drive and integrated Intel graphics. Other, more expensive configurations include up to an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB of RAM, a 2TB hard drive and AMD Radeon HD 7570 or Nvidia GeForce GTX620 discrete graphics.
We found performance with our review unit to be quite good despite being on the lower end of the available configurations for the H520s. In a PCMark 07 benchmark, it earned a score of 2808, which is at or slightly above average for the configuration that we tested. In real-world use, programs opened quickly and watching streaming HD video worked flawlessly. Lenovo promotes this computer as an entertainment PC and the performance definitely lives up to that. If you opt for the Blu-ray configuration, you can use this PC connected to an HDTV via HDMI and play movies through it.
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